Wednesday, August 19, 2009

 

Natural Rights


Bruce Ledewitz, Professor of Law at Duquesne University School of Law, is in The Huffington Post dicussing a panel debate at the Netroots Nation Convention entitled: "A New Progressive Vision for Church and State: How I Learned to Accept "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and Stop Losing Elections." There is a video of the panel discussion available (which I have not watched yet).

Ledewitz explains the proposal thusly:

The old liberal vision of a total separation of religion from politics has been discredited. Despite growing secularization, a secular progressive majority is still impossible, and a new two-part approach is needed--one that first admits that there is no political wall of separation. Voters must be allowed, without criticism, to propose policies based on religious belief. But, when government speaks and acts, messages must be universal. The burden is on religious believers, therefore, to explain public references like 'under God' in universal terms. For example, the word 'God' can refer to the ceaseless creativity of the universe and the objective validity of human rights. Promoting and accepting religious images as universal will help heal culture-war divisions and promote the formation of a broad-based progressive coalition.
He specifically discusses the recent overwhelming vote in the House of Representatives to have the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Motto "In God We Trust" engraved in the Capitol Visitor Center. Ledewitz argues:

As long as government plausibly justifies religious imagery in nonreligious terms, its use would be constitutional. For example, the phrase in 'God We Trust' means the biblical creator to many religious believers. But it can also mean that we acknowledge that there are binding standards of right and wrong, such as the anti-torture principle, to which America is subject.
Although Ledewitz admits that the supporters of this bill "really wish to assert that we trust in God today and that we ought to trust in God," he nonetheless argues:

[I]f the word "God" were as small as they think it is, the national motto would be unconstitutional. But since God has much broader meaning than any merely sectarian use, the presence of this word in the public square can be justified even under the principle of government religious neutrality.
If so, then there is a simple way to make that clear: let's adopt Jefferson's phraseology and make it "one nation under nature and nature's God" and "In nature and nature's God we trust." After all, the Religious Right could hardly justly complain, since they are constantly pushing the Declaration of Independence as evidence that this is a "Christian nation."

Despite that, I somehow doubt such a proposal would go over well with the same people who want to carve "God" into the very stone that makes up our public places. In that event, I think Professor Ledewitz needs to explain just how he can still maintain it is not merely a sectarian use.

Words only mean what people want them to mean.
.

Comments:
Words only mean what people want them to mean.

Exactly, and if we polled a representative sample of the population on whether they understand the word "God" to mean the Christian deity or "the ceaseless creativity of the universe and the objective validity of human rights." I wonder what the result would be?
 
Ask me a hard one.
 
That is a very good point. The context of the panel was a discussion of the Establishment Clause. My proposal is that government can only use religious language when the government justifies that language, officially so to speak (in any lawsuit, for example), through nonreligious references. At the beginning, just as you say, that justification would not reflect how many people experience the language. As we become more secular, the official justification would become the actually accepted meaning, gradually, organically and without strife.
 
Secularism is just as much a worldview, a guiding principle or religion as is Christianity.

Therefore, let's not get too indignant about the opposition.
 
Professor:

At the beginning, just as you say, that justification would not reflect how many people experience the language.

Worse, it would not reflect how government came to enact such language. Most of the time these kind of public pieties are instigated by true believers within government, not politicians merely trying to please the greatest number of people by steering a middle course of some sort. I'm concerned that your proposal would, instead of making the claims of officials that the enactments aren't really religious in nature rather furtive and shamefaced, would actually sanction the sort of thinly-veiled, "nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean" explanation that is prevalent now.

I am not unsympathetic to the impulse behind your proposal. Some of these fights are both unwinnable and probably not worth the effort waging. But Everson was not built in a day and neither will be a full acceptance of what it means.

I think I'd rather live for the time being with Oliver Wendell's advice on hobgobblins than hope that giving those who would build shines rather than the public good will just fade away.

P.S. It's probably not obvious from a brief visit here but I am an attorney, though my practice is not much involved with constitutional law.
 
Secularism is just as much a worldview, a guiding principle or religion as is Christianity.

Hmmm ... so all those Founding Fathers who wrote secularism into our Constitution weren't really Christians?

But thanks for stopping by and proving the point I was making to the professor.
 
Secularism is just as much a...religion as is Christianity.

and black is white.
 
Voters must be allowed, without criticism, to propose policies based on religious belief. But, when government speaks and acts, messages must be universal. The burden is on religious believers, therefore, to explain public references like 'under God' in universal terms.

This is pretty much what President Obama said several years ago. If this were the way political discourse actually transpired, I wouldn't be greatly concerned about people bringing their religious beliefs into the public square. Everyone brings his or her background beliefs to public discussion. The trick is recognizing the interests that cross sectarian theological and philosophical boundaries and addressing those commonalities instead of the distinctions that separate one position from others.

Unfortunately, the conservative Christians I know believe that their religious justifications for their beliefs are the only ones they need to bring into public discourse. If I don't agree with a position because its only basis is a purported biblical mandate, then their assumption is that I should either accept that their biblical foundation in the correct one, or allow them to enforce their mandate on me and others because it is - in their view - best for us that they do so.

John, you and most of your readers know as well as I do that the claim of "ceremonial deism" is a convenient smokescreen to which the politically astute retreat when it's convenient for them to do so. The reality is, most people who fight for "under God," "Ten Commandments" monuments and other such rot do not hold to "ceremonial deism." They hold to "Christian nation" rhetoric, if not outright Dominionism.

I admire Ledewitz's intention, but do not agree with his position on this matter. An important step toward becoming more secular will be to stop accommodating those who wish to impose their worldviews - including their language - on the rest of us.
 
I do think there is no prospect of getting "God" out of the Motto and little of getting it out of the Pledge. Not every bit of public piety is worth fighting over, especially if it has tradition of some sort behind it. It's easier and perhaps more effective to fight against new manifestations of it and hold the line on ones we've already won on. The most effective measure would be electing presidents and congresses that will appoint and approve justices of the Supreme Court who give a high value to separation of church and state. The ultimate, but most difficult, solution is to change society to the point that most people want government to keep its nose out of religion and vice versa.
 
