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Jan 03 2014

I cover Heddle’s Question

Heddle’s website is here. Heddle appears to be a Christian engaging us in a slightly problematic concept by dismissing my argument that levite law is still practiced.

No he doesn’t. The Old Testament law also tells Jews to sacrifice animals for sin atonement. It was commanded and it was moral. For Christians, however, sacrificing animals for atonement would be an abomination. What was commanded and moral in the OT is not automatically commanded and moral in the NT. Animal sacrificing is the clear example (at least it should be) that invalidates your simpleminded “gotcha” rule. (Will you argue, stupidly, that if Christians understood their own religion we should still sacrifice animals for atonement rather than call on Jesus’ sacrifice?)

Which is a terrifying attitude to take considering the divinely mandated rape, slavery and genocide in the same region. The virulence of hate mirrors other similar massacres at the time. Why must the Romans be shockingly violent for the desolation of Carthago but the Jews be considered heroes for their rape and slaughter of other tribes?

If Christians received a sufficiently believed message from a prophet that rape and genocide were acceptable they would do it.

Don’t look so surprised, it’s happened quite recently.

It’s an Orthodox priest blessing Sarajevo para-militia and in doing “god’s” work ethnic cleansing was excused.

If Levite law and the Old Testament are pointless then why keep them? They clearly add nothing to the Bible apart from a historical context that god was clearly not a moral being and happily killed innocent people on tribal lines. We can excuse the behaviour of Jehovah by realising he was a tribal god and tribal sensitivities run strong along feud lines. Where tit for tat attacks and escalation results in a permanent state of hatred.

We know our gods are man made which is why they behave like men.

Not to mention that Jesus himself violated OT laws, for example in the way he handled lepers. It is a stupid, common argument you are parroting. But I’m sure you’ll continue to make it without thinking.

He handled a leper and did so to demonstrate magical powers. However it didn’t stop centuries of Christians. Also? Son of a god gives him special compensation.

Also? Matthew 5:17 points out that Jesus did not come to cause the Old Testament to be invalid. It’s explicit that he came to uphold the law by your own book.

Thank you for a textbook internet atheist response. A predictable response based on the ubiquitous model among non-thinking atheists:

It’s a textbook response because it doesn’t need to be anything more. Must we come up with elaborate responses to disprove of fairies and unicorns too? Must I debate the Harry Potter fan with scientific evidence to disprove the existence of wizards? Must I do this for a million gods? Must I disprove the existence of Shiva and the lovely Parvathi at Kailasa? Or of Jehnna? Or of Naraka?

You may guffaw and say that it’s “nonsense” to compare those things. However I am just treating your god in the same way that you treated my old gods. Or indeed how we treat other mythological beings.

Well Jehovah! Don’t be silly!

My “gotcha” was demonstrating that the people from Duck Dynasty quoted a specific line from the Bible that begins by exhorting against lawyers and upholding the Bible and the priest as a method of solving disputes rather than “judges and courts” yet one cannot run a Multi-Million Dollar business without lawyering up.

And then I quoted the variety of biblical references to the wickedness of hypocrites.

So far your argument against the response is “heard it before”, not “this is why it’s wrong”.

1)      The old testament laws are there for all to read

Sure

2)      The old testament laws must still apply because it is a double victory for us:

I refer you to Matthew 5:17

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Good to know that Jesus is wrong on this one.

a. It is convenient for us to point out how brutal they are. 

Well it’s the Christian claim that all morality is born out of directly handed down laws from Jehovah and therefore the rape, genocide and slavery of the Old Testament should ring alarm bells because it did not encourage people to be BETTER than their peers but to be as brutal as any other civilisation.

There is no moral high ground, the Old Testament is not a moral code  by the standards of today and neither is the rest of the Bible. So to use it to enforce bigotry is an immoral act.

b. It is especially convenient to point out that the only reason Christians do not call for the adherence of OT laws (especially its capital offenses) is that they don’t have the stomach for it.

No, I think it’s because we have secular law. If Christianity had it’s way and was allowed to persecute homosexuals in the way they have been allowed to do so in the past we would see a return to the fundamentalist standpoint. Religious progression only really  happens under the umbrella of secularism.

In every situation, theocracy and large interference in the state by Religion has ended relatively poorly. Must we keep making that mistake because it will work “JUST THIS ONCE”.

No, good people have the stomach for it. I wrote about the other problem with Duck Dynasty’s star. The “lynching” of black people was quietly ignored by him as were the Jim Crow laws. And in that good Christians would happily attend a lynching with the air of a carnival. They even took momentoes and traded in photos of events. A real kodak moment for the whole family!

And these were people who saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. These were people who stood for good  strong biblical values and that included hanging uppity black people and rape and torture.

These were men and women who went to the Church and read the Bible and had no qualms about what they did. Not because they had no stomach but because they found a way to excuse their behaviour and remain moral.

Do you think the Nazis never went to Church? Do you think they never found a way to excuse their behaviour through the teachings of the Catholic Church and the writings of Luther? You may in retrospect call them “False Christians” or “misguided” but I am afraid people are capable of brutality if they can excuse  their behaviour. Religion provides a handy excuse. We see it in the Bible itself.

Why massacre? Why commit genocide?

Because god said so and we have to listen to the voice. It was our sacred duty.

That excuse was pulled out in the aftermath of Massacres. It was a “Sacred” duty. From the Nigerian Mall Siege  to Anders Breivik to the sectarian massacres of Northern Ireland to the Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq to the actions of Palestinians and Israelis to the Caste Violence in India to even the actions of the Buddhists in Burma. Hell we don’t even need religion to think like this if we look at gang violence in the USA or among football supporters.

This excuse is not new, it’s not special and you are not more enlightened and superior that your faith is immune to it. Unlike the Hindus who cut out the laws of Manu via the reform of the Buddha and Dharma and the Bhagavad Gita’s morality dialogue we have not seen any such radical change in Christianity.

3)      We will summarily dismiss any attempt to say that the NT nullifies the OT laws as “cafeteria Christianity.” This must be done at all costs to maintain our advantage.

