February 26, 2014
The title refers to creationists.
Checking the comment moderation queue today, I found a message waiting for approval. It was a comment on an older post about Newton. The comment seemed off topic. But, to be fair, there was another comment rating Darwin as more important than Newton. So I suppose the creationist comment was a reaction to that.
I thought it was worth a laugh. But, I wouldn’t want to have all the fun myself, so I decided to share that comment. So here it is:
DARWIN WAS A DAMNED FOOL! HE HAD FAIR ABILITIES AS A NATURAL SCIENTIST IN OBSERVING AND NOTING DETAILS CONCERNING PLANT AND ANIMAL LIFE FORMS. HIS DEVELOPMENT OF THE THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION, AKA EVOLUTION, WAS A TOTALLY MISGUIDED JUDGEMENT OF HIS DATA. DARWIN TO THIS DAY IS THE GREAT PROPONENT OF “BOGUS SCIENCE”, BS FOR SHORT. DARWIN DOES NOT EVEN BELONG ON THE LIST OF THE TEN THOUSAND GREATEST SCIENTISTS WHO EVER LIVED. HIS FOOLISH CONJECTURES HAVE HELD TRUE SCIENCE BACK EVER SINCE HE FIRST PRESUMED TO PUBLISH HIS ABSURD NONSENSE. – XXXX XXXXXXX / 6443
I “X”ed out the name, though you can find it at the actual comment.
So there we have it. All capitals, and pretty much fact free.
February 23, 2014
Physicist David Snoke has written a review of Thomas Nagel’s book “Mind and Cosmos” (h/t Uncommon Descent):
In this post, I shall discuss Snoke’s review. I suppose that makes it a review of a review.
I have previously discussed Nagel’s book on this blog — you can find those posts with a search on the main blog page. I clearly disagreed with a lot of what Nagel wrote in his book. By contrast, Snoke seems to like the book.
While I disagree with Snoke about the book, I do think Snoke’s review is well worth reading. Nagel’s book is not to everyone’s taste, and some might find it a hard read. Snoke, in his review, gives a synopsis of what he sees are some of the important parts of the book. So I’ll recommend that you read the Snoke review, particularly if you want to get an overview of what Nagel was arguing.
February 19, 2014
Jerry Coyne has yet another post on the topic of free will, which he thinks we do not have.
There are some points in that post that warrant a reply, so this will be my response.
Am I banned?
Normally, I would respond by posting a comment at Coyne’s site. However, my last few attempts to comment there have failed. It sure looks as if Coyne has banned me from commenting, though I have no idea why. Yes, I have disagreed with Coyne in the past, but I have never been belligerent or excessively argumentative in that disagreement. It is Coyne’s site, so within his rights to ban me. But it seems surprising. Continue reading
February 16, 2014
If I say “there’s a stray dog in our garden,” you will understand “dog” as referring to some member of the dog category, rather than to a particular dog. Of course, it is referring to the particular dog that is in the garden, but it is only its being in the garden that makes it particular. We might say that it is a reference to a member of the category of dogs in the garden.
At another time, I might say something that seems to single out a very specific entity, so I might seem to be talking about a particular individual.
In this post, I want to argue that most ordinary language use is really about categories rather than about individuals. And, moreover, when it seems to be about an individual, it is really about a very small category. Continue reading
February 15, 2014
I’ve been planning to post this for a while. However, I have been struggling with exactly how to present it. So I guess I should just blurt it out, and not worry. The reason for my hesitation, is that I know it will be misunderstood by some readers.
This is related to earlier posts on convention and posts on categorization.
I shall be quoting two short segments from Genesis 1. There is no religious reason for this, and I will be giving a non-standard reading of what I quote. My reason for quoting is that the quoted text will be familiar to many. And it happens to fit with the topic.
There’s a kind of epistemic nihilism, in which a person’s head is full of facts but he does not believe any of them. This sometimes explored as a way of investigating the extremes of skepticism.
February 4, 2014
Vincent Torley, who posts under the handle “vjtorley” at Uncommon Descent, has a longish post on Intelligent Design and related topics:
I encourage you to read the full post by vjtorley. Here, I want to give my reaction to only some of the issues that he raises. I’ll note that his post grows out of an online discussion with theologian James McGrath, and is a followup to an earlier thread about that discussion.
Torley says, of McGrath:
As far as I can tell, Dr. McGrath doesn’t necessarily think God created the laws of Nature; nor does he believe in miracles. As might be expected, he doesn’t believe in the Divinity of Christ.
January 20, 2014
Is there a biological basis for religion?
There has been some speculation about this, following a recent report:
In this post I will express my opinion. I want to be clear that what I write here is opinion.
First, some comments on the Science Daily report. It says:
“Religious belief is a unique human attribute observed across different cultures in the world, even in those cultures which evolved independently, such as Mayans in Central America and aboriginals in Australia,” said Deshpande, who is also a researcher at Auburn’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center.
January 16, 2014
I recently made a blog comment where I mentioned “God’s eye view philosophy,” which I contrasted with “Organism’s eye view philosophy.” Here, I want to expand on that comment.
Roughly speaking, the idea of a God’s eye view philosophy, is that we should attempt to look at the world as we might presume that a God might see it. It is important to note that one need not be religious to hold a God’s eye view philosophy. It suffices to think of a metaphorical all-seeing God. There need be no commitment as to whether such a God is possible. One could be an atheist, and still hold to a God’s eye view philosophy.
With an organism’s eye view, we instead try to look at the world as it might appear to a biological organism. So what we call “a bird’s eye view” would be a particular case of that, where the organism is a bird. We humans are, of course, biological organisms. So, in some sense, it must be that we really are taking an organism’s eye view.
January 5, 2014
Here’s a good description of liberal Christianity, from James McGrath:
Liberal Christianity, in a nutshell, is simply one form of Christianity that has existed for as long as Christianity has. It recognizes that the Bible is a collection of works by human beings and not written by God, and that there is a need to be open to other sources of information besides Christian or Biblical ones. Liberal Christianity seeks to do honestly and consistently what all Christians do, even if they do not admit it, namely decide what we should believe and do, considering not only Biblical texts or church hierarchies, but also other sources including our own reason. While some Christians claim to be based on nothing but “the Word of God” and to not pick and choose, that claim is never, ever true in reality. And so, while there is a long history of conservatives trying to put liberals on the defensive for “picking and choosing,” liberals should courageously point out that conservatives do so without admitting it, and often without a clear rationale. To be a liberal Christian is to seek honesty, consistency, openness, and breadth. And contrary to what conservative critics sometimes claim, it is not necessary to cease being a Christian in the process.
For the full post, see:
January 3, 2014
There has been a lot of hand wringing, of late, over the apparent decline of the humanities. So I read, with interest, an article on that topic by Alex Rosenberg:
Early in the article, Rosenberg diagnoses the problem, with:
For the problems of the humanities are self-inflicted wounds well recognized by their colleagues in other faculties.
I am inclined to agree. I recommend reading Rosenberg’s article. In this post, I’ll just add some of my own observations.