More incredible chutzpah from John Mark Reynolds

| 64 Comments

John Mark Reynolds has put up the second part of an essay he is writing on the topic of how young-earth creationists like himself can rationalize sacrificing their scientific honesty on the altar of Biblical inerrancy. Here was my post on part 1.

Here’s a really stunning bit:

Christianity has a general view of the world that accounts for why science works … it allows the cosmos to be a cosmos (ordered) in a deep sense. Secularism lacks the same strength.

Keep in mind that not just any young-earth creationist wrote that, instead it was written by a young-earther who has acknowledged in print that he knows the scientific evidence is massively against a young earth and global flood. How can someone who tosses aside hard data so casually – data accepted by both “secularists” and non-fundamentalist Christians – dare to say that his religious beliefs better support science? Just where does he get off? Why should anyone take him seriously as anything but a reality-denying whacko?

Based on having seen some of his talks and papers, I know Reynolds is a perfectly nice guy, and in general he is rational enough to blend in without scaring people at the supermarket. That’s what makes Reynolds (and other YECs like him, e.g. Paul Nelson and Kurt Wise) so incredibly frustrating. Deep down, they know they’re wrong, and that a literal interpretation of Genesis is hopeless, but they won’t abandon YEC, because of their extremely rigid theology. This is ridiculous enough, but then they have the unbelievable arrogance to get on their high horses and lecture scientists about valuing truth over preconceptions, keeping an open mind, having an “open philosophy of science”, respecting data, and the rest. Gimme a break.

Once we get over sputtering at the spectacle of creationists banging their heads against walls of their own making, we can look at the bright side: these guys are part of the ID movement and the “critical analysis of evolution” movement. Their touch is political and constitutional death in terms of getting the antievolutionists’ junk science taken seriously in the public schools, and is academic death in terms of getting it taken seriously in the universities. They have made it absolutely clear that, for them, it’s all about fundamentalist religion, rather than scientific honesty, and that no amount of scientific data will have an impact on them, if it contradicts their reading of the Bible. All the ID guys can do is attempt to hide them away when convenient, which of course is hopeless if anyone is paying attention at other times.

64 Comments

It’s always a pity when these Christians decide to lie for God. Funny that God doesn’t want this, Romans chapter 3.

From the, er, essay:

Humans with consistent world-views that have no connection to reality are usually found in asylums!

Had to laugh. Humans with inconsistent world-views that have no connection to reality are usually found at The Discovery Institute.

And:

Everyone knows (I hope) that theology is “theory and value laden.” I hope everyone knows the same thing about science. No idea formation takes place in an ideological “clean room.”

I’ll ask again: when did all these conservative Christians get in bed with Fuller and the PoMo Revue? Do they really not see the difference?

Science, by insisting on replicable hypothesis testing and peer-review, will, in time, if not immediately, reject “value laden” conclusions when they are seen not to correspond to nature. What does theology have to check itself against?

Finally:

My own beliefs sometimes conflict like two programs that will not run on my computer at the same time. This is not good and I am working hard to fix this. However I would not trade my problems philosophically and scientifically for those of a true secularist who must reduce everything (including ideas) to matter and energy or who must create his own morality. This appears to me to be an operating system level of difficulty!

Given that facile analogies are all these clowns have to work with, wouldn’t you think they could at least come up with a few that don’t just make them sound stupid?

“A Christian knows why math works…”

Too bad for anyone who is a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, an atheist, or a Pastafarian…

2 + 2 = 5!

John Mark Reynold said,

My own beliefs sometimes conflict like two programs that will not run on my computer at the same time. This is not good and I am working hard to fix this.

He’s been working on coming to terms with reality on the young earth/global flood question at least since 1990 and hasn’t figured it out yet…

Uh… if this is related to “the universe exists because God created it for us,” and I think it is (“Math works for us because God wants it to”?), I just found out that the universe exists because Bruce Schneier needed a reference platform!

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If that is the case, do you disagree with Mooney’s strategy to avoid debating technical details? I’d presume if the facts were on one’s side, one would much rather argue facts.

It all depends on the forum. Here on the web, we are happy to go into details as deep as necessary. However this is not likely to be productive in short TV spots and newspaper articles.

PS: Sadly, I will be going to school in the fall and so I won’t be able to spend much time annoying creationists. So get it while the getting’s good.

Yeah, Sal. I’ve found that employing facts to justify a point of view or a position on just about anything is useful, efficient, succinct and rather enjoyable. The enjoyment is the gravy served over a thick cut of understanding. I have observed that some seem to prefer the gravy over the main course. I guess that is because it is so much easier to chew and it can evoke levity and good humor when it runs down one’s chin and vest.

Well, Sal, perhaps Darwinists will lose the high ground when ID can come up with a theory that can be tested using the scientific method, or at least come up with some data that “Darwinism” cannot explain.

So where’s the evidence?

Do let us know when you’ve got something.

Comment #169100

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on April 10, 2007 6:31 PM (e) | kill

Hiya Nick,

I think Darwinists and the NCSE don’t have to worry about creationism nor/ID officially invading the the public schools system any time soon. As far as the universities, there probably won’t be any creationist nor ID classes en masse anytime soon either.

Considering that the IDers can’t even manage to publish their own journal anymore, no, we’re not too worried.

Sal,

I think Darwinists and the NCSE don’t have to worry about creationism nor/ID officially invading the the public schools system any time soon.

Does this mean Meyer’s textbook project is moribund?

Monado Wrote:

I just found out that the universe exists because Bruce Schneier needed a reference platform!

Your link didn’t work. Besides, everyone knows that the Universe exists to make possible a being that will live in England, an island off the coast of France, and spend his time writing Discworld novels.

Ben (t.o.o.) Wrote:

“A Christian knows why math works…”

… because π = 3.2. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Pi_Bill )

Sal Wrote:

since, in your view, universal acceptance of Darwinism must be inevitable since Darwinist control the high ground in the universities and public schools.

That is your view. ‘ ‘Darwinism’ is a religion’, remember?

Our view is that ID is pseudoscience and DI is ineffectual. Show us the money … ehrm, science!

You can’t deflect your YEC friend’s having to explain his view by discussing what accepted science shows. Except by entertaining us with your own ideas as well. So, what peer-reviewed results on ID has the ID movement generated?

But since that is a null set, more pertinent, how does ID differ from YEC theology? It sure looks like a null set too, from where I stand.

Does this mean Meyer’s textbook project is moribund?

It ain’t moribund, they are selling it at their conf–err, revivals.

Re “because Ï€ = 3.2.”

But π is a circular argument. ;)

So if that’s the case, and if (as Silly Sally says) the DI is no longer interested in worming ID into public schools, this is for the homeschool market then?

Forgive me if this is old news.

I don’t see how this would advance the Wedge strategy, really; any homeschoolers who’d be prone to teaching ID already are (if they’re not teaching full-bore YEC), and there are are plenty of such texts already. I guess the DI just wanted a slice of that pie?

Explore Evolution is a “critical analysis of evolution” book. It pretends it’s not about ID or creationism, and instead it just bashes evolution with the usual bogus creationist arguments and quote-mining of real experts who would never in a thousand years support the spin being put on their work.

The book is certainly aimed at the public schools, in fact it was probably designed specifically for Kansas and Ohio, before they tossed their “critical analysis of evolution” policies.

But you’re right about the Discovery Institute and it’s fellows like Paul Nelson. They have been pretending for the last year or two that they don’t want to teach ID in the public schools, that they just want to make their case to the scientific community, and that they don’t think court cases are a good way to settle issues. Explore Evolution proves that all of that was just BS produced for media consumption. They’re relabeling their creationist junk yet again for another try. It worked great before, why not try again?

You’ll probably see a lot more about this next week.

Looking forward to it. Thanks, Nick!

Nick wrote:

Sadly, I will be going to school in the fall and so I won’t be able to spend much time annoying creationists. So get it while the getting’s good.

Good luck to you, Nick. You’re the best your side has to offer. The internet won’t be the same without you.

Sal

Sal said:

… you’ll be able to retire from the debate and PT can pack up shop since, in your view, universal acceptance of Darwinism must be inevitable since Darwinist control the high ground in the universities and public schools.

Evolution is nearly univerally accepted in the non-fundamentalist world because it has that mountain of evidence on its side, and no other theory of the origins of species does. However, history is filled with large groups of people who chose to order their beliefs according to something other than the evidence, so no, evolution will never be universally accepted. Hell, heliocentrism and the germ theory of disease are not universally accepted, and I doubt the facts of quantum physics would pass acceptance with the man on the street. So why should evolution expect to be ignored any less than any other well-established counter-intuitive, religiously-troubling scientific theory?

Do you disagree with Mooney’s strategy to avoid debating technical details? I’d presume if the facts were on one’s side, one would much rather argue facts.

Argue, yes. Debate, no. There is a reason scientists exchange information primarily in formal papers and journals, and not in live debates. Time simply does not allow for technical subjects to be debated live in the necessary depth, with virtually no limit to the subjects that can be broached. That is why the Gish Gallop is so effective in live debates, but doesn’t work in writing. In writing, every subject raised can be addressed, completely, and with references. Live, half of what he says can’t be addressed in the allotted time.

You guys want to debate? Do it in writing. Confine it to a very limited subject. I suspect you will get plenty of takers. You do notice you don’t have any trouble getting people to debate you here, and many of us think you are only half serious anyway.

I would not trade my problems philosophically and scientifically for those of a true secularist who must reduce everything (including ideas) to matter and energy or who must create his own morality. This appears to me to be an operating system level of difficulty

In other words: freethought is hard! I want my comforting lies!

Let me point you to the Brick Testament, which illustrates the bible in Lego™ blocks and Playmobil™ people in a very straightforward way. The Fate of Judas points out that the ‘inerrant’ bible has Judas dying in two different ways.

And here’s “The Other Fate of Judas” from the Brick Testament.

He said “Christianity has a general view of the world that accounts for why science works”, but you responded as if his assertion were “Christianity has a general view of the world that best fits with current scientific paradigms.” You’ve completely missed the point.

The point is, you’re using some kind of framework that says what “hard data” is, what types of inferences can be justly drawn from such data, that following such methods will result in the best chance of approaching truth, and so forth. One of those inference-types that science requires is inductive inference (–abstracting from specific phenomena to general laws), which in turn presupposes the uniformity of nature (an “ordered” cosmos). Without such a framework (“philosophy of science”), and all that it presupposes (e.g., uniformity of nature), doing science is impossible.

Everyone agrees that Christians and non-Christians do science (i.e., science is possible), but, Reynolds says, only Christians have a worldview that allows for it (as the adage says: everyone can count; not everyone can account for counting). So before you can ask anything about the meaning of “hard data” or how some datum should be interpreted and so on, you have to first get the airplane of the runway and show how science is possible in the first place, given a non-Christian worldview.

Anyhow, I’m not really interested in arguing the point here (I just wanted to clarify his actual argument); and I think that Reynolds and ID are ultimately inconsistent with the argument anyhow (though I believe the argument itself is sound), because they pretend that science and scientists are neutral and so are IDers, so they shoot themselves in the foot at that point (science can’t both presuppose the Christian worldview and not presuppose it–if it does, then all facts are God-created, Christian facts; if it doesn’t then they are non-created, non-Christian facts–can’t have it both ways).

How does one distinguish between “Christian fact” and “non-Christian fact”? I thought that a statement that asserts something would be either correct or incorrect.

Well, without getting into the higher level differences between various theories of truth, theories of fact, models of inquiry, &c., and which of those is consistent with the Christian view of man and the world; just simply considering the most fundamental level, the difference is this:

When a Christian sees a rose in the garden, part of the meaning (or concept, or idea, or whatever you wish to call it) of the rose is “created by the Christian God for a rational purpose in His plan for history.” This is obviously not compatible with a different fundamental view of the rose that includes (or presupposes) propositions like “not-created by the Christian God” or “no purpose in history” or “reason is a pragmatic category created by humans.” So a “Christian rose” is different from a “non-Christian” rose.

Certainly, Christians and non-Christians both communicate about the same rose and understand each other perfectly well, even though, theoretically, they are *not* speaking of the same rose at all. Various explanations are offered for how this is possible, from Wittgenstein’s idea of “family resemblance” and semantic overlap, to Van Til’s view that non-Christians are actually subconsciously assuming the Christian view, and so on.

So, in other words, MonkeeSage, the Old Testament is wrong because it was not written by Christians, and all historical events recorded by all peoples before the advent of Jesus Christ are false?

I don’t believe so. Perhaps we have a different view of Biblical Theology and Salvation History. In my view, the Old Testament was written by authors who held the same basic worldview as Christians do. I don’t believe the NT presents any fundamentally different cosmology, or different relationship between God and man, or what-have-you. The precise understanding of God’s nature and salvation is be expressed more clearly in the NT, but I don’t see that clarification as any kind of revolutionary new view of the world, man or God.

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Eric Finn said:

We take it for granted that a universe (at least one universe) exists and that it has properties amenable to scientific inquiry. This is an ontological assumption and thus part of metaphysics.

I don’t think ‘we’ (the scientific method actually) take anything for granted. It is an observation that it works.

If I would axiomatize science I would try to establish the process and its objects. Say,

Axiom 1. We can do observations. Axiom 2. Scientific observations are repeatable.

… et cetera.

But first we would need a formalized description (definition), and AFAIU everyone has failed. I believe philosophers call their own failure to understand science as “the demarcation problem”.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

But first we would need a formalized description (definition), and AFAIU everyone has failed. I believe philosophers call their own failure to understand science as “the demarcation problem”.

You may have noticed that occasionally I tend to be attracted to the murky waters of philosophy, but I do try to avoid the deep end of the pool.

Regards

Eric

Axiom 1. We can do observations. Axiom 2. Scientific observations are repeatable.

This isn’t an axiom, more like a method, but:

repeatable observations can be used to test accuracy of generalizations about those observations.

Henry

Henry J said:

This isn’t an axiom, more like a method,

Possibly, it was a while since I saw an axiom scheme, so I guess I confused definitions with axioms.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on April 10, 2007 2:04 PM.

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