The NT HAS to nullify the OT in the minds of the modern Christian otherwise Christianity cannot survive in the modern world where we jail slavers. The OT cannot survive in the modern world and is only really fished out by the fundies when they want to bash either women or the GLBT while wearing their polycotton jumpers.

4)      Don’t be afraid to employ this model—it is guaranteed to achieve maximal nods of approval and backslapping. With the added benefit that you don’t have to do any homework

.I have done more homework of your faith than you have of any of the faiths you claim are false. 

As usual, atheist apologetics adds nothing to the discussion at hand.

The fact we are discussing the personal opinions of mythological beings and taking such seriously is not lost on me.

What discussion? The Duck Dynasty family are racist and homophobic, they are utilising religion to oppose the rights of the GLBT and to encourage laws that discriminate against the GLBT over decisions that do not affect them in any single way  possible. They are part of a group of people that do this.

Must we find Biblical reasons as to why Homophobia is bad? Or is “your religious view is discriminatory to the GLBT and such bigotry is unacceptable in our modern life. Furthermore we do not like the fact you are utilising religion to reduce the rights of others and legislate your discrimination and homophobia. This is not persecution, this is preventing your from persecuting others. The validity of your gods has nothing to do with this.

92 comments

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  1. 51
    Holms

    And yet here is what I was referencing and responding to, busterggi #35:

    No shit. Have a look at my post again. Note that I quoted the same text from the same person – busterggi – and also made note of the post number.

  2. 52
    heddle

    @Holms #51,

    I apologize. I now see that you were accusing busterggi of conflating the RE and the HRE. My mistake. My apology extends beyond just being wrong, it includes being snarky while simultaneously wrong–a bad combination.

  3. 53
    Raging Bee

    How do you address the more realistic example of doing String Theory when you actually despise String Theory?

    You’re moving the goalposts from “don’t believe” to “despise.” I’ll take that as an admission that you’ve lost that particular argument.

    The point is that science doesn’t care why you do it–you just have to do it right.

    And my point is that you do it right by turning off beliefs that compromise your ability to do it right. And if you turn off a belief — i.e., disconnect it from your reasoning and decisions — because you know it’s incompatible with your work, then, for all practical purposes, you can’t claim you really believe it.

    And if you have to turn off a belief to do good science, that means your belief is incompatible with good science, and you know it. And insisting it’s compatible is a lie.

  4. 54
    heddle

    RB,

    I’ll take that as an admission that you’ve lost that particular argument.

    That fits with your usual practice of “Victory by declaring victory.” It is the slightest of variants: to declare victory by asserting your opponent has admitted defeat.

    And if you have to turn off a belief to do good science, that means your belief is incompatible with good science, and you know it. And insisting it’s compatible is a lie.

    More victory by declaring victory–this time an “argument from intimidation” variant.

    But I’ll make the usual challenge.

    If the statement that “science is incompatible with a [religious] belief” is true then either:

    1) The claim itself (the claim of incompatibility) is unscientific, i.e. it is woo, or
    2) The claim itself (the claim of incompatibility) is scientific in which case there is an experiment that can be done to demonstrate the effect. That is, it has observable consequences. If it is not testable/measurable, then it is not science.

    So if 2, if the incompatibility is not just nonsensical woo, then what is the experiment? I have proposed two:

    1) I will give you ten papers from peer-reviewed journals with the names redacted. Five from believers, five from atheists. If the incompatibility has a measurable effect, then the hypothesis is you can tell me, in a statistically significant manner, which are which. Just by reading them.

    2) A meta-experiment: device an experiment that a believer cannot do, or cannot do properly, that an atheist can do. Here the hypothesis is that if there is an incompatibility, then there is scientific work that can be done by atheists but not by believers, or vice versa.

    Again, if the claim of incompatibility is scientific then one or both of these experiments should show an effect of the incompatibility. Or maybe you can propose another.

    If there is no effect of the incompatibility then the only way to keep on insisting that it exists, a la Coyne, is not by science but by philosophy-woo, which, at its heart, is not really any different from religious woo.

  5. 55
    Raging Bee

    Oh good gods, heddle, how much longer are you going to flail about defending a bogus talking-point before you realize it’s not working?

    Here, let me make it easy for you…

    Again, if the claim of incompatibility is scientific then one or both of these experiments should show an effect of the incompatibility.

    The verifiable effect of the incompatibility, is that the belief had to be kicked aside for the practitioner to do his work. And if the practitioner’s ACTIONS are contrary to the belief, that’s proof that he’s kicked the belief aside. Therefore, if we know what a person believes, we can observe his actions, and their results, and objectively determine whether his belief is compatible with his work. So if a biologists says he doesn’t believe in evolution, yet consistently generates and supports work that is based on and reinforces evolution, then we can conclude that: a) his belief is incompatible with his science; b) he knows it’s incompatible; and c) he’s chosen to disregard his belief in favor of work that disproves it. QED. (That’s Latin for “DUH.”)

  6. 56
    Raging Bee

    …this time an “argument from intimidation” variant.

    If my arguments make you feel intimidated, that’s probably because you know I’ve shown that a belief you can’t live without is crap. And that’s YOUR fallacy, not mine.

  7. 57
    ildi

    Sure, you can “do” science, but I think it’s telling that only seven percent of top scientists believe in a God (as opposed to 39 percent of scientists in general and 95 percent of the population), and that pretty much no Nobel laureates are religious.

  8. 58
    heddle

    ildi,

    but I think it’s telling that only seven percent of top scientists believe in a God

    Telling of what, exactly?

    (As for Nobel Laureates I can think of several. For example Penzias, co-discoverer of the 3K background.)

  9. 59
    Holms

    That fits with your usual practice of “Victory by declaring victory.” It is the slightest of variants: to declare victory by asserting your opponent has admitted defeat.

    Call it rather ‘victory by noting that your opponent is no longer arguing honestly’.

  10. 60
    ildi

    Groundbreaking science involves creativity, not just churning along with the scientific method. I think the mentality of “goddidit” and “bff Jesus” and “GodpickedmetogostraighttoheavenunlikeyoulosersthoughI’mstillprayingforyou” can be a serious hindrance to that. It makes the world and questions about it smaller, more circumscribed.

