Saturday, February 1, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson: We are the “truth-seekers”

Rationalism on Steroids

While informing his friendly Berkeley audience that the world must not have been designed because of all its evil and dysteleology (there are earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and lightning strikes, and for every beautiful waterfall there is a deadly newt hiding under a rock), Neil deGrasse Tyson also reminds his fellow evolutionists that they are the “truth-seekers.” [7:10 in this video] The Director of the Hayden Planetarium is an entertaining speaker but this was not meant to be funny. The lesson here is that evolutionists are so confident and convincing not because they are good liars, but because they actually believe their lies.

When evolutionists make religious claims about how the world would be created, if it had been created, they are utterly convinced that their claims are nothing less than obvious statements of truth. Evolutionists take their personal religious belief not as personal religious belief but rather as what A.F. Chalmers appropriately referred to as a “universal criterion”:

The typical rationalist will believe that theories that meet the demands of the universal criterion are true or approximately true or probably true … The distinction between science and non-science is straight-forward for the rationalist. Only those theories that are such that they can be clearly assessed in terms of the universal criterion and which survive the test are scientific … The typical rationalist will take it as self-evident that a high value is to be placed on knowledge developed in accordance with the universal criterion. This will be especially so if the process is understood as leading towards truth. Truth, rationality, and hence science, are seen as intrinsically good. [What is this thing called science?, 2d ed, 1982, p. 102]

It is ironic that those who are most beholden to their metaphysics are those who are most oblivious to their metaphysics. As Alfred North Whitehead observed, people take their most crucial assumptions to be obvious and in no need of justification. These underlying assumptions are unspoken and undefended because, as Whitehead put it, “Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them.”

And so while evolutionists enforce their religion, misrepresent science and persecute those who disagree, it is, for evolutionists, all in the service of truth and righteousness. After all, they are the truth-seekers.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

23 comments:

  1. When evolutionists make religious claims about how the world would be created, if it had been created, they are utterly convinced that their claims are nothing more than obvious statements of truth.

    This is the old strawman of grouping a diverse set of people with a diverse set of beliefs under the heading of "evolutionists". This 'other' can then become the repository for all the perceived ills of science in particular and society in general. It's as wrong as blaming all Christians for the excesses of a relatively small number of Biblical literalists and evangelicals.

    Evolutionists take their personal religious belief not as personal religious belief but rather as what A.F. Chalmers appropriately referred to as a “universal criterion”

    I would say that most religious believers assume their personal religious beliefs are universal criteria of some sort. That is the nature of faith. But not all evolutionists are religious believers and so not all are prone to such unwarranted certainty.

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    1. Ian: I would say that most religious believers assume their personal religious beliefs are universal criteria of some sort.

      J: I can think of one: Benevolent/competent teleology is the only finitely-conceivable grounds of the validity of induction, and induction is used universally. Then there is the planet-wide principle: the golden rule. Apart from that, most religious beliefs are not universal or planet-wide in application. Most of them apply to believers of a religion only or a subset of those believers. In that sense, they are like laws of specific groups of people. But how many people in civilized countries would claim the golden rule has NOTHING to do with good civil law? Publicly, i.e.? What would be the alternative guiding principle that they would be willing to state publicly?

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    2. Ian:

      This is the old strawman of grouping a diverse set of people with a diverse set of beliefs under the heading of "evolutionists" … not all evolutionists are religious believers

      So please give us an example or two of evolutionists who show evolution to be a fact beyond all reasonable doubt without making religious or metaphysical premises.

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    3. Jeff
      Benevolent/competent teleology is the only finitely-conceivable grounds of the validity of induction, and induction is used universally


      Because humans seek patterns, which induction is suited for. Can one inductively reason what the teleology and methods of your assumed being is,or is it necessary to assume those as well?

      Then there is the planet-wide principle: the golden rule.

      If only that was true

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    4. J: : Then there is the planet-wide principle: the golden rule.

      V: If only that was true

      J: There are religions that POSIT that standard applies planet-wide, V. Obvoiusly not all people hold to it.

      V: Can one inductively reason what the teleology and methods of your assumed being is,or is it necessary to assume those as well?

      J: You have to make a finite number of assumptions. Otherwise, you have no discernible explanation. But how else do you get finality of explanation consistent with causality per se except for libertarian causality? If you want to deny that as well, then nothing is knowable at all. You keep thinking the existence of positive evidence is consistent with either an infinite, natural explanation or a finite teleological explanation. That's wrong. There's either a finite, teleological explanation, or the inductive criteria have no conceivable relevance to positive evidence. But then, what criteria WOULD be relevant to the existence of positive evidence? This is what none of you ever do or can answer.

