Evolution and creationism; a valuable new resource

The Science Meets Religion website, by the information scientist David Bailey, has a Q&A page that addresses the most common and most plausible scientific objections raised by creationists to the science of evolution. Twenty-six specific questions are chosen, and answered in a series of brief essays on such topics as complexity, information theory, radiometric dating, fossils, speciation, and thermodynamics. For each of these, Bailey gives a straightforward statement of the creationist arguments, and then succinctly lays out the evidence for the contrary viewpoint. The rebuttals of creationism are all the more crushing for being written with judicial dispassion.

HumanEvolution

Our family tree, since we parted company with other chimpanzees

The style is accessible enough for a high school student to read with enjoyment, but the scholarship behind it is impressive. For example, the discussion of alleged missing links between humans and non-human apes gives fourteen separate references to discoveries in the last eventful half dozen years. The essays on dating methods list, and refute, nine separate creationist claims, and refer to numerous scientific sources. These include authoritative on-line reviews such as Wiens and Dalrymple on radiometric dating and Dalrymple on the fallacies in the “creation science” arguments for a young Earth, as well as some key papers fron the primary research literature. The bibliography has (at present) 764 entries, more than 50 of them from 2015, refers to the scientific, creationist, and theological literature, as well as human behaviour and its link (or not) to religious belief, and is regularly updated (most recently last September). You will find here articles on everything from the latest word on Homo naledi to the microwave spectra of distant galaxies to divorce rates.

Bailey is himself a committed Christian, and joins other Christian writers such as Dennis Venema at Biologos and Roger Wiens (whose web page on radiometric dating I cite above) in showing that the “controversy” between evolution and creationism is not so much a conflict between science and religion, as a battle within religion itself. As the Scopes trial anniversary reminded us, this civil war in its current form dates back a century, to the conflict between Modernists and Fundamentalists. (The underlying issues, of course, are far older, and Bailey’s bibliography gives three references to Augustine.)

Some of my fellow unbelievers think the best way to advance the cause of enlightenment is to attack religion. I regard this course as mistaken, psychologically, philosophically, historically, educationally, and tactically. I think that the followers of any religion face major problems, but they are their problems, and it is not my place to lecture them on how they should be resolved.

In addition, affirmations of the validity of evolution and Old Earth geology have far greater power when they come from within the body of believers. Anyone who chooses to be misled by the claim that evolution is uncertain because it is a theory, or who prefers the absurdities of Flood Geology to the evidence of their own eyes, is in need of intellectual liberation, but such liberation can only come from within, and will come far more readily given the encouragement of members of their own faith community.

I conclude by illustrating this point with a paragraph from Bailey’s critique of Intelligent Design:

One overriding difficulty with both the creationist and intelligent design movements is that invoking a Creator or Designer whenever one encounters a difficult question is a “thinking stopper.” Such an approach places numerous grand questions of our existence off-limits to human investigation, buried in the inscrutable mind of a mysterious supreme Being: “Why was the earth (or the universe in general) designed the way it was?” “How did the design and creative processes proceed?” “What physical laws were employed?” “Why those particular laws?” “What prompted the creation?” “Have other earths or universes been designed or created?” “Where are they?” Surely there is a more fruitful avenue for finding a harmony between science and religion than just saying “God created and/or designed it that way” and then deeming it either unnecessary or inappropriate to inquire further.

Here we have a powerful statement, far more powerful because it comes from a committed believer,  of why such doctrines are not merely stupid irrelevancies, but active obstacles in the search for religious, as well as scientific, understanding.

David Bailey’s professional website is here; his professional homes are Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and (current primary affiliation) University of California, Davis. I learnt of his work through a post on Scott Buchanan’s Letters to Creationists. David uses the hominin evolutionary tree that I show here (taken from Scientific American’s September 2014 special issue on evolution) to illustrate what we do and do not know about our species’ grandparents and great-uncles.

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on November 6, 2015, in Creationism, Education, Evolution, Fossil record, Religion, Science and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. My name is Saito Singh, one of Professor Tertius’ assistants and admin at his Bible.and.Science.Forum blog (https://bibleandscienceforum.wordpress.com/ )

    I noticed today that Prof T had posted on this thread with plans to resume posting after his travel to areas without easy Internet access. I just wanted to explain his failure to do so. Some readers may have noticed the news item a while back at the Sensuous Curmudgeon blog but you can also find more information at https://bibleandscienceforum.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/an-update-on-professor-tertius/

    Professor Tertius does not always set or use the Notification feature of the various forums where he occasionally posts. So even under routine circumstances, he’s not always aware of responses to his comments. As a result I always tell people that if they want him to respond to something, they are welcome to email the Bible.and.Science.Forum directly and we can make sure that the personal notification is in his private email inbox where he is sure to see it.

    The professor has recovered sufficiently to work half-days, mostly on key projects with deadlines, so I’m reminding everyone of his ongoing reminder that he has to everyone for years: “If I’ve forgotten something I shouldn’t, please do let me know. I’ve not lost my mind yet but I do misplace it every now and then. So reminders are always appreciated.”

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  2. I should also have mentioned that I’m generally fine with any and all rational discourse, whether the topic be science, theology, or philosophy (though I do have to ration my time spent on each, and I avoid some debates simply because they bore me.) Any Christian who is afraid of questioning and even strong criticism of their religious positions must not be as confident as they claim. If what they proclaim is as true as they believe it to be, they shouldn’t be so fearful. (And if they can’t stand the heat, they don’t have to loiter in the kitchen.)

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    • Therein lies a partial answer to my question. You do indeed assert that reality must be as you believe it to be in the absence of credible evidence. Do you consider that to be compatible with the scientific method?

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      • I returned to my laptop to quickly check an item on my way out the door and saw your:

        You do indeed assert that reality must be as you believe it to be in the absence of credible evidence.

        We are all aware of how the lack of face-to-face cues in these kinds of communications can encourage misunderstanding. Even so, I admit bafflement at your statement. I don’t know if it is meant as sarcasm or casual humor or something else that I’m missing entirely. Obviously, I made no such assertion in my post.

        Indeed, I find the idea that “reality must be” anything quite absurd. Reality is what it is—and the last time I checked, it was not subject to my will or yours. Obviously. We as individuals can certainly make choices which determine a small subset of events within reality but that hardly puts reality under our beck and call, so what “reality must be” isn’t something that I could ever demand of it.

