Intelligent Design Philosophy Science

At Nature: Waging war on the science deniers!

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A philosopher, introducing his new book, The Workshop and the World: What Ten Thinkers Can Teach Us About Science and Authority, begins with an attack on the apostle Paul. Sure, that’ll help:

Hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris is an imposing painting, The Preaching of St Paul at Ephesus. In this 1649 work by Eustache Le Sueur, the fiery apostle lifts his right hand as if scolding the audience, while clutching a book of scripture in his left. Among the rapt or fearful listeners are people busily throwing books into a fire. Look carefully, and you see geometric images on some of the pages.Robert P. Crease, “The rise and fall of scientific authority — and how to bring it back” at Nature

Paul is, of course, responsible for what someone painted over 1500 years later. For the record, St. Paul was a learned man but counted it all loss compared to believing that his sins were forgiven in Christ. Blaise Pascal had a similar experience. It’s not rare. Anyway, now that our author thinks he has established a common bond with his audience, he goes on to say,

Today, St Paul is making a comeback: the authority of science is again under attack. In areas of national and global consequence — from climate to medicine —political leaders feel confident that they can reject scientific claims, substituting myths and cherry-picked facts. I have spent five years investigating why this has happened and what can be done. Robert P. Crease, “The rise and fall of scientific authority — and how to bring it back” at Nature

Well, if Dr. Crease has not yet tumbled to the idea of avoiding dragging in historical figures who are, in reality, unrelated to the immediate problem, we can only wonder what solutions he will propose. He tells us that “Science denial, however, is like crime: combating it requires both short-term and long-term strategies.”

A friend offers a summary of the strategies implied by his comments:

  • “Preaching, denouncing or shouting ‘Science works!’ won’t help. Neither will throwing around statistics, graphs and charts.” He’s right, but it doesn’t follow that facts don’t convince anyone. When important, well-known facts are omitted from a discussion, their signal can be louder than the permitted signals.
  • “If the entire range of such vulnerabilities is not understood, attacking science denial is a frustrating game of whack-a-mole: it simply crops up elsewhere. To curb it, we have to comprehend what makes the whack-a-mole machine tick.” The metaphor of pointless conflict makes clear that the author does not come prepared to listen or learn anything; a bad beginning to a discussion between parties in conflict.
  • “Contemporary science deniers have not one (religious) motive, but many — greed, fear, bias, convenience, profits, politics — to which they cling with various degrees of sincerity and cynicism.” Like all attacks on motives, this one causes a thoughtful reader to wonder about the author’s own co-belligerents’ motives. Given that they make a living out of science, would’;t many of them have roughly the same motives. It doesn;t hbear either way on who is more correct on the facts.
  • “Science denial, however, is like crime: combating it requires both short-term and long-term strategies.” Implying that “science denial” is like crime could translate roughly as “It is a crime to disagree with my faction’s positions.” That approach has a history.
  • “Only by retelling that story — of how the authority of the scientific workshop was promoted, attacked, defended, coupled with society and then diminished — can we have an idea of how to respond when it decouples.” Offhand, it sounds as though Crease is trying to make his patriotic history of science into a popular legend. But he has certainly gone about it the wrong way.

Dr. Crease certainly serves a purpose. Listening to him helps us understand why so many people doubt orthodox science.

Sadly, there is a war on science, of sorts, afoot. Social justice warriors, for example, are taking dead aim at math. And at objectivity generally. It’s as if, unable or unwilling to even name, let alone withstand the threat, establishment science types hope to distract themselves with a different story until it goes away. Good luck with that. They see you have funding. And they always need more money.

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See also: The war on math,

and

Which side will atheists choose in the war on science? They need to re-evaluate their alliance with progressivism, which is doing science no favours.

5 Replies to “At Nature: Waging war on the science deniers!

  1. 1
    OLV says:

    “the authority of science is again under attack.”???

    Huh?

    Science was under attack -and lost- when a famous Briton made a misleading extrapolation of observed biological adaptation onto macroevolution, sold it as a scientific thing and the world bought it while smiling cluelessly. Shame on us humans! Shame on us.

    It’s long due to dump all that outdated pseudoscience into the history trash bin for good.

  2. 2
    PeterA says:

    “Hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris is an imposing painting, The Preaching of St Paul at Ephesus. In this 1649 work by Eustache Le Sueur, the fiery apostle lifts his right hand as if scolding the audience, while clutching a book of scripture in his left. Among the rapt or fearful listeners are people busily throwing books into a fire. Look carefully, and you see geometric images on some of the pages.”

    “throwing books into a fire”?

    “books”?

    In the first century? Really?

    Is this author serious?

    Basing an important historical conclusion on a painting?

  3. 3
    News says:

    PeterA, yes, those books do have a 17th century look to them. For one thing, they seem to be printed books. But if you are a philosopher of science, you don’t need to distinguish between Paul, as known to us from his Letters and Acts of the Apostles, and a seventeenth-century artist with a commission. People are supposed to believe him on authority without noticing those kinds of things or asking too many questions.

  4. 4
    PeterA says:

    Yes, agree.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    The Preaching of St Paul at Ephesus. In this 1649 work by Eustache Le Sueur, the fiery apostle lifts his right hand as if scolding the audience, while clutching a book of scripture in his left. Among the rapt or fearful listeners are people busily throwing books into a fire.

    His claim that Paul the apostle was a ‘fiery preacher’ who was against science and wanted to burn books is to have a severely distorted view of Paul the apostle.

