Friday, September 23, 2005

Spaghetti Oh's

I posted the following at Boundy by Gravity today, in response to a thread on this weird Spaghetti religion thing that's popping up all over the net right now. I'm posting it here for my own future reference. Since it's a comment and not a post, it's a bit rougher than I like my posts to be, but it'll do for now.
"I will comment that religion once provided the answers to a number of questions once judged to lie within their domain...what causes disease, what is the sun, where do babies come from, how was the earth created. In my opinion, science provides better, more durable answers to those questions than religion did." Are we so ill informed about religion that we take it for granted that all religion is literalist and fundamentalist? That's testable - and false. Religions do in fact evolve. People's understanding of a text and tradition can grow and change with the input of new experiences and new knowledge. What I really want to get at, however, is that scientific methodology (if it is not measurable and quantifiable then it is not real) itself is not testable and fails to affirm itself (yeah, crazy Curt's mumbling about religion again). Check out the Wikki entry for Karl Popper, one of the great minds in science and philosophy in the 20th Century. He knew his 'falsification' theory of science was not, itself, scientific. People seem to forget that.
Knowledge, for Popper, was objective, not in the sense that it is objectively true, but rather, that knowledge has an ontological status (i.e. knowledge as object) independent of the knowing subject (Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach, 1972). He proposed three worlds (see Popperian cosmology): World One, being the phenomenal world, or the world of direct experience; World Two, being the world of mind, or mental states, ideas, and perceptions; and World Three, being the body of human knowledge expressed in its manifold forms, or the products of the second world made manifest in the materials of the first world (i.e. books, papers, paintings, symphonies, and all the products of the human mind).
His theory falls into world two, that of the mind. Now, either the way the mind works is false, in which case we can all go home because nothing we're doing here has any point, or our ideas do engage the world in a real and meaningful way, in which case, how can we say that all of the ideas (like Platonic universals, God, etc.) are meaningless ghosts? Once we realize that affirming things we cannot see is inescapable, then it is hypocritical to say 'my claim to faith is real and yours is not'. We all make claims like that, most of the time implicitly and unawares. More here. I'm arguing for tolerance and freedom to dissent here, but I don't want to say that I think all or even most creationism or ID is good science. A lot, perhaps even most, of it isn't. In fact I think religious people trying to pass of their faith as science show a distinct lack of faith. They are trying to slip their religious metaphysics under the door of nominalism and that's a losing game. Better to stand firm against nominalism's shortcomings and uphold universals right off the top. There is a thoughtful essay here that discusses the philosophical battle between Liberal claims to objectivity and Christian claims to fairness. The spokesperson for Christianity is John Milbank, a left leaning Anglican and the Liberal spokesperson is the author of the post. Oddly, for the Tory like myself, I find the left leaning Anglican more compelling. This is a religious debate on all sides; I just wish more people knew it. Beware of this. Btw, Talk.Origins is a Darwinism site that also backs me up. They are not creationists but scientists trying to explain science to to critics who are often religious. Sorry if I'm longwinded and thanks again to Andrew for such interesting threads.

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