Testing worldviews: naturalism part 2

Let’s continue our look at naturalism, as discussed in schooloffish’s post, “DOES YOUR WORLD VIEW PASS THE TEST?” Today we find him taking up the argument from design:

What we see is an orderly Universe where everything is in a perfect location to allow for humanity to thrive. If the sun was just a little hotter, or colder, life could not exist. If the continents were a little bit out of alignment, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn would seize to flow and the world would be covered with ice. If our sun was just a little bit younger or older, our orbit would be such that the planet would be unable to sustain life. The fact is the Universe seems to be ordered, not in chaos as Darwin would have had us believe.

Needless to say, a scientific theory is basically a reasonably accurate description of some particularly orderly aspect of the natural world. If the universe were “chaos,” as schooloffish puts it, a theory like evolution would not even be possible. The absence of any predictable laws of cause and effect would completely invalidate science as we know it.

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Discovery Institute: Reviving and recirculating Nazi propaganda

Over at Discovery Institute’s “Evolution News and Views,” Senior Propagandist Jonathan West criticizes Dawkins for—are you sitting down?—comparing a rabbi’s speaking style to Hitler’s.

Now, after denouncing Expelled as “wicked, evil” and an “outrage” for pointing out that Darwinism was one of the intellectual influences on Nazism, Dawkins has compared a popular Rabbi who dares to criticize him to Hitler! And he did it no less on World Holocaust Remembrance Day. No, I’m not joking. As I’ve said before, it’s getting really hard to parody the Darwinists. They do it so well themselves.

Who knows what West thinks the “parody” would be here. Apparently, you can accuse “Darwinists” of promoting Nazism all day long, and everything’s just peachy, but if one of THEM dares to do the same to YOU, why, gosh, that’s just so over the top, it’s, it’s…well, I mean really. Even if that’s not actually what they really said.

We could look at the Boteach video (which starts off ranting about the British monarchy being a lie), but in fact it’s not really all that important who called whom the “H” word first. That’s just bickering; if you want more of that, watch trash talk TV. The more important issue is the link West cites above, attempting to blame evolutionary science for the Holocaust. It’s a link to a summary page on Evolution News and Views, listing a number of articles by DI fellows attempting to revive the Nazi propaganda that anti-Jewish genocide is scientifically justified.

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(Mis)understanding science

One of the problems with defending science in modern society is that a lot of people just don’t get it. For example, in referring to a recent article in New Scientist, conservapundit Vox Day complains:

This is just absurdly pathetic. The entire article is nothing but a list of excuses for why the model simply can’t do what New Scientist disingenuously insists that it can. Suggesting that something that already took place might perhaps maybe possibly have happened a certain way is not a prediction.

This kind of objection betrays a fundamental ignorance about how science works, and what it means for a particular theory or hypothesis to make “predictions”. In genuine science, it’s not only possible, but often necessary, to make predictions about things that have already happened.

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The cost of questioning your faith

Via Grrlscientist, the story of a creationist who learned, and who has paid the penalty for learning.

Reading this article makes it easier to understand why religious fundamentalists of all faiths have so much difficulty in accepting the truth since they stand to lose everything, including their very identity.

Contrast this with Mike Adams’s claim that “Accepting Christianity… is far more likely [than Islam] to have come from a rational appraisal of the evidence. And it is far less likely to have come from the threat of the sword.” But there are other threats besides swords, and more compelling.

 
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ID is “unscientific” — Dinesh D’Souza

In an astonishing post on Townhall.com, Dinesh D’Souza admits that evolution is scientific and ID isn’t.

The problem with evolution is not that it is unscientific but that it is routinely taught in textbooks and in the classroom in an atheist way…Instead of trying to get unscientific ID theories included in the classroom, a better strategy would be to get the unscientific atheist propaganda out.

Hmm, wonder how this is going to go over with the fine folks at Expelled?

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Pre-emptive lying from Chuck Colsom

It seems the Expelled propaganda machine has added a new trick to its repertoire: pre-emptive lying.

If you have heard of the new documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, opening April 18, chances are you have heard all kinds of distortions and myths about it. So let me set the record straight about some of the most common myths.