As long as government plausibly justifies religious imagery in nonreligious terms, its use would be constitutional.

You mean like saying "Intelligent Designer"? That's pretty nonreligious. That's even more nonreligious than saying "God".

Somehow I don't think the (Christian fundamentalist) religious believers would have a problem with explaining public (wedge) references like "under God" in universal (wedge) terms, wink wink.
 
As a Christian, I too believe in the separation between Church and State. However, this was never intended to sideline those with a religious orientation. If that had been the case, we all would have been rendered speechless.

As I read your comments, I’m impressed by the fact that we all have a religious agenda, whether that means promoting the religion of secularism or neutralizing it.

However, here’s what is illegitimate—depriving certain views of a voice because they do not fit into society’s definition of what constitutes acceptable speech or they have the wrong motivation. Sadly, there have been court decisions which have ruled against introducing legitimate, scientific criticism of Darwinism into the classroom because those who introduced the material had a particular religious motivation.

Nevertheless, I agree that our case must be made in a language we can all understand and respect. The Christian, therefore shouldn’t try to make his case by quoting the Bible, nor the Muslim the Koran.
 
However, this was never intended to sideline those with a religious orientation.

No one has "sidelined" you. You have every right to proselytize your religion and there are churches (mostly tax exempt) on almost ever street corner in this country. You just can't use the government to proselytize for you. And "secularism" (defined as maintaining a secular government) is not a religion precisely because many religious people support it as well because they know it is the best way to protect their own beliefs. You are confusing secularism in government with atheism.

Sadly, there have been court decisions which have ruled against introducing legitimate, scientific criticism of Darwinism into the classroom because those who introduced the material had a particular religious motivation.

It isn't legitimate, scientific criticism exactly because it doesn't follow the scientific method. This is admitted by the DI and people like Dembski and Behe -- strongly opposed not just by atheist scientists but by religious ones as well -- by their saying they are out to change the definition of science that is all but universally agreed to by scientists themselves and by all but post-modernist philosophers of science (who IDers only cosey up to for tactical reasons, since post-modernists are the natural enemies of religion).

You are free to get philosophy courses in public schools that can discuss these issues ... or comparative religion courses or civic courses (I am actually quite sympathetic to letting you have your say in the proper forum) ... but you want to illicitly adopt the cache of science without doing the empiric work that is the hallmark of science. It is nothing more than an attempt to dress up a narrow sectarian (though cross-denominational) religious view in the clothing of science so you can teach it as true, rather than as one religion or philosophy out of many. If you can do that, why can't the muslims or the Moonies or the Scientologists or the atheists? The reason the courts consider motives in such cases is pretty much the same reason we consider them in murder cases ... in a search for the truth about what has or is happening, motives are valid circumstantial evidence.

The Christian, therefore shouldn’t try to make his case by quoting the Bible, nor the Muslim the Koran.

You can quote any damn thing you like ... that's what freedom of speech is all about. You just can't make the government into your bullhorn.
 
John,

You seem to be saying that your point of view deserves to be heard in the public market place of ideas and government, while mine isn’t! What type of hypocrisy is that! You claim that this disparity should be maintained because we Christians are “proselytizing” while you’re not. Give me a break—you’re just as evangelistic with your message as I am with mine. You even have a blog to get your secular message across. Let’s establish a level playing field for all views to be heard!

You also resort to the fact that there are religious people who are opposed to ID as an excuse to dismiss it. What type of reasoning is that! What if I produce atheists who disagree with secularism? Does that entitle me to dismiss secularism?

Secularists prevent IDers from teaching and then blame ID for not making scientific contributions. You can’t have it both ways! You use methodological naturalism, as if it’s a philosophically neutral concept, to dogmatically rule against any mention of super-natural causation. You claim that naturalism is scientific while there is not a shred of scientific evidence for it. While we all agree that there are laws that govern phenomena in predictable ways, science can’t observe or measure whether or not these are natural laws or laws that find their origin and sustenance in the mind of God.

To take this a step further, science is (and should be) always seeking simplicity, elegance and the one force that can explain and unify all theory. It is this one unifying principle that we can find in the mind of God.
 
You seem to be saying that your point of view deserves to be heard in the public market place of ideas and government, while mine isn't!

Then you seem to be incapable of reading English.

You claim that this disparity should be maintained because we Christians are "proselytizing" while you're not. Give me a break—you're just as evangelistic with your message as I am with mine. You even have a blog to get your secular message across.

My blog is not paid for by the government nor do I expect my personal opinions about your beliefs to be taught in public schools. I only expect, for the well being of our country and its citizens, that science be taught in our publicly-funded schools without religious baggage attached, just as I would expect math to be taught without someone trying to say, based on the Bible, that pi really equals three or history to be taught without (often religiously motivated) white supremacists arguing the Holocaust never happened. That also includes not permitting any teaching that science disproves religion or that atheism is true, which, if you really read my blog, you'd know is something I've consistently stated. I wouldn't even expect my understanding of the Constitution and our form of government to be exclusively taught in public schools.

You also resort to the fact that there are religious people who are opposed to ID as an excuse to dismiss it. What type of reasoning is that! What if I produce atheists who disagree with secularism? Does that entitle me to dismiss secularism?

First of all, make up your mind. Are we talking about "secularism" or science (or are you conflating them)? It would also be helpful for you to give a definition, as I have, since you keep using it for different groups. My definition of secularism has nothing to do with atheists -- and would oppose their teaching their beliefs as true in public schools -- so I haven't a clue why you'd think producing such an atheist would have any effect on my views.

I think our Constitution is clear that church and state are intended to be separate -- and that means that the majority cannot force religious beliefs on the minority through government action, including by forcing religious concepts like ID into science classes. So far the courts have agreed with me. You have the right to try and change that (and I have the right to fight you tooth and nail) through Supreme Court nominations or by amending the Constitution. You don't have the right to change it through the back door via school boards.

