Saturday, November 06, 2010
PZ Mxyzptlk continues to resist the notion that the existence of gods (or the supernatural) can be demonstrated by science.
I read Greta Christina's list of events that would convince her [reccomended by Jerry Coyne], and I have to say that none of them would sway me. They'd convince me that there are unexplainable phenomena and beings greater than myself, but I already believe that with no problem and without budging from atheism. I've already dealt with the 900 foot tall Jesus fallacy (it's not a prior conclusion of religious thought), and while finding amazingly detailed scientific information in a holy book would be impressive, evidence of beings in the past who were smarter than me isn't evidence of a god. Also, they haven't because they didn't, so postulating circumstances that have been shown not to have occurred is only persuasive in the most abstract and imaginary way possible.
The emphasis and [cough] methodology may be slightly different from my own but the point is the same: atheism is an honorable and self-sufficient philosophical position that does not need to be weakly, if at all, propped up by science. It can be, as all good modern philosophy, informed by science, but it is not in thrall to it ... or vice versa.
Those who insist that they are do no favor to atheism or to science.
Labels: Methodological Naturalism
But that's not what PZ Myers wants to use science for. He's not worried that atheism needs propping up by science but wants to use science to establish that that atheism is the only honourable philosophical position. His aim isn't to use science to show that atheism is respectable but rather to have science show that religion and the religious are worthy of the contempt with which he views them.
As sympathetic as I am to theists, I have no problem with that. If someone wants to use science as a part of a (more or less) clearly stated philosophical argument against belief, theists will just have to make their best case in opposition. My objection in this whole kurfuffle is to those who claim (and there are many who do, despite their equivocation when challenged) that atheism is a scientific result.
To believe otherwise is to believe in an untrustworthy god that's just messin' with us.
So the natural world tells us that god is partly made out of rainbows and smells like photosynthesis.
So we don't believe otherwise because if we believed otherwise then we would believe otherwise.
And theologians would need to reconcile that with their idea of god.
To believe otherwise - believe in the context of religion in case that somehow wasn't clear - would be to believe in a god that doesn't relate to what we know about the natural word IMO.
Or, 386sx, were you arguing in favor of a god that sends tsunamis just because?
Or to quote ERV's blog epigram,
If we're made in Gods image, God's made of gag, pol, and env.
I was just pointing out the fact atheism doesn't need to be propped up by science is irrelevant to PZM because he needs the stronger claim that it is a scientific result in order to achieve his goal.
I guess I was arguing in favor of theists. They can decide whatever they want about the nature of god(s). And they do. If a god sends a tsunami just because, then it does. If it don't then it don't. Good luck figuring out which one. :P
But I won't give them or their theology any credence, which is all I was saying.
So I don't see any dishonesty in acknowledging it as being one in a range of possibilities that we have no evidence for.
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