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Agnostics vs. Atheists: Devil’s Delusion now available at Amazon


Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?
Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?
Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?
Dead on.

Dr. Berlinski’s agnosticism and willingness to say, “I don’t know”, has a great appeal to someone like me. Anyone working in the hard sciences or engineering is accustomed to being made aware of his own fallibility on an hourly basis, and out of necessity one learns to become skeptical of many things. To hear someone as brilliant as Berlinski say, “I don’t know”, makes him more credible in my eyes. Dr. Berlinski echoes the skepticism and agnosticism that is at the heart of science, a skepticism which says, “I don’t know, but I want to learn more”.

What do we know for sure? Perhaps not much. I know for sure there is no hope or salvation in Charles Darwin. I know for sure Darwin found math repugnant and admitted he couldn’t even perform the early steps of high school algebra after considerable effort.

In contrast, Berlinski loves mathematics and physics, and in his book, Devil’s Delusion, he expresses much of his love of math and physics as he critiques the scientific pretensions of the atheists.

Berlinski defends his ideas by exploring the works of Maxwell, Einstein, Godel, Turing, Chomsky and other great minds. Dawkins in contrast appeals to Darwin. I would take Maxwell, Turing, and Godel over Darwin any day.

Here are some excerpts from Berlinski’s book:

the great German mathematician David Hilbert affirmed in an address given in 1930, “We must know, we will know.”

Shortly after Hilbert delivered his address, Kurt Godel demonstrated that mathematics was inherently incomplete. If science in the twentieth century has demonstrated anything, it is that there are limits to what we can know.
Darwin’s theory of evolution…may be grasped by anyone in an afternoon, and often is. A week suffices to make a man a specialist.

historian Richard Weikart, who in his admirable treatise, From Darwin to Hitler makes clear what anyone capable of reading the German sources already knew: A sinister current of influence ran form Darwin’s theory of evolution to Hitler’s policy of extermination.
Darwinian biologists are very often persuaded that there is a conspiracy to make them look foolish. In this they are correct.
Computer simulations of Darwinian evolution fail when they are honest and succeed only when they are not….What these computer experiment do reveal is a principle far more penetrating than any that Darwin ever offered: There is a sucker born every minute.

After reading the book, one is forced to conclude, “scientific” atheism is The Devil’s Delusion.

