The Hedin issue is baaaack!: The Discovery Institute won’t accept their defeat at Ball State

Well, the Discovery Institute won’t go gentle into that good night.  After their loss in the Eric Hedin affair, in which Ball State University (BSU) President Jo Ann Gora proclaimed that courses like Hedin’s could not teach intelligent design creationism (ID) as science, Hedin’s course in Physics and Astronomy was canned.  That course proselytized Christianity and ID, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation pointed out its unconstitutionality to BSU. After that, there was an investigation by several faculty members, culminating with Gora’s wonderfully definitive policy statement.

The Discovery Institute (DI), home of ID, didn’t take this lying down. After naming me Censor of the Year for my small role in this issue, they have now influenced four Indiana State legislators to write to BSU asking for data on what happened when Hedin’s course was canned. And they’re crying “censorship” of intelligent design.  My informants tell me that this inquiry is probably the first step in Indiana trying to pass a law that would allow ID to be taught at state universities (of which BSU is one). Alternatively, it may be the way the DI is doing preliminary spadework (“discovery”) before filing a lawsuit.  Either way, this is not going to work. As the DI press release notes below, BSU is refusing to answer the legislators’ inquiries.

Here’s the first report of the hydra growing another head from the Muncie Star-Press:

MUNCIE — The Discovery Institute says four state legislators led by Senate Education Committee Chair Dennis Kruse, R–Auburn, have sent a letter to Ball State University’s president and board of trustees expressing concerns about the university’s treatment of BSU physicist Eric Hedin and its “imposition of a speech code censoring faculty speech on intelligent design.”

Hedin previously taught an honors course on the “Boundaries of Science” that briefly discussed the idea that nature displays evidence of intelligent design, but the course was removed following an investigation that the institute says operated outside of normal procedures.

In their letter, legislators expressed concerns “about whether improper procedures were followed while investigating professor Eric Hedin’s course, and whether an ad hoc committee appointed to investigate him was filled with persons with conflicts of interest…We are also concerned about the cancellation of Hedin’s class and the policy you announced last summer restricting faculty speech on intelligent design. We are disturbed by reports that while you restrict faculty speech on intelligent design, BSU authorized a seminar that teaches ‘Science Must Destroy Religion.’

The legislators promised to send additional questions to BSU in coming weeks.

Discovery Institute is asking BSU to investigate its honors seminar “Dangerous Ideas.” The sole textbook used in the course is an anthology edited by a prominent atheist in which the authors assert that “Science Must Destroy Religion,” that “There is no God; no Intelligent Designer; no higher purpose to our lives,” and even that scientists should function as our society’s “high priests.” The book contains an afterword by atheist evangelist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion.

And here’s the Discovery Institute’s News Release:

Legislators Demand Answers about Intelligent Design Ban at Ball State University

News Release
March 11, 2014
Robert Crowther
Discovery Institute
(206) 292-0401 x107
mailto:rob@discovery.org

Indianapolis—Four state legislators led by Senate Education Committee Chair Dennis Kruse (R–Auburn) have sent a letter to Ball State University’s (BSU) President and Board of Trustees expressing serious concerns about the university’s treatment of BSU physicist Eric Hedin and its imposition of a speech code censoring faculty speech on intelligent design.

Prof. Hedin previously taught an honors course on the “Boundaries of Science” which briefly discussed the idea that nature displays evidence of intelligent design, but the course was removed from BSU’s course schedule for Spring Semester 2014 following a controversial investigation that operated outside of normal procedures.
In their letter, legislators expressed concerns “about whether improper procedures were followed while investigating Prof. Eric Hedin’s course, and whether an ad hoc committee appointed to investigate him was filled with persons with conflicts of interest…We are also concerned about the cancellation of Hedin’s class and the policy you announced last summer restricting faculty speech on intelligent design. We are disturbed by reports that while you restrict faculty speech on intelligent design, BSU authorized a seminar that teaches ‘Science Must Destroy Religion.’

Your policy banning professors from expressing their views on intelligent design raises many troubling questions. One of the most important is: Does the policy forbid science professors from explaining either their support or rejection of intelligent design in answer to student questions about intelligent design in class?”

The legislators promised to send additional questions to BSU in coming weeks. The legislators’ letter comes after nearly 10,000 people signed a petition urging BSU to allow academic freedom for Prof. Hedin.

“Thus far BSU has refused to answer many questions about its mistreatment of Prof. Hedin,” said Discovery Institute attorney Joshua Youngkin. “BSU even recently filed a complaint with the Public Access Counselor to delay disclosing emails requested under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act. It’s time for BSU to stop stonewalling.”

“Senator Kruse and his fellow legislators are to be applauded for investigating BSU’s actions violating academic freedom and open discussion,” added Donald McLaughlin, Discovery Institute’s Indiana representative and an alumnus of Ball State.

Now, you may ask,”What is this seminar that teaches that Science must destroy religion’?” In fact, it turns out to be an honors seminar that uses as its basis a book edited by John Brockman (my agent), What is Your Dangerous Idea? . I’ve read that book—in fact, I contributed one of the essays—and it’s a mixture of diverse ideas, most of which have no bearing on religion. Brockman’s introduction (he is an atheist) says nothing about religion, and Steve Pinker’s foreword merely discusses and summarizes the book’s contents. Reader Roan below has also linked to Dawkins’s published afterword, and that, too, lacks any explicit atheism. But you can peruse the book’s contents at Amazon.  And yes, there are anti-religious pieces like Sam’s and these:

Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 11.26.38 AM

But there are also pro-religious pieces and pro-woo pieces like these:Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 11.24.29 AM

Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 11.24.54 AM

In other words, the book itself doesn’t seem to be promoting, overall, an atheist or a religious agenda, but is a balanced discussion of issues that intellectuals consider “dangerous.” To me, that seems an appropriate mix for an Honors Seminar. As I’ve always said, I wouldn’t have minded if Hedin had taught his course with two strictures: 1). It be taught not as a science course but as a philosophy or humanities course, and 2.) It be balanced, promoting no religious viewpoint in particular. If it discussed intelligent design creationism, it would also have to discuss criticisms of that notion. If it promoted God as having a hand in science, it would have to include contrary views by scientists like Victor Stenger and Richard Dawkins. Remember that President Gora’s objection was to teaching ID as science, not to having any discussion of religion or unbelief anywhere in her university.

