Intelligent Design

Science as Priestcraft and Hypocrisy Among the Clerisy

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At the risk of appearing to engage in unseemly schadenfreude, I am going to discuss Neil deGrasse Tyson in this post.  Tyson, whom one wag labeled “the dumbest smart person on Twitter,” famously tweeted that we need a virtual country called “Rationalia,” with a one-line constitution – “All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence.”  As Kevin Williamson noted shortly after the infamous tweet, “as men like him have done for ages, Tyson dreams of a world of self-evident choices, overseen by men of reason such as himself who occupy a position that we cannot help but notice is godlike.”

Of course, as Williamson notes, the impulse behind Tyson’s observation is far from new.  In the fourth century BC, Plato argued in his Republic that to bring about a utopian polity, “philosophers [must] become kings.”  Does anyone thing it is a mere coincidence that Plato was, ahem, a philosopher?  From Plato, to medieval priests leveraging their position for secular power, to Jacobins and their Cult of Reason, to twenty-first century scientists blithering about Rationalia – the intelligentsia have always thought they should be in charge of the rest of us.  Which brings me to Jonah Goldberg’s observation today:

In this way, scientism is a kind of priestcraft — a term coined by the writer James Harington to describe the way clergy would use their divine authority (back when everyone saw God as the ultimate source of truth) to serve their own interests.  Or as Bill Murray says in Ghostbusters, “Back off man, I’m a scientist.” Neil deGrasse Tyson is a leading practitioner of this secular priestcraft, arguing that we should pick up where the Jacobins left off and organize society around the rule of scientific reason as determined by people, well, like him.

But are the priests of the new secular priestcraft — men like Tyson — any more objective and dispassionate because they have achieved success in a scientific field?  Let us grant arguendo that Tyson is a very smart astrophysicist.  Does that make him free from the passions and will to power that plague the rest of us?  I suspect the four women who have accused him of sexual misconduct would argue that his educational achievements do not make him virtuously immune to his passions.

Plato also demonstrated that very smart people are just as bound up in the prejudices of their times as the rest of us and can hold views that will be considered morally abominable in retrospect.  For example, he wrote that women are naturally inferior to men in virtue.  With a quote like that on his record, Plato would have a hard time finding a job in any modern university.  So does Tyson’s mastery of astrophysics allow him to rise above the prejudices of his time and social class?  In this video, Tyson joins anthropologist Natalia Reagan in pushing the absurd idea that a man can be a woman if he wants to be badly enough.  If Tyson really believes the nonsense he spouts in the video, he demonstrates that his mastery of a branch of physical science has not freed him from the silly prejudices of his time and class.  And if he doesn’t believe it, he is just a hypocrite willing to betray science (what scientific fact is more certain than the binary nature of primate sexuality) when it is politically expedient.  Whichever is true, Tyson clearly knows which side his bread is buttered on.  He understands perfectly well that he must genuflect at the transgender alter lest he be excommunicated (I use that religiously freighted word advisedly) from his position of power and prestige.

Does anyone doubt that when Tyson observed that we should be ruled on the basis of reason, he had himself in mind as the perfect candidate for executing that rule?  He implies that people like himself would rule through the application of dispassionate reason to self-evidently true empirical facts.  Which makes recent revelations that men such as he are just as subject to passion, prejudice, hypocrisy and self-interest as the rest of us all the more ironic.

20 Replies to “Science as Priestcraft and Hypocrisy Among the Clerisy

  1. 1
    EDTA says:

    In that linked video, Tyson and sidekick “Chuck” are a couple of sexist jerks (in addition to being hypocrites).

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    …we need a virtual country called “Rationalia,” with a one-line constitution – “All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence.”

    Why do we need a virtual country? Is it revealed that we need a virtual country based on the weight of the evidence?

    Why do we need a virtual country with a one-line constitution? Is it revealed that we need a virtual country with a one-line constitution based on the weight of the evidence?

    Why do we need a virtual country with a one-line constitution saying “All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence.”? Is it revealed that we need a virtual country with a one-line constitution saying “All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence” based on the weight of the evidence?

    I’m going to propose my own one-line constitution.

    “Smart people shouldn’t be so dumb.”

    Sadly, no constitution can prevent stupidity. Which is why I prefer the one we already have, written by men far more wise than Neil deGrasse Tyson. May it live long and prosper.

  3. 3
    EDTA says:

    I think a huge contradiction has just been pointed out. These evolutionists are claiming that everyone’s sexuality is OK, no matter what. And yet at the same time, they supposedly believe in evolution, which constantly makes maladaptive mistakes in its search for creatures with greater survival potential.

    So they are in effect trying to carve out a special exception for sexuality, where they refuse to say out loud that _any_ difference might be maladaptive. Yet it’s pretty obvious that non-cis-genderization is bad for one’s chances of reproducing.

