I have the distinct pleasure of conversing from time to time with a brilliant thinker, James Knight, who writes eloquently about theology, science, and the reconciliation of the two. He recently wrote an article on a UK website that beautifully expresses how taking the stance of strict literalism destroys the profundity and meaning of the Book of Genesis (among others).
This is not an original notion of his, since the mainline denominations would all say the same thing (however, actual mileage may vary amongst individual congregation members, though.). But he has managed to express this difficult concept eloquently.
It is interesting that it drew the attention of Ken Ham, who is famous for his distortions of scripture and of science, who makes his living pandering to fearful Christian fundamentalists.
In part 1 of this series of three articles I demonstrated the problem of trying to prove something logically using either of two logical fallacies called False Dichotomy, and Appeal To Ignorance. I highly recommend reading part 1 if you are unfamiliar with these logical fallacies. In this part 2, I would like to demonstrate why the relationship between the hypothesis of Irreducible Complexity, put forth by Intelligent Design proponent Michael Behe is based on the logical fallacy of False Dichotomy.
If you read on, you might find out why the unicorn still owes me $20. Continue reading
You are a thief! I can prove that you, the reader, stole $20 from me. Last night, while my wife was out of town, I left a $20 bill on the kitchen table. When I woke up this morning, there was no $20 bill on the table. Since I didn’t take the bill, you must have stolen it. I am sure you will deny the theft, but I insist that I had nothing to do with removing that bill from the table.
Have I proven that you stole the bill? If you think my logic is ok, then please forward $20 to my address in small unmarked bills. If not, then you can save yourself $20 by reading on. Continue reading
In my introductory post to this series, I wrote that the the secret to the astonishing success of science is the invention of a new epistemology ( a new way of knowing). This brilliant intellectual invention was responsible for an explosion in our understanding of the universe over the last 400 years when compared to the previous hundred thousand years of the human struggle for understanding.
In this post I would like to explain the first two revolutionary philosophical innovations that broke the whole deal wide open. Continue reading
America famously leads the world in its denial of evolution and other well established foundational scientific theories,. It is a trend that is growing worse at a time when truth counts for less and less in the popular media. Even those who accept evolution often fail to appreciate its tremendous relevance for understanding and improving the human condition.
Not surprisingly, this trend is consistent with America’s tend towards less and less success in science education. In a 2009 study by the Program For International Student Assessment, America is now 25th amongst 32 developed countries in respect to its quality and results for science education.
Although religion and politics can be partly to blame for rampant science denial in the USA, it is my opinion that we are failing to teach our children the fundamental aspects of what makes knowing things about the natural world through science different than other ways of knowing. This is dangerous for a democracy that depends on a well educated citizenry to affect public policy on things like science through the electoral process. It is dangerous because not understanding how we know things thorugh science leaves us unable to distinguish between science and nonsense. This leaves us vulnerable to exploitation by those who want to affect public policy about science and technology in ways that are self-serving. When science is indistinguishable from politics we are all in deep trouble.