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April 18, 2014


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Let me get this straight... a Down's Syndrome boy - a Down's syndrome boy - falls into a septic tank and loses his loving father as a result...and this explains that there must be a loving, caring, giving god in the sky?

If he's right, then it suggests that his presumably perfect god is somewhat impotent or incompetent to the point of being useless, and surely unworthy of praise.

But I guess it's better than the notion that random mutation over thousands of generations resulted in a pretty good but generally imperfect means by which an organism might thrive.

Slate's interest might best be explained by one word - "clicks". Online news is a tough business.

Nothing wrong with your content, but you didn't have a single link to Slate or to a pane talking about Slate. Your Jerry Coyne link is about Salon.

You're right Sean - I really spaced on this one.

I think I was reading an article at Salon, and followed a link to Linker's article at The Week. I then wrote Slate instead of Salon. Quite a mess up on my part. I must be out of practice or something.

Anyway, I just re-wrote the bits that were in error, and removed all erroneous references to Slate. Thanks for pointing it out.

Good to see a new post on the site, Skep.

On balance, I think Lewis' "Liar, Lunatic, Lord" argument is a much better one than this tenuous attempt at pseudo-scientific pseudo-rationalism.

And I think that's a pile of philosophical bovine excrement.

Dammit, HTML tags letting me down again. I reckon goddidit.

[Tag fixed - Skeptico]

Cheers for the fix, Skeptico.

I find a lot of headdesk-worthy moments when Creationists try to divide "rational" and "emotional/instinctive" in their complete misunderstanding of evolution, and worse, human nature.

Most often in my experience, they stupidly think that selfishness is inherently rational (and imply anyone who advocates rationalism is thus inherently selfish), therefore altruism disproves evolution. Naturally, this makes me question their psychological state, since they just unthinkingly assume that there are never rational reasons to help someone else.

Here, it's a denial of the existence of irrationality born of the messiness of nature, as if they think we believe the universe is a perfectly designed machine like they do.

Yes, altruism can make 'mistakes' from a raw evolutionary survival perspective. But it still works often enough to keep altruistic emotions and instincts. That altruism is why we advocate something kinder than evolution as a model for our society.

Skeptico...you are are major dick head!


Thank you for your thoughtful and reasoned rebuttal. It's given us all much food for thought.

For anyone interested in solving all this for good, you can't approach it purely from a narrow perspective of "us vs. them".

The detail and implications of the psychology of the religious experience is just as much rejected by Dawkins/Harris/etc. as it is by the Abrahamists. It would be clearer to define what we're even talking about, specifically. What does this disagreement really boil down to? And there are other perspectives not covered by this oversimplified "religion vs. science" narrative. If you have not read and psychoanalyzed the irrational teachings of each major religion, you can't expect to think clearly about the systemic effects religion has on the world. Where is this field of science? It's non-existent because academia selects for extreme conservatism, and because actually doing substantial analysis of psychology is impossible for people who only trust empirical data (see Carl Jung's books for something modern science still cannot do). In a Meta Paradigm where these presumptions can't be challenged, you have the end of rational evolution. The external society is not rational, either. It doesn't reflect the optimal behaviour for the best type of society to come forth.

Modern science can't explain its own dependence upon evidence without evidence. Modern science is not based on pure reason and rational behaviour. The dogma of modern science fails its own crucial check. If there is no need for evidence to explain the need for science in society (let alone that particular minimal scientific presence vs. major) then why is empirical evidence so well guarded? It's not consistent, so it's not rational.

For truly coming to a resolution of two logical suggestions that ignore everything else by being presented as though there's only ever been two options (sound familiar?), the entire world's problems and complexity are dragged into the mix, and it would be foolish to think you could have any one-line "answer to everything" without truly pulling everything into consideration. Modern science *IS* being contested, by the rational claim that the universe is made purely of ontological mathematics. Where is the response to that? It's non-existent, because scientists don't want to deal with anything that can't be disproven through sampling empirical evidence. I've suggested it and got no real response, because it doesn't fit the empirical evidence ideology of modern science (integralworld.net/smith47.html). You hit the same barrier as with "faith". It's not an improvement over organized religion if you still can't get through to someone without appealing to their preferences/worldview. It's a problem which can never go away under this Meta Paradigm of science. It's a dead end for wondrous, truly inquisitive, open thinking. That's a shame because when you look through something like Carl Sagan's writing/videos you see that a science doesn't have to be this way:

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.

Carl Sagan, 'The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark' (1995, Ballantine Books)


"If you believe that the world is sensible rather than intelligible (what you see is what you get; there are no hidden variables) then you must adopt an indeterministic, probabilistic approach to reality and say that the universe is ultimately grounded in randomness, i.e. you must accept the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, which asserts, in effect, that the moon does not exist when no one’s looking at it, and God is a dice player.