The DI is going to lose on this one, and if the legislators try to pass some “equal time” law for ID in Indiana Universities, they’ll just look ridiculous. The Discovery Institute is simply unable to accept that they can’t push creationism in a public university, and are trying to make trouble.

I’ve gotten a copy of the letter to BSU from the four Indiana legislators engaged in their ludicrous crusade, and I’ll put it up tomorrow. I know that one of them is a Republican, but I’m predicting that the other three are, too (it’s not evident from the letter). In the meantime, no worries. The DI is livid that its Wedge Strategy didn’t work, and is trying to push the camel’s nose back into the tent.

139 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    sub

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Too

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        //

        • francis
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

          ///

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

            //

    • Darrin M Carter
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      sub

  2. Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Oh, no. Not again again. Again. Again again. Again.

    Perhaps somebody in Dover could make a road trip to Indiana to set the legislature straight? It’s only about 500 miles….

    b&

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      But how far backwards in time?

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        Sometime after the Pre-Socratics but before Newton. Don’t really need more precision than that, sadly….

        b&

    • Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Ben – Them Hoosiers don’t need no pointy-headed book-baggers from back east to set ‘em straight. Besides, they are all already straight and those Dover-types probably ain’t.

      DES ex-pat Hoosier

      • Jeff D
        Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        I am still a Hoosier, not by birth but by habit and happenstance. I spend several hours over at the State House each session, testifying before committees about fairly boring legislation.

        It’s worth remembering that State Senator Dennis Kruse, from Auburn in extreme northeast Indiana, the chairperson of the Senate education committee, is one of these fundagelical Christians who routinely introduces bills that he must know are unconstitutional and have no chance of passing, such as an organized, teacher-led school prayer bill, and a bill designed to mandate equal time for creationism in public school science classes.

        Near as I can tell, this sort of hobby-horse issue instantly suffers a loss of standing as soon as Sen. Kruse attaches himself to it. For example, the GOP leaders in both the House and Senate did their best to prevent the school prayer bill from getting even a committee hearing.

        I do not expect that this effort by the Disco Institute is going to get any significant legislative traction, because Ball State has even less reason to be “skeered” of Sen. Kruse than his legislative colleagues are. This year’s short session is just about over, and although there are large Republican majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, most of our state legislators are quite wary of doing anything that would appear to damage the reputation or standing of our state universities, especially in science.

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          Jeff – thanks for your insights. Sounds like not all of the screws are loose :-)

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the insights. As a Hoosier myself, it’s reassuring to know we’re only mostly led by nincompoops.

          Kruse is apparently a special sort of ninny.

        • ladyatheist
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          If they have so little regard for him why can’t they get him off of the Education committee?

          • Jeff D
            Posted March 13, 2014 at 1:26 am | Permalink

            Good question. Perhaps the leadership thinks that Kruse can’t do real damage as the chair of the Education Committee as he shows off the Republican ["party of stupid"] brand.

            Generally, a Republican legislator here in Indiana will lose committee positions only if he (almost always a “he”) does something really stupid (such as breaking the secrecy of what is discussed in caucus) in a public way. This is what happened to Rep. Michael Delph a month ago, when he posted some ill-advised tweets and held a bizarre press conference (complete with god-talk) after a vote on the resolution to put a constitutional same-sex marriage ban on the election ballot.

            • ladyatheist
              Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

              I live in a democrat district. I’m going to write to my state senator about this!

  3. Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    This link leads to Richard Dawkins’ afterword to the book, What Is Your Dangerous Idea?

    http://www.edge.org/conversation/afterword-to-dangerous-ideas

    • davidintoronto
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I had not read this. It was most interesting; thanks for the link. But… where was the evangelical atheism promised by the Discovery Institute? I was kinda looking forward to that.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 1:45 am | Permalink

        I didn’t see any evangelical atheism, but there was plenty that would make the anti-evolution ‘pro-life’ immortal-soul brigade start jumping.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Ugh. BSU should write this: ID is not Science. Hedin was teaching a science course ergo it was inappropriate to teach in a science class. Case closed.

    Of course, what the DI really doesn’t like is the above statement since they want to push ID as science whenever they can and they are just trying other ways to get it shoved in there.

    If the DI gets ID taught as a science, I think synchronized swimming should also be made a science course. If anything goes, let’s go big on this!

    • ladyatheist
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I took synchronized swimming in high school! It was very good exercise, and would be much more beneficial to a science student. You could ask the class why the muscular students sink like a stone while the plump girls have trouble maintaining underwater poses. Right there you’d have more science than a whole semester of ID

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know…

        You’d probably wind up with people building huge scales and comparing the weights of the girls and the weights of ducks…

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          “Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of science?”

          /@

          • Matt D
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            It’s a fair cop.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            He probably weights more than a duck.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              Alas – weighs. I too excited about my joke. :(

            • Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

              If my posting on that deep-dish thread is anything to go by…

  5. ladyatheist
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Just shows how far up their colon they’ve put their heads if a book with a mixture of ideas is offensive to them, and they don’t see how a one-sided presentation like Hedin’s could be wrong. If you want to be “fair” about ID, how about devoting a percentage of class time in proportion to the number of scientists who believe it? That way out of 45 hours of a typical science course there could be one sentence: “Some crackpots believe a deity did all this”

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      The entire way they’re behaving is so very unscientific. Instead of following the evidence, they are forcing the evidence to conform to their ideas. Hmmmm it’s like they have been doing this for so long, they think this is how science is done. I wonder what else they do this in. I just wonder. It is on the tip of my tongue…..

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        My four year old grandson behaves better than the ID most of the time.