As to the rest of it, I was pointing out that scientists, who are, after all, as a group the people who properly define what science is and what is included (who else?), overwhelmingly reject IDers' attempts to change the definition of science. That decision is not based on atheism or secularism. That was the point of mentioning people who oppose the change in the definition who are neither atheists nor "secularists." It is the IDers who are in thrall to sectarian considerations.

[End part I]
 
[Part II]

Secularists prevent IDers from teaching and then blame ID for not making scientific contributions.

Plate tectonics was laughed at and was not taught for decades after it was first proposed either. All that had to happen was for somebody to come up with credible empiric evidence for it and a real theory of how it works and it was accepted with open arms. Strangely, not being taught in high schools (mostly to students who will never go into science anyway) didn't hold it back. Of course the fact that IDers are not even trying to come up with a theory that can be empirically tested is a problem but whose fault is that? Not the "secularists" (otherwise honestly known as scientists).

You use methodological naturalism, as if it's a philosophically neutral concept, to dogmatically rule against any mention of super-natural causation. You claim that naturalism is scientific while there is not a shred of scientific evidence for it.

Conflating again, eh? Methodological naturalism is part of the definition of science and has been overwhelmingly adopted by the scientific community because it has proven to be a very good search algorithm for finding out about the natural world -- and a pretty common sense one at that: if you want to find a natural explanation for a phenomena that we can then use to better control and understand the natural world around us, start off assuming you'll find one. It's worked well in chemistry, food production, energy, computers and thousands of other ways. Philosophical naturalism cannot be proved (anymore than God can) but we're not trying to teach philosophical naturalism in theology classes or in your churches. Why are you trying to teach supernaturalism in science classes?

While we all agree that there are laws that govern phenomena in predictable ways, science can't observe or measure whether or not these are natural laws or laws that find their origin and sustenance in the mind of God.

No, we can't. What does that have to do with science? You are admitting that what you want to teach in public schools is theology.

To take this a step further, science is (and should be) always seeking simplicity, elegance and the one force that can explain and unify all theory. It is this one unifying principle that we can find in the mind of God.

Science seeks information we can use. Saying "goddidit" adds nothing to that. Do we understand chemistry any better by piously pointing at the sky after every reaction? You're free to do that in your church and home but you can't make me pay to have it taught to everyone else's children.

But at least you have dropped any pretense that ID is anything other than religion in science's clothing.
 
John,

You wrote, “Methodological naturalism is part of the definition of science and has been overwhelmingly adopted by the scientific community because it has proven to be a very good search algorithm for finding out about the natural world.”

Sadly, methodological naturalism has hijacked science. Of course, we can’t put God in a test tube, but we should be free to allow the facts to guide us—whether to a natural explanation or to a super-natural one. If you refuse us the option of considering super-natural, intelligent causation, your research and findings will be biased, one-sided, and misdirected.

I do not think that it was naturalism that placed science on the map, and I don’t think that naturalism will provide a fertile vision to direct future research. Naturalism is now directing research into how DNA and proteins might naturally self-assemble—a futile enterprise. But we shall see!

You also wrote, “Philosophical naturalism cannot be proved (anymore than God can) but we're not trying to teach philosophical naturalism in theology classes or in your churches. Why are you trying to teach supernaturalism in science classes?”

If it can’t be proved, why should it exercise a monopoly over the sciences?

I am not teaching supernaturalism in your classroom. Nor would I have you pay for such a thing. But why should I be paying for the promotion of naturalism and the search only for natural causes, if such a thing actually exists? I am just arguing for a level playing field—to put the quest for truth above this philosophical contest for our common space--the science classroom.
 
Sadly, methodological naturalism has hijacked science. Of course, we can't put God in a test tube ...

What you mean is that there can be no empiric evidence for God.

but we should be free to allow the facts to guide us—whether to a natural explanation or to a super-natural one.

Except you just admitted that there can be no empiric facts to support a supernatural "explanation." What you are asking to do is to make a metaphysical conclusion from facts that science delivers. That's called philosophy/theology and is no more part of science than a conclusion that philosophical naturalism is true based on the facts delivered from science. You are perfectly free to engage in philosophy and even teach about it in public schools but neither you nor atheists can conflate those philosophies/theologies with science and teach that they are empirically true.

If you refuse us the option of considering super-natural, intelligent causation, your research and findings will be biased, one-sided, and misdirected.

No they won't be because you admit that there is no empiric ways to test supernatural causation and, therefore, science's empiric results can't be biased, one-sided, or misdirected. The results are the results. Your metaphysical conclusions are not scientific results.

I do not think that it was naturalism that placed science on the map, and I don't think that naturalism will provide a fertile vision to direct future research. Naturalism is now directing research into how DNA and proteins might naturally self-assemble—a futile enterprise. But we shall see!

Frankly, as between your opinion of methodological naturalism and the overwhelming majority of scientists, I know whose opinion I'm going with ... not to mention that MN makes so much sense.

You also wrote, "Philosophical naturalism cannot be proved (anymore than God can) but we're not trying to teach philosophical naturalism in theology classes or in your churches. Why are you trying to teach supernaturalism in science classes?"

If it can't be proved, why should it exercise a monopoly over the sciences
?

Because the sciences are neither reliant on nor trying to prove philosophical naturalism -- and that goes double for what is taught in public schools. If you really don't know the difference between them and aren't just playing dumb, let me know and I'll explain.

[End Part I]
 
[Part II]


I am not teaching supernaturalism in your classroom.

Oh, please! That is the whole agenda of ID. It always amazes me how people who claim access to moral truth can dissemble so freely and then complain when they are called for it.

Nor would I have you pay for such a thing. But why should I be paying for the promotion of naturalism and the search only for natural causes, if such a thing actually exists?

Really? There are no natural causes at all? God shoves every atom together in every chemical reaction? Builds every snowflake? The "birds and the bees" is an illusion? If so, there is no such thing as the natural sciences and it follows that the only honest course of action you could pursue with that belief would be to abolish them and replace them with theology. That's what you're getting at eventually, isn't it? If we won't let you inject your theology into science classes, you want to stop science education altogether.

