Friday, June 27, 2008

Whining comes natural

I occasionally trade emails with an acquaintance who is a naturalist and believes in ToE wholeheartedly. I am sometimes tempted to pat him on the head and gently chide him for his amazing faith in an irrational concept, but he is also fairly mean-spirited.

Anyway, here is a line from his latest offering, with my response, CC'd to a friend of his who is even less coherent most of the time:

___ says:
- if G(od)D(id)I(t), you wouldn't be dishonest; you wouldn't be hypocritical; you wouldn't be mean.

(referring to God's creating the universe)

I don't grant that I'm dishonest, hypocritical, or all that mean, but let's just say for the sake of argument that I am and have been all three.

1) Christianity accounts for this - man is sinful. It is expected that any and all human beings exhibit bad behavior, including those three behaviors.
2) Which does not mean it's winked at or tolerated; merely that it is expected.
3) Christianity also can account for moral judgments being objective. So dishonesty and hypocrisy are definitely, objectively wrong.
4) A naturalistic worldview can say nothing more than "I feel/it seems to ME that those things are wrong" but can offer no evidence as to why.
5) Further, any attempt to offer an argument as to why results in question-begging assertions such as "those things are wrong b/c they do not coincide with building a good society".
6) Yet further, that kind of statement leads to a (further question-begging) infinite regress, since there is no final arbiter of what is right and wrong. So there is none at all.
7) Natural selection expects that animals (such as leopards, amœbæ, and human beings) be "mean" - outlasting or killing a competitor is not "nice". So I can't imagine what problem you'd have with that anyway.

Basically, ___, you're emoting. Emoting has its place and all that; I'm not knocking it. But you're supposed to represent the rational worldview, the one who has all the reasonable, scientific answers. When you stray off into comments like these, you make yourself look pretty foolish. It may be private correspondence now, but if you let yourself get in the habit of writing like that, odds are it will eventually come out and be exposed in front of more than just me and a sympathetic friend.

15 comments:

agnostiChicagOkie said...

If you are trying to demonstrate how Jesus has transformed your life by imbuing you with love and compassion, rather than mean-spirited hypocrisy, you are shooting well wide of the mark. Condescension to the point of fantasy head-patting and talk of 'amazing faith in irrational concept[s]" more than amply confirms his impression that you are more interested in stroking your ego than speaking the truth in love.

Rhology said...

Where's the mean spirit? Where's the hypocrisy?

You think Jesus doesn't believe that naturalists have amazing faith in irrational concept[s]? What's your argument?
Their perseverance in the face of utter refutation *IS* amazing. And it IS faith; there's no evidence for it. And it IS irrational; it is self-refuting. Jesus is generally OK with telling the truth, too, you know?

What is your argument that I haven't spoken the truth in love here?

I know you may not necessarily hold yourself to Jesus' standards, but since we're talking about hypocrisy and speaking the truth, it's a little weird to see a guy whose handle is "agnostic" take on all the trappings of atheism including his avatar and his membership in the OK Atheists. Just sayin'...

Rhology said...

And telling the truth is the most compassionate and loving thing one can do.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

Hey if you think its loving to be mocking and condescending, to fantasize about head-patting, to insult thoroughgoing reason as 'amazing faith' I suppose you cannot be made to see the difference. So it is in the Internet age, were even a modicum of civil decency ought not be expected and no quarter given.

If I wanted to convince you that your reasoning about evolution was incorrect, calling it blind faith would not further that goal at all. Instead, one must deconstruct the reasoning as such and find out whether it is valid and sound.

Rhology said...

if you think its loving to be mocking and condescending

You appear not to want to back up your assertions with examples, though I asked you to.

Shouldn't someone who wants to appear to be the reasonable one back up their assertions with evidence?

to insult thoroughgoing reason as 'amazing faith'

That's just the thing - you appear to be among those who have faith, but you can't back it up with good argumentation.
I don't do it just for the heck of it.

If I wanted to convince you that your reasoning about evolution was incorrect, calling it blind faith would not further that goal at all.