  6. Erp
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    The seminar that supposedly teaches science must destroy religion is taught by Paul Ranieri who is apparently a devout Catholic (he is the sponsor of at least one of the Catholic student groups at Ball State and has written for Catholic journals).

    • Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Is there any way you can document that, say by linking to an online course description?

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        His vita.

        /@

        • Erp
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          To be exact he lists in his vita teaching the Dangerous Idea honors colloquium. He also lists himself as faculty advisor for the Catholic Student Union and as a consultant reader for the Journal of Catholic Higher Education.

          • Erp
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

            The course description is at http://honors.iweb.bsu.edu/Spring2013HonorsCollege.pdf

            We could all probably list ideas in times before us that turned out to be good ones, as well as those that turned out to be bad ones. One’s hindsight can be 20/20 clear. We can also name ideas that are dangerous because of the negative effect they could have for the future if they are wrong. However, what about ideas that are dangerous, not because they are assumed to be false, but because they might be true, because they might require a significant rethinking of our moral sensibilities‖? This is a course in integrative, speculative thought about just such dangerous ideas. Interestingly, speculative thought, or thinking in the realm of the possible, is often listed as a characteristic of advanced thinking. So, let‘s relax and speculate

          • Posted March 13, 2014 at 12:22 am | Permalink

            I had no doubt about Jerry’s reading skills … ;-)

            /@

  7. Keith
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    State Senator Dennis Kruse has been an enthusiastic promoter of ID for a while, now. It’s as if he’s determined to bankrupt what little is left of Indiana’s public education dollars.

  8. Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Science from the Latin scire to know stemming from the Greek epistemai, or knowledge. The stark division between science and the rest of the intellectual disciplines is part of the problem not part of the solution. There’s this pedestal that science is out on because of its basis on empirical proof and physical evidence but when you look deeper into the scientific disciplines you see as much reliance on assumptions and theory as you do in other disciplines like psychology, history, archeology etc. why the question of an underlying purpose or reason behind the universe should be relegated to philosophy doesn’t make logical sense, knowledge is predicated on understanding purpose or cause, this we inherit from Aristotle. This is all manifest quite distinctly in the debate over interpretations of Quantum Theory.

    Having said all that. Interesting piece and thank you for sharing.

    snowconenyc.com

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      What?! Before I address your characterization of all these academic disciplines, what do you mean by, “assumptions and theory”?

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      “archeology” [sic] IS science! And psychology and history are too, if they are done properly.

      I echo Diana in needing to see what precisely you mean by “assumptions and theory”, although I strongly suspect YOU are making a bad assumption about what “theory” means within a scientific framework.

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        The assumption I am calling out specifically which sits as the basis of physics, which includes in my definition everything that used to fall under the realm of natural philosophy (ie Newton) is the assumption of local realism. This is the cornerstone of all of physics and what quantum mechanics tells us quite unequivocally – based on scientific method, empirical proof etc, is that these assumptions do not hold true most certainly for quantum reality which by deduction calls into question the assumptions of classical physics.

        I’m not making a case for creationism here or intelligent design just pointing out that this pedestal of science that we hold so dear is simply a series of (albeit extraordinarily powerful) sets of laws based upon assumptions and conceptual frameworks that in many respects resembles the blind faith of the religious right. Part of the reason for this blind faith, and a lack of understanding as to what assumptions were making in different scientific fields (eg Relativity tells us that these laws are based upon a frame of reference of the observer after all, that singularities exist where the laws of physics no longer apply, etc) is this hard line we draw between “science”, which is effectively synonymous with “real” in today’s Western society (and again quantum mechanics calls this definition of “reality” and it’s inherent assumptions, namely local realism, directly into question using the same set of scientific tools and verifiable proof) and other disciplines like for example philosophy or religion or psychology is part of the reason why we get confused, or probably a better term is misguided, as to what is “real” and what is not. Relegating the question as to how the universe might have began, what the ultimate purpose of existence might be, whether or not there might exist some sort of creative force in the universe outside of a class on cosmology is the same mistake we make when we relegate various interpretative questions of quantum theory to philosophy or metaphysics. It declassifies their importance and relevance to the discussion when again, going all the way back to Aristotle who by far and away has influenced Western thought and how we have come to categorize the various disciplines which today we call “science”, built his entire theory of knowledge, understanding itself, based upon understanding the final purpose, the final cause of a thing which could be said to exist – telos from which our words teleology and teleological of course originate. This definition of knowledge seems to be the best one, even today, and it is this premise of the understanding of “causation” which in itself sits at the heart of our deterministic world view and from which scientific method emerged. Newton’s seminal work was on Natural Philosophy, which implies the preeminence of metaphysics over physics, which was Aristotle’s hierarchy of knowledge which we have lost in the last century. Newton by the way was a practicing and staunch alchemist and his theories for laws governing gravitation forces are said to have originated in his alchemical studies, much of which were lost in a fire apparently.

        Long winded response i know but my point is this stark division between what we seem is real, science itself, versus what is conjecture or not science, is a reversal of the hierarchy of knowledge, a relegation of the back seat we place in modern society for understanding what may or may not be the purpose of existence, and the moral or ethical implications on society as a whole for an entirely empiricist and deterministic view or reality – which again is an assumption of reality and science rather than a fact in and of itself (the mysteries behind dark matter, dark energy and the non-local, fundamentally non-classic behavior exhibited in quantum mechanics all point to these limitations on science and call for a more comprehensive system of thought to explain these seemingly paradoxical and inconsistent “phenomena”. This is what David Bohm attempted to do with some of the work toward the end of his career on “undivided whole ness” which has still yet to be incorporated into mainstream physics despite the breadth and coherence of the underlying math and theory – Bohmian Mechanics.