  11. 61
    heddle

    Holms,

    Call it rather ‘victory by noting that your opponent is no longer arguing honestly’.

    Easy charge to make (unsubstantiated, it costs nothing.) Can you point out where I was being dishonest?

    ildi,

    “GodpickedmetogostraighttoheavenunlikeyoulosersthoughI’mstillprayingforyou” can be a serious hindrance to that.

    I still don’t get what you are trying to say. If you are simply saying that “only 7% of NAS believe in God which implies that very smart people (smarter than Coyne who is not a member and way, way smarter than PZ (or heddle) who are unworthy to tie their scientific sandals) do not believe in god, then just have the courage of your convictions and state it plainly.

  12. 62
    ildi

    I still don’t get what you are trying to say.

    Maybe read it again more slowly? Your paraphrasing skills sort of suck.

  13. 63
    heddle

    ildi,

    I did read it. But the premise that I seemed to get, that religion can be a hindrance to creativity, is not only a mere unsubstantiated assertion (can you prove that? Or even take a stab at it?) but one that would require gymnastics of biblical proportions in order to explain away all the creative accomplishments that have been done, over the millennia, under the auspices of religion.

    I was giving you the benefit of the doubt that you were not actually saying something that stupid.

  14. 64
    ildi

    Oh, yes, the belief in the supernatural has been the inspiration for all sorts of creative accomplishments. We were talking about scientific creativity, however, not creativity in general and I was saying how preconceived notions of how the world works and humans’ role in it can narrow scientific inquiry and inhibit one’s ability to practice really good science. (You’re REALLY bad at paraphrasing.) As Feynman said:

    The first source of difficulty [in believing in both science and God] is this – that it is imperative in science to doubt; it is absolutely necessary, for progress in science, to have uncertainty as a fundamental part of your inner nature. To make progress in understanding we must remain modest and allow that we do not know. Nothing is certain or proved beyond all doubt. You investigate for curiosity, because it is unknown, not because you know the answer. And as you develop more information in the sciences, it is not that you are finding out the truth, but that you are finding out that this or that is more or less likely.

    .

  15. 65
    Philip Hansen

    @Ildi
    While I don’t believe in any gods, and do believe that the wonders of science dwarf the wonders of religion (though i realise that is just a value assesment), I think you are being very binary and superficial in talking to Heddle. I also think you’re underestimating the power of compartmentalising and inflating the argument made by Heddle, which I never understood to mean that the best science can come from anyone, but rather that science can be done mechanically and without sincere, personal adherence to any of it”s working principles. You seem to be making the argument that the best of science, whatever that is, is excluded by religious belief, which may be true but not counter to Heddles original statement that science is agnostic to ones personal beliefs. I also appreciate Feynman’s musings on science, and I think he presents a lovely ideal in that quote, but I certainly don’t think it is very difficult for people to approach different aspects of their lives with wildly different degrees of gnosticism. While it may be true for some approaches to religion, that a theist will be unable to look past their worldview to perform a professional task, this is trivially untrue for a big swathe of the population – as we routinely need to do things in our professional lives that run counter to our own inclincations or don’t line up, fully, with our own beliefs.

  16. 66
    pozycjonowanie stron

    Exceptional post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further.
    Kudos!

  17. 67
    heddle

    ildi,

    I can also quote Feynman selectively from the very same essay:

    I do not believe that science can disprove the existence of God; I think that is impossible. And if it is impossible, is not a belief in science and in a God – an ordinary God of religion — a consistent possibility?

    Yes, it is consistent. Despite the fact that I said that more than half of the scientists don’t believe in God, many scientists do believe in both science and God, in a perfectly consistent way.

    His essay (let alone his quote) had nothing to do with the point that you are trying to make, badly. That is, it has nothing to do with creativity of any kind. His essay was about how a religious student might lose his faith when he or she begins to study science. It is beyond question that it happens (although my conversion from atheism to Christianity occurred after I was already a professional scientist, that is undoubtedly the exception to the rule.) I do know quite a few young people who, upon studying science, walked away.

    As an aside while I think Feynman’s view is mostly correct and more nuanced than much of the simplistic garbage you will read on this topic. I would say that while you have to give science some of the “credit” (or blame, as the case may be) for deconverting. But there is also the case (and anecdotally this is more common in my experience) where it is more accurate that the church is fundamentally responsible. The cases I am familiar with are young people brought up in a church with an strong anti-science bias. If you have been taught from childhood that “science is your enemy” then I think you might be more prone to walk away from your faith when you encounter science and especially scientists and find out they have no agenda to destroy religion. I hate this huge mistake in the modern evangelical church and take every opportunity to teach my fellow Christians than science is not in any way, shape or form, our enemy.

    Maybe if you slip in a charge “you suck at paraphrasing” one or two more times you will, by the rules of internet debating, be within your rights to declare victory.

  18. 68
    busterggi

    I love the smell of Arguement From Authority in the morning.

  19. 69
    heddle

    busterggi,

    Fair enough. I love the smell of the “namedropping a logical fallacy” fallacy.

  20. 70
    ildi

    Philip Hansen:

    I also think you’re underestimating the power of compartmentalising and inflating the argument made by Heddle, which I never understood to mean that the best science can come from anyone, but rather that science can be done mechanically and without sincere, personal adherence to any of it”s working principles.

    You’re right, there are two arguments going on, and I guess I had wiped heddle’s assertion about science above and beyond the compartmentalization issue right out of my mind due to the sheer (horror? inanity?) of it. I love this one:

    – you don’t even have to believe in or like science to do science.

    No, if you don’t like science or believe in it (I assume “believe” here means “don’t believe that it works as a way of understanding the world around us”), then you will be a bad scientist and probably won’t be able to do science for very long (certainly not to tenure level). There’s the scientific method and the scientific process, which heddle glosses over. Where do the hypotheses come from, if not from building on others’ work, or showing where they went wrong? If you think the entire process is a crap-shoot, at best you’re going to be working in some lab under an actual scientist’s direction.