    They cannot have this both ways. If they believe in evolution, then there have to be biological deviations of such a degree that selection will try to eliminate the organism possessing that degree or greater of difference. These differences have to be able to happen to any aspect of us, including our sexual tendencies.

  4. 4
    ScuzzaMan says:

    The tyranny of men in black dresses (black-robed priests) has been supplanted by a tyranny of men in white dresses (lab-coated scientismists). Ironically, Tyson is blind to the obvious: it is unwise to trust a man in a dress.

  5. 5
    Belfast says:

    Luckily, men and women are wiser than is known. What they hear in the public market they think about in private – then vote.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Even more ironically, reason cannot be based in the atheistic materialism and/or Darwinian evolution that Tyson champions, but must instead be based in Theism.

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”
    – Charles Darwin – Letter To William Graham – July 3, 1881

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015
    Excerpt: Darwin’s Selective Skepticism
    People are sometimes under the impression that Darwin himself recognized the problem. They typically cite Darwin’s famous “horrid doubt” passage where he questions whether the human mind can be trustworthy if it is a product of evolution: “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”
    But, of course, Darwin’s theory itself was a “conviction of man’s mind.” So why should it be “at all trustworthy”?
    Surprisingly, however, Darwin never confronted this internal contradiction in his theory. Why not? Because he expressed his “horrid doubt” selectively — only when considering the case for a Creator.
    From time to time, Darwin admitted that he still found the idea of God persuasive. He once confessed his “inward conviction … that the Universe is not the result of chance.” It was in the next sentence that he expressed his “horrid doubt.” So the “conviction” he mistrusted was his lingering conviction that the universe is not the result of chance.
    In another passage Darwin admitted, “I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man.” Again, however, he immediately veered off into skepticism: “But then arises the doubt — can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?”
    That is, can it be trusted when it draws “grand conclusions” about a First Cause? Perhaps the concept of God is merely an instinct programmed into us by natural selection, Darwin added, like a monkey’s “instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”
    In short, it was on occasions when Darwin’s mind led him to a theistic conclusion that he dismissed the mind as untrustworthy. He failed to recognize that, to be logically consistent, he needed to apply the same skepticism to his own theory.,,,,,,
    ,,,, Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.
    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.,,,,,
    ,,,,, Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.
    The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94171.html

    “Hawking’s entire argument is built upon theism. He is, as Cornelius Van Til put it, like the child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face.
    Take that part about the “human mind” for example. Under atheism there is no such thing as a mind. There is no such thing as understanding and no such thing as truth. All (Stephen) Hawking is left with is a box, called a skull, which contains a bunch of molecules.
    Hawking needs God in order to deny Him.”
    – Cornelius Hunter –

    Humorous photo of an atheist contemplating his own mind
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H-kj.....0/rob4.jpg

    Thus, in so far as Tyson wants to live in a world ruled by reason, Tyson, in reality, wants to live in a world ruled by God.

    Verse:

    Isaiah 1:18
    “Come now, and let us reason together,”,,,

    John1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is also the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

  7. 7
    News says:

    I just posted links to Nancy Pearcey at More Than Cake, on how Darwin really triumphed:

    Pearcey: “Darwinism won less because it fit the empirical data than because it provided a scientific rationale for those already committed to a purely naturalistic account of life.”

    But look at the curious times we live in: In the current SJW wars, naturalism is precisely what the Darwinians are being asked to give up. For example, they insisted that we are all 98% chimpanzee; so now they are commanded to embrace the idea that sexual dimorphism is purely a cultural fact among primates, which everyone knows is false… Do they deserve this?

  8. 8
    Ed George says:

    Except in rare circumstances, gender (sex) is binary. But behaviour that we typically associate with one gender or the other definitely has a social construct aspect to it. For example, I don’t think that anyone suggests that women are born with the desire to wear makeup and jewelry, or that boys are born with a desire to play hockey and drink beer.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    On Gender, the Science Is Deafening – December 07, 2018
    Excerpt: Reading the headlines this week is like taking a trip to an alternate universe. Ten years ago, if you’d have said that in 2018 teachers would get fired for calling a girl a girl, most people wouldn’t have believed you. Unfortunately, that’s the ridiculous world Americans are waking up to every morning. But to most people’s relief, not everyone is playing along with this charade. And that includes President Trump.,,,

    “A man on estrogen is not a woman. He is a man with a male physiology on estrogen, and that’s how a physician must approach him.” The very serious problem, she points out, is that people are so ideologically-driven that they want to ignore the medical research. More than ever, Dr. Cretella says, “Medicine is at the point now where we understand that men and women have — at a minimum — 6,500 genetic differences between us. And this impacts every cell of our bodies — our organ systems, how diseases manifest, how we diagnose, and even treat in some cases.”

