Sunday, September 25, 2005

a post for adam

so, here is a story. i'm pretty much putting it up for adam. it's not spite or anything, i just thought he'd get a kick out of it. maybe he can reference it to the inkblots. it'd be relevant to a current post.

(oh yeah, it's from evangelical outpost. it's worth a look and chuckle no matter who you are)


Adam said...


Adam said...

"When an inquisitive tyke asks who created the sun, the animals, and mankind, their materialist parents can only tell them to read a book by Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins."

Apparently, this person believe that Materialist parents are negligent to the point of tossing a book at their child rather than discussing the matter. Looking forward to the slam on parents whose children ask about sex and get a pamphlet taped to a box of condoms tossed at them.

The Jay said...

ha ha ha. That story is retahded.

Peter said...

Immediate, visceral reaction: Gawd that's a stupid story.

Reasoned response: Sure, if you use conversational words like "Nothing" and "Time" and "Chance" and attach them to a narrative purporting to be a "scientific account," you can make "science" look silly. But science is essentially non-narrative, and words like "Nothing" and "Time" and "Chance" do not have the same meanings in scientific discourse as they do in everyday conversation, and what you get is a Straw Man. You get science dressed up to look like religion, because it's religion that is essentially narrative and religion that plays fast and easy with terminology.

If that story was accurate, it would start out something more like this:

In the beginning was Nothing and Nothing created Everything. (But nobody knows exactly what a "beginning" is, and it's damn near impossible to define "nothing" without a paradox, and we haven't observed "everything" so we don't know what "everything" consists of.) When Nothing decided to create Everything, she filled a tiny dot with Time, Chance, and Everything and had it explode. (But now we've gone and given "nothing" the properties of "something," i.e., intent and creative ability, which doesn't make much sense for "nothing.")

The problem with Christians who assail science as being a faux religion is because they don't understand what science is and they don't understand what religion is, either. There is no Grand Narrative in science. There are lines of inquiry, paths of discussion, points of contention, and a whole spectrum of solidity to knowledge, from fringe hypotheses to things we're so sure of we're willing to call them facts. Religion, on the other hand, would be nothing without a Grand Narrative, and it has clearly delineated truths (which are different for every sect). The two could not be more antithetical in their approaches. Religion requires the maintenance of hierarchical authorities; science requires the perpetual questioning of hierarchical authorities. It's why a parishoner who wants to challenge the minister will be out of luck, but a grad student who wants to challenge a Nobel Prize winner can do so freely.

edluv said...

actually, religion does not have to maintain hierarchical authorities. within Christianity, there is a fine tradition of both submitting to as well as standing against "authority". that is, human authority. i guess you could say that all beliefs are submitting to some other authority. i might also say that using science as an paradigm for life is a belief structure, and that such an orientation submits to the authority of method, question, and inquiry. if it's provable it's believable.

within protestant denominations, a parishoner may challenge a minister. the pastor/preacher role is not seen to be like the pope, who is unquestionable. the pope is always right, at least in Catholic dogma. but as a protestant, if you disagree with your pastor's exegesis, you can speak about that. granted, some churches act like dictatorships. i think they are wrong.

as for a grad student challenging a Nobel Prize winner, sure, it's theoretically possible. you could attempt to prove or disprove their theory. if you just challenged them on the street the probably wouldn't listen. just because they have won a prize based on scientific merits doesn't mean that they'll give a damn to listen to you. but, alas, that's not really your point. likewise, my point in putting it up this article wasn't to argue religion v. science. my point was that it was a humorous take, and i wanted to share it with my friend. i thought he might enjoy the sarcasm, the tongue in cheek look the beginning of this world.
in fact, religion vs. faith wasn't even the point of the article. the article was a humorous attempt to create a narrative for science.
"No child, though, should have to go without an answer which is why I’ve decided to take the elements of materialism and shape them into an accurate, though mythic, narrative. This is what our culture has been missing for far too long -- a creation story for young materialists."
does the author claim Christianity? yes. does he not believe in science? i doubt it. although it's prolbably not the principle that he uses to orient his life. have you ever read an article by a scientist that used humor to lend weight to a scientific argument. i would guarantee it. i'm thinking spaghetti monster as an example. spaghetti diety or whatever it's called may actually just be in itself a straw "man". it's set up as such a farce, to be knocked down, to also knock down another theory (intelligent design).

Peter said...

Religion doesn't have to maintain hierarchical authorities? Okay, let's delete the leader from every Bible study, the teacher from every Sunday school class, the pastor from every church, oh, and, the Bible. Now you've got a totally flat, non-hierarchical religion where everybody can say and believe whatever they want. Is it still Christianity? Is it still religion? Or are those the kind of people who check the box that says, "Spiritual but not religious"?

The whole point of religion is that there are unquestioned truths at the bottom of things; the whole point of science is that even the most fundamental theories are open to questions and even failure. You can find plenty of scientists who would say, "Yes, physics could continue to function if we were to disprove the theory of gravity, because the only way we could do that is to find that the explanatory model we have stops explaining things, but some other one explains it better." Meanwhile, try to find religious people who would say, "Yes, religion could continue to function if we were to disprove the existence of a supernatural realm." What would be left of religion if we did that? Hint: Nothing.

edluv said...

ah, see, your elimination of authority ignores the basic belief of Christians that God is the ultimate authority. Not the pastor, the bible study leader, the elder, the priest, whatever. The Holy Spirit, as Christians believe, remains as a continuing authority for our lives. The Bible, as the written word of God, is a testament to God's revelation. My understanding of that written word is open to interpretation, question and even failure.

the problem, as i see, is that you're still posing the question as science vs religion. i, am not. when i am sick, i take a pill that a scientist worked to create. when i hit a shot in pool, i hope to correctly use physics to make it. i watch the news to find out the weather forecast, because i believe in the science of meteorology. do i believe in macro-evolution? why should i? it hasn't been proved. micro-evolution, sure, seen it in fruit flies. but just because i don't believe in one theory doesn't mean that i throw out all of science.

i don't have a problem with underlying truths. i'm sure you don't either. you and i just may not agree on what they are. but, for some way, if all the underlying truths were disproved, i guess we're left with nothing. so, let me know when the supernatural has been disproved.

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