        My argument is for science to be placed in its proper place within the overall framework of knowledge, which is subservient to questions of purpose and causality not the other way around. The premise that everything in the universe can be explained by physical laws of the interaction between”real” objects and the forces that govern these interactions albeit extraordinarily powerful with tremendous practical application in a wide variety of domains, is a fundamentally limited view of reality and can only explain so much and without teaching this and emphasizing this in science classes, again particularly physics classes primarily but also include theoretical physics, cosmology, astronomy, biology, and mathematics, which are all based on similar principles and assumptions but all represent different disciplines, something very important, something upon which any sound theory of knowledge must be based, is lost sight of and therefore the limitations inherent to these scientific disciplines is lost.

        Off soap box now but hopefully this explains my rationale better even if you disagree with it. To me the reasoning is sound and it’s born out of the history of science itself.

        Respectfully

        snowconenyc.com

        • Keith
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          Sounds like you are making a NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria) argument. There’s too much deepity in your essay for me to really follow, but I gave it a shot.

        • Darrin M Carter
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          Very bad post-modernist twaddle.

        • ladyatheist
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          “local realism” What the heck is that?

          • NewEnglandBob
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            The alternative is local fakism.

            • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

              The fact that you don’t, and most people don’t, know what it is is precisely my point

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

                I just read Max Tegmark’s “Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality” and I see that as male bovine excrement too, or at least as pure speculative ruminations.

              • Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

                BS: The end product of a speculative ruminant!

                /@

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          My argument is for science to be placed in its proper place within the overall framework of knowledge, which is subservient to questions of purpose and causality not the other way around.

          Sorry. Thanks, but nobody here is buying what you’re selling.

          Might try the Baptists; I hear they’re into that sort of thing.

          Cheers,

          b&

        • moarscienceplz
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          “The premise that everything in the universe can be explained by physical laws of the interaction between ”real” objects and the forces that govern these interactions…, is a fundamentally limited view of reality and can only explain so much”

          Maybe invisible unicorns exist, but if they never interact with real objects in a way that is detectable then that’s as good as non-existence for me. I see no advantage in worrying about unicorns or gods when there is so much that we can detect and measure and form theories about.
          And WHAT, pray tell, can you hope to “explain” by invoking things you have absolutely no data about?

          • Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            Inference, intuition and hypotheses are the fuel of science and have no basis in data, information or material reality. Where do they come from? And do we want to ignore their source? That is a personal question that only each of us can answer but ignoring their very existence, their relationship to the foundations of physics and science, is foolish in my humble opinion.

            snowconenyc.com

            • gbjames
              Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

              Who ignores these things? They are human phenomena that arise in living human brains. Please point to where someone said they should be ignored.

        • Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

          Quantum mechanics is just as realistic as any other theory in science – viz, globally. (Not that the detail matters.)

          • Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

            Correct, without the notion of locality which underpins Newtonian mechanics which as it turns out is kind of a big deal with respect to its implications about the nature of the physical universe….

            snowconenyc.com

    • noncarborundum
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      You write “knowledge is predicated on understanding purpose or cause, this we inherit from Aristotle.” This assumes a fact not in evidence. What if there is no purpose? Claiming an inheritance from Aristotle proves nothing.

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Actually, claiming Aristotle as an authority is all but a slam-dunk conviction of being about as worng as worng can be. If Aristotle claimed something about the nature of reality, it’s almost guaranteed reality is really the polar opposite.

        b&

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Coming from someone who lacks an understanding of Aristotle on the influence of Western thought, on out language as to how we describe the word around us, and out ultimate categorizations of the sciences themselves as they have evolved in the last few centuries. To not understand how our perspective of reality wholly depends upon the work of those who came before us is to not have a full and compete understanding of reality and our conception of it, which has been farmed from, or in reaction and criticism too, of those who came before us. There is truth and meaning even today in Platos Forms and his allegory of the cave in the republic and if you cant see that well then your point of view is why we see the world in black and white, why our views of the world around us are fragmented and we as a society and as a people (globally) think that the world is a place of black and white, right and wrong, and from a scientific perspective completely bereft of any moral or ethical framework that sits within it or even complementary to it. This is stark contrast to even the “scientists” of not only the scientific revolution who all firmly believed in the hand of some sort of creator, but also even into the twentieth century with Einstein had some belief in some sort of creative force that drove and established these laws, hence the famous quotation by Einstein about his criticism of the “incompleteness” if quantum theory, “God does not play dice”.

          Respectfully

          snowconenyc.com

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            Oh, we understand Aristotle and his *damaging* influence of Western thought only too well.

            /@

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

            Er, the reason I dismiss Aristotle so vigorously is precisely because I understand him — and because I understand how profoundly misguided he was about the Cosmos. As with so many other primitive unsophisticates, he saw mindful agency everywhere and in everything. The exact opposite is the case.

            And it’s also because I dismiss Aristotelian and Platonic superstitions that I know not only that the world isn’t black and white, but that what we call color isn’t even remotely adequate to describing reality. Color is just the integration of the relative absorption of the primary pigments in our photoreceptors, each of which responds differently to different wavelengths. In reality, the spectral distribution of light is far more complex. When you look at a picture on your computer monitor of an object you have in your hands as well as the same picture printed on an inkjet and they all look the same, that’s an optical illusion; the spectral power distribution of the light reaching your eyes from each is radically different, even though they all produce the same sensation of color.

            And that’s just the tiniest fraction of just how completely off the mark Aristotle and Plato were.

            Drawing any conclusions from them is as hopeless as trying to assume that there really must be something that moves inertia in order for it to in turn move the planets.

            Cheers,

            b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            Are you really arguing that we should disregard the advances of the Enlightenment in favour of Aristotle? There were Romans that expanded on his work and proved him wrong (Hipparchus) but Mediaeval Christendom chose not to preserve them as they did Aristotle. You can’t honestly be arguing the scientific method doesn’t work. You’re typing on a science machine.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, there’s a reason the Romans had moved on from Aristotle. It’s a right shame the Church took him up at the exclusion of others & then proceeded to persecute those that thought otherwise.

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

            I suppose it would have been too much to have asked of the Christians that they adopted Epicurus and Democritus and Eratosthenes as their patron saints….

            b&

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

              Or that they read some Hipparchus. Or that they gave Aristarchus of Samos a fighting chance. No, no, let’s just listen to Aristotle and Plato & then torture or kill anyone that says, “hey this Aristarchus of Samos might’ve been on to something. Let’s see if we can prove that”.