    Let’s take his “physicist who despises string theory “ example. So, this physicist follows the literature (which is good, because as a scientist, if you “despise” a theory, it should have enough significant flaws that you’re not the only one) and manages to solve a major problem with the theory, becoming a String Theory Hero in the process. This physicist still “despises” the theory. If asked, this physicist would say “well, sure, I overcame this big-ass mathematical hurdle, but there is still problem A, B and C that I think makes the theory bokum.” In other words, this physicist is engaging in the scientific process.

    Jonathan Wells is the example that proves the rule: he has one publication as first author in a peer-reviewed journal, and it looks to be his PhD thesis. He got the degree specifically to provide the Discovery Institute with some gravitas. He does no science at all. Wells is a good example of why heddle’s statement

    I think if you hate science or don’t believe it you will not be, especially long term, a successful scientist. But that will not be science filtering you out as a reject–it will be something like the cognitive dissonance reaching unbearable levels.

    is incorrect. Science will filter this person out as a scientist way before they give up on it themselves (or they’ll get hired by the Discovery Institute to do fake science).

    So, there’s the one end of the continuum. You may be a good journeyman or technician but never a good scientist if all you have in your toolbox is the scientific method, and not the process. Then, there’s the middle ground of most scientists who churn along doing perfectly good and important science, some of whom happily compartmentalize their “science” way of approaching the world and their “magical” way. I was addressing how much compartmentalization there can be to be at the top of your game.

    heddle:

    Maybe if you slip in a charge “you suck at paraphrasing” one or two more times you will, by the rules of internet debating, be within your rights to declare victory.

    Well, bless your heart, I’m not trying to following the internet rules of debating like you are, and I don’t have to chide you on your sloppy reading comprehension because you’re addressing what I’m actually saying, for once.

    My bad for not giving my link, but I suspect we’ve gotten hold of different parts of the same elephant:
    Richard P. Feynman on the conflict between science and religion
    This goes before what I quoted earlier:

    […] And if it is impossible, is not a belief in science and in a God – an ordinary God of religion — a consistent possibility?

    Yes, it is consistent. Despite the fact that I said that more than half of the scientists don’t believe in God, many scientists do believe in both science and God, in a perfectly consistent way. But this consistency, although possible, is not easy to attain, and I would like to try to discuss two things: Why it is not easy to attain, and whether it is worth attempting to attain it. (…)

    The entire article is interesting and food for discussion, but I only wanted to include the part that goes along with my assertion that the element of creativity/ability to look outside the box that is a critical element of the best science is stifled by a boxed-in worldview as opposed to a worldview that is comfortable with—nay, embraces—uncertainty.

  21. 71
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  22. 72
    Holms

    #61
    Easy charge to make (unsubstantiated, it costs nothing.) Can you point out where I was being dishonest?

    Raging Bee already did precisely that in post 53, which you ignored.

    #64
    Oh, yes, the belief in the supernatural has been the inspiration for all sorts of creative accomplishments.

    I would go even further than that by saying belief in the supernatural is a creative accomplishement in and of itself.

    You’re REALLY bad at paraphrasing.

    Alternatively, he is being intellectually dishonest. See: “Fair enough. I love the smell of the “namedropping a logical fallacy” fallacy.”.

  23. 73
    garciniamax-una

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  24. 74
    heddle

    Holms,

    Raging Bee already did precisely that [point out dishonesty] in post 53, which you ignored.

    No he didn’t. He complained that I changed “don’t believe” to “despise” in regards to String theory, but the point made is irrespective of the word choice– the point being that you can do valid and even important String Theory work even if you do not believe (or despise, or both) String Theory. Science has no way of detecting your beliefs, morals, likes, dislikes, race, religion, etc.

    All RB showed his ignorance as to understanding what “moving the goal posts” means. Hint: it doesn’t simply mean that you changed words, when changing those words did not substantively change the argument.

    So RB did not point out my dishonesty, nor did you. You simply made the charge, unsubstantiated, like an intellectual coward.

    In other words, you are full of shit.

  25. 75
    Philip Hansen

    Heddle, I hope you won’t see this as a distraction or an insult, but i’m interested to know.

    I know the reason for belief can’t really be contained well in a short, online discussion, but what are your reasons for believing in the christian god ? Is it faith, personal revelation or something else/more – and where do you stand on claimed miracles of a christian nature, by which i mean any proclaimed miracles which you believe in ?

  26. 76
    ildi

    He complained that I changed “don’t believe” to “despise” in regards to String theory, but the point made is irrespective of the word choice– the point being that you can do valid and even important String Theory work even if you do not believe (or despise, or both) String Theory. Science has no way of detecting your beliefs, morals, likes, dislikes, race, religion, etc.

    I know you’re having a blast repeating tripe like this for the lulz, but for one, you do a disservice to science and scientists when you minimize the time, effort, skill and dedication it takes to be even an average scientist. (Google U and Dunning-Kruger, anyone?) Nobody would dedicate themselves to the level it takes to be able to conduct research in a topic if they disliked (much less despised) it.

    For two, I don’t think you realize what you seem to be revealing about yourself if you really believe someone can do an adequate (much less a good) job at something even if they despise what they do. I think few people would agree with that statement. Lucky you have tenure.

  27. 77
    heddle

    ildi,
    @Philip Hansen #75
    I don’t see it as an insult.

    I don’t have reasons for believing. I think faith is a gift (Eph 2:8) and so it is inherently “irrational.” I didn’t talk myself into believing–it is much more like this: I was going to church because my wife wanted me to, and enjoying the sermons the way one enjoys interesting lectures. Then one day I realized I believed. Only after I believed have I tried to apply reason and logic to, say, biblical exegesis. That is, I do not believe the bible for any rational reason, but I can attempt to defend my doctrine/theology from the bible using normal reasoning from the text. That is what got this thread all started–my claim that the bible teaches that the OT law is nullified, and that I can make a plausible case for that conclusion.

