Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Medieval...

An excerpt from a book I'm reading, I'll probably archive a few more excerpts because progressives tend to believe in mythologies that they imagine about Progress more than historically based views on how progress as we know it has happened:
In many ways the term "Scientific Revolution" is as misleading as "Dark Ages." Both were coined to discredit the medieval Church. The notion of a "Scientific Revolution" has been used to claim that science suddenly burst forth when a weakened Christianity could no longer prevent it, and as the recovery of classical learning made it possible. Both claims are as false as those concerning Colombus and the flat earth.* First of all, classical learning did not provide an appropriate model for science. Second, the rise of science was already far along by the sixteenth century, having been nurtured by devout Scholastics in that most Christian invention, the university. As Alfred W. Crosby pointed out, "in our time the word medieval is often used as a synonym for muddle-headedness, but it can be more accurately used to indicate precise definition and meticulous reasoning, that is to say, clarity" (his emphasis). Granted that the era of scientific discovery that occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was indeed marvelous, the cultural equivalent of the blossoming of a rose. However, just as roses do not spring up overnight but must undergo a long period of normal growth before they even bud, so, too, the blossoming of science was the result of centuries of normal intellectual progress.... Copernicus provides an unsurpassed example of this point.
(For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch Hunts and the End of Slavery by Rodney Stark :134-135)
*See also: (Inventing the Flat Earth: Colombus and Modern Historians by Jeffrey Russel


A philosophy of insight from some geek to guru dialogues, the guru pointing out that what matters most to us typically isn't matter and mechanisms:
…it should be obvious to you that the neuronal activity that accompanies your act of seeing the meaning of “Give me liberty or give me death” is not the same as understanding what the thought implies.
Let me show you what I’m saying just by pointing out what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to convince me that no independent meaning-processing takes place in our minds. This is what you mean to communicate to me, this the point you want me to see. But is your point, the meaning you wish to communicate, purely a matter of neuronal transactions and brain states? Are you trying to alter certain of my brain events or to get me to see something to be the case? If it’s the latter, then meaning is something different from physiological states of affairs. You could say it’s dependent on a physiological substrate, but you would still have to admit that it’s not the same thing as the physiological transaction itself.
You can’t be convinced of something by the action of certain physical causes in your central nervous system. You’re convinced by reasons. You disagree with me because you haven’t seen enough reason to agree. Meaning is all about reasons and not causes. If I say a poem is beautiful, neither my message nor its truth is reducible to neuronal excitement in given regions of the cerebral cortex. It’s all about concepts, reasons and meanings, not causes and effects. I cannot see how you can dispute any of this without blatant self-contradiction.
(The Wonder of the World by Roy Abraham Varghese :165,166)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I'm going to read a few books on the history of science and Christianity. Most indicate that science as we now know it as a system of thought is linked to Christianity. The atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett actually admits this point given the historical evidence but argues that we can essentially harvest the seeds of good ideas grown from a field of bad ideas.

It seems to me that there are possible lines of historical evidence that such a harvest is impossible or can't last long. E.g. the post-Christian culture of the Weimar Republic in which Nazism fermented based on a return to "scientific" forms of Nature based paganism which was associated with pseudo-science, superstition and the occult. The pattern seems to be that science begins with Christian assumptions but then science is said to be rooted in methodological naturalism, which naturally and gradually tends to build a philosophy of naturalism which undermines Christianity until science is turned into a form of Nature based paganism, then all the old occult/"hidden" practices and superstitions typical to the type of paganism that Christianity originally did away with emerge again. Those who base their opposition to Christianity on science are often in the odd position of undermining the ground upon which they stand. It seems that a protestation of Protestantism itself opens the door for superstition again.

Here's a recent WSJ article citing evidence of this apparent pattern:
From Hollywood to the academy, nonbelievers are convinced that a decline in traditional religious belief would lead to a smarter, more scientifically literate and even more civilized populace.

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians. Look Who's Irrational NowBy MOLLIE ZIEGLER HEMINGWAY

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

That old topic...