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

                “All we are saying, is give Aristarchus a chance.”

                Doesn’t scan…

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

                Oh dear.

              • Posted March 12, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                Let Aristarchus be your star for us…?

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink

                Wish upon Aristarchus.

              • Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

                …makes no difference Hipparchus?

                b&

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Then to Aristotle we lack true knowledge of such a thing. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist (his theory on the definition of existence, that which characterizes that which is – being qua being – is a related framework but again if we don’t know ultimately “why” something exists to Aristotle we lack true knowledge of such a thing. If Aristotle’a whole framework and theory of knowledge itself didn’t underpin the history of science itself even up into modern times we could ignore his principle assumptions and axioms but the fact remains that our categories, the domain and classification of natural philosophy from which out modern science was born and has evolved from, is his framework through and through and in his model, it’s the underlying purpose of a thing, it’s causes that have brought it into “existence” which determine our understanding of a thing and knowledge itself. This hierarchy of science, his definitions and classifications of knowledge, have been inverted and therefore now remain disjointed and incoherent, as a system of knowledge as a whole, in my view at least.

        I’m a scientist and an agnostic for the record here, just trying to point out the drawbacks of these stark divisions we draw today as well as this blind faith in the all powerful “science” as having the ability to explain all phenomena in the universe, which in itself assumes, given its reliance on determinism and (local) realism, in itself has limits. These are models, don’t confuse them with the territory to borrow an analogy of Robert Pirsig.

        Respectfully

        snowconenyc.com

        • Larry Gay
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

          I think we can assume this commenter is male. I smell way too much testosterone.

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

            Aristosterone?

            Too much of that, and too little understanding of how epistemology has moved on since Aristotle.

            bigappleicecream might be a scientist, but he’s no philosopher of science.

            /@

            • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

              Actually…he is a philosopher of science…and that’s the problem….

              b&

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

              Pew!

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Then to Aristotle we lack true knowledge of such a thing.

          Frankly, I couldn’t give half a shit what Aristotle thinks about this. He’s as irrelevant to modern science as any astrologer.

          If Aristotlea whole framework and theory of knowledge itself didnt underpin the history of science itself even up into modern times we could ignore his principle assumptions and axioms

          We can certainly trace an evolutionary history of modern science to Aristotle, but that evolution also goes through astrology and alchemy and what-not. It’s of academic and historical interest, sure, but letting it dictate what we actually do is as silly as insisting that we can’t get out of the water because our ancient ancestors were fish.

          Aristotle’s metaphysics is no more relevant to modern science than Plato’s philosopher king is to modern governance.

          b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            Indeed. Certainly, studying the ancients is interesting and their contributions historically important, but I find Hipparchus’s & Archimedes’s work much more relevant because we actually used and built on their math.

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

            Again (one of my points) that despite their clear archaism with respect to the accuracy of say the orbits of the planets or basic chemistry for example, that their approach to philosophy, and knowledge, as a whole is something we very much can learn from. And that the idea that ID shouldn’t be taught, or should be prevented from being taught, in a science class is a reflection of a very specific example of how their more holistic approach to all of the disciplines which fall under what today we call science, and then some, has se benefits and we can learn from. What people miss is not that I am claiming that Plato or Aristotle, or the schools of thought that emanated from these teachings hold more merit “scientifically” speaking but that in fragmenting and isolating when and where we can discuss the potential underlying purpose of a thing, has consequences in how we behave individually and as a society as a whole – like for example marginalizing anyone who doesn’t hold science and hard data in such high esteem and calling into question the belief systems of some 3 billion people or so, most of whom have some sort of conservative religious affiliation. We can certainly be right, and I’m not questioning that science is based on a rational foundation than religion to a large extent, but our firm stance of placing hard data and “science” above any search for purpose behind the universe is not only inconsistent with the history of thousands of years of scientific development, it also serves to make it very difficult for us to understand or at least relate to other points of view, all topics and issues which have a profound influence in global politics as well as even local inter-country issues and problems. And yes one could pigeon hole me as a philosopher of sconce but that’s also kind of my point as well, place science in front of philosophy (or metaphysics) is the wrong order of operations so to speak and this order of precedence in and of itself has consequences, like for example that the discussion as to whether or not there’s a purpose to the universe is a philosophical problem and one that is not important enough for scientists themselves to bother with.

            • Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

              I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the point in holding ourselves back with long-since discredited primitive superstition, and philosophy, especially Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy, is as primitive and discredited as it gets — even more so than astrology and alchemy, and almost as bad as religion itself.

              Yes, by all means, study them in literature and history and sociology and anthropology classes, but study them the same way you’d study astrology or alchemy or religion or any other significant primitive superstition. For the sake of all that’s unholy, keep them far away from the science classes. (Except history of science, of course.)

              The whole point of science is to discard that which is useless. We no longer think the Sun circles the Earth, even if there’re contexts in which it’s convenient to pretend it does and if everybody thought so in the ancient past and uncountable millions still think so today.

              If you want to be a primitive superstitious fool, by all means, knock yourself out. But how are you going to know whether the chicken blood you just splattered all over yourself is going to bring the rains or stop them — or, worse, reanimate your dead mother in law?

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

                Ben, Ben, Ben, I’m really disappointed in you. Don’t you remember that it’s *goat’s* blood that brings the rains?

              • Posted March 12, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

                You’ve gotta be shittin’ me.

                That pot of chicken soup I made for dinner last night is all for naught?

                Damn.

                And I don’t remember seeing goat for sale in any of the local grocery stores — even Whole Paycheck. Lots of goat in the dairy section, but not the meat counter.

                Ah, well. Guess it is gonna be a long, dry, hot summer after all….

                b&

              • Posted March 13, 2014 at 12:13 am | Permalink

                You are kidding, right?

