December 26, 2007

"Intellectual Dishonesty?" A response.

Yet another response originally found in comments to "Are You There...".



Previously, i wrote:


"And, lastly, "What can Christianity offer me that the other religions can't?"

Short answer: "It is the truth, verifiable both objectively and personally."

To which Calilasseia responded:

"This is quite simply wrong. I have mentioned in my previous posts instances where the bible makes statements that are flatly contradicted by observational reality, yet you have not addressed a single one of those instances. You continue to assert the alleged "truth" of your doctrine, and once again apply an entirely different test of validity to your doctrine than the test you apply to material outside your doctrine. Again, I hereby contend that this is intellectually dishonest."



There are statements in the Bible that seem confusing.

But i ask: Does "confusing" mean false?

No.

For a scientist who relies on absolute reality, "confusing" simply means it will take a bit more time and effort to be understood, to be proven or disproven.


There are claims in the Bible that are different from everyday occurrence.

But i ask: Does "different" mean false?

For a scientist who relies on objective reality, "different" simply means another thing to be investigated on its own merits, regardless of the personal background and biases of the investigator.


No matter how much indirect evidence we have to confirm or deny, say, the origins of life, the fact remains that neither i nor anyone else reading this was alive to witness this event with our own eyes. We can only attempt to conclude as much as we can, with the information that is available and verifiable to us.

But what are the things that are available and verifiable to me?

As a Christian, i have the Bible to guide me, in my personal life.

As a scientist, i must concede that there is always a possibility of the Bible failing me.

But as a scientist, i must also honestly report that that possibility has yet to be realized in my life.


And so i ask:

Can you recognize the possibility of something, perhaps just that it has not yet been realized in your own life?

Can you concede that there is even a possibility that God exists, even if you have not perceived or verified it for yourself?



What is intellectual honesty?

It is testing and verifying and forming the best conclusions, regardless of one's personal biases.

For twenty-odd years i grew up alternately ignoring and hating what little i knew about God. True, my change of heart came about from an experience that was "personal" and "subjective". But it was just the beginning of the journey, and every step is marked by questions from a curious [and many times just forgetful] me.

Why do you say i "apply an entirely different test of validity" to God as compared to other "material"? No; i have used the same test of validity to everything that comes my way. Perhaps there is just some misunderstanding; for a supreme being does not conveniently fall into the categories of molecules or numbers, and [in my humble opinion] must not be investigated as merely such.

To conclude, intellectual honesty would entail a thorough objective investigation before concluding one way or another...all the while admitting that there may be flaws in one's perception or judgment, and that there might be evidence in the future that could radically modify these conclusions.

Intellectual honesty involves recognizing what is possible, and determining what is certain.

5 comments:

  1. Calilasseia2:27 AM

    In response to this:

    Previously, i wrote:

    "And, lastly, "What can Christianity offer me that the other religions can't?"

    Short answer: "It is the truth, verifiable both objectively and personally."


    To which Calilasseia responded:

    "This is quite simply wrong. I have mentioned in my previous posts instances where the bible makes statements that are flatly contradicted by observational reality, yet you have not addressed a single one of those instances. You continue to assert the alleged "truth" of your doctrine, and once again apply an entirely different test of validity to your doctrine than the test you apply to material outside your doctrine. Again, I hereby contend that this is intellectually dishonest."


    So, let us see if your latest post addresses these issues shall we?

    There are statements in the Bible that seem confusing.

    I don't find them confusing. I find many of them woefully obscurantist, but a little diligent effort is all that is needed to sort out the possible meanings in such cases, and determine which of those meanings is either sensible or likely to bear any correspondence with observational reality. An effort that seems, in my experience, to be much more likely to arise from critics of theological arguments than proponents of apologetics.

    But i ask: Does "confusing" mean false?

    Not necessarily. But if the statements in question are determined independently to be false, then this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Which, thus far, you have failed to do despite having been presented with instances of demonstrable falsehood arising from the words of your doctrine.

    No.

    For a scientist who relies on absolute reality, "confusing" simply means it will take a bit more time and effort to be understood, to be proven or disproven.


    Unfortunately, the evidence provided by your assorted contributions both here on your blog and over at the Richard Dawkins Forums (where, incidentally, you have acquired a reputation as a "hit and run" poster who simply posts blind assertions and then flees from substantive argument) establishes that your willingness to engage in that effort is singularly lacking.

    There are claims in the Bible that are different from everyday occurrence.

    Congratulations on stating the banally obvious. Now, are we going to see substance in your posts both here and at RDF, or are you going to continue treading the same familiar path that has led many over at RDF to regard you as described above, namely a "hit and run" poster who posts blind assertions and then flees from substantive argument?

    But i ask: Does "different" mean false?

    Again not necessarily. But, as I have already stated, when the falsehood of a statement has already been independently established, that issue needs to be addressed. And I have yet to see you address that issue with a substantive reply.

    For a scientist who relies on objective reality, "different" simply means another thing to be investigated on its own merits, regardless of the personal background and biases of the investigator.

    I have no argument with this. What I do have argument with is demonstrated instances of blind assertion presented as fact with no evidential backup. I am still waiting for that evidential backup.

    No matter how much indirect evidence we have to confirm or deny, say, the origins of life, the fact remains that neither i nor anyone else reading this was alive to witness this event with our own eyes.

    I smell the erection of a canard looming ...

    We can only attempt to conclude as much as we can, with the information that is available and verifiable to us.

    Which you will find documented extensively in the peer reviewed scientific literature if you bother to exercise the effort and look for it as I have. I have close on two hundred and fifty peer reviewed scientific papers on topics centred upon evolutionary biology on my hard drive and these are only a tiny fraction of the material that is published in any single year. The number of peer reviewed papers extant on the subject of evolutionary biology runs into millions. Now, are you going to assert that all of those papers are wrong, and that you and your doctrine are right, despite the fact that those papers have all passed stringent tests of correlation with observational reality, while your doctrine has never passed anything like such stringent tests?

    But what are the things that are available and verifiable to me?

    This is a blatant bait and switch. Moving from objective evidence to subjective evidence. And you wonder why I proposed the charge of intellectual dishonesty in the first place? Congratulations upon providing yet another compelling example of evidence supporting my charge.

    As a Christian, i have the Bible to guide me, in my personal life.

    In other words, a document whose "truth" you presuppose.

    As a scientist, i must concede that there is always a possibility of the Bible failing me.

    You have been presented with documented examples of statements contained therein that are false. Your reaction to this has consisted of refusing to acknowledge that the documented examples provided to you even exist. You have certainly never addresed them, your responses have consisted solely of yet more blind assertion presented as fact.

    But as a scientist, i must also honestly report that that possibility has yet to be realized in my life.

    In other words, you have ignored contradictory evidence to your doctrine that has been presented to you, including evidence I have presented both here and at RDF that includes material from peer reviewed scientific literature. Thus you continue to provide evidence in support of my charge.

    And so i ask:

    Can you recognize the possibility of something, perhaps just that it has not yet been realized in your own life?


    Recognising that something is possible is vastly different from asserting that possibility to be true in the absence of supporting evidence. A distinction that you seem to be having difficulty with. Which, as someone who purports to be a scientist and one aiming for a Ph.D, counts as a dereliction of your scientific responsibilities.

    Can you concede that there is even a possibility that God exists, even if you have not perceived or verified it for yourself?

    I do not rule out that it may be possible, but until substantive evidence in support of the hypothesis is presented, the logically correct default position to adopt is as follows:

    If no supporting evidence for the existence of entity X is present, then entity X may be safely assumed NOT to exist UNTIL supporting evidence for the existence of said entity is present.

    What is intellectual honesty?

    I would claim that among other things, it involves applying the same stringent tests to ALL extant hypotheses about the world with respect to their correlation with observational reality.

    It is testing and verifying and forming the best conclusions, regardless of one's personal biases.

    Which you have singularly failed to do. Your own words provide substantive evidence of this.

    For twenty-odd years i grew up alternately ignoring and hating what little i knew about God. True, my change of heart came about from an experience that was "personal" and "subjective". But it was just the beginning of the journey, and every step is marked by questions from a curious [and many times just forgetful] me.

    Your subjective experience is not replicable, and therefore has little evidential value from an objective standpoint.

    Why do you say i "apply an entirely different test of validity" to God as compared to other "material"?

    Because this is demonstrably the case. You summarily dismissed evolutionary biology as valid, despite the VAST body of evidence presented in millions of peer reviewed scientific papers in support of the hypotheses of evolutionary biology, and the ONLY test you applied in order to engage in this summary dismissal of that vast body of evidence was "does this evidence conform to my doctrine?". Upon answering that question in the negative, you felt free to dismiss that evidence without ONCE considering the in-depth case of scientific validity presented therein. Your own words demonstrate that you have done this. And you have never answered the charge with respect to this substantively.

    No; i have used the same test of validity to everything that comes my way.

    This is DEMONSTRABLY FALSE. See above.

    Perhaps there is just some misunderstanding;

    There is no misunderstanding at all. The above still stands. You applied an entirely different test to evolutionary biology than you applied to your own work, a test that was based SOLELY upon the question "does this conform to my doctrine?".

    for a supreme being does not conveniently fall into the categories of molecules or numbers, and [in my humble opinion] must not be investigated as merely such.

    Apart from being a blatant evasion, this is also a direct admission on your part that your world view involves giving credence to the supernatural when no substantive evidence for supernatural entities has ever been provided. There is a million-dollar prize awaiting you if ever you succeed in this endeavour, by the way - visit the website of James Randi and find out more.

    To conclude, intellectual honesty would entail a thorough objective investigation before concluding one way or another...all the while admitting that there may be flaws in one's perception or judgment, and that there might be evidence in the future that could radically modify these conclusions.

    Which you have demonstrated that you have not done with respect to evolutionary biology. Once again, you summarily dismissed the entire discipline for no other reason than that you preferred conformity to a doctrine to correlation with observational reality with respect to this subject.

    The charge still stands, and I still await a substantive answer.

    Intellectual honesty involves recognizing what is possible, and determining what is certain.

    In accordance with strict evidential standards. Which you have yet to meet.

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  2. Anonymous2:57 AM

    Pwned

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello Cali :)

    Yes, i do have the reputation for being a hit-and-run poster despite my repeated explanations that i am busy with research and academics. (i am thankful that you said, you do appreciate any amount of intellectual diligence on my part; i would rather post even if i am not able to read nor respond; rather than not post, read nor respond at all.

    However, you sir, obviously have a lot of time and information on your hands. Once again you do me the honor of corresponding, and i thank you.

    It is interesting though, that with your own reputation as someone who immediately and comprehensively responds to these discussions,

    (1) two weeks have also passed before this, your last response here -- which i do not mind at all; and

    (2) you yourself have yet to acknowledge the scientists --- Nobel laureates even --- who believe in God and a purposeful creation of the natural world.

    i also await an answer from you regarding this last item. Perhaps, while waiting for my "substantive answer" "in accordance with strict evidential standards", you could address this in the meantime.

    Thank you very much, Cali, and welcome back. :)

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  4. Calilasseia3:30 PM

    That list of scientists?

    I dealt with that here.

    As for my absence, well having my PC die on me, and thus having to spend time acquiring a new one, installing the operating system, installing the applications, performing the hardware integration, and recovering the data that fortuitously I had backed up played some part. Continued moderation duties over at RDF also have something to do with it, where I've been responding to a range of posters and fielding yet more canards, and my posts won't take long to find over at RDF using the search facility, it's not as if I've been unproductive on this front.

    However, given that I have yet to receive a substantive answer to any of the numerous points I have raised, I am increasingly wondering if continuing to post here is fruitful. There are limits even to my endurance.

    ReplyDelete
  5. To everyone: a proper "closure of sorts" may be found here:

    http://tecigurl.blogspot.com/2008/06/brief-history-of-timeof-evolution-ofwhy.html

    But new comments are always welcome :) It looks like i have more time to respond, but in any case again i say that i will always try my best to do so :)

    All the best and i do hope to hear and correspond with you :)

    ReplyDelete