Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's Not Easy Being a Materialist

Egnor is still going strong against PZ Myers illogical claim that the mind is solely a product of the evolutionary process.

Atheism intrigues me to no end. It is the single most illogical conclusion about life that one can ever succumb to, IMHO.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Busy Summer

Posts will be very sparse for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully things will slow down around here soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Guillermo Article

It's been a busy week for me, but I hope to get back to bloggin' again next week.

Meanwhile, here's an excellent article that DaveScot linked to in one of my comment sections.

The article mentions the part Avalos played in GG's hanging...

For those unaware, Hector Avalos is an embittered apostate ‘Christian’ who now describes himself as ‘a secular humanist’, and believes that ‘the Bible has no intrinsic value or merit’.8 He achieved some infamy by being quoted in the journal Nature as advocating cutting out parts of the Bible which deal with ‘theologically inspired violence’.9 In answer to Bill Muehlenberg’s question as to just what should be cut, Avalos said,

‘In the first phase what I hope will be deleted is any endorsement of violence that cannot be proven by scientific means to be coming from God. In the final phase, we hope to persuade humanity that the entire Bible should be removed as an authority in the modern world.
‘Yes, that should include removing the repugnant idea that a god sent his son to be slaughtered for the “salvation of man.” It is apalling that in the 21st century anyone still thinks that slaughtering one’s son should become a basis for “salvation.” It is an idea that has a long pre-Christian history, anyway, and it is rooted in notions of blood/sacrificial magic that our world should leave behind.’10

According to John West of Discovery Institute, ‘Avalos has led the charge against Gonzalez and intelligent design on ISU’s campus, helping to draft a 2005 petition denouncing intelligent design that ultimately was signed by more than 120 ISU faculty.’11 Concerning this Avalos says, ‘We were starting to see Iowa State mentioned as a place where intelligent-design research was happening. We wanted to make sure that people knew the university does not support intelligent design.’2
...and, Behe's assessment of the situation:

Michael Behe, biochemist, prominent advocate of intelligent design at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and author of the ‘irreducible complexity’ book Darwin’s Black Box, says, ‘Academia seems to be in a rage about anything that points to any purpose. They are penalizing an associate professor who’s doing his job because he has views they disagree with.’2

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Edge of Evolution

I finally got around to ordering Behe's new book, The Edge of Evolution. Can't wait to dig into it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The part Avalos played in GG's denial of tenure

Denyse O’Leary highlights an interesting commentary written by Ted Davis, a "scholar of religion and science in modern America", who is evidently not a supporter of ID.

Here it is in it’s entirety:

My views on the mugging of Guillermo Gonzalez are already well known. Now that the president of ISU has made his final ruling (though I understand that a further appeal to the Board of Regents is still possible), and now that Guillermo has also made a public statement that confirms the concerns I have had throughout this process, I am making public a portion of the letter I sent to the ISU president a couple of weeks ago. It should be seen as a commentary on his situation, from my point of view as a scholar of religion and science in modern America. I continue to think that an inappropriate form of viewpoint discrimination was a decisive factor in the decision not to grant him tenure. We may never know for sure if this is correct, just as we may never know many other things with certainty, but the evidence IMO strongly suggests that Avalos' completely inappropriate activities had a lot to do with Guillermo being denied tenure.

Here are my comments on this aspect of the situation, unedited, from the letter I sent ISU president


Let me be as clear as possible: Dr. Avalos’ activities were unwarranted. Dr. Gonzalez is hardly the only scientist to write books for the general public, giving religious interpretations of science. Whatever one may think of his book, it is not an appropriate response for a faculty member to organize a petition against Dr. Gonzalez, simply for adding his own religious opinion to those of many others. For example, when the late Carl Sagan presented his popular television series, Cosmos, more than twenty-five years ago, he began the first program with what can only be called a religious credo: “The universe is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” This is a religious credo, pure and simple (and many of his other statements are consistent with it), despite its incorporation into a series of programs that was used for many years in public high school and college science classes. Yet none of his colleagues at Cornell petitioned to dissociate the university from Sagan’s openly religious interpretation of cosmology.

