Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Control vs Anarchy

A reminder (or two) to our civilisation from Plato:

First, the Parable of the Cave: Second, the Ship of State: >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures. Imagine then a fleet or a Read More ›

Moon first, then Mars — a path to Solar System colonization?

Some dates are being discussed in a May 18th 2019 Phys-dot-org article: “The Moon is the proving ground for our eventual mission to Mars,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a conference this week. “The Moon is our path to get to Mars in the fastest, safest way possible. That’s why we go to the Moon.” According to Robert Howard, who heads up the lab developing future space habitats at the legendary Johnson Space Center in Houston, the hurdles aren’t so much technical or scientific as much as a question of budget and political will. “A lot of people want us to have an Apollo moment, and have a president stand up like Kennedy and say, we’ve got to do Read More ›

Logic & First Principles, 20: What is law?

A good first step to understanding the ongoing failure of our civilisation is to contrast the common, positive law view of law summarised by Wikipedia (as a handy point of reference): Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as “the Science of Justice” and “the Art of Justice”. Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions Read More ›

What are the implications of Julian Assange’s arrest in London?

Yesterday, a prematurely aged-looking Assange (he is 47) — a founder of Wikileaks and Australian — was arrested by UK Police after the Ecuadorean Embassy he has sought asylum in since 2012 withdrew its protection. The arrest raises questions on dissidents, privacy, protection of legitimate secrets, the public’s right to know more than officials, power brokers and publicists or other gatekeepers want, and more. (Let us not forget the Pentagon Papers and their impact.) Many of these concerns bleed over into how controversial and sometimes unpopular views like ID will be treated going forward — especially regarding freedom of the Internet. So, there is relevance. Again, Daily Mail gives some background: ‘Narcissist’ Julian Assange faces DECADES in US jail after Read More ›

SM on Gerrymandering of definitions and the breakdown of responsible discussion

Sometimes a gem of a comment gets overlooked, but is well worth promotion to headlined status. Here, let us belatedly highlight SM on gerrymandering definitions in the slippery slope thread: SM, 13: >>If three successfully interbreeding populations of finches on a single island are separate species then whenever a Japanese person marries a Sicilian we already have inter-species marriage. This gerrymandering of definitions for partisan political advantage is a classic case of the Slippery Slope: we let people adjust a definition to their own advantage once, even in a small way, and it isn’t long before you cannot even discuss the subject because there are too many definitions and none are sufficiently accepted or overlapping for discussion to be meaningful. Read More ›

SM: Is the slippery slope argument ALWAYS fallacious?

In the fallacy thread, Scuzzaman has raised the issue of the slippery slope argument, which he argues is not necessarily fallacious. Let’s pause for a vid (without necessarily endorsing all that is said, this is food for thought): Benjamin McLean here connects the issue to the principle of induction and so also to the post-Hume challenge to inductive reasoning. In short, a slippery slope argument is an inductive causal inference from present and past experiences, trends and dynamics to a possible future, inviting us to turn away before it is too late. As in: When we cast the argument in this form, we can then see some of the force in SM’s point: [SM, 77:] The OP [on fallacies] is Read More ›

The propagandist’s paradise . . .

is our ruinous nightmare. This can be seen through a game, from the conspiracism thread: KF, 86: >> . . . there is a silly little mental game we can consider. [The Crooked Yardstick Effect:] Step one, define that a certain crooked yardstick, S, is the standard of straight, accurate and upright. Once that is done, no stick I that is genuinely so can ever conform to S: I != S. So on the S-standard I will always be rejected. This seems silly, until it is in place on an ideologically tainted matter, ask, how can we move from S to the incommensurable I. Only, by interposing a plumbline P that you are willing to accept is naturally upright and Read More ›

ID vs the shadow-censoring (“shadow-banning”) digital empires, 2

ID is a proposition that, first, it is reasonable to inquire scientifically as to whether certain features of the world of life and/or the physical cosmos can or do show observable signs of design. To which, the answer has long since been given, e.g. by the well known OoL researcher Orgel in a significant 1973 book: >>living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack Read More ›