If you accept that the world is intelligible rather than sensible (there are truths of reason that no sensory experiment can ever reveal) then we live in a rational, determined, causal system of ontological mathematics, and quantum mechanics is not probabilistic at all: the wavefunction is ontologically real, not unreal (hence is in no need of being turned into a probability function)."

Hockney, Mike (2014-01-05). The Mathematical Universe (The God Series) (Kindle Locations 5147-5154). Hyperreality Books. Kindle Edition.

"Evidence versus Proof

Never get evidence and proof confused. Evidence is fallible and proof infallible. Evidence is temporal and proof is eternal. Evidence relates to truths of fact while proof refers to truths of reason."

Hockney, Mike (2014-01-05). The Mathematical Universe (The God Series) (Kindle Locations 2537-2540). Hyperreality Books. Kindle Edition.


If science exists within an unobservable universe, and yet you stubbornly insist on only considering empirical evidence, you will never reach any kind of resolution. That in itself isn't rational. It fits the dogma of ultimately only trusting empirically sampled data, but it's not sensible. Not wise. Not intuitive. This is why people can correctly refer to science as yet another religion with a set of followers: the followers don't need to actually do any investigation themselves; and all they're required to do is contribute their money. The bar is set rather low! And again; where is the reasoning for this? If everyone in society was a scientist, then even that would produce far more skepticism in general, which would be endlessly beneficial to human civilization. Why don't we do that? We have these half-effort excuse-words like "capitalism"; capitalism but more importantly society is not rational and does not make any inherent sense. Society is a group of people that got together out of rules that constantly change, not a rational agreement for what would benefit them all. This complexity of reality (as it gets portrayed by society's perceived lack of explanation) is a further systemic reason why people afraid of nihilism will flock to someone with a soothing emotional story.

Look at the history of the world. Science is nothing substantially new if is has no answer to the existential crisis of nihilism or absurdism, or anything that unifies and empowers the individual just by learning it. You're just as guilty for ignoring things you don't particularly like (such as the needs of humans totally isolated from industrial civilization) if you can't answer things like free will but still then go on to declare that science is the very best thing humanity has. No, it's not. Modern science alone is not helpful for personal psychological self-actualization for all of us, which directly affects the world around us; and everything does not boil down to logic that is devoid of the difficult hard critical thinking (which empiricist scientists would love, such as Ray Kurzweil's promises). It also doesn't count that Neil DeGrasse recently did this—

—because that's not a rational ontological claim; it's not even evidence; it's an ancient tactic of organized religion to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in alternate perspectives about what life itself is.

That then gets interpreted as offensive, and it swings back around to personal attacks. This has not changed the paradigm of organized religion's wars of ideology. What is needed to break the chain is true rational debate, free of opinion and the appeal to bodies of authority (science is not allowed to criticize industrial civilization like, say, Chris Hedges; it's an arm of empire); the kind of which the world very rarely sees today. If you can't be bothered to think critically about the very society and framework of presumptions all of this scientific research is predicated and financially dependent on, you are again limiting the range of discussion which is not rational at all. If it's ignorance that's being fought then modern science and scientism is just as guilty from an informational perspective of reality, for cherrypicking its information. If you cannot see things from others' perspectives then you will not understand them, yet ideology is a major factor in all the human behaviour on the planet. "Being the bigger person" is not just a moral appeal, but a generally superior strategy for understanding and cooperating with the world. It's the only general attitude that's rational. Modern science makes no preparations for how best to respond to society and ultimately reality in the long-term. It is in this context that modern science can be seen simply as an inert extension of empire or industrial civilization and its consumer conformity. The types of social movements ignored by science have everything to do with the state of the world today, and yet spirituality is sometimes mixed in with them. Consider that non-science-minded people might see emptiness in the kinds of things academia releases to the world. https://www.google.com/search?q=protests+2014


Meritocracy is a good consideration for contrasting the differences between scientific studies within the mainstream and the systemic, informational reality that highly intuitive thinkers perceive:

"Every institution that produces a "thesis" (which could be anything: a song, a shoe, a law, a service, a meal, a method of banking, a psychological innovation…whatever) should be matched with a Devil's Advocate institution that seeks to find faults with it, and to suggest refinements, improvements or completely new ideas. These should, in turn, be matched with a third set of institutions known by the term of Tertium Quid (Latin for "third something"). These correspond to the synthesis phase of the dialectic. Their function is to look at what has been produced by the thesis and the antithesis phases and to create a third thing, a better thing, a higher thing (the synthesis), from the two inputs, which then becomes the new thesis (as a prototype). This is then returned to the thesis phase, where the prototype is refined and resubmitted to the antithesis phase, and so on, until the original thesis has arrived at its omega point of completion. In this way, everything can be scientifically, systematically, and continuously improved."

