The Second Cross-Examination
Gah--this is taking so much longer than I thought. I’m going to attempt to keep this brief and only address major points so that I can move on to chapter 3. I already have people bitching that I should just “ignore Vox,” but I have no intentions of doing so. His fan-boys would only claim victory, so plod along with me here. (Pretty please?)
It is perfectly understandable, but unfortunate, that Kelly is so wedded to an oppositional context that she tends to blindly fall into applying hostile and incorrect interpretations to various parts of the text in which no opposition is required. This does not appear to be a problem of basic reading comprehension, but rather, the result of reading with a critical filter that causes her to react rather than think through her response to what she is reading. This filter, combined with her failure to read the entire book before beginning the chapter-by-chapter review, leads her into a number of completely unnecessary errors in her critique of this chapter.
I’ll concede that you may be correct that I may have assigned motive where there was none. I guess that’s just the nature of only being able to see things from my perspective and not yours. As far as the chapter by chapter thing goes—I already addressed that and will correct whatever warrants it as I come upon it. I don’t think that there is any way I could have done a thorough examination with the entire book to ruminate upon.
This is not only wrong, it is completely backward. Kelly fails to understand that the point of referencing the blatantly false claim to science by Jim Rose is to provide a simple and vivid picture of the way the New Atheist books are doing precisely the same thing. The Unholy Trinity's attempts to argue "it is science" in support of their atheism are every bit as absurd, and as unscientific, as Jim Rose's similar claims about nipple-piercing and lightbulb-chewing. My purpose is not to belittle science, nor confuse the reader, it is simply to clarify the line between that which is claimed to be science and is, and that which is claimed to be science and is not.
So then, you only wanted to compare atheists, specifically D,H, and H, to the Jim Rose troupe? I think either way, the comparison was made in order to draw a correlation in the readers mind to something freaky and odd; whether it was atheists or science is kind of irrelevant.
Kelly's view of scientific studies is rather innocently naive, as she fails to acknowledge the significant distinction between valid ones that make legitimate use of the scientific method, those which are actually quasi-scientific surveys that involve no actual experimentation, and metastudies that are often nothing more than surveys of surveys. Many, if not most studies involve absolutely no experimentation, and as one can readily observe, "studies show" is a mantra - not an atheist one, but rather a science fetishist one - that is quite often invoked by non-scientists in an attempt to lend a scientific sheen to a non-scientific argument, in much the same way that the New Atheists regularly attempt to invoke science on behalf of their non-science.
I didn’t find it necessary to speak of meta-studies at all as I am focusing on the experimentation aspect of science that correlates to something being objectively demonstrable. A meta-study is data collection from previous experiments. As much as you may dislike them, studies are pretty necessary and if the studies are properly conducted and reproducible, then there is credence in the phrase “studies show.” Unfortunately, the average person has no clue how to analyze such a study and just mimics whatever they have heard on Oprah, which may or may not have any validity.
Her citation of the dictionary definition of science notwithstanding, Kelly does not seem to understand that science does not deal in truth and falsehood, as Karl Popper wrote in The Problem of Induction: "in science there is no 'knowledge', in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth. ... This view means, furthermore, that we have no proofs in science (excepting, of course, pure mathematics and logic). In the empirical sciences, which alone can furnish us with information about the world we live in, proofs do not occur, if we mean by 'proof' an argument which establishes once and for ever the truth of a theory.
I get that. I have repeatedly pointed out (not necessarily to you, but publicly elsewhere—like Nightline) that science is constantly changing in light of new evidence and we are working with the knowledge that we have now.
Recall that I am criticizing Popper's definition of science, then read this again. Kelly misses my point, which isn't that Divine Linguistics are a legitimate object of scientific inquiry, but that Popper's definition of science is an incomplete and imprecise one, inadequate for my purpose of distinguishing between science and non-science. The fact that she has to rely on a non-Popperian definition of science and make a baseless assumption about the nature of Divine Linguistics in an off-target attack that doesn't defend Popper's definition in any way not only proves my point about the weakness of the "falsification" determinant, but shows that Kelly is too caught up in an oppositional mindset to properly grasp what she is reading.
I do seem to recall including falsification as a determining factor—not the entirety of science. I don’t see how it demonstrates weakness or my oppositional defiance.
Now, I originally suggested Divine Linguistics as something that everyone would agree is non-scientific by non-Popperian terms, but contra Kelly's assertion, if we accept the documentary evidence that God spoke to Moses in the shape of a burning bush, (and we have no basis to reject it except non-scientific logic), then the language of God is clearly a physical phenomenon which can be subjected to scientific experimentation, at least in its intersection with humanity. The fact that an experiment is difficult does not mean that it is conceptually impossible.
An experiment on that subject would not be difficult—it would be impossible. Maybe I’m being too literal and you are using some analogous language, but first, one would have to provide evidence that the event even occurred, of which there is none, and then try to compile enough data to make a determination. That’s not non-scientific logic. That’s an historical issue as well as a scientific one. Given that god doesn’t talk to us measly humans anymore, I don’t see any studies forthcoming, either.
