The (ir)Rational Atheist--More Vox Day

kellym78's picture

 

Starting off chapter two, which is entitled “Defining Science,” is a brief description of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, unknown to most, but a troupe of traveling masochists (or so it seems) who represent his caricature of science. These little side stories can have more of an effect than the reader understands, though. Right off the bat, science is seen as either freakish or trivial due to the association with that particular experience of his. Because of this, I find it necessary to give you the actual definition of “science”: 

1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws

2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation…

4. systematized knowledge in general.

5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.

6. a particular branch of knowledge.

7. skill, esp. reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency. (from dictionary.com)

There are other, more precise definitions, but this is a decent general overview. Notice the emphasis and repetition of words like “systematic,” “knowledge,” and “facts.” Keep that in mind, ladies and gentlemen. 

Vox Day launches his tirade by attempting to confuse the reader and blur the line between scientific and non-scientific inquiry. He goes on to present the words “studies show” as some kind of atheist mantra or magic spell that automatically convinces our opposition of our veracity. The major flaw here is that when one is dealing with issues that can be studied with some measure of reliability, studies are of immeasurable worth in demonstrating the truth or falsity of a proposition. Experimentation is the foundation of science and without it, science is merely a naturalistic philosophy with no real answers or solutions. It is true that many in the media or general populus don’t understand the proper way to interpret these studies and may latch on to some obscure results prematurely, but that does nothing to discredit the practice or findings of scientific study. 

His next major criticism, after some attacks on Dawkins’ affection for science and implications of hallucinogenic drug use, is that many scientists today subscribe to the Popperian philosophy and rely on falsification as the determinant for a scientific versus non-scientific endeavor. He claims that this is outside the definition of science and is a flawed addition. What he fails to see when he makes his case by claiming that a hypothesis about the language of god is theoretically falsifiable is that by his own definition, provided from the Oxford English Dictionary, the language of god is excluded before we even get to Popper because it is not a physical, natural phenomenon that can be observed and tested. Thus, it fails to qualify as science per any definition, with or without Popperian philosophical baggage. 

Perhaps the most amusing aspect thus far is his total lack of comprehension regarding Euthyphro’s Dilemma, which dealt with the source of morality—not the existence of god(s). Beyond that, he practically asserts that some kind of resolution was reached in the dialogue and that, if applied to science, it could be extrapolated that science doesn’t exist. (This is the point at which I’m looking at my monitor with a look of amazement and confusion—what kind of thought process led him there?) No wonder he thinks that the execution of Socrates was a good thing, although he places it erroneously within the reign of the Council of Thirty, while Apologia clearly explains that it was a jury of 500 citizens who convicted him of impiety. That same document states an incident that Socrates had with the Council, and also that they had been ousted. It’s a common mistake given the proximity, so I guess we can cut him some slack there, likely never having read Socrates’ defense for himself. (see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/socrates/

Alright, I was wrong earlier. The funniest part of this chapter is when Day makes this statement: “…[T]he very existence of the Intelligent Design movement is a testimony to a respect for scientific methodology…” (p. 33) Excuse me? Their attempt to redefine science to include supernatural explanations is “respect,” but Karl Popper’s falsifiability criterion was a useless distortion of science? Interesting. 

His rhetorical question about the hazard posed to science by religion and the resulting “hostility” betrays his lack of awareness of just how detrimental religion has been to science. He busts out this gem: “Some of history’s greatest scientists are known to have been men of great Christian faith.”(p. 34) Well, if I lived in a time period during which I could be tortured, killed, or otherwise persecuted for my lack of belief, I’d likely be a “christian” as well. 

As for Vox’s assertion that the Dark Ages were not caused by christianity, all I can say is that is highly debatable. I am not prone to vilifying the Catholic church for rejection of science, at least not since Vatican II. They are likely the most progressive church from a scientific perspective (or possibly Episcopalians, but we all know that they have the same origins thanks to Henry VIII). Nevertheless, Vox again attempts to mislead the reader with his quote from Philip Jenkins (p. 35). The Dark Ages were brought on largely by the destruction of a large part of the knowledge base that had been acquired, like the library at Alexandria. Most documentation contrary to christian ideology was destroyed or interpolated. The average person has no idea that prior to that time period, the earth wasn’t thought of as flat, and even the concepts of evolution and atomic particles had already been postulated. The “monolithic church” was one that varied from country to country or region to region—nobody I know of ever asserted that one church had power over the entire known world. The fact remains that religious motivations and prohibitions caused most of what was essentially a millennium-long scientific void. Pointing out the various sects of christianity does nothing to disprove that. 