Nor has anyone at Oxford, Texas, Harvard, or Brown petitioned against the views of Richard Dawkins, Steven Weinberg, Edward Wilson, or Kenneth Miller, who have all given religious interpretations to aspects of modern science in popular books. Is there something about Dr. Gonzalez’ design interpretation that makes it any less acceptable than Dawkins’ atheism, Wilson’s materialist reductionism, or Miller’s Roman Catholic interpretation of evolution? It is not hard to understand why Dr. Avalos, who advises a campus atheist group, would find Dr. Gonzalez’ book less acceptable than those of Dawkins or Weinberg; but that type of viewpoint discrimination should not be acceptable to the larger academic community at Iowa State, and I urge you to underscore that conclusion by overturning this decision.

From where I sit, the impact of Dr. Avalos’ deeds is not hard to see: he poisoned the environment for Dr. Gonzalez, by undermining his academic reputation and isolating him at Iowa State*and all based on a book that is actually one of the best popular books about science in recent years. I am an expert on the history of religion and science in the United States (my current project on modern America has received significant support from the National Science Foundation), and in my opinion Dr. Gonzalez’ treatment of historical topics in The Privileged Planet is far superior to the treatment of comparable topics in Sagan’s famous series. His debunking of the so-called “Copernican principle,” associated with the late Harvard astronomer Harlow Shapley, is an excellent corrective to the false view of Shapley, Sagan, and many other scientists that Copernicus somehow “demoted” humanity by moving us out of the center of the universe. As Dennis Danielson has shown decisively (in an article in American Journal of Physics and in The Book of the Cosmos), Copernicus and his followers believed no such thing, and Gonzalez’ clear explanation of the details helps the record straight for many in the general public. A leading historian of astronomy, Owen Gingerich of Harvard (a former student of Shapley), justly praises Dr. Gonzalez for this in his recent book, God’s Universe (Harvard University Press, 2006), itself yet one more example of a scientist offering a religious interpretation of his work to the general public. I have to wonder*if Professor Gingerich were also a junior faculty member at Iowa State, would Dr. Avalos now be organizing another petition drive against this particular book, for its defense of a designed universe?


Monday, June 04, 2007

Guillermo Gonzalez's Tenure Appeal Denied

I’m too shocked by this decision to even blog about it. Tom Gilson addresses the decision over at Thinking Christian. You can read more about it there.

Weigh-in week 20, June 4

We've completed week 19, and God only knows what our total weight loss is at this point. Starving & I are at a stand still and seem to lose a pound one week and gain it back the next.

Dieters, please use the comment section to post how much you lost (or gained) this week, and your ~total~ weight loss since day 1 of dieting. When everyone has done so, I’ll post the results.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Evolutionary Informatics Lab at Baylor

Baylor University has a new "Evolutionary Informatics" Lab at Baylor University, and William Dembski has collaborated on three papers with Prof. Marks, who heads the lab.

Golly...this sounds like an ID lab!!! Far out.

Read more about it at Uncommon Descent.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

More thoughts on the Deace Piece

Okay, I’m getting all kinds of comments due to my last post in regard to the article in which Steve Deace has quite the little rant about Hector Avalos, the religion professor at ISU who has headed up some pointed petitions. I started to respond to yet another comment and got entirely carried away. I’m making it into a separate post because it’s getting to long for the comment section [besides that, I’ve been too busy to post much this week so this rambling post will have to do.]

The comment was as follows:
“my point was that you seem to dismiss the ideas of people who don't agree with you for reasons very similar to "they're angry materialists" or "scientists are only faith-based materialists" and other such unsupported nonsense.”
I believe that, *overall*, scientists are just scientists, atheists are just atheists, and theists are just theists. Period. Some are “angry”, some aren’t. But, individually, scientists have various worldviews that may on occasion affect their work, and there are certain fields of science that would obviously be more affected by a person’s worldview than others.

I don’t think most scientists give these religious or philosophical issues much thought in their day to day work, but there are those who do (both theists and atheists) due to the nature of their work. There is a point where science and theology merge, and there is absolutely no way to get around that issue, IMHO. There is also no way we are ever going to be able to eliminate either materialism or the question as to whether there is a supernatural component to our existence. So, all this anger directed toward each other is, in a sense, a waste of time and leads to nothing more than further hatred between groups of people. Beating each other up every day is getting us no where. FAST.

