RE: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Wed Nov 11 2009 - 11:27:09 EST

Schwarzwald said:
"I'm tempted to think a more accurate description is "Darwin showed anti-theists how to weaponize science in a culture war"."

I see it totally backwards for you. I consider the point that Darwin WANTED to be a believer. He just couldn't believe, based on the evidence. I read that when Darwin started on the Beagle voyage, he was a preacher to the crew! It is not at all like he wanted to reject God and developed evolution for that reason. I believe Darwin was intellectually fulfilled, and it is evident in his writings.

Bill said:

"ID doesn't, in the first blush anyway, need to identify the designer,

only that there is one."

Is the truth "they don't need to identify the designer" or is it "they don't want to identify the designer." I think it is obviously the latter because it is "undercover creationism" of the 'de novo' kind (as compared to evolutionary creationism). If there was no political influence to ID, they would for sure be talking about God as the designer. Evolutionists don't care about politics- the description/definition/explanation of evolution is based on science and not politics at all... none that I can see.

Bill said:

"It appears to be an ontological necessity. This we call god. So everyone

must at some point have no answer to the question of why or how. Does

this bother you?"

So are you basically referring to the ontological argument for God, and saying that is a good argument for God?

As for 'how' I think the multiverse theory has merit- some sort of universe generator out there with quantum foam, etc. But yes, it is a mystery, and all the ancients have jumped to "God" as the answer for all these mysteries. As you know, that didn't pan out very well as science progressed.

As for 'why' I think we can all find meaning for our lives if we look into it. I don't know much about it, but the area of philosophy I'm exploring is called existentialism. I think that may be the best answer, or a good starting point, for appreciating life and enjoying the present.


By the way, I was thinking earlier, many of the arguments for God are compelling on a certain level. However, they say nothing specifically for Christianity. And when I consider Christianity, the Bible seems so easy to discredit and the work/doctrines of Christ also seem to be heavily mythical, not much different than other ancient superstitions. So I can understand the appeal to Deism for many (accept God as creator, reject the man-made gods and myths). But also, I recognize all the evidence for God are based in the unknowns,,, the gaps,,, so it appears to me to be the god of the gaps that people are proving with their "arguments for God."

Ted said:

" When these ideas get popularized even further, it gets even worse. For example, take the very popular apologist Lee Strobel. If you google "lee strobel evolution," looking for videos, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Evangelicals are getting from multiple sources precisely the same old message that they've always wanted to hear: the scientific evidence simply doesn't support macroevolution. As I say, they get this not just from Strobel but from ID leaders as well. "

I'm surprised you'd find anything about details with Strobel. In his book "Case for a Creator" he doesn't even touch on the subjects of YEC, OEC, TE, etc. (not that I could tell, and I was looking, because at that stage in my life I was really seeking for answers and was confused). I guess the great thing about ID is you can boldly and proudly claim you are a creationist but don't have to defend ANYTHING YEC or OEC. It isn't even clear if a ID person accepts common descent for humans (as some do, some don't). The only thing that is clear is that they take a stand for creation (which means nothing, specifically, regarding biology or other sciences since it is so vague).


From: [] On Behalf Of Schwarzwald
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 3:42 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

Heya Dave,

This could get into deeper conversations about just what Darwin himself offered in that regard - who came up with 'evolution'?, who came up with 'natural selection'?, etc. But that aside, here's the problem I have with what you've pointed out (and I realize that your response was short and casual, not meant to be exhaustive, etc.)

Once you strip away the metaphysics of Darwin's theory (Remove talk of 'unguided', remove talk of 'random' unless it's qualified as relating to our state of knowledge, remove any reference - positive or negative - to teleology), you're left with mechanisms which, while enlightening, contribute next to nothing to an atheistic belief. It's the metaphysics, the a priori commitments, that do the heavy lifting. But if you have those commitments to begin with, the specific processes and mechanics are more of an afterthought at best - they're the data that you will have to interpret and give a narrative to in light of your commitments.

