Archive for May, 2012

May 27, 2012

ID is making progress

by Neil Rickert

Seen in a comment at UD:

I.D. Is finally making some truly profound objections to evolution theory. Also, why are there still apes if we evolved from them?

Well, okay, that was only a comment.  Perhaps we can’t assume that all ID proponents agree.  But it does give us a moment of humor for this weekend.

May 27, 2012

by Neil Rickert

This poem expresses very well how I see what is going on in politics.

Rebecca Rose Poetry

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee
Were voted in by you and me.
Each one argued different sides,
Then hammered out a compromise.
And afterwards they’d have a drink,
And talk and argue; reason, think.
And just because they disagreed
Neither one once felt the need
To call one side “unpatriotic.”
(A charge that’s clearly idiotic!)

Now, Tweedle Dee felt passionately
That all should have equality.
And so he fought for civil rights:
Equal treatment: blacks and whites!
Equal treatment: straight and gay!
For everyone! In every way!

But Tweedle Dum cried, “Lower taxes!”
And “Government, get off our backses!”
(Which really doesn’t make much sense
Since Tweedle Dum’s constituents
Walk around with hands outstretched
For monthly governmental checks.
Where’d they think the money’s from?
From taxes, people! Don’t be dumb!)
You’d think they’d give Dum second looks –
They vote against their pocketbooks!


View original post 338 more words

May 27, 2012

What is knowledge?

by Neil Rickert

I have made no secret of my disdain for the idea that knowledge is justified true belief, as is often asserted in the literature of epistemology.  In this post, I want to say more about my own view of what constitutes knowledge.

I recently posted a parable, “The blind man and the cave” in to illustrate what is required in order to have knowledge.  To my surprise, one of the comments dismissed everything that I thought important in that parable, and insisted that knowledge is just facts.

All the blind man needs to know is WHAT he is measuring (a fact), and then know the measurement (a fact). Then the facts that he gains (height of the cave) will be the newly acquired knowledge because he understands the facts based on previous facts learned.

That leaves me wondering why philosophers seem to miss (or gloss over) what I see as important.

read more »

May 22, 2012

On Wilkins on metaphysical determinism

by Neil Rickert

John Wilkins has an interesting post, titled “Metaphysical determinism“, and this post will consist of some rambling comments on John’s post.

I’ll start by saying that I agree with much, but not all, that John says.  I’ll be commenting mostly where I disagree, but I hope the reader will understand that there is a lot of agreement.  I am making this a post here, rather than a comment on John’s blog post, because I think it will help show where I disagree with some of the conventional wisdom.

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May 21, 2012

On criticizing religion

by Neil Rickert

I don’t comment much on religion.  However, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with such criticism.  Daz addressed the topic in his recent post “For People Who Don’t Believe In God, You Atheists Sure Do Talk About Him A Lot” and I think he made his point very clearly and succinctly.

I particularly liked his final line:

I certainly respect your right to your private belief. And when that belief truly is private, I’ll shut up.

I recommend that you read his entire post.

May 15, 2012

Science and the supernatural

by Neil Rickert

Victor Stenger has written about science and the supernatural in a Huffington Post blog, and Jerry Coyne has further commented at his site.  Toward the end of his piece, Stenger says:

So, scientists and science organizations are being disingenuous when they say science can say nothing about the supernatural.

read more »

May 14, 2012

The blind man and the cave

by Neil Rickert

A blind man is dwelling in a cave.  He is not confined to the cave.  He can come and go as he pleases.  He lives in the cave because he has found it to be a rather congenial place, a place of shelter from the extremes of weather.  Yet he is by no means a hermit or a loner.  He enjoys his frequent walks to the nearby town where he can socialize with others.  He is an avid radio listener, and he uses the radio to keep himself well up to date on the local and national goings on.

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May 13, 2012

Sophisticated theology

by Neil Rickert

Jerry Coyne posted this at his site:

The history of science and theology together shows that the former constantly nibbles away at the ambit of the latter, forcing theologians into ever more abstract conceptions of God, in which He either disappears or His actions become undetectable.  This rearguard action, consisting entirely of special pleading and post facto rationalization (also called “making stuff up”), is known as Sophisticated Theology.

I sometimes think that Jerry overdoes his posting about religion.  But I do completely agree with that quoted statement.

May 12, 2012

The magical black box

by Neil Rickert

In a discussion in comments to “The Primacy of Thought” at Ron Murphy’s blog, I suggested that I might do a full post here on the title topic.  A link in Ron’s blog took me to “The importance of evidence” which is a post by Mike D.  There, Mike D discusses what he sees as the foundations of knowledge, where he says:

Empiricism requires us to make to two foundational assumptions:

  1. I exist
  2. My senses generally provide me with reliable information

For myself, I am not making those assumptions, and I want to discuss why and to indicate where I do begin.

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May 11, 2012

The soul

by Neil Rickert

An imaginary part of the human anatomy that some people are able to use to increase their power of self-delusion.