Joined: Jan. 2006
|Quote (Cubist @ Dec. 16 2011,14:00)|
|Quote (BWE @ Dec. 16 2011,15:37)|
|Holy cow! Am I the last one to find out about the "New Atheists"?|
|theNew Atheists |
The OUT Campaign
Tolerance of pervasive myth and superstition in modern society is not a virtue.
Religious fundamentalism has gone main stream and its toll on education, science, and social progress is disheartening.
Wake up people!! We are smart enough now to kill our invisible gods and oppressive beliefs.
It is the responsibility of the educated to educate the uneducated, lest we fall prey to the tyranny of ignorance.
This is wrong in so many ways.
Really. Which bit of it is wrong, BWE?
Do you think "tolerance of pervasive myth and superstition in our modern society" is a virtue? Me, I don't. I think that batshit insane ideas overwhelmingly tend to have Really Bad Consequences, so it's not at all a good thing when those batshit insane ideas are pervasive in a society.
Hmm. I think it is not [not a virtue]. I do not think it necessarily [is a virtue] either. The language used creates a sense of either/or with an entirely contrived dichotomy. If not simply false, it is certainly not accurate.
Right from the get go, that kind of proposition is propaganda. It frames the narrative for the audience that there is an us, those who think it is not a virtue, and a them, those who think it is. The battle lines are drawn. And they are fabricated solely for the purpose of furthering an agenda. Now, you may support the agenda, but that doesn't make the statement not propaganda. It is. You are either with us, or with the terrorists. Well, I am not with us. If that makes me with the terrorists it is you who defined me that way. Which is pretty fucked up if you think about it.
Next, 'pervasive myth'. Care to draw the boundaries between what is and is not pervasive myth? Which economic theories are pervasive myth? Which social theories? Which artistic and ethical theories? Which scientific theories? Aha! We found it! What the author meant to say is that science works and that we shouldn't be passive when people dismiss evidence because it doesn't fit a particular model. Well... That is a substantially different thing than tolerating pervasive myth. They mean, 'pervasive beliefs which contradict the evidence scientists have gathered.' No?
And what about superstition. Are you suggesting that there is an imperative need to proselytize throughout Las Vegas to make gamblers gather en masse to throw their good luck trinkets into a bonfire and vow never to believe in lucky charms again? Are you saying that the evil of tossing the flowers after the bride says I do needs to be condemned and vilified until the practice is outlawed? Or are you saying that superstition which leads people to act in certain ways which you dislike should not be tolerated? Careful, that is a trick question.
The sentence also reads that it should be not only tolerated but encouraged to tell people what to think. How is that working out for you? Any luck? People decide what to think based partly on the evidence they accumulate through observation and partly through the paradigm they use to assemble that information. And for good reason. Observation is frequently wrong. Hence science. The paradigm that works better, well, it works better. What else is there to say? Each individual has different personal preferred outcomes and so better is a tough word to nail down. Science works lots better than religion if you want to influence the physical world. If an individual has little interest in that, science is not necessarily going to work better for him. But he still observes. And Morton's Demon can only support a certain level of cognitive dissonance. So in the end, the paradigm which actually does fit the data will win. But the data needs to matter enough to be checked against the model. So, keep making documentaries, science, teaching, literature, stimulating minds to think, to check their observations against their expectations. But I think it's a pretty easy case to make that atheism is almost as much of a mental straightjacket as theism. At least if you use the words New Atheist instead of a simple lack of belief in a deity. They are not equal. Moving on.
Or the bit about "religious fundamentalism has gone mainstream" -- is that wrong?
Do you think religious fundamentalism hasn't affected education, science, and social progress for the worse, or do you just dispute that "disheartening" is an appropriate adjective to use in this context?
Hmm. Right. I think that is simple bullshit. Has the pace of scientific discovery been seriously affected by religious fundamentalism? Even with the funding wars, the NASA stooge, and all the other examples, I notice that the articles published in science journals haven't become religious. I notice that they haven't declined in frequency. I notice that our accumulating model of the physical universe is still growing, maybe even exponentially. So, no. Yes there is some cultural drag. The world would be great if there weren't. Says every world view. And all of them but yours would eliminate yours. However, science itself, the accumulation of knowledge by our species doesn't give a damn about your ontological demands on reality or method. It doesn't have an epistemological preference save that the result be translatable into physical and spatial coordinates with at least semi quantifiable values. Even that breaks down at the quantum level.
There is no claim that a human can make which cannot be demonstrated to rest on not just unproven assumptions but on unprovable assumptions. What we have is more and less useful assumptions. So telling me to believe that there IS NO DEITY just makes me laugh. I hadn't assumed there was one. Why would I want to limit myself? But to say that the religion x makes such and so statement which doesn't hold together is something which can be debated and our common definitions improve as a result.
[quote]Or maybe "It is the responsibility of the educated to educate the uneducated" is what you deem wrong? I can't see it, myself -- I mean, if the people who actually do know what they're talking about don't teach facts to the ignorant, who the heck will?Be careful what you wish for. I can tell you an aweful lot about a lot of things but I wouldn't be pretentious enough to call them truths. Please give me a list of those who do and those who don't know what they are talking about. Perhaps you could tell me what you know about, say, crystal lattices or something. It's important to leave the qualifier 'you' in there because neither one of us knows if you are right. Only that your experience of so and so can be related to others through language and they can consider your results. That experience is valuable but it doesn't convey truth, it conveys experience. Science has much to say about the physical universe and when individuals make counter-claims which are ignorant of the experience of those who have it, it may seem disturbing, especially if they can convince a group of people to support them. But tolerating those who challenge conventional wisdom has many positive benefits too. There are many more shades of gray than of black or white in that landscape. Did Behe do something terrible? I dunno. The disclaimer on the Lehigh biology department web page was the result. Does Dembski have job offers bursting from his mailbox? No. And without their challenges, ID was still a sort of fallback in the wings.
The problems of politics are not religious. The Tea party is universally reviled outside their noisy but tiny membership. The evangelicals make a mess here and there but policy in america is driven by corporate interests, not evangelicals. Many muslims do terrible things to people but not many people try to excuse their atrocities by tolerating their actions. Beliefs are based on models. On paradigms. The last time we had a political movement promoting reason, the result was the French revolution. Behavior is what we tolerate or don't tolerate. When you make the mistake of substituting belief for behavior you are mistaking the map for the landscape. And that is what leads to atrocity.
I have no opinion on PZ Myers the man. If I have given that impression I apologize. I do have an opinion on an idea he promotes, the idea summarized in the statement above. And I am presenting and defending that opinion. Should that be tolerated?
|Clue me in here, BWE. And it'd be nice if you could bring up some arguments that don't reduce to atheists don't got nothin' to kvetch about and/or anything PZMyers likes is icky & wrong...|
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far
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