Lynn, Cooper and Dean

| 13 Comments

There is a truly excellent op-ed from Barry Lynn today in The Houston Chronicle. Here's an excerpt I especially liked:

Phillip Johnson, a former law professor who pioneered intelligent design, told a conservative religious audience a few years ago that his goal is to use intelligent design to spread doubts about evolution and then introduce people to “the truth” of the Bible and “the question of sin.” Ultimately, Johnson said, he wants people to be “introduced to Jesus.”

If the end result of what you are doing is aimed at religious conversion, then it's evangelism, not science. It belongs in a house of worship, not a public school.

Well said.

Alas, not everyone agrees with Lynn. The Discovery Institute's Seth Cooper has weighed in with a sulky blog entry about it.

But Cooper allows blogger Darrick Dean do the heavy lifting for him. Over at EvolutionBlog I have posted entries about Lynn, Cooper and Dean, available here, here and here, respectively. Enjoy!

13 Comments

Notice the bait and switch that Darrick Dean goes for. He subtly changes from “scientific evidence” to “scientists”, presumably hoping readers won’t notice:

Of course Lynn throws out the standard “ID has no mainstream scientific evidence.” This patently unoriginal line is patently false. The ID movement is made up of accomplished “mainstream” scientists.

The op-ed is, indeed, excellent–thanks for the link! I am a member of Americans United and enjoy Lynn’s commentaries in the monthly AU newsletter. (Sorry for the commercial, but AU really does some excellent work defending the church-state wall of separation from the fundies and their ilk, and I encourage people to check it out.)

Thanks for the link!

As an AU member, I really enjoy Lynn’s column in the monthly AU newsletter. (Warning: Shameless Plug Alert) I encourage people to check out AU–I feel it is doing some really important work defending the wall of separation…www.au.org

Whoops! Apologies for the double post. Someday, I really must learn how to use my browser…

The ID movement is made up of accomplished “mainstream” scientists.

Every organized religion has members who are “mainstream” scientists. But, I doubt Darrick Dean believes that every major organized religion is necessarily true. Therefore, it would not be illogical to observe that some “mainstream” scientists are obviously wrong in their beliefs. And that “some” can include Dean and his ID evangelists.

Unfortunately, Barry Lynn made a real blooper regarding evolution in the latest issue of Church and State (Feb., 2005), the newsletter of Americans United for Seapration of Church and State. In his column that appears on the next to last page of the issue:

Barry Lynn Wrote:

I explained that “theories” are based on collections of facts that support an overarching principle and that scientific theories, even the “theory of gravity”, are continually being refined. I note that “randomness” in development can and does lead to dead ends but that it is also the way in which evolutionary progress occurs. And of course I decline to accept that my great-grandfather was Bonzo the chimp but do aknowledge that the very idea that Bonzo and I shared a common ancestor at some point in the distant past doesn’t bother me. (What Bonzo thinks about being related to me is for him to say.)

Obviously his assertion that evolutionary progress occurs through “randomness” perpetuates a misunderstanding often heard from creationists. This is not too surprising since Barry should not be expected to be a science expert. I’m sure he was not attempting to deliberately misrepresent evolution. And the business about Bonzo the chimp is classic Barry Lynn rhetoric.

So I caution people to watch for possible errors in Barry Lynn’s statements, though apparently he did a good job in the op-ed mentioned above. I will send him an email (at [Enable javascript to see this email address.]) pointing out the above problem. Barry is a very important voice in the effort to resist inappropriate mingling of church and state and he gets a lot of press. It would be good to insure that his statements about evolution be as accurate as possible.

Tim

Barry is a very important voice in the effort to resist inappropriate mingling of church and state and he gets a lot of press. It would be good to insure that his statements about evolution be as accurate as possible.

I agree Tim and good catch wrt to the “randomness” comment. There are a lot of rhetorical traps to avoid falling into and it’s difficult to remember them unless you spend a few months in the swamp with the apologists (e.g., at the Evangelical Outpost). Perhaps a one page list of 15 or 20 of the most oft-recited Johnsonite Christian catchphrases would be useful to help people avoid falling into the trops. At the top of the list, of course: “worldview”.

Wonder, I understand that you associate the term ‘worldview’ with conservative Christians (although I have seen it used by a wide variety of people). But it has a generic meaning that is useful: www.m-w.com links it to the German word weltanschauung, meaning “a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint”. What word or short phrase would you substitute for this concept?

Mike S.

What word or short phrase would you substitute for this concept?

None. The concept is misleading, divisive and unproductive (I almost said “useless” but I stopped myself – if only Dembski could learn to do the same!!!)

There is no such thing as a “Christian worldview” or an “agnostic worldview” or an “atheist worldview” or a “Muslim worldview”. When someone refers to their “worldview”, they merely mean their “personal opinion”. And they use the term “worldview” because they believe that by doing so they can establish that their opinions are just “different”, i.e., they are based on facts which they observe in “their world” which are different from the facts I observe in “my world.”

I say: poppycock.

And of course many fundamentalist types like to use the term because they hate being referred to as fundamentalist. SO they recite the pleasing phrase, “We just have a different worldview” to explain their toxic behavior and avoid being “unfairly” lumped in with people who have nearly identical views on many subjects but worship a deity with a different name. The bottom line is that the number of people who truly view the ENTIRE WORLD from a “specific” standpoint is very very very small. Most of those people are (1) mentally ill or (2) on drugs.

I’ll happily accept that a person on 500 mics of orange sunshine can sincerely claim to have a different “worldview” than my own (at least for half a day or so).

The bottom line is that the number of people who truly view the ENTIRE WORLD from a “specific” standpoint is very very very small. Most of those people are (1) mentally ill or (2) on drugs.

or, (3) religious fundamentalists, the only group of people I have ever heard use the term.

For all it is worth,

assuming that the English ‘wordview’ actually is synonymous to the German ‘Weltanschauung’, the latter is usually a term to describe a religious or quasi-religious philosophy. It has been invented and is still in use, because of the need to describe groups holding views, which do not exhibit all the hallmarks of a religion - like the believe in some god - but do show distinct similaritie to religions - like a set of central dogmae not open to test or discussion or a distinct soteriology, i.e. teachings about the meaning of life and existence. The dialectical materialism imposed by communist states or some close knit groups with New Age pilosophies would probably fall under this header. So by calling something a ‘Weltanschauung’ a quasi-religious, dogmatic character is asserted. This is clearly something fundamentalists would like to do, as it insinuates nobody having any better reasons to make any claims about reality or ita perception than they have themselves - namely purely dogmatic ones.

GWW Wrote:

There is no such thing as a “Christian worldview” or an “agnostic worldview” or an “atheist worldview” or a “Muslim worldview”. When someone refers to their “worldview”, they merely mean their “personal opinion”. And they use the term “worldview” because they believe that by doing so they can establish that their opinions are just “different”, i.e., they are based on facts which they observe in “their world” which are different from the facts I observe in “my world.”

Well, you’ve changed the question slightly by inserting the modifiers. I disagree that there is no such thing as a definable Christian or Muslim worldview, but we needn’t argue about that. One can still claim that each individual has a particular worldview, regardless of whether they define it as such, or whether any two individuals can share a worldview (more on that below). I think you’ve described the situation incorrectly: it is not that ‘they’ believe that their opinions are based on facts which are different from your facts - it is that they believe that the premises upon which they evaluate those facts are different.

The bottom line is that the number of people who truly view the ENTIRE WORLD from a “specific” standpoint is very very very small. Most of those people are (1) mentally ill or (2) on drugs.

The point is not that someone views the entire world, or that they view it from a precisely defined standpoint - it is that everyone has to evaluate things (i.e. whatever it is they are experiencing or discussing) from some standpoint. While you are undoubtedly correct that very few people are entirely consistent in their evaluations (or the standpoint from which they make their evaluations), that doesn’t mean that there is no consistency to their standpoint. Surely you’re not claiming as a general matter that people are wholly inconsistent in their beliefs?

It seems to me that your strong stance rules out that people will change how they interpret the world if they change from being a theist to an atheist, or vice-versa.

IC that Darrick Dean has taken the “Brave, brave, Sir Robin” approach and turned off commenting on his blog. My, what open minds … and opne discussions.

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This page contains a single entry by Jason Rosenhouse published on February 16, 2005 8:02 PM.

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