        An observer might be forgiven for thinking you were trying to somehow provoke a confrontation rather than a debate by misrepresenting what I wrote. But I will assume that you either didn’t understand what I wrote or you were simply extending a friendly joust according to the “tradition” of a website which I’m visiting for the first time after a friend, Dr. Christine Janis, sent me the link.

        Whatever the case, your next question seemed to go off in another direction: “Do you consider that to be compatible with the scientific method?” I don’t know what you are trying to say by “compatible”, but do you understand that the scientific method applies only to the tools and procedures which can explore natural processes? Are you operating under the assumption that the scientific method is the only epistemological path available to us? (I hope that that doesn’t sound unduly confrontational on my part. I’m just very surprised, if that is what you are implying. However, upon further reflection, I’m probably misunderstanding what you are trying to say.)

        To help contextualize where you are coming from, could you please tell me if you have had any academic training in any fields of philosophy (perhaps even in the kinds of elective courses for non-majors offered by the Department of the History & Philosophy of Science at any state university.) I’m especially curious about your background in epistemology. It would be very difficult for me to know how to respond to you without knowing just how much of the academy you are presuming to challenge, if that is what I’m detecting in your remarks.

        Of course, I could also be entirely misunderstanding what you are trying to say. And that’s why it would be very helpful to me if you will summarize your relevant academic background.

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      • John has replied to you, but for some reason his reply is shown here as a reply to himself. The exchange is going off topic, but no harm done, since all of us seem to be enjoying ourselves.

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      • I agree that the absence of body-language cues makes the hints you seek regarding my motivation and demeanour. However, such uncertainties can easily be clarified by explicit explanatory statements. I rarely resort to sarcasm and the motivation behind my questions is serious and thoughtful. As for casual humour, I have a keen sense of humour that is sometimes difficult to control. There is joy in shared amusement.

        As for my credentials: In 1965 I graduated from London University with an honours degree in Mathematical Physics. Since then I spent many happy decades in the field of Training Simulation leading engineering teams building full-scope real-time training simulators for: Nuclear Submarines, Aircraft, Oil Platforms and Nuclear Power Stations. I now run my own company and I am still engaged in supporting the Training Simulator at the Hunterston Nuclear Power Station in Ayrshire Scotland. I am also currently writing a book for teenagers explaining how to program the Graphical Super-Computers that many of us now all have sitting on our desks in our PCs running Windows 10 and Direct X 11. The man-machine(reality) interface has always fascinated me and the rise of advanced computer graphics continues to accentuate its relevance.

        So, I have had a very interesting career engaged in understanding the reality of the Mathematical-Physics of very complex engineering systems with a view to the replication the characteristics of that reality in convincing simulations that can present the trainees with both normal and emergency scenarios.

        As a result I have a keen interest in Information Theory and the Scientific Theory of Knowledge and in the, sometimes delightful, sometimes dangerous, misconceptions about reality that we are all capable of entertaining.

        Oh, and for the first 15 or so years of my life I lived in an Irish Catholic community and attended Catholic Schools. Then I asked some very simple questions the answers to which resulted in the realisation that religion was not for me. In short:

        I am a Mathematical Physicist by training, an information systems engineer by profession and a Humanist by conviction.

        So on to your other questions:

        “but do you understand that the scientific method applies only to the tools and procedures which can explore natural processes?”

        That word “Natural” is sometimes taken to exclude humans and human activities. Clearly, science can and does, explore in those areas so, in that context, what processes are there that are “not natural”? I have never encountered any of them?

        “(I hope that that doesn’t sound unduly confrontational on my part. I’m just very surprised, if that is what you are implying.”

        I love having my perceptions and ideas tested. So confront away.

        “, I admit bafflement at your statement. I don’t know if it is meant as sarcasm or casual humor or something else that I’m missing entirely. Obviously, I made no such assertion in my post.”

        You said:

        “Any Christian who is afraid of questioning and even strong criticism of their religious positions must not be as confident as they claim. If what they proclaim is as true as they believe it to be, they shouldn’t be so fearful. (And if they can’t stand the heat, they don’t have to loiter in the kitchen.)”

        That sure looks like an assertion to me and a “confident” one at that.

        It implies that as an “Evangelical Christian” you are confident that what you proclaim is true. You are therefore making an assertion that reality must be as you believe it to be are you not?

        I have never encountered any credible evidence that the supernatural aspects of the Christian perception corresponds to reality and the Scientific Theory of Knowledge provides me with a compelling and well substantiated account of why Christians believe in the absence of such evidence.

        I therefore ask if you consider your assertion to be compatible with the scientific method and the scientific theory of knowledge?

        That seem like a perfectly reasonable question to me?

        “I’d love to see a roundtable discussion of that particular interesting choice of phrase: “the spiritual virtues” of science. What do you mean by “spiritual virtues”? (You listed them but I’m wondering why they are “spiritual values”.) And do you consider respect for the truth, honesty, and intellectual integrity rare or even unknown outside of the scientific method? Have all other epistemologies served their purpose and the scientific method is the only one worth pursuing?”

        “Spiritual” means “of the spirit” and this is already a “spirited” discussion. The term is not restricted to religious usage. Humans have evolved to be able to develop value systems which rank high value actions and thoughts as being virtuous. Such aspects are clearly “spiritual” in the secular sense of that term. They are attitudes that humans choose to embrace rather than physical objects.

        My questions to you may warm the kitchen somewhat but that just adds to the interest. In short, I am probing the extent to which you apply a profound respect for the truth to your perceptions.

        The issue is really remarkably simple when viewed in the light of the scientific theory of knowledge and the understanding that it engenders.

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      • You posted this as a reply to yourself; but, obviously, it should be a reply to Tertius, whom I have informed of this.

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  3. Thank you, Professor Braterman, for the very interesting link. I’ll also state yet again that I often appreciate your thoughtful approach in dealing with the Young Earth Creationist types of science-denialists, among others.

    As an evangelical Christian who is entirely comfortable with the Theory of Evolution and billions of years of earth history, I encourage scientists to keep on doing what they do best, science, as those of us who have the greatest familiarity with the theological and hermeneutical issues keep on challenging the “creation science” YECs on the basis of the very foundations of their struggle with the scientific evidence: their theology-based fears. Yes, the minority subset of all YECs who truly care about the scientific evidence do benefit from explanations of radiometric dating, varves, and ice cores. Yet, those individuals generally tend to be those who will find their own way out of the CS movement…eventually. But for the majority of the YECs, endless doses of scientific evidence will matter not in the least until someone can show them WHY the majority of Christians, today and in the past, have not assumed their narrow brand of literalism and why at least one of those key reasons matters to them as well.

    I was also interested in the discussion of the student who asks if the Genesis account of human origins was true. Those who deal in comparative religions, anthropology, folklore, and various other academic disciplines probably react to the question differently from many scientists. How various cultures see what is “true” in an oral tradition or a written text varies so enormously. Obviously, in a great many societies, they do consider their Aesop-type stories as the epitome of truth—but would also be quite startled at anyone who would think that they thought that the animal species depicted in their stories could actually talk. In some cultures, it would never occur to them that “true” would require a presupposition that there was some day in the past when particular animals got together to lie, cheat, discuss the weather, or deeply share personal philosophies of life, for example. On the other hand, there are also some cultures where anthropologists are startled to find nothing but rigid literalism—and even, in the case of the shocking Piraha culture of the Amazonian forest, a few hundred people who have zero origins stories and absolutely no concept of deities. (They also have no real grasp of numbers and find it absolutely impossible to learn the very simplest of arithmetic. The Piraha blow minds again and again. Many linguists and anthropologists simply refused to believe the first papers published about the Piraha.)

    My point is that both Young Earth Creationists and even some of their opponents can benefit from expanding their views of reality and become aware of various epistemologies—among other topics—the kinds of esoteric fodder which philosophy students take for granted but most science majors know nothing about. In fact, whenever I hear Lawrence Krauss or Neil Degrasse Tyson say something inanely dismissive of philosophy, I wonder to myself (admittedly, yes, that’s how most wondering works) whether they’ve never considered the famous philosophers who established the scientific method for a particular (and very interesting) subset of all questions about reality, creating modern science in the process, and whether they understand why their terminal degrees label them as Doctors of Philosophy.

    That said, I’ll make the aforementioned observation again: both YECs and many scientists have difficulty imagining an epistemological focus different from their own. And that’s why so few of their interactions are all that profitable and why, in general, neither walks away from the experience with a sense of much progress having been achieved. All too often, neither has any significant experience and knowledge of epistemologies beyond their own. As higher education has become more specialized—and less likely to encompass the breadth and depth of university educations past—each considers the other akin to a visitor from another planet.

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    • “As an evangelical Christian who is entirely comfortable with the Theory of Evolution and billions of years of earth history,”

      Where do you stand on the more general aspects of the scientific method? In particular. Do you assert that reality must be as you believe it to be in the absence of credible evidence?

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    • I think you are in danger of devaluing the term “reality”. Shakespeare’s Hamlet does not correspond to reality because the events described did not happen as stated; that is no reason for rejecting it as valueless. Genesis is a complex collection of myths, from the study of which much is to be learnt, but you risk debasing language to call it reality (except perhaps mythic or allegorical or poetic reality), because, as we agree, it’s not what happened.

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      • I agree. Reality is not constrained to be as we believe it to be. That is why we need the scientific method and the spiritual virtues of science: A profound respect for the truth, Honesty and intellectual integrity. The term “reality” is very valuable and should be protected against devaluation and defocusing by issue fogging mists.

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      • Shakespeare’s Hamlet does not correspond to reality because the events described did not happen as stated.

        You are assuming that because the events described in the play did not actually happen, they don’t correspond to reality. I know a great many academics who would be quite startled at that claim. The play “corresponds” with the all-too-real realities of frustrated desire, carefully calculated revenge, and murder and how various kinds of people weigh their decisions and grapple with ethics.

        Whether or not this risks “devaluing” the meaning of the word “reality” is the kind of question I often used socratically when teaching linguistics: people often assert that particular words should have some meanings and not others, even though that particular language’s lexicons must capture all of the meanings native speakers of the language choose to assign a word. Words mean what speakers consider them to mean, even when individuals will prefer some of those meanings over others.

        EXAMPLE: I’ve often had Young Earth Creationists complain about the technical term “myth” in religious studies and folklore, for example, because they hate the fact that many people assume that “a myth is a falsehood, something which never happened.” Yet, the meaning of “myth” to scholars in the relevant fields [i.e., native speakers who make up a particular subculture] is a traditional story, usually one which explains how some thing/phenomenon/custom came to be. In a “literal sense” [I put the phrase in quotes because I find the word “literal” so annoyingly ambiguous and often misunderstood], a myth may describe something which actually happened or may have not happened. It’s a myth because it is a traditional explanation. Whether the existence of two potentially “conflicting” definitions of “myth” in the English language “devalues” the word in some way is a very subjective question and one that will probably continue to frustrate those who dislike how others are using the word. As a retired lexicographer of a sort, I still deal with this regularly in matters of exegesis. So it’s entirely possible that I react to the “devaluing” argument differently from others.

        As to my stance on the scientific method, I consider it one of the most beneficial “inventions” in the history of philosophy, right alongside the development of logic in terms of its usefulness in our understanding of the universe. On those questions to which the scientific method can be applied, I can scarcely overemphasize its value and significance. And I often wish it could somehow be applied more widely than that. (Yes, that is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek remark representing some of the driest of humor—but said to make a point. Some well known scientists have built media careers on bombastic statements giving the impression that they represent the most rigid extremes of scientism, though I can’t always tell if it’s just an act of showmanship to make a point or if they are actually that clueless about the limits of the scientific method. But I’m making a major point as well so I’m not necessarily looking on down on them for the tactic.)

        I had a department chair (before I made my move from science over to the humanities side of the campus) who, unknown to most of his colleagues, had earned a second masters degree, in philosophy, almost concurrently with earning his science PhD. [As is my custom, I intentionally avoid mention of the specific field of science.] After reading his C.V. and looking up his fascinating master’s thesis on an interesting “comparative epistemology topic” (my term, not his technical one which I can’t remember) —and also knowing that he had family money which made earning a living purely optional—I asked him at lunch one day why he decided to become a scientist instead of a philosopher. He looked up from his daily, foil-wrapped submarine sandwich in his characteristic deadpan way, and said, “Because I’m lazy. I prefer science because it only deals with the easy questions, not the hard ones.” (I suppose there are some who would entirely misunderstand what he was saying. He was not using the word “easy” to be flippant or dismissive of science. It was an acknowledgment of the history of natural philosophy and how it became modern science. He viewed the development of natural philosophy and science as a kind of divide-and-conquer approach.)

