Off for the Weekend

Okay, this is just to everyone know that I’m off for the weekend, and won’t be around till Tuesday. So, if you want to debate something or raise a question, wait til then. I hope everyone has a great weekend, and look forward to coming back to this on Tuesday.

46 Responses to “Off for the Weekend”

  1. Feyd Says:

    Have a great one Beast. God bless everyone on your excellent blog!

  2. Pierre Says:

    What Feyd said, have fun!

  3. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks, Feyd and Pierre! I certainly will do my best. 🙂 God bless you, and everyone else on the Blog.

  4. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    In the link above I’m guessing that the cute little red haired gal is the aforementioned Kelly, of RR.

    Oh, BOTHER. Too bad she’s not quite that smiley on their actual blogsite.

    What a shame.

    In any case I’m under the weather with a lung issue and will not be around except hovering near the blog site when I have a chance to log in. I;’ll let BR and you guys know when I can get around to doing the more grave posts. For now, something a little more uplifting and lighthearted. Sort the realm of the nebulae and the angels.

  5. Frank Walton Says:

    Welp, by the time you read this you’ll probably be back. Your articles are rad. Keep them up.

  6. Ilíon Says:

    Mr Walton, you’d best be careful there … Beastie’s pet “epitome of rationality” is sure to accuse you of … hmmm, BR doesn’t like the term being used … well, the term has to do with noses, yours specifically, and the color thereof.

  7. Rich Says:

    Ah… introspection!

  8. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the best wishes, Feyd, Wakefield, Pierre, Ilion and Frank. I had a great time at the weekend catching up with friends. I’m now back, but it might be a few days before I put up another blog post as I’ve got one or two things I have to catch up with here.

    As for the terms used in certain accusations of sycophancy from some quarters, well, I don’t expect internet debates to be models of genteel decorum. However, this just seemed to me to be little more than personal abuse.

  9. Ilíon Says:

    But I like to tease; and the further into the past or the more private-joke the reference of the tease, the better.

  10. Ilíon Says:

    Saturn Moon Falsifies Atheism 😉

  11. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    NOW THAT was funny!

    And I might add that I have new found respect for the Brits’ affinity for 4 PM tea time.

    And apparently the rulars of Saturn are using that planet as a teacup while they ponder things over elsewhere in the solar system.

    this one is a little denser–but a goodie:

    the problem of evil has a new face, if in fact the “Problem” is what you think. Are Lions evil? Well, not to get into the argument over things being unpleasant as being a distinct property from true “evil” (which I’ve always thought of as a HUMAN condition, or Satanic, or demonic, but NOT part of the animal world..hmmmm…).

    But it seems others think that along with what Paul said in that all of creation trevails and groans and we have things like predation due to HUMAN failings (due to the Fall), evil from man also effects other parts of creation that don’t even have cognitive reasoning on this matter.

    That is kinda troublesome for me. CS Lewis is quoted as saying that personaly he (and there are some others of note who say this too) knows that probably predation and killing came BEFORE the events in the Garden.

    So wither God’s soverignty? No. Dembski has another possibility. All this was foreseen and planned for, and while lions ate the lambs, this was taken into account before humanity, via kairos, the planning of time, vs. kronos, the numerical counting of time. IE–while we are still responsible for the Fall and having animals go bad along with ourselves, the results of this were made manifest before the Fall.

    In any case, unlike Lewis, who offered no real solution but was aware of the issue, Demski seems to indicate that YES, unpleasant things ARE equal in a way to true “evil” as commonly defined and that YES we are responisble, just not in the linear way we think.

    Thought you’d all find this a fascinating read, especially since the Argument from Reason from Lewis was also of note here!

  12. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    It would probably smooth things along if I added the link:

    Click to access 2006.05.christian_theodicy.pdf

  13. Ilíon Says:

    Yes, I’ve read it. In fact, I may … purely accidentally … have been one of the very first persons in the “general public” to have read it.

    What I mean is that I was up late one night, reading stuff on the web. The link to that document was added to the page while I was perusing it; the document wasn’t there and then after a browser refresh, it was.

    My opinion: pretty good, though still leaving the average believer scratching his head, and sure to be completely rejected by the God-haters.

  14. Wakefield Tolbert Says:


    Well it WAS interesting that we have basically three approaches here to the issue of “evil”–Demski takes the ground that while lions are not evil per se, the UNPLEASANTRY of what they do was preordained by God to show us certain moral and ethical contrasts. Now St. Paul talks about the whole earth groaning due to man. But his statement is generally taken to be a timebound one due to the Fall. And in linear time from that moment on. CS Lewis said he knew that since predation was before the Fall, then HOW could this be? No answer.

    Demski is apparently saying that providence designed predation before humans to show us the contrasts.

    The other solution is to simply take the short circuit and declare that predation is not ebil per se any more than a child munching on morning oatmeal, etc. The problem here is that we are back to Paul, who mentioned the gore and blood of the earth and why things don’t work out.

    So the Demski claim is that while certain actions are not “evil” per se, they are UNPLEASANT and still due to human sin at the Fall. Else such things would not exist. Now this amuses (no doubt) our non-theist friends who’d ask sarcastically: How can humanity be responsible for other animals’ actions? And they have a thin point here. MORAL terms like good vs. evil and ethics are HUMAN judgements and from human perceptions.