Then you are unlike virtually all of the Internet evolution apologists I've encountered, and that is commendable.
How many thousands of times have I heard/read the equivalent of "Young Earth Creationism is blind faith" and "YEC is irrational and ignorant"?
I prefer to actually examine the issues. I invite you to take a look at that which I've done so far and tested on the anvil of what appear to be fairly knowledgeable supporters of the idea.

one must deconstruct the reasoning as such and find out whether it is valid and sound.

Done and done.
And as far as atheism goes, we've been doing that alot recently.
And of course, even if atheism is true, it doesn't matter in the slightest. It is preferable to abandon it, given most atheists' moral principles.
Then again, you never said whether you're an atheist or just an agnostic, so I hope you'll take that to heart if you're considering atheism as a viable option.


Peace,
Rhology

agnostiChicagOkie said...

Rho - again if you cannot see how you are being condescending in your original post, by fantasizing about patting poor HP on the head for his blind faith in irrational science, I cannot help you with more evidence. If you can read your post and still think to are speaking in love, so be it. I cannot expect you to hold to the same standards that others do.

Rhology said...

tergiversant,

How would you and your atheist buddies react if I walked up to your table at Galileo's some Friday evening and started making assertions such as:
-You're being mean.
-You accuse religionists of having blind faith and that's reprehensible.
-You talk down to people you disagree with, such as Sally Kern ?

Would you ask me to provide evidence? Or would it be enough for you that I said it?
Or is it only you who get the privilege of making naked assertions and not having to back them up?

Dr Funkenstein said...

Natural selection expects that animals (such as leopards, amœbæ, and human beings) be "mean" - outlasting or killing a competitor is not "nice". So I can't imagine what problem you'd have with that anyway.

This isn't quite true - Ernst Mayr for example pointed out that individual fitness can be enhanced by acting in cooperative groups far more than it is in ones dealing with a lot of internal strife.

It is preferable to abandon it, given most atheists' moral principles.

I still have no idea why you think because an atheistic universe (if that is indeed true) may be unsettling that we should just pretend that it is not atheistic after all. Each to their own I suppose...

Then you are unlike virtually all of the Internet evolution apologists I've encountered, and that is commendable.

It's obviously commendable that you do attempt to interact with evolution supporters, as many YEC advocates don't make any effort at all, but in our conversations I have a hard time getting many points across because of your propensity for invoking ad-hoc miracles whenever the need arises, or simply dismissing statements straight off the bat because they don't agree with what you believe. Obviously it's your call on that front, but it's nearly impossible to convince someone of anything when they pulls the debate equivalent of an 'invincibility cheat' on a computer game out of the hat whenever they feel like it ;-D

agnostiChicagOkie said...

I don't see what evidence you need beyond your original post. If you really don't think it is mean-spirited and condescending to fantasize about patting someone's head (as if they were but a child) then so be it. If you think it is productive to mock other people's carefully considered views as blind faith, then so be it. I cannot make you aspire to politeness nor live up to (arguably Christian) standards of common decency.

On a (tu quoquettish) side-note, you implied that atheists can also be mean-spirited. First off, were did they do that when attempting to reach out to religious believers rather than talking amongst themselves? Secondly, I do not recall them ever claiming to speak the truth in love, as you do. They do not claim to be held to lofty, objective, Christian moral standards, as you do.

If you did come to Galileo's sometime, I'd bet you would find that those folks are far less mean-spirited than you might expect. You'll have to wait another month, though, since you missed it yesterday.

Rhology said...

Dr Funk said:
Ernst Mayr for example pointed out that individual fitness can be enhanced by acting in cooperative groups far more than it is in ones dealing with a lot of internal strife.

1) ?? That's only one of the angles. And it's not always the case. I'm not aiming for the longlasting of my SPECIES, I'm aiming at MY survival and gene pass-on.
2) Besides, I still have to eat other organisms to survive in almost every case. That's not "nice".
3) And there's still no way to define "nice" on atheism.


I still have no idea why you think because an atheistic universe (if that is indeed true) may be unsettling that we should just pretend that it is not atheistic after all.