now as far as the sceince behind gods existence I agree there is little or none- atheism as a person chioce of beleife is fine- but a society that has no beelivers if it was comprised of the poeple we have today- would be in my prediction alot worse off. Frost122585
Congregate, All the syllogism implies is that if their is no divin spirit - no heaven or hell- nothing to be worried about or hoped for after this life, then why no do anyhting you want and can get away with? You see this everywhere intodays society such as in poltics where various polticians get caught doing all kinds of bad things. If they beleived in God and the significance of the judgemnt they "may" have thought twice about what they were doing. IN a society where the concept of God is discounted there is no room for this moral guidence mechinism. Its obvious. And dont go applying to determinism because we know that some people take God seriously and concepts of warning that are similar such as speeding and its corrolation to death- or drunk driving- or unprotected sex- playing the stock market.... all of these may very well not hurt you if you do them- but the possbility remains that you will get badly hurt and it is in the beleif in this possiblity, this education that lowers the incidence of those actions. Less people smoke today percapita then before the lung cancer corrolation was dicovered. Education does work. Frost122585
The problem with the first link appears to be related to the script which parses the text input through the comment box. The link should begin with 'rtsp' instead of 'http' - and did when I pasted it into the tag. rtsp://video.c-span.org:554/archive/arc_btv/btv040508_david.rm todd
This link might work better. http://www.booktv.org/program.aspx?ProgramId=9256&SectionName=&PlayMedia=Yes For those that have seen this, below is the article I believe Logan is referring to on Natural Selection in the wild. Dr. Berlinski headed some kind of research group to study it. http://www.discovery.org/a/2531 DeepDesign
Its not slander he said something like that at the conference. He said as his opening remark "Everyone has been cashing in on this debate writing books such as the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens etc.. so I though I'd cash in too." It was honest and kind of funny. I think that David like anyone is motivated by money. This is no reason to question the value of his work. His work stands on its own merit and that alone. No one in this whole world sneezes at money. It is a god thing and makes the word go round if it is earned honestly. Is David's book honest. I’m not done it yet, but of course it is. He’s simply saying that no one “knows” in the sense, “can prove” what this life is all about. He is now weighing in for various reasons - money included- and has come down for the side of the believers in that they have a right to believe even if morality alone is the defining reason. He has also more forcefully come down against the militant atheists in that they have no right to proclaim their side has won or is right. And he’s right on both accounts and the book is a fantastic read. He doesn't need the money he has written 4 other very popular and good books. David is genuinely interested is the science atheism/religion debate. I am so hapy that I have had the pleasure of reading his writing. His other books that I own, his writings at the discovery institute- and now this one. Frost122585
Someone suggested to me that the only reason that he wrote this book was because he needed the money. Not sure if this slander. DeepDesign
"My guess is that he has been gotten to by the chattering class and wants to get along with everyone." I agree that Dr. Berlinski seemed less anti-Darwin then in the classic THE INCORRIGABLE DR. BERLINSKI. Which I first saw when I was 13 years old. I agree that time and new evidence may have softened his opinions. Who knows. Though when he makes comments like "there is no evidence that language evolves" I feel better. Maybe Dr. Berlinski is on our side. Wish he contributed here. DeepDesign
With due respect to some of these later comments....Berlinskis book IS excellent in virtually every regard, and IS a great help to the Intelligent Design movement. I hope that anyone who doubts this will find time to read the book. Upright BiPed
The book is MUCH better than the presentation. If you arent happy with this fine elegant and deep read then I think nothing from an agnostic perspective could make you happy no matter how intelligent it is. Frost122585
I saw someone who said "it could be this, it could be that, who knows." Somebody who agrees completely with Jason Rosenhouse is not someone who is going to do our side any good. My guess is that he has been gotten to by the chattering class and wants to get along with everyone. He took no stand on anything of consequence and left the impression, believe what you want, there is nothing to invalidate it. Hey, atheism isn't proven but nothing else is either. His book arrived in the mail the same time I was watching his presentation. It is on the list to read. jerry
Remember Berlinsi is a skeptic and an agnostic. He is not an advoacte of ID. His book states that science has no basis or declaring atheism because it has not disproven God. When i was at the event it was kinda dull and slow but after I wached it a few times I fallowed Brlinski better and appreciated it more. Like a wine I had never tasted before, it grew on me. Frost122585
I just watched the Berlinski presentation. The best I can say is "Mush." ID doesn't need spokesmen like this. His anti Darwinism was soft at best. There were a lot of places he could have gone but didn't. He left the impression that the anti Darwinian (general theory) was not proven but so what, a lot of science isn't. My wife heard part of it and said it sounded like Bill Clinton asking what do you mean by the word "is." jerry
frost at 86: I am an atheist, but I don't really agree with either of the premises of Berlinski's syllogism, as you describe it. Or perhaps I just don't agree with their import. If God does not exist everything is permitted. What does it mean to be permitted? If we have free will, isn't everything permitted? If the posited God is omnipotent and omniscient he has permitted everything that has happened. And as to science being true eliminating the possibility of God's existence, I think that it is generally understood that science cannot eliminate the possibility of a god or gods. What it does do is make the currently proposed gods look pretty unlikely. congregate
thanks lots for posting that. Frost122585
if you use the second link and if you look there will be a link to the video in the upper right. jerry
todd the link you sent isnt working. Frost122585
Watch the Real video stream of Berlinski on CSPAN this weekend. Here's the BookTV program page:
David Berlinski, teacher and author of books on mathematics, challenges the fields of science and atheist thought by arguing that science has not been able to prove the inexistence of a God nor explain the start of the universe. This event was hosted by the Discovery Institute in Washington, D.C.
