Sunday, March 26
I saw yet another new anti-evolution book in the bookstore today. Or more precisely, an anti-human evolution through a messed up and naive understanding of "Darwinism" book by a philosopher way out of his depth. More later.
An Urban Outfitters opened in town recently. Last week the local chapter of the Girls Shouldn't Want To Have Fun Brigade protested them because along with the clothing and accessories they have the audacity to sell Books!On!Sex! The odd thing was that they didn't have signs about what they were protesting, just identical printed signs with just a website address. According to Technorati and Google, they have no inbound links at all.
Technorati Tags: books, religion, evolution, darwinism
The blogroll also badly needed an update, as a lot of my favorite blogs have moved around the past few months.
Technorati Tags: blogging, google reader
Wednesday, January 18
Technorati Tags: Bruin Alumni Association, UCLA, McCarthyism, college, professors, politics, liberal
Tuesday, January 17
Americans United press release
Technorati Tags: El Tejon, Creationism, Evolution, Church and State, Philosophy, Intelligent Design
But what they fail to realize is that non-teleological evolution is, as Roy Clouser says, self-assumptively incoherent:Being able to trust our belief-forming capacities is an assumption necessary to believing in the theory of evolution. Unless we can trust our perceptions and belief-forming capacities to reveal reality, there are no reasons to believe the theory of evolution at all. In fact, if we can’t trust our perceptual beliefs, there is no reason to believe that there are such things as brains or life forms to be explained. [emphasis in original]
This is not to say that that the relation between evolution and our capacity to acquire truth is outright false. It just means that the claim undercuts its own justification: If we believe we have reliable belief-forming apparatus then we have reason to believe that non-teleological evolution is false. Likewise, if we believe that non-teleological evolution is true then we have no reason to believe the theory since we would have no reason to trust that our belief-forming apparatus is reliable.
But isn't our ability "to trust our belief-forming capacities" necessary to believeing that anything is true? Replace "theory of evolution" with X and it's obviously applicable to any belief at all. This hardly makes for an argument against evolution, or against anything else unless you're shooting for a postion of universal skepticism. It just begs the question to say that a reliable mind is evidence that evolution is false.
Joe lists what he consideres four errors in "naturalisitc epistemology". In summary:
- It's circular reasoning to assume rational beings are produced through non-rational processes
- It's wrong to assume that all true beliefs are adaptive, and vise versa.
- Material processes can't explain beliefs in non-material things.
- Naturalists are too emotionally attached to their theory to notice that it's absurd.
Joe makes a major error in shifting from "reliable mind" to "true beliefs" as the thing being selected for. It is not the beliefs themselves that are advantagous, it's the ability to accurately interpret and respond to the environment. Let's say that a monkey is looking for some fruit to eat. She has learned from prior experience that green fruit make her sick, but red fruit don't, so she'll act on her beliefs and look for red fruit. And of course she has to have an accurate means of determining which fruit are red, and so on.
Simply fixing true beliefs through evolution implies a hodgepoge, not the ability to reason, and sounds akin to a distorted version of divine revelation. It sounds like Joe is viewing naturalism through his presuppositionist glasses, and his criticism is suffering for it.
There is another point. Any standard of "reliable" is not the same as "perfect". It is acceptable, indeed unavoidable, that some of our beliefs are mistaken. This isn't a flaw, but something any epistomology has to deal with. Atheistic naturalists, such as myself, see the whole history of belief in spiritual entities as mistaken. What counts is that there be a process to correct errors in our beliefs and reasoning. Atheistic naturalists do so by turning the many of same tools proven on the natural world to the spiritual world and have found it lacking.
Moreover, it could be argued, ala Carter, that since the immaterial is not a part of the environment, and therefore beliefs about the immaterial are not adaptive, that beliefs about the immaterial are inherently less reliable.
Carter's criticisms don't stand up, and his main thesis, like much presuppositionalism, is simply begging the question.