But you know you can't get away with that, so you and the rest of the Iders take the dishonest course and try to sneak your theology into science under false colors. Science is limited to natural causes because that is what it is looking for and that is all it can possibly test and find ... as you've admitted.

I am just arguing for a level playing field—to put the quest for truth above this philosophical contest for our common space--the science classroom.

You already have a level playing field for your metaphysics ... in the places it belongs, such as churches or comparative religion classes. The natural sciences are after smaller fish -- the natural causes of what we see around us and can test. You are even free to maintain within your metaphysics that science is a crock ... but you don't want to do that, do you? ... even though that is exactly what you are saying when you say there are no natural causes. That breathtaking dishonesty is enough to disbar you from using public funds to teach children.
 
John, you wrote, “Really? There are no natural causes at all? God shoves every atom together in every chemical reaction? Builds every snowflake? The "birds and the bees" is an illusion? If so, there is no such thing as the natural sciences and it follows that the only honest course of action you could pursue with that belief would be to abolish them and replace them with theology. That's what you're getting at eventually, isn't it? If we won't let you inject your theology into science classes, you want to stop science education altogether. But you know you can't get away with that, so you and the rest of the Iders take the dishonest course and try to sneak your theology into science under false colors.”

You are misrepresenting our position. It’s called, “setting up a straw man” which you can easier ridicule. We acknowledge intermediate causation—that God works according to laws, as the Bible has often stated. The question is whether or not these forces just happened and somehow manage to stay the same, or were they created and maintained by Something greater, Something unchanging.

I would further argue that, although this issue can’t be resolved by direct observation, there are many considerations that make an intelligent cause far more feasible that an unintelligent one. For one thing, an intelligent cause is capable of explaining far more than an unintelligent one.

“Science is limited to natural causes because that is what it is looking for and that is all it can possibly test and find ... as you've admitted.”

You might have wished that I had admitted this. Instead, I must reiterate that you have not a shred of evidence that natural causes even exist. The regularities that we find might simply be the product of laws which find their origin and existence in the mind of God.
 
It’s called, “setting up a straw man” which you can easier ridicule.

No, it's called offering an interpretation of your own words that you can then seek to refute. Let's see how you do ...

We acknowledge intermediate causation—that God works according to laws, as the Bible has often stated.

Good. Then there is no reason that methodological naturalism shouldn't work well.

The question is whether or not these forces just happened and somehow manage to stay the same, or were they created and maintained by Something greater, Something unchanging.

Can you bring empiric evidence to bear on that issue? If not, then any conclusion you may want to reach on it is philosophy/theology, not science.

I would further argue that, although this issue can’t be resolved by direct observation, there are many considerations that make an intelligent cause far more feasible that an unintelligent one. For one thing, an intelligent cause is capable of explaining far more than an unintelligent one.

God explains too much. There is no way to test such an explanation because God's action can explain any result ... there is no way for it to be shown to be an incorrect explanation.

Without testing, it cannot be science; it is simply a metaphysical assertion. You are entitled to that but you are not entitled to redefine science and insert that religious assertion into public school science classes.

“Science is limited to natural causes because that is what it is looking for and that is all it can possibly test and find ... as you've admitted.”

You might have wished that I had admitted this
.

You just admitted it again when you admitted that your "God hypothesis" can't be "resolved by direct observation." You simply declare that black is white and vice versa without shame, don't you?

Instead, I must reiterate that you have not a shred of evidence that natural causes even exist.

It doesn't matter. Science works if they are "intermediate causes" imposed by God or purely material causes ... either way they are "natural" in the sense that science means and the only reason to mention that they may God's laws, since science cannot establish that one way or the other, is purely theological.

The regularities that we find might simply be the product of laws which find their origin and existence in the mind of God.

Indeed they might be. But that only matters to your theology, not to science.

Opps! Didn't do too well finding any strawmen, did you?
 
John,

I’m afraid you can’t divide reality into your nice discreet cubby holes and shove science into one, philosophy into another and theology into the church where you can forget about it. Science rests upon a philosophical foundation of various presuppositions like the following:

1. A real world exists.
2. My senses give me accurate data about this world.
3. The same laws and observations will pertain tomorrow as they do today.

None of the above are scientifically provable. Science not only rests upon certain philosophical presuppositions, it also operates by them. Just about everything you said consists of philosophical boundaries which you drew to define what science is and what is should and shouldn’t do, for instance:

“Can you bring empiric evidence to bear on that issue? If not, then any conclusion you may want to reach on it is philosophy/theology, not science.”

The above statement is not scientific, but philosophical. And indeed, the operation of science depends upon these types of considerations. In fact, even our vocabulary is philosophy-laden. When we make a statement about the formation or action of proteins, such a statement depends upon a prior understanding of what constitutes a protein and what doesn’t and where we draw the line.

You do a lot of philosophical-boundary setting around your conception of science:

“Without testing, it cannot be science; it is simply a metaphysical assertion. You are entitled to that but you are not entitled to redefine science and insert that religious assertion into public school science classes.”

Please note: Your statement also is a metaphysical assertion—something that goes behind the testing of science. Who then is entitled to define science? Is it a matter of politics—the consensus of the scientific community? Is it like an old-boys club defining membership to keep out certain undesirables? Naturalism is the new old-boys club, allowing only the discussion of unintelligent causation. Much research money is going into trying to prove how things have evolved “naturally” without the hand of an intelligent designer. Of course, in view of this unbalanced, philosophically-driven research, they find only what they are looking for and congratulate themselves that they are “proving” the case for Darwinian naturalism. Ironically, the question of origins is primarily a question of history and not properly science. So much for your neat categories!

You might be surprised to know that even science contributes mightily in regards to the various proofs for the existence of God. The Big-Bang hypothesis put to death the steady-state theory that had put the kibosh on God, declaring Him to be irrelevant to the origin of the universe, simply because it always existed. However, our new hypothesis now declares that the universe, including space and time, had a beginning, thereby inviting back the question, “Where did it all come from and how?”

