Blathering for $$$$$$

April 6, 2010

Francisco Ayala is the latest “thinker” to trot out this inanity: “[science & religion] deal with different ways of knowing”.

This should immediately elicit the challenge, “Inform me of one piece of religious knowledge, concisely stated.” (And not the silly claim that the Golden Rule is religious).

OK, let’s make it even more specific: “What knowledge has Abrahamic religion furnished humanity with?”

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3 Responses to “Blathering for $$$$$$”

  1. Don,

    While contemplating the other questions you have put to me here and on facebook, I thought I’d have a quick peep before retiring to bed in case there were any updates…

    I have not up until now checked up on the stooges who are posted here for instant and crushing demolition as I assumed they were all hopeless cases anyway, fundamentalists, evangelicals, unreconstructed Papists and eventually you’d get round to the mad mullahs…

    Seems I was mistaken.

    I guess you know already, but here’s what I found about “”thinker”” Ayala on Wikipedia:

    “He is known for his research on population and evolutionary genetics, and has been called the “Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology”. His “discoveries have opened up new approaches to the prevention and treatment of diseases that affect hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide”, including demonstrating the reproduction of Trypanosoma cruzi, the agent of Chagas disease, is mostly the product of cloning, and that only a few clones account for most of this widespread, mostly untreatable South American disease that affects 16 million to 18 million people.

    He has been publicly critical of U.S. restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He currently serves on the advisory board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an organization that has lobbied Congress to lift federal restrictions on funding embryonic stem cell research. He is also a critic of creationism and intelligent design theories, claiming that they are not only pseudoscience, but also mistakes from theological point of view. He suggests that the theory of evolution resolves the problem of evil, thus being a kind of theodicy. Ayala does not discuss his own religious opinions however.”

    The last comment on evolutionary theory is intriguing. I think you should remove the contentious “”.

    I have a couple of questions.

    1. Why is Alaya’s statement “inane”? The terms are not too precise, I would agree, especially the term “religion”, but why “inane”?

    I presume it comes down to a definition of knowledge. I wonder if for you knowledge is based exclusively upon the products of observation and mentation. I’m not sure what the current scholarship on that is but I don’t think it will be so cut and dried, even assuming that is what you think.

    Anyway, I see a problem with the tendency of that part of consciousness we designate as mentation to set up dichotomies – free will/determinism, nature/nurture, science(all truth)/religion(all superstition), theism/atheism and then demand from us an “either/or” commitment to one or the other. It is in my opinion a form of idolatry.

    2. Is the Golden Rule a form of knowledge? If so, what is the ground of that knowing? Is it the same as “scientific knowledge”?

    3. Why is it silly to claim that the GR is religious? Or are the moral teachings of those religions that teach the Golden Rule not part of the religious teachings of those religions?

    4. Finally, expanding on 2, what DO you mean by “knowledge”? Yes, I know, it is a huge question, but until it is answered it is difficult to answer the question you yourself pose.

    Just three beers tonight and no larging it in town, so I don’t think my questions smell too much of the beer hall putsch…

  2. ukdonjp said

    Plenty to chew on there. I’ll need some time to make a proper response …

  3. ukdonjp said

    A couple of points:-
    The insulting title is more generally directed at the effect of the Templeton Foundation’s machinations. It is harsh if directed at Ayala personally.
    Ayala freely admits in interview that the notion of evolutionary theory as some kind of theodicy was what he was taught as a student of theology and so provides no evidence of him qualifying as a “thinker”.
    I’ve read a couple of interviews today and listened to him speak; could find nothing profound, though no profundity is required when batting down fundamentalists or claiming the imaginary middle ground between atheists and fundamentalists.

    Now, to your points:-

    1. Inane according to the dictionary definition: silly and meaningless.

    I’m also suspicious of dichotomies. A developed naturalistic worldview tends to dissolve the most pervasive examples. But why use the word “idolatry”? Do you know that this is the precise word Anjem Choudary uses to describe liberalism, secularism and so on? Why use such an anachronistic word?

    2.Well, i presume Sam Harris is claiming something like that in his Moral Landscape ideas but I would say, “no”. I would call it a moral commitment based on knowledge. But, again, Sam Harris is raising interesting questions in this regard … It depends, in part, on a very broad notion of “science”.

    3. The Golden Rule is philosophical. Nothing distinctly religious about it. Can be simply arrived at through rationality. (No need for revelation.)

    4. It’s far too big a question. As Mill said about definitions, “As few as you can, as many as you must.”
    I propose the theory of evolution, plus quantum theory and the theory of gravitation as examples of scientific knowledge. Please propose 3 examples of religious knowledge to put beside them and then, perhaps, we can worry about definitions.

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