                /@

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted March 13, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

                Am I allowed, or even able, to do that? I thought that since I’m now an atheist, that I was a purely rational automaton, incapable of humor. Ecraser l’infame, and all that jazz. Shrill and strident, too. Not to mention existential angst all day long.

                I think Ben, in his response, caught nicely the intended flavor of my inadequate attempt at levity. Don’t worry; I save my sacrificing of goats for truly severe droughts.

              • Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:12 am | Permalink

                Was I too subtle … ? 🐐

                /@

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

                Apparently.

                At least I did experience some cognitive dissonance, if that makes you feel any better. I guess the problem is still trying to communicate tone, subtlety, and nuance via the interwebz…

              • Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

                But we are atheists. We have no need to.

                /@

              • TJR
                Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:44 am | Permalink

                Ant, you must be seething.

            • Darrin M Carter
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

              You use the terms “Purpose”, and “why”, these are terms for concepts in Ethics not Physical Science.

              I’ll end with my nine year old daughters very cogent observation after watching Cosmos and our later discussion … “So dad, people have whys and nature has hows” there is your problem summed up by a nine year old.

    • Posted March 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Seeing as science is so unreliable, what with all the assumptions and theories, I assume you eschew all technology, medicine, and live in a cave somewhere.

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Not at all, its the question of their limits and our failure to recognize these limits that i am pointing. Do you really think that we will be able to prove “why” the universe came to be. Another related question, do you really believe that we can definitively prove that there was no underlying creative force behind the universe. Even if we figured out what came before the Big Bang (which I think is terribly unlikely but let’s assume we did) the what came before that? And how do we prove that whatever came before that was not the hand of some underlying pervasive creative force, whatever you want to call it. As unlikely and unprovable is the establishment of the existence of some sort of conscious creative force behind the universe, you have the same difficulty proving behind a shadow of a doubt that one does not exist. Classic chicken and the egg problem. But my point is not establishing the relative validity of one of these positions over the other, quite simply pointing out that just maybe, maybe, we have lost site of the forest through the trees and by so doing we have lost the interconnected nature of all the philosophic disciplines and how they were intended to hang together in one coherent system of knowledge, which included moral and ethical philosophy, as well as even political philosophy, to which natural philosophy (our physics/science of modern times) was a complementary discipline not the be all end all of the decryption of what is real, of the harbinger of the distinction between “fact” and “fiction” or conjecture.

        Respectfully

        snowconenyc.com

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Net-zero-energy universe → no underlying creative force behind the universe.

          QED.

          Next?

          /@

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

          PS. Why does there *have* to be a “Why?”

          /@

          • NewEnglandBob
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

            There doesn’t. Nor does there need to be a cause or a purpose.

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Whoa.

            Meta.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            “Of all questions, why? is the least pertinent. It begs the question; it assumes the larger part of its own response; to wit, that a sensible response exists.” (Jack Vance, in Rhialto the Marvellous)

        • Jesper Both Pedersen
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          I’m fairly certain the universe came into existence because of some careless planning and I feel obliged to inform you that it is widely regarded as a bad move.

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

            Nonetheless, I think it’s important that we don’t panic.

            • Jesper Both Pedersen
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

              I fully concur. Furthermore it is advisable always to keep your towel within reach while in transit….or handkerchief if you’re the religious type.

              • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

                Towel in hand as we…type!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

                Ha! You were too fast – I said the same thing!

              • Jesper Both Pedersen
                Posted March 13, 2014 at 12:50 am | Permalink

                :-D

            • NewEnglandBob
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

              Panic was programmed into the 2nd universe over to the right.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

              I’ll grab my towel!

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          You missed my point.

          You’re still going on about how acquiring reliable knowledge is so problematic.

          So I ask: do you put your money where your mouth is in day to day life?

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

          Do you really think that we will be able to prove why the universe came to be.

          The Cosmos no more has a reason than there’s a north that’s even further north than the North Pole.

          Another related question, do you really believe that we can definitively prove that there was no underlying creative force behind the universe.

          Oh, that’s trivial.

          Let’s assume that there actually was some sort of intelligence that caused the Big Bang. Fine and dandy…but this intelligence has a problem. How is it to know that it isn’t itself deluded in some fashion? How does it know that it’s not, say, just some subroutine in some insanely vast computer simulation?

          It doesn’t. And if it can’t even theoretically rule out the possibility that it’s delusional, then what sense does it make to credit it for its actions and intelligence?

          This, of course, applies equally well no matter how many levels up the chain you might wish to go.

          The only rational conclusion is that, as with everything else Aristotelian, the very concept itself is incoherent.

          Cheers,

          b&

        • Darrin M Carter
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

          “Why” … Surely you mean (how), if you want to claim anything in empirical terms “why” is a non starter.

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          We can’t prove that bigfoot or the loch ness monster don’t exist either. Do you seriously mean to suggest that we should consider them as seriously as you consider some “conscious force behind the universe”? Because, you know, there’s equal amounts of evidence for all three of these, i.e., none.

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            Not to mention scads of evidence against, in addition to superbly successful theories which absolutely rule out such possibilities.

            Of course, evidence in favor would render irrelevant evidence against and cause us to radically revise or perhaps even outright discard our theories, but there’s no more reason to anticipate such an eventuality than there is to prepare for the Sun rising in the West — which also could, equally (and I do mean equally) hypothetically, somehow happen.

            Cheers,

            b&

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 13, 2014 at 2:10 am | Permalink

            With all due respect, Jerry, there is _some_ evidence for the Loch Ness Monster, although it isn’t very good. (I’ll concede there’s a lot of negative evidence against, too). But I don’t like seeing Nessie used as an example of an absurd and impossible proposition, because (to my mind) there is nothing absurd or supernatural about the possibility of a large marine animal living in Loch Ness, and – if Nessie was found tomorrow – I doubt if one scientific law would need to be rewritten.
            I like even less the Creationists co-opting Nessie – get yer filthy biblical mitts offa my monster!

            (I also think every biologist here would be absolutely fascinated and clamouring for a sample of her DNA. But I know very well that wishful thinking does not influence reality).