It's not just that it's unsettling. It's that
1) it doesn't matter if it's true or not, if it's true
2) it leads to sociopathic and suicidal tendencies if taken to its logical conclusion
3) it can't tell us that raping little children is morally wrong in any different way than I can discover whether vanilla ice cream tastes good
I've gone over this numerous times before. So if you "still have no idea", you're not listening.

simply dismissing statements straight off the bat because they don't agree with what you believe.

Quote me doing so. By my count, the score is far in my favor on that.

invoking ad-hoc miracles whenever the need arises

Informing you of my position and then using it to attempt to explain stuff is ad hoc? They must have forgotten to add that definition to the dictionary. Thank God you're here to correct them!
I actually make arguments to back up my points. It's a skill you have either stopped applying or forgotten.


agnostiChicagOkie said:
I don't see what evidence you need beyond your original post.

And I don't see what evidence YOU need for MY assertions beyond your history of speech. All of your speech, ever since you were a kid. Any one of the examples where you have been unloving and "not nice" is evidence. (See how I'm acting just like you here?)
No no no, don't ask me for examples. Apparently examples are not needed.
Or do *I* need to present examples, and *you* don't? Is that how this works? Isn't that special pleading, or did Dick Dawk, the high priest of All That Is Rational, grant you that exemption? It IS his to grant, apparently, since he makes liberal use of it.


If you think it is productive to mock other people's carefully considered views as blind faith

1) I could say the exact same thing about your side, only your side employs such MUCH more often. Why don't you take responsibility for that?
2) Only in my case, that statement is not a simple pejorative, it's an accurate characterisation. Unless you have some problem with unpleasant truths being told, you should either thank me or present an argument to that effect.

I cannot make you aspire to politeness nor live up to (arguably Christian) standards of common decency.

YOu know, in the preceding thread, a group of atheists are trying to define Christianity for me. DO *I* get to define it here, or do you?
What, in terms of CHristian decency, have I done wrong here?
(This is your 4th chance to back up your assertions.)

First off, were did they do that when attempting to reach out to religious believers rather than talking amongst themselves?

Christopher Hitchens.
Dick Dawk.
Sammy Harris. All of whom have written evangelistic atheist books, meant for Christians.
Of course, you could disown them; that'd be a start of reconciliation, since you seem to be interested in that.

Secondly, I do not recall them ever claiming to speak the truth in love, as you do.

1) B/c there's no reason to, on atheism.
2) "Love" is meaningless in an atheistic worldview.
So yes, I'd agree.
Just make the argument that I haven't been loving here and this can actually get off the ground.


I'd bet you would find that those folks are far less mean-spirited than you might expect.

Even if I acted like you have here and made a few dozen assertions w/o any argumentation or back up evidence?
I'd be surprised.


Peace,
Rhology

barrett said...

Why so angry today, Rho?

Rhology said...

No, I'm actually doing OK.
I think stridency can often be mistaken for anger. That's one of the problems with text-only discussions. :-(

Dr Funkenstein said...

1-3)That's only one of ..."nice" on atheism.

1. I explained this - YOUR individual fitness is increased by the cooperation of the group ie YOU become more likely to survive and pass on your genes - yes life still involves a degree of competition, but look at the life expectancies and standard of living in a place like, say, Denmark which is largely cooperative vs Sierra Leone where it's basically anything goes.
2. You still have to do this even if YEC is true never mind theism generally.
3. 'What do words mean?' debates get really, really tedious... words reference things - like 'red' references the colour of the Chinese flag or a frequency in the electromagnetic spectrum. Try and ask someone to explain 'red' without reference to something else - they won't be able to do it.

It's not just that it's unsettling...you're not listening.

1. So if you admit you will happily lie to yourself about things, Why should anyone take any of your pronouncements seriously at all then - after all, if you openly admit this, why should we believe you when you say we'd be better off adopting Christianity?

2. No it doesn't, since all it is is a disbelief in God(s). It's not 'a disbelief in God plus go out and kill a few people/yourself'. Remember - 'is', not 'ought'.

3. If you think atheism and evolution combined have a 'logical conclusion', presumably where one should simply live as long as possible, act to ensure their own self-preservation and pass on genes, and I made the point that group cooperation increases individual fitness, then doing things that are likely to have other members of society turn on you would not enhance any of those chances would they?

