Re: [asa] David S Wilson

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Sun May 06 2007 - 14:57:22 EDT

At 10:04 AM 5/6/2007, Merv wrote:
>Randy Isaac wrote:
>>Religion. Wilson says there are six hypotheses of religion, 3 of
>>them non-adaptive and 3 adaptive. I didn't catch the non-adaptive
>>ones but the 3 adaptive ones are individual level, group level, and
>>parasitic. His own approach is group level adaptive and he
>>strongly disagrees with Dennett, Hitchens, Dawkins, Stenger, etc.
>>who have focused on the parasitic view of religion. Wilson believe
>>the data strongly favor a very positive role of religion in group
>>survival. ~ Randy
>Some would then be tempted to see Wilson as an ally then against
>Dawkins & Co. But the question of whether or not Wilson is hostile
>to or friendly to religion is a good one. This would be a case
>where there is a choice: to analyze something from without,
>thereby denying yourself (and your followers) any participating role
>in the thing analyzed (religion). Or to participate in the thing
>accepted as good, thereby giving up one's status as an independent
>observer. In this regard, Wilson is coming to terms by doing what
>Dawkins refuses to do: instead of banishing religion, try to
>replace its foundation of a transcendent God with that of Science.
>Maybe this is splitting hairs, though, as I imagine Dawkins wouldn't
>have much problem with this.
>Wilson just doesn't seem to get so paranoid about the word
>"religion" and acknowledging a potentially religious direction one
>could take using science for a foundation. But his analysis,
>friendly though it seems at places, must remain an alien thing to a
>culture that participates in religion. As Lewis stated so well (in
>the "Abolition of Man" I think)
>It is a shame when a man ceases to smell the rose and becomes aware
>of himself smelling the rose. Or elsewhere he writes, that a man
>does not consider his religion when he is practicing it -- he is too
>busy being religious. He has no time to study himself being
>religious -- or if he does, he has to temporarily step outside his
>own religion and stop being religious to do it. Wilson's denial
>of God is a denial of the very thing he wishes to see the good
>effects from. But for those who believe that the sole good purpose
>of religion lies in this world and this world only (which may
>include a great many liberal Christians today) , Wilson's challenge
>may be insurmountable. I think it wise for us to consider how we
>can answer him. ~ Merv
>I fully agree, Merv. I think Wilson's approach is insidious and a
>greater threat in the long run than the "religion is a parasite"
>community. Dawkins & Co. are so overtly provocative that they induce
>all the anitbodies, even from the secular world. Wilson, on the
>other hand, comes as a "friend of religion" in the sense that he
>places a high value on it and thinks it is very beneficial. Many of
>the defenses are skirted with this approach. In fact, it resonates
>with many of the more liberal ends of the theological spectrum where
>God's transcendence is downplayed almost to the point of
>non-existence while the term "God" is redefined in some nebulous
>way. Wilson sees the value of religion in its practical realism and
>means of exerting a moral code for the benefit of society. Its
>basis, or lack thereof, in objective reality is irrelevant. Thus,
>it's a kind of "wolf in sheep's clothing" that undermines the core
>of Christian faith. It reminds me of one of the talks given at the
>2004 ASA annual meeting on faith and healing. The talk described the
>health benefits of faith. But in response to a question after the
>talk, admitted that these benefits were independent of the objective
>existence of the object of that faith.
>I think this is not an easy challenge for us to face. Much more
>difficult than Dawkins. We can dismiss the validity of Wilson's
>research if we wish, but I suspect a lot more work in this area will
>be coming along with similar claims. We do need to articulate the
>significant difference between the perception of God's existence and
>the reality of his existence. Is it only philosophical or does it
>make a real difference in our lives? ~ Randy 10:48 AM 5/6/2007

@ It is both. Below are a few ideas that I think would be good to
get started with a coherent "articulation".

(((( Note: I think that any other "articulation" will only resonate
with those who - like David S. Wilson - knowingly deny the law of
non-contradiction: "..He then asserted that a God that didn't make a
difference wasn't worth believing in. I volunteered that the very
existence of naturalism and the natural world itself was unexplained
in his worldview and that only with a concept of a Creator could his
presupposition of naturalism make sense. At that, he deferred to
others in the group for their opinion and the conversation drifted
on." ~ Randy Isaac ))))

[1] All truth is empirical, all truth is relative. Either
statement, of course, is a self-contradiction. The first statement
is itself not empirical at all, but metaphysical; the second is
itself an absolute statement.

The question of absolute truth is raised first of all, for the
critical observer, by such self-contradictions; and the first logical
conclusion to which he must be led is this:, if there is any truth at
all, it cannot be merely "relative." The first principles of modern
science, as of any system of knowledge, are themselves unchangeable
and absolute; if they were not there would be no knowledge at all,
not even the most "reflective" knowledge, for there would be no
criteria by which to classify anything as knowledge or truth.

[2] "..In Hayekian terms, we say that order emerges, and often
this order has little to do with the intentions of planners.... In
short, there are rules for evolution, one of which is that there are
no rules -- at least those that can be imposed from the top down by
spiritually endarkened human
"...some 1500 years ago, St. Athanasius of Alexandria noted that "if
things in the universe were to exercise the power of ordering
themselves, we would see 'not order but disorder, not arrangement but
anarchy, not a system, but everything out of system, not proportion
but disproportion'.... Athanasius uses the existence of life on earth
to conclude, in a similar fashion, that there exists a principle of
'arrangement and combination' in the world that is ultimately granted
by God"

[3] "...Regarding our cosmic evolutionary future, St. Paul wrote
that "the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage to
decay into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know
that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until
now," just as human beings "groan within ourselves" for our spiritual
redemption (Rom 8:21-23). Human beings are not matter and they are
not God. If we were matter, we could not evolve, and if we were God,
there would be no need to. But in reducing himself to matter, the
secularist covertly elevates himself to God, since nothing is higher
or lower than anything else -- thus, with a single metaphysical
error, the humanist makes a God -- and an ass -- of himself." What I
meant to say is that there is nothing lower -- or higher -- than an
atheist. Not even -- or especially -- nothing. You will have noticed
that this is one of the contradictions at the heart of both scientism
and leftism, and which ramifies into countless other errors.

[4] ".. Now, the "interior order" of the human being mirrors the
interior order of the cosmos itself. Here it must be emphasized --
for it is another common error of secular humanists -- that we are
not responsible for our own order. In other words, this order cannot
be imposed -- which the left always tries to do in a thousand ways --
but can only be discovered. It is given, meaning that it is a gift,
or a grace. The reverse is also true: ..."

More: What is Man For? Saturday, May 05,

~ Janice ... "... a metaphor for life -- one reason we know life is
not the same as biology: we're always racing against the biological
clock." ~ Bob G. (5/6/07) paraphrased.

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Received on Sun May 6 14:58:10 2007

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