Having said that, I do believe that those heavily involved in this debate are fighting for the scientific theories that they feel are best supported by the evidence. I don’t think anyone is lying, but I do think that those of us fighting the hardest can’t get around the fact that our worldviews have an impact on how our minds perceive the information that we digest in regard to science and theology. Fr’instance, those who oppose my views regarding the issues in this debate believe that I am shunning reality. They feel that I am insincere in my quest for truth since I have stated many times that I feel Creationists and IDists have extremely compelling arguments for the scientific theories they put forth. They tell me “Creationism” is not science and that to accept it as such requires a blindness to science that is both willful and powerful.

Funny thing is that their belief that I am blinded may be spot on. For the absolute life of me, I cannot in my wildest imagination come to the realization that some of the theories these ardent evolutionists state as being a “fact” are indeed “factual”. I’ve considered the ToE from every freaking angle, and it is seriously lacking in many respects. And, when they tell me that “Creationism” is unscientific and proceed to explain why they feel that way, I truly believe they are the ones who are willfully blind. The work put out by Creationists and IDists (completely separate ideas) is science, and that is as plain as day. You can disagree with the interpretation of the evidence, but you can’t claim it isn’t science. Granted, there are some Creationists who state that if something doesn’t coincide with a particular interpretation of the Bible, we must dismiss it regardless of how compelling it may be. That doesn’t sound very scientific to me, but not all Creationists come at their work in this manner, and IDists certainly don’t.

Sometimes when I hear some of the statements that are thrown at me about willful ignorance, etc., it seems to me that some of those people have made science into their form of theology. They make it sound as if science is their only path to truth, and anything else is insignificant. There is almost a reverence for science in their tone, and they simply and quickly dismiss theology with a wave of their hand.

Truth be told, I consider their beliefs in the exact same way the perceive mine. They seem completely and utterly blind to anything other than their philosophical beliefs which they feel correspond with their scientific beliefs.

So, IMO, this is where that all popular term “tolerance” comes in, and let’s be honest...there really are only three options in the running that anyone takes seriously in regard to our origins. Those are philosophical naturalism, creation, and ID. We need to be “tolerant” of those who hold each view, and realize that they aren’t “evil” or “lying for Jesus”, but that due to their particular worldview, they seem to be “blinded” by any other interpretation. It appears we are all in the same boat, IMO. Materialists conclude that our blindness is due to ignorance or religious indoctrination, theists conclude that the materialists are blind to the truth due to their ignorance or rejection of theological truth and understanding. Then we have a whole array of those who fall somewhere in the middle and are so wishy washy that it’s hard telling what they believe, and I’m not sure they know themselves.

“Then, you simultaneously put for as an example of "good points to ponder" a rant from someone who clearly makes the same sort of argument. You can't have it both ways; are we supposed to take this guy seriously? If we are, why can the whole of science be dismissed with the same sort of bogus "scientists are immoral materialist" argument?”
Here’s the deal. Deace let lose with a heck of a rant, and while I don’t agree with everything he said...he makes some good points. Personally, I would have chosen to eliminate the overall tone of his rant. He might want to consider his last name and replace that D with a P.

BUT, he makes some points that I’ve been thinking about recently, and his presentation in no different than that of numerous evolution blogs I read every fact, it was quite tame compared to some. Sometimes, I think a mirror placed in a person’s face might help them realize how they are acting, how it feels, and the affect it has on their readers. Although, I don’t think all evolutionists and atheists are how Deace describes them, I do feel that are those who fit Deace’s description to a tee. They are a small, but very loud crowd that gets a lot of attention because of their megaphone’s and their attitudes. They are an intolerant group, and nothing good will come of their constant nasty confrontations with those who disagree with their opinions. Both sides have individuals like this, and I have no patience for them. They are accomplishing nothing other than creating intense hatred for their fellow man. There are ways to be firm and state your point without tearing people apart as individuals.

You asked, “Why can’t the whole of science be dismissed with the same sort of bogus “scientists are immoral materialists” argument?” Personally, I think that is an absurd question. Of course, no one would ever conceive of dismissing “the whole of science” because there are scientists who adhere to materialism. But, on the other hand, when we witness supporters of ID being blackballed in the scientific community because of their connection with ID, it doesn’t sit well. What the heck are we suppose to think? It would seem that anything that doesn’t fit within the materialistic paradigm is halted by the Darwin police. They have a monopoly on what can and cannot be considered in regard to the origin of life and how that may affect various fields of science.

In conclusion, I guess there will always be those who consider me to be willfully ignorant until I abide by their particular version of truth.