        I’ve never forgotten how my senior colleague explained his choice of career path and the particular words he chose. I often shared that idea with my students when discussing the nature and limitations of science. The scientific method is such a powerful and useful set of tools and procedures that we can easily be tempted to assume it the only way to explain reality. (If someone prefers some other word than “reality” in this context, I’m certainly open to suggestions.)

        I enjoyed John Wiltshire’s statement: That is why we need the scientific method and the spiritual virtues of science: A profound respect for the truth, honesty and intellectual integrity. I’d love to see a roundtable discussion of that particular interesting choice of phrase: “the spiritual virtues” of science. What do you mean by “spiritual virtues”? (You listed them but I’m wondering why they are “spiritual values”.) And do you consider respect for the truth, honesty, and intellectual integrity rare or even unknown outside of the scientific method? Have all other epistemologies served their purpose and the scientific method is the only one worth pursuing?

        I can only wish I could occupy my mind-numbing eleven hour flight with such a discussion—but alas, I must prepare for that ordeal that is only an all-too-short night’s sleep away. (At least I’m somewhat already in circadian sync to my destination’s time zone.)

        Good day or evening as the case may be. If I have reliable satellite Internet at my destination, I will look forward to reading anything further on this thread.

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      • I believe that there is a deep split among philosophers of science over whether or not there is such a thing as a “scientific method”, or, more precisely, whether it is useful to even attempt to draw a line between science and other kinds of factual knowledge. As I understand it, Maarten Boudry thinks it isn’t; Massimo Pigliucci thinks it is. I’m with Boudry. As PB Medawar, who thought more deeply and from a more informed basis than most of us, wrote: “There is no such thing as a Scientific Mind. Scientists are people of very dissimilar temperaments doing different things in very different ways. Among scientists are collectors, classifiers and compulsive tidiers-up; many are detectives by temperament and many are explorers; some are artists and others artisans. There are poet-scientists and philosopher-scientists and even a few mystics. What sort of mind or temperament can all these people be supposed to have in common? Obligative scientists must be very rare, and most people who are in fact scientists could easily have been something else instead.”

        “Reality” is a more interesting term than I had imagined. Contrast these two statements:

        1) Shakespeare’s Hamlet does not correspond to reality

        2) Shakespeare’s Henry V does not correspond to reality

        The first statement asserts that something about the play does not correspond with the way things are. Perhaps the critic thinks that no one would behave as Hamlet does, or that governments do not pose spies behind the arras. It is not likely to mean that the play does not match historical events, because you are not ever invited to believe that it does. The second statement does, however, address the question of historical accuracy directly, because the play does claim to represent history. And even here we need to make distinctions. It is no criticism of the play’s accuracy that Henry almost certainly never uttered the words “Once more unto the breach, dear friends”, but it would be a severe criticism if it were to be established that Henry was a coward devoid of charisma.

        And so, hoping that I am not merely leaping out of the frying pan into the fire, I shall stop talking about reality when I mean fact.

        I do, I hope, use the word “myth” correctly and with due respect to its subject matter.

        I have no technical trainee in epistemology, and do not know what is meant by epistemologies other than reliance on reason and observation. If the term means, as I think, path to knowledge, then religion does not offer an alternative epistemology, because most if not all religions must be false, and what leads you to accept a falsehood is not a path to knowledge. However, this is not a subject that I often discuss.

        In conclusion, I will restate my distaste at talk of “different kinds of reality”, because it is so often a pretext from sliding between one meaning (poetic reality, say) and another (correspondence to fact).

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      • Two things:

        “or, more precisely, whether it is useful to even attempt to draw a line between science and other kinds of factual knowledge.”

        Can you cite and example of “other kinds of factual knowledge”? That seems like an oxymoron to me?

        “In conclusion, I will restate my distaste at talk of “different kinds of reality”, because it is so often a pretext from sliding between one meaning (poetic reality, say) and another (correspondence to fact).”

        I agree! There are many “perceptions of reality” but only one “Reality”. Hence the principle:

        Any assertion that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence is dishonest.

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      • I think we agree on both points. I know my wife loves me. That’s factual, and my knowledge is based on evidence, but few people would regard that knowledge as scientific. However, I see no advantage i trying to sort out what factual knowledge is, or is not, scientific.

        We would probably agree that there is some knowledge that is not factual. I know that the square root of 2 is irrational, but that is true as a matter of logic, not because of the way things happen to be in the world.

        I am not sure whether assertions can be dishonest, or if the term is best reserved for those who make them. I would prefer the latter, in which case it is a matter of state of mind. And the expression “credible evidence” opens a can of worms. Maimonides regarded revelation as credible evidence. We would disagree.

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      • “but few people would regard that knowledge as scientific. However, I see no advantage i trying to sort out what factual knowledge is, or is not, scientific. ”

        I don’t agree with that. The issue is of major philosophical significance. It is obviously possible to define “scientific” is a restricted sense that echoes lab coats and test tubes. However that phrase “factual knowledge” is crucial. Clearly, it is possible, for some people at least, to feel that they “know” the next winning lottery number and it is not impossible for them to turn out to be right. However, we have only to ask them to repeat the process a few time to demonstrate that the objective scientific understanding of the process is a much better model of reality.

        “We would probably agree that there is some knowledge that is not factual. I know that the square root of 2 is irrational, but that is true as a matter of logic, not because of the way things happen to be in the world.”

        No I can’t agree with that and I have yet to see an example of knowledge that is not factual. Knowledge is the possession of a true fact about reality. So how can there be knowledge that is not factual?

        “I am not sure whether assertions can be dishonest, or if the term is best reserved for those who make them. I would prefer the latter, in which case it is a matter of state of mind.”

        I use the term “assertion” as shorthand to denote both the act of asserting and that which is asserted. In the light of an understanding of the scientific method, that combination is dishonest in the absence of credible evidence. Refusal to admit to knowledge of the scientific method when it is pointed out is dishonest so ignorance is no excuse.

        “And the expression “credible evidence” opens a can of worms. Maimonides regarded revelation as credible evidence. We would disagree.”

        Discussion can usefully move on to that aspect once it is agreed that credible evidence is required. And of course, asserting as credible that which clearly isn’t is um… dishonest.

        Sorry about the mis-post. I don’t know how that happened.