    I believe in the supernatural miracles of the bible. My definition of the supernatural is something that can be observed by science but never explained. If cameras were available someone could have taken a picture of Jesus walking on water, or measured slight pressure variations–but the explanation would have eluded science. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a miracle–it’d be a parlor trick.

    @ildi #76

    For two, I don’t think you realize what you seem to be revealing about yourself if you really believe someone can do an adequate (much less a good) job at something even if they despise what they do. I think few people would agree with that statement. Lucky you have tenure.

    Your gibberish would be somewhat meaningful if I stated that I hate science and still do it. I haven’t, and I don’t. I love science and consider it a privilege to be even an average, garden-variety physicist. You don’t seem to be able to grasp one level of abstraction. To wit: I have argued it is possible to hate science and do good science, because science cannot detect your motivation. You have not refuted that beyond some nebulous and unverifiable woo-claim that I have “done a disservice”.

    And in a way I am lucky to have tenure–but I absolutely earned it. I’m a decent scientist and a very good science teacher.

  28. 78
    ildi

    I have argued it is possible to hate science and do good science, because science cannot detect your motivation.

    That’s like saying it’s possible to hate basketball but still be a good player because the ball cannot detect your motivation. It isn’t possible to do good science if you hate science because you will not have the motivation to become versed enough to do it even poorly. So, in that sense science will detect your lack of motivation and fail your sorry ass.

  29. 79
    Philip Hansen

    @Heddle
    That’s an interesting reply. Of course I don’t share your belief, but that aside, your approach to miracles is something I haven’t heard before.
    I don’t quite see how it escapes more simple scientific explanations, as in: how is Jesus actually walking on water a more plausible explanation for the report of his doing so , than a simple lie or other false attribution?
    Also, do you then consider the miracles of alternate miracles as verifiable but non-explanable in the same sense as you would that of Jesus?

    Returning to a separate point, that of the scientist who contributes to String Theory by funneling his opposition to the theory into correcting many errors of String Theory. I accept that this is a case of someone who dislikes an avenue of science, and contributes to the science while being opposed to it. However, I don’t consider this to be analogous to someone who actually despises science, as an overarching structure. A physicist (presumably) who dislikes String Theory would still be a physicist, who would, reasonably, have to believe that the scientific enterprise has merit and value, and believe in its’ methods. Otherwise, how could his contributions be worth his time, if science is at its’ core despicable or nonsensical to him?
    Therein lies the difference, so far as I can tell, which makes it more accurate to say that theories (hypotheses) rather than science itself, are agnostic to the scientists’ beliefs. I think ildi has a point in saying that someone who dislikes science entirely, would indeed be very troubled finding any motivation for learning proper science, just on the basis of human psychology.

  30. 80
    Philip Hansen

    Doh, that would be “do you then consider the miracles of alternate religions”* not miracles of alternate miracles.

  31. 81
    heddle

    Philip Hansen,

    do you then consider the miracles of alternate miracles as verifiable but non-explanable in the same sense as you would that of Jesus?

    I would consider the miracles acclaimed by other religions to be fabrications. That is fairly obvious, right? And it works both ways. Muslims acknowledge a historical Jesus, but they deny the miracle of the Resurrection. They kinda have to–otherwise they’d sort of be Christians.

    I don’t quite see how it escapes more simple scientific explanations, as in: how is Jesus actually walking on water a more plausible explanation for the report of his doing so , than a simple lie or other false attribution?

    Of for sure any report that X walked on water is almost certainly a hoax, fabrication, or trick. I can’t prove Jesus walked on water. I can’t claim it is the plausible explanation. I just believe he did. I don’t even know why I believe it.

    Unfortunately you can’t study it scientifically, because there are no data. I would say this, that if I had some data of a miracle–say video of Jesus walking on water and measurements on the water, then, even if I believed it was a miracle, as a scientist I’d go to my grave trying to find a scientific explanation. We are not allowed to invoke “miracle” as an explanation when doing science.

    Also, keep in mind that you are (think) talking about itty-bitty miracles. It always surprises me that atheists zero in on things like walking on water. After all, we believe god created the universe, the mother of all miracles–water on water is not even in the same league.

    I think ildi has a point in saying that someone who dislikes science entirely, would indeed be very troubled finding any motivation for learning proper science, just on the basis of human psychology.

    You can say that but it is really just an opinion. Also, I was making a weaker statement. I never said that you could have a lifelong rewarding career in science even you despised science, I stated that if you did science while in state of despising/hating/not-believing science you could nevertheless do good science.

    Although this is theoretical, I never met a professional science who says he/she hates science, there is one place where you actually see this: in classroom labs, especially for non-science majors. There you regularly encounter a student who is an alpha-dog and wants an A will do science (even canned experiments constitute doing science), and do a good job, bitching about it continuously, all the while hating science, who will nevertheless produce a very acceptable even laudable scientific product.

    I do know scientists who are completely unexcited about their work. I just spoke to one, a chemist/material scientist at NASA (NASA Langley is 5 minutes from my house) who measures the same properties on various samples day after day. The results obtained are perfectly good science, but the scientist performing them watches the clock so she can get out at quitting time. I could not say she despises science, but she clearly has no passion whatsoever for what she does.

    If you have the ability and follow the method you can produce good science. It doesn’t care if you are happy or not.

  32. 82
    Raging Bee

    I do not believe the bible for any rational reason, but I can attempt to defend my doctrine/theology from the bible using normal reasoning from the text.

    Yeah, you can attempt to defend it, but you can’t seem to actually succeed at it.

    All RB showed his ignorance as to understanding what “moving the goal posts” means. Hint: it doesn’t simply mean that you changed words, when changing those words did not substantively change the argument.

    When you replace one word with another one that means something very different, then yes, changing the words does indeed substantively change the argument formed by those words.

    I have argued it is possible to hate science and do good science, because science cannot detect your motivation.

    Talk about moving goalposts — your original argument was that “science is agnostic to beliefs and motivations;” and I (and maybe others) refuted that by pointing out that one would have to turn off and ignore contrary beliefs in order to do good science — precisely because science is NOT “agnostic” to beliefs.

