Monday, November 07, 2011

Haught vs Coyne: The Q&A

Here's an excellent summary of the Q&A from the debate. It's from Eric MacDonald at Choice in Dying: Q&A: Haught on God: Bitter, Impolite and Wrong.

He has a blow-by-blow account of the questions and answers following the debate but I especially like this ....
The assumption that science decided to leave out questions of god, meaning, purpose and value is a caricature of the history of science, and Haught, who claims to be making a serious attempt to show the compatibility of science and religion, must know this. If he doesn’t, and he really thinks that science made such a decision — how does “science” do this, by the way? — then his misunderstanding of the relation of science and religion is total.

When Haught turns around, then, and castigates Jerry by saying that everything that he said was a caricature, that every quotation that Jerry took from Haught’s work was taken out of context, and that instead of reading carefully and thoughtfully Jerry got his idea of god and theology from creationist websites, this was undoubtedly the most aggressive and impolite move of the whole debate. Listen to what he says:

Remember that John Haught is a Roman Catholic theologian. As far as I know he has never dissociated himself from the main teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. If he doesn't believe in any of the stuff that Jerry mentioned then isn't it up to him (Haught) to clarify what he does believe in?

Does he believe in the resurrection? Does he believe that humans have souls? Does he believe in miracles? Does he believe that God answers prayers? Does he believe the Nicene Creed? Are all these things compatible with science?


10 comments :

  1. "Does he believe in the resurrection? Does he believe that humans have souls? Does he believe in miracles? Does he believe that God answers prayers? Does he believe the Nicene Creed? Are all these things compatible with science?"

    Some of this was covered in the Kitzmiller case too, if people would only read it...

    ReplyDelete
  2. NickM says,

    Some of this was covered in the Kitzmiller case too, if people would only read it...

    I've read it but I must have missed that part.

    Come on, Nick. Don't keep us in suspense. What's the answer?

    Does John Haught believe in miracles, life after death, and heaven? Is that compatible with science?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I read it up. The relevant answers start here:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day5pm2.html#day5pm770

    Summary: The bible contains nothing scientific, any religious experience can only be experienced by the religious.

    By my understanding this would mean that there are plenty of miracles, but you can't see them Larry. So sorry. Your disbelief is too strong. If your cranky old mind were not so bent on reductionism you would weep tears of joy at the emperor's grand finery.

    So essentially sophisticated theology means taking the self-affirmation bias and gilding it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Relative to the Resurrection, Prof. Haught, under cross examination during the Dover trial said the following:

    If a video camera had been present during the occasions when Yeshua of Nazareth appeared before his followers after his demise, it would have recorded nothing.

    I think that a reasonable interpretation of this statement is that Prof. Hautght's position is that Yeshua did not physically appear before them but appeared in a vision, and thus the physical Resurrection did not occur.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah they found it. Wasn't that hard, was it, Larry?

    This was the best bit of the day, BTW:

    ===========
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day5pm2.html#day5pm790

    Q. You believe that God started the universe and really doesn't know what's going to happen?

    A. If you want me to get into the theology of this, I can. It's very complex, and it requires going back to some chapters in the history of theology where this question was debated between Dominicans and Jesuits to the point where the Pope told them both to keep still and stop talking about it. And for that reason, I don't think it's prudent for me to --

    THE COURT: The logic there appeals to me.

    MR. THOMPSON: I'll be very quick, Your Honor.

    THE COURT: I thought I'd note that.
    ===========


    As for Larry's question:

    ===========
    Does he believe in the resurrection? Does he believe that humans have souls? Does he believe in miracles? Does he believe that God answers prayers? Does he believe the Nicene Creed? Are all these things compatible with science?
    ===========

    Larry, is it your position that everyone must be perfectly scientific in every aspect of their lives, and if not then they deserve nothing but scorn? This is certainly the apparent implication of your inquisitorial rhetoric and similar stuff often seen from other Gnu-o-philes.

    If yes, well then, let's discuss where you get this rather impressively rigid ethical precept, and what your justification for it is.

    If no, then we're into a discussion of matters of degree about how far someone might reasonably see substantial value in some ancient cultural tradition, whether or not they take it all literally. If their science (their actual science, not their views on completely unique alleged events which don't make any difference whatsoever about the truth of any scientific field today) isn't any different from everyone else's science, who cares? Live and let live, I say.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Re DR

    In addition, I seem to recall that Prof. Haught, when asked about the Virgin Birth, indicated that it may have been allegorical.