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  2. "Rationalism on Steroids" What could possibly be worse?! Maybe common sense on steroids? Or maybe even (shudder) inquiry on steroids?

    The other end of the spectrum is clearly preferable, viz., a "demon-haunted world" on steroids, where rationalism, common sense, and inquiry take a back seat to dogma followed blindly by self-cloistered, mutually-supporting people.

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    1. And yet Galileo never actually said that.

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  4. Dr Hunter,

    Do you consider the Fine Tuning Argument religious as well?

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    1. V: The problem is that argument can be formulated in different ways, some religious and some not religious.

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    2. Without the metaphysical assumption that teleology exists? Since you seem to believe that the belief in non teleological world is religious, how can a belief that the world is teleological not be religious?

      Perhaps an example of a non religious fine tuning argument would be helpful, thanks.

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    3. Since you seem to believe that the belief in non teleological world is religious

      No, I don't see anything religious about that.

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  5. Cornelius,

    Every science has separated itself from religion and is the better for it. Physics does not rely on the hand of God moving the planets around. Chemistry abandoned alchemy. So there is nothing in-ethical about biologists removing God from their science either. However, since God in fact did create life according to a reasonable interpretation of good science, what do you think would be the most scientifically responsible way to teach biology? Should evolutionists just say the truth that they don't have a scientific clue how life was created? Giving up a grand knowledge claim for many professors would be hard to swallow. Or is there some other better approach?

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    1. Peter:

      Well one need not be a creationist to know that evolutionists don't have a scientific clue how life was created.

      "Giving up a grand knowledge claim for many professors would be hard to swallow."

      Sure, but they should (i) not misrepresent the science and (ii) be clear about evolution's metaphysics. I don't have a problem with evolution's truth claims, but rather with the associated misrepresentations.

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    2. CH: I don't have a problem with evolution's truth claims, but rather with the associated misrepresentations.

      J: See http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/cosmologist-sean-carroll-would-retire-falsifiability-as-a-science-idea-philosopher-massimo-pigliucci-defends-it/. Even some evolutionists see the non-sense of it all. What makes no sense there is how one can see fine-tuning as a problem if corroboration of a theory has no relevance to the demarcation of scientific theories. What difference does it make how improbable a theory is if it makes no difference whether it's ever corroborated? At that point, it's just positing one of an infinite number of classicly-logically-conceivable histories, which makes its probability zero as per the only way we could calculate its probability.

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  6. CH: When evolutionists make religious claims about how the world would be created, if it had been created, they are utterly convinced that their claims are nothing less than obvious statements of truth. Evolutionists take their personal religious belief not as personal religious belief but rather as what A.F. Chalmers appropriately referred to as a “universal criterion”:

    Oh, I see. You define the term "evolutionists" as everything wrong with science, morality, etc. then lump people like Tyson into that group just because they happen to think evolution is the best explanation for the biological complexity we observe.

    It’s fallacious argument.

    Furthermore, is there some reason why you keep referencing an out of date edition of “What Is This Thing Called Science”? Specifically, while attempting to find the context of this quote, I noticed this passage doesn’t even exist in the current edition. At all.

    At best, Chalmers’ references “universal criterion” in chapters that criticize the idea that a rational pursuit of science depends on their being one universal criteria that can be found historically from Newton to Galileo, etc.

    Whether science is in the business of proving theories are true, probably true or what it means to make progress towards truth is the subject of other chapters, which includes the criticism of inductivism.

    So, it would seem that, in the third edition, Chalmers took it upon himself to separate these two ideas, and their criticisms, because it could misconstrued in just such a way.

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    1. Scott: then lump people like Tyson into that group just because they happen to think evolution is the best explanation for the biological complexity we observe.

      J: That evolution occurs does not explain any particular UCA tree or SA history. Thus, it doesn't explain any UCA tree better than another or better than an SA history. So in what are you saying the occurrence of evolution explains, and how does it explain thus better than some other explanation?

      Scott: It’s fallacious argument.

      J: You deny that the LNC is obviously true or demonstrably true. Thus, it is neither obviously true nor demonstrably true that there are fallacious or non-fallacious arguments. Thus, you've accomplished nothing by continuing to pontificate baldly.

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  7. Jeff: J: That evolution occurs does not explain any particular UCA tree or SA history.

    Sure it does, Jeff. If a designer already had the knowledge of how to build every biological organism that has existed in the past, exists in the present or could logically exist in the future, it could have created those organisms all at once, or in the order of most complex to least complex. Yet, that not what observations suggest, its it Jeff?