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      • if I say I know something, I am making three claims: that it is true, that I have adequate reason for being convinced of its truth, and that there is a causal chain, valid at each link, between its being true and my conviction of its truth. To take an example used by professional philosophers, imagine this situation: I drive a Fiat, but tell you that I drive a Ford. Next day, having forgotten the conversation, I buy a Ford and sell the Fiat. The day after, you say in good faith that you know that I drive a Ford. You are mistaken in your claim to knowledge, even though you are correct about the facts, because you were incorrect in assuming that I was telling the truth, and that was part of the chain.

        If I “just know” that a certain number will come up in the lottery, gamble on it, and win, my claim to knowledge was incorrect because the causal chain was not valid, as shown by the fact that other people “just knew” that different numbers would come up, and were wrong.

        I make a distinction between mathematical truths, and facts about the world. You don’t like this. I think that’s just semantics, but useful. There is no experiment that we could perform to test the claim that the square root of two is irrational, because there is no experiment that could measure the square root of two to infinite accuracy.

        If I understand you correctly, you regard all valid claims to knowledge as scientific. If so, then the term “scientific” merely adds the stamp of approval to what has already been established. I would tell Maimonides that his methodology was unreliable, since revelations disagree with each other. Having done that, I see no further point in telling him (ignore for a moment the anachronism) that his methodology was unscientific.

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      • “You are mistaken in your claim to knowledge, even though you are correct about the facts, because you were incorrect in assuming that I was telling the truth, and that was part of the chain.”

        I see a problem with that. ( How do you format quotes? I see no facility for that?)

        Since it is a fact that you told me an untruth and I incorrectly accepted it as true, it is not the case that I am “correct about the facts”.

        So the point you are making here isn’t clear to me. What is clear is that what people say they know, for whatever reason, is not necessarily valid knowledge because it might, in reality, be false and we can never be absolutely certain that it isn’t.

        “I make a distinction between mathematical truths, and facts about the world. You don’t like this. I think that’s just semantics, but useful. There is no experiment that we could perform to test the claim that the square root of two is irrational, because there is no experiment that could measure the square root of two to infinite accuracy.”

        As you know, the useless concept of “infinity” is something of a hobby-horse of mine. However, is it not the case that the root two proposition only makes sense in a paradigm that, unlike physical reality, supports infinite regression because the definition of irrational requires that property? In the context of the rules of such paradigms, the statement “Root 2“ is irrational“ can be shown to be necessarily true. It is clearly false in any paradigm that doesn’t support infinite regression and in not therefore a mathematical truth in that case.

        “If I understand you correctly, you regard all valid claims to knowledge as scientific. If so, then the term “scientific” merely adds the stamp of approval to what has already been established. I would tell Maimonides that his methodology was unreliable, since revelations disagree with each other. Having done that, I see no further point in telling him (ignore for a moment the anachronism) that his methodology was unscientific.”

        I regards all claims to knowledge to be amenable to scientific analysis. I have yet to be shown an example where that is not the case.

        Religious folk have a vested interest is keeping the water muddy in this area and I challenge that. We are all invited to agree that science is somehow prevented from acquiring knowledge that is available via some other process. The only such preventative force I know of is the one which prohibits the acceptance of conclusions that are not substantiated by credible evidence and there is a very good reason for that. We call it the “Scientific Method”.

        So I ask for examples of knowledge ( all knowledge is “valid” because if it isn’t valid then it isn’t knowledge- it’s misconception) that can be acquired and science cannot know but they never seem to materialise.

        The reason for that seems obvious to me. Once you can see through the muddy water, all becomes clear and false claims fade gently away.

        Like

      • We disagree about mathematics, and about the status of infinities. That is a separate issue, which I will not pursue further here. From your position, there is no advantage in saying that there are any truths that are not factual.

        I was not talking about whether a particular object of knowledge was valid, but whether the claim to knowledge was valid. As we can readily agree, if it’s not valid, it’s not knowledge. But (as your lottery ticket example, and my example of car ownership, both show) someone may incorrectly claim to know something, even if their opinion happens to be correct. They make a claim to knowledge in good faith, but are mistaken in that claim, even though in these rather improbable examples they are not mistaken in their beliefs.

        If all claims to knowledge are amenable to scientific analysis, then calling the analysis “scientific” adds nothing to the discussion, over and above asserting that the claim has a rational basis.

        In conclusion (and this will have to be my conclusion, since other commitments call), calling someone’s reasoning unscientific adds nothing to simply calling it invalid. The failure in the reasoning may be shallow (as when someone extrapolates from a single instance), or profound (as when someone regards as subjective feeling of certitude as evidence that the certitude is justified). In the end, we agree with Boudry on the issue of substance; that there is no good way of dividing knowledge into what is, and what is not, scientific. So why not just speak of what claims are justified, rather than what claims are justified scientifically, and cut out the middleman?

        Like

      • OK, I also have other commitments but this is very interesting.

        I have a suggestion.

        Let’s invoke the Kitchen Warming concept and assign items to an array of “Back Burners”.

        1) Infinity and why the concept is worse than useless is a hobby horse of mine but oblique to the context of this thread. So I set that burner to low.

        2) Muddy water is a concern. You seem to duck out of issues on the grounds that “The middleman” of science can be cut out. I disagree with that with some force. So I set that burner to medium.

        3) Failure to deliver an example of knowledge that is possible to acquire by means that are impervious to scientific analysis is crucial. How can anybody know something that science cannot know? That really is the pivot about which this discussion revolves. So I set that burner to hot.

        I love warm kitchens but that’s just me being subjective. 🙂

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      • I don’t think that there’s any gas going to Burner 3, because I don’t think that there’s any difference between scientific analysis in particular and rational discourse in general. But that’s just me being objective, if not indeed objectionable. Muddy discourse is not rational, but muddying is not, alas, restricted to religion; consider pretty well everything that passes for political or economic discussion. So lots of gas to Burner 2.

        Let the pots simmer. They will no doubt come to the boil again from time to time.

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      • “I don’t think that there’s any gas going to Burner 3, because I don’t think that there’s any difference between scientific analysis in particular and rational discourse in general. 2

        You seem to misread what back-burner 3 is about. It isn’t about the semantics of “scientific analysis” v “rational discourse”. It’s about the failure to deliver an example of knowledge that can be acquired but cannot be accessed and analysed by science.

        And BTW:

        “In the end, we agree with Boudry on the issue of substance; that there is no good way of dividing knowledge into what is, and what is not, scientific”

        I see no such agreement. A method exists and its effectiveness is superb. It’s called “The Scientific Method”.

