Re: MD Science vs. Theism: Where's The Beef?

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Tue May 03 2005 - 18:20:28 BST

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    Scott said:
    One must distinguish between what one can tell a child and what one can tell
    an adult. How many children learn of the Big Bang as a fact, without going
    into an explanation of what a scientific theory is (and how many adults
    think it is a fact)?

    In matters other than size and body hair, I think the difference
    between adults and children is highly over-rated. I think adults
    underestimate children on a regular basis. And I know a bunch of
    adults who have no business "telling" children anything. And I've
    met children whose understanding of the world far exceeds that of
    their parents. So I guess I'm not as impressed with the
    distinction. I think we'll give the world an evolutionary boost when
    we stop telling our children fairy tales of any kind.

    I'm not much of child psychologist, but I do think Piaget had some important
    things to say about what sorts of things a child can and cannot take in. In
    any case, I'm not worried about telling children fairy tales -- I was told
    plenty. But I would agree that there is a problem with -- I'm not sure how
    to put it -- excessive hell, fire and brimstone indoctrination. At some
    point this becomes abuse.

    Scott before:
    But this is my point, and what you and DMB are doing is putting a spin on
    it: Science cannot disprove a religious claim. Therefore religious claims
    are spurious. That spin is called scientism.

    msh says:
    Whenever I hear the word "scientism" I think of females who act
    telling us they want to be called "actors" not "actresses." I won't
    believe it till they stop accepting Best Actress Awards. There's a
    similar dishonest undertone, don't you think?

    Besides, what I've always said, from the beginning, is that
    scientific claims ARE NOT epistemologically equivalent to religious
    claims. There is no valid basis for comparison.

    msh still talking:
    This doesn't bother me much, because I've always claimed that science
    and theology are mutually exclusive areas of investigation, one with
    its roots in practical empiricism, the other stemming from
    assumptions based on faith.

    So why are you concerned that transubstantiation cannot be disproved by

    I'm not. At least I don't think I am. I'm getting confused about
    who's said what and why. What I've said is that TS is in conflict
    with science to the extent that it cannot be proved by science, at
    least up till now. Same as the belief in the Loch Ness monster. It
    is a faith-based, not a scientific belief.

    What's the problem?

    The problem is that you are treating belief in TS with belief in the Loch
    Ness monster in the same way. If the monster existed, then science could
    detect it, so belief in the monster is in conflict with science. Whether or
    not the substance of the wafer and wine changed, science could never detect
    it. Science has nothing to say about TS, while it does have something to say
    about the monster. If you say that "TS is in conflict with science to the
    extent that it cannot be proved by science", then you would have to say that
    the MOQ is in conflict with science, since the claim that electrons have
    preferences cannot be proved (or disproved) by science.

    The important point, made recently by DMB, is that theologians who
    seek scientific approval (both you and Sam agree there are those who
    do) will never have to worry about being disproved by science; they
    always have the back door of saying it is true because I have faith
    that it is true, regardless of what science can and cannot detect.

    That's why they are bad theologians -- they are misapplying science. The
    question is whether science and theism are in conflict. They can certainly
    be put into conflict, either by bad theology (which would also include
    fundamentalists) or by scientism -- or if you prefer, logical positivism --
    those who claim that if science has no input to the question the question
    should be rejected. So when you and DMB and Ian keep maintaining that they
    are in conflict, and since I know you are not religious fundamentalists, and
    since you deny that you are logical positivists, then I am led to believe
    that you are judging theism by its bad apples. Which has been my more
    general complaint all along to Pirsig's anti-theism stance. It is one thing
    to not have a use for theistic language (for the most part I don't either,
    but I have learned a great deal from theists). It is quite another to be
    against it because one has based one's judgment on its less reputable

    <skip Sam and my supposed conflicting stories -- Sam answered that well>

    scott said:
    I am, in fact doing precisely the opposite of offering a scientific
    argument, or seeking the imprimatur of
    science. I am, instead, saying that science does one thing, and theology
    another, and there is no conflict between them.

    msh says:
    Sounds right to me. So, "Where's The Beef?" Other than what I said
    3 msh's above?

    See response to 3 (now 2) msh's above. The beef comes from bad theology, bad
    metaphysics (materialism), and ignorance of good theology.

    - Scott

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