Science also informed us that we have over three billion bits of DNA information in our cell, defying a natural explanation. Why? DNA is not patterned or formulaic but informational, like the words of a book. Laws can not explain or predict what the final chapter of Hamlet will say. Only the author can tell us.

Everything around us declares the glory of our Creator. Even our use of unchanging logic and reason points to an unchanging, transcendent Source in the midst of a physical world consisting of only molecules-in-motion.

John, why are you so antagonistic to God?
 
I'm afraid you can't divide reality into your nice discreet cubby holes and shove science into one, philosophy into another and theology into the church where you can forget about it.

Heh. I knew it coming. There is no such thing as "diciplines" ... everything to a man with a hammer is a nail and everything to a man with religion is a theology to pound. So now all your prior talk about separation of church and state is shown to be a lie because, to you, everything is religion.

Science rests upon a philosophical foundation ...

Science, like many human activities, has a set of propositions that cannot be "proved." Math has them as well. That alone does not make the activity philosophy. But there are different propositions for different things we want to do. Science is valued because it's propositions work ... delivers us much of our prosperity and health. If you want to deny those propositions, then you have to deny science ... which is what I predicted you'd do. Unfortunately for you (and fortunately for the rest of us), most people don't want to go back to the pre-scientific age to protect your beliefs.

Just about everything you said consists of philosophical boundaries which you drew to define what science is and what is should and shouldn't do ...

No, they are boundaries that scientists have drawn because they work ... just as the rules of math work.

Please note: Your statement also is a metaphysical assertion—something that goes behind the testing of science.

No, because there is no claim that the propositions of science are true ... only that they are good rules for doing what we set out to do ... to determine how the world works through those "laws" you admit exist and to turn that knowledge to our advantage.

Who then is entitled to define science ... Is it like an old-boys club defining membership ... ?

Who else defines it but the people doing it? And here you go again making blanket statements about scientists ... which was why I pointed out that many scientists are religious. The "old-boys" include theists too and they see how what you want to do will hurt us all. The strength of science is that it can be applied by people of many philosophies ... as long as they don't deny the very existence of it. And, in the process, that helps to remove any biases ... including those that you claim exist only because you cannot bend science to your will

[End Part I]
 
[Part II]

You might be surprised to know that even science contributes mightily in regards to the various proofs for the existence of God.

You are free to try to make whatever theological hay out of the results of science you think you can. It still doesn't make your theology science.

... the question of origins is primarily a question of history and not properly science. So much for your neat categories!

You have a very poor understanding of science. All observations we make (because we make them through such things as electromagnetic radiation, which has a finite speed, and our senses that do not instantly convey information, are made "in the past." It's all "history" in that sense. But again, you are just denying the existence of science and, in that case, how dishonest is it to claim ID is science? Call it what you want to call everything, "theology," and be done with it and try to get it into the public schools. I, for one will go on accepting science because it make a whole lot more sense than you do.

Science also informed us that we have over three billion bits of DNA information in our cell, defying a natural explanation.

Says the man who denies that there are anything such as "natural explanations." Why should I accept your judgment about the credibility of something you don't think exists? [Skip the rest of the tired arguments for ID ... I have better things to do on a Friday night.]

John, why are you so antagonistic to God?

But you're not trying to push theology into schools ... of course not! I'm not actually hostile to God ... but I am hostile to liars.
 
Mr Mann,
I aplogise for intruding but you claimed these as priors (pre-suppositions) of science,

1. A real world exists.
2. My senses give me accurate data about this world.
3. The same laws and observations will pertain tomorrow as they do today.

Which I don't dispute.

to which I'ld add:
4) man is intelligent enough to understand and discover the rules.

However, as a Christian, surely they are your priors as well?

God created the universe, bound it with laws and it is real just as we are physically real.

Unless you believe that all is maya (illusion) and that we are the dreams of the sleeping God.

How can a Christian argue against these priors?

Chris
 
Chris,

I like your addition #4. If I would have thought of it at the time, I would have used it!

You are also right that these are my priors, and even that they are just as real or solid as my own existence.

However, I cited these to dispute John's claim that science is just a matter of observable, measurable and repeatable phenomena. Clearly, science entails more than just empirical data.

I would also add that our theories, which help us to connect the dots of the data, also include metaphysical considerations (of unseen causation....)and guide research.

Therefore, John's strict separation between science, philosophy and theology really doesn't correspond to either reality or the way we live our lives.
 
You are also right that these are my priors, and even that they are just as real or solid as my own existence.

Good. Then you agree that science can work on its own terms.

However, I cited these to dispute John's claim that science is just a matter of observable, measurable and repeatable phenomena. Clearly, science entails more than just empirical data.

No, all you've shown is that you cannot understand that science does not need to go as far as you want to go ... to metaphysical conclusions. Science is a matter of measurable and repeatable phenomena because that is all it's interested in ... just as, in Pennock's formulation, science is as godless as plumbing is. Neither need to posit God's action to achieve their ends.

Therefore, John's strict separation between science, philosophy and theology really doesn't correspond to either reality or the way we live our lives.

Science isn't about how we live our lives or, for that matter, about "reality" in some cosmic sense ... that's the subject of philosophy and metaphysics. It is about how the world actually works by those "laws" you admit exist and that humans are able to discover and understand. It is as easy to separate those from some ultimate "truth" as it is to separate a flush cock from God.

Most importantly, we can, in a country that separates church from state, have government schools that teach science without throwing in theology and violating our Constitution. And you're free to talk about about divine flush cocks in your church.
 
John, you wrote, “Most importantly, we can, in a country that separates church from state, have government schools that teach science without throwing in theology and violating our Constitution. And you're free to talk about divine flush cocks in your church.”

Although I genuinely appreciate your willingness to tolerate our continued teaching of theology in our churches, our concern is our shared, common ground, which includes the schools where we send our children. While I’m all in favor allowing facts and rationality to decide the direction of the teaching of science, many of us have noted that certain philosophical commitments now predominate and govern, not only the methods of science, but also the open exchange of relevant ideas.

