Tuesday, March 08, 2011

 

Equivalence


Some people want to be Christians and to be scientists.

Some people want to be Christians and to be gay.

Am I in any way ethically bound to tell gay Christians that that they can't be both?

Do I have to proclaim that gay people who identify as Christians are wrong?

Am I enabling Afghani abuse of children by not condemning gay Christians?

Do you want to criticize me for my refusal to condemn gay Christians?

If so, f...k you!
.

Comments:
Care to lay out an argument? I'm a bit thick so if you'd indulge me.

I don't see the link. Being gay isn't an epistemic conclusion. As I understand it, being gay is like being hetero, normal sexuality. Not the end of a process of inference. I'm not gonna belabour the anti-accomodation thesis. You didn't explain last time how my claim to know I love my wife is equivalent to an xtians claim that they know God exists or the bible is real history. It doesn't matter, but it's still epistemology not sexuality.

I can't see the equivalence between the claim that one can be gay and xtian and one can be a scientist and xtian. Seems a category error. Sexuality is not epistemology. Anyhoo....

Do you think Jerry Coyne would say you're enabling Afgani abuse of children by not condeming gay xtians? I doubt he'd have a problem with gay xtians or your support of them. Seems a non-sequitur.

I want to support you for your refusal to condem gay xtians.

I've probably missed something here. I haven't being paying close attention to Jerry Coyne or most gnus lately.
 
You didn't explain last time how my claim to know I love my wife is equivalent to an xtians claim that they know God exists or the bible is real history.

I've explained it time after time. Neither you, nor the theist (the sort we are talking about don't claim the bible is real history), are subjecting your claim to science. They are both claims made by individual human beings that the individual is not willing to submit to ordinary scientific testing.

The point is that nobody is willing or capable of treating everything in their lives as epistemological equals. You have a set of issues you are willing to subject to (supposedly) scientific testing and a set you aren't. Theists of the sort we're talking about have a (slightly) different set of each category. Until you can demonstrate that your categories are somehow superior to theirs, all you are doing is asserting, without evidence, that your preferences are more "scientific" than theirs.

Sexuality is not epistemology.

How do you know that? ;-)

Do you think Jerry Coyne would say you're enabling Afgani abuse of children by not condeming gay xtians?

No. That's the point! How does he get to the claim that not condeming science-accepting xtians enables Afgani abuse of children?
 
What I find amazing is that Coyne doesn't see what a false dichotomy he makes when he lays out his two "alternatives":

"Alternative A: Convince the faithful that Islam is perfectly compatible with science.

"Alternative B: Work to lessen the grip of Islam (and other faiths) on people’s minds."

Ok, there's not only a false dichotomy, but Alternative A is misrepresented as well, since accommodationists seldom if ever argue broadly that Religion X is "perfectly" compatible with science rather than that a form of Religion X can be compatible with science.

Beyond that, though, there's no reason you can't hold true that (a) Islam can be compatible with science and that (b) Islam is unlikely to be true even in spite of that compatibility. You also can have people who can work to get Muslims to deconvert without undermining the work of other people who try to get Muslims to accept evolution. That Coyne can't seem to grasp something so straightforward is bizarre.
 
You are being criticized for your refusal to condemn Christianity and quite a few of its prominent leaders.
 
There it is John. You haven't posted an official list of Christian leaders and your criticisms of them that can be vetted by the Appropriate Authorities. The question of whether those Appropriate Authorities will ever be content with any list you come up with, well, ...
 
C'mon, John, the jig is up. We're obviously busted. Somehow Jerry has gotten his hands on our secret handbook, The Protocols of the Elders of Accomodation--otherwise how could he know that our goal, nay, our blood oath, "is to get people to accept any kind of evolution, even if it conflicts with the notion of non-theistic and materialistic evolution held by scientists." I mean, that's a direct quote from our super-secret mission statement, (except that "even" should be read " especially.") And how could he know about our Prime Directive never to ever ever ever countenance a disparaging remark about any religious figure? We've always strenuously denied this in public, flawlessly and painstakingly maintaining the facade that religion and science can *sometimes* coexist peaceably. Only if he was privy to our most secret and diabolical documents could he know our true purpose to undermine metaphysical naturalism, which is what all true scientists believe, and always will.

