And you'll get another one if you generalize my mixed defense of something as being an apologist again.
James wrote:Oh, they certainly are. In fact, virtually everyone who spends their time in a limelight speaking in terms of advocacy blunders badly on occasion. I think it's more a product of being human and speaking views on the public stage. Except Pope Francis. Somehow he manages to be consistently awesome, who somehow manages to still be awesome even when he slips up.
My other point is that it's not appropriate to lean too heavily on those mistakes a person makes to dismiss their other views. Frequency of those mistakes and the extent to which they are repeated should be the concerning factor.
Pope Francis himself is plenty controversial in certain fora
, I should say. I personally like the man a great deal, but I know many people, particularly on the American Catholic right, view him with distinct discomfort. (Though the American Catholic right deserves
to be made distinctly uncomfortable upon occasion, in my own view.
The problem with the Ditchkins clique, though, is that the mistakes they make very much reflect
the other views that they hold. Even if the Tea Party is not itself racist and does not see itself as oriented toward racist goals, still it cannot be denied that in the id
of the people they presented themselves to most attractively, there is a certain animus and resentment that crops up, against black people particularly. Likewise, I think the Ditchkins clique has limited patience with women and with ethnic minorities, as is evidenced by the demographics of the movement they spearhead
, which is mostly white, mostly male and mostly from privileged economic backgrounds.
James wrote:I would argue these two people have made/are making some of the most valuable contributions to science most any individual can make. They are educating the population as a whole and helping many in the next generation of science into the field. Dr. Tyson attributes his own career to Carl Sagan. In my eyes, these two people deserve some of the highest accolades we could extend to a scientist—or, indeed, most anyone.
I can't say I disagree with any of this, except perhaps with the last paragraph. Science popularisers have their uses. I'm as big a fan of Bill Nye as anyone; the man was a huge part of my childhood.
But celebrity scientists make me uncomfortable for other unrelated reasons, like when people who do the gruntwork of actual science get the spotlight and they aren't prepared for it, but are expected to be as camera-savvy as a Neil deGrasse Tyson or a Bill Nye. But that's another topic entirely.
James wrote:You're either misunderstanding Dawkins' argument or my own response here. My point is not that it is any less wrong today than it was in the past, but rather that when you examine the past you need to examine it in context to be even remotely honest about the subject.
Alright, two separate arguments here. What you said before was that a different logic
But what you're talking about here has nothing to do with the moral logic and everything to do with the relative power and status of the people involved. You may well argue that Dr. Samuel Johnson said something quite shocking to people's sensibilities when he toasted the next slave rebellion in the West Indies, even though nowadays
most people would agree with him. Back then, there were powerful people in the sugar lobby and in the cotton lobby in the British Parliament, and Johnson's comment very certainly would have rubbed them the wrong way if they had known about it. If you had argued against the people around you who were listening to talk radio, I can imagine there would have been serious social consequences for you.
That's fine. I agree with you there. That's not the part I take issue with.
It's that the logic
Samuel Johnson used against slavery - that
was the exact same moral logic
that we use today. He didn't argue against slavery because it was inefficient, or because it was inconvenient. He saw black people as human beings, made in the image of God the same way the rest of humanity is, and therefore every bit as deserving of the basic standards of human dignity as white people are. The standards of moral logic don't change over time.
James wrote:Just that it ought to inform a position we choose to speak on, just as surely as someone assertively dismissing FOX News or Rush Limbaugh ought to spend some time seeing what they really are. Or on the flip-side, someone ought to read/watch some Al Jazeera before they make generalizations about it, or do some research about Muslims/Islam before they decide to repeat nuggets such as 'every Muslim believes in death for apostasy', or 'the Quran outlines death as a punishment for apostasy'. Intellectually, there's reason to extend some of that time.
Just strikes me that this
would be an article you might enjoy. He makes much the same point you're making here.
But basically, yeah. I've seen enough of Fox News to know that it's essentially neoconservative propaganda. Al-Jazeera has some good articles on occasion, but unfortunately it also serves as the propaganda arm of the Qatari state, and therefore much of what they publish with regard to the context and present situation of the conflict with Daesh can be (at the very least) biased, or sometimes flat-out wrong. With regard to Dawkins, on the subjects he knows best he can be very convincing. On other topics... not so much.
James wrote:Maybe I've misunderstood some of your perspective there, but you outlined your reasoning for why God is as you described, and the role God plays in humanity as you outlined, and that was the reasoning to which I spoke.
My position is that God is not, ultimately, an empirical question.
By basing all of your inquiries on the assumption that God is
an empirical question, you were deliberately
not speaking to my reasoning but to some straw-man of it.
James wrote:I'd say the two aren't equivalent at all—much of what we have attributed to Jesus was passed down by one person after the next and cannot be compared to objectively verifiable evidence in the world around us today—but I get your point insofar as that was presented as an example.
We can say with some certainty that S. Paul did
actually the bulk of the text of the letters that are credited to him. Just as we can say with some certainty that S. Mark did
actually write the Gospel that is credited to him, sometime around 68 to 70 CE (and this is not merely conservative authors who do so; Protestant liberation theologian Ched Myers with his political account of the text of the Gospel of S. Mark also makes an early attribution, to before the fall of the Temple, which is scholarly and well-reasoned). There is no 'passing down by one person after the next'. There are the texts - in Greek - and its translators. You can believe them, or you can disbelieve them.
Likewise, I'm guessing that you don't go straight to the UEA climatology databases, re-run the regressions and extrapolations by yourself, and yourself come to the conclusion that climate change is real. I'm guessing that you have a scientific author or two (or more) that you deeply trust, whose modelling and argumentation you find persuasive, and make your own conclusions which rest upon their logic.
By doing this, you are not drawing your conclusions based on first-hand empirical verification, but rather on the authority
of people who make that first-hand empirical verification, or at least run studies on empirical data that they themselves trust was accurately gathered.
And that's fine
. Everyone who is sane should
accept some level of authority, particularly with regard to science. Trust is important - trusting our own senses is important, and trusting other people who have shown themselves worthy of that trust is important. But the fact of the matter is, the people who trust their priests and who trust the saints of the Church, and the people who trust scientists to tell the truth and represent their findings honestly - they aren't that different. One group of people isn't somehow less logical or less reasonable than the other.
James wrote:Fundamentals need to be settled before you work on nuance. If you want to ever get through to an atheist you're going to need to first address the fundamental questions pertaining to God himself.
It's precisely the fundamentals that the atheists are addressing wrongly, by approaching fundamentalists who don't understand them
. It's all too easy for the New Atheists and fundamentalist Christians to throw barbs at each other, in fact, because they share
a common, reductively-materialist and -constative ontological approach to the universe which has been rejected by the bulk of mainline Christian believers going all the way back to the Early Church Fathers, who have found such an approach wanting. (This is indeed the point that Bill Egginton makes.)
Like I said: God is not an empirical question. Since reading Kierkegaard I have never held God to be an empirical question. Not even S. Thomas Aquinas treats God as an empirical question, but rather as a rational one. S. John Damascene doesn't even dare do that
, except to say (essentially) that one can reason things about
God, but never reason ourselves to
The theism that the Ditchkins clique attack, is in fact a straw-theism
, and not the theism held by the bulk of Christian believers, either historical or contemporary.