Technorati Tags: Intelligent Design, Creationism, Evolution, Joe Carter, Atheism, Philosophy, Presuppositionalism, Mind
Sunday, January 15
nightlight: Creationism in California - Lawsuit and revised syllabus
What is less clear, to me at least, is that this class should not be taught in conjunction with a public school. It should be plain that I am in favor of opposing the spread of "Intelligent Design" pseudo-science, but I also favor a method of resistance that considers the probable benefit to the effort.
In other words, is this class so egregious - legally, politically and scientifically - that it must be addressed in the courts? Or is it small potatoes, something that taking action against will, in sum, diminish the reputation and resources of those who oppose pseudo-science?
Yes, it's egregious. Simply labeling it as a philosophy class doesn't get around the fact that they're promoting a religious viewpoint. As I commented on the post, there is no constitutional requirement for scientific purity. There is one for the separation of church and state. It's quite clear from the history of this course that the teacher is advocating creationism.
In fact, labeling it as philosophy makes it less legitimate, legally. In Establishment Clause cases, one criteria examined is whether there is a legitimate secular purpose. The aim of Scientific Creationism in the 80's and Intelligent Design today is to provide what appears to be a scientific reason to teach it in public schools. The courts found their scientific legitimacy lacking, just a thin veneer over religious doctrine, and failed that criteria. By abandoning even the veneer of science, no secular justification is even possible for advocating creationism.
This is not to say that it should be censored outright. After all, theology is a legitimate branch of philosophy. But, this class is more appropriate for Sunday school than public school.
Technorati Tags: El Tejon, evolution, creationism, intelligent design, church and state
Monday, January 9
Shorter Olasky and Perry: The Hollywood version of the Scopes Trial fudged the history, therefore Darwinism is an empty religious philosophy, and ID is the real deal, and any attempt to portray us as the anti-intellectual know-nothings we are is just bigotry fostered by the secular-liberal-media-elites.
In the same vein is A Jealous God: Science's Crusade Against Religion by Pamela Winnick. I've read a few chapters in the store, and I have to say it's exceedingly difficult for her to come to any sort of coherent point in the evolution chapters. (e.g. Some scientists are "celebrities"? How horrible!)
On to books worth purchasing. I'm close to finishing Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science. It's been a good read and I'll be posting a full review later.
Four months till the new Vinge novel is out.
Sunday, January 1
Someone clicked the "Next Blog" button from purposedrivenforchrist and ended up here. I just had to check it out when I saw it in my referers. Blogger reads Biblical porn poem and gets hot.
I also I have been reading in Song of Solomon it is a really great book it real comforting that God could love me as a husband could that our relationship is that intimate. link
Lordy...And there's more where that came from.
My blogroll is pretty much all the blogs I'm currently reading minus inactive and comment feeds. It's generated from an OMPL file from my local feedreader. I've also dethroned Slashdot from my 10 Best catagory in favor of Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory. He's been doing a fantastic job analyzing the whole warrantless wiretapping scandal, and rebutting the thin defenses from the Bush administration and its blogger supporters. The 10 Best catagory stems from the fact that I needed a way to get my ruthlessly alphabetical feedreader to prioritize my must-reads, and I'm too lazy to edit them back to whatever catagory they belong. Just take it as my personal recommendation for great writers.
Enough meta stuff for now. Hopefully I'll actually write more on this blog this year than last.
Saturday, December 31
I like the rain. I love the sound on the roof, especially at night when I'm going to sleep. I find it very relaxing. I like the smell of it too; during and after. I like going out in it on occasion. And today I did. It's neat to go downtown and watch the swollen creek rush by.
Growing up in Northern California, we got decent rainstorms often in the winter (occasionally even snow!). Here in SLO, not so much, and it was one of the first differences that struck me with winter here. It all has to do with the jet stream. Some years, it carries the storms to the north of us, other years it dips down and we get hit. Our latitude places us right on the fringe.
My oddest rain experience (for a Californian): I was in Houston for a student conference when a tropical storm hit. The group I was with were all standing under the hotel's carport waiting for our airport shuttle. We were all standing outside quite comfortably in t-shirts and shorts (for our flight back to LAX) while globules of rain fell not more than a few feet from us. It was a torrent of big fat drops that were warm to the touch when I held out my hand to them.