He's on to us, John. The dream is over. He probably has proof about Obama being a secret atheist, too. Damn it all!

Either that, or Jerry Coyne is gripped by a paranoia of Glenn Beckian proportions. Maybe he has late-stage syphilis?
 
You haven't posted an official list of Christian leaders and your criticisms of them that can be vetted by the Appropriate Authorities.

Ah! My bad! Although I have posted 2,600+ posts here (!), not a few of which were highly critical of prominent religious leaders, I haven't bothered to prove my innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, which is, of course, my burden.

Either that, or Jerry Coyne is gripped by a paranoia of Glenn Beckian proportions.

I haven't seen Jerry using a blackboard to draw lines between the NCSE and the Taliban. ...Yet ...
 
Well...why hasn't the NCSE condemned the Taliban in no uncertain terms?

I'm not accusing anyone of anything, I'm just asking questions!
 
@Anonymous
Well...why hasn't the NCSE condemned the Taliban in no uncertain terms?
Because that isnt it's organization goal - No one expects or wants it to.

However an individual(and the group called accomodationists) who writes about topics related to religion - conflicts/no conflicts - compatible/incompatible or whatever would need to deal with the Taliban (or equivalent). Someone who comments on gnu's would also need to address the target of our complaints.
If you can spend a dozen posts writing about gnu evil's and the harm gnu's cause and then mumble apologetically about their targets then "the NCSE doesn't comment about the Taliban is not a defense"
 
I don't think you should let the NCSE off so easily. They haven't condemned the Taliban, how do we know which side they're really on?

But again, I'm not accusing anyone of anything, I'm just asking questions!
 
@Anonymous
Seeing that you are anonymous , yes I really don't know which "side" you are on.
 
Even individual bloggers who discuss religion have their own topics that they focus on. There's no reason to expect a blogger who blogs from the perspective of someone who deals primarily with anti-creationism issues to blog on the Taliban and such. That's especially true if said blogger has little to add on the subject besides "That's terrible" or "Me, too."

Coyne is trying to slander his opposition through an argument from silence, period.
 
J J ramsey
There's no reason to expect a blogger who blogs from the perspective of someone who deals primarily with anti-creationism issues to blog on the Taliban and such.
If thats all the blogger did.
But accomodationist bloggers do comment on religion and do comment on the gnu's and their targets and tone etc etc. You then become interested parties. You cannot(and still retain credibility) , in my opinion, comment about what the gnu's say and how they say it , and not address the topics/targets under discussion. And because there seems to be a clear imbalance between the number of posts pointing out the problems with gnus and the problems with religion , its reasonable to conclude that you see the gnu's as a bigger problem, no?
You might say of course not, but then whats the proof - the only thing we can see is what you post and what you comment. The proof of the pudding would be in the eating.

"That's terrible" or "Me, too."
Yes because that's what accomodationist bloggers do - agree with all gnu criticisms with 'me too' - its only the tone that's the problem, right?

Coyne is trying to slander his opposition through an argument from silence,
If you had as many anti - stupid religious posts as you had criticising the gnu's then perhaps he wouldnt have to.
 
However an individual(and the group called accomodationists) who writes about topics related to religion - conflicts/no conflicts - compatible/incompatible or whatever would need to deal with the Taliban (or equivalent).

Name me an "accommodationist" who has said that the Taliban's religion (much less that of American creationists) is compatible with science or secularism. You can Google my blog for my attitude toward the Taliban and its American wannabes. There is no question that those people Gnus call accommodationists are opposed to that kind of religion and say so. Why then do they have to "deal" with it more than they have?

Someone who comments on gnu's would also need to address the target of our complaints.

If the Gnus complaints were only about the Taliban and their ilk, there'd be no controversy. Surely you aren't claiming that Ken Miller is the same as the Taliban.
 