            But anyway, to my mind, that makes Nessie, however improbable, still many orders of magnitude less improbable than a ‘conscious force behind the universe’.

            • Richard Olson
              Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

              I don’t disagree with the following: ‘… because (to my mind) there is nothing absurd or supernatural about the possibility of a large marine animal living in Loch Ness, and – if Nessie was found tomorrow – I doubt if one scientific law would need to be rewritten.’

              This, on the other hand: ‘… there is _some_ evidence for the Loch Ness Monster, although it isn’t very good.’ ??

              What is this evidence that exists in support of the creature? My understanding is no remains — not a single tooth or bone, both of which ought to be abundant given the number of animals reqired to sustain a historic population of sufficient size to come down to at least a single survivor in the 21st century — ever have been found that establish the creature once existed.

              Reported sightings are almost non-existant since the installation of motion-sensor cameras that span the entire lake surface some 4 or 5 years ago. Which is notable, of course, since eye-witness sightings is all there ever has been in support of a Nessie.

              AFIK as I am aware, there remains no longer any reason to concede that it is impossible to prove that Nessie cannot possibly exist.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:59 am | Permalink

                The ‘evidence’ such as it is, is the various sighting reports over the years – which I agree is pretty thin.

                Evidence against – strong, but not necessarily 100% conclusive in proving the absence of Nessie. I don’t think any technology is quite as good as its proponents would like to believe. Motion-sensor cameras for example must have a threshold setting or they’d take a picture of every wave on the loch. So I think your last sentence (when I untangle the negatives!) is an overstatement, though I concede Nessie is highly unlikely.

                But really, my main point is just a dislike of equating Nessie to woo or superstition because Nessie (if she existed) would not be in any way supernatural.

          • Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

            I’ll try and explain it this way, borrowing someone else’s argument… So in your view, where reality is only governed and bound by what can be observed, proven or empirically verified, where does beauty lie exactly? To be taught in class rooms outside of science no doubt but is it real? Does it exist? And if so, what defines it and what is its source?

            Your writing, your arguments for example. What makes them sound, what makes them coherent. What is it that allows these thoughts of yours, that zealously defend empiricism and realism as the basis of our existence and relegate any notion of the divine to the realm of big foot and other myths, to be conveyed to other readers and be understood. How is knowledge conveyed and what are its boundaries.

            We place these questions in the box of philosophy, or metaphysics, or at worst into the realm of fantasy and we forget that our science that we hold so dear rests on these very same principles of what we consider to be “real” or to “exist”. We place science at the pinnacle of knowledge and thought and we forget the thousands of years of the evolution of thought, of language, of evolution, that brought us to the place where we could describe these laws, science, and verify them and test them to establish their truth.

            To isolate science in this way, to extricate it from its source as it were, whatever it is we choose to call it or describe it, is to look at a house, say we understand it, when all we choose to understand or know is what it looks like on the outside, it’s shingles and steps and windows. But what about its foundation, upon which it rests and without which it could not exist? We dismiss this relationship too quickly in my view.

            I don’t expect these words to change anyone’s thinking or position, the “atheist” position which rests so firmly on science and empirically verified data and truth cannot be moved so easily but if you take a moment and stop and think about what it is that science has shown us, in all it’s glory today, is it not that the universe we live in, that we have the power to even contemplate, is even stranger and more mysterious than out forefathers thought it was? And this mystery will just be solved one day by some equation that predicts everything? You really believe that?

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

              It seems you have a bit of a false equivalency going on here. It appears you are equating beauty with scientifically proven hypotheses. The difference here with beauty and science is beauty is in the eye of the beholder and science isn’t. There isn’t a different scientific result depending on what culture you are from or what language you speak or what have you. Beauty is subjective. Science is objective.

              Is beauty real – yes. But it varies from person to person or groups of people to groups of people. Can we figure out why the variation. In theory I think yes. Using an extreme a psychopath may find murder beautiful a person without psychopathy finds murder repulsive. This can be understood by studying the brain – knowing where the pleasure areas light up in it under what type of stimuli.

              Beauty is therefore the subjective output produced by the brain through input stimulus (eyes, touch, smell).

    • Chris
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      ” This is all manifest quite distinctly in the debate over interpretations of Quantum Theory.”

      As far as I’m aware no interpretation of QT invokes a designer… :-/

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        No but there is one that posits, and is wholly consistent and coherent with quantum mechanics proper, with a notion of undivided wholeness, ie Bohmian Mechanics. It’s the only interpretation, outside of Everett’s Relative State formulation (aka many-worlds) that provides a fully deterministic non-local interpretation of quantum theory. Call is what you will but the principles of relativity, or more accurately out the notions of local realism, which underlie ALL of classical physics mind you, must be be abandoned in order to explain the behavior. How you choose to categorize or name features if the quantum realm which underlie correlation between quantum systems beyond fundamentally classical boundaries or assumptions is up to you. Bohm called it undivided wholeness. It’s been proven as an empirical fact, tested and verified many times over (see Aspect and Bells Theorem experiments) and the only lasting loophole, which is basically a question of the reality of free will in the universe itself, which is a deeply philosophical question in and of itself and is highly unlikely to be a plausible explanation of the experimental results.

        Respectfully

        snowconenyc.com

        • Richard Olson
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          I understand there is a 37 page sentence in The Rotter’s Club by Jonathan Coe (Penguin Books, 2000). That alone keeps it off my to-read list.

          There are many people who perceive the world in Manichean context, but I don’t know how many as opposed the numbers who are skeptical of absolutes. My personal experience is that people who think in black vs white terms are typically deeply religious and uncomfortably judgemental.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

          But the quantum world doesn’t function like the classical world. It still functions according to the rules of quantum mechanics however. Even makes predictions.

          • Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

            Yes but it points to an underlying correlation of measurement phenomena that is inconsistent with the tenets of classical physics, ie namely local realism.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

              That’s because it isn’t classical physics. It’s quantum physics.

              • Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

                But it’s still physics :) and the interesting question is if quantum mechanics underlies the laws of “classical” physics, which at some level it must, what does that say about our knowledge of physics as it stands today? And do we really believe that physics will one day all be hung together in some grand theory of everything? This quantum gravity theory that we’re groping for right now? And even if these so-called gravitons are shown to exist, and our model of the universe is expanded to include them along with quantum mechanics and “classical” physics, does that help us understand the question of why we’re here to begin with?

                snowconenyc.com

              • Jesper Both Pedersen
                Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

                And even if these so-called gravitons are shown to exist, and our model of the universe is expanded to include them along with quantum mechanics and “classical” physics, does that help us understand the question of why we’re here to begin with?

                What do you mean by “why we’re here to begin with?”

              • Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

                A question of purpose – to the universe, to life and to our species even. Questions that are clearly beyond science as we narrowly define it today but questions that I think are important nonetheless, no matter what your opinion may be on their answer. The issue I have is with the hierarchy or supremacy of the domains where the reality and truth of physics is put on a pedestal as the harbinger of all truth, leaving us only with materialism and opportunism as possible philosophies to choose from.

              • Posted March 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

                That is enough comments for now; you are trying to dominate this thread. You have adduced no evidence for anything other than materialism, and you have adduced no evidence that there is any “purpose”, or that the qustion is even meaningful. You may consider it important, but others don’t. Until you can show why the “purpose” of the universe is an important question but the “purpose” of a rock isn’t, just go over and post on your own website. For now I ask you to refrain from dominating this thread.

              • Jesper Both Pedersen
                Posted March 23, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

                But how do you decide what constitutes purpose objectively and why do you think the universe owes you an answer?

                Physics isn’t put on a pedestal, it just happens to be the best tool we have to understanding the truth.

                If you let your imagination go it is possible to hypothesize about science beyond physics, but so far there’s no competition and nothing in human history is comparable to the success of various theories from the realm of physics.

                I think you’re asking the wrong question, but off course that’s a matter of personal preference.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

                Lif quantum mechanics underlies the laws of “classical” physics, which at some level it must, what does that say about our knowledge of physics as it stands today?

                I’m not sure that’s the case. The physics folks here are better versed than I but things that happen at the quantum level don’t necessarily role up to the classical level

                And do we really believe that physics will one day all be hung together in some grand theory of everything?

                Yes, I do think there will be a grand unified theory in physics just like there is a grand unified theory in biology: evolution. I hope that it will happen during my lifetime.

                ….does that help us understand the question of why we’re here to begin with?

                “Why” suggests a purpose. There is no evidence that there is a purpose in the universe. Is that what you are suggesting?

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Correct but Bohmiam Mechanics invokes a non-local principle of Quantum Potential which he takes one step further, and yes this steps into philosophy or metaphysics rather than physics proper, as evidence for undivided wholeness as the best explanation of this underlying force which acts to govern quantum behavior. Again, I’m not putting forward the position of ID, simply pointing out the implications of not assessing purpose or ultimate causation in the discussion of scientific disciplines, or subjugating these topics to “lesser” disciplines like philosophy which is effectively shorthand for mental masturbation pardon the vulgar expression.

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          You are posting a lot, and some of them violate the Roolz by being long essays. Before you can post further, answer this question honestly. Are you religious? If so, what are your reasons for believing in God. Remember, if you’re religious and lie about it, you’re offending God!

          • Posted March 13, 2014 at 4:52 am | Permalink

            Agnostic rationalist. No religious affiliation. Damned to hell if there is one, that much is certain.

  9. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Ah, the Indiana legislature. You’re in for it now.

    Indiana Pi Bill
    The Indiana Pi Bill is the popular name for bill #246 of the 1897 sitting of the Indiana General Assembly, one of the most famous attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative fiat…

  10. Posted March 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Senator Kruse’s e-mail address is Senator.Kruse@iga.in.gov for those who would like to send him a *polite* note about the situation.

    “Dear Senator Kruse,

    “Mr. Hedin cannot teach Intelligent Design (aka Creationism) in an astronomy course for the same reason that a professor cannot teach astrology in an astronomy course, or alchemy in a chemistry class for that matter. We can talk about the history of science and the silly things people used to believe; after all, in biology we talk about how people used to believe that maggots grew spontaneously out of meat, but we talk about them in preparation for introducing Pasteur’s broth experiments. We don’t present them as fact, though.”

  11. Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Once the unevolveds in the Indiana Legislature get involved the intellectual bottom drops out of any discussion. Because you can explain it to them, but you cannot understand it for them and it is in their interest to not understand.

  12. NAY
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    To All-if you haven’t yet checked the link to Prof. Dawkins’ afterword to the book, it is very much worth your while. The fluidity and coherence of his writing is a much needed antidote to a lot of what one reads these days (Prof. Ceiling Cat excepted, of course).

  13. Shwell Thanksh
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    “…be balanced, promoting no religious viewpoint in particular.”

    Including especially, I hope, one of the oldest and most “oppressed” viewpoints today: “You can’t fool me… it’s turtles all the way down.”

  14. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Alternatively, it may be the way the DI is doing preliminary spadework (“discovery”) before filing a lawsuit.

    That’s it! I was wondering what the “Discovery” in the “Discovery Institute” was. I knew it wasn’t science, but I just could not put my finger on it. Thank you, professor Ceiling Cat!

  15. krzysztof1
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    They will never give up, it seems. They don’t know how dead they are!

    • Achrachno
      Posted March 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      The truly dead never do.

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    Possibly an unfortunately catchy title, which seems to have spawned its own meme.

    But “selfish gene” != “gene for selfishness”

    I suspect many of the critics extend that erroneous impression to imply that all genes motivate towards selfishness.

    (I don’t even want to think about the ‘supporters’ of the concept who think it implies “Greed is natural” therefore “greed is good” ;)

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 2:14 am | Permalink

      Damn! That was supposed to be a comment on the Selfish Gene thread. :(

      Sorry.


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