    Morals involve the issue of “intentionality.” After all, in answer to the Darwiniacs, if morals are some “emergent” biological property they have no explanitory power for many moral issues that don’t involved egg production and mere survival of the human genome. Just as BR mentioned also, morals are to be chosen for their own sake and not some kind of hardwired gene code that is but one of billions of survival mechanisms. And I have to agree.

    Yet Paul (and one assumes being a Pharisee he KNEW the Hebrew Law better than most one what was traditionally the explanation of human evil) places it at OUT feet. And none other. Lewis mentioned Satan, I think, and the dark angels as having an evil that preceded humanity and this is probable, I guess, but he is not mentioned as the prime source of evil, since humanity, not Satan, was the former proprietor charged with handling earthbound issues and organic life. This is not to say that Satan could not have had something to do with bad things at all. No doubt he does, but humanity, not the Devil, was the original source in Scriputre for the sorry state of the world by tradition.

  15. Rich Says:

    It would say something about your ‘creator” as well, I would suggest.

  16. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    RICH: It would say something about your ‘creator” as well, I would suggest.

    That would depend on just what you think is the Creator, and what your expectations are:

    While I don’t agree with my pal JP Holding over on Tektonics on all things, he’s had an interesting answer on this front. He points out that we have a creampuff socieyt in the West generally far removed from the Hell that IS very much thought of in the Third World, and so in the West these kinds of observations about life’s trails can be purely academic over hot tea or coffee (we yanks are more into coffee, see….) He points out that even were all this the case for ALL of us (and I am NOT downplaying true loss and sadness to anyone) we have to understand the Scriptures were not written specifically for us but mankind as a whole. God does not cater. And what is that famous phrase : “God is no respector of persons”–best translated as meaning no one is favored over another or has more or less worth. Things happen for reasons sometimes we can’t place together all the time but He has to work out.

    Famous Gospel Singer Ethel Waters was the product of a rape. She had a great career and apparently God saw fit to make something of her life.

    As is one of my neighbors who’s sought solice in such things. I told her had she not been destined to be here, she wouldn’t be. See also Romans 8:28 on this one.

    ID does not in itself a bolstering of Scripture. This is the most glaring evidence that since it accepts general old earth timelines and snowbanks and treering analysis, it is not, as our pal PTET suggests “Creationism in a Tux, dressed up for the night…”

    Having said that, in MY OPINION, Rich, to say things like “the world is a nasty place, thus God is nasty or careless or evil Himself” might impress some people or cast dark shadows of doubt, but this is the Argument from Outrage. Where is the demarcation line here?

    If I merely have a bad hair day or bounce a check or spend time in the cold rain like today due to a dead battery–while this all means something is lacking (maybe MY bad planning, not God’s), and since I can imagine a better place to be, does this indicate a God who dosen’t care?

    Not necessarily. Where do we draw the line on “bad things happening” means you have a lousy Creator or a pernicious one?


    You might like these also:

    I know BR got some flack for this notion that Darwinian thought can be a cultish type religion in itself:

    Well–some think so, even her defenders. One can always work it in. And there’s no doubt a reason for this:

    Jeremy Rifkin (b. 1943) Web

    We no longer feel ourselves to be guests in someone else’s home and therefore obliged to make our behavior conform with a set of pre-existing cosmic rules. It is our creation now. We make the rules. We establish the parameters of reality. We create the world, and because we do, we no longer feel beholden to outside forces. We no longer have to justify our behavior, for we are now the architects of the universe. We are responsible to nothing outside ourselves, for we are the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever.

    Michael Ruse (b. 1940) Editor of the Cambridge University Press Series in the Philosophy of Biology Web Amazon GBS AV

    Since making this claim, Popper himself has modified his position somewhat; but, disclaimers aside, I suspect that even now he does not really believe that Darwinism in its modern form is genuinely falsifiable. If one relies heavily on natural selection and sexual selection, simultaneously downplaying drift, which of course is what the neo-Darwinian does do, then Popper feels that one has a nonfalsifiable theory. And, certainly, many followers agree that there is something conceptually flawed with Darwinism. Darwinism Defended (1982) p.133 †

    Darwinism is a theory about causes in the biological world. It tries to give answers to questions about the way in which organic types develop and change over time, showing also why organisms today are as they are. But, although Darwinism is a theory of biological causation, it invites questions beyond its own strict domain. Naturally — almost inevitably — one is led back in time to ask questions about ultimate origins: where did life come from in the first place? Thus, at a very minimum, complementing Darwinism, as it were, we could use a theory of the first production of life: a theory of chemical evolution perhaps? Darwinism Defended (1982) p.156

    Darwinism is more than just a self-contained scientific theory. It touches at chords and beliefs of the most fundamental kind, stirring us in a way that only the greatest ideas can. Part of this reason today is because it mirrors and in turn illuminates a social philosophy which is dear to the heart of all civilized people. No apology or defense is necessary. Darwinism Defended (1982) p.280-1

    Finally, in this brief survey, let me prick the smugness of those of us who do not live and work in the United States. Already, the influence of Creationism has spread beyond the borders. In Canada, for instance, thin the province of British Columbia, at least one school board gives Creationism equal time in biology classes. In parts of Alberta, apparently, one has nothing Creationism taught! And, teachers in many other provinces are warned to tread very carefully around the subject of evolutionism. But, perhaps the most incredible sign of the success of Creationism has occurred in England, at the Natural History branch of the British Museum, of all places. In a major exhibition, on the “Origin of Species,” mounted in 1981 by the Museum to mark its centenary, Creationism was openly portrayed as an alternative to Darwinism. This if the “equal time” doctrine with a vengeance, indeed! Thomas Henry Huxley must be turning in his grave.