As you too know, Darwinistic naturalism exercises a strangle-hold-monopoly over what is allowable conversation, so much so that it refuses any discussion of non-naturalism. Interestingly, even you have acknowledged that there isn’t a shed of scientific evidence in favor of the operation and existence of natural laws and forces. And yet, this is the only allowable language in the science classroom. This is not the climate in which science has traditionally thrived. Genuine competition has proved more fruitful. Is this too much to ask for?
 
... our concern is our shared, common ground, which includes the schools where we send our children ... many of us have noted that certain philosophical commitments now predominate and govern, not only the methods of science, but also the open exchange of relevant ideas.

In other words, you are claiming the right to redefine "science," to include your religious beliefs, against the will of scientists themselves, by legislative fiat or school board subterfuge, simply because you think you have the votes to do it. Fortunately, we live in a nation where the majority (if that is what you think you have, after the reversals you suffered in votes in Kansas and elswhere) does not have the right to force its religious beliefs on others.

As to the open exchange of ideas, where have you been stopped? That doesn't mean that the rest of us have to take you seriously or that the expression of ideas that clearly are a denial of scholarship in an area relevant to one's professional reputation won't have consequences. An astronomer who advocates a geocentric solar system is not likely to get much respect in his profession. That's the nature of the beast.

Darwinistic naturalism exercises a strangle-hold-monopoly over what is allowable conversation, so much so that it refuses any discussion of non-naturalism.

"Allowable conversation" where? Ken Ham's $27 million monument to scientific denial seems to be doing quite good. The internet is rife with YEC, OEC and ID websites. Churches ring every Sunday (and Saturday for Sevent-Day Adventists) with anti-"Darwinism" sermons. Many widely-respected scientists are open about their theism while accepting science as it is practiced. What do you want? Thought police to force the rest of us to take your "scientific" views seriously?

And what, exactly do you mean by "Darwinistic naturalism" anyway? Methodological naturalism (i.e. the appeal only to empiric evidence in science) long predated Darwin, going back to Bacon at least.

[End Part I]
 
[Part II]

Interestingly, even you have acknowledged that there isn’t a shed of scientific evidence in favor of the operation and existence of natural laws and forces. And yet, this is the only allowable language in the science classroom.

No, there is pleanty of evidence for those laws ... even you admitted that they exist. The only quibble you want to raise is over what the word "natural" entails. That quibble has no effect on how science is done or its results. It is only of concern to metaphysians and theologians.

The notion that induction cannot prove the truth value of induction goes back to Hume at least. It is a nice philosophical problem but is a matter of indifference to science itself. As I said before, you are free to get philosophy classes in public schools but not to call your philosophy science.

Now, of course, the line between science and philosophy is not a "bright line." Both are sorites heaps. But, just as we can tolerably well define what night and day are, despite the existence of twilight, so we can distinguish science and ID. And simply because you are interested in what theological hay you can make out of scientific results doesn't make that line any harder to find. Postmodernist appeals to the lack of any standard to judge science is not going to impress me and, if that recent study finding that the postmodernist influence in the humanities was much more likely to result in young people losing their faith in college, than even the study of biology and evolution, is to be believed, taking that tack is a losing proposition for you.

As for it being the only allowable language in the science classroom, that comes from the Constitution, which doesn't allow you to inject religion into science classes. Attempts to completely erase the line between philosophy and science doesn't change that because the coursts have recognized it as a mere subterfuge.

This is not the climate in which science has traditionally thrived. Genuine competition has proved more fruitful.

Really? When has there ever been a greater increase in scientific knowledge than over the last 150 years? And what "fruitful" science has as an explanation "And then God performed a miracle?" Name one.
 
Mr Mann,
I'm intruding again

Surely we should teach Science (Natural Philosophy) as we have done.

It was always held (well by most Middle Ages Eurpopean Scholars and those that followed) that God wasn't required in the study of Nature.

This has nothing to do with the existance or otherwise of God, simply that if God affects the world directly it is done in a way that doesn't break the laws (miracles being a possible exception to this).

To say that God is the prime mover adds nothing to the Science and just causes confusion.

Yes, many scientists do/did their work for the greater glory of God but they don't have God in their equations.

If a teacher says in a Science class that it proves atheism to be true they should be punished just as much as someone who claims that it proves God exists.

By its nature Science is strictly Agnostic in this regard.

If we see it as revealing Gods glory or simply unravelling the puzzles of a soulless universe, it really shouldn't matter.

On evoltion, it is simply the best scientific explanation we have.

If you or proponents of ID or YEC wish to argue otherwise you need to argue within the fields of Science.
Build a falsifiable or predictive model that does better or as well (better is best to overthrow the incumbent) than the present theory.

Argueing from social desire is anti-scientific

Chris
 
Chris,

You’re right, “Arguing from social desire is anti-scientific.” But I want to be fully transparent. Although I am a Christian and therefore, for me, the greatest act of love is showing others what they can have in Christ, it would be wrong for me to try to push the Bible into the science classroom.

Instead, I have been trying to argue for fairness, for a level playing field. If natural causation can be considered, then why not also its only competitor, super-natural causation. Although John has tried to argue that naturalism is endemic to science, it clearly isn’t. Even John admits that there’s not a shred of scientific evidence that NATURAL laws or forces even exist. They might simply be laws in the mind of God?

You then state, “To say that God is the prime mover adds nothing to the Science and just causes confusion.”

Let me try to demonstrate how the God-hypothesis (ID) might be helpful. For one thing, it is able to anticipate and predict scientific findings. Science used to believe in the steady-state hypothesis (the universe always existed). However, it is now ascertained that the universe had a beginning—something that the God-hypothesis had anticipated.

In contrast, the naturalism-hypothesis is wasting a lot of resources, directing research into many unfruitful areas by seeking to determine how proteins or DNA might have come about through self-organization. So far, there is absolutely no proof for this.