As far as her amazement and confusion goes, I am currently writing a parody of Euthyphro which purports to do for science what Socrates's dialogue is thought to do for the source of morality; as anyone who has read the appendix knows, I am contemptuous of the dialogue and consider Socrates's reasoning to be disingenuous and his conclusions specious. Although we have only reached the second chapter in this extended debate, I think it will be difficult for Kelly to top her ludicrous assertion that I totally lack comprehension of the so-called Dilemma of Euthyphro.
A modern day Aristophanes? Whether you personally like the dialogue or not, it is designed to make you think. Socrates comes to no conclusion and as in most of his dialectic, he does appear disingenuous at times, but the ultimate goal is to get a person to examine his/her beliefs in a non-threatening manner. It did, and still does, appear to me that you don’t get the bigger picture. Then again, I’m a fan of Socrates and may be biased.
Interesting? I should have thought it was obvious. Kelly seems given to finding humor in that which is over her head. Intelligent Design is little more than an attempt to lend scientific credibility to a set of what are currently presumed to be non-scientific beliefs. ID is an imitation of science, not a redefinition of science, and like most imitations, stems from a fundamental respect for that which it imitates; that very respect for science is why ID proponents seek to establish its scientific legitimacy. If they can manage to develop a series of replicable experiments that support their theory, they will have earned that same respect from others.
This being an ideological battle, not a scientific one, I will have to be content to let you continue thinking that ID is anything more than an agenda machinated to repackage creationism in pseudo-science. If people can’t see that science will not and cannot infer a “designer” in the supernatural sense, then I can’t help.
Kelly's arguments about the Dark Ages are remarkably stupid and expand our awareness of her historical ignorance, as I most certainly did not assert "that the Dark Ages were not caused by christianity" nor did I defend them, I pointed out that the Dark Ages never existed in the first place, and showed in TIA that this is a long-standing historical consensus that has been acknowledged by the Encyclopedia Britannica for more than seventy years.
That’s an argument you should take up with the vast majority of historians who disagree with you. I cannot prove that the Dark Ages occurred any more than you can prove they didn’t. EB doesn’t seal the deal.
I should be very interested to hear Kelly instruct us on the state of science prior to the millennium-long scientific void that she posits was caused by "religious motivations and prohibitions"; it appears that she doesn't understand the difference between technological development and science. But she's correct, pointing out various sects of Christianity does nothing to disprove the existence of something that never existed. I should be quite interested to see her evidence of science, as she defined it above, in the pre-Christian era. UPDATE - Since I was just reading Plutarch six months ago, I am somewhat chagrined that Jason needed to remind me the library at Alexandria mentioned by Kelly was burned by Caesar more than four decades before the birth of Jesus Christ. Plutarch: " In this war, to begin with, Caesar encountered the peril of being shut off from water, since the canals were dammed up by the enemy; in the second place, when the enemy tried to cut off his fleet, he was forced to repel the danger by using fire, and this spread from the dockyards and destroyed the great library;"
This is not at all true. It was once thought to have been, but there have been inscriptions found from the reign of Tiberius and later that indicate that it did in fact exist at least until the First Century, and the most likely dates of its destruction are now either the Third Century attack of Aurelian or following the 391 decree of Theodosius to destroy all pagan temples, and carried out by Theophilus. It may also have been partially destroyed in the first instance and completely destroyed in the second. There is some debate about that.
Perhaps Kelly should ask Richard Dawkins which he believes is more in danger. I'm quite confident he has far more fear for his Enlightenment values than he does for science. In fact, if she thinks about it, she might even realize why evolutionary biologists are so much more concerned about threats to their "science" than are astrophysicists, economists, or any scientists in any other field.
I think that the perspective of a biologist varies greatly from that of an economist or astrophysicist, particularly with regards to ID. I am quite confident that Dawkins would claim that science is his primary concern, but to him, science is more of a worldview consisting of using evidence and reason in as much of your life as possible.
This is amusing, Kelly just stabbed her own definition of atheism in the back, since she previously argued that atheism has nothing to do with rationalism or empiricism.
I never made an absolute statement about atheism and its correlation with rationalism/empiricism such as ALL atheists believe x. It is not a necessary contingent—I wish more atheists were rational. It does not change my definition of atheism as a simple lack of god-belief at all—it merely correlates rationalism and empiricism with the proclivity to be atheist.
As for science not applying to the supernatural, Kelly would do well to recall that even by her definition, science can certainly apply to the intersection of the supernatural with the natural, in fact, interactions between the detectable and the indetectable is the basis of a fair amount of so-called science today. But more significantly, Kelly seems to have missed the point that aside from a few of those little anti-atheist seeds she mentioned, there is simply nothing in this chapter with which an atheist need disagree in any way, shape or form. I conclude by noting that she did not bother to even mention, let alone criticize, the tripartite definition of science by an atheist scientist which I concluded was the most substantive and useful definition for clarifying the difference between science and not-science.
I didn’t disagree with your usage of Myers’ definition. Natural phenomena are studied by science—regardless of the ultimate cause. No amount of science will ever show anything other than “We don’t know” when it comes to determining supernatural causation. We could be spinning like a basketball on the finger of god—but science can’t examine that. It could only describe the spinning.
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