    Obviously, the present-day Creationists are people to be reckoned with, and “Scientific Creationism” is a doctrine which cannot be ignored. Darwinism Defended (1982) p.293 †

    Nevertheless, I have now come to see that our biological origins do make a difference, and that they can and should be a starting-point for philosophy today. Taking Darwin Seriously (1986) p. xiii †

    Now, for the first time, one could confidently suspend belief in any kind of God. The Natural development of organisms explains everything, most especially adaptation. Even if you did not want to become a full-blown atheist, you could become what Darwin’s already mentioned supporter, T.H. Huxley, labeled an ‘agnostic’, neither believer nor disbeliever (Huxley, 1900). However, excluding or distancing God in this fashion raises with some urgency the major problems of philosophy. If God (perhaps) does not exist, wherein lie the guarantees of knowledge and of truth? Possibly all is subjective illusion. If God does not exist, wherein lies the force of morality? Why should we not do precisely what we please, cheating and lying and stealing, to serve our own ends? Dry answers by philosophers aiming for purely secular answers tended not to convince.

    Evolution destroyed the final foundations of traditional belief. To many people, it was evolution that would provide the foundations of a new belief-system. Evolution would lead to a deeper and truer understanding of the problems of knowledge. Evolution would lead to a deeper and true understanding of the nature of morality. Thus were born (what are known now as) ‘evolutionary epistemology’ and ‘evolutionary ethics’. Taking Darwin Seriously (1986) p.30†

    Popper’s new kinds of variation would not be adequate anyway. Plants show intricate adaptations – just as great as those of animals—and yet they are virtually without behaviour. Obviously, they cannot evolve in the way supposed by Popper. So why suppose it for animals? Taking Darwin Seriously (1986) p.64 †

    The importance of the Scientific Revolution for philosophy is beyond question. Modern philosophy – the work of both rationalists and empiricists would have been impossible without great advances in physics. Analogously, therefore, we could anticipate that the Darwinian Revolution will have important implications for philosophy. Indeed, I would go further and say that we might expect Darwin’s work to have even greater implications for philosophy than those of physics. The theory of evolution through natural selection impinges so directly on our own species. It is not just that we are on a speck of dust whirling around in the void but that we ourselves are no more than transformed apes. If such a realization is not to affect our views of epistemology and ethics, I do not know what is. As I said in the Preface, I find it inconceivable that it is irrelevant to the foundations of philosophy whether we are the end result of a slow natural evolutionary process, or made miraculously in God’s own image on a Friday, some 6,000 years ago. Taking Darwin Seriously (1986) p.274-275 †

    I always find when I meet creationists or non-evolutionists or critics or whatever, I find it a lot easier to hate them in print than I do in person. Speech at ‘The New Antievolutionism’ symposium February 13,1993 †

    But we did talk much more about the whole question of metaphysics, the whole question of philosophical bases. And what Johnson was arguing was that, at a certain level, the kind of position of a person like myself, an evolutionist, is metaphysically based at some level, just as much as the kind of position of let us say somebody, some creationist, someone like Gish or somebody like that. And to a certain extent, I must confess, in the ten years since I performed, or I appeared, in the creationism trial in Arkansas, I must say that I’ve been coming to this kind of position myself. Speech at ‘The New Antievolutionism’ symposium February 13,1993 †

    I think that we should recognize, both historically and perhaps philosophically, certainly that the science side has certain metaphysical assumptions built into doing science, which — it may not be a good thing to admit in a court of law — but I think that in honesty that we should recognize, and that we should be thinking about some of these sorts of things. Speech at ‘The New Antievolutionism’ symposium February 13,1993 †

    It’s certainly been the case that evolution has functioned, if not as a religion as such, certainly with elements akin to a secular religion. Those of us who teach philosophy of religion always say there’s no way of defining religion by a neat, necessary and sufficient condition. The best that you can do is list a number of characteristics, some of which all religions have, and none of which any religion, whatever or however you sort of put it. And certainly, there’s no doubt about it, that in the past, and I think also in the present, for many evolutionists, evolution has functioned as something with elements which are, let us say, akin to being a secular religion. Speech at ‘The New Antievolutionism’ symposium February 13,1993 †