Quote me doing so. By my count, the score is far in my favor on that.

Seeing as you asked:

here

Me: ...not a single dinosaur in the same strata as a human, because a violent flood...?

Rhology: Which I doubt is true, but so what?


and here


Me: An alpha, beta or gamma particle begins to exist in a non-predetermined fashion ie without any cause - an example of something beginning to exist mechanically, spontaneously and randomly.

Rhology: You don't know that at all; it's speculation. Again.


No further explanation was given for why either of my statements were incorrect (both your replies would come as news to geologists and particle physicists, respectively).

Informing you of my position and ...

I'm aware of your position, and I have to agree that I have actually learned quite a bit from your posts that deal with stuff that is in the bible as well as about pres. app., which I knew nothing of 'til I found this blog. However, the problems start when we get on to stuff that isn't covered in the bible since saying 'miracle'/'Goddidit', you aren't actually explaining anything when you do this. You make up a story, I wonder 'hey, why wasn't something as obviously important as that even hinted at in the bible in the first place?' or, 'well it doesn't seem to matter what the occurrence is, 'miracle' seems to be the reply'.

I actually make arguments to back up my points. It's ...

Hmmm, well after the above couple of quotes I already find that questionable, but I'll continue...

from here

Me: How do you account for the fact that certain fossils are NEVER found in certain strata if all life was created at the same time?

Rhology: I don't know, but I don't see why it matters.Maybe God had a reason for not putting them there. Maybe the vagaries of a global flood just happened not to deposit them there.


here

Me: You've said YEC explains things such as the fossil record and origins of life very well. Here's your chance to show how.

Rhology: God did it.

and here


Me: How do you account for endogenous retroviruses...transposable elements...identical mutations in redundant pseudogenes in...

Rhology: They were created like that or nearly like that. Same for all the questions below that.


As Henry Gee said in the recent round of posts, the answer that 'God did things because he felt like it' doesn't really satisfy as an answer.

Then there was the debate about 'God changed his mind' - which apparently no longer meant 'God changed his mind' (since if he had, the bible would contain a contradiction) but in fact 'God was merely threatening' (even though the text clearly says the former) from here .


Now I'm not one to think that everything I type is 24-carat internet gold by any stretch of the imagination, but the above arguments ain't in danger of winning any prizes for profound insights or debate skills either. ;-D

Rhology said...

YOUR individual fitness is increased by the cooperation of the group ie YOU become more likely to survive and pass on your genes

Brilliant, but Dick Dawk in "The Selfish Gene", during his discussion about ESS, allowed that SOME individuals might find it advantageous during certain periods of time to act highly selfishly. I'm not talking about others, I'm talking about ME. Your Darwinian approach accounts for both being "nice" and not being "nice".


2. You still have to do this even if YEC is true never mind theism generally.

Of course, but I'm not the one making the objection. I'm answering you on your own grounds.

'What do words mean?' debates get really, really tedious...

You might have noticed that in the previous post, yes indeedy. And you're contributing to it! So it must not be THAT tedious to you.

like 'red' references the colour of the Chinese flag or a frequency in the electromagnetic spectrum.

OK, so what's the scientifically testable definition of "nice"?

Try and ask someone to explain 'red' without reference to something else - they won't be able to do it.

You made my argument for me! What is the standard for "nice"ness to which one can appeal? And what is the standard to which we can appeal to know that, once we know what "nice" is, "nice" is a good thing to be?

1. So if you admit you will happily lie to yourself about things,

I didn't grant that, this is me saying "for the sake of argument, let's assume that atheism is true."
If it is true, it doesn't matter. Go ahead - make fun of me for lying to myself. It doesn't matter. I think I'll go ahead and mock YOU for believing atheism is true. It makes as much sense to mock true belief as to commend it.

Remember - 'is', not 'ought'.

Right, and I didn't claim there was an "ought" in there - you're reading into my comment.
It just doesn't matter whether you kill people or don't. It makes as much sense to mock people's "right to live" as to commend it.


then doing things that are likely to have other members of society turn on you would not enhance any of those chances would they?