In his defense of the Dark Ages, Day mentions that an Italian Christian actually “coined” the term, so to speak, and that its meaning has been perverted by those who assign an anti-religious bias to it. I don’t know that there is a fallacy specific enough here, but it would seem to be similar to an etymological fallacy in that he is using a definition that has no support or relevance in modern society. The term “Dark Ages” may or may not have been anti-Germanic in origin—it is not now. 

He briefly touches on the French Enlightenment philosophers, just enough to hold them accountable for the French Revolution (again) for “weakening the social and judicial pressure” (p. 37) that had previously kept the proletariat silent. What a horrible thing to do! As I stated in my previous blog post, this will be dealt with in more depth later. 

One of Vox Day’s hobbies appears to be analyzing the order in which people place things conversationally so as to draw conclusions as to his/her motivations to do so. He spends some time on Dawkins, claiming that it is not science that he wishes to defend, but mostly his Enlightenment ideals. Mostly based upon the fact that Dawkins says that the “Enlightenment is in danger” and then lists science fourth in a list of other endangered ideologies. If that doesn’t leap off the page and scream “Non sequitor,” I don’t know what will. 

He finishes off the chapter with more seemingly unrelated arguments concerning the (apparently) evil Enlightenment, never realizing that the reason why modern atheists seem to share so much with them is because that was essentially the birth of rationalism and empiricism, not some kind of ancient idol worship. As far as science in Iran goes, why exactly does he think science is booming there? Nuclear weapons, anybody? ICBMs? I am far from an alarmist, but let’s be realistic here. This was a pathetic attempt to, once again, vilify atheists and declare us guilty by association (through philosophical similarities) with people who may or may not have done terrible things, such as the killers of Lavoisier—somebody who one would think would have been well-received. 

I must say, his tactic is ingenious. Plant little seeds in your minds—make connections and correlations to atrocities which had nothing at all to do with me or the fact that there’s no proof for the existence of god and science just doesn’t apply to the supernatural—in order to have you nodding your head in agreement when he casts us as immoral baby killers (as he will shortly—we’ll get to it.) Very subversive; under the radar, but ultimately superficial. All you need to do is take a quarter and scrape off the silver lining to see the words “Better Luck Next Time.” 

I’m sure I’ll see you on the rebuttal and/or chapter 3 for more fun with Vox Day!

   

 

Atheist Books

Well said kelly! Keep up the

Well said kelly! Keep up the good work. I sure the "flies" will be around to bother you over this.

iwbiek's picture

kelly, but most

kelly,

 

but most importantly, science is the revolution against the megalomaniac tyrant in all its forms.  whenever there's a revolution involved, count me in!  count dr. einstein in as well.

 

 

ah, that picture never gets old for me...

 

 

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen

lpetrich's picture

I'd like to pick a few bones

I'd like to pick a few bones here and there. As Richard Carrier had pointed out, there does not have to be a great conspiracy to destroy ancient pagan writings -- only lack of interest. Thus, as RC notes, we have lots of surviving copies of Jerome's letters, and not various things that would have been much more valuable.

But Kelly is right about pressure. Sir Isaac Newton, hailed as a saintly religious scientist, rejected the Trinity -- and he kept his Trinity rejection secret in order to avoid endangering his career. Sir Francis Bacon seemed like "the lady doth protest too much" when he claimed that a "little" thought leads to atheism. The philosopher Benedict Spinoza was excommunicated by the Jewish community and denounced as an atheist for what he called "God". Etc.

And to see what it was like to duplicate a book in pre-Gutenberg days, try doing so yourself. Take one of your favorite books and make a handwritten copy of it. And do so without a pencil or a ballpoint pen -- instead, the old-fashioned kind of pen that you must dip into an inkwell. And do so in a clearly-readable handwriting style and without making a lot of typos or corrections or inkblots.

Several books survived the Middle Ages by being recycled; the original content was scraped off and something else written on it, making a palimpsest. Thus, one of Archimedes's books survived because someone used its pages to write a prayer book on it. Yes, that was the favorite sort of literature of medieval scribes -- Bibles, writings of Church Fathers, hymn books, prayer books, biographies of saints, ...

One Question.........

