Archive for March, 2015

March 20, 2015

ID vs. Bill Nye

by Neil Rickert

I had to laugh at this:

While most Bill Nye-fans — myself included — enjoyed his wacky experiments and corny jokes, few if any realized there was another side to Bill, one that he didn’t start unveiling until just the past few years: Nye advocates a hardline, intolerant, and divisive atheistic worldview view that stands diametrically opposed to the values shared by most Americans.

That’s from Casey Luskin at Real Science vs. Bill Nye the “Science” Guy.

I guess Casey doesn’t like it, that Bill Nye is honest and describes science as it is, even when that science is incompatible with the wacky ideas of creationists and ID proponents.

March 19, 2015

Notes on free will

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post at his blog site, Jerry Coyne writes:

Based on statements of some compatibilists, I realized that one reason philosophers spend so much time trying to define forms of free will compatible with determinism is because they see bad consequences of rejecting all free will.

Obviously, Jerry is a mindless mechanical moron, meaninglessly mimicking a memorized message.

Well, actually, I don’t believe that about Jerry.  Rather, I take it that Jerry has free will, in spite of his repeated insistence to the contrary.

I’m quite puzzled about what Jerry Coyne means by “free will”.  I take it to mean only that we are not mindless morons, that we do participate in making decisions.  I doubt that Jerry thinks he is a mindless moron, yet he seems to insist that he has no free will and that his decision making is illusory.

Jerry starts his post with:

I’ve long been puzzled by the many writings of “compatibilists”: those philosophers and laypeople who accept physical determinism of our choices and behaviors, but still maintain that we have a kind of “free will.”

I consider myself a compatibilist, but I do not accept physical determinism.  The evidence seems to be against it.  If there were physical determinism, then, as I see it, we would all be mindless mechanical morons.  Yet we don’t seem to be that, so I doubt physical determinism.

March 18, 2015

ID and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

by Neil Rickert

At the ID blog Uncommon Descent, there have been several recent posts that attempt show that the 2nd law of thermodynamics (or 2LOT) poses a serious problem for proponents of biological evolution.

ID (intelligent design) proponents claim that theirs is a scientific program.  Yet they undermine that claim of science when they demonstrate their misunderstanding of 2LOT.  It is well known  among physicists that 2LOT does not pose any problems for the existence or evolution of biological life.

It is, of course, well understood that random motion of molecules is not life.  Living things are not random.  They extract energy from elsewhere (food, sunlight, etc) and use that energy to maintain their organization.  2LOT allows this.   But this is what the ID proponents are arguing against.

Granville Sewell, in his post, shows photographs of Moore, OK before and after the tornado that destroyed the town.

It is certainly true that we observe that designed things decay over time.  Sometime the decay is catastrophic, as with a tornado.  Sometimes it is more gradual, as with the erosion damage to Mt. Rushmore.

We see this with all designed things, from your automobile to your computer, from your hand knit sweater to your house.  There are no known exceptions.  Using induction or abduction (the preferred “scientific” methodology of the ID proponents, we can reasonably conclude that all designed things decay over time.

This ought to pose an enormous problem for the proponents of intelligent design.

March 10, 2015

Dear Iran

by Neil Rickert

Here is my paraphrase of the letter from 47 Republican senators, including the parts that were unwritten but implied:

Dear Iran,

We understand that you are ignorant and stupid people who do not understand how the US government works.  So we are going to explain it to you.

The reason we don’t want you to reach an agreement with our government, is that we want an excuse to be able to go to war against you.

Apart from being borderline treason, this was a stupid thing for Republicans to do.

Link for relevant news report: Republicans Warn Iran — and Obama — That Deal Won’t Last

March 9, 2015

What does truth have to do with knowledge?

by Neil Rickert

Nothing.  Nothing at all.

Well, that’s the quick answer.  But now some more detail.

Commenting on my previous post, Philomath asked:

If everyone agrees on something do that make it true?

He clearly saw this question as relevant to my posts on knowledge.  My title question arises from this.  My own view of knowledge is such that there are no truth criteria for having knowledge.

There’s an old  saying:

  • if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.

The version of this for philosophy is:

  • if the only tool you have is logic, then every problem looks like a proposition.

Philosophers — or, at least, analytic philosophers, attempt to discuss everything in terms of propositions and the truth values for those propositions.  I see that as a mistake.

March 7, 2015

Knowledge vs. belief

by Neil Rickert

[I seem to have taken a long vacation from blogging.  It’s time to get back into the swing.]

I’ve posted before about my dislike for the view that knowledge is justified true belief.  I have recently seen a couple of blog posts that are related, so I’ll comment about those.

Infinite worlds

The first is:

The author begins with:

In an infinite universe we would be absolutely ignorant, if my calculation is right.

The author does not give an argument to support that assertion.  He seems to take it as self-evident.  And I guess I’m not quite sure what he means by “absolute” here, as that qualifier does not seem to fit.  I presume him to be going by the assumption that knowledge is justified true belief.  And, with that assumption, presumably knowledge of an infinite world would require infinitely many beliefs.