Maybe it would. So what?

Dr Funk: ...not a single dinosaur in the same strata as a human, because a violent flood...?
Rhology: Which I doubt is true, but so what?


The challenge was to document my "dismissing statements straight off the bat because they don't agree with what (I) believe."
I deny that I don't have good reason to dismiss a statement like that. But I don't have time nor wrist strength to write a thesis every single time you say sthg that is unsupportable.


Dr Funk: An alpha, beta or gamma particle begins to exist in a non-predetermined fashion ie without any cause - an example of something beginning to exist mechanically, spontaneously and randomly.
Rhology: You don't know that at all; it's speculation. Again.


Since this is subject to the Uncertainty Principle AND b/c you can't OBSERVE that, I made that statement. I'm calling it into question.
Besides, let's say I do dismiss things. Hows about a little evidence to show the reader that I'm full of it?


your replies would come as news to geologists

Oh, the ones who embrace self-defeating presuppositions as far as the age of the earth? I'm crushed!

the problems start when we get on to stuff that isn't covered in the bible since saying 'miracle'/'Goddidit', you aren't actually explaining anything when you do this

For example...?

Dr FUnk: How do you account for the fact that certain fossils are NEVER found in certain strata if all life was created at the same time?
Rhology: I don't know, but I don't see why it matters.Maybe God had a reason for not putting them there. Maybe the vagaries of a global flood just happened not to deposit them there.


Once again, the challenge had been: "I actually make arguments to back up my points."
As if I haven't made arguments to back this up in times past. The challenge was not: "I actually make arguments, at every single time you make a mistake w/o ever relying on what I've already written to bear it out, to back up my points."


Dr Funk: You've said YEC explains things such as the fossil record and origins of life very well. Here's your chance to show how.
Rhology: God did it.


Ditto.
The Bible is God's Word. God was there. He is necessarily existent, and He necessarily tells the truth. He tells us that He created the world, and how He did so.
Happy now? :-D


'God did things because he felt like it' doesn't really satisfy as an answer.

Gee, who required three corrective comments before he even figured out what my point was, is not my standard of truth.

in fact 'God was merely threatening' (even though the text clearly says the former) from here .

Here's your chance to check the context and make an actual exegetical argument, as you've been challenged to do on numerous occasions.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

rhology:
And I don't see what evidence YOU need for MY assertions…

Once again, and hopefully for the last time, I don't need any evidence beyond your own words in this very post. "I am sometimes tempted to pat him on the head and gently chide him for his amazing faith in an irrational concept..." For the last time, if you do not think that it is condescending (and just plain mean) to openly fantasize about patting your interlocutors' big bald head, and to refer to his carefully considered beliefs as naught but an amazing faith, then I have to suppose you are wholly blind to the possibility that you might come across as mean-spirited and arrogant – or else you just don't care. If your own words do not impeach you as being both unloving and unkind here, well, you’ve set the bar too low.

rhology:
Why don't you take responsibility for [other atheists]?

Why should I? They are neither canon lawgivers nor an authoritative magisterium of any sort.

rhology:
DO *I* get to define [Christianity] here?

Sure thing, but you do not get to redefine "truth" or "love" or anything else in common English usage. Either you are speaking the truth in love, or you are being arrogant and condescending - you simply cannot have it both ways.

rhology:
What, in terms of Christian decency, have I done wrong here?

You have failed to do unto others as you yourself would have done unto you. Unless, of course, you prefer people to be arrogant and condescending to you (e.g. patting your head while mocking your beliefs as naught but blind faith). Would you really prefer that your interlocutors treated you that way? Do you not wish for more civilized dialogue and less personal attacks?

Then again, maybe you really don’t want that. Perhaps I’m giving you too much credit. We secular humanists are well-known for a tendency to overrate humanity.

rhology:
Christopher Hitchens. Dick Dawk. Sammy Harris.

I must have missed them at Galileo’s last week - faith and beggorah! Seriously, though, I’ll let you speak for yourself if you allow us unbelievers the same courtesy.