Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blond and Pabst declare secularism has failed. By ignoring history, science, reason....

I thought I'd take about, oh, 5 minutes and show why the Blond and Pabst article is full of fail.

The article itself is in the Opinion section of the New York Times. If this is the level of quality for the New York Times opinion section, it may explain why newspaper readership is down.

Or, they were hoping for some sensationalism to drive traffic, like John C. Dvorak.
Either way, it only takes a few minutes to see how they have major failings in their argument.

This was a profoundly secular move: It simply denied natural knowledge of God and thereby eliminated theology from the sciences. Religion, stripped of rationality, became associated with a blind unmediated faith — precisely the mark of fanaticism. Thus religious fundamentalism constitutes an absence of religion that only true religion can correct.

I would say that secularism argues that there is no supernatural or divine beings in the absence of evidence. Even Richard Dawkins, in a recent podcast, mentioned that you can't say "there absolutely is no god", the best you can say is "there is no evidence of a god."

That's all secularism asks for. Rather than assuming that X exists, it first starts with "what is the evidence for X", and if the evidence does not hold up, then secularists are free to assume X does not exist. Provide evidence for unicorns and leprechauns and I'll believe. Until then, I'm not running after every rainbow to get a pot of gold.

Richard Dawkins's barely literate polemic "The God Delusion" declares that religion is irrational without ever explaining the foundations of reason itself.
This, to be blunt, is simply asinine. I don't need to go into a history of the background of reason and logic to explain why there's no Santa Claus.
Sam Harris's diatribe "The End of Faith" has to falsify history by claiming that Hitler and Stalin were religious in order to make its case for the malign influence of faith.

I'd say the job of falsifying history by claiming that Hitler was an atheist when he spoke of Christianity often, had his soldiers wearing Gott mit uns during World War II. Or ignoring Stalin's educational training at Greek Orthodox schools. Either way, trying to deny these facts and put them into the "atheism" box is disingenuous. Nobody knows what these two monsters really felt about religion, but it's clear - as Sam Harris has said - that what they lacked was not overfill of reason and opinion opinions, but a more - if I may say so - "faith based approach" that went out of its way to assert the dogma of Communism and Nazism was correct against all evidence.
One more, and then I don't know if I can keep up my gag reflex in the face of this much stupidity.

Darwinism is close to being completely rewritten. Hitherto, it had been assumed that forms of life are the product of essentially arbitrary processes, such that (as Stephen Jay Gould put it) if we ran evolution again life would look very different. However, evolution shows biological convergence. As Simon Conway Morris, a professor of biology at Cambridge University, has argued, evolution is not arbitrary: If it ran again, the world would look much as it already does.

How often does it have to be said: evolution by natural selection is not random, it is not arbitrary. It follows rules that were first discovered 150 years ago by Darwin and refined since then. Saying "evolution is random" is no more true than saying "plate tectonics are random" or "germ theory is random." If the clock was run back and run again, things would look the same because the same environmental pressures upon the species would be there to make them adapt in exactly the same way.
This doesn't mean that some power sat from above to push things that way. If I set up a series of dikes and channels, then ran water through it, the results would be the 99.9999% the time each time I ran the clock back and did it again.

This is only getting halfway through the article. I don't know who Blond and Pabst are, but they're clearly people that can be ignored as either ignorant of science and reason, or lacking the brain power to tie their shoes, let alone make statements regarding Secularism or, well, anything.

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