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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thinkquote of the day: Either religion offers true insight or evolutionary psychology explains it - no middle ground

Philosopher Kim Sterelny, reviewing Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell for American Scientist, writes on the impossibility of an explanation of religion according to "evolutionary psychology" that is not corrosive of religious faith,
... , secular theories of religion are corrosive. Religious commitment cannot both be the result of natural selection for (for example) enhanced social cohesion and be a response to something that is actually divine. A cohesion-and-cooperation model of religion just says that believers would believe, whether or not there was a divine world to which to respond. If a secular theory of the origin of religious belief is true, such belief is not contingent on the existence of traces of the divine in our world. So although a secular and evolutionary model of religion might be (in a strict sense) neutral on the existence of divine agency, it cannot be neutral on the rationality of religious conviction.

In other words, the universe really is either top down or bottom up. If it is top down, you may have had a revelation. If it is bottom up, you cannot have had a relevation, though - as an animal - you may be motivated to believe you did.

But, like all materialists, Sterelny turns out to have an unfalsifiable viewpoint of his own where materialism is concerned. I noted this in By Design or by Chance?, p. 196, where Sterelny was defending one of Richard Dawkins' just-so stories about Darwinian evolution:

Many have wondered why a creature that is on its way to becoming a stick insect would be more
likely to survive if it looked five percent like a stick rather than four percent like a stick. Surely a purely random process could not fool a predator by generating so small a difference? Dennett quotes philosopher Kim Sterelny in response:

"I do think this objection is something of a quibble because essentially I agree that natural selection is the only possible explanation of complex adaptation. So something like Dawkins’ stories have got to be right."

Essentially, Dennett is saying that we must accept the Darwinist explanation for the evolution of a stick insect not because it is an especially good explanation but because it upholds Darwin's theory. (Sterelny’s review of Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker was in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy (1988), vol. 66: 421–66.)

In my experience, materialists see nothing wrong with forcing others to pay for and study from publicly funded textbooks advancing their view - and no other - even when their view is sourced only by its own fanatical assertion. Indeed, dazed by the growing volume of complaints, they warn that objectins mean that the end of all things is at hand.

I have been appealing for years for a social scientist or anthropologist to study Darwinism, the creation story of materialism, as a cultural phenomenon. It cries out for that treatment. Besides, such a study would make a great trade book after the journal articles have been published; just the thing for an up-and-coming young academic.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy att he University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being granted tenure at Baylor after a long struggle - even after helping in a small way to destroy the Baylor Bears' ancient glory - in the opinion of a hyper sportswriter.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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