Intelligent Design Philosophy Religion Science

Dembski: Is truth just what your peers will let you get away with saying?

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He argues, sound, logical thinking is NOT the norm. Many people, anxious to remain in good standing with leaders and influencers, live quite happily with incoherence and inconsistencies:

We inhabit not merely a physical environment but also a cultural environment. Our cultural environment sets boundaries for what we may think, what we can say, and how we should live. Stray beyond these boundaries, and you’ll face a cultural backlash. Our cultural environment includes our ideas about what exists, what can be known, and what counts as evidence for our beliefs. It assigns value to our life and work. It describes what’s within and beyond the moral pale. Above all, it determines our plausibility structures — what we find reasonable or unreasonable, credible or incredible, thinkable or unthinkable.

Christian apologetics lives and moves within such a cultural environment. To be effective, Christian apologetics therefore needs to work effectively within its cultural environment. That’s not to say that it should bow to the cultural environment. Quite the contrary: in a fallen world like ours, cultural environments will always to varying degrees be corrupt, and it is the task of Christian apologists to speak truth to and transform for the better any cultural environment in which they find themselves.

News, “Is truth just what your peers will let you get away with saying?” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: Christian apologists should recognize that incoherence and inconsistencies only become a problem in most people’s thinking when they hinder their lives.


The entire analysis is here.

Here’s the first portion (Parts 1 and 2) published at Mind Matters News

What makes arguments for God convincing — or not? Is truth enough? A look at the unfulfilled promise of Christian apologetics: Christian apologetics has, in my view, mainly been in the business of playing defense when it needs to be playing offense.

34 Replies to “Dembski: Is truth just what your peers will let you get away with saying?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Of course, we must distinguish typical behaviours from parasitical and destructive/evil but common enough ones [e.g. lying], from what is socially approved/disapproved [chattel slavery and racism were once approved], from what is normative by virtue of being lawful in accord with justice, truth, right reason, neighbour-love and other first duties of responsible rational freedom. Recall, the first foundation stone of injustice is untruth. That is part of the reformational critique that we must make at this time of peril. KF

    PS, per Ari, truth says of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    If you want to have a church, you need to have living people in it, and then you need to provide something of value for those living people.

    Apologetics and truth are way down the list of priorities. Saving the people from NAZI TORTURE CHAMBERS should come first.

    For the last 30 years churches have completely failed to serve or help their own customers. In 2020 all the churches CHEERFULLY joined the NAZI TORTURERS. Why should anyone bother with churches when they’re just as bad as doctors and politicians and corporations.?

  3. 3
    Bob O'H says:

    Apologetics and truth are way down the list of priorities. Saving the people from NAZI TORTURE CHAMBERS should come first.

    Good news: we can tick that one off the list.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    As to: “Many people, anxious to remain in good standing with leaders and influencers, live quite happily with incoherence and inconsistencies:”

    Aside from the ‘inconvenient truth’ that the entire abstract, immaterial, concept of ‘truth’ can’t even be grounded within Atheistic Materialism in the first place,

    1. For a worldview to possibly ‘find the truth’, it must first be able to ground the abstract and immaterial concept of truth.
    2. Darwinian materialism is completely unable to ground the abstract and immaterial concept of truth within its reductive materialistic framework.
    3. Darwinian evolution, therefore, cannot possibly ‘find the truth’, nor can it even possibly ever be a ‘true’ worldview.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/maori-creationism-is-okay-in-new-zealand-schools-objectors-could-be-booted-from-nzs-royal-society/#comment-741814

    Aside from that rather ‘inconvenient truth’ for the Atheistic Materialist, one of the most powerful evidences that Atheistic Materialism cannot possibly be true is the fact that Atheistic Materialists themselves don’t live their lives as if Atheistic Materialism were actually true. i.e. they “live quite happily with incoherence and inconsistencies:”

    As the following article notes, “materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.”

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt: Neo-Darwinism insists that every phenomenon, every species, every trait of every species, is the consequence of random chance, as natural selection requires. And yet, Nagel says, “certain things are so remarkable that they have to be explained as non-accidental if we are to pretend to a real understanding of the world.”?
    ,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    In the following article, Nancy Pearcey quotes several leading Atheistic Materialists in academia who honestly confess that it is impossible for them to live their lives consistently as if atheistic materialism were actually true. She even quotes a professor emeritus at MIT directly who stated, quote-unquote, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs”, in regards to his worldview of Atheistic Materialism and how he actually lives his life.

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    Richard Dawkins himself, who has been quite open about his hatred of God,

    Ben Stein vs. Richard Dawkins Interview (No Intelligence Allowed) – video clip
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlZtEjtlirc

    Richard Dawkins himself honestly admitted that it would be quote unquote “intolerable” for him to live his life as if his atheistic materialism were actually true

    Who wrote Richard Dawkins’s new book? – October 28, 2006
    Excerpt:
    Dawkins: What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do.,,,
    Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?
    Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02783.html

    In what should be needless to say, if it is impossible for you to live as if your worldview were actually true then your worldview cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but your worldview must instead be based on a delusion.

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    Excerpt:
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

    An Atheist once, (when this rather ‘inconvenient truth’ was pointed out to him), tried to counter the fact that he can’t possibly live his life consistently as if his Atheistic materialism were actually true with the (false) counterclaim of, (paraphrase), “So what?, Christians also can’t live their lives as if their Christianity is actually true?”

    Another blogger on UD, who was/is a Christian, directly challenged him on that (false) claim and pointed out that he can live his life perfectly consistently as if Christianity is actually true. i.e. That God exists, that God created the universe and all life in it, that we were made in the image of God,, that humanity is now in a fallen, i.e. sinful, state, and that Jesus died on a cross, and rose again, as a propitiation for our moral imperfections, for our sins, so that we might inherit eternal life.

    Romans 6:23
    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    There is simply nothing within that basic overview of the Christian worldview that forces anyone to live his life inconsistently.,, Whereas, again, it is simply impossible for atheists to live their lives as if their atheistic materialism were actually true.

    Quote:

    “Speculations, man, I have none. I have certainties. I thank God that I don’t rest my dying head upon speculations for “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.”
    – Michael Faraday –
    https://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~varghese/whyIbelieve.pdf
    (Michael Faraday was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.) ,,,
    ,,,, The president of the Institution for Electrical Engineers (IEE), for instance, at the unveiling of a Michael Faraday statue in 1989, said, “His discoveries have had an incalculable effect on subsequent scientific and technical development. He was a true pioneer of scientific discovery.”
    https://crev.info/scientists/michael-faraday/

  5. 5
    jerry says:

    Have people since the beginning of time not been interested in truth? It has never been so obvious than today that this is “true.”

    Yes, we are obviously interested in some truths as we must live so that we reach tomorrow. Certainly some common things have to be accepted and be true to reach that goal.

    But how about next year, 10 years from now, our children’s future? What may not be necessary to live one’s entire life and not affect it.

    So the following obvious truth from the OP says it quite directly.

    Many people, anxious to remain in good standing with leaders and influencers, live quite happily with incoherence and inconsistencies:

    A book that discusses truth in detail is William Briggs’ new book,

    Everything You Believe Is Wrong
    by William M Briggs

    https://www.alibris.com/Everything-You-Believe-Is-Wrong-William-M-Briggs/book/51005501?matches=4

  6. 6
    ET says:

    To materialists and evolutionists, truth is irrelevant and unnecessary.

  7. 7
    asauber says:

    “To materialists and evolutionists, truth is irrelevant and unnecessary.”

    ET,

    This is true, but materialists and evolutionists also need to try and hide the truth, simultaneously. This is how messed up they are.

    Andrew

  8. 8
    Seversky says:

    Jerry/5

    Everything You Believe Is Wrong
    by William M Briggs

    If everything you believe is wrong that must include the belief that everything you believe is wrong, so Brigs must be arguing that some of the things we believe are right?

