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Friday, March 21, 2014

John Wilkins writes about accommodationism

John Wilkins has written a series of posts about the war between science and religion.

Accommodating Science overview

I find the arguments confusing because I'm never quite sure what John defines as "science." I think he's referring to the things that scientists do. This is the narrow definition of science and I think it explains why he claims that there are aspects of religion that do not conflict with science.

I prefer the broad definition of science—the one that's more akin to "scientia" or the German word Wissenschaft. According to this view, science is a way of knowing based on evidence, rational thinking, and healthy skepticism.

Territorial demarcation and the meaning of science
Science Doesn't Have All the Answers but Does It Have All the Questions?
Sean Carroll: "What Is Science?"
What Is "Science" According to George Orwell?

Does religion produce knowledge? No, there are no examples of religious knowledge that don't conform to the scientific way of knowing and yet produce knowledge that we generally agree to be truth. All claims of knowledge by believers, including the existence of god(s) conflict with the scientific way of knowing. Science and religion are incompatible.

John Wilkins doesn't agree but as far as I can tell it's mostly because he defines science in such a way that it has a very restricted domain.

I want to address John's last post: Accommodating science: Strategy. He says,
When Chris Mooney wrote a piece for Mother Jones, entitled “Seven reasons why it’s easier for humans to believe in God than evolution”,[60] he was simply reporting the arguments made by a range of cognitive scientists of religion and psychology that certain types of belief are more “natural” for human beings than belief in some of the more arcane or distant results of science. The argument has also been made by Robert McCauley in his recent book Why religion is natural and science is not (McCauley 2011). The argument runs like this: our evolved cognitive dispositions did not evolve to understand the truths of science, but instead to adapt to social agency. Religion, which is a cultural expression of our social dispositions and cognitive biases, is therefore something very natural for us as a species to adopt (given the many meanings of “religion”, this may be overstated). Science, on the other hand, deals with large numbers, long periods, the very large and the very small, and these are things we did not evolve to deal with.
The claim is that natural selection has operated on the genes that control our brain to make it more likely that we will believe in myths and magic than in evidence based knowledge. In other words, evolution has selected for irrational brains and that's why religion is so common.1

John was upset when PZ Myers and I objected to this view. He says,
The reaction of some bloggers, such as PZ Myers, whose blog Pharyngula is one of the most widely read new atheist blogs in the US,[61] and Lawrence Moran, whose Sandwalk is a Canadian equivalent,[62] was therefore rather surprising. Mooney was accused of “selling” accommodationism, and making out that atheists were somehow mutants. It was a great over-reaction, and had an obvious agenda behind it: to denigrate any hint that accommodation is a respectable strategy. Why is this? After all, a fact is a fact, and the fact that something like religion is in general a natural default mindset for human beings doesn’t therefore mean one must accommodate religion in science.
PZ and I were reacting to the claim that we have evolved to have a genetic predisposition to rejecting evidence based knowledge and rationality in favor of myth and magic. It implies that in the ancient past if there were individuals who thought rationally they were at a selective disadvantage compared to their religious friends who had more success at reproducing. As a result, genes for stupidity predisposition to myth and magic gained in frequency in the population.

Here's what I said in Why don't people accept evolution?.
I don't believe that we evolved to favor religion over science any more than I believe we evolved to favor slavery, male superiority, castes, homophobia, and a host of other things that have disappeared or are about to disappear. Religion, especially the extreme versions, is soon going to disappear as well. I don't believe that those seven things are innate, hard-wired, ways of thinking. They are mostly learned behaviors. There's no reason to suspect than we can't teach our children different, and better, ways of thinking. There's no evidence that I know of that convinces me that essentialism, teleological thinking, dualism, and inability to understand vast time scales are more "natural" than other ways of thinking.1

It's too bad that Chris didn't discuss why the citizens of Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden have such a different cognitive architecture than those who live in the USA and Turkey. Those nasty Scandinavians don't seem to have much trouble with angst. They seem to find evolution quite natural and they were able to "intellectually grasp" it in spite or the fact that they have the same kinds of human brains as the citizens of other countries.
John Wilkins claims that PZ and I reacted the way we did because we are anti-accomodationists. That's not true. We reacted the way we did because we are opposed to excessive genetic determinism and to all "facts" that fly in the face of evidence and common sense. If you accept the arguments of Chris Mooney, Robert McCauley, and John Wilkins, then you have an obvious problem. Why, in the face of being genetically predisposed to prefer magic over science, have we made so much progress toward a secular, scientific, society over the past 1000 years? Is it really more "natural" to believe that thunder is caused by fighting gods and cancer is the gods way of punishing you? Would such thoughts ever occur to you if you weren't taught them as a youngster?

Is it possible that our brains are actually wired to think rationally but it just takes a while for our society to accumulate knowledge and abandon childish thoughts?

1. At least that's how I interpret it. If, on the other hand, John Wilkins and Chris Mooney are simply saying that "science" (e.g math, physics, biology etc.) is hard and our brains struggle with difficult concepts then that's a different story. It means that it's easier to believe in the tooth fