Home > Apologetics, Atheism > Defining Atheism #3

Defining Atheism #3


Apparently this a hot topic. When antitheism is scrutinized it seems to ruffle some feathers. It’s getting kind of fun. I’m going to take a step back for this one and simply make a case for antitheism as a truth claim. Truth has become a volatile word loaded with assumption and accusations. Mosters of Folk have a great song “Man Named Truth” that literally says “Never listen to a man named truth”. I think that pretty accurately reflects modern treatment toward truth, and it’s a great song.
First, what does antitheism imply as a truth claim. Well first, it is a very significant part of a worldview. Antitheism says absolute reality is what is observable to the sense, and science. In short, naturalism is fundamental. That is a truth claim. I am all for nature as reality, but I reject it as absolute reality, and thus reject the truth claim of antitheism.

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    • February 7, 2011 at 11:15 AM

      Tildeb, in greek adding “a” to the beginning of a word, such as theos, is the english equivalent of adding “anti”. I am accurately defining atheism in light of both modern use, and linguistic accuracy. The problem of you not knowing antitheists is probably a connotation of “anti”. Other wise, to say “against theism” or “not theism” (as antitheist means) is completely accurate and a term to describe anyone who actively engages in conversation against theism, say, on a blog site.
      Absolute: complete; lacking nothing. The natural world is real, but it is lacking, according to my worldview. The supernatural is also real, and thus reality is absolute (complete) with both the natural and supernatural.
      Now that definitions are stated clearly, I want to address just one thought. You said that equal confidence in supernature and nature are contradictory and incompatible. I disagree but that’s an argument for confidence. Then you said that is “because these are contrasting and conflicting epistemologies.” Tildeb, I hate to break it to you, but supernature is not contradictory to nature. In fact, nature is key to supernature. Assuming they are both real, the only distinction is our perception. Supernatural occurrences or “interventions” in our natural world must be extremely few, so that we can define the laws of the world in which we live, and thus thrive accordingly. Because we can define nature so definitively (though both science and common sense), the supernatural can be detected. The fault of methodological naturalism is the dismissal of the supernatural as possible when it is detected. It must be an unknown factor, or a faulty interpretation, or perhaps it didn’t even happen. That dismissal within itself is perfectly acceptable, but when its foundations are questioned, “why is it supernatural intervention not possible?” the idea falls apart on account of weak foundation.

  1. February 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    “Antitheism says absolute reality is what is observable to the sense, and science. In short, naturalism is fundamental” (Carly)

    I would say that is quite accurate. Most atheists I talk with feel if someone cannot be statistically measured or scientifically tested then it carries less meaning (if any). Many atheists come off this way, as if they are presenting ‘facts’ via their research (Bill Maher does this quite a bit with statistics).

    One small problem with the evidence being presented, it’s not actually ‘factual’ altogether – its leaning in the direction of ‘fact’ but as really not much better than ‘observational data’ (ie: observing someone do the same behavior over and over and writing a ‘stat’ about the frequency of the behavior).

    Problem with stats is they can say a variety of things…the cup half full analogy is fitting here. For example, what if someone has a popularity rating of 51% from a poll of 10,000 people in a country of 1.2 billion? Is this poll accurate? Even statiticians calculate for ‘deviation’ – which is usually 3% to 5% in either direction. Now is this statistic a ‘fact’?

    Scientific data and reserach is awesome, but it’s ever-changing as well. Evolution of Darwin’s era is not the same evolution of this era, in fact, evolution of today will not be the same evolution in 20 years. They are still finding pieces of evidence within various continents and like all good ideas, things change. Is the evolution we present right now a ‘fact’?

    So as good as stats and scientific research is, and it is pretty good, the facts of the matter are still to be contested – which is what makes scientific research go round and round (ie: challenges to hypothesises). Which, oddly enough, also make ideologies go round and round – the idea can be challenged and incorporate bigger and better plans/ideas. Religion is steeped in ideology…and can change.

  2. February 16, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Scientific data and reserach is awesome, but it’s ever-changing as well. Evolution of Darwin’s era is not the same evolution of this era, in fact, evolution of today will not be the same evolution in 20 years. They are still finding pieces of evidence within various continents and like all good ideas, things change. Is the evolution we present right now a ‘fact’?

    Arrrrrggggggh!

    Every sentence here is misrepresenting, misleading, and misunderstanding something. Evolution is the most blatant and that really bothers me from someone who knows – or should know – better.

    The bones, the framework, of the theory of evolution is the same idea today as it was when Darwin proposed it: evolution by natural selection. The difference is that it’s just so much better filled in today by every single avenue of inquiry available. I mean, for crying out loud, it’s a theory. It don’t get no better than that!!!

    FIND ONE SINGLE SOLITARY PIECE OF EVIDENCE THAT DOES NOT FIT AND IT WILL BRING THE ENTIRE THEORY INTO QUESTION!!!!!!!!!

    Good grief, but by comparison you will believe a million things you will stake your life on with far less overlapping supportive evidence than evolution currently enjoys. Yet you will have the audacity, the unmitigated arrogance, (there are so many other words that will fit here) to suggest that you have some grounds available to justify doubting this theory. You don’t. You’ve got nothing. Nothing! And that’s the state of facts on the ground about this issue. But does that stop you? Of course not. One imagining is as good another, but it isn’t even the same game as evolution, and that game is based on practical knowledge that works.

    Stop pretending that your immense ignorance about this topic (whether intentional, theologically inspired, or just plain lack of education) elevates your opinion to be some reasonable middle ground. It isn’t. Not a hundred years ago. Not today, and certainly not in 20 years. It’s flat out wrong and grossly so. The theory of evolution is as solid an explanation as any knowledge we have. We know far less about gravity, for example, and I never read nor hear nor see godheads pretending it’s reasonable to doubt it. But because evolution removes the need for a magical creator man to fill in what we don’t know about our biological origins, all of a sudden every fathist thinks him- or herself justified to pretend that they know at least as much as and perhaps even more (presumably from divine revelation) than the biologists who spend their professional lives informing our knowledge aboutr evolution with scientific understanding, upon which other technologies are then produced that help save lives like yours every minute of every day, year in and year out, all the while having to listen to fools whose lives have been saved by this knowledge drone on about some imaginary controversy about the reliability of the science where there is none and enunciate fanciful supernatural causation of origins as if that were as reasonable an alternative without anything – ANYTHING scientific on which to base that IDiocy.

    The reason why evolution isn’t going anywhere is because it’s true. As hard as that bitter pill may be for people to swallow who prefer the fairytale of some ‘poof’-like creationism, they are just going to have to cope. What’s true in this scientific sense, SocietyVs, isn’t relative and doesn’t change merely with new data. It’s a reliable method of inquiry that you can trust – that you DO trust with your life every day. What changes are not the facts that we have and the research that we do but the excuses and pitiable rationalizations people use to maintain a set of beliefs that are not true in the scientific sense and then blame science for failing to MAKE them true. And that contest doesn’t exist in the arena of evolution nor in the methodological naturalism of any branch of science but in your imagination, in your inaccurate musings, in your misrepresentations and misunderstandings. Correct those, and a whole new world of honesty and intellectual integrity will be yours.

  3. February 16, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    “The difference is that it’s just so much better filled in today by every single avenue of inquiry available. I mean, for crying out loud, it’s a theory. It don’t get no better than that!!!” (tildeb)

    True, it’s the evolution of evolution and maybe that is as good as it gets for ‘facts’…that doesn’t bother me – but I see it’s obvious limits.

    As for evolution being the same as when Darwin proposed it – this is not true. Natural selection as an idea remains the same but other aspects of Darwin’s theory ‘changed’. Even a small reading of the history of evolutionary thought on Wikipedia reveals this simple ‘fact’ – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution.

    For example, evolution of humans is being challenged in various places on this planet – not the least with the finding of a small people in New Guinea that has a fossil record that’s older than expected. It has some scientists throwing in the idea of ‘co-evolution’ of a certain strand of human evolution. Why not propose evolution of humans could happen completely seperate on different continents if evolution as a process works? Questions can abound to the exact science of the theory of evolution – but one thing is sure – it will change some in the next 20 years with more discovery.

    “FIND ONE SINGLE SOLITARY PIECE OF EVIDENCE THAT DOES NOT FIT AND IT WILL BRING THE ENTIRE THEORY INTO QUESTION!!!!!!!!!” (tildeb)

    (a) learn to read what is being said to you then reply

    I am not saying evolution is not ‘true’ – I am asking ‘how exactly true is whats being said about evolution today is accurate’. Maybe were 90% accurate? Maybe were 50% accurate? Who can really make the claim to the exactness of the evidence. You’re right it’s the best we have ‘right now’ – but things do change the more we discover the different aspects of this planet.

    For example, the Bering Strait theory is held in pretty high regard as to how the America’s was first populated. However, in some more recent archeaological digs they are finding the oldest villages in the America’s might be in South America, even in Texas. Which is odd if people came through the Bering Strait (very North Point) and in Peru (very South point) they’re finding older civilization.

    I got no problem with scientific query – as you have aptly mis-placed and mis-represented me (which I find highly unethical) – but I admits it is also a ‘work in progress’…not a finished work. Thus theories are going to change, the core ideas may remain, but many of the functioning aspects of the theory do change (or get added to).

    Why is changes in religion bad when science is obviously doing the same thing?

    • February 16, 2011 at 9:57 PM

      You seem to think that the theory of evolution changes over time with additional data and research. This is wrong. This is in error. Obviously, you don’t grasp what the theory of evolution is.

      The theory of evolution is: all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor by various natural means. This has been refined and our understanding has deepened – NOT changed – by appreciating that evolution accounts for the striking patterns of similarities and differences among living things over time and across habitats through the action of biological processes such as natural selection, mutation, symbiosis, gene transfer, and genetic drift. Evolution has been subjected to scientific testing for over a century and has been (and continues to be) consistently confirmed by evidence from a wide range of fields. Pretending that this is not so is promoting what is not true.

      What you are talking about in your examples are particular varied opinions about shapes of twigs on this tree of life as if these opinions brought the tree itself into question. (Better yet is this graphic third one down) But these varied hypothesis don’t do what you think they do. They do not alter the theory of evolution one iota. The theory – that all life is related and descended from a common ancestor by natural means (in Darwin’s time he suggested natural selection but we now know there are other natural process at work) – is still absolutely rock solid. Your examples clearly reveal some confusion about this understanding of what evolution means by inserting various hypothesis that undergo change – like human migration which, on a genetic level from various samples, irrefutably shows common ancestry. Alterations to various hypothesis does not mean variation in theory. Evolution is true yesterday, today, and we can reasonably predict it to be the case tomorrow.

      What is being said today about evolution seems bewildering – everything from evolutionary psychology to evolutionary anthropology to evolutionary sociology and so on. Unless and until biological changes by some natural selection can be shown, all of this is just so much academic wind-breaking that attaches the name ‘evolutionary’ to pretend the hypothesis in some other field of inquiry is as valid as evolution itself. Over-reaching like this by all kinds of people in all kinds of subjects to hitch their pet hypothesis to the evolution wagon is all too common and in need of sustained criticism. But all of this attaching is not a reflection of the solidity of evolution ITSELF as an explanatory theory; it’s an abuse. That you think this abuse represents evolutionary theory itself reveals your lack of understanding of the theory of evolution. The theory itself is NOT a work in progress but a foundation – a pillar – of modern biology. You cannot explain our understanding of biology (that fully informs our knowledge of biology) without endorsing the theory of evolution. In this sense, evolution is to be understood as much a fact as anything can possibly be. It will not change – cannot change – without contrary evidence (which you have not done) and this has yet to happen because the probability is next to zero. It is close to zero because it offers us an explanation framework that matches every piece of disjointed evidence we have gathered over more than a hundred and fifty years into a simple, cohesive, and beautiful mechanism that works reliably every time, and that a replacement explanation that deals with one additional piece of evidence plus everything we know now now borders on the absurd.

      What ticks me off is that otherwise reasonable people are willing to describe evolution as kind of iffy, kind of relative, always swaying this way and that, making suggestions that are often wrong while hitting a few right answers here and there, and that anything that does the same – like the vagaries of creationism is somehow compatible. Well, it’s not. Evolution replaces magical thinking about supernatural forces and agencies that created life as we know it as a special act that endows us – the creator’s ‘special’ creation – with special divine interest with a theory of cause and effect by a known mechanism that can be (and is) successfully and consistently and reliably applied today to create marvels that enrich our lives not with vapid imaginings but knowledge that works on our behalf to improve our daily lives. That people would prefer to still maintain belief in some poof-making magician is just infantile by comparison… and that those who know better are willing to go along with such empty and dishonest musings to appear reasonable while casting disrepute on evolution to do so – one of man’s greatest achievements – as well as crass pandering to sensibilities that don’t care about what’s true, namely, the religious and feel it’s okay to sacrifice and misrepresent and belittle the theory of evolution on the alter of appearing tolerant of ignorant and willfully blind superstition. For goodness’ sake, more Americans believe in the literal reality of angels than they do the theory of evolution, but expect medicine and not angels to combat superbugs produced by the overuse of antibiotics especially in animal feed that have led to these bugs evolving from those that were once killed by it! The hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty is almost palpable and religious belief in creationism is the primary cause of this effect.

  4. February 16, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    Because my reply to SocietyVs contained a couple of links, it has gone into moderation.

  5. February 16, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    BTW, I have never suggested that change in religion is bad. I would be very happy if religion would change. But when one assumes certain answers are true FIRST and then start cherrypicking evidence to make it seem to be reasonable, the chances of religion changing its stripes is next to nil except by overwhelming contrary evidence. We’ve seen this happen many times with christianity, a religion that continues to impede honest knowledge whenever it offers a competing view of what the theology assures us is true by means of faith. As Hawkings has said, science will win this ongoing battle because it works. And it works because it reveals what’s true rather than simply espouse what people would like to believe is true. That’s what’s wrong with accommodationism: you can’t have your scientific cake and eat your theological icing too. We have to make choices when it comes to respect: we either respect what’s true OR we respect what some people would like to believe is true. You comment accomplishes the latter by denigrating the former.

  6. February 17, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Here, for those who might not have fully formed their opinion and might be open to appreciating the variety and scope of astounding evidence in 15 different fields of study for the theory, are some ‘gems’ about evolution.

  7. February 18, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    “As Hawkings has said, science will win this ongoing battle because it works. And it works because it reveals what’s true rather than simply espouse what people would like to believe is true” (tildeb)

    What science will fail to address, and plainly cannot address, is the human condition – ie: what humans will do with the scientific knowledge they gain/accrue. This is where religion does play a part, for many, in how to view the world through a human approach (ie: an ideology).

    Science nor theology will not win any battles unless they can both their narrow-mindedness towards one another. Science does not address the human condition, our worldviews of what is happening around us; science is not an ‘ideology’. Theology does not address scientific discovery, because it is not a ‘science’. The 2 are in different, and not opposing, fields of human discovery.

    Science has helped to solve many energy problems globally, well humans using science have done this I should say. However, it has also created the ability of that same energy to wipe us off the planet as well (ie: nuclear bombs and the such).

    Which use of energy is the one humans should use concerning scientific discovery in the field of harnessing energy? This is where science will always come up ‘short’ – it’s not meant to answer the questions we humans actually are concerned about. The Cold War, for example, had many episodes where bombs of that calibre were almost used. In that same time we found ways to use fossil fuels that have lit the world up from end to end. In one sense I am kind of happy, in another sense sadly disappointed humans have found a use for energy that could kill us all – as much as it helps warm us all up.

    So as someone with an paradigm based on Christian ideals, I lean heavily against the use of weapons of mass destruction as of any use for the human race…since my stance in a simple form is for non-violent reform. As for energy, I support the push in the 2000’s for clean alternatives, since the fossil fuels we now use seem to have their own pollution problems associated with them and can be quite hazardous to health of all species.

    But this is a very idealistic view I as a human can make about the ‘science’ of energy. The science of energy is really at the ‘whims’ of how we humans want to use it and this is something I am truly concerned about…and my theological viewpoints are not extant from that conversation. So we can debate the glory of science, but really, who’s the one glorifying or demonizing it? Humans like you and I – with our mind, emotions, and full state of ‘being’ on this planet.

    • February 18, 2011 at 12:47 PM

      So take the next step in your reasoning (that science CANNOT address the human condition, which I think is bollocks) and establish how religion CAN address the human condition. I dare you. I double dare you. Show me how religion – better than, say, philosophy fully informed by science – can dot his supposedly unique job. And don’t wiggle out of it! I hear this tired canard all the time yet not once has another explained HOW religion can do a BETTER job based on nothing more than faith-based beliefs. I say it cannot. I say that religion does THE WORST JOB POSSIBLE informing us about the human condition because it’s not only all made up but much of religious belief is anti-human, anti-life, anti-rational, and anti-knowledge. That’s a pretty empty platform on which to build anything valuable, anything meaningful, anything knowledgeable, anything TRUE, about the human condition.

  8. February 22, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Tildeb and Society, sorry for the delay in my moderation. Tildeb, you quoted Hawkings and mentioned a battle between “faith” and science. You said something to the effect that Christianity impedes honest knowledge. Tildeb, I want you to know something very important: Honest Christianity and honest science compliment each other; they do not contradict. However, both dishonest Christianity and dishonest science can ruin the other. The only battle is a battle within the minds and hearts of the individual for integrity when presenting both Christianity and Science.

  9. February 28, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    “philosophy fully informed by science” (tildeb)

    This is no different than theology informed by science – which is really the only point I made. Science can inform things but that’s about it – it’s not an ideology per se. It needs something to move it forward – since it is discovery – it needs a plan to push it somewhere.

    This is why where we find scientific discovery there is politics with their hand deep in the conversation of it’s practical uses. Politics is simply an ideology, not fact or truth, as much as we want to rail on theology – the exact same thing can be said about political ideology. Politics is what drives the uses of scientific discovery. True?

    This is why science, as grand as a inquisition it is, is nothing to be debated in the movement of our societies…it is not an anti-thesis to faith – like it not anti-thesis to politics.

  10. February 28, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    “I hear this tired canard all the time yet not once has another explained HOW religion can do a BETTER job based on nothing more than faith-based beliefs” (tildeb)

    Faith is not in competition with science, this is the problem tildeb you always fail to notice or address. Theology and politics can be in the same category and be debated in the same vein, but science is just not in the conversation one iota.

    As for the problems with faith – they exist and they are very problematic, but to debate this line ‘religious belief is anti-human, anti-life, anti-rational, and anti-knowledge’ makes little to no sense. That is pure vitrol and reveals a deep seated disgust (maybe even hatred) for people of any religious persuasuion. Psychologically this kind of talk is spine chilling in the direction it can and will take if used in conjuction with political sway. Anyone remember the lessons of the Holocaust?

    As for theology, I see very little problem with a study into the human condition and wrestling with the idea we are not perfect and may need guidance – as adult as we think we are. Theology also does not throw aside science or the social sciences, it works in tandem with them – since they are not in competition for anything.

    For me, faith has produced nothing but very good outcomes – and most of this falls back to teachings I learned from the ages of 18-20 in a church…which I then have continued to flesh out for the next 15 years. You claim is this ‘That’s a pretty empty platform on which to build anything valuable, anything meaningful, anything knowledgeable, anything TRUE, about the human condition’…well I can only answer with my own life…which is the only thing I am truly verified to speak about.

    Faith has not made me want to committ a crime – I am asked to be honest, accountable, and responsible
    Faith has not asked me to ‘not work’ – but be productive in society
    Faith has not asked me to forget the poor and oppressed in society – even when I am well to do within my life
    Faith has asked me not to remain bitter and hostile but seek forgiveness and avenues of peace in all situations
    Faith is not about spreading hatred (violence) but about opposing it and the conditions that allow it to exist
    Faith is not about my ego, but about concern for others and seeking equality for all people
    Faith is about repairing things which were broken, not leaving them and acting as if they do not exist
    Faith asks me to consider my future and my past to realize what i am presently doing and if it makes sense

    It all these things to me and much more.

    This is the reason my life made a drastic change from impoverished inner city kid with no education, headed for a criminal record, and a broken family to someone with a full time job, owns a home, does not committ crimes, and a very secure future with my wife and rest of my family. I really couldn’t ask for much more than that. And that all started when I thought about faith as something ‘teaching’ me…like ‘doing to others what I want done to me’.

    None of this seems very revolutionary, but I never heard any of these teachings as a kid and they were very new to me. The concepts and frameworks I built from the teachings can only rival what I see in common psychology and counselling in this era – and neither of these 2 social sciences was I ever adept in…but you would be hard pressed to believe this is the case.

    • February 28, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      You Rock Society.

    • February 28, 2011 at 2:35 PM

      But faith is in stark competition with science, not in any one of its particular findings (especially if it seems to support some theological position) but (and this is very important) because the METHODS of inquiry are diametrically opposed. In theology, faith is key to unlocking god and is considered a fundamental and necessary virtue. In science, faith is a fatal flaw that stops honest inquiry dead in its tracks and allows attribution to have as much sway as assertions and assumptions without any means to determine if they are in fact true.

      The claim is made over and over that faith somehow allows the religious to claim some kind of special access to the moral high ground (just look at Blueberry’s god-like pronouncements in the next post) because it supposedly ‘answers’ the why questions whereas science answers the how questions through empiricism. Sound familiar? But my point is that there is no evidence that this is actually true. In fact, there is much evidence to suggest that religions short circuit reasonable morality and insert faith-based beliefs without reasonable justification. Theology in this sense CANNOT honestly inquire into anything at all because it has no reliable METHOD to do so. (That’s why religions fail utterly to increase our knowledge about anything.) But this fact doesn’t affect you in the slightest. You simply shrug and press on with your faith-based claims and you can only do so if you honestly don’t care if whatever you say is actually true. If you do care about what’s true, then you need some reliable method to inquire after it to see if it is so, and because we know faith offers us no reliable method, you need to distrust claims made on this basis. But you don’t. You grant it as much trust as you say you do for the method we call science. But we know the two methods are incompatible because of the role of faith in each! This kind of intellectual hypocrisy is a rich vein in those who claim to be believers in god: they simply don’t care enough about what’s true and instead care more for protecting what they believe is true. And you are no different.

      Your list of how ‘faith’ has not asked you to do this or that can be just as true by saying “Unicorns have not asked me to…” That shows nothing about your faith itself and if it’s true or not and everything to do with how you attribute good things TO faith. Yet here I am with no equivalent faith able to subscribe to all you have listed. How can this be if FAITH is what is causal? Obviously, faith is not the cause but is merely your attribution. And you would know this simply and easily if you used a method of inquiry that was honestly after what was true rather than what you believed was true.

  11. February 28, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    “But faith is in stark competition with science, not in any one of its particular findings (especially if it seems to support some theological position) but (and this is very important) because the METHODS of inquiry are diametrically opposed” (tildeb)

    True, I agree 100% with your conclusion. Science’s methods are working within researchable and verifiable data; theology is not.

    Point is moot since the method is of no interest since both areas are working from different human fields – science and ‘social’ science/humanities – for different human purposes.

    Science is not trying to answer question about the ‘great beyond’…unless that great beyond is various universes in the other galaxies. Faith is not trying to find out the processes that make gravity work or why the earth’s axis is what it is. Faith has no concern for those facts – they are somewhat useless in a theoligical study.

    Not let’s do the same with, political science. Science is not concerned with the politics of Japan or Egypt’s political structure after Mubarrak. Just like politics is not exactly concerned with how gravity works or why fossil fuels can make cheap energy (the process of it).

    What about economics? Well the economy has statistics and numbers, looks quite verifiable. However, economics functions in ‘theory’ and can be manipulated to whatever ends one see’s fit (see the recent economic crisis in the States). Economics is not concerned with other galaxies or tectonic plates and their movements. Science is not going to be used in economic theory because it’s ‘theory’ and as testable as we think it is – statistics can say almost anything in economics…just take your pick of what you ‘need’ them to say.

    So methodology, as grand as sciences is, doesn’t really matter in real human societies of the most civilized and technological kind on this planet. All science is being used for in any social science or humanites areas is to inform technology, as how we humans can ‘exploit’ this info to make more complex crap we really don’t even need to survive.

    • February 28, 2011 at 5:30 PM

      So methodology, as grand as sciences is, doesn’t really matter in real human societies…

      I am gob-smacked that any rational person could honestly mean this. The only way to determine the truth values of statements of knowledge in any field of study – from archeology to zoology – is by a reliable method of inquiry that yields reasons to inform the claims that something is, in fact, probably true. Without such a method to inform our claims we’ve got nothing to differentiate whatever anybody wishes to say about anything with what is probably accurate, probably correct, probably true. What you’ve written is a statement of indifference to knowledge, arguing that all knowledge is simply relative for what each of us may believe. This is patently false as well as factually wrong.

      Your charge that science is a tool for technology is partly correct in that our knowledge informs our technologies and as our knowledge advances, so too does our technologies. You seem to think this a bad thing. But it also informs our understanding of the universe and everything in it, to which you are admittedly indifferent. So if you wish to call the drugs you take to fight off a life-threatening illness just another example of “complex crap” out to “exploit” you, then I think you can appreciate why I think you have left the field of rational discourse.

      By the way, your latest focus on death tolls and politics is really quite silly. As a percentage of the world’s population, the death toll from the wars still makes the 20th century one of the least dangerous in history. But you don’t care why this is so because you simply want to believe that our advancing knowledge is somehow bad for us in order to pretend that humanity requires a god to save us from our selves. I think this adds one more brick to walling up your mind from the real world.

  12. March 1, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    “The only way to determine the truth values of statements of knowledge in any field of study – from archeology to zoology – is by a reliable method of inquiry that yields reasons to inform the claims that something is, in fact, probably true” (tildeb)

    If this is the case, do it for political science? Which form of gov’t is the ‘right’ one? What about economics, which form is the ‘right’ one? These are the 2 biggest areas facing any society and it is extremely hard to conclude that either can arrive at ‘fact’ versus pure ‘faith/trust in an ideology’.

    So as much as you want to think I am off base and being irrational, answer either the question on political science or economics. You will find you are entering territory that has verifiable statistics based on ideological ends with really little to no concern for ‘truth’ or ‘facts’. Their bottom line concern is the societies they function within – they don’t want reasonable methods of comparison since arrival at truth or ‘fact’ will not happen.

    Which is better, democratic socialism or liberalism? What about Marxism or communalism? Maybe we want a autocracy, a monarchy, or theocracy? Conservative agendas, are they the ‘most right’? Now all of this historicaly verifiable and can be researched to some meaningful degree, but research is not what scientific discovery would neccesarily be after. Refinement and the figuring out of what is the way this thing ‘works’. Well how do we test politics and by which measure or standard of overall comparison?

    At some point, and yes atheists will hate to admit this is actually the truth, you use as much as faith (trust) as I do in the systems that surround you everyday – from politics to economics.

  13. March 1, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    “Your charge that science is a tool for technology is partly correct in that our knowledge informs our technologies and as our knowledge advances, so too does our technologies. You seem to think this a bad thing” (tildeb)

    You seem to think it’s not? Why exactly? I can see both sides, the good and the bad, currently it’s hard to determine how the good outweighs the bad in scientific discovery for human existence.

    You mention ‘drugs’ to help save lives, I say ‘great’! I mention how the feeding of antibiotics to animals is actually harming the human species and creating a greater need for further drug dependency. What about the over-presecription of over the counter drugs that have led to a new drug epidemic? How about kids being given drugs for conditions that likely don’t need it – en masse in school systems? Drugs have a ‘great’ idea behind them, the help us with our diseases, however they are also creating as much problems as they can solve, and in some cases are the actual problem in the cases they are trying to solve.

    Now that’s one small area in the use of scientific discovery, not that science is bad, just that scientific discovery can be used for whatever means a human so much as chooses. As much as science is giving, it is also taking at the same time. Here are some obvious examples:

    Fossil fuels and the environment
    Plastics and the environmental and human impact
    Energys ability to wipe us off the planet 7 times over (and I like being warm – just not that warm)
    Chemicals spilling into the human water sources and food – causing new health risks (starts with DDT ends with not being able to read what ingredients are in your pre-packaged food)
    Oil, nuff said on that
    Growth rate in cancer globally

    As with each area there are obvious reasons for hope in what the science has accomplished. However, and like any reasonable thing us humans do, there is a downside. I see both of those and cannot truy that reason that because we have better technologies that we have the best existence possible, I would say there’s a lot of give and take in there.

  14. March 1, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    “By the way, your latest focus on death tolls and politics is really quite silly. As a percentage of the world’s population, the death toll from the wars still makes the 20th century one of the least dangerous in history” (tildeb)

    Facts are silly? I know we want to water this fact down via comparison of %’s of the people that lived in the time of certain eras as compared with the %’s of people that live on earth in that era. I get the point, but it’s misleading to some degree.

    What is it we trying to determine? Did the level of weaponry make a difference?

    See the problem here is I went to far – lets compare a 6 year period from 1939 – 1945. Lets see if there is anything statistically close to 60 million people dying in a time frame like that? This would approx 10 million people a year – 2 million of that soldiers, 8 million being civilian.

    Now lets say there was some 6 billion people on the planet – 60 million is some 1% of the total population of the earth. Is there a point in time in the period of 6 years in any histoical era where 1% of the earth’s known population from east to west was annihilated? I doubt there is a known statistic even close to comparable.

    Regardless, 60 million people died in the 6 year period in a host of countries. People are actual real living beings and using a % to try and compare it’s ferocity seems…well…cheap.

    “But you don’t care why this is so because you simply want to believe that our advancing knowledge is somehow bad for us in order to pretend that humanity requires a god to save us from our selves” (tildeb)

    We will need some intervening factor to save us – I am pretty sure of that. Why? Technology gone crazy.

    Our advancing knowledge will likely some day wipe us all off this planet – and this is being a realist. All it really will take is one bomb of nuclear energy to start some chain of events that cannot be reversed (we seem to forget how much of these bombs exist out there). If that ain’t going to kill us, global warming is sitting on the cusp of real danger within this next 9 years (at becoming irreversible for the next 100+ years). Yeah, so I would say some of this advancement is seriously life threatening.

    This is not the safest time in human history, sorry to burst your bubble tildeb…there are no signs this is the actual case. It is the most covenient in human history (maybe). Problem with convenience is if it ever gets disrupted (ie: food chains) then we’re gonna have serious mayhem in cities (or do you not see that problem with economies of scale)?

    I like this era personally – I like computers – I like the vehicles we have – I like the medicine we have – I like our education systems – I like our rights – I like we moved from bigotry, misogyny, and gay bashing – I like the choices and convenience we all enjoy. But that doesn’t I have eyes wide shut either. I am an optimist and a pessimist – the problem with humans is not reason…it’s just being human.

  1. March 1, 2011 at 4:03 PM

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