I wrote an entire response and blogger swallowed it.
Im only retyping part of it

Surely you aren't claiming that Ken Miller is the same as the Taliban.
What is being claimed by me about Miller is this
a. He believes things about evolution that have no grounding in science (intelligent beings would always have evolved - God knows the plan and kicks it off somehow and then never interferes with the process - but he will send his son down to earth -a soul (probably)).
Whether these are scientific claims are not is irrelevant to me, because these are claims about scientific topics. The only reason I can see Miller making the claims is because of his religion - which is evidence to me that even smart people let religion influence their thinking negatively.

b. Miller identifies himself as a Roman Catholic . I believe you agree that the Vatican has some harmful policies. The reason the Vatican has clout is because of tradition and because a significant % of people identify as Roman Catholics. therefore in my view Miller has to share some of the moral responsibility for the actions of the Vatican (because he could just as easily remain a christian and not be a catholic). For me to not criticise Miller (or other moderate catholics) would need either
a. he try to change his religion (some people do and this criticism doesn't apply to them) so that the Vatican doesn't unilaterally follow stupid policies
OR
b. ditch his Catholicism

It is in this sense I believe that a moderate(Miller) enables an extremist(The Vatican).

An accomodationist believes that since Miller is a brilliant scientist and a moderate and an ally he should be spared such criticism. An accomodationist prefers setting up strawmen like the gnu's compare Miller to the Taliban.
 
Name me an "accommodationist" who has said that the Taliban's religion (much less that of American creationists) is compatible with science or secularism
So let me get this right. The Talibans religion is not compatible with science? Not just the non evolutions parts or the parts of their religion labelled "these are scientific claims"

There is no question that those people Gnus call accommodationists are opposed to that kind of religion and say so.
No it isnt clear.
Accomodationists are opposed to violent forms of religion , yes.
Are you'll also opposed to forms where the harm is not physical? Do you agree on definitions of harm?
For the case in point
what causes a man to throw acid on his sister/daughter/relative when she chooses to marry a member of a different religion? How is it different in principle(and not from a strictly how much harm is caused) from a general religious practice of *encouraging*(which takes various forms) marriage between members of the same religion. Would you criticise that too?
 
" The reason the Vatican has clout is because of tradition and because a significant % of people identify as Roman Catholics. therefore in my view Miller has to share some of the moral responsibility for the actions of the Vatican."

The reason the U.S. has clout is because of tradition and because a significant % of people identify as Americans. Therefore in my view, every U.S. citizen has to share some of the moral responsibility for the actions of current and previous U.S. Administrations. After all, any U.S. citizen can easily become Candian and still be considered an American.

Hey, this equivelence thing is easy! Deepak, what country are you from again? I want to practice some equivalence on you!
 
He believes things about evolution that have no grounding in science ...

We've been through this before. Everybody believes things that are not grounded in science. While I believe different things than he does, as long as he doesn't try to pass them off as science and doesn't try to use the state to impose his beliefs on others, I couldn't care less as far as his science is concerned.

... therefore in my view Miller has to share some of the moral responsibility for the actions of the Vatican (because he could just as easily remain a christian and not be a catholic).

I have no problem criticizing the Catholic Church or even saying that Miller should take a stand against the Vatican. But what does that have to with his beliefs being "incompatible" with science? After all, is what you're saying any different than "accommodationists" criticizing the social policy advocated by Gnus? I've never had anything but praise for Coyne's science, even if I disagree with his social beliefs.

It is in this sense I believe that a moderate(Miller) enables an extremist(The Vatican).

So, if I believe in democracy, I'm "enabling" the Tea Partiers? I'm sorry, you have to do the heavy lifting of showing that Miller supports what you find "extreme" in the Catholic Church before you can rationally say he is "enabling" anything ... unless it would be fair to say Gnus "enabled" Pol Pot.

An accomodationist believes that since Miller is a brilliant scientist and a moderate and an ally he should be spared such criticism.

No, we just think you have to do better than "guilt by association."

If Miller comes out against stem cell research or in favor of protecting pedophile priests, I'll criticize him as much as anyone. That still wouldn't make his beliefs "incompatible" with science.
 
The Talibans religion is not compatible with science? Not just the non evolutions parts or the parts of their religion labelled "these are scientific claims"

I think it is fair to say that the Taliban would hold that, if science contradicted a belief of theirs, they would reject it in the same way that American creationists do. That's still not the same as saying that everyone has to accept that philosophical naturalism is true in order to be "scientific."