Kelly,

Your response arrested my attention and thus engendered the following inquiry: with respect to your comment, "The major flaw here is that when one is dealing with issues that can be studied with some measure of reliability, studies are of immeasurable worth in demonstrating the truth or falsity of a proposition. Experimentation is the foundation of science and without it, science is merely a naturalistic philosophy with no real answers or solutions." Curiously, is it possible to glean any scientific data to support the foregoing proposition or is it purely a metaphysical pronouncement.

Augustine

Crede ut intelligas et fides ut intelligas.............

agustine wrote:Kelly, Your

agustine wrote:
Kelly, Your response arrested my attention and thus engendered the following inquiry: with respect to your comment, "The major flaw here is that when one is dealing with issues that can be studied with some measure of reliability, studies are of immeasurable worth in demonstrating the truth or falsity of a proposition. Experimentation is the foundation of science and without it, science is merely a naturalistic philosophy with no real answers or solutions." Curiously, is it possible to glean any scientific data to support the foregoing proposition or is it purely a metaphysical pronouncement. Augustine

If you keep writing like that, I'll have to report you for torture of prose.

Hambydammit's picture

Augustine, please read the

Augustine, please read the following essays:

Foundational Assumptions

The Problem of Induction

Materialist Basis for Abstraction

If you're still having trouble understanding the foundations of materialism, let us know what specifically is giving you trouble.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism

"...correlations to

"...correlations to atrocities which had nothing at all to do with ME or the fact that there’s no proof for the existence of god..."

for clarification,

so are you using the "no True atheist argument here" -?

 

 

fly

"Experimentation is the

"Experimentation is the foundation of science..." Kelly

"...science just doesn’t apply to the supernatural..." VD's position

 

So, how exactly does one recreate the supernatural in experimentation for the purposes of observation?

 

fly

 

Religion || science

Using game-theoretic notation I argue in the topic that the relation between religion and science is very much incomparable, or fuzzy. They do not exclude each other mutually which I find a common misperception. No, I don't think Galilei Galileo or flat earth or whatever suffices for an example. I'm talking about religion, not politics.

Science is above all characterized by one thing and über-idea: The Scientific Method. That's what all demarcations between science and pseudo-science boil down to.

Thus, science being characterized by a mere method of action, it is by no means a value system (even though one can easily be derived - on the other hand, a value system can be derived from a slice of toast bread with a bit of imagination) like a religion in many ways is. It tells not how a life should be spent, what goals to strive for, how should we behave etc.; the way a religion typically does. We can say that, being a mere mode of action, science is culture-free and cultureless per se. And per se ideal of science is the core of its importance and potence as a world view contributor.

Let's not bash religion with a science textbook; they really have nothing to do with one another. Even insisting so is politics, not science or religion.

 

Sigmundur

So the earth isnt 6000 yrs ?

SO the earth really isnt 6000 yrs old ?

 

I just talked to someone who beleived this.

I can beleive that MORE people are being brainwashed and buying this BS?

 

I have to think that we are just not doing a good enough job at teaching science,

or the right-wing religious nutbags have really infiltrated our kids.

 

The USA is now becoming a laughing stock, what ashame

BTW, thought you might enjoy this...

Ties between southern Christian fundamentalists

 

You're correct, Sigmundur.

You're correct, Sigmundur. Science is not a system of morals, nor does it claim or aspire to be. You have to get your morality somewhere else.

Most philosophies assert their positions based on logic and reason.

Religion, on the other hand, makes unfounded claims about supernatural beings and appeals to your emotions (fear of death, fear of an imaginary hell, expectation of rewards, etc.)

vox dei is latin for voice

 

 

 

 

 

check out www.paltalk.com

 

 

it's a revolution in multi-media communications.

vox dei is latin for voice of god.

what's worse than people pretending

to believe they're certain that there is

no god is people claiming to be god's

chosen people and deliberately disobeying

his commands.

 

call your congress representatives

and all the news media outlets and

demand the abolition of zionist influence

in the us government

www.congress.org

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VZ7av9FWDM

 

kinda missed the boat....

....chapter two, which is entitled “Defining Science,” is a brief description of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, unknown to most, but a troupe of traveling masochists (or so it seems) who represent his caricature of science. These little side stories can have more of an effect than the reader understands, though. Right off the bat, science is seen as either freakish or trivial due to the association with that particular experience of his.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think you've kind of missed the boat on Chapter 2.  So much so that I had to go back and re-read the chapter to make sure we were talking about the same chapter.

As to the deficiency of your review of VD's chapter "Defining Science", I believe it's sufficient to point out that you never cite his definition of his science nor tell us whether you agree or disagree with that definition.  I think at a minimum an adequate review of a chapter on "Defining Science" ought to contain some reference to the author's definition of science, wouldn't you agree?

