Intelligent Design

Intellectual freedom: Do we have to fight that battle all over again?

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We wrestle with significant questions regarding the mind and the brain: Is the mind an illusion? Is it merely the buzz created by neurons? Is it an immaterial reality? One thing we will certainly need to sort all this out is academic freedom: Pundit David Horowitz brings us up to date on his academic freedom campaign:

In September 2003, I began a national campaign to persuade universities to adopt an academic bill of rights, aimed at extending traditional academic-freedom protections to students and restoring objectivity and fairness to classrooms. Mounting such an effort is not easy. Getting the issue of campaign finance reform on the national radar, for example, reportedly required some $120-million and the work of several major public-interest organizations. My campaign consisted of two staff members and myself, and a budget to match.

Yet three years later, the issues that I raised — the lack of intellectual diversity on campuses and the intrusion of political agendas into the curriculum — have become topics of discussion at colleges throughout the country. This July, moreover, Temple University became the first institution to adopt a student bill of rights as a response to my challenge.

How did this happen? Oddly enough, no small part of my success can be attributed to my opponents’ tactics.

From my reading of this and other accounts of the conflict, Horowitz’s opponents make their agenda perfectly clear: Their own stale, tired materialist views cannot long sustain the assault of fresh minds, intellectually free. Hence the need to eliminate intellectual freedom wherever possible. Such systems tend to crumble from their own brittleness.

7 Replies to “Intellectual freedom: Do we have to fight that battle all over again?

  1. 1
    Reed Orak says:

    As much as I am for “academic freedom,” I saw David Horowitz speak at a nearby college campus and I found him to be intolerable. The first half of his talk was devoted to the (honourable) idea that teachers ought to be hired/fired/promoted according to a purely academic rubric, without reference to political or religious ideology. Fair enough, but the second half of his talk was a plea to “hire more conservatives,” which to me reeks of positive discrimination/affirmative action. One can’t have it both ways.

  2. 2
    paulm says:

    “We wrestle with significant questions regarding the mind and the brain: Is the mind an illusion? Is it merely the buzz created by neurons? Is it an immaterial reality? One thing we will certainly need to sort all this out is academic freedom: Pundit David Horowitz brings us up to date on his academic freedom campaign:” Denyse

    If the mind is non-material, then science will not be able to explain it. It has never been clear to me how you would detect a non-material mind or a non-material anything. And no academic freedom does not include the scientific research on non-material phenomena, since it is a scientific dead end. How would you distinguish between an unknown material phenomena and a non-material phenomena? Science explains natural phenomena. Period. Why? Because that is all that it can do.

    “From my reading of this and other accounts of the conflict, Horowitz’s opponents make their agenda perfectly clear: Their own stale, tired materialist views cannot long sustain the assault of fresh minds, intellectually free. Hence the need to eliminate intellectual freedom wherever possible. Such systems tend to crumble from their own brittleness.” Denyse

    Please site the Supreme Court cases involved in Academic freedom that allow non science to be taught as science. Since when is excluding fraud from the classroom an interference with freedom?

    How does anyone do non-material science. Not clear to me. I assume you mean by materialism, naturalism, but I am not sure. Seems to me that materialistic science has given us a lot of results.

  3. 3
    Rude says:

    “Science explains natural phenomena. Period. Why? Because that is all that it can do.” This is ridiculous! Who defines exactly what are “natural phenomena” and what are not—the Darwinists? the physicists? the philosophers? And what if something that has not been so designated has an effect on this world—do we then ignore it?

    Science studies whatever has an effect in the objective world. By definition the deity of the Deists leaves no discernable tracks in the world—therefore science cannot study that deity. Otherwise science does what science does and whoever would remove that freedom destroys science.

    You, Paul Materialist, do not know whether your free will is made of meat or is something else—something perhaps not “natural”—but it does have a testable effect on the world (on my computer monitor, in fact). So while studying that effect must we assume your free will is made of meat? All the materialists ever do is either deny the existence of free will or assert that it somehow “supervenes” on mechanical processes. There is no materialist theory of mind. Period.

    ID only proposes to distinguish design from randomness and/or deterministic patterns. Design is definable. And so far the only known producers of design are biological agents on this planet. We can study the design that human agents produce, we cannot study the production of functioning organs via random mutations and natural selection because it never happens. So I ask you: which is science—Darwinism or ID?

  4. 4
    paulm says:

    “You, Paul Materialist, do not know whether your free will is made of meat or is something else—something perhaps not “natural”—but it does have a testable effect on the world (on my computer monitor, in fact). So while studying that effect must we assume your free will is made of meat?” Rude

    This sort of argument exhausts me.

    It is true that the mind may be non material. But if it is non material, science will not be able to know this. You tell me how you would detect something in the mind to be non material. I have never seen a convincing demonstration.

    It is also true that if the mind is not natural the effects of this mind can be studied as long as the effects are natural. But there is no way that science has to detect a non-natural mind or anything else.

    Science is materialistic out of necessity not ideology. Or put it another way. That part of the mind that is material can be studied. That part which is not, cannot be studied.

    By the way I am not a materialist in the sense that I would say that the non-material does not exist. I would say however that the non-material is not detectable by empirical testing. I cannot create a model of the non-material, make predictions from that model, and falsify or confirm those predictions in experiments or field observations. Can you? An example would be fascinating.

    I am not a scientist, so nothing too complicated.

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    PaulM

    “But if it is non material, science will not be able to know this.”

    Sure it can. At least tentatively. When you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, however improbable, is the truth. Science can tell us what is impossible by undirected material means. Whatever is left…

  6. 6
    kairos says:

    “Sure it can. At least tentatively. When you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, however improbable, is the truth.”

    Think about a simple conceptual experiment. Take a perfectly balanced coin, exactly similar to other ones that, when tossed, do rightly provide genuine random sequences according to Chaitin Kolmogoroff test. Now, let us suppose that by tossing that coin one thousand times we obtain a CSI sequence, such as the binary sequence of the first n Fibonacci numbers. Moreover, let us suppose that any external influence according to any know natural force could be detected. Would this be sufficient to detect a non-natural influence on realm? Quite reasonably yes, although I suspect that someone could say that “this is not science” ….

  7. 7
    Joseph says:

    Reed Orak:
    Fair enough, but the second half of his talk was a plea to “hire more conservatives,” which to me reeks of positive discrimination/affirmative action. One can’t have it both ways.

    If the overwhelming majority of teachers are liberals then I would say he has a point because one can’t have intellectual freedom if one is always fed from the same bag when other bags exist that can stimulate thought.

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