    Treating a person differently based on their feelings isn’t just harmful, she argues, but deadly. In cases like heart disease, certain drugs can endanger women and not men. Even diagnoses present differently in men and women. The symptoms for certain diseases, she explains, can manifest themselves in completely opposite ways. “And these are nuances that medicine is finally studying and bringing to light. And it’s actually ironic that the transgender movement [is] so anti-science.”
    https://www.frc.org/updatearticle/20181207/gender-science

  10. 10

    Ed George said @8: “For example, I don’t think that anyone suggests that women are born with the desire to wear makeup and jewelry, or that boys are born with a desire to play hockey and drink beer.”

    How about most women are born with the desire to appear desirable to a mate (Make-up and jewelry) and most boys are born with the desire for physical activities that sort them into alpha male/beta male pecking orders and to impress future mates. Beer drinking by either sex could be attributed to the desire of humans to bond and socially interact and enter altered states.

    While each culture might present different and various styles for the display of these innate traits, I think we can see them pretty much across human civilization.

  11. 11
    Ed George says:

    BA77: citing someone else

    Medicine is at the point now where we understand that men and women have — at a minimum — 6,500 genetic differences between us.

    This is a little misleading. For those with just a basic knowledge of genetics, this suggests that there are at least 6,500 different genes, which is not the case. There are some gene differences, but most of the differences we see are due to different levels of gene activity between men and women, most triggered either directly or indirectly by the hormone differences between the sexes.

    We see a similar thing when we compare genetic activity between a child and it’s later adult form. Identical genetics but different levels of gene activity.

  12. 12
    john_a_designer says:

    Ben Shapiro, who is an orthodox Jew relates an incident that occurred recently to some female members of the synagogue he attends.

    a transgender woman — a biological male who suffers from gender dysphoria — came to the gym. This man, who retains his male biological characteristics, then entered the locker room and proceeded to disrobe. When told by management that he could use a private dressing room, he refused, announcing that he was a woman and could disrobe in front of all the other women.

    The predictable result: Many of the actual biological women began cancelling their memberships. When the management asked people higher in the chain, they were simply told that to require the man to use a private dressing room or to reject his membership would subject the company to litigation and possible boycott.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/11/transgender-politics-sympathy-cannot-trump-reality/

    It appears to me that the secular progressive left over the past couple of decades has invented a new right, the right of affirmation and approval. For example, society as a whole needs to affirm and approve of transgender people because society has been guilty of oppressing them, or so the theory goes. However, how can this be considered a right unless everyone has that right? Aren’t rights supposed to be equal rights? Don’t the women attending the health club have any rights anymore? Or have their rights been trumped by a single transgender person who demands affirmation?

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ed George,

    I am not sure what point you are trying to make. If your point is that some behaviors are culturally conditioned, who can argue with that? If your point is that because some behaviors are culturally conditioned, a man should have the right to be called a women and expose his penis in the women’s bathroom, then you are an idiot.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    EG:

    The article is not misleading at all. It said ‘6,500 genetic differences’ not “6,500 different genes” as you tried to read into it.

    Moreover, the original paper states that, “Men and women,, are “distinctly dimorphic”,,,.

    The landscape of sex-differential transcriptome and its consequent selection in human adults – 2017
    Excerpt: Men and women have almost identical genomes but are distinctly dimorphic, with dissimilar disease susceptibilities.
    https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-017-0352-z

    Surprise: Men and Women Greatly Differ Genetically | Jerry Bergman – May 8, 2017
    Excerpt: An article in New Scientist titled “Sex Differences in Human Gene Expression” concluded that “Researchers uncover thousands of genes whose activity varies between men and women.”[1] Specifically, their study found 6,500 genes were differentially expressed. They concluded that men and women are distinctly dimorphic, consequently one result of this fact is that they have very dissimilar disease susceptibilities.[2] The sexual dimorphic traits result mainly from differential expression of the genes that exist in both sexes. These results strongly go against the current politically correct view that the only differences between males and females are a few minor plumbing variations and a couple of small hormones.
    http://crev.info/2017/05/men-w.....netically/

    Moreover, a man may think he is a woman, (or a woman may think she is a man), but as far as how our brains are wired, a man does not think like a woman, (and a woman does not think like a man).