How is it different in principle(and not from a strictly how much harm is caused) from a general religious practice of *encouraging*(which takes various forms) marriage between members of the same religion. Would you criticise that too?

Maybe it is just because I'm a lawyer, but yes, I see a great deal of difference between violence and persuasion. You're free to try to persuade me you're right and I'm free to do the same to you. It's a little thing we call "freedom of speech." When you punch me in the nose for what I say, or vice versa, then that's a crime. I didn't realize that was a hard concept to grasp.

As to your unspecified "encouragement" to marry within a particular faith, it really depends on the particulars. I, like Gnus, am free to criticize anything ... including your vague complaints. I just don't have to think they are very cogent ... and have the right to say so.
 
@John
We've been through this before.
yes which is why you shouldn't misrepresent views on Miller.

But what does that have to with his beliefs being "incompatible" with science
Nothing. Two topics are mixed. The first point deals with incompatibility. The second deals with the "moderates" lend legitimacy to extremists views and not criticising the moderates is bad too viewpoint(which I believe is the gist of Coynes post).

or even saying that Miller should take a stand against the Vatican.
Well say it then. Also expand on what it means if he doesn't.

So, if I believe in democracy, I'm "enabling" the Tea Partiers?
What? if you, today, vote republican , you are enabling the tea party - whether you support their views or not. How in the world have you changed that view to "believing in democracy?" enables Tea Party. people can vote for whoever they want. If you vote democrat , you are enabling Barack Obama (and implicitly his policy). In this case though your options are limited and you usually have to choose between two evils. miller however has a wide variety of options that would still allow him to be Christian or a believer.

that Miller supports what you find "extreme" in the Catholic Church
Oh for God's sake - i made it clear that it doesn't matter whether he supports or believes the policies. His identification as Catholic (and that of millions of other Catholics) is what allows the Vatican to attempt to implement those policies. Does miller attend church regularly? Does he donate money every mass as he is supposed to? does some of it make its way to the Vatican? Will he baptise his children? Will he encourage them to be catholics?

Again this has nothing to do with incompatibility which has been argued elsewhere.

but yes, I see a great deal of difference between violence and persuasion.
Man even adding an explicit disclaimer stating that don't compare harm levels doesn't work.

Fundamentalist church of latter day saints members *persuade* their daughters to be the nth spiritual wife of some middle aged fuckup. You see a great deal of difference if I add the members also beat up their daughters. i don't. Perhaps it's because I'm not a lawyer.

I, like Gnus, am free to criticize anything
And who stopped you? It's your side who goes about telling people to mind their tone, to be less *vigorous* whatever that means to not criticise allies to recognize common causes etc.
 
@John
I think it is fair to say that the Taliban would hold that, if science contradicted a belief of theirs, they would reject it in the same way that American creationists do.
So hypothetically if science concluded that no such thing as a soul exists , *moderate* Christians would accept it?.
 
Deepak,

You know how John keeps saying that "nobody is willing or capable of treating everything in their lives as epistemological equals"? You provide a pretty good example of this when you cite Miller's belief in God (embraced without scientific evidence) as a supporting reason for your belief (embraced without scientific evidence) that "even smart people let religion influence their thinking negatively." (This claim is obviously true in the banal sense that it sometimes happens, but much less obviously true in the sense you mean it, where religion categorically and differentially influences thinking negatively. We can nod knowingly at Weinberg's dictum that "for good people to do evil, that takes religion," but where is the data?)

The question an "accomodationist" would ask is this; Given that by your own admission you aren't much interested in exposing your belief that "religion influences people's thinking negatively" to any meaningful scientific confirmation, is this belief therefore incompatible with science?
 
@Chris Schoen
This claim is obviously true in the banal sense that it sometimes happens, but much less obviously true in the sense you mean it, where religion categorically and differentially influences thinking negatively..blah blah...to any meaningful scientific confirmation, is this belief therefore incompatible with science?
This claim is obviously true - but not in the sense I mean it and this obviously true claim(your words) is not subject to any meaningful confirmation. So how did you arrive at the statement that this is "obviously true" without any meaningful confirmation?

My claim is this - Miller (who is accepted by gnus and accomodationists as a smart guy) has views on scientific matters (this is important) which are not grounded in science. the only reason to have this view is because he is religious(a hybrid god of the gaps , with my God must do something in this wonderful process)- That's an assertion but a reasonable one - do you deny this?.

For you to negate this statement would need you to show that Miller's(or any reasonably smart person's) religion causes him to arrive at some true conclusions on scientific topics that he would not have arrived at without his religion. Without that I can stick to my religion either doesnt influence thinking in scientific topics (in which case who cares) and influences it negatively. Since we are restricting to just a couple of people e.g. Collins/miller you just need to provide a couple of examples where someones religion caused him to conclude brilliantly on some scientific topic(and if you just point out a brilliant religious scientist, I will just have to weep). So show me your data and we can be done.
 
you shouldn't misrepresent views on Miller.

Care to say what misrepresentation that might be?

Two topics are mixed.

Whose fault is that?

... if you, today, vote republican , you are enabling the tea party - whether you support their views or not.

Ah! It is a black and white world of 'yer fer us or agin us'. Why does that sound familiar? ... Oh, yes, I hear it from the Religious Right and the Tea Partiers all the time. So, when Democrats and Republicans joined together to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', they were advancing the Tea Party cause? Remember the discussion about "tribalism"?

... miller however has a wide variety of options that would still allow him to be Christian or a believer.

And your evidence that he doesn't exercise those choices, despite his nominal identification as a "Catholic," is? ... Just as those "nominal" Republicans voted to repeal DADT ...

i made it clear that it doesn't matter whether he supports or believes the policies. His identification as Catholic (and that of millions of other Catholics) is what allows the Vatican to attempt to implement those policies.

Really? It "allows" it how? Be as specific as you demand of theists. Show the trail of money from the local American parish to the Vatican. I think you have a very naive understanding of the finances of local churches.

Will he baptise his children? Will he encourage them to be catholics?

So, you have ESP and can tell us what Miller is teaching his children ... particularly about what it means to be "Catholic"? So when the Religious Right tell us what secularists are teaching their children about being "animals," we should just accept that without evidence?

Man even adding an explicit disclaimer stating that don't compare harm levels doesn't work.

Not when you don't give any reason to think the analogy still holds when the harm levels are wildly different.

Fundamentalist church of latter day saints members *persuade* their daughters to be the nth spiritual wife of some middle aged fuckup. You see a great deal of difference if I add the members also beat up their daughters. i don't. Perhaps it's because I'm not a lawyer.

What part of 'child sexual abuse' don't you understand? Perhaps your problem isn't that you aren't a lawyer ... it's just that you are so invested in your tribalism that you've stopped thinking clearly. At the very least, you've stopped being able to express yourself clearly.

It's your side who goes about telling people to mind their tone, to be less *vigorous* whatever that means to not criticise allies to recognize common causes etc.

So the point of this is? If we criticize you, we are taking away your rights? ... the way the Religious Right claims? Or is it somehow that you have the right to criticize theists and we don't have the right to criticize you? Why? Because we are fellow atheists (or, in my case, secularist)? Tribalism again?
 
So how did you arrive at the statement that this is "obviously true" without any meaningful confirmation?

There are some things that we can agree to take as givens. This is one of them. Do we not agree that it is uncontroversial that sometimes religion is a bad influence? We might quibble with just what the causal relationship is between religion and bad outcomes, but there seems to be no need to verify its general accuracy, since we are in agreement and the premise is causing no problems. This however is different that the more specific point made by incompatiblists that religion is categorically and differentially a bad influence, particularly on science. On this point there is less agreement, which is why we must try to arbitrate it.

My claim is this - Miller [...] has views on scientific matters (this is important) which are not grounded in science.

When you say "views on scientific matters," I presume you mean something like "opinions about which there is an objectively correct fact of the matter." So it is a "scientific matter" for example, whether Obama is a Christian or an atheist. Or whether Islam "impels people to fly airplanes into buildings." There may be rational reasons for both supporting and opposing these two opinions (both expounded by Coyne on his blog.) But I'm not aware of any science that has been brought to bear on the matter of Obama's religious leanings. And in the case of Islam and terrorism, the science that exists is inconclusive, but tends toward the null hypothesis. So why does Coyne get a pass for having views on scientific matters that are "not grounded in science," while Miller does not?

[T]he only reason to have this view is because he is religious(a hybrid god of the gaps , with my God must do something in this wonderful process)- That's an assertion but a reasonable one - do you deny this?.

It's reasonable in the sense that you have employed (faulty) reason to formulate it. But I've just argued that it's false that only religion can lead people to hold beliefs not grounded in science. You are free to reject Miller's metaphysics, but your grounds for doing so (as given here in this thread) are logically invalid.

For you to negate this statement would need you to show that Miller's(or any reasonably smart person's) religion causes him to arrive at some true conclusions on scientific topics that he would not have arrived at without his religion.

No, to negate it I only need to present one countervailing case of someone holding beliefs "not grounded in science" for reasons having nothing to do with religion. Which I have done.

The problem, again, is in the imprecision of the phrase "scientific topics." There is an enormous wealth of factual information that none of us could possibly use the the scientific method to verify. Some things we have "good reason" to believe, on the basis of folk empiricism, or actuarial likelihood. Some things we are just biased toward (the best of us are biased some of the time; it's human nature.) Some things we choose to believe because we can afford to be wrong. It's why we take risks. As long as we don't pretend these methods are scientific, there's no meaningful conflict with science.

Miller does not claim that science has demonstrated a god of the gaps, or a soul. If he did, we could ask him to show his work, and we could look for flaws in his methodology or try to replicate the results ourselves. But he hasn't. You ask me to provide data that "someones religion caused him to conclude brilliantly on some scientific topic," but I fail to see how this would be germane. If the argument has now become that anything which does not cause someone to do better science is incompatible with science, then alas for sex, dreaming, art, cookery, companionship, athletics, and commenting on blog posts.
 
@John
Im only responding to the below statement since everything else has been covered repeatedly.

What part of 'child sexual abuse' don't you understand?
Have you actually followed the case? Children are "persuaded" to accept this practice - No sex act is performed till they are of legal age (in cases where there have been , then the law has acted). Legally they cant be touched when that is the case. You evidently are ok with that so long as beating the children isn't part of the "persuasion".
 
So how did you arrive at the statement that this is "obviously true" without any meaningful confirmation?

There are some things that we can agree to take as givens. This is one of them. Do we not agree that it is uncontroversial that sometimes religion is a bad influence? We might quibble with just what the causal relationship is between religion and bad outcomes, but there seems to be no need to verify its general accuracy, since we are in agreement and the premise is causing no problems. This however is different that the more specific point made by incompatiblists that religion is categorically and differentially a bad influence, particularly on science. On this point there is less agreement, which is why we must try to arbitrate it.

My claim is this - Miller [...] has views on scientific matters (this is important) which are not grounded in science.

When you say "views on scientific matters," I presume you mean something like "opinions about which there is an objectively correct fact of the matter." So it is a "scientific matter" for example, whether Obama is a Christian or an atheist. Or whether Islam "impels people to fly airplanes into buildings." There may be rational reasons for both supporting and opposing these two opinions (both expounded by Coyne on his blog.) But I'm not aware of any science that has been brought to bear on the matter of Obama's religious leanings. And in the case of Islam and terrorism, the science that exists is inconclusive, but tends toward the null hypothesis. So why does Coyne get a pass for having views on scientific matters that are "not grounded in science," while Miller does not?
 
[T]he only reason to have this view is because he is religious(a hybrid god of the gaps , with my God must do something in this wonderful process)- That's an assertion but a reasonable one - do you deny this?.

It's reasonable in the sense that you have employed (faulty) reason to formulate it. But I've just argued that it's false that only religion can lead people to hold beliefs not grounded in science. You are free to reject Miller's metaphysics, but your grounds for doing so (as given here in this thread) are logically invalid.

For you to negate this statement would need you to show that Miller's(or any reasonably smart person's) religion causes him to arrive at some true conclusions on scientific topics that he would not have arrived at without his religion.

No, to negate it I only need to present one countervailing case of someone holding beliefs "not grounded in science" for reasons having nothing to do with religion. Which I have done.

The problem, again, is in the imprecision of the phrase "scientific topics." There is an enourmous wealth of factual information that none of us could possibly use the the scientific method to verify. Some things we have "good reason" to believe, on the basis of folk empiricism, or actuarial likelihood. Some things we are just biased toward (the best of us are biased some of the time; it's human nature.) Some things we choose to believe because we can afford to be wrong. It's why we take risks. As long as we don't pretend these methods are scientific, there's no meaningful conflict with science.

Miller does not claim that science has demonstrated a god of the gaps, or a soul. If he did, we could ask him to show his work, and we could look for flaws in his methodology or try to replicate the results ourselves. But he hasn't. You ask me to provide data that "someones religion caused him to conclude brilliantly on some scientific topic," but I fail to see how this would be germane. If the argument has now become that anything which does not cause someone to do better science is incompatible with science, then alas for sex, dreaming, art, cookery, companionship, athletics, and commenting on blog posts.
 
@Chris
There are some things that we can agree to take as givens.
On this blog? expressing an opinion that a catholic will baptise his children causes my ESP power to be questioned.

I presume you mean something like "opinions about which there is an objectively correct fact of the matter."
Not exactly. there are many matters which have an objectively correct answer but which are nonetheless opinions.
In the specific case of Miller he deals with evolution as a scientific fact - he writes books about it , he testifies about it - and by all accounts does a terrific job.
So when he speculates about the origin of life, the necessity for intelligence to evolve or the presence of a soul it is vastly different from asking his opinion on whether Obama is a Christian.
Miller must have thought about these matters scientifically to come to the conclusion he has - no? He must have reasoned to arrive at his conclusions - I believe this because he does it for every other aspect related to evolution. He cannot simply believe we have a soul - he must have wondered how we get it , whether it evolved or not , whether God injects it or not.
Which is why arguments of the form "he doesn't claim it is a scientific result" make no sense. Any more than a creationist claim that the earth is 6000 years old , god made it look older , and that this is a religious claim , not a scientific one.
So why does Coyne get a pass for having views on scientific matters
Who said he does? People contradict him on the Obama is a christian all the time. On Islam driving people to terrorism - I would have thought this is a fairly obvious banal claim (some have done it , not that it drives everyone)

But I've just argued that it's false that only religion can lead people to hold beliefs not grounded in science
And no gnu has ever made the claim about only religion(Clearly your political beliefs is also one that can cause you to hold beliefs about science not grounded in science). In the context of science the claim is simple. Religion doesn't add anything positive to science. It can however subtract from it.

I only need to present one countervailing case of someone holding beliefs "not grounded in science" for reasons having nothing to do with religion.
I disagree. I didn't say that religion is the only cause for everyone. i specified that for Miller it was the only cause. If Coyne for e.g. has some totally mistaken belief about science , it wont be because of religion. again you either believe religion contributes something positive to science or you dont . if not , you have already agreed it can contribute something negative. thats the only claim gnus make.

Miller does not claim that science has demonstrated a god of the gaps, or a soul.
Lets say i tell you i believe the law of gravity is fact. But I also believe a magic demon in every object is what creates the attraction between two objects. I do not claim that magic demons are scientific facts - in fact since its "magic" , it is outside science. is that good enough for you?
 
Sorry, Deepack, your post somehow got snagged by Blogger's span trap. I was sick again over the weekend and then had a major project at work for the past few days and wasn't paying attention to the blog.

Lets say i tell you i believe the law of gravity is fact. But I also believe a magic demon in every object is what creates the attraction between two objects. I do not claim that magic demons are scientific facts - in fact since its "magic" , it is outside science. is that good enough for you?

Do you have a well supported theory of how gravity works? The person's proposition is clearly unscientific ... if, for no other reason, because we cannot empirically test the abilities of demons (if you think you can, please show your work!). If and when you you have a well supported theory of how gravity works by "natural law," then we may have a different situation. Otherwise, you're just asserting philosophical natualism.
 
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