    Certainly, though, as I say, for Thomas Henry Huxley, I don’t think there’s any question but that evolution functioned, at a level, as a kind of secular religion…If you look both at his printed stuff, and if you go down to Rice University which has got all his private papers, again and again in the letters, it comes through very strongly that for Julian Huxley evolution was functioning as a kind of secular religion…I think that today also, for more than one eminent evolutionist, evolution in a way functions as a kind of secular religion…Certainly, if you look for instance in On Human Nature, Wilson is quite categorical about wanting to see evolution as the new myth, and all sorts of language like this. That for him, at some level, it’s functioning as a kind of metaphysical system. Speech at ‘The New Antievolutionism’ symposium February 13,1993 †

    And it seems to me very clear that at some very basic level, evolution as a scientific theory makes a commitment to a kind of naturalism, namely, that at some level one is going to exclude miracles and these sorts of things, come what may. Speech at ‘The New Antievolutionism’ symposium February 13,1993 †

    I think that philosophically that one should be sensitive to what I think history shows, namely, that evolution, just as much as religion — or at least, leave “just as much,” let me leave that phrase — evolution, akin to religion, involves making certain a priori or metaphysical assumptions, which at some level cannot be proven empirically. I guess we all knew that, but I think that we’re all much more sensitive to these facts now. And I think that the way to deal with creationism, but the way to deal with evolution also, is not to deny these facts, but to recognize them, and to see where we can go, as we move on from there. Speech at ‘The New Antievolutionism’ symposium February 13,1993 †

    I think it’s incumbent upon us who take this particular creationism – evolution debate seriously, to be sensitive to these facts, and not simply put our heads in the sand, and say, well, if we take this sort of stuff seriously, we’re in deep trouble. Perhaps we are. But I don’t think that the solution is just by simply ignoring them. Speech at ‘The New Antievolutionism’ symposium February 13,1993 †

    I am sure that my Quaker background prepared me for philosophy and its cleansing actions, for from a tender age I had been used to argument rather than faith. No doubt this unique version of Christianity which has no creed or ritual or any of the other paraphernalia associated with most religions made the slide to skepticism and atheism fairly easy. Although, unlike many of my friends, neither then nor now did/do I develop a passionate hatred of Christianity. Zygon March 1994 p.26 †

    It is probably because I do have an intensely religious nature – using this term in a secular sense, as one might apply it to other nonbelievers like Thomas Henry Huxley — that I was attracted toward evolution. Speaking in an entirely secular manner, I do not believe that people come to evolution by chance. From Herbert Spencer (1892) to Edward O. Wilson (1978), it has functioned as a kind of Weltanschauung, a world picture which gives meaning to life. It is something that acts as a foundation for the big questions which we humans face. Yet, in those early years, this was not apparent to me — at least, it was not a matter of great interest to me. Zygon March 1994 p.26 †

    Indeed, some might even point to the fact that they themselves have tried to produce an ideologically acceptable evolutionism. I think, for example, of the work of the Marxist biologists Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins. By their own admission, they have openly attempted to put their philosophy in to their science, explicitly endorsing holistic approaches, trying to analyse nature in a hierarchical manner, standing against the ‘reductionism’ which is the mark of so much of modern science. Evolutionary Naturalism (1995) p. 212 †

    Lyell found his approach to geology attractive because it alone satisfied his deistic concept of theology. But Lyellian geology, molded as it was by religion, was probably the major influence in bringing about Darwinian evolutionism, though the parent was not altogether happy with the child. The Darwinian Revolution (1999) p.272 †

    Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion — a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint — and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it — the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today. How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? National Post May 13, 2000 †

    All too often, there is a slide from science to something more, and this slide goes unmentioned — unrealized even.

    For pointing this out we should be grateful for the opponents of evolution. How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? National Post May 13, 2000 †

    With the possible exception of Herbert Spencer, no one in the whole history of evolutionism was more ardent in his progressionism than Julian Huxley. He lived it, breathed it, talked it, and wrote about it at very great length. Searching desperately as a young man for a faith to substitute for Christianity, Huxley found it in progress — and for him, progress was best manifested in and made most probable and plausible by the evolutionary process. Mystery of Mysteries (2001) p. 94 †

    Hence, Huxley saw the need to found his own church, and evolution was the ideal cornerstone. It offered a story of origins, one that (thanks to progress) puts humans at the center and top and that could even provide moral messages. The philosopher Herbert Spencer was a great help here. He was ever ready to urge his fellow Victorians that the way to true virtue lies through progress, which comes from promoting a struggle in society as well as in biology–a laissez-faire socioeconomic philosophy. Thus, evolution had its commandments no less than did Christianity. And so Huxley preached evolution-as-world-view at working men’s clubs, from the podia during presidential addresses, and in debates with clerics–notably Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. He even aided the founding of new cathedrals of evolution, stuffed with displays of dinosaurs newly discovered in the American West. Except, of course, these halls of worship were better known as natural history museums. Science Mar 7 2003 p.1524 †

    These new-style evolutionists–the mathematicians and empiricists–wanted to professionalize evolution because they wanted to study it full time in universities, with students and research grants, and so forth. However, like everyone else, they had been initially attracted to evolution precisely because of its quasi-religious aspects, regardless of whether these formed the basis of an agnostic/atheistic humanism or something to revitalize an old religion that had lost its spirit and vigor. Hence, they wanted to keep a value-impregnated evolutionism that delivered moral messages even as it strived for greater progressive triumphs. Science Mar 7 2003 p.1524 †