A few comments on homosexuality and history here, it will be interesting to see if anyone attempts to reply based on historical facts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Funeral of a Great Myth

In the science, Evolution is a theory about changes: in the Myth it is a fact about improvements. Thus a real scientist like Professor J. B. S. Haldane is at pains to point out that popular ideas of Evolution lay a wholly unjustified emphasis on those changes which have rendered creatures (by human standards) 'better' or more interesting. He adds: 'We are therefore inclined to regard progress as the rule in evolution. Actually it is the exception, and for every case of it there are ten of degeneration.' But the Myth simply expurgates the ten cases of degeneration. In the popular mind the word 'Evolution' conjures up a picture of things moving 'onwards and upwards', and of nothig else whatsoever. And it might have been predicted that it would do so. Already, before science had spoken, the mythical imagination knew the kind of 'Evolution' it wanted. --C. S. Lewis, The Funeral of a Great Myth

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A bitter irony

Martin Luther King on Margaret Sanger:
There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger's early efforts. She, like we, saw the horrifying conditions of ghetto life. Like we, she knew that all of society is poisoned by cancerous slums. Like we, she was a direct actionist — a nonviolent resister. Planned Parenthood
Historical facts:
...Sanger was an ardent, self-confessed eugenicist... Like other staunch eugenicists, Sanger vigorously opposed charitable efforts to uplift the downtrodden and deprived, and argued extensively that it was better that the cold and hungry be left without help, so that the eugenically superior strains could multiply without competition from "the unfit." She repeatedly referred to the lower classes and the unfit as "human waste" not worthy of assistance, and proudly quoted the extreme eugenic view that human "weeds" should be "exterminated." Moreover, for both political and genuine ideological reasons, Sanger associated closely with some of America's most fanatical eugenic racists. Both through her publication, Birth Control Review, and her public oratory, Sanger helped legitimize and widen the appeal of eugenic pseudoscience.
...on page after page, Sanger castigated charities and the people they hoped to assist. "Organized charity itself," she wrote, "is the symptom of a malignant social disease. Those vast, complex, interrelated organizations aiming to control and to diminish th espread of misery and destitution and all the menacing evils that spring out of this sinisterly fertile soil, are the surest sign that our civilization has bred, is breeding and is perpetuation constantly increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents and dependents."
...she never lost her eugenic raison d'ĂȘtre, nor her fiery determination to eliminate the unfit. For instance, years after Sanger launched birth control, she was honored at a luncheon in the Hotel Roosevelt in New York. Her acceptance speech harkened back to the original nature of her devotion to her cause. "Let us not forget," she urged, "that these billions, millions, thousands of people are increasing, expanding, exploding at a terrific rate every year. Africa, Asia, South America are made up of more than a billion human beings, miserable, poor, illiterate labor slaves, whether they are called that or not; a billion hungry men and women always in the famine zone yet reproducing themselves in the blind struggle for survival and perpetuation....
The brains, initiative, thrift and progress of the self supporting, creative human beings are called upon to support the ever increasing and numerous dependent, delinquent and unbalanced masses....
(The War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's
Campaign to Create a Master Race
by Edwin Black :127, 129, 143)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On not giving Chance a chance...

I was trying to think through chance in a recent comment:

Ironically the notion of chance is a science/knowledge stopper, it is an argument which stops the study of cause and effect. A scientific view rooted in the study of cause and effect would be that chance is an illusion brought about by an absence of knowledge. Even the examples that people use to argue for the creative power of “chance” combined with a process of filtering like natural selection can be surrounded by knowledge based on an actual scientific view. For instance, some use a coin toss to illustrate the concept of chance. Yet since chance is actually just an illusion brought about by the absence of knowledge it is easy to point out that if the trajectory of the coin, its mass, the force it was flipped with, etc., was all known then “chance” disappears as one advances toward a knowledge of how the coin will come to rest. Chance is ignorance, chance is ultimately nothing, yet it’s typical for proponents of Darwinism to argue as if it something which explains all there is to know.

A satire of philosophies based on chance:
Pre-Game Coin Toss Makes Jacksonville Jaguars Realize Randomness Of Life

(Found on Uncommon Descent)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Blog on Intelligent Design

Here's a blog I've been commenting on lately: Intelldesign, although it's written by a psychologist it's pretty good.