Two more very important points. Above the blog quotes the book as David talks about Gödel...
"Shortly after Hilbert delivered his address, Kurt Gödel demonstrated that mathematics was inherently incomplete. If science in the twentieth century has demonstrated anything, it is that there are limits to what we can know."
Actually this is a far reaching abstraction which may or MAY NOT be true. Actually what Gödel thought his theorem proved was far more interesting and helpful to ID and a blowing strike against methodological materialism. I have done some extensive researching into Gödel lately because he absolutely captivates me and this is one of the things that I found- a beautiful quote in letter by Gödel and about the meaning that he saw in this theorem... “What has been proved is only that the kind of reasoning necessary in mathematics cannot be completely mechanized. Rather constantly renewed appeals to mathematical intuition are necessary. The decision of my "undecidable" proposition ... results from such an appeal. ... Whether every arithmetical yes or no question can be decided with the help of some chain of mathematical intuitions is not known. At any rate it has not been proved that there are arithmetical questions undecidable by the human mind. Rather what has been proved is only this: Either there are such questions or the human mind is more than a machine. In my opinion the second alternative is much more likely.” ---Kurt Godel [9, p. 162, Letter to David F. Plummer] So it is the mind that transcends formalism as the derived intuitive conclusion from his incompleteness theorem. If mathematics is incomplete that would not make a self described Platonist like Gödel very comfortable-- though the abstraction is logically possible it still lacks an formal proof. Arithmetic has been proven incomplete but that again is an appeal to form but not to numbers themselves. Arithmetic is formal where math itself (in a loose abstract sense) can be seen as intuitive. The second point I would like to make is about a beautiful logical construct that Berlinski puts together in his new and wonderful book on page 20. He quotes the motto from the incredible classical novel The Brothers Karamazov which is "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted" and then he uses that in conjunction with the motto by the new scientific atheists "If science is true than God doe not exist" to form a perfectly deductively logical syllogism...
Premise A: If God does not exist, then everything is permitted. Premise B: If science is true, then God does not exist. Conclusion: If science is true, then everything is permitted.
The syllogism simply sums up one of the two main messages of the book. #1 Atheism is not more moral or righteous than religions or faiths. #2 Science does not support premise B. Thus, by the end of the book the 2 premises fall apart and we avoid the horrible and inescapable conclusion attached by logical necessity to their truth value. A perfect simple abstraction that is inherently true as the dirty little secret about the self declared perverse moral claims by the militant atheists is that they have no proof for their position and their position isn't worth championing to begin with. If you haven’t bought the book yet please do- you wont be sorry you did. But have a dictionary handy because Berlinski is a master of the English language and isn’t afraid to use all of the tools at his disposal. Frost122585
Only the first is even remotely viable. Part of my comment to Berlinski was that what can account for the world having structure. Even the Darwinists don’t use randomness as their mechanism any more. Now they just say "whatever happened, happened"-- can you image a more worthless theory or mechanism, it elucidates nothing. Why should animals have survived millions of years of evolution? Why should the cell have arisen in the first place at all? Where did the structure of the structure come from- that is it's manual. Darwinism in this realm is vacuous and this is the only realm that ultimately counts if we are actually talking about origins. Where does the specificity come from? Mutation is not random so then what is it? Why did it happen this way? It cant be chalked up to a simple impartial and discrete roll of the dice. In this sense the theory is void and many extrapolations that are derived from it are false. This is what Berlinski's book is about. Science has met with the world and had a look around and that is it. There is more to this world then a short and simple peak through the foggy lens of empiricism or the cracked door of physical experiment can reveal. That doesn’t mean that we stop trying to see, to prove and to understand the world better and further, but it means that we need to respect our obvious limits as human beings-- But not as something that should be ignored or thrown away- not as the enemy of science but as its counterpart and its friend. It has been said that a smart man knows a lot but a wise man knows what he knows and “knows what he doesn’t know.” DE is incomplete not simply because we have to understand or explain some the evidence to its contrary but because the nature of the physical world that the theory tries to explain has made it abundantly clear that it cannot be explained within the theory. This is not a lack of understanding, it is sublime understanding. Negation is real- and the evidence in biology and cosmology negates Darwinism picture and mechanisms as the meat of the story of origins. I quote Einstein here from his personal writings - page 3 of The Einstein Reader- "What does a fish know about the water in which it swims most of its life?" How trivial is it knowledge of the physical reality thereof- or the animals that live on the land out side of the water? Or the clouds that bring rain or the sewage plant that interacts with it all he time etc. This is not merely a demur from a skeptical criticism (God of the gaps)- it is a realization about limits of knowledge and the mysteries (such as design and creation) that methodological materialistic mechanism will forever fall short of reaching. Yet, eerily and amazingly because the mind is more than machine we can still ask the transcendent questions and because MM limits itself to “the physical stuff” it will forever play the roll of that ignorant fish and never experience the awe of the enormous reality that lies just beyond its reach. We are not the fish because we can imagine further- we are not trapped by the material environments in which we exist. MM is- and its perversion is that as a mode of reasoning belonging to man it is a form of thinking that amounts to self confinement; an unnecessary prison sentence that offers little more then the benefits of slavery. Ignorance is certainly not a virtue but "chosen" ignorance is a perversion. As an advocate of ID I think that information, intelligence and design exists beyond the physical stuff and it is a conclusion that can be derived by the mind from the understanding and observations of the relationships that exist in the world. The physical stuff is all the same as Einstein said E=MC2 that is energy and matter are the same. It is not material that we as thinking beings are concerned about. It is structure and structure cannot come simply from the ambiguous properties of matter- self assembly is dead- it must come from the laws that organize and direct the matter… And laws imply a legislator. “The formation in geological time of the human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field is as unlikely as the separation of the atmosphere into its components. The complexity of the living things has to be present within the material [from which they are derived] or in the laws [governing their formation]” --Kurt Gödel, Frost122585