    Then, sometimes from the same person, you have evolution as secular religion, generally working from an explicitly materialist background and solving all of the world’s major problems, from racism to education to conservation. Consider Edward O. Wilson, rightfully regarded as one of the most outstanding professional evolutionary biologists of our time, and the author of major works of straight science. In his On Human Nature, he calmly assures us that evolution is a myth that is now ready to take over Christianity. Science March 7 2003 p.1524 †

    Inherit the Wind took many liberties in telling the tale, shaping the clash to reflect concerns of the 1950s rather than the 1920s — specifically the right to have contrary opinions which, thanks to the Cold War, Americans were under great pressure to conform to general norms of behavior and thought. In the real Scopes Trial, evolution — particularly human evolution — was certainly at the center of the debate, but the true issue was more the general philosophy for which evolution was taken to stand. Evolutionism rather than mere evolution. The Evolution-Creation Struggle (2005) p. 166-7 †

    This is not just a fight about dinosaurs or gaps in the fossil record, this is a fight about different worldviews. Boston Globe May 1 2005 †

    Charles Darwin’s discussion of the problem in the Origin of Species always puts me in mind of Sherlock Holmes’s response in the story “Silver Blaze.” Upon being asked if there were any points of note, he replied: “The dog that barked in the night.” But the dog didn’t bark in the night.” “Precisely!” “But Darwin didn’t discuss the Origin of life in the Origin of Species.” “Precisely!” He knew that he had no answer and that getting into a discussion of the topic would lead only to tears, so he stayed away from it altogether.

    However, that is cheating a little — certainly it would be today. Darwinism and Its Discontents (2006) p.52-3 †

    If we humans are an end product of a long, slow, law-governed process of natural selection rather than favored of God created miraculously on the Sixth Day, Darwinism simply has to be relevant to philosophy. Darwinism and Its Discontents (2006) p.237 †

    Whatever may be the case, it is not that the atheists are having a field day because of the brilliance and novelty of their thinking. Frankly — and I speak here as a nonbeliever myself, pretty atheistic about Christianity and skeptical about all theological claims — the material being churned out is second rate. And that is a euphemism for “downright awful.” ISIS December 2007 p.815 †

    Dawkins is brazen in his ignorance of philosophy and theology (not to mention the history of science). A major part of the book involves ripping into the chief arguments for the existence of God. I confess that it is the first time in my life that I have felt sorry for the ontological argument. ISIS December 2007 p.815 †

    This is a man truly out of his depth. Does he honestly think that no philosopher or theologian has ever thought of or worried about the infinite regress of the cosmological argument? If God caused the world, what caused God? The standard reply is that God needs no cause because he is a necessary being, eternal, outside time. Read Saint Augustine’s Confessions. Just as 2+2=4 is uncaused and always true, so is God’s existence. Now you might want to worry about the notion of necessary existence. But at least you should know that it is something to worry about. And if you are going to reject the notion, then you must yourself address the key question behind the proof, the question that Martin Heidegger said was the fundamental question of metaphysics: Why is there something rather than nothing? If not God, then what? ISIS December 2007 p.815 †

    The paradox is that Dawkins should be more modest. He stresses that we are the product of Darwinian evolution, and hence there is no good reason to think that we have the power to penetrate into the mysteries of the universe…I do think that a certain tolerance of the views of others is not only reasonable but perhaps demanded of the Darwinian. ISIS December 2007 p.815-6 †

    Suppose this is true — that if you are a Darwinian, then you cannot be a Christian. How then does one answer the creationist who objects to the teaching of Darwinism in schools? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If theism cannot be taught in schools (in America) because it violates the separation of church and state, why then should Darwinism be permitted? If Darwinism leads to atheism, does this not also violate the separation of church and state? ISIS December 2007 p.816 †

    Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) Web Amazon GBS

    It appears that during those ages when animals were torturing each other with ferocious horns and agonizing stings, Omnipotence was quietly waiting for the ultimate emergence of man, with his still more widely diffused cruelty. Why the Creator should have preferred to reach his goal by a process, instead of going straight to it, these modem theologians do not tell us. Religion and Science (1961) p. 73

    Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins. Mysticism and Logic (1981) p.41

    But the analysis of change and continuity is not a problem upon which either physics or biology throws any light: it is a problem of a new kind, belonging to a different kind of study. The question whether evolutionism offers a true or a false answer to this problem is not, therefore, a question to be solved by appeals to particular facts, such as biology and physics reveal. In assuming dogmatically a certain answer to this question, evolutionism ceases to be scientific yet it is only in touching on this question that evolutionism reaches the subject-matter of philosophy. Evolutionism thus consist of two parts: one not philosophical, but only a hasty generalization of the kind which the special sciences might hereafter confirm of confute; the other not scientific, but a mere unsupported dogma, belonging to philosophy by its subject-matter, but in no way deducible from the facts upon which evolutionism relies. Our Knowledge of the External World (1993) p. 26-7

    See others at

  17. beastrabban Says:

    Lol, I like the orbiting teapot! 😀

    Thanks for putting up the quotations from Michael Ruse about how evolution acts as a religion for some people, Wakefield. The philosopher Mary Midgley, who incidentally is certainly not a Creationist nor supporter of ID, wrote an entire book on the subject called Evolution as a Religion. In the case of Julian Huxley, it’s almost literally true. According to Ruse in Mystery of Mysteries he was trying to found a religion of evolution, and was torn to shreds by biologists like Sir Peter Medawar for trying to do so.