Now, I would not deny that Darwin came up with a narrative that some atheists absolutely adore. I don't doubt that they invest quite a lot in it - not as the source of intellectual fulfillment (again, shockingly cheap to come by) but as a weapon in the service of culture war antics. Nor do I think science has ever been of much use to atheists, despite all the lip-service - it's the strange stitched-together beast of science, philosophy/metaphysics, and narrative that is offered up as science.

Which is why I strongly disagree with the original statement of "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist". Intellectual fulfillment (as in 'personal satisfaction') was always on the scene, and the implication is that Darwin's science is what empowered these bold "free-thinkers" - when the reality is, frankly, very far from that claim. I'm tempted to think a more accurate description is "Darwin showed anti-theists how to weaponize science in a culture war".

On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 5:38 PM, dfsiemensjr <<>> wrote:
You're right. However, thinking of things in 19th C England, with Paley's argument broadly held, Darwin's approach was freeing for agnostics. There could be patterns without supernatural involvement. This was not the universal conclusion, of course. David Livingstone showed that a majority of evangelicals had no problem with evolution as Darwin taught it. It was liberals like Spencer who remade it.
Dave (ASA)

On Tue, 10 Nov 2009 17:22:50 -0500 Schwarzwald <<>> writes:
Heya Dave,

Not at all. I'm simply sussing out what "an intellectually fulfilled atheist" can or must mean, and denying that Darwin really offered all that much towards such an achievement. Precisely because, if being intellectually fulfilled means a personal sense of satisfaction or being at ease, it can be had (and often is had) on the cheap. I'm certainly not denying that a self-described atheist can feel satisfied, or have intellectual or professional accomplishment. Indeed, if anything I'm arguing in the opposite direction here.

Now, you're apparently telling me that, yes, what makes an "intellectually fulfilled atheist" is a feeling of personal satisfaction at one's conclusions. And that apparent or assumed consistency, while it can help with that feeling, isn't required to achieve it. If I have you right, then I happen to agree with your estimation of being "intellectually fulfilled". Hopefully you can in turn see why I doubt Darwin has made a special contribution to such a state.

[Please note that I did not compare atheists with theists unfavorably here. In fact, that comparison isn't my immediate interest. It's this claim that Darwin did something special, and that previously atheists could not feel intellectually fulfilled, but now - thanks to Darwin! - they can. I know this is a popular phrase, one that many tend to agree with almost reflexively (in part because it seems either obvious, or if not that, unimportant). I just don't share the same reaction.]

On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 4:55 PM, dfsiemensjr <<>> wrote:
I fear you are thinking that, if you re not satisfied, no one can be satisfied. However, a materialist can be satisfied with "that's just the way nature is" as well as the Christian's "God made and sustains it so." If the atheist desires, he can call on the multiverse and hold that we just lucked out on the universe where the implicit pattern produced intelligent life. This is not that far from the orthodox declaration that God is ineffable. I hold that it is a matter of grace that I trust in God. I think back on the times a student would say, "You're a philosopher, and you're a Christian?"

I don't know enough about raelians and discordians to comment on them or the possibility that they could have a consistent set of beliefs. However it is possible to encounter a solipsist, but not to communicate with him. Just as you do not communicate with something you know to be imaginary, a solipsist would not communicate with you. I figure that he would eat "imaginary" food because it make him feel better.

I should comment that, while consistency is required for a rational system, it is not required of all human beings. YECs hold that the Word of God and the works of God do not match very well. The older gap theory did a little better. But there is a list of evidential arguments that should no longer be used, though I have not seen then labelled lies.
Dave (ASA)

On Mon, 9 Nov 2009 23:12:59 -0500 Schwarzwald <<>> writes:
Heya all,

I'm going to focus on what I'd disagree with as far as what's been posted so far, just to throw in some consistent commentary on this subject.

* I disagree with Ted - strongly disagree - that Darwinism "allowed one to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist". Though that could possibly be to due differing understandings of being 'intellectually fulfilled'. If all it means is "a person can be very intelligent and accomplished and also an atheist", wonderful - but not only do I doubt that Darwin offered much in that regard, but I'd also say that's an incredibly low-hanging fruit, so to speak. In that case one can be an intellectually-fulfilled raelian, discordian, and probably even solipsist.


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Received on Wed Nov 11 11:27:34 2009

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