    Oh, and speaking of showing ignorance, I still haven’t seen any cite for your claim that Baptists “invented” separation of church and state in the West.

  33. 83
    heddle

    RB #82,

    I (and maybe others) refuted that by pointing out that one would have to turn off and ignore contrary beliefs in order to do good science — precisely because science is NOT “agnostic” to beliefs.

    There you go again. You can’t help yourself, can you? You refuted.

    No I don’t think so. Asserting that “one would have to turn off and ignore contrary beliefs in order to do good science” is not proving it. It’s just saying it. And, sorry, science is agnostic to beliefs, even though you used one of your most dangerous arguments–yes that’s right, you brought out your big rhetorical gun– you put NOT in all capitals.

    Unlike your pure assertions (which in your brain constitute proof and refutation) I can back that up. Any description of the scientific method will come with a deafening silence when it comes to the motivations and beliefs of the practitioner. It’s a feature, not a bug.

    And no I didn’t move the goalposts. You don’t know what that means. Please go look it up–do try to educate yourself. It does not mean, simply, “you didn’t use the exact same wording”. It means “you are now asking for more evidence.” I don’t have to ask for more evidence, since you have not supplied any in the first place. You have not given one shred of evidence that someone who doesn’t believe/hates/despises/loathes science could not, in fact, do science. You have only “refuted” it by saying: it ain’t so.

    You are, rather stupidly and/or disingenuously, trying to make a big deal that I used “don’t believe” once and “despises” (to make the exact same point, that science is agnostic to beliefs and motivations) another time. It is especially stupid because if the change was substantive at all, which it wasn’t, it’d be arguably to my disadvantage.

    You are also being a dipshit about the Baptists. I stand by my claim that they played a major role in the development of separation of church and state in the west, and provided a link about the Baptist role. You presented a rather nonsensical counter example: the Roman Empire, which is in no way a model of a secular state. If I used the word “invented” then fine, uncle. You win. My hyperbole results in a victory for you. You must be so proud.

  34. 84
    ildi

    heddle:

    So, you start off:

    Many atheists can’t seem to get it through their thick skulls that science is agnostic when it comes to the beliefs of those who practice it. It only cares that you play by the rules: hypothesize, experiment, don’t fuck with the data, present for peer review, document everything. It doesn’t care what you believe or what your motives are–you don’t even have to believe in or like science to do science. It is not a religion with scientists as its priests.

    Tell me how you can be so ignorant about science?

    Which is a minimalist description of what it means to practice science, btw, – you left out: keep up with the literature; critique the published work; generate work of the quality that is accepted in a peer-reviewed journal; incorporate or rebut critiques of your work by your peers; generate more hypotheses to support the theory (or, in the case of the giants, generate hypotheses that open up the possibility of entirely new theories).

    Moving on to your “physicist who despises string theory” example:

    A more realistic example that I always give is this: you could be one of those physicists who despises String Theory. At the same time, while reading the scientific literature, you could come across a great unsolved problem in String Theory. If you have the mathematical skill you could solve the problem, publish, and become a hero in the String Theory community–all the while maintaining your position that String Theory is nonsense. Nothing is preventing you from doing the science–even though you don’t believe it.

    These additional steps are embedded in your example, which actually does not demonstrate your point that this physicist does not believe in or like science – it is a particular theory this physicist “despises.” (Note to budding scientists, if you go around saying you “despise” a theory, you’re going to get the side-eye from your colleagues and they will assume that it is code for “I despise scientist X who supports this theory.”)

    When you are challenged on this, you jump to:

    Also, I was making a weaker statement. I never said that you could have a lifelong rewarding career in science even you despised science, I stated that if you did science while in state of despising/hating/not-believing science you could nevertheless do good science.

    I just spoke to one, a chemist/material scientist at NASA (NASA Langley is 5 minutes from my house) who measures the same properties on various samples day after day. The results obtained are perfectly good science, but the scientist performing them watches the clock so she can get out at quitting time. I could not say she despises science, but she clearly has no passion whatsoever for what she does.

    The results may be perfectly acceptable, and your material scientist friend may have “scientist” in her job title, but she is actually a highly-paid lab tech (knowing NASA’s GS grades) who is not practicing science even under your abbreviated original definition.

    Also, gotta love the beautiful well-poisoning of accusing atheists of being ignorant about science, while relying on people’s trust in you as a scientist to know what you are talking about as you do your very best to distort how science works merely to score some cheap rhetorical points on the internet.

  35. 85
    Raging Bee

    No I don’t think so. Asserting that “one would have to turn off and ignore contrary beliefs in order to do good science” is not proving it. It’s just saying it.

    Wow, I haven’t heard the “you’re just saying that!” dodge since grade-school. Yeah, I’m just saying something that disproves something you just said.

    And, sorry, science is agnostic to beliefs, even though you used one of your most dangerous arguments–yes that’s right, you brought out your big rhetorical gun– you put NOT in all capitals.

    Repeating an argument that’s already been refuted doesn’t work. The only beliefs to which science is agnostic, are the ones that are unstated, irrelevant, and have no effect on any scientists’ actions.

    You are also being a dipshit about the Baptists. I stand by my claim that they played a major role in the development of separation of church and state in the west…

    Your original assertion was that they “invented” it. Your word, not mine. Now you’re moving the goalposts and pretending you’ve proven your original bogus assertion (which you’re now running away from).

    You presented a rather nonsensical counter example: the Roman Empire…

    Yes, and I backed it up with some known facts about how that state conducted its business independent of the many and varied religious beliefs of its many and varied subject-peoples. It wasn’t a perfect secular state, but inventions are rarely perfect the first time around. (Oh, and you’re ignoring what I said about Jesus himself inventing a few things — aren’t you going to give him any credit, or are you just going to claim he was a Baptist?)

    Short answer: you can flail and huff and puff all you want, heddle, but you still made at least two bogus claims, the claims were refuted, and you look like a fool as a result. Give it up and go to bed already.