    It’s been interesting reading the conversation between you – JOR, Ilion and Wakefield – about Libertarianism. It’s not an ideology that has much of a following over this side of the Atlantic, though you do see the usual Anarchist graffiti over here. My guess is that it’s because Britain doesn’t have a tradition of radical egalitarianism. I know historians who would describe America as a middle class society, because it didn’t have the aristocratic social structure of Britain or the other European countries. Now clearly Britain did have a tradition of classical free trade philosophy through Adam Smith, David Ricardo and the rest of the Manchester School, but this was parallel, and sometimes assimilated to, aristocratic Conservatism that stressed the primacy of the aristocracy in governing society and also as a bulwark of liberty against encroachment by central government. The last argument was used most recently in the debate over Premier Blair’s reform of the House of Lords ten years ago, when he attempted to abolish hereditary peerages.

  18. Rich Says:

    Let me clarify.

    “the world is a nasty place, thus God is nasty or careless or evil Himself”

    I don’t think there are gods. The universe is what I would expect from an uncaring process.

    With regard to ID, which I simply view as neoPaleyism, it’s both scientifically vacuous and sterile. It creates press releases, not scientific output, argues against a theory without proposing a better one and basically seems to be a vehicle to sell books to the credulous. At least you can get a bible for free if you want!

  19. Ilíon Says:

    My guess is that it’s because Britain doesn’t have a tradition of radical egalitarianism.

    Neither does America, but many libertarians try to pretend that it does.

  20. JOR Says:

    Most libertarians would describe themselves as anti-egalitarian.

  21. Ilíon Says:

    Hey, BR:

    Concerning Slavery, Christianity and the Bible, consider: I Timothy 1:5-11 (KJV)

    1Ti 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned:
    1Ti 1:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
    1Ti 1:7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
    1Ti 1:8 But we know that the law [is] good, if a man use it lawfully;
    Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
    1Ti 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
    1Ti 1:11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

    Note — “… Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient … for menstealers …

  22. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Keep in mind that also you have different flavors of libertarianism, too.

    The American tradition is of course the place where these kinds of things get codified heavily beyond the anarchist title due to notions of a more atomistic individualism. But while saying this, there are some strains of the L here that smack of anarchism. Government is evil.


    Almost like the golden age of piracy and Stede Bonnet. Take what ye will–give n’thing back!


    I had hearf of Midgley before. I think in a discussion of how she felt that despite the warm appraisal of science as just “simply science” from friends like Rich and his crew, there ARE philosophical statements at work, as Ruse too points out, and beyond this a kind of messiah complex that smacks more of ancient Babylonian myths than even Christianity.

    Many are under the impression that Christianity gets preempted and copied a lot. This happens but just as often there are ancient pyschic ideas that bleed through into modern science and modern philosophies ABOUT science that read more like even older religions. As Midgly pointed out also.

    Fascinating read on the latest article too, BR. Seems this is THE pinnacle of cynicism. Christains are not helping the world and live in fantasy and pay more attention to the ghosts of the soul rather than the rumbling of tummies in the Third World. And there is work to do to help people’s physical needs in the !st world too. When help is rendered, it is then described as a cheapjack bribe–our 30 pieces of silver–to bring in new converts to Christ.

    I think I see from World Vision and other good charities the very pragmatic philosophy, however, that faith and aid must go hand in hand.

    Mercy is the beginnings of salvation after all, and how better to demonstrate love than to simply love other people for whom they are, and not what they yield to you. Christ’s answer was that a cup of water can heal the soul in His name. He never guaranteed converts via this method.

    And that’s the tack Christians and all good people of good will should have. Even going out into “all the world” as the Scriptures command.

  23. JOR Says:

    There’s probably a bit of a conceptual barrier at work Beast, in America the word ‘libertarian’ is used to refer to views ranging from from Milton Friedman-style ‘minarchism’ to Max Stirner-style, amoralist atomism. In Europe it seems to refer mainly to radical socialists.

  24. Ilíon Says:

    JOR:Most libertarians would describe themselves as anti-egalitarian.

    No doubt I should have said “some.” Consider your last post, what you’re describing look to be like noticing that (what is denoted by the term) “libertarianism” may well circle-back and bleed into “leftism/socialism.”

    And that’s what I was referring to.

    And anyway, the *main* point I was making is that America does not have a tradition of “radical egalitarianism.”

  25. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the quote from 1 Timothy, Ilion: that’s excellent stuff, and bears out what has been said about the Law being a concession to human iniquity and an attempt to regulate it, rather than a command or seal of God’s approval.