The ID issue vs Digital Empire/Cartel concerns: information utilities/ “superhighway” vs shadow-censoring, de-platforming information gatekeepers

The ID issue has long been a focal point for intense, often deeply polarised debate on our origins and world roots as informed by science. Science, being a major source of knowledge and understanding about our world, which also energises technological innovation and economic growth. Science is often treated as though it is the grounds for seeing evolutionary materialism as effectively self evidently true but crucially depends on our being responsibly and rationally sufficiently free to think logically, establish mathematics as a domain of rationally grounded truth about abstract structures and quantities that are necessary for any possible world, and more. Such already deeply challenges the world-picture painted by the magisterium of lab coat-clad atheists. That is only a gateway Read More ›

Is it time to “reboot” our formal and informal education in ethics, to save our civilisation?

On reflecting on the ongoing discussion on ethical matters (as part of the science and worldviews in society theme of UD) in the thread in response to Sev on moral truth, I suggest yes. Not least, because the already in progress, suicidal moral bankruptcy of our civilisation will take down science, math, technology, sound governance systems, sound policy-making and linked engines of progress if we go over the cliff: KF, 105: >>The onward exchanges are interesting, underscoring however the persistent, widespread failure of our current formal and informal ethical education. Thus, instead of being teachers to the world, we need to think afresh and go back to first, mother’s milk baby stage steps and principles. Our civilisation is like land Read More ›

Responding to Sev: “Moral claims are not about what is but about how we ought to behave, primarily towards one another. They are not capable of being either true or false”

Again, it is vital for us to see what today’s evolutionary materialism, scientism, athiestical advocates and fellow travellers are thinking in their own words, and we must answer them on the merits. Where, as captioned, it is being argued in the intersubjective consensus thread, that there is no such thing as moral truth. This means, as our frequent objector Sev then goes on to argue in the same comment: SEV, 29:  >> a consensus morality is neither true nor false, right or wrong in any objective sense. If the consensus is that a society is made safer, more stable and generally beneficial by the voluntary adherence of all to agreed moral principles, then you could argue they are right in Read More ›

GUN, UD News, Wikipedia and the sources credibility question

It has been said that 99% of practical arguments rely on authorities, i.e. sources. We can start with dictionaries, parents, teachers, officials, records and serious writings, or even the news and punditry we all follow. (And yes, this paragraph is a case in point, here, C S Lewis making a general point; which I amplified.) The context is, that News just reported how Wikipedia (the po mo encyclopedia we love to bash that has driven traditional encyclopedias to despair and sometimes to ruin) is having a dispute that has gone to its highest internal tribunal. GUN and I had an exchange on sources that is worth headlining, not least as ID disputes often have to deal with quality of sources Read More ›

CT4: AK on morality: “Since the moral fabric is man made, all we are doing is seeing it change . . .”

Sometimes, one of our frequent objectors has a truly noteworthy letting- the- cat- out- of- the- bag moment that is worth headlining. In the still live CT2 thread, AK unwittingly exposes the incoherence and implied amorality of atheistical, evolutionary materialism when he comments in key part: AK, 80: >>Since the moral fabric is man made, all we are doing is seeing it change, as it has done over the centuries. Sometimes history shows that the change has been for the good, and sometimes for the bad. But since civilization is thriving, it is reasonable to conclude that we have had more wins than losses.>> Note first, “[s]ince the moral fabric is man-made.” Here, the question is clearly begged in grand Read More ›

News-watch: yet another incident of mass violence in FL, USA — where is this nihilism coming from?

First, condolences and prayers for victims and families. Daily Mail has a useful header that seems to capture key themes to ponder as we head into the weekend: These was of course — within minutes — the usual talking point exchange on firearms, gun-free [= target-rich] zones, mental illness and effects of certain antidepressants, affiliations (Antifa and Islamism have also been suggested and there is a picture of him in a MAGA hat) and the like, etc. U/D: My email inbox has a link to Townhall that points to a claim that “Leon County law enforcement sources told the Tallahassee Democrat that they could not find information linking Cruz, 19, to the Republic of Florida Militia, as first reported by Read More ›