    MEN AND WOMEN’S BRAINS ARE ‘WIRED DIFFERENTLY’
    Men and women’s brains are connected in different ways
    Excerpt: A US team at the University of Pennsylvania scanned the brains of nearly 1,000 men, women, boys and girls and found striking differences.
    The “connectome maps” reveal the differences between the male brain (seen in blue) and the female brain (orange)
    Male brains appeared to be wired front to back, with few connections bridging the two hemispheres.
    In females, the pathways criss-crossed between left and right.
    These differences might explain why men, in general, tend to be better at learning and performing a single task, like cycling or navigating, whereas women are more equipped for multitasking, say the researchers in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
    http://synapse.org.au/blog/blo.....ently.aspx

    On top of that, Darwinists have no clue how sexual reproduction could have possibly evolved in the first place:

    How did the sexes originate? Why is it that the vast majority of living things require a “male and female” to reproduce? If evolution were true – doesn’t it make much more sense that EVERY living organism was self-replicating and required no useless energy expenditure? When did the first male get here? When did the first female get here? How? Why? Wouldn’t they have had to appear fully functional and at the same time in order for the next generation of organisms to arrive? Of course, they would. So, how is it that the first male and female for almost 2 million living organisms arrived together and fully functional so that reproduction could take place? “Sex is the QUEEN of evolutionary biology problems.”
    Dr. Graham Bell – In his book, ‘The Masterpiece of Nature’

    Another whack at the “sex paradox” – July 1, 2014
    Excerpt: The article is most informative about tests done on the various theses but in the end (they state). And so the paradox of sex lives on. “We still really don’t know the answer to this very most basic question,” says Mark Welch. “We don’t know why sex exists.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....x-paradox/

    Knowledge gap on the origin of sex – May 26, 2017
    Excerpt: There are significant gaps in our knowledge on the evolution of sex, according to a research review on sex chromosomes. Even after more than a century of study, researchers do not know enough about the evolution of sex chromosomes to understand how males and females emerge.
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170526084533.htm

    New book challenges sexual selection theory in evolution – May 20, 2018
    Excerpt: Darwin’s Secret Sex Problem What Darwin Ignored,,,
    Darwin never seriously confronted the crucial, insurmountable gap in his grand theory between asexual replication and sexual reproduction. Nor could Darwins famed natural selection have provided simultaneous on-time delivery of the first male/female pair of millions of sexually unique species required for evolutions bedrock premise of common descent, a fundamental flaw fatal to the romanticized microbe-to-man Evolution Story.
    https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/new-book-challenges-sexual-selection-theory-in-evolution/

    Whereas on the other hand, Christians have no problem understanding how sex originated, nor do they have a problem understanding why Men and Women are so “distinctly dimorphic”

    Mark 10:6
    But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’,,

  15. 15
    Ed George says:

    BA

    I am not sure what point you are trying to make. If your point is that some behaviors are culturally conditioned, who can argue with that?

    I believe that is all that I said.

    BA77

    The article is not misleading at all. It said ‘6,500 genetic differences’ not “6,500 different genes” as you tried to read into it.

    No, I was saying that this would be how less less knowledgeable would read it.

    What would be interesting, however, would be to see how many of these 6,500 genetic differences would be found in transgendered people who have undergone hormone treatment treatments.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “What would be interesting, however, would be to see how many of these 6,500 genetic differences would be found in transgendered people who have undergone hormone treatment treatments.”

    My bet is that the result would not be what you expect.

    Remember, every one of the cells of a man and of a woman are chromosomally different from one another. Moreover, the genome is far more holistically integrated than is presupposed in Darwinian thought.

    Shoot, although the human body is amazingly resilient in adjusting to ‘surprises’, and given the holistic integration of the genome, it would not startle me too much if the genetic differences between men and women went up in those people who are artificially using the opposite sex’s hormone.

    Genes on the Y chromosome prove essential for male survival – April 23, 2014
    Excerpt: Moreover, the vast majority of these tenacious genes appear to have little if any role in sex determination or sperm production.,,,
    “There are approximately a dozen genes conserved on the Y that are expressed in cells and tissue types throughout the body,” he continues. “These are genes involved in decoding and interpreting the entirety of the genome. How pervasive their effects are is a question we throw open to the field, and it’s one we can no longer ignore.”
    Page believes this research will at last allow his lab to transition from proving the so-called rotting Y theorists wrong to a new era in Y chromosome biology.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....132421.htm

    Sex Chromosome Shocker: The ‘Female’ X a Key Contributor to Sperm Production – July 21, 2013
    Excerpt: Painstaking new analysis of the genetic sequence of the X chromosome — long perceived as the “female” counterpart to the male-associated Y chromosome — reveals that large portions of the X have “evolved” to play a specialized role in sperm production.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....161358.htm

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    Ed

    I believe that is all that I said.

    OK. So you made an unexceptional point that is apropos of nothing. Good for you.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    I heard this Christmas song for the first time this morning. I thought it was beautiful.

    Reunion Song – Ricky Skaggs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_USe6noolh8

    Enjoy!

  19. 19
    Ed George says:

    BA77

    My bet is that the result would not be what you expect.

    I don’t know what to expect. That is why I said that it would be interesting to find out.

    BA

    OK. So you made an unexceptional point that is apropos of nothing. Good for you.

    Not all comments can be earth shattering. 🙂

  20. 20
    Ed George says:

    BA77@18, I’m not normally a Skaggs fan, but thanks for the link.

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