Measured Against Reality

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Doubt Technology Too

One thing I’ve never understood about science-haters is how selective they are. They don’t like evolution, but they love airplanes and computers and microwaves and medicine. I wonder what they would say if someone told them that new drugs are often developed with evolution in mind. They probably wouldn’t believe it.

And why can’t you trust a scientist not to lie when he says that radiological dating proves the earth is about four and a half billion years old, but you can when he says that the shape of a plane’s wing creates lift and enables it to fly? It’s the same people using the same method, so why do they trust some results and not others?

Now, I’m not saying we should believe everything every scientist says because science has been so remarkably good at giving us new toys (everything in the computer I’m writing this with and you’re reading it with was developed by some scientist). For example, String Theory is very quite probably wrong, but thousands of theoretical Physicists line up behind it, declaring it to be the Theory of Everything. It may be, but until there’s good evidence (theoretical or experimental), we should probably reserve judgment.

But doubting evolution is like doubting that planes can fly. We’ve seen it happen in nature, we’ve seen it happen in the lab, we’ve seen it happen in the fossil record, we’ve seen it happen in the genetic record, and we understand much how it happens. If you doubt evolution, you should doubt everything else science had given you, and go live in a cave somewhere. At least then you’d be wrong and consistent. Because as Emerson said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”

I’m not holding my breath.

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13 Comments:

  • Your example of having scientific evidence of the world being over four billion years old is excellent. Nuclear physics is the foundation of dating the age of the earth and building atomic bombs. It's a package deal.

    By Blogger James, at 9:38 AM, September 23, 2006  

  • That's so true... religious fundamentalists always trumpet anything that might be remotely construed as evidence for their beliefs but ignore the mountain of evidence against their beliefs. nice blog, btw.

    By Blogger Mosilager, at 11:37 AM, September 23, 2006  

  • Thanks, Mosilager.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 11:44 AM, September 23, 2006  

  • Who *are* these science-haters you're constantly referring to? In my experience, most of the religious people you hate so much simply consider science an aspect to understanding the nature of the universe and reality, with its own unique place, essentially on a plane with other fields that study the essence of the natural world (like philosophy, theology, politics, social sciences, humanities, etc.)

    What makes you a dogmatic believer in your own system is the reliance on a single belief system as holding all of the answers. Myself and a lot of other people see science as a method to reveal immutable truths. God is simply my name for immutable truth. I think many religious believers are skeptical of anyone who says they can reveal all truths by being open-minded and skeptical, and then go ripshit on anyone whose experience has indicated the existance of a God as being the source of that truth.

    I don't know of anyone who has found God, as I have, and then been convinced by yourself or anyone else that they are wrong. On the other hand, I know lots of people who were taught when they were young that there was no God because he had not been scientifically proven, and then found him by a preponderance of spiritual evidence.

    You probably didn't even read this far, and that's fine, but you have to realize that the hateful attitude a lot of people with your mindset have towards the beliefs of people who disagree with them is what turns a lot of us off.

    Keep an open mind.

    By Anonymous Nick Coutis, at 12:05 PM, September 24, 2006  

  • Nick, first off, I don't hate religious people. I think they're wrong, and I'm trying to show why I think they're wrong. I don't hate them any more than I hate anyone else when they disagree with me. I have no idea why you think I hate the 80% of America who does believe in god.

    Second, the science haters are people at the Discovery Institute or people like Ken Ham who really do hate science, and actively try to undermine it and spread their lies about science to people who don't know better.

    There's actually an entire blog written by people who used to be ministers and apologists who deconverted. It's called "Debunking Christianity" and it's here: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com.

    I believe what evidence supports. If you think that's dogmatic then you're not using the same language I am.

    And stop saying things like "keep an open mind." Your silly attempts to keep yourself at some kind of higher level just make you look foolish. Besides, I have an open mind, all I need is some evidence. All the evidence in the world won't convince you of anything. So who's got the closed mind?

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 12:51 PM, September 24, 2006  

  • The whole point is that I cannot reveal anything to you that you are unwilling to see.

    I don't think you hate believers, I just think you have an adversarial tone in many of your postings on these issues.

    I'm not "trying to keep [myself] at some kind of higher level", Stu. I'm engaging in debate between men. Isn't that the point?

    Now the Discovery Institute has shown its true color (which is chartreuse) in becoming less a house of science and more a think tank in the tradition of the Heritage Foundation or a political lobbying group. Their ideas are not at question.

    Evidence is all fine and dandy, but I seek truth on a higher level: reason. As I've said before, the human mind cries out for reason and faith is the most common answer. Your solution to this puzzle is materialistic, which is fantastic as you are living the good life revealing truth through your own methodology.

    Either way, it's different means to the same ends. The discussion is what is important.

    By Anonymous Nick Coutis, at 3:08 PM, September 24, 2006  

  • Nick and Stu:

    It strikes me that the two of you are talking about two different kinds of "truth", and two different kinds of "knowing." Therefore, Stu, you completely talk past Nick when you say "I believe what evidence supports," because Nick relies on "spiritual evidence" while you rely on "material evidence." And by the same token, Nick, you completely talk past Stu when you say "I cannot reveal anything to you that you are unwilling to see," and "evidence is all fine and dandy, but I seek truth on a higher level: reason."

    In Stu's world view, I think, these are not well-formed English sentences; they conform to the syntax of English, but their semantics are either empty or self-contradictory.

    Nick, you believe that there is such a thing as revelation, in the biblical sense, meaning that some higher truth is directly revealed to you by God in some internal process that must always remain ineffable. In this way of knowing, you don't become convinced of things by a an incremental process of rational thought that proceeds from known facts to reasonable conclusions by use of logic. Instead, you find yourself suddenly overwhelmed by an epiphany: in an instant, everything becomes clear and you feel no need to question, because you just know that you know what you know...

    The rapture of resolved tension is so great that it does not occur to you to double check the truth which has been revealed to you; you are totally convinced. And, because of the intensity of this feeling, you believe that this process is more valid than that based on reasoning from evidence to conclusions.

    Stu, your comparatively slow and unglamourous process of reasoning from established facts to necessary conclusions, using provably correct logical operations, cannot possibly offer Nick an emotional experience of comparable intensity, and therefore you cannot convince Nick of anything.
    And Nick, Stu does not judge the truth of a statement by the intensity of his emotional response to it, and therefore you cannot convince Stu of anything.

    Personally, I try to remain skeptical of any belief that I have a strong emotional response to. The stronger the emotional response, the more likely it is to color my reasoning, and therefore the more careful I must be to seek validation by alternative means. I am no stranger to that moment of inspiration and insight, when one shouts "AHA! Now I see it all!" But I try to keep myself honest by backtracking to what was previously known and tediously building the bridge of reason that will prove to me that I have not fooled myself, or given in to wishful thinking, or simply made a mistake...

    That's what reason is for.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:11 PM, September 24, 2006  

  • That was a very insightful comment Anonymous. Thank you.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 6:13 PM, September 24, 2006  

  • Brilliant, anonymous. Your insights are greatly appreciated.

    By Anonymous Nick Coutis, at 6:51 PM, September 24, 2006  

  • What a complete was of time Anonymous...

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