In contrast, the ID-hypothesis recognizes a critical distinction between formulaic causation (things that respond according to formula in predictable ways) and non-formulaic causation. The information in a novel is non-formulaic. You can’t predict the wording on the final page for the pages that precede. Information is non-formulaic, but rather intelligent. DNA is non-formulaic, nor could it be if it is to carry the vast and variable information that it does. If it was formulaic, it would reduce to simple formulas at the sacrifice of information.

ID therefore has predicted that DNA can not have a natural or formulaic cause. If ID is correct, then naturalism is leading us down a costly rabbit hole. This question should not be banished from the laboratory.

You also state, “If a teacher says in a Science class that it proves atheism to be true they should be punished just as much as someone who claims that it proves God exists.”

However, I don’t think we should place such an artificial boundary upon doing science. Besides, both you and John state that if the God-hypothesis is to be regarded scientifically, it must be falsifiable. However, here you say that this question isn’t even within the domain of science.
 
Chris: you're not intruding. I welcome whatever rationality I can get in the middle of Mr. Mann's rationalizations.

... it would be wrong for me to try to push the Bible into the science classroom.

And yet you are going to do just that.

Instead, I have been trying to argue for fairness, for a level playing field.

For the Bible in science classes ...

Objective knowledge, in science and elsewhere, is not about "fairness." Should we be "fair" and allow witch doctors to practice in our hospitals? ... Allow Holocaust deniers in out history classrooms?

If natural causation can be considered, then why not also its only competitor, super-natural causation. Although John has tried to argue that naturalism is endemic to science, it clearly isn't. Even John admits that there's not a shred of scientific evidence that NATURAL laws or forces even exist. They might simply be laws in the mind of God?

Because they are still "laws" that can be objectively observed. Science limits itself to those objective observations. You have no objective observations of the mind of God. That's why we have a different word for speculations about the mind of God: "theology."

Let me try to demonstrate how the God-hypothesis (ID) might be helpful. For one thing, it is able to anticipate and predict scientific findings. Science used to believe in the steady-state hypothesis (the universe always existed). However, it is now ascertained that the universe had a beginning—something that the God-hypothesis had anticipated.

Those asserting the "God hypothesis" also "predicted" that the Earth was the center of the universe, that disease was punishment from God, and thousands of other wrong thing. As Francis Bacon said: "The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss; and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other."

In contrast, the naturalism-hypothesis is wasting a lot of resources, directing research into many unfruitful areas by seeking to determine how proteins or DNA might have come about through self-organization. So far, there is absolutely no proof for this.

So, now you're into divination? Wasn't there a little something the Bible had to say about that? Simply because we haven't found it yet doesn't mean we won't. Think of all the things we would have missed out on is we had listened to naysayers: airplanes, splitting the atom, etc., etc. Every great discovery we have ever made was something we had not discovered ... until we did. You can't have objective knowledge of the mind of God and how he/she/it intended those laws to work. And surely you can't be saying that it is beyond God's abilities to set up those laws so that evolution as we understand it could operate by those laws.

[End Pat I]
 
[Part II]

In contrast, the ID-hypothesis recognizes a critical distinction between formulaic causation (things that respond according to formula in predictable ways) and non-formulaic causation.

In other words, "miracles." You want to make miracles part of science. What objective evidence can we have of miracles?

The information in a novel is non-formulaic. You can't predict the wording on the final page for the pages that precede. Information is non-formulaic, but rather intelligent. DNA is non-formulaic, nor could it be if it is to carry the vast and variable information that it does. If it was formulaic, it would reduce to simple formulas at the sacrifice of information.

That is just bafflegab that lumps together very different things under the vague term "information," as Mark Chu-Carroll recently pointed out.

ID therefore has predicted that DNA can not have a natural or formulaic cause. If ID is correct, then naturalism is leading us down a costly rabbit hole. This question should not be banished from the laboratory.

Then how are we going to test the "God hypothesis" in the laboratory? You yourself said "we can't put God in a test tube."

You also state, "If a teacher says in a Science class that it proves atheism to be true they should be punished just as much as someone who claims that it proves God exists."

However, I don't think we should place such an artificial boundary upon doing science
.

It is not an "artificial boundary" to insist on empiric testing in science. It is the foundational reason for doing science in the first place: objective knowledge.

Besides, both you and John state that if the God-hypothesis is to be regarded scientifically, it must be falsifiable. However, here you say that this question isn't even within the domain of science.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say but the "God-hypothesis" is certainly not empirically testable now and unless and until it ever is, it cannot be science.
 
P.S. You forgot to give us a "fruitful" science that has as an explanation "And then God performed a miracle?" It must have just been an oversight, I'm sure.
 
John,

Here are some reasons why the counter-evidence against Darwinian-naturalism should be entertained by science:

1. No one group should be able to exercise such an exclusive franchise. It is stultifying and impedes the free exchange of ideas and ultimately, knowledge and understanding.

2. If naturalism is considered, the so too its one competitor—super-naturalism.

3. You can’t compare ID with bringing witchcraft or necromancy into the science classroom. Over 700 hundred scientists have risked their professional standing by going on record that there are serious problems with this theory that require further examination. It’s this examination that you obstinately refuse.

4. Ultimately, the agenda of education should be decided by a broad consensus, not just by an intimidated in-group. The vast majority of USA adults believe that the two sides should be presented, despite the overwhelming propaganda machine of the evolution-establishment arguing against the legitimacy of any challenge. Comparing ID with holocaust deniers is slanderous and highly misleading. The Enlightenment was primarily ushered in by scientists who embraced ID.

5. By rigidly maintaining their closed one-party system, the establishment has banished and persecuted many able people who could have contributed much to on-going research.

6. Labeling the challenges to the monolithic evolutionary system as “unscientific,” is simply libelous. The IDers account for the same facts or findings as does the opposition. However, they do so in ways that the establishment regards as threatening. (Just look at John jump!)