    Re NickW

    The problem is that biblical literalists insist that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are to be taken literally as written and infallibly describe real events. Thus, for instance, they insist that Joshua did, indeed, prevail upon god to stop the Sun in the sky for a day. Aside from violating all the laws of physics as we know them, this occurrence was notably not observed by anyone in other civilizations that were in existence at the time of Joshua. Clearly, anyone believing that such an event occurred is either ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked (but I don't want to consider that).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nick Matzke asks,

    Larry, is it your position that everyone must be perfectly scientific in every aspect of their lives, and if not then they deserve nothing but scorn? This is certainly the apparent implication of your inquisitorial rhetoric and similar stuff often seen from other Gnu-o-philes.

    Nick, we've been over this ground many times so I can only assume that your question is deliberately meant to insult and demean my viewpoint.

    My position, as you well know, is that science is a way of knowing. It involves evidence-based reasoning. rational thinking, and healthy skepticism. Science has proven very effective at discovering knowledge (truth). I'm not aware of any true knowledge that has been discovered by any other means.

    I have never, ever, said that anyone has to be "scientific" (whatever you mean by that) in every aspect of their daily lives and you know that. Therefore, I can only assume that you are deliberately lying in order to make my viewpoint look silly.

    That's not very nice, Nick.

    When was the last time you beat your wife?

    Would like to discuss whether religion is a valid route to knowledge that's compatible with science (as a way of knowing)?

    If yes, well then, let's discuss where you get this rather impressively rigid ethical precept, and what your justification for it is.

    No, let's discuss why, after years of debate in which you have actively participated, you still don't have a f***ing clue what your opponents are saying.

    Is that because you have an "impressively rigid ethical precept"?

    If no, then we're into a discussion of matters of degree about how far someone might reasonably see substantial value in some ancient cultural tradition, whether or not they take it all literally. If their science (their actual science, not their views on completely unique alleged events which don't make any difference whatsoever about the truth of any scientific field today) isn't any different from everyone else's science, who cares? Live and let live, I say.

    You are free to practice whatever ancient cultural traditions you like. But if you start to lecture me on whether your beliefs constitute true knowledge that's compatbile with the scientific way of knowing, then get ready for a fight.

    Furthermore, if your practice of ancient cultural traditions leads to a bad outcome for the society that I live in, then I'm going to speak out.

    (Are you implying that John Haught is an example of a theist who wants to "live and let live"?)

    ReplyDelete
  8. If it is the case that there are Creationist Christianities, Discovery Institute Christianities and John Haught Christianities, since Haught thinks they are all distinct, how would he suggest we decide which is the correct one, the one true god that inspired the Bible? Christians all agree that there are right and wrong Christianities, but the only criterion we hear for which is the correct one is the self-centered, "My version of a Christianity is the correct one."

    ReplyDelete
  9. NickM wrote:
    Wasn't that hard, was it, Larry?

    Oh look, a condescending prick. On them interwebz even.

    Larry, is it your position that everyone must be perfectly scientific in every aspect of their lives, and if not then they deserve nothing but scorn?

    Obviously. We support all the crazy.

    In fact if the pope hadn't so honestly warned about our involvement in the Holocaust we'd have you lined up for extermination by now. Verdammt!

    This is certainly the apparent implication of your inquisitorial rhetoric and similar stuff often seen from other Gnu-o-philes.

    Also we eat babies.

    If their science (their actual science 8< snip >8) isn't any different from everyone else's science, who cares?

    This is the fucking point. It is not religious scientists we speak out against (unless that religion biases their work). It's those religious ignoramuses like you who feel intitled to bad-mouth and harass reason and science. With the same old, disproven 'arguments'.

    It's the John Haughts making up facts (e.g. his layers of knowing), deceptively displacing their ideas from inquiry, and masquerading their hot smoke with the regalia of academia who lend credibility to this deleterious fallacy that faith could be anything but a vice.

    If religion poisons everything, theology has watered that down to the point of a homeopathic 'remedy' (to a fictional ailment) where not a single molecule of the original creed remains. But they won't tell you that. Oh no, like the homeopathic quacks theologians and clerics exploit the ignorance of their flock.

    And when you nail them down in public ("Do or don't you believe this?"), they get all huffed up, shrieking about inquisition, tone, lack of respect, and sputtering forth more and more disproven fallacies and libelous slander.

    FUCK EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS!

    Live and let live, I say.

    Sure, it is not like this will affect education policy, science funding, or lend credibility to -- oh what shall I pick from the tome of religiously sanctioned atrocities ... say genital mutilation.

    ReplyDelete