  9. 9
    Seversky says:

    Asauber/7

    “To materialists and evolutionists, truth is irrelevant and unnecessary.”

    ET,

    This is true, but materialists and evolutionists also need to try and hide the truth, simultaneously. This is how messed up they are.

    Andrew

    No, it’s some believers who want to sweep under the rug anything that can’t be fitted in to the rosy religious picture they’ve created for themselves.

  10. 10
    jerry says:

    so Brigs must be arguing that some of the things we believe are right?

    He discusses that.

    The title is obviously a little hyperbole because there are some truths such as 4 is less than 5. But he points to all the ways people misrepresent and avoid the truth and how they are susceptible to misinformation and bad reasoning.

    He also emphasizes that logic and evidence is unlikely to convince most people. But maybe a few can be affected by truth arguments.

    Mark Twain?

    It’s Easier to Fool People Than to Convince Them That They Have Been Fooled

    Whether Mark Twain or not, the quote is relevant. Mark Twain did say

    “The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. … How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again

  11. 11
    jerry says:

    No, it’s some believers who want to sweep under the rug anything that can’t be fitted in to the rosy religious picture they’ve created for themselves.

    An example of a Local Truth Fallacy being used as a general truth. Read Briggs.

    There are always “some” but that does not illustrate anything other than there are always some.

    It’s also the Fallacy of Omission. Read Briggs.

  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    Dembski: Is Truth Just What Your Peers Will Let You Get Away With Saying?

    It’s an interesting question for Dembski to pose since he was apparently penalized for saying things that were not theologically acceptable to an employer.

    But, to answer the question, while politically-correct speech can be true, political-correctness is not usually considered to be a measure of what is or isn’t true. Of course, this inevitably raises the thorny problem of what we mean by “truth”.

  13. 13
    asauber says:

    “the rosy religious picture”

    Sev,

    This is a deliberate mischaracterization. At least in the case of halfway serious Christianity, “religion” involves suffering, and turning your back to what the world has to offer. It’s not exactly rosy.

    Andrew

  14. 14
    jerry says:

    what we mean by “truth

    Read Briggs.

    However, as said above it is unlikely to have an effect on you. Nothing about you in particular just that he says few are swayed by truth arguments.

  15. 15
    JVL says:

    After days and days of trying to reply on the appropriate thread (https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/bill-dembski-offers-some-thoughts-on-the-current-state-of-christian-apologetics/} but being consistently blocked by some WordPress plugin called WordFence I’m just going to give up.

    Some one here is terribly afraid of what I have to say. Some one here does not believe ID and the ID community is capable of defending itself. Someone here is a coward.

    You know who you are.

    And, guess, what? The proof I’m being banned from that thread is the fact I’ve just be able to post to a different thread.

  16. 16
    ET says:

    Wow. ID has been very capably defended. ID still offers the only scientific explanation for our existence.

    What no one can defend is universal common descent via blind and mindless processes. Someone here is a bluffing lunatic who couldn’t form a coherent argument for his position nor against ID.

  17. 17
    asauber says:

    “Some one here is terribly afraid of what I have to say.”

    LOL. OMG, such grandiose delusions. Get some help, JVL.

    Maybe you are just too annoying.

    Andrew

  18. 18
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    JVL
    Some one here is terribly afraid of what I have to say.

    🙂 You are a joke.

  19. 19
    JVL says:

    ET, Asuaber, Lt Com Data:

    You are all condoning preventing some people from having their say without even warning them or telling them why.

    If you’re happy supporting an autocracy which, I’d like to point out, none of you seem to be a part of then good luck with that. What are you going to do when you fall foul of the ruling authority and you have no means of appeal ’cause you don’t even know what you’ve done wrong?

    It’s not my site or my rules but I think it’s duplicitous to bitch and moan about other people not listening to your points of view when it’s pretty clear that some people who have not violated any of this site’s guidelines are banned without being even paid the courtesy of saying why.

    Again, whose afraid of some views? If you’re not afraid then why prevent some people from posting comments?

  20. 20
    asauber says:

    “Maybe you are just too annoying.”

    Like right now. 😉

    Andrew

  21. 21
    JVL says:

    Asauber: Like right now. ?

    Clearly you are a) much too naive and b) too far up the site admin’s backside to care about what’s fair and honourable.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    JVL, WordFence is part of the normal protective package given an age of worms, malware, hacking etc. I am fairly sure too that many including the undersigned have had problems from time to time. There is no good reason to make accusations of cowardice etc. I have actually seen myself as logged in in one thread, logged out in another and unable to log in. I think updates and their weird effects are part of the problem. The only thing worse than updates is no updates. KF

  23. 23
    JVL says:

    Kairosfocus:

    I’d like to believe you but please explain why I’d be occasionally shut out from some threads and then let back in, not shut out but then completely shut out of some threads and then not banned from some threads at all.

    Something is wrong. And it’s not just updates. That doesn’t make sense. You guys need to figure out your policies and your website configuration. Why not start with stating your posting policy and then apologising when it goes wrong?

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    JVL: “Some one here is terribly afraid of what I have to say.”

    Well that is certainly seems very strange. Someone who believes in a worldview that holds that ALL his sentences are meaningless, believes that his sentences have something meaningful to say?

    The following is Dr. Craig’s refutation of atheist Professor Alex Rosenberg’s (Duke University) book “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions”

    2.) The argument from meaning
    1. If naturalism is true, no sentence has any meaning.
    2. Premise (1) has meaning.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.
    – Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    JVL also claims “to care about what’s fair and honourable.”

    Again, this seems very strange. Someone who believes in a worldview of ‘pitiless indifference’ believes that things should be fair and honourable?

    “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
    – Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

  25. 25
    JVL says:

    Bornagain77: Someone who believes in a worldview that holds that ALL his sentences are meaningless, believes that his sentences have something meaningful to say.

    Not what i believe and not really the point.

    By the way: have you decided how to rectify the ‘fact’ that a vast majority of mutations are directed and most mutations are deleterious?

  26. 26
    asauber says:

    “Clearly you are a) much too naive and b) too far up the site admin’s backside to care about what’s fair and honourable.”

    JVL,

    Overwrought. You are going over like a lead burnt pizza.

    Andrew

  27. 27
    JVL says:

    Asauber: Overwrought. You are going over like a lead burnt pizza.

    Welcome to the sheeple flock. Got your MAGA hat on?

    Right, I’ll stop being snarky. I would really like one of the actual site admins to explain why I get banned from some threads for a time, from some threads permanently but, at the same time, not from other threads. Why is that happening?

  28. 28
    JVL says:

    And, yes, I just tried posting to that other thread and it didn’t work.

    Something is rotten in UD. Someone needs to own up.

  29. 29
    JVL says:

    It’s very, very clear: I can post on some threads but not on others.

    Who’s controlling the criteria and why?

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    Bornagain77: “Someone who believes in a worldview that holds that ALL his sentences are meaningless, believes that his sentences have something meaningful to say?”

    JVL, “Not what i believe and not really the point.”

    So you do not believe Darwinian materialism/naturalism to be true? 🙂

    The following is Dr. Craig’s refutation of atheist Professor Alex Rosenberg’s (Duke University) book “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions”

    2.) The argument from meaning
    1. If naturalism is true, no sentence has any meaning.
    2. Premise (1) has meaning.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.
    – Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    I know that ‘you’ do not really believe your sentences are completely meaningless, since it is simply insane to believe as such, but alas, your beloved theory of Darwinian materialism holds it to be true.

    And that is just the tip of the iceberg of the cognitive dissonance that is required for an atheist to maintain his naturalistic worldview.

    JVL goes on: “have you decided how to rectify the ‘fact’ that a vast majority of mutations are directed and most mutations are deleterious?”

    JVL, for some strange reason you also seem to think ID is the theory that has a problem with the ‘facts’ that the vast majority of mutations are now found to be directed and to be deleterious, (in an overall sense of losing information). It doesn’t. ID is perfectly fine with both of those facts. It is your theory of Neo-Darwinian evolution that has a (severe) problem with both of those facts.

    Genome Self-Editing – directed mutations – video (Johnnyb – November 2021)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YesEq8VKgvg
    This video explores,, the mechanics and specifics of many different types of directed mutations.

    How life changes itself: the Read-Write (RW) genome. – 2013
    Excerpt: Research dating back to the 1930s has shown that genetic change is the result of cell-mediated processes, not simply accidents or damage to the DNA. This cell-active view of genome change applies to all scales of DNA sequence variation, from point mutations to large-scale genome rearrangements and whole genome duplications (WGDs). This conceptual change to active cell inscriptions controlling RW genome functions has profound implications for all areas of the life sciences.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23876611

    When Darwin’s Foundations Are Crumbling, What Will the (Darwinian) Faithful Do?
    Excerpt: Here’s a summation of the evolutionary picture that has emerged, according to Behe (in his new book “Darwin Devolves”:
    • The large majority of mutations are degradatory, meaning they’re mutations in which the gene is broken or blunted. Genetic information has been lost, not gained.
    • Sometimes the degradation helps an organism survive.
    • When the degradation confers a survival advantage, the mutation spreads throughout the population by natural selection.
    In genetics, a loss of information generally translates into a loss of function, so it might seem counterintuitive to suppose that a degradatory mutation would confer a survival advantage. Behe gives several examples, though, of instances where damaged genes have been shown to aid survival. In the case of the sickle-cell gene, for example, a single amino acid change causes hemoglobin to behave in a way that inhibits growth of the malaria microbe. It’s a loss-of-function mutation, but it confers a survival advantage in malaria-prone regions.
    The upshot of all this is that Darwin was right in believing that natural selection operating on random variations can cause organisms to become adapted to their environments, but he was wrong in believing that the process was constructive. Nowhere has the Darwinian mechanism been shown to build a complex system. It has only been shown to modify an already-existing system, usually in a loss-of-function manner.
    This is significant enough to upend the Darwinian narrative, but it gets worse. The same factors that contribute to adaptation work to prevent a species from evolving much further. Random mutation and natural selection quickly adjust species to their environmental niches, Behe writes, and then they maroon them there. He cites results from the long-running experiment conducted by Michigan State microbiologist Richard Lenski, whose E. coli lineage has surpassed 65,000 generations (equivalent to more than a million years for a large, complex species like humans), as sound evidence that random mutations wreak havoc in a species—and then that havoc gets frozen in place by natural selection.
    Behe sums up his main argument like this: “beneficial degradative mutations will rapidly, relentlessly, unavoidably, outcompete beneficial constructive mutations at every time and population scale.”1 The only Darwinian examples of evolution that have been observed have followed this pattern and resulted in evolutionary dead ends. Darwin devolves.,,,,
    https://salvomag.com/article/salvo49/darwinism-dissembled

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    JVL, I have given my suspicions on problems I have personally experienced. Besides, with language as you have used above, you invite banning for cause and it would not be somehow selective, it would be site wide. KF

  32. 32
    ET says:

    seversky:

    No, it’s some believers who want to sweep under the rug anything that can’t be fitted in to the rosy religious picture they’ve created for themselves.

    Right. Materialists and evolutionists are those believers. Thank you.

  33. 33
    ET says:

    JVL- You have shown you really don’t have anything to say.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, someone above imagines that Christian believers have a rosy picture of the world? Did it fail to register with such that the passion narrative is in part an indictment of judicial murder by corrupt, lawless oligarchy — Jerusalem and Roman elites alike, with few exceptions who could only mildly protest — hiding behind legal fictions? What have they been smoking? (And yes, that is one of the history points that anchors my regard for the more historically balanced approach to political spectra.) KF

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