        Like

      • You seem to misunderstand why I think Burner 3 is cold. You ask “Does this claim stand up to analysis by the scientific method?” I ask “Does this claim stand up to rational scrutiny?” We have agreed that in every case we will get the same answer. And if asked what the scientific method consisted of, you would set about making a catalogue of criteria in exactly the same way as I would if asked to specify what I meant by rational scrutiny. And if I were to come up with a test that had not occurred to you, of whether or not a particular method of scrutiny is rational, you would simply add that test to your definition of the scientific method.

        So I am left in the curious position of trying, so far in vain, to persuade you that we actually agree on everything except labels.

        Like

      • “You seem to misunderstand why I think Burner 3 is cold. You ask “Does this claim stand up to analysis by the scientific method?” I ask “Does this claim stand up to rational scrutiny?” We have agreed that in every case we will get the same answer. And if asked what the scientific method consisted of, you would set about making a catalogue of criteria in exactly the same way as I would if asked to specify what I meant by rational scrutiny. And if I were to come up with a test that had not occurred to you, of whether or not a particular method of scrutiny is rational, you would simply add that test to your definition of the scientific method.”

        So you want to use the phrase “rational scrutiny” as an alternative label in place of “The Scientific Method”.

        “So I am left in the curious position of trying, so far in vain, to persuade you that we actually agree on everything except labels.”

        I can make a case that “Rational scrutiny” has flavours of a few intelligent guys thinking sensibly whereas “the Scientific Method” has flavours of a well tested formalism and parallel independent evaluation many times over throughout, and with the resources of, the scientific community. I see a significant difference in the gravitas implied by the terms.

        However, that is incidental – burner 4 if you wish. Meanwhile burner 3 is not about that. I defined it as follows:

        3) Failure to deliver an example of knowledge that is possible to acquire by means that are impervious to scientific analysis is crucial. How can anybody know something that science cannot know? That really is the pivot about which this discussion revolves. So I set that burner to hot.

        I await the delivery of an example of knowledge that can be acquired by some means and is not available for scientific scrutiny.

        You have said a number of times that such items exist but, as yet, none have been identified. That is what burner 3 is about and that it why it is hot.

        Like

      • “knowledge that can be acquired by some means and is not available for scientific scrutiny. You have said a number of times that such items exist”

        The only site items that I would so describe are items of knowledge about science and mathematics, about which we do indeed disagree.

        I remain more cautious than you about any program of writing a rulebook for scientific scrutiny, or for allocating gravitas.

        Like

      • “The only site items that I would so describe are items of knowledge about science and mathematics, about which we do indeed disagree.”

        Still no actual examples though. I would love to see an item of knowledge about science and mathematics that could be arrived at by some method that isn’t available to science and mathematics. 🙂 Are you talking Gödel’s Theorem here?

        “I remain more cautious than you about any program of writing a rulebook for scientific scrutiny, or for allocating gravitas.”

        Gosh! So you don’t bother to ensure that your chemicals haven’t been contaminated before performing an experiment. You wouldn’t bother to double-blind test a new drug using a control group and having arrived at an interesting result you would have no interest in seeing it reproduced in other labs around the world. You don’t consider that a proper procedure should be seen to be followed before a rapist is convicted on the basis of DNA analysis or a terrorist is convicted of blowing up an aeroplane on the basis of chemical traces on his clothes..

        The cause of the recent air disaster remains uncertain. Was it a bomb or was it structural failure of a damaged tail assembly? You see no need for “proper procedure” so, presumably, you would just guess and save everyone a lot of bother.

        That doesn’t sound like you Paul. Are you having a bad day?

        Like

      • I tackle different problems using different methodologies, albeit with common underlying principles, such as taking appropriate precautions. But even the interpretation of these principles changes; we now know, for example, that minor procedures such as fractional crystallisation can measurably alter isotopic ratios. Where the problem is well defined and familiar, it *is* possible to establish a rule book – we call it a protocol to be followed – but this is a special case.

        Faced with a real problem (air disasters are a good example) we change our procedures as we go along; planes did not always have flight recorders. And often the problem is in the procedures themselves; trial by jury is a terribly poor procedure, not because the jurors have chosen to be unscientific (most of them wouldn’t know what you meant if you asked them), but because they are misinformed about the reliability of different kinds of evidence. Think of all the people exonerated by DNA evidence, many of them having signed confessions.

        Philosophers disagree about what “the scientific method” is. I suspect that my own opinions on this are muddled and incoherent. That is one of the reasons why I think that “Is this claim justified, and how?” is a better approach than “Is this claim advanced in accord with the scientific method?”. But you needn’t worry; I cannot imagine my accepting a justification of a factual claim that you, with the same knowledge of the facts, would reject as unscientific.

        And it is possible to do good science even by methods that would make us shudder. Pasteur, I have read in a reliable source, thought that the point of an experiment was to *confirm* the hypothesis. But I am not advocating this.

        Like

      • My concern here relates to the vitally important distinction between a quest in search of knowledge about reality that is firmly grounded in methodologies that are regulated by carefully formulated procedural protocols that are designed to scientific standards to guard against factors that could mitigate arriving at a valid conclusion and a less rigorously controlled quest in which contaminants, misconceptions, subjectivity, wishful thinking, cultural conventions, and unjustified assumptions are allowed to infiltrate into the considerations.

        That’s quite a “mouthful” and we clearly need an agreed shorthand version.

        I would use the term “The Scientific Method” to denote the character of the scientific approach. I don’t see that method as a fixed set of rules. For example, flight recorders were introduced because objective measurement of parameters by a machine can be significantly more detailed and accurate than hearsay or flawed human recollections. So their development was in accord with the scientific method and not evidence of its demise.

        Failure to be able to succinctly refer to this vitally important distinction in approach to the quest for knowledge plays the game that those who wish to muddy the water want to play. If science can’t get its act together and explain where it stands then that would be a disaster. And, to drift back on topic for a moment 🙂 that failure would fuel the Creationists claims that science is “just their opinion” or “only a theory” and that the Creationist opinions should be considered at least on an equal basis because they want the situation to be seen as a conflict between opinions. Science is not a matter of opinion and that is why the Scientific Method calls for extensive independent verification wherever that is possible.