 

 

 

THIS Nonsense

I was just reading over some things and all I saw was he said this and she said that.  I NEED ONLY ASK A COUPLE QUESTIONS AND ALL SCIENCE IS LOST (note I am not trying to be gramatically correct here so just read it and think about it.)

FIRST: WHAT COMES FIRST:  LAWS OF NATURE OR NATURE AND THEN THE DEFINING LAWS.  (ex gravity and then every thing else in place, or every thing alligned and then the gravity)  

SECOND: WHAT MADE ALL LAWS COME TO BE?

THIRD: WHY IS THERE TIME? (OF COURSE IT IS RELATIVE BUT IT IS RELATIVE TO EVERYTHING WE KNOW AND THUS CAN NOT BE AN IDEA--IT IS HOW WE DEFINE LIFE, PROCESSES ETC) WHY CANT WE TRAVEL BACK IN TIME ETC

HOW DID THE BIG BANG COME TO BE (IF THERE WAS ONE OF COURSE)

IF YOU KNOW THE ANSWERS THEN I CAN REASURE YOU THAT YOU ARE GOD

BUT FOR NOW, JUST THINK OF THESE.  THere are a thousand or so more that are not explained by science in any way except well maybe...................this is all a dream.................prove me wrong................... And you can not prove me wrong because there is no basis on which you could build your argument since I do not belive anything you say: what ever you say is wrong anyway.......

NO RESPONSE NECESSARY SINCE NO ONE CAN CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE.   

kellym78's picture

If there is no possible

If there is no possible response that could convince you, despite the fact that you appear to be asking questions, I suppose I can just delete this idiotic comment?

albedo_00's picture

Paul Passer by wrote:IF YOU

Paul Passer by wrote:

IF YOU KNOW THE ANSWERS THEN I CAN REASURE YOU THAT YOU ARE GOD

Imagine, for a moment, this argument taking place 200 years ago and the questions asked were: what causes diseases? Why do the planets rotate around the sun? And your interlocutor simply says, "I don't know, but we might know in the future". Well, time passed and now we know the answers, so what does that mean? Are Pasteur and Einstein gods? Or it could simply mean science advances slowly, but steadily, I assure you. To negate it and instead opt for religion just because it offers absolute certainty based on absolutely nothing, is but an argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Paul Passer by wrote:
NO RESPONSE NECESSARY SINCE NO ONE CAN CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE.

Well then, see ya when science answers -or at least, gets us even closer to- the questions you post, till then, and given your willing, unfounded stubborness, all I can say is: Blow it up your ass.

Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl. Twice as good as Jesus.

PLEASE READ

You can delete my account I dont care but you are all wrong. I tell all who read this out of love even though I dont know you I have the ablity to love you becasue God loves me! God is real. Jesus was and is real. He is the only way. The only way to heaven. Heaven and hell are both very real. I just pray that you listen to my words. I am only a smalltown child of 16 years but have gone through a lot more than most people will ever go through. I have a lot a reasons to hate a lot of people but I choose not to because the Lord chosses to love me evenm though I do not deserve it. He loves you to. Very much! Please do not ignore this. Do not turn your  nose up to this love letter. Jesus is coming back and He is coming soon. I pray all your hearts are prepared! Let yourself love Him in the way He loves you. He will change your life in ways you never thought possible. Let Him in and He will NEVER fail you...

Your sister in Christ...

HisWillness's picture

Friend who loves wrote:I

Friend who loves wrote:
I have a lot a reasons to hate a lot of people but I choose not to because the Lord chosses to love me evenm though I do not deserve it.

Whoa - why don't you think you deserve love? That's ridiculous. Who doesn't deserve love? I don't know what you've been told, but we all deserve love. You don't need Jesus to know that.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence

iwbiek's picture

HisWillness wrote:Friend who

HisWillness wrote:

Friend who loves wrote:
I have a lot a reasons to hate a lot of people but I choose not to because the Lord chosses to love me evenm though I do not deserve it.

Whoa - why don't you think you deserve love? That's ridiculous. Who doesn't deserve love? I don't know what you've been told, but we all deserve love. You don't need Jesus to know that.

 

now, now, Will--"we all deserve love"?  that sounds like a metaphysical statement to me!  in fact, the whole concept of "deserving" something reeks of metaphysical idealism to me.  and that always stinks.

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen