Public university hires leader in intelligent design

Duoae wrote:

I think one of the sticking points for some people is that they believe that a person with faith must unerringly accept and absorb all aspects of that thing in which they have faith in. This isn't and was never true for the majority of people and it's one of the reasons why there are so many "splitters" (;)) in every form of social endeavour.

Well yes, I understand that. The problem is that if you completely pick and choose what aspects of a religion you believe in, what does it mean to call yourself a member of that faith? Furthermore, it would also mean any claim that "Christianity is good" or "Christianity is evil" is meaningless, because you could never know what a person believes (morally speaking) when they say they are Christian.

Duoae wrote:
Valmorian wrote:

Rubb Ed, if you don't mind me asking, how do you reconcile the clearly laid out prohibition against homosexuality in the Bible with your faith?

I can't speak for him but in my experience with most people who have faith (religious or not) they pretty much pick and choose which bits of whatever it is that they have faith in that they like and leave out the rest.

I think one of the sticking points for some people is that they believe that a person with faith must unerringly accept and absorb all aspects of that thing in which they have faith in. This isn't and was never true for the majority of people and it's one of the reasons why there are so many "splitters" (;)) in every form of social endeavour.

I can't speak for him either, but only a biblical literalist would need to reconcile what the Bible says with their faith. Many Christians view it as the work of humans at the time it was written, not the literal word of god. I mean, it also tells us that the entire world was flooded several thousand years ago, and that the universe is only 6000 or so years old.

Me, I'm tired of people mixing wool and linen. Where's the outrage about that?

clover wrote:

Me, I'm tired of people mixing wool and linen. Where's the outrage about that?

You know, if Biblical literalists actually took the Bible seriously and actually stoned their kids to death for sassing them, it would solve a hell of a lot of problems.

NormanTheIntern wrote:

Just stop. More Catholics voted for Gore than Bush, more Catholics voted for Obama than McCain, more Catholics voted for Obama than Romney. Despite your sweeping generalizations about objective facts and science, I'm really only seeing one kind of irrational prejudice on display here.

IMAGE(http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedImages/Topics/Issues/Politics_and_Elections/exitpoll-1.png)

Source.

Barely more Catholics voted Democratic and those numbers varied over the years (more Catholics voted for Bush than Kerry). But when you strip out Hispanic Catholics you get many more (and a majority of) white Catholics who consistently voted Republican. If the Republicans could figure out how not to be xenophobic assholes, a majority of all Catholics would likely vote for them.

And despite your claims I'm making sweeping generalizations, I'm actually talking about things that are true.

More Catholics are firmly against abortion than are firmly for it: 18% to 16%. 61% of people who attend Church weekly think abortion should be illegal. Your average Catholic parishioner is old and getting older (92% of parishioners were born before 1981 and 53% before 1960), older people have a dimmer view on abortion, and older people vote more (a lot more).

Ok, I'm going to try to find the rails underneath all this debris...

The essential question is this:

Are his Intelligent Design views finding their way in the classroom to the point where the students in his trust are learning things that will actually hurt them when they attempt to enter the job market after their education is finished?

You see, in the US, we can't toss someone out of their job (for the most part) for the thoughts they have, if it doesn't affect their professional conduct. If this guy is teaching all of the scientific facts of astronomy, and doesn't introduce Intelligent Design elements (which, all well-credentialed scientists will agree, regardless of personal belief, amounts to nothing even remotely scientific), there is no basis upon which to remove him from his classroom.

If, however, he's teaching them things that will hurt their prospects in the future, to the exclusion of proper, scientific explanations, he should be fired.

If, ultimately, he mixes the two, in some sort of, "this is the way science tells it, but in actuality god/ambiguous intelligent agent did it this way..." we have something a little less egregious, but ultimately still slightly harmful, and still grounds for dismissal, although a slightly harder fight for a tenured professor. Even so, in this case, we can, perhaps, rely on the students to conclude for themselves which explanation is professionally useful.

If it was to be decided that someone should not work in a profession, even if their performance is satisfactory by professional and scientific standards, because they hold scientifically invalid beliefs, I think we could waste tons of tax dollars to reach the conclusion that a sixth grader with rudimentary knowledge of the constitution could see from the sidelines: you can't do that.

To address the Intelligent Design argument, I'm afraid that, no, it does not amount to science in any regard. You cannot induce results that are in any way useful by proclaiming "god did it." The entire science of astronomy relies upon observation, study, hypotheses and theories. Observation is, of course, not an entirely perfect means of discovering how things work, which is why science changes. You can easily understand and forgive the man who, absent of all other knowledge on the subject, would stand upon the earth and observe that the sun moves around the earth. But other observations, with more perspective, more powerful tools, and testable hypotheses with reproducible results have told us otherwise. If you don't accept these facts, then I suggest you don't use anything with electricity, internal combustion engines, or that operates on the principle of lift. Because god isn't making the lights work in your house, nor your car engine run, nor planes fly.

Duoae wrote:

How many good deeds does it take to offset the terrible, secular acts performed by the British Empire or the USA? How many good deeds does it take the school system to balance out the systemic secular abuse and bigotry suffered in college sports teams? How many good deeds would be needed from men to offset the tens of thousands of secular domestic abuse cases, general denigration and rape of women in all cultures worldwide?

I just can't get your argument when it applies equally to every thought, situation and social structure in the entirety of human history... You seem to think that the horrendous things done by a small subset of humans in one social construct are much, much worse than the horrendous things done by other small subsets of humans in other social constructs. I think that's your personal hatred rather than a logical argument and the counter to it has been pointed out many times in this thread and each time you ignore that counter logic to continue beating the drum.

Why should I expect governments or secular organization to act in a moral manner? That's not their purpose. Neither the British Empire nor the US ever sold itself as the pinnacle of morality, the earthly arbiter of what is good and what is evil, and the only way to save your soul from eternal damnation.

That's the realm of churches so it makes a bit of sense that they should be held to a higher standard when it comes to the morality of the deeds they do. It's the whole people in glass houses routine. They certainly shouldn't get upset when I use the same moral yardstick they judge the world with to judge their actions.

It's like when police or government corruption is uncovered. People view it much more dimly and are more outraged about it than, say, corporate corruption. That's because we expect that the people whose job it is to make and enforce our laws be above reproach because that's their function in our society. I expect churches to be above reproach when it comes to all things moral because that's their role in our society. In fact, that's the role they've made for themselves in our society.

Valmorian wrote:

The problem is that if you completely pick and choose what aspects of a religion you believe in, what does it mean to call yourself a member of that faith?

It means that you identify with more positions of that faith than with other faiths, not that you believe in every doctrine proposed by members of that faith.

Valmorian wrote:

Furthermore, it would also mean any claim that "Christianity is good" or "Christianity is evil" is meaningless, because you could never know what a person believes (morally speaking) when they say they are Christian.

Why is that a problem? The more you know about any cultural group or issue, the more statements like these seem limiting and shallow.

Funkenpants wrote:

It means that you identify with more positions of that faith than with other faiths, not that you believe in every doctrine proposed by members of that faith.

Well sure, but many of those doctrines proposed aren't very minor things. The idea of sin isn't just a footnote, it's a very important part of Christianity. Because of that, knowing which things are sins is equally important. The only guide we have for that in Christianity is what is said in the bible. I'd suspect the number of Christians that DON'T think homosexuality is a sin would be the minority, given how clear the bible is on that point.

Why is that a problem? The more you know about any cultural group or issue, the more statements like these seem limiting and shallow.

It's not a problem for ME, I don't think religious people are good or evil as a group. There's no shortage of people who use "Christian" as a synonym with "moral", though, which I think is a mistake. I DO think that faith based beliefs are dangerous, as well.

Valmorian wrote:
Funkenpants wrote:

It means that you identify with more positions of that faith than with other faiths, not that you believe in every doctrine proposed by members of that faith.

Well sure, but many of those doctrines proposed aren't very minor things. The idea of sin isn't just a footnote, it's a very important part of Christianity. Because of that, knowing which things are sins is equally important. The only guide we have for that in Christianity is what is said in the bible. I'd suspect the number of Christians that DON'T think homosexuality is a sin would be the minority, given how clear the bible is on that point.

Then you don't know many Christians then. I've yet to meet a catholic or protestant in the UK who think homosexuality is a sin. Weird, distasteful? Sure. But then they legalised civil partnerships... Even the protestant church came out officially welcoming the move by the government. I don't remember what response the catholic church officially had.

There are effectively two covenants in the bible, old testament and new. Supposedly, the new testament (with jesus' death) started a new slate so everything that came before is a moot point. Jesus was very adamant about being nice to everyone (i can't remember if homosexuality is ever called out in the NT) and that is contrary, at least in my reading, to that teaching.*

Why is that a problem? The more you know about any cultural group or issue, the more statements like these seem limiting and shallow.

It's not a problem for ME, I don't think religious people are good or evil as a group. There's no shortage of people who use "Christian" as a synonym with "moral", though, which I think is a mistake. I DO think that faith based beliefs are dangerous, as well.

All beliefs are by definition based on "faith".

* I should clarify that I mean hatred of those who are different.

Valmorian wrote:

Well sure, but many of those doctrines proposed aren't very minor things. The idea of sin isn't just a footnote, it's a very important part of Christianity. Because of that, knowing which things are sins is equally important. The only guide we have for that in Christianity is what is said in the bible. I'd suspect the number of Christians that DON'T think homosexuality is a sin would be the minority, given how clear the bible is on that point.

If there's anything even a casual reading of the history of the Christian faith will tell us, it's that nobody agrees that a single section of the bible is the definitive rule on anything. You can't cram 2000 years of people arguing what it means to be a true christian into a single paragraph. I'm not a christian and am not up on all the doctrines, but theological disagreements over the role of the bible, who controls doctrine, who leads the church, whether there should be hierarchy of priests, etc. - these are constantly underway.

It's not a problem for ME, I don't think religious people are good or evil as a group. There's no shortage of people who use "Christian" as a synonym with "moral", though, which I think is a mistake. I DO think that faith based beliefs are dangerous, as well.

Sometimes dangerous, sure. But people hold many beliefs that aren't easily broken down into purely rationalistic or scientific concepts, including many (if not most) moral codes. For example, there are many decisions we make for government based on the nebulous concept of what is "fair," even though if you asked 10 people to define "fair" you'd get at least several different standards. Some might ask what Jesus would do, and some might quote Solomon, and some might use a calculator and system of analysis invented by a harvard professor. These are all just potential sources of ideas that our brains use to evaluate situations.

There are many doctrines in the christian system that I find admirable and attractive, which is one reason I don't think it's worthwhile to bash it wholeheartedly.

Duoae wrote:

All beliefs are by definition based on "faith".

I'm afraid this is incorrect. You see, if I hop, I believe that my feet will come to the ground again. And, as long as I'm standing on anything with a reasonably strong gravitational field, I also happen to know that will happen, because it can be tested and reproduced. And has been. Knowledge is actually a subset of belief, and I don't think you'd say knowledge is based on faith.

To put it another way, let's look at a common myth most of us have shared in the past, but no longer do, in Santa Claus. I don't think any one of us can say that, as children, especially of the age where we would easily be cajoled into belief of Santa Claus, we had any concept of the use or efficacy of faith. No, we believed the mythos because we were told by people we trusted. And the concept of deception was not something we understood entirely yet, even though we could make use of it. In addition to that, to actually further emphasize just how much humans understand the value of evidence, even if superficially many religious individuals claim the "value" of faith, our parents would often go through some effort to provide us with evidence. Cookies and milk put out the night before would be gone. Letters from Santa would be left behind. I have even heard of particularly elaborate and detailed efforts put forth to provide even further evidence of the mythos. With all of this on our plates as children, we didn't have faith in Santa Claus, we had evidence. We had knowledge. Anyone who asks a child if they believe in Santa Claus is approaching from the perspective of an adult with the knowledge that he doesn't exist, and that, therefore, it must take faith to believe in him. But even in the face of that child's "knowledge," it's not an incorrect approach to call it belief. Because while that child may have been convinced by evidence, and thus know Santa Claus exists, regardless of its veracity, that knowledge is still a subset of belief. It only becomes faith-based belief when the child holds on to the idea in the face of contradictory claims.

Valmorian wrote:

Rubb Ed, if you don't mind me asking, how do you reconcile the clearly laid out prohibition against homosexuality in the Bible with your faith?

Honestly? I'm not religious, like at all. I don't know where I fit into anything. At best, I'm an agnostic theist, since I think there is some form of higher power, but I haven't the foggiest clue what it is, or how to interact with it.

But insofar as the Bible goes, I admit being in a relationship with an ordained minister who reads Aramaic and Koine Greek helps with understanding more about what it has said. The thing is that the Bible most people think of nowadays isn't necessarily what the Bible as originally written looks like. There's a lot of translation issues that have come up, which is, in part, what helps me reconcile what it says vs. what I know.

The other aspect of it is that I recognize the Bible as being part of the time in which it was written, when Jews and Christians were minorities. In those circumstances, when they were trying to keep their tribe from dying out, I can totally understand a prohibition against homosexuality. However, nowadays, not having enough people in your tribe for Christians isn't an issue. So, like most of the other Levitican laws, I don't put too much effort into thinking they should be kept around.

Duoae wrote:

Then you don't know many Christians then. I've yet to meet a catholic or protestant in the UK who think homosexuality is a sin.

*shrug* I know a lot more Christians that do consider it a sin. They don't discriminate, but they still think the act is sinful.

There are effectively two covenants in the bible, old testament and new. Supposedly, the new testament (with jesus' death) started a new slate so everything that came before is a moot point. Jesus was very adamant about being nice to everyone (i can't remember if homosexuality is ever called out in the NT) and that is contrary, at least in my reading, to that teaching.*

The problem with the "new covenant" explanation is that the same people who make this claim will turn around and cite the 10 commandments as authoritative... ...which would be part of the "old covenant". And yes, homosexuality is mentioned in the new testament, though not nearly as explicitly as in the OT.

In addition, nothing about considering homosexuality a sin would necessitate not being nice to someone. Those are not contradictory things, as the oft quoted "Love the sinner, hate the sin" phrase indicates.

All beliefs are by definition based on "faith".

Only if you equivocate different meanings of the word "faith".

Rubb Ed wrote:

Honestly? I'm not religious, like at all. I don't know where I fit into anything. At best, I'm an agnostic theist, since I think there is some form of higher power, but I haven't the foggiest clue what it is, or how to interact with it.

Ah, I can totally understand that.

Funkenpants wrote:

Sometimes dangerous, sure. But people hold many beliefs that aren't easily broken down into purely rationalistic or scientific concepts, including many (if not most) moral codes.

Agreed, but I don't think that's a GOOD thing. It is our responsibility to strive to have our beliefs be based upon true claims as much as possible. Faith is not a valid path to that, as it can only reach a true conclusion by chance.

Valmorian wrote:

Agreed, but I don't think that's a GOOD thing. It is our responsibility to strive to have our beliefs be based upon true claims as much as possible.

Philosophers and scientists can't agree on the definition of truth, so you may be reaching a bit too high there. The psychology of perception, decision making, the ability of the brain to evaluate and calculate - these aren't even close to being fully understood. How would you calculate the truth of what is "fair"?

Funkenpants wrote:

Philosophers and scientists can't agree on the definition of truth, so you may be reaching a bit too high there. The psychology of perception, decision making, the ability of the brain to evaluate and calculate - these aren't even close to being fully understood. How would you calculate the truth of what is "fair"?

We can strive towards truth without being certain of absolute truth. Or do you really believe that all beliefs are equally valid?

Four pages and not one joke referencing "You've got a degree in baloney?"

As was mentioned before, if it's an objective course on the history of creationism and it's evolution into intelligent design in relationship to scientific fields taught by an impartial professor? That'd be different. What they have started is a trend of hiring folks teaching what is supposed to be science with a sympathetic ear to creationist ideals.

You go on and dig your own grave, BSU. That's a fine line to walk and seems very easy to fall on the side of woo.

Valmorian wrote:

We can strive towards truth without being certain of absolute truth. Or do you really believe that all beliefs are equally valid?

It depends on whether the belief can be demonstrated objectively to be false, and that covers only a limited number of subjects. Worse, science is filled with theories about how the world works, and we know many of these theories will eventually be proven wrong. But we don't know which ones are wrong at any given moment.

And it goes further than that. The philosophers say that is very difficult to determine an objective truth because of the nature of perception, the limits of our senses, and the mechanics of cognition. A lot of decisions we make in the world are going to be based on our own perceptions, experiences, and imperfect understanding of what is happening around us. Some of these decision may be based on what could be called truth, and some may not, but we're often not certain which decisions fit into which boxes. So it pays to at least acknowledge the potential limits of our conception of truth.

Funkenpants wrote:

It depends on whether the belief can be demonstrated objectively to be false, and that covers only a limited number of subjects.

Like, say, that the earth is less than 10000 years old. Or that Dinosaurs walked at the same time as man.

And it goes further than that. The philosophers say that is very difficult to determine an objective truth because of the nature of perception, the limits of our senses, and the mechanics of cognition.

Again, as I said, you can strive towards truth without actually being able to obtain it. You don't need to know if a given belief is objectively true in all cases, but when given two competing beliefs, the one based upon reason and evidence should win out. THIS is why people are upset about a scientist teaching in college being a creationist. Here is someone who is supposedly an adherent of the scientific method completely ignoring it when it comes to his faith based beliefs.

Funkenpants wrote:
Valmorian wrote:

We can strive towards truth without being certain of absolute truth. Or do you really believe that all beliefs are equally valid?

It depends on whether the belief can be demonstrated objectively to be false, and that covers only a limited number of subjects. Worse, science is filled with theories about how the world works, and we know many of these theories will eventually be proven wrong. But we don't know which ones are wrong at any given moment.

And it goes further than that. The philosophers say that is very difficult to determine an objective truth because of the nature of perception, the limits of our senses, and the mechanics of cognition. A lot of decisions we make in the world are going to be based on our own perceptions, experiences, and imperfect understanding of what is happening around us. Some of these decision may be based on what could be called truth, and some may not, but we're often not certain which decisions fit into which boxes. So it pays to at least acknowledge the potential limits of our conception of truth.

You've convinced me! Since science can only give us our best estimate of what is real instead of Absolute Eternal Truth I now believe in the power of crystals and fictional Bronze Age carpenters! Someone, quick, grab me a dowsing rod!

Valmorian wrote:

You don't need to know if a given belief is objectively true in all cases, but when given two competing beliefs, the one based upon reason and evidence should win out.

Sure. And that's helpful in some cases and useless in others, because we lack the data or cognitive ability to establish which is which in many cases. Or interpreting the data is subject to bias.

For example, we've moved from a time when science considered homosexuality a disease to a time when they say it's not a disease. Did we really discover any new facts, or was it just a change in culture based on emotional thinking and sympathy? How do you begin to prove what "equality" is? There's a quality to that word that goes beyond rational thinking and is really better understood as the result of group decision-making. What is "fair" at any given moment depends on who is in the room, and the distinction is important because many of the decisions we make as a society are based in the concept of "fairness," even though science doesn't have the tools to measure it.

This is straying a bit far from the evolutionary debate, but it's worth considering when we begin to think that religious people make decisions based in fantasy and athiests base their decisions on reality. It's not so simple as that.

Valmorian wrote:

THIS is why people are upset about a scientist teaching in college being a creationist. Here is someone who is supposedly an adherent of the scientific method completely ignoring it when it comes to his faith based beliefs.

He's teaching to the curriculum, not his own beliefs, right?

ruhk wrote:
Funkenpants wrote:
Valmorian wrote:

We can strive towards truth without being certain of absolute truth. Or do you really believe that all beliefs are equally valid?

It depends on whether the belief can be demonstrated objectively to be false, and that covers only a limited number of subjects. Worse, science is filled with theories about how the world works, and we know many of these theories will eventually be proven wrong. But we don't know which ones are wrong at any given moment.

And it goes further than that. The philosophers say that is very difficult to determine an objective truth because of the nature of perception, the limits of our senses, and the mechanics of cognition. A lot of decisions we make in the world are going to be based on our own perceptions, experiences, and imperfect understanding of what is happening around us. Some of these decision may be based on what could be called truth, and some may not, but we're often not certain which decisions fit into which boxes. So it pays to at least acknowledge the potential limits of our conception of truth.

You've convinced me! Since science can only give us our best estimate of what is real instead of Absolute Eternal Truth I now believe in the power of crystals and fictional Bronze Age carpenters! Someone, quick, grab me a dowsing rod!

Man, I'm really glad I'm not easily insulted, because people can be down right mean here.

Funkenpants wrote:

For example, we've moved from a time when science considered homosexuality a disease to a time when they say it's not a disease. Did we really discover any new facts, or was it just a change in culture based on emotional thinking and sympathy? How do you begin to prove what "equality" is? There's a quality to that word that goes beyond rational thinking and is really better understood as the result of group decision-making. What is "fair" at any given moment depends on who is in the room, and the distinction is important because many of the decisions we make as a society are based in the concept of "fairness," even though science doesn't have the tools to measure it.

I don't think you're following me. I'm not saying you have to determine morality from science itself (you couldn't, because morality must have a basis of a desired outcome). What I'm saying is that if you want to make a decision, if you are relying upon faith to tell you what the world is like, you might as well be guessing.

The reason faith is dangerous isn't because it's always wrong, but because it doesn't have any meaningful correlation with the real world. Since we live in the real world, if we are making decisions based upon false information, we are likely to end up with undesirable consequences. Hence, it is to our benefit to make sure our understanding of the world is as accurate as possible.

He's teaching to the curriculum, not his own beliefs, right?

That he may be, but a scientist who thinks that the scientific method is exempt in cases where it contradicts his faith is something to be concerned about. If you had an English professor who claimed that French as a language didn't have any valid influence in the world, a college hiring him would be considered suspect, and for good reason!

The Conformist wrote:

Man, I'm really glad I'm not easily insulted, because people can be down right mean here.

I don't think that's mean. Funkenpants is doing the philosophical equivalent to the argument that "Since we can't catch all criminals, law enforcement isn't valid."

Valmorian wrote:
The Conformist wrote:

Man, I'm really glad I'm not easily insulted, because people can be down right mean here.

I don't think that's mean. Funkenpants is doing the philosophical equivalent to the argument that "Since we can't catch all criminals, law enforcement isn't valid."

Not to speak for The Conformist, but I think it's a reference to the tone OG_Slinger particularly, and some other posters are using to denigrate people of faith, and things that they hold very dear, in a thread that really doesn't call for it.

Seriously. Look at how you're speaking, think about the Reddit-levels of smug self-satisfaction that are being generated, and maybe take a step back. Hell, maybe even apologize.

Tanglebones wrote:

Seriously. Look at how you're speaking, think about the Reddit-levels of smug self-satisfaction that are being generated, and maybe take a step back. Hell, maybe even apologize.

What are you talking about? I have nothing bad to say about religious people themselves. I think all faith based belief is dangerous, but I don't think religious people are stupid, or bad, or evil.

What would you have me apologize FOR? For thinking that believing things without evidence is a bad idea?

One of the first things I learned in an intro Astronomy course was how Edwin Hubble established that the universe is expanding, and how that allows us one method of dating the age of the universe. If Gonzalez is in any way a Young Earth Creationist, then that would directly affect how he conducts his research and teaching, since he'd be biased against the usual aging methods based on his religious beliefs, not on accumulated data.

Valmorian wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Seriously. Look at how you're speaking, think about the Reddit-levels of smug self-satisfaction that are being generated, and maybe take a step back. Hell, maybe even apologize.

What are you talking about? I have nothing bad to say about religious people themselves. I think all faith based belief is dangerous, but I don't think religious people are stupid, or bad, or evil.

What would you have me apologize FOR? For thinking that believing things without evidence is a bad idea?

Well, I meant that in the generalized sense of 'you', but if you, Valmorian, wanted me to be specific, I'd say that trying to logic shame people out of their religion in a GWJ thread is incredibly rude.