Archive for June, 2012

June 27, 2012

Science and the supernatural

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post, Jerry Coyne claims that science can test the supernatural.  I disagree, and this post will be a response to that claim.  In my view, what Jerry is really talking about, is testing the claims about the natural world that are made by some supernaturalists.  And, for sure we can, at least in principle, test claims about the natural world.  But testing claims about the natural world is not testing the supernatural.

June 27, 2012

I agree with a UD post

by Neil Rickert

This might be a first.  Here’s a post at Uncommon Descent with which I strongly agree.

Westboro Baptist Church, your key to improving the state is obvious: Just shut down. And shut up.

Who would not agree with that?  I guess Jack Wu, for one.  Wu, who is running for a position on the Kansas Board of Education, talks about “this evil city of Topeka and this perverse state of Kansas.”  And to that, the UD poster says:

Mr. Wu, resign your candidacy. If that is the way you feel about your city and state, you’ve no business running for office. Nor should you wish to.

Well said.

June 15, 2012

More on knowledge

by Neil Rickert

As I have made clear in earlier posts, I do not like the typical philosopher’s view, that knowledge = justified true belief.  I most recently discussed that in “What is knowledge?”  As you can see from the comments to that earlier post, philosophers (or at least one) disagree with me.  There was a guest post today, at Jonny Scaramanga’s blog, which helps illustrate my objection to the JTB characterization of knowledge.

June 12, 2012

Sophisticated arguments for God

by Neil Rickert

Over at his website (which most of us call a blog), Jerry Coyne has been discussing sophisticated theology and illustrating this with reference to a book (“Questions of Truth”) by Polkinghorne and Beale.  As part of that discussion, Jerry has compiled a list of arguments that are often presented as evidence for God:

  1. The Big Bang: what got it started in the first place? After all a quantum vacuum isn’t nothing.
  2. Why is science possible at all?  The human ability to apprehend truth must be a gift from God, since it couldn’t have evolved (see Plantinga)
  3. The “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” proves that God designed the universe
  4. Ditto for the existence of physical “laws”
  5. Only God could have give us the “innate” human sense or morality (see Francis Collins)
  6. The “fine-tuning” of the universe (that is, the values of physical constants) is evidence for God
  7. The appearance of humanoid creatures on the planet—creatures capable of apprehending and worshiping a God—is evidence of His handiwork.
    read more »

June 12, 2012

Morning musings

by Neil Rickert

I wandered over to R. Joseph Hoffman’s blog this morning, and saw on the front page:

I have come to the following conclusion: Scholarship devoted to the question of the historicity of Jesus, while not a total waste of time, could be better spent gardening.

Great.  However, I came to that conclusion several decades ago.  When I read the arguments, it looks to me as if one side (the historicists) are arguing that the glass is half full, while the other side (the mythicists) are arguing that the glass is half empty.

Apparently, Hoffman did not just come to this conclusion.  He was reblogging his own post from two years earlier.

June 4, 2012

On natural abiogenesis – give that man a PhD

by Neil Rickert

We all know what BS stands for.  MS means “more of the same”, and PhD means “piled higher and deeper.”  (A joke that used to circulate around college campuses).

A post at Uncommon Descent, titled “On the Impossibility of Abiogenesis” purports to prove that natural abiogenesis is impossible.  I shall detail why I see it as piled higher and deeper with nonsense.  The post is by niwrad, and I shall be quoting parts of that post and then commenting on them.