    On the other hand, biological Darwinism is the theory that biological complexity arrises from variation and selection. It's an emergent process.

    SA has no expiation as to why a designer would create organisms in the order we observe. Apparently, they appear in that order because "That's just what some designer must have wanted". However, biological Darwinism, in the form of UCA, does. Organisms cannot be built until the requisite knowledge of how to build them is created.

    Jeff: You deny that the LNC is obviously true or demonstrably true.

    So what, Jeff? Your reluctance to discard justificationism is your problem, not mine. As such, you're projecting your problem on me. I'm unclear why this is such a problem for you to understand.

    I haven't rejected the LoNC because I have no good criticisms of it. And I'm guessing you do not either. Right?

    That's why I keep asking for your criteria of what you consider a non-basic belief, that needs to be justified, or a basic belief, that doesn't need to be justified.

    IOW, I'm suggesting that if you genuinely reflect on the process by which you differentiate between a basic and non-basic beliefs, you'll realize that process is compatible with conjecture and criticism. This is what Popper referred to as the physiological problem of the growth of knowledge.

    Is there some particular reason why you're unwilling to walk me though it? If you're so sure about your position, it seems that you'd have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So, why is this like pulling teeth?

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  8. Scott: Yet, that not what observations suggest, its it Jeff?

    J: The observations don't indicate one way or another since we already know that the variables of taphonomy, geology, and ecology, ever mind continual increasing of observed stratigraphic ranges, don't render the inference that observed stratigraphic ranges correspond sufficiently significantly with actual stratigraphic ranges and existential ranges warranted.

    Scott: Your reluctance to discard justificationism is your problem, not mine.

    J: Sure it is. You have yet to become the radical skeptic that abandoning foundationalism requires.

    Scott: I haven't rejected the LoNC because I have no good criticisms of it.

    J: How do you decide which criticisms are good and bad without a criteria? You're really confused.

    Scott: So, why is this like pulling teeth?

    J: Rather, why can't you speak consistently from one sentence to the next?

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  9. That's quite the evasion of straight forward questions you've got there Jeff. Do you think people won't see though that?

    For example:

    Scott: Sure it does, Jeff. If a designer already had the knowledge of how to build every biological organism that has existed in the past, exists in the present or could logically exist in the future, it could have created those organisms all at once, or in the order of most complex to least complex. Yet, that not what observations suggest, its it Jeff?

    Jeff: [a denial that we can make progress on the order in which complexity appeared]

    Apparently, your solution to arguments you have no response to is to deny progress can be made on the subject. Go figure.

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  10. That's quite the evasion of straight forward questions you've got there Jeff. Do you think people won't see though that?

    For example: "Scott: Sure it does, Jeff. If a designer already had the knowledge of how to build every biological organism that has existed in the past, exists in the present or could logically exist in the future, it could have created those organisms all at once, or in the order of most complex to least complex. Yet, that not what observations suggest, its it Jeff?

    Jeff: [a denial that we can make progress on the order in which complexity appeared]"

    Jeff: Scott, the concession that humans may not be able to explain everything with a finite number of axioms that can be articulated by any human does NOT mean that we can't explain more thus than we already have. See, Scott. This is your problem. Your understanding of logic is so poor you constantly pontificate one non-sequitor after another.

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  11. Now, Scott, since you insist that we can articulate the axioms that describe the relevant precambrian conditions that IMPLY a PARTICULAR UCA tree, please get after it. You see, Scott, YOU are the one that is evasive. You have nothing and it makes you mad. So you groundlessly insult others. The question is, WHY does it make you mad? It's not like anyone else can explain biological history inductively with a number of axioms that one has time to articulate or the capacity to think all at once. It's nothing to be mad about, Scott.

    All ID'ists are saying they can legitimately infer (because analogical inferences are legitimate, per induction) is THAT libertarian free-will was a NECESSARY condition of the origin of many biological functions. We're not saying there weren't and aren't LOTS of natural causes involved in the history.

    Indeed, most ID'ists assume all biological events NOW are totally natural. Just like if I start a car a walk away I assume all the events entailed in the car running are natural. That doesn't mean I can explain the ORIGIN of the car non-teleologically, though.

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    1. Furthermore, Scott, YOU are the one that denies the existence of positive evidence. But positive evidence is just what is meant by "evidence." Thus, per you, there is NO evidence that progress has ever occurred. You don't even think there's evidence that apparent memories have occurred, for crying out loud.

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