This Facebook page has some interesting points to make, in a similar vein. This does not refer to Abrahamistic religions, which are entirely irrational and full of mythos:

In his 2009 book, The End of Materialism, Dr. Charles Tart, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California at Davis, states that the conflict is not between science, per se, and spirituality, but between scientism and spirituality. Scientism is, he says, a rigidified and dogmatic corruption of science. In effect, scientism is scientific fundamentalism and is to science what religious fundamentalism is to religion. While the religious fundamentalists are locked into the “letter” of whatever good book they adopt, the scientific fundamentalists are dogmatically locked into the scientific method.

It is difficult to generalize, but it has been our observation that many Atheists are former religious fundamentalists. When their faith was tested and things didn’t work out in their favor, they blamed it on God and divorced “Him,” moving to the other extreme and vowing never again to be duped. First Santa Claus, then God, such a person does not want a third strike. But we have also encountered a number of Atheists who had issues with their parents, who were fundamentalists. Atheism was a way to rebel against their parents. In effect, the move is often from religious fundamentalism to scientific fundamentalism without any real understanding of spirituality outside of religious fundamentalism. The smug Atheists jump to the conclusion that religious fundamentalism is representative of all spiritual belief, and they end up not being able to see the forest for the trees.


If governments and police interactions or Internet discussions were anything rational at all they'd be in constant evolution, not simply regurgitating the same mistakes of the previous generations of, mostly, subtle systemic forms of violence masquerading as genuine development or virtue. In a rational discussion you need to be able to respect the viewpoint of the other party, which includes any emotional disposition and indoctrination. It's not rational to divide, to exclude potentially new opinions, or to make outright false ontological claims.

This all collapses into *rational* sense, but not scientific evidence. Empirical evidence can never challenge an unbservable universe, because it will be an incomplete result thereof; but an unobservable universe can always contain empirical evidence. Modern science seems to take on just the same negative qualities of other institutions in society, in an utter non-responsiveness towards the broader issues of the world. Modern science has an incredibly narrow focus at all times, with e.g. NASA taking its guidance from government psychopaths who contribute things like getting caught playing iphone games on the job (McCain) or the incredibly stupid suggestion of moon colonies that can only come from either a child or someone who knows next to nothing about the state of the world.

Science is very much so backing these incompetent types of people. That's part of the appearance it generates. Scientists again will dodge notions like this with the usual non-responses. What about copyright? What about the degradation of civil liberties practically overnight? What about JSTOR and Aaron Schwarz? There's endless things modern science refuses to discuss in any meaningful capacity. This is the wide space which is occupied by the religious experience among many other small corners of the Internet and life. The only "answer" that would function for every aspect of life and society is an all-encompassing life philosophy and ontological theory, including of course rationalism. Science hasn't figured this out yet and scientists will vehemently deny or plain ignore criticisms like this. Why? Because they have the pretense of being right; the identity to preserve (as with religion) in Twitter and journals and so on. The government funds and protects the illusion. The scientists go to speak on TV about the strange events. Countless other things are connected, while science can't find a voice for any of it. Science doesn't want to explain conspiracy theories now; just mock them like any effective Abrahamist is told to.

It's still on the level of childish behaviour in a very real, solemnly serious sense. Massive, great changes are happening in the world right now. Science is not responsive. Science seems like more of the same authoritarian garbage to people who can't perceive the forces of intellect and reason in the physical structures all around them. Similarly, modern science foregoes any general critical assessment of the world and its function; of power and the control mechanisms; of every aspect not closed-off to the source of power and money itself. Modern science isn't realistic and doesn't speak up in any capacity for the common people who are being reduced to extreme financial poverty. Modern science is itself a poverty of critical wider awareness of the world. And that's not the issue; the issue is what science is going to do in the future.

"If you have not read and psychoanalyzed the irrational teachings of each major religion, you can't expect to think clearly about the systemic effects religion has on the world."

Judging by your homeopathic comment, you'd better take you own advice and start reading. Don't forget to include history and the history of science.

What is "modern science" anyway. There's just science. The Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Muslims were making a good start and/or had no idea what they were on to.

Then Christianity/Islam grabbed the reins around the Mediterranean and progress largely stopped until the power of the church (in Europe anyway) waned and the dawn of the Emlightenment, from which came what we call science.

This is only in the last couple of hundred years, after they stopped burning the open minded. All those centuries in power and VatiCorp produced how many vaccines? Irrc, the Muslims were on to smallpox before the Greeks.

Our current mandarin in chief in Canukistan is gutting science budgets and the scientists are protesting because there's far less money to study global warming or ocean health.

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