    Regarding the observation that Libertarianism seems to mean something different on the either side of the Atlantic, JOR, I think you’re probably right. I’ve noticed that Libertarianism in America tends to mean something like the minarchism of Robert Nozick, or the Anarcho-Individualism of Rothbard. This side of the Atlantic you do indeed hear Anarchism described as ‘libertarian socialism’, though I’ve mostly come across it only in academic discussions of Anarchism.

    As for ‘radical egalitarianism’, perhaps that’s the wrong expression. I’ve noticed that a lot of Libertarians do indeed see themselves as anti-egalitarian. However, it does seem to have its basis in the common American ideal of meritocracy. Rather than there being an established social hierarchy, there should be a radical equality of opportunity so that those with talent can exercise it freely to their benefit and advancement, and that of society. The British Financial Times a few years ago noted that in terms of social mobility, Britain and America were just about the same. However, it admired the way that Americans had a more positive approach to their society, viewing it as the proverbial ‘land of opportunity’ where by hard work and talent you could make it. Brits don’t have this optimistic view of society, possibly because until very recently the class system was very obvious and prominent.

    As for Mary Midgley, Evolution as a Religion really tears into the way evolutionary biologists, like Jacques Monod, Richard Dawkins and Behaviourists like Skinner imported metaphysical ideas into evolution, often in very melodramatic ways. She’s also critical of claims for the omnicompetence of science, like Peter Atkins’ declaration that just about everything boils down to science, which is the only standard of truth and rational investigation. In her view, science uses the categories and methodologies of thought developed elsewhere by other disciplines. She’s definitely worth reading, though she is certainly not a Creationist nor supporter of ID, and describes herself as a Naturalist.

  26. beastrabban Says:

    As for the cynical view of charity, Wakefield, I think this is just a natural result of seeing everything in terms of the pleasure principle after Freud and the earlier empiricists. I’ve seen very strong refutations of it, particularly as altruism is very, very difficult to reconcile with the idea of ‘selfish genes’.

  27. Ilíon Says:

    Yes, but the point I wanted to draw your attention to is that it *does* explicitly condemn the making of slaves, and thus at least implicitly, all slavery. It just doesn’t go out of its way to set off fire-works about it.

    The further point is that those, all through history, who are honestly trying to follow the Law (i.e. Love) don’t need specific and individual prohibitions against every sinful act or commands to do every righteous act.

    What an unweildy and unreadable book the Bible would have been were God a legalist or lawyer!

  28. beastrabban Says:

    Absolutely, Ilion! I’ve got a feeling that the reason Western society has been able to develop and overtake the other great civilisations of the world was because of the profound freedom and moral responsibility offered and demanded by the Law of Love. As for the size of the Bible if God had been a lawyer, considering the amount of legislation passed today, and the minute detail in which it has to be framed to prevent misinterpretation, I’ve got a feeling that if the Bible had been written to include today’s laws it’d require a large library to house it.

  29. Ilíon Says:

    BRAs for ‘radical egalitarianism’, perhaps that’s the wrong expression. I’ve noticed that a lot of Libertarians do indeed see themselves as anti-egalitarian. However, it does seem to have its basis in the common American ideal of meritocracy.

    Americans, except for leftists (and one always wonders whether they are “real” Americans) hate egalitarianism.

    Of course, since Americans are human and since humans are prone to magical thinking (i.e. irrationality), there are boatloads of Americans who simultaneously hate egalitarianism and seek, by their actions and politics, to enact and enforce it upon their fellows. One wonders whether they imagine they will be immune.

    Here’s a recent news item about the attainability of “the American Dream” (as we call it), that is, social mobility: Can you build a life from $25?

  30. Ilíon Says:

    Concerning the idea that Lincoln was not a Christian: Abraham Lincoln’s Path to Divine Providence

  31. JOR Says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would want to claim Lincoln for their camp. I guess I’m just a sterner judge than most.

  32. Ilíon Says:

    This may be irrelevant to BR, but my fellow Americans ought to watch this: The non-American who thinks himself fit to be our President

  33. Ilíon Says:

    Is it about camps?

    But, as for the man himself and his legacy (to use the popular term), I suppose I have a love-hate view of him.

  34. Ilíon Says:

    David Warren: Science v. wisdom

  35. Ilíon Says:

    Here is a site I just discovered which has material others her may find interesting: The Proceedings of the Friesian School

  36. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for posting those up, Ilion. I have to say I hadn’t come across the Friesian school before. As for David Warren, it’s always interesting reading what he has to say. I got the impression here that he was arguing from a Neo-Scholastic perspective, which is firmly rooted in the Aristotelian philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

  37. JOR Says:

    If Popperian philosophy of science and Chicagoite economics is what counts as Friesian, you can count me out. I’ll take scholastics and analytics over that nonsense any day.

  38. Ilíon Says:

    BR…As for David Warren, it’s always interesting reading what he has to say. I got the impression here that he was arguing from a Neo-Scholastic perspective
    Yeah, sometimes it will be several days between new material appearing on his site, and I start getting antsy … kind of like a junkie needing a fix 😉

    Possibly. But it seems to me that mostly he’s just arguing against scientism/positivism.

  39. JOR Says:

    David Warren’s article I find much more sympathetic.