  36. 86
    heddle

    ildi,

    The results may be perfectly acceptable, and your material scientist friend may have “scientist” in her job title, but she is actually a highly-paid lab tech (knowing NASA’s GS grades) who is not practicing science even under your abbreviated original definition.

    Really. Will you put that to the test? If I send you copies of her papers and someone else’s doing the same kind of research, can you pick out the paper of the person who is “not practicing science?” I bet you can’t. I bet you can’t say: this peer reviewed paper came from a mere technician not a scientist, while this one, now this one came from a “real” scientist™. Because I can tell from this paper that this writer loves science.

    RB,

    Repeating an argument that’s already been refuted doesn’t work.

    Lucky for me I am repeating the argument that has not been refuted (except in your mind.)

    Yes, and I backed it up with some known facts about how that state conducted its business independent of the many and varied religious beliefs of its many and varied subject-peoples.

    While ignoring the fact that separation of church and state generally implies that a) you have no list of legal religions b) you do not murder members of a particular religion for sport and c) you do not have a state religion–all of which were characteristics of Rome. Sure you “proved” your point.

    Short answer: you can flail and huff and puff all you want, heddle, but you still made at least two bogus claims, the claims were refuted, and you look like a fool as a result.

    Well sure, since you say so, which in your mind is “proof”.

  37. 87
    Philip Hansen

    @Heddle

    Yes, I certainly wouldn’t make the far grander claim that doing science is really impossible for those opposed to it at every level. I can follow your argument about non-science majors, but I think, and I won’t pretend I am exploring the issue deeply, that that’s an example of following the motions of science, but is that not enough to be a scientist, other than in a purely semantic way? I feel uneasy about saying yes to that, to my mind a scientist (not just the IDEAL scientist) should care about the process, about the mechanics, about the explanations. That being said, I do acknowledge that you didn’t really argue that point – I just find it interesting to explore the lines of thinking on this issue. I definitely see a kind of science puritanism, if that’s an appropiate characterisation, being argued in atheist or skeptic discussions.

    While I think I understand your “why not go for god creating the universe” reasoning, I think it is much easier to tackle the “itty-bitty-miracles”. Kalam-type arguments and orgins-of-the-universe-discussions tend to be, to me, a bit more iffy in nature. I feel perfectly fine stating that I see no good reason why we should suppose a god created the universe, but when talking about creations of universes we dive headfirst into some of the more esoteric,vague theology, and the back and forth gets muddled pretty quickly. For that reason, I think it’s far simpler to talk about, even if just initially, itty-bitty miracles. We know lots of things, with much greater certainty, about water and the basic physics that come into play when hypothesising a walk on water. Put differently, the idea of walking on water seems more intuitively troublesome than something as far removed from everyday experience as early cosmology, if you follow my reasoning?

  38. 88
    heddle

    Philip Hansen,

    that that’s an example of following the motions of science, but is that not enough to be a scientist, other than in a purely semantic way? I feel uneasy about saying yes to that, to my mind a scientist (not just the IDEAL scientist) should care about the process, about the mechanics, about the explanations.

    Certainly I agree that a scientist should have passion for the work. I am arguing that, bottom line, it is not necessary. The “shoulds” that we add to the job descriptions are not part of the definition. They are values we are imposing. Similar to A+, we can define a science+ to be not just the “dictionary” definition of science–but also things like: “you must not conduct research with the ultimate goal of harming people.” But that would be science+, not science. In science you can do perfectly valid scientific research with the ultimate goal of mass murder.

    Put differently, the idea of walking on water seems more intuitively troublesome than something as far removed from everyday experience as early cosmology, if you follow my reasoning?

    I do follow the reasoning and, in a way, understand. I just wanted to point out the oddity that is perhaps better expressed this way: deism is weird. There are many liberal Christians who are effectively deists. They accept, at some level, that god created the universe but deny that the miracles occurred often because “we know people can’t walk on water.” It makes no sense to me. To me it is a flagrant violation of self-consistency.

  39. 89
    Holms

    No I don’t think so. Asserting that “one would have to turn off and ignore contrary beliefs in order to do good science” is not proving it. It’s just saying it.

    Jesus goddamn christ, you’re actually going full infant here. Yes, he is ‘just saying’ it, much like you have been ‘just saying’ your comments. That’s how arguments – as opposed to experimentation – proceed. People say stuff, using reasoned arguments to reach a conclusion. Yes, he ‘just said’ that it was a refutation, because he used reasoning to do precisely that; you are just clapping your hands over your ears and going “I can’t hear you!”

    Is that you really want this to proceed? I can apply that alleged ‘reasoning’ to everything thing I see written:

    “And, sorry, science is agnostic to beliefs…”
    No I don’t think so. Asserting that ‘science is agnostic to beliefs’ is not proving it. It’s just saying it.

    “…I can back that up.”
    Nope, you’re just saying that.

    “And no I didn’t move the goalposts.”
    So you say, but haven’t proven.

    …And so forth, ad nauseum. Pure petulant childishness.

    You are, rather stupidly and/or disingenuously, trying to make a big deal that I used “don’t believe” once and “despises” (to make the exact same point, that science is agnostic to beliefs and motivations) another time.

    I like the way you slip ‘motivations’ in there, as if you had been saying that the whole time. Bonus points for including that in a sentence in which you accuse someone else of disingenuousness.

    I see you are also increasingly resorting to the personal attack tactic, the clearest sign of logical mastery >_>

    It is becoming obvious that you are refusing to see sense out of, apparently, obstinacy. Not surprising in retrospect; spending time trying to use logic to defend your beliefs, despite admitting to having no logical basis for said belief, must be frustrating.

  40. 90
    heddle

    Holms,

    That’s how arguments – as opposed to experimentation – proceed.

    Really? Silly me, I thought arguments required evidence, especially if you are going to claim to have accomplished a refutation. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t say “you have been refuted” as RB did. See the difference? RB (it is a habit) likes to declare victory and state, confidently, that someone whom he disagrees with has been proved wrong.