Yes, that’s Chuck Colson’s name in the by-line. Apparently, he’s concerned about all the bad publicity that Expelled is getting, and he’s trying to improve things by appealing to people to ignore it all. (Hey, I thought this publicity was supposed to be good for the movie? Why is an expert framer like Colson trying to get people not to listen to it? But I digress.)

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XFiles Friday: The war between religion and science

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 6)

It would be fun to spend some time in Chapter 6, just because it’s such familiar ground. But the creationist distortions, omissions, and outright deceptions which fill this chapter are well-documented elsewhere, so let’s just hit the highlights. In particular, I’d like to look at the ways in which Geisler and Turek’s approach to evolution manifests a corrosive and poisonous brand of “science” that is inherently hostile to the real thing.

Geilser and Turek begin by invoking Sagan’s ghost to try and create the impression that there’s a correlation between the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the search for Intelligent Design. Unfortunately, they shoot themselves in the foot again by citing the brain as a structure so complex that it could not have arisen naturally.

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No intelligence allowed! Seriously!

This is almost too funny to be true. Dr. PZ Myers, famous blogger, biologist and unbeliever, showed up at a screening of Ben Stein’s propaganda piece, Expelled: No Intelligence allowed. Apparently that bit about “no intelligence allowed” isn’t just their motto, it’s their screening policy:

I went to attend a screening of the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled, a few minutes ago. Well, I tried … but I was Expelled!

Seriously. They had a uniformed guard pull him out of line and tell him he could not watch the movie that Ben Stein had made about him. But that wasn’t enough. Not only was he not allowed to see the movie, they evicted him from the theater completely, apparently just for being PZ Myers!

But wait, there’s more. Apparently the Ben Stein people are equal opportunity ignoramuses who apply their “No Intelligence” policy to themselves as well as imposing it on others. While they kicked out PZ, they failed to bar his guest: Richard Dawkins. So here they are, making a movie that accuses others of oppression and censorship, which they won’t let the “wrong” people see, a movie accusing scientists of unfairly excluding intelligent design, which they unfairly exclude scientists from seeing—and they can’t even get that right!

They need to put up a big sign out front, with a picture of some drooling moron (played by Ben Stein), that says “Attention patrons: Your IQ must be at least this low in order to watch this movie.” That way it will be clear just who is and is not allowed to be there.

 
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Vox Day defends “Expelled: No Intelligents Allowed”

The inimitable Vox Day indulges in a bit of gloating over this complaint by PZ Myers:

If the producers of Expelled are so confident that they can make a strong case of conspiracy against scientists, then before they start showing this to uninformed politicians, they ought to screen it before scientists and historians and philosophers of science, who will be able to judge it on its merits.

Vox’s answer?

Because, PZ, as we’ve already seen with TIA, whenever someone does make a strong case against secular scientists or atheists, these self-proclaimed champions of intellectual discourse suddenly go silent and try to pretend they’ve never heard of it.

Um, yeah. The reason Ben Stein refuses to let qualified scientists review his film is because doing so would silence his critics.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

 
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Recommended Reading: How to teach

A Blog Around The Clock has some thoughts up about The so-called Facebook Scandal, in which he addresses some very interesting points.

Science is supposed to be a collaborative activity. Why is it organized (and taught) as if it was a competitive activity? How does that affect science? Negatively, by increasing secretiveness and sometimes outright fraud.

The Web is changing all this. The teenagers already grok that the old selfish notions of intellectual property are going by the way of the dodo. They naturally think in terms of networks, not individuals. And thinking in term of newtorks as opposed to a linear, hierarchical, individualistic focus, is necessary for speeding up the advancement of knowledge and societal good.

In other words, it is not important what each individual knows or does, it is important what the interactions between individuals can do, and how the group or community (or global community) learns and acts upon the knowledge.

Thus, education, especially science education, from Kindergarden through post-doc and beyond, should be organized around collaborations, teaching people and letting them practice the networking skills and collaborative learning and action. Individuals will make mistakes and get punished by the group (sometimes as harshly as excommunication). They will learn from that experience and become more collaborative next time. The biggest sin would be selfish non-sharing of information.

 
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