    First off, modern science did not even exist in the first century, but modern science only became possible in medieval Europe when the presuppositions held within Christianity, (i.e. of a rational universe created by a rational God, a universe that could dare be understood rational creatures that were ‘made in His image’), had finally come to dominate the entire medieval European culture.

    The truth about science and religion By Terry Scambray – August 14, 2014
    Excerpt: In 1925 the renowned philosopher and mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead speaking to scholars at Harvard said that science originated in Christian Europe in the 13th century. Whitehead pointed out that science arose from “the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher”, from which it follows that human minds created in that image are capable of understanding nature.
    The audience, assuming that science and Christianity are enemies, was astonished.
    http://www.americanthinker.com.....igion.html

    No False Gods Before Me: A Review of Rodney Stark’s Work by Terry Scambray (December 2018)
    Excerpt: Informed by Jewish wisdom and Greek reason, the Christian God was “not only eternal and immutable but also conscious, concerned, and rational.” Jesus Christ is the embodiment of this rational principle as “the Word (logos) made flesh,” reason incarnate.,,,
    The distinguished philosopher and mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead, astonished a Harvard audience in 1925 when he said that science is a “derivative of medieval theology [since it arose] from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher.”
    Whitehead’s thesis was but another bolt from out of the blue because the notion that medieval philosophy, scholasticism, led to the development of science was astonishing!
    Though it should not have been, since scholasticism was complex, diverse, penetrating and devoted to reasoning from the two books that undergird Christianity: the book of God, Scripture, and the book of nature, Creation. As Stark writes, “Not only were science and religion compatible, they were inseparable—the rise of science was achieved by deeply religious, Christian scholars.”,,,
    So Christianity, then and now, never was antithetical to science. And this is because European Christians believed in a rational God whose imprint could be discovered in nature; thus, they confidently looked for and found natural laws. As Johannes Kepler, the venerable 17th century cosmologist, wrote, “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world” is to discover this harmony imposed by God in the language of mathematics.
    Stark concludes, “That the universe had an Intelligent Designer is the most fundamental of all scientific theories and that it has been successfully put to empirical tests again and again. For, as Albert Einstein remarked, the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible” which Einstein called a “miracle.” And this “miracle” confirms the fact that creation is guided by purpose and reason.
    https://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm?frm=189497&sec_id=189497

    Moreover, prior to Paul’s Damascus road conversion, Paul was indeed an intolerant religious zealot who sought to put to death anyone who disagreed with him:

    Acts 9
    The Damascus Road: Saul Converted
    1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
    3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
    5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
    Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. [a]It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
    6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
    Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

    But after Paul ‘saw the light’, Paul’s demeanor radically changed.

    PAUL THE PREACHER
    A PROFOUND and permanent change had suddenly passed over Saul in the immediate vicinity of Damascus. The Saviour had shown Himself in glory, and spoken a few words of gracious power to him. The brightness of the vision had dazzled him into blindness, and with a smitten heart and faltering step he was led by his companions through the gate into the city.
    https://www.preceptaustin.org/paul-the-preacher-discourses-and-speeches-in-acts

    Some Character Traits of Paul, the Apostle By Wayne Jackson
    Persistent,,
    Patient,,
    Courageous,,
    Humble,,
    Uncompromising,,
    Yielding,,
    Ethical,,
    Forgiving,,
    https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1385-some-character-traits-of-paul-the-apostle

    After his conversion, instead of Paul being a “fiery preacher” who wanted to destroy anyone who dared disagree with him, Paul basically became an intellectual geek who challenged his listeners to “test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.”

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.

    Indeed the scriptures themselves say of Paul “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”

    2 Corinthians 10:10
    For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”

    Far from Paul persecuting people, Paul would debate his opponents powerfully refuting his opponents until his opponents would finally often be the very ones who themselves would seek to destroy Paul.

    Acts 18:28
    For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.

    2 Corinthians 11
    23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
    30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

    Thus his claim that Paul the apostle was a ‘fiery preacher’ who was against science and wanted to burn books is to have a severely distorted view of who Paul the apostle actually was.

    If anyone is against the free discourse necessary for science, the author in the OP need not look any further than his own cadre who, besides character assassination of those who disagree with them, seek to censor and “Expel” anyone who dares disagree with them that all life on earth is the result of Mindless Darwinian processes.

    Update per Nancy Pearcey: The microbiologist, Kas Thomas, who wrote the article expressing doubts about Darwinian theory (posted below) is shocked, shocked that he is being vilified by Darwinists: ” I am not a creationist, and yet now I know from first-hand experience what it feels like to be on the receiving end of scorn born of dogma — scientific dogma. I don’t know why it should surprise me to find there are bullies on all sides of this issue. Until now, I stupidly thought scientific minds were more tolerant and less bullying than religious thinkers. The comments here show the truth. There are closed-minded, intolerant bullies on both sides. “Bully” meaning someone who is not content to leave one well-reasoned comment, then move on; someone who has to keep leaving more and more comments, using the most vitriolic language, simply because they can’t get their way….
    It’s pretty clear who the bullies are here. I must say I’m shocked at the degree of intolerance and disrespect shown in some of these comments by Darwinists, who in many cases (it turns out) are anything but open-minded, tolerant, or reasonable. The comments speak for themselves. As I say, it’s clear who the bullies are.”
    Here’s the original article again:
    http://bigthink.com/devil-in-t.....ith-darwin

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