7. Labeling the challenges as “religious” represents denial—denial of their own religious agenda and refusal to hear what IDers are actually saying. Naturalism is no less religious as some evolutionists have confessed.

8. In this climate of segregation and demonization, mis-characterizations abound, and science and gossip become confused.
 
Utter bullshit!

1. No one group should be able to exercise such an exclusive franchise. It is stultifying and impedes the free exchange of ideas and ultimately, knowledge and understanding.

There is no "exclusive franchise." Forget about those theistic scientists? All that required is adherence to a set of rules universally accepted for doing science. Even you, when not shifting your ground ... constantly ... admit that your "God hypothesis" can't be tested empirically.

2. If naturalism is considered, the so too its one competitor—super-naturalism.

You can "consider" it all you want in your church, home and on any street corner you want. What you can't scientifically or legally do is call it science in a public school classroom.

3. You can't compare ID with bringing witchcraft or necromancy into the science classroom. Over 700 hundred scientists have risked their professional standing by going on record that there are serious problems with this theory that require further examination. It's this examination that you obstinately refuse.

I most certainly can compare it to witchcraft or necromancy or astrology or Feng Shui or any number of other claims about the world utterly lacking in empiric evidence. The DI's dishonest list (which says nothing about supernatural causation ... only the insufficiency of natural selection alone to account for evolution ... which science agrees with, based, however, on evidence) does not have close to 700 people with training and experience in biology or related subjects. Moreover, that is a tiny fraction of scientists, as shown by the NCSE's list of 1,100 scientists named "Steve" (about 1% of the population). That list has 61% of its signatories who work in related fields in the life sciences. The tiny number of people on the DI's list willing to betray the very idea of science to their religious beliefs is hardly surprising and is no evidence of any respectable minority position. As to exploring the problems in our present understanding of evolution, real scientists do that all the time, which is why dozens of scientific papers a week are published, while IDers are able to show only a few ersatz papers and books after almost 20 years of the "movement."

4. Ultimately, the agenda of education should be decided by a broad consensus, not just by an intimidated in-group. The vast majority of USA adults believe that the two sides should be presented, despite the overwhelming propaganda machine of the evolution-establishment arguing against the legitimacy of any challenge. Comparing ID with holocaust deniers is slanderous and highly misleading. The Enlightenment was primarily ushered in by scientists who embraced ID.

Education in the US is broad. You have the freedom to teach about philosophy and theology and civics and other subjects that ID would be relevant to. "Broad" does not include blurring the lines between different subjects. Teaching ID as science is like teaching pig-Latin in a French class and pretending its French. Argumentum ad Populum is a logical fallacy and would wreak havoc on science education in this country. Think of all the popular misconceptions about science that would be taught if that was the standard! In ID's case, it is not merely bad educational practice, however. Because the motivation for the "God hypothesis" is religious, it also runs afoul of the Constitution. The motives of holocaust deniers are exactly parallel to those of IDers, in that both attempt to deny the very notion of objective knowledge in service of an ideology. If you think that is shameful, then you should rethink your position. The Enlightenment was primarily ushered in by scientists who also still believed in alchemy and geocentricism and bloodletting as medical treatment. Science moves on.

[End Part I]
 
[Part II]

5. By rigidly maintaining their closed one-party system, the establishment has banished and persecuted many able people who could have contributed much to on-going research.

We've been through that before. If the IDers had any empiric evidence, they would have gotten a hearing, just as the plate tectonics advocates did. Now, of course, they have a higher hill to climb because they've spent twenty years claiming that ID is science when they had, and still have, no empiric evidence to support it; spent their efforts in trying to pass laws to force ID into high schools instead of doing research; and generally ran a public relations campaign instead of trying to actually doing science. They have trashed their own reputation, a very important thing in science. But whose fault is that? Still, if they can come up with real empiric evidence they'll still get a hearing.

6. Labeling the challenges to the monolithic evolutionary system as "unscientific," is simply libelous. The IDers account for the same facts or findings as does the opposition. However, they do so in ways that the establishment regards as threatening. (Just look at John jump!)

Scientists challenge our present understanding of evolution all the time. That is neither threatening to nor unwelcome in science. ID is unscientific because it denies the scientific method ... as you have repeatedly done here. ID "accounts" for the same facts of the world in exactly the same way as astrology and witchcraft do, by ad hoc rationalizations rather than empiric evidence. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am quite open to religion and differing opinions. However, trying to deny the method of science is threatening not just to science but to the well being of our country itself. And I take that part of it personally.

7. Labeling the challenges as "religious" represents denial—denial of their own religious agenda and refusal to hear what IDers are actually saying. Naturalism is no less religious as some evolutionists have confessed.

How is it wrong to label "the God hypothesis" as religious? Some people adopt scientism as a philosophy, which they are just as entitled to do as you are to adopt theism. The vast majority of scientists do not identify the methodological naturalism required by the scientific method with philosophical naturalism ... not even Jerry Coyne ... which is why the major scientific organizations have taken the position that science and religion are not necessarily in conflict. In any case, science, as it is taught in public schools does not in any way, shape or form adopt a religious-like attitude toward naturalism. Any damage science education does to particular religions results from those faiths insisting on an account of the world that is contradicted by the empiric facts. Too bad! The rest of us are not required to pretend the facts are not the facts to protect the deluded.

[End Part II]
 
[Part III]

8. In this climate of segregation and demonization, mis-characterizations abound, and science and gossip become confused.

You've got a lot of fucking nerve to talk about "demonization" after what the DI has done to such people as Judge Jones, not to mention their actual opponents. Scientists left IDers mostly alone for the first decade of the "movement" until it became more than clear that dishonesty was its watchword. If scientists and their supporters are angry with IDers, it is with good reason.

I've been extremely patient with you and allowed you to post repetitive, self-contradictory and generally untruthful bull at my home. No more. Unless you have something really new to say here, I'm deleting any further attempts at more of the same. You're free to comment on any other post of mine and if you want to argue that you have something new to offer, I'll consider it. But if you think you're going to wear me out at my own blog, that's another thing you are seriously mistaken about.
 
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