True. Marxism is bunk. It will be interesting to see what eventually does replace Darwinism. For all we know it could be something even worse. Offhand I can think of three schools that offer a positive alternative to Neo-Darwinian Theory (and all the baggage it carries). 1. Intelligent Design 2. The Emergentists (Harold Morowitz) 3. Vitalism (Henri Bergson) DeepDesign
All I know is that he uses Marxism and Freudianism as examples of theories that have met with the ash heap of time. Both of hich I largely agree with. He is probably a moderate that leans so called conservative. But I think that Marxism's faliure is as real as the hand in front of my face. So that doesnt mean that he couldn't be an enviornmentalist or social liberal of some sort. Frost122585
I'm curious. Do you know anything about Berlinski's political views? Hervey C. Mansfield (a conservative professor at Harvard University) and the late William F. Buckley both gave positive reviews to the Devil's Delusion. Just wondering.. DeepDesign
of course it has carried over into the 21st. Frost122585
Yeah, but its not just wikipedia its the media- its everywhere. That is why Expelled is so important. Hopefully it will help to start a constructive dialogue in the mainstream. Global warming science* is a case in point of the current state of affairs in the political/scientific complex. I think this is largely what Berlinkski is fighting with is new book. But all of this has been going on silently with out the needed dissent for years... "Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press." -Solzhenitsyn No truer words have ever be spoken. Frost122585
"It helps to have “a heavy skeptic” and someone not religiously affiliated on our side even if it is only on the offensive front against militant atheism." I agree As for wikipedia. I never go there to for anything ID related. Incredibally biased. I ussually either use ResearchID.Org, the resources to be found on Uncommon Descent/Post Darwinist and the articles provided by the Discovery Institute. DeepDesign
I’m telling ya, this book is one of the best modern books I have read. It is full of good examples and excellent literary prose. The flow is really beautiful and the train of thought is at a very high level. I have never understood why David Berlinki dosen’t support ID as a theory. But I am actually glad that he does not. It helps to have “a heavy skeptic” and someone not religiously affiliated on our side even if it is only on the offensive front against militant atheism. If, however, you read the wikipeida article on David, it says that he is a proponent of ID. That needs to be changed. It is, like so many politically motivated things on wiki, false. Frost122585
That's meant to be "privilege" not "private" above. Frost122585
Yeah, he thinks its incomplete. He agreed with my comment on Behe's and Dembski's theory of improbability. Thanks for the kind words above. It was really fun. I hope others get to enjoy the same private that I did. Yes, Logan was the man with the beard and glasses. Also, its really fun comming back to the blog after being there and on TV. It really adds another dimension to it all. Soon this universe will acquire yet another one. A bigger one right on the center stage of the masses. I think we are all looking forward to Expelled. Frost122585
I did, you handled yourself very well. Was Logan the gentleman with the beard and glasses? Thank you for explaining this to me. You know alot more than I do! Berlinski still doubts Darwinism is correct right? He said in the blurp I saw of Expelled that Darwinian evolutionary theory is like looking into a room full of smoke. It is a mess. DeepDesign
Deepdesign, did you see your's truly asking the first question from the audience, after Logan Gage's? I was sitting in the back with a blue shirt and brought up Newton's Theological manuscripts among other things. For the record, David is not an advocate of ID. David is an iconoclast of the modern sweeping thought coming out of the populace regarding science and issues of faith. David is agnostic but thinks that people clearly have a well warranted right to practice and believe in their faiths- all science taken into consideration. David points to the dogmatic atheism as nothing more than a belief system that is no different than religion itself in that it makes claims that aren’t supported by the evidence. Kant said you could not have any evidence for the existence of God or any against. God was to Kant unreachable by science. ID is not about God though. It certainly helps to support one's belief in God but it doesn’t equate to religion in virtually any way. It makes no moral claims etc. Berlinski on the other hand is clearly a moral man who carries a respectful attitude. He's disgusted with the current state of the political climate in science and education as most thinking people are. So many are professing atheism as fact not as belief and using science to warrant such inferences. This is all nonsense as Berlinski's book explains. In the book event he compares science’s relation to faith as (in his view) like going into outer space and not finding any proof to support what you originally believed. Ok, so you went up into outer space and didn't find anything important and or useful-doesn't mean therefore that there is nothing important out there! It has taken man millions of years to reach this current incredible level of technological advancement. For us to have concluded- from evidence in the very beginning- that there was "nothing out there to be discovered" by science would have been grossly premature. "THE BEST" or most that secular science can say regarding faith is that they had a look around and didn't see anything. It is up to the individual to decide whether absence of evidence is evidence of absence. This is merely a "chosen" opinion. As an example, you can choose to believe that Christ wasn’t the son of God- but you’ll never be able to prove it. Berlinski doesn’t buy ID as "the truth." The next question is whether or not he would want it in the text books for young students to see as an option to Darwinism. My guess is that he would not (though I cant say for sure) but he would want all the heavy evidence and questions that put DE in it's "proper perspective" (a trivial one I would say) taught along side the theory. I couldn't agree with the second part more. Frost122585
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