    No I don’t think so. Asserting that ‘science is agnostic to beliefs’

    Except unlike you or RB I offered evidence and a relevant challenge: 1) any definition of the scientific method will not include a requirement about the beliefs of the scientist. It will not say “only true believers can do this!” There is not even a minimal requirement on the inner thinking of the scientist. There are only rules to follow. Also, I challenged anyone to pick out the the papers of the scientist who is not a True Scientist™ via your No True Scientist assertion.

    I like the way you slip ‘motivations’ in there

    Yeah I just slipped it in. In comments #41 (three times), #77, #83. I am so busted!

    spending time trying to use logic to defend your beliefs

    Where did I do that? If you are talking about my religious beliefs then you are very mistaken. Please show where I tried to use logic to defend my beliefs. On the contrary, I stated that I don’t know why I believe.

    must be frustrating.

    I guess, because you say so. So it must be true!

    I see you are also increasingly resorting to the personal attack tactic, the clearest sign of logical mastery

    And I see you are being even handed with your concern over personal attacks. No need to mention that RB called me: pretentious and ignorant (#3), lacking a decent education (#5), abysmally ignorant (#7), a crybaby (#33), a liar (#53), mocked that QED means “Duh” in #55, I believe in “crap” (#56) and once again ignorant (#82).

    I guess those aren’t personal attacks if they’re true, right?

  41. 91
    ildi

    heddle:

    If I send you copies of her papers and someone else’s doing the same kind of research, can you pick out the paper of the person who is “not practicing science?” I bet you can’t. I bet you can’t say: this peer reviewed paper came from a mere technician not a scientist, while this one, now this one came from a “real” scientist™. Because I can tell from this paper that this writer loves science.

    I think the goalposts are about 90 degrees from their original starting point. If she publishes, then she is doing much more than “measures the same properties on various samples day after day.” She’s burnt out on her job, and that sucks.
    Any-hoo, back to your original assertion:

    Many atheists can’t seem to get it through their thick skulls that science is agnostic when it comes to the beliefs of those who practice it. It only cares that you play by the rules: hypothesize, experiment, don’t fuck with the data, present for peer review, document everything. It doesn’t care what you believe or what your motives are–you don’t even have to believe in or like science to do science. It is not a religion with scientists as its priests.

    This is just as true for religion. You don’t have to believe in or like religion to do religion. As long as you play by the rules (attend whatever services are required, tithe, participate in church social events, pray with your family before meals), religion doesn’t care if you believe. Ironically, your personal belief of predestination is the ultimate example of this (which I find mystifying that the version of Christianity that you were not raised in but were drawn to was the one where an all-loving God randomly dooms most of his creation to eternal hellfire). There are many ministers out there who (like your scientist friend) are burned out on their job, no longer believe, but keep on ministering to their flock because it’s a job. A lot of people don’t really spend that much time even thinking about the tenets of their religion if they were raised in it; they just go to church. In fact, there are lots of people who don’t believe but send their kids to church because that’s just what you do.

    Religion and science have both developed as ways of trying to understand and control our environment. Religion has a very poor track record on this, even though myriad ways have been implemented (some by tearing out hearts, some by satisfying their God’s love for the smell of burning animal flesh). There’s only one science, and science is only given fuller reign when religion releases its stranglehold. As a society we compartmentalize the religious mindset and the scientific mindset, which determines what resources can be spent on which questions, independent on how useful the answers can be for making our lives easier during this short ride. Stem cell research comes to mind.

  42. 92
    Holms

    Really? Silly me, I thought arguments required evidence, especially if you are going to claim to have accomplished a refutation.

    It seems you don’t know how logical arguments work. No, they don’t require evidence (by which I take to mean measured data); they need a premise, argument and conclusion which need to be logically sound and that is it. Certain topics may lend themselves to the use of additional research – a discussion of gun control could certainly benefit from mortality statistics as an example – but this is not a necessity for all arguments.

    Silly you I guess.

    1) any definition of the scientific method will not include a requirement about the beliefs of the scientist. It will not say “only true believers can do this!” There is not even a minimal requirement on the inner thinking of the scientist. There are only rules to follow.

    Except that there is a minimal requirement on the ‘inner thoughts’ of the scientist – they must not conflict with the scientific method. The concept of truth being revealed by a divine authority is one such concept; while it may suffice for your religious faith, it is inadequate for any research and must be set aside, at least temporarily.

    Also, I challenged anyone to pick out the the papers of the scientist who is not a True Scientist™ via your No True Scientist assertion.

    Irrelevant. Once the incompatible methodology has been set aside, then it follows there will be no incompatible method left to detect. ‘No longer having X because it has been set aside’ is indistinguishable from ‘never had X in the first place’ from the perspective of someone making observations after the fact.

    Yeah I just slipped it in. In comments #41 (three times), #77, #83. I am so busted!

    The concept began as ‘beliefs’, so yes, busted.

    Please show where I tried to use logic to defend my beliefs. On the contrary, I stated that I don’t know why I believe.

    You did mention defending your particular theology, which amounts to the same thing in my view, but fine. It seems to me that even granting this distinction is not exactly useful to your position, but ok.

    I guess, because you say so. So it must be true!

    That’s a good start, I was beginning to doubt you would ever see reason.

    And I see you are being even handed with your concern over personal attacks. No need to mention that RB called me: pretentious and ignorant (#3), lacking a decent education (#5), abysmally ignorant (#7), a crybaby (#33), a liar (#53), mocked that QED means “Duh” in #55, I believe in “crap” (#56) and once again ignorant (#82).

    I guess those aren’t personal attacks if they’re true, right?

    Your posts are the central topic to this thread, so I have been reading your replies but only skimming theirs. That said, there remains a fairly large distinction between e.g. ‘liar’ levelled at you, and ‘dipshit’ levelled at Raging Bee.

    Liar: if someone lies, they can reasonably called a liar. You have been arguing dishonestly (yes, that’s right, I’m saying that. With words. Luckily, it was also supported by reasoning, so I guess that’s that dodge pre-empted, right?)

    Dipshit: a dipshit is when… Actually, I’m at a loss. What qualification saves dipshit from being a personal attack? Otherwise, you are comparing apples to oranges.

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