  40. Ilíon Says:

    JOR:If Popperian philosophy of science and Chicagoite economics is what counts as Friesian, you can count me out. I’ll take scholastics and analytics over that nonsense any day.

    I don’t think have a position either for or against the Popperian philosophy of science, though I may (simply by default) be closer to pro than con. What do you have against it?

    But, even if one is con, ought not one — for amusement, if nothing else — have at least a handle on the basics of it? I mean, considering that Defenders Of Science And Reason And Democracy And All That Is Good And True And Right Against The Coming Christianist Dark Age nearly always imagine that they are Popperians, yet turn into positivists/verificationists at the slightest pressure, one can amuse oneself for hours by flipping them back and forth.

    … and Chicagoite economics is what counts as Friesian, you can count me out. I’ll take scholastics and analytics over that nonsense any day.
    Them’s fightin’ words!

    Thomas Sowell rocks!

  41. Ilíon Says:

    A discussion with Thomas Sowell concerning his new book: Economic Facts and Fallacies

  42. JOR Says:

    Popper wasn’t nearly as bad as most Popperians.

    Sowell is a cut well above most Chicagoites, but is still somewhat shallow compared to the Austrians.

  43. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Rich said in part:

    It creates press releases, not scientific output, argues against a theory without proposing a better one and basically seems to be a vehicle to sell books to the credulous.

    Not exactly. First of all there ARE predictions made by ID. While I’m not expert in this area, I know enough to establish that you CAN, for a while, have a legitimate research program to poke holes in another theory even IF you can’t YET propose one yourself. I’ve seen this kind of argument before: If the shape of things is “known” to be square but you propose a radical departure, then of course at some point a detractor will say “OK, what IS the shape you propose—a circle?”

    OK–that was thrown at David Berlinski also, and the answer he gave is to be considered. Darwinism has had 150 years head start. Paley had an early argument that you might say was “picked up” with a type of “neopaleyism”, but that’s not really the fully monty, Rich. The trouble is that Paley was in the right on the basic premise, even IF he didn’t understand the basic mechanisms at work. Darwin extrapolated from homology, or the appearance of things also, but rather than design he postulated that common design meant common ancestry and went from there. But Paley, like Darwin, had no idea of the utter complexity in Rube Goldberg fame of the basic unit of the cell. ID had a late start because although the basic premise is similar to design inference the starting point for ID is not looking at watches and clocks and birdhouse made artificially as compared to background sandpiles and twigs, but rather the irreducible nature of certain cell structures.

    Now–let’s say that you, RICH, are under suspision of a crime. You hire a lawyer to get you to beat the rap. Being the good chap you are you’re telling the truth. You have blood on your hands since you were helping to work in a soup kitchen and assigned to dispatch some chickens. However, on the way to the subway you slip and you hands hit a shovel, bloodying it.

    Later, the same shovel by the side of the alleyway was used to commit a gruesome murder at night. You are the last person seen, you bloodied the shovel, and some bloke has told the police your profile.

    You didn’t commit the murder.

    In court, after much trial and trevail, the lawyer you hired finally gets the results back from the lab concerning the DNA being chicken blood, and although the shovel contains traces of human blood on the edge, this creates a problem for the prosecution. They can’t pin this on you.


    You don’t know yet. In your situation while you’d gladly help, you are more concerned with now being reunited with your family and thank the court and the science of DNA analysis and split for the nearest pub to celebrate with friends who hold up a banner saying “welcome back, RICH boy!”


    At this point, it is a concern for the prosecution. Their case to make. Not yours. You are more than happy that a naysaying doubter has shot holes in the prosecution’s theory, even though previously to a man they thought that down at the station after your side of the story they nailed you solid.

    Research in a complex area is like this–a crime scene investigation and an Agatha Christie Whodunnit where many characters on the grounds of the estate by nightfall have money and vengeance motives but only one turns out to be the shape of things. And often counterintuitive to what everyone watching thinks.

    When something like the origen of life is involved, it is often difficult to assess right away even using design parameters just what is being seen and how things are placed together.

  44. Ilíon Says:

    No, no, no! Clearly, you don’t understand the first thing about “science!” That Rich committed the murder is “the best explanation ‘we’ (the prosecution) have!” That’s what matters. 😉

  45. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the comments, especially the reply David Berlinski that ID cannot be science because it posits no materialist mechanism for change.

    Thanks also for posting that piece on Abraham Lincoln and providence, Ilion. I’m afraid I really don’t know anything about Lincoln, except that he was the backwoods lawyer who became president and freed the slaves during the Civil War. I have come across the arguments from the secular community that he was a religious sceptic, so it’s interesting to find evidence that after the death of his son he found solace and truth in Presbyterianism.

    Going through one of the bookshops in town the other day, I came across a secular history book on America that specifically examined the way the belief in providence had shaped American history. I’m afraid I did no more than take a cursory look at it, but I may well go back and have a proper read of it at some point.

  46. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    No, no, no! Clearly, you don’t understand the first thing about “science!” That Rich committed the murder is “the best explanation ‘we’ (the prosecution) have!” That’s what matters


    Well then. I’m quite sure that Rich will be every so happy to know that based on the current rules of game of evidence the prosecution now has him back in handcuffs!

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