        So philosophical quibbles aside, I see the term “The Scientific Method” as a well established label that has greater weight than “Rational Analysis” which also seems rather vague. And anyway, whatever term we use, it will always be possible to quibble philosophically about it because that is an inherent property of any short-hand notation. By its very nature, a shorthand term cannot carry around the full explanation of what we have agreed to mean by it and lay out that explanation every time we use the term.

        Science has a clear message to deliver about how to design pathways leading to knowledge. It must be resolute in advocating that message and in explaining clearly why it is important. It must be capable of standing its ground and of filtering the mud from the water in the promotion of understanding. Shorthand terms with agreed technical meaning are a vital component of that process.

        Like

      • Fair enough. But it occurs to me that I know that today is Tuesday, that David Cameron is Prime Minister, that there are books in my study and that I’m feeling hungry. A fielder knows how to catch a ball, and so, come to think of it, does my dog. It seems to me either ponderous or flat out wrong to say that these things are known through the scientific method.

        Nor will invoking the scientific method protect us from the creationist, who claims that comparison with Scripture is as scientifically valid procedure (see here).

        In conclusion (and this time, I promise you, it is my conclusion), I think your program has things exactly the wrong way round. The appeal to observation is not valid because it is part of the scientific method; it is part of the scientific method because it is valid. Let’s cut out the middleman.

        And just in case Professor Tertius is reading this over our shoulders, I will add that I am aware of just having raised fundamental metaphysical issues, and hope to address these in a later post. 🙂

        Like

      • Since this is your, indeed excellent, blog, I was going to let you have the last word… However, there’s a problem..

        “Fair enough. But it occurs to me that I know that today is Tuesday, that David Cameron is Prime Minister, that there are books in my study and that I’m feeling hungry. A fielder knows how to catch a ball, and so, come to think of it, does my dog. It seems to me either ponderous or flat out wrong to say that these things are known through the scientific method.”

        You seem to have missed something rather important.

        To see what it is we need to return to my definition of Back Burner No.3:

        3) Failure to deliver an example of knowledge that is possible to acquire by means that are impervious to scientific analysis is crucial. How can anybody know something that science cannot know? That really is the pivot about which this discussion revolves. So I set that burner to hot.

        None of the examples you cite above, including your dog knowing how to catch a ball are items of knowledge that can be known but science cannot know. We hardly need a professional scientist to tell us who the PM is. However, that knowledge is clearly available to science and, if there is ever serious doubt about any item of supposed knowledge, then we look to science as by far the best way of getting to know what can be known.

        The point here is that Professor Tertius has been implying that there are items of knowledge that can be acquired by some method but science is unable to access them. He seems to want to lock science up in a cage so that it is unable to venture into areas where there is potential for conflict with his belief system.

        Back Burner 3 clearly asks for examples of such items and, as yet, none have been delivered.

        If any ever are, then I am confident that I can demonstrate that the constraining cage is a fiction. Science is the um… science of reality and anything that can be known can in principle be known by science.

        “Nor will invoking the scientific method protect us from the creationist, who claims that comparison with Scripture is as scientifically valid procedure (see here).”

        The scientific model of reality sure does protect me against Creationism and that motivates me to explain to others how that protection works, how effective it is and how morally satisfying the scientific methods are.

        “In conclusion (and this time, I promise you, it is my conclusion), I think your program has things exactly the wrong way round. The appeal to observation is not valid because it is part of the scientific method; it is part of the scientific method because it is valid. Let’s cut out the middleman.”

        You have clearly misunderstood “my program” and my encapsulation of it in my definition of my three back burners.

        Like

      • At this point, I think our positions are clear enough (to ourselves, if not necessarily to each other), so I will leave it to readers to think on about whether there is a substantive disagreement between us (you say yes, I say no), and whether it matters (both of us say yes).

        Like

      • Trouble is, your position is clearly based on a misunderstanding of my position. That surprises me in the light of how clearly my description of Back Burner 3 spells it out. I find that slightly unsettling.

        Like

      • You say “3) Failure to deliver an example of knowledge that is possible to acquire by means that are impervious to scientific analysis is crucial. How can anybody know something that science cannot know? That really is the pivot about which this discussion revolves. So I set that burner to hot.”

        I said, early on, that I don’t accept a distinction between scientific and other rational discourse about things in the world. And I agreed with you that if a belief cannot be sustained in the face of rational scrutiny, it cannot be a form of knowledge. Indeed, if you look at my account of knowledge, you will see that if someone declares, for example, “I know that my Redeemer liveth”, then even if it is true that his Redeemer liveth, his claim to knowledge is invalid in the absence of evidence for his belief that would withstand rational examination.

        And I also explicitly ruled out subjective certainty as evidence, as well as revelation (since the beliefs arrived at in these ways disagree, and therefore cannot all be true). The same also immediately applies to appeal to any sacred text, since tests contradict each other, let alone to a text like the Bible, which contradicts itself. I hope this leaves you less unsettled.

        But when a thread reaches the point where the disputants are picking over what they said five exchanges back, it is time to end it. THE END

        Like

  4. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

    I reblog this with appreciation to Professor Braterman and to Reverend Roberts who pointed me this way. I also appreciate Professor Braterman’s comments as he recommends Dr. Bailey and the referenced resources.

    Like

  5. “Some of my fellow unbelievers think the best way to advance the cause of enlightenment is to attack religion. I regard this course as mistaken, psychologically, philosophically, historically, educationally, and tactically. I think that the followers of any religion face major problems, but they are their problems, and it is not my place to lecture them on how they should be resolved.”

    I see some problems with that.

    Personally, I don’t regard “attacking religion” as “the best” way to advance the cause of enlightenment. However, it is “a” way that is legitimate and necessary. This follows from a central principle that can be stated very simply:

    Any assertion that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence is dishonest.

    The second issue is one of self consistency. In your article, you applaud, with some enthusiasm, Bailey’s attack on Creationism:

    “For each of these, Bailey gives a straightforward statement of the creationist arguments, and then succinctly lays out the evidence for the contrary viewpoint. The rebuttals of creationism are all the more crushing for being written with judicial dispassion.”

    Creationism is a religion, so therefore, you are “attacking religion” yourself. Why do you do that if it is “psychologically, philosophically, historically, educationally, and tactically mistaken?”

    The third issue is the underlining of the implication that Bailey wants to promote. Namely that harmony between Religion and Science is possible because, outside Creationist circles, there are no areas of contradiction.

    That isn’t the case. ALL religions make assertions that reality must be as it is believed to be in the absence of credible evidence. That is dishonest, and therefore unscientific. The gulf is fundamental.

    The fourth issue is that we have a duty to the uncommitted. Especially uncommitted young people who should be made aware that harmony between Religion and Science is not possible and that any compromise between a truth and a falsehood is still a falsehood.

    The fifth issue is the need to draw a clear distinction between harmony between incompatible disciplines and harmony between individuals with differing world-views. Religious people, including the Creationists have the right to believe whatever they wish to believe and we can agree to differ. However, they do not have the right to immunity from criticism when they preach that reality must be as they believe it to be in the absence of credible evidence and “unbelievers” have a duty to keep pointing that out.

    Like

    • I was looking forward to some such response from you.
      Since I do not think that I am different from everyone else, I have to assume that I too am guilty of contortions when my preferred beliefs are mutually inconsistent, or inconsistent with the evidence. Knowing this, I am much slower than you to level charges of dishonesty.
      Creationism (in the relevant sense; separate creation of different living kinds) is not in itself a religion, but is accepted by many as part of their religion. Compare papal infallibility, which is not in itself a religion, but which is accepted by orthodox Catholics as part of their religion. If you want a believing Catholic to question the doctrine of papal infallibility, your chances would be better if you point out clear errors committed by popes, and the fact that the doctrine only dates back to the nineteenth century, rather than raising larger issues such as the existence of God, or the historicity of the apostolic succession. If you start with the larger issues, you will merely reinforce their position. However, if you have left them uncertain about Papal infallibility, you have lit a slow fuse.
      I do not commend Bailey for saying that science and religion are compatible. On the contrary, I state my own view that all religions impose unacceptable problems. I do commend him for saying that creationism is stultifying, both for science, and for what believers are trying to achieve through religion, because I think that this is true and important. I think I am more kindly disposed than you to the idea that believers are trying to do something valuable, among other things, through religion.
      I am less convinced than you of the value of proselytising on behalf of irreligion. There is no shortage of material pointing out the problems of religion, and erstwhile believers will become aware of these when they are ready, as I did myself 60 years ago.
      On your final point, we agree. However, my freedom to attack religion does not imply that it is my duty to do so in the biology classroom.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m pleased to be able to live up to your expectations of me. :-)

        You invite some straight questions:

        You say that you are slow to level charges of dishonesty against those who assert that reality must be as they believe it to be in the absence of credible evidence. Is that lack of alacrity context dependent? Would you be slow to point out to a student in a science class than such assertions are in direct contravention of the scientific method going all the way back to Galileo and the thinkers of Ancient Greece? Or are you only lethargic in the presence of religious belief?

        Does your speed of progression in these matters affect your destination in any way? Do you arrive in an instant in the science context but remain in transit in the religious one so as to avoid a different conclusion?

        Your argument that attacking a “part” of a religion does not qualify as “attacking religion” is interesting. If your arm was hacked off by a thug with a machete would you refrain from seeking a prosecution for assault on the grounds that only part of you was attacked? After all, you still have the other arm and your consciousness is still functional? 🙂

        As for “proselytising on behalf of irreligion” that isn’t how I would choose to describe what I do. I much prefer the phrase “Advocating the moral integrity of Science”.

        The foundation of all morality is a profound respect for the truth, in short Honesty. Religious people claim to know things about the Universe that science tells us they cannot possibly know and it can easily substantiate that fact with mountains of evidence. Science is very good at policing its own territory and false precepts are routinely rejected.

        Consequently, if you advocate the spiritual virtues of science you are forced to conclude that religion is dishonest and the religious method of arriving at a conclusion about reality would not be allowed in science.

        If a student in a biology class asked you if the Genesis account of human origins was true, would your reply be that it is not your duty to attack religion and refuse to answer?

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      • I too hope not to disappoint.
        Observations at Glasgow showed many biology students changing from creationist to accepting the fact of evolution, but (if I recall the numbers correctly) most of them did so without explicitly abandoning their religion. So I think your amputated arm analogy is misleading.
        If a student in biology class asked me if the Genesis account of human origins was true, I would say that it was not, that it was contrary to evidence, and that mainstream Christianity and Judaism accepted these facts. (They are presumably Christian or Jewish if they are invoking Genesis). I did once, after a science class, have a student present me with a First Cause argument, in the apparent belief that I had never heard it before. I simply said that there was a large literature about this argument, much of it highly critical, but that in any case it was irrelevant to what we were discussing, which was the age of the Earth.
        So yes, I am what you call lethargic, in the sense of being too lazy to get dragged into endless arguments that are beside the point at the time. This lethargy is not restricted to religion. For example, I sometimes find myself arguing with someone who refuses to take global warming seriously, on the grounds that they believe in free market capitalism. Rather than point out the many fallacies they have committed, let alone what I regard as the shortcomings of free-market capitalism, I argue that their very belief in capitalism should leave them to want fossil fuels to be correctly priced, which includes correct evaluation of the consequences of their use. In much the same way, I would hope to persuade the biblical literalist that acknowledging the blatant fact of multiple authorship of Genesis would enrich, not impoverish, their understanding of the sacred text.
        More generally, I do advocate the spiritual virtues of science, albeit implicitly and by object lesson. Believers, I think, are convinced that they are telling the truth as they see it. This may make them, from our point of view, ridiculous but it does not make them mendacious. (There are occasional exceptions; I don’t think Ken Ham believes what he claims to, and Billy Graham admits to having consciously suppressed doubts. And Andy Mackintosh “simplifies” his accounts of thermodynamics, though unlike you I this may be simple confirmation bias.) Some believers think they have good reasons for their beliefs, and others think that untested belief on certain subjects is a virtue. The first of these might lead to an interesting conversation. The second is outrageous, but unlikely to yield to persuasion. In either case, attempting to dislodge, say, Young Earth creationism by first dislodging the religious belief is an unpromising tactic.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Re your “Some of my fellow unbelievers think the best way to advance the cause of enlightenment is to attack religion. I regard this course as mistaken, psychologically, philosophically, historically, educationally, and tactically. I think that the followers of any religion face major problems, but they are their problems, and it is not my place to lecture them on how they should be resolved. In addition, affirmations of the validity of evolution and Old Earth geology have far greater power when they come from within the body of believers.. . . ”

    What a refreshing difference in attitude from that of Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne & company.

    And thank you very much for pointing us toward David H. Bailey’s work.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin and commented:
    Another good article on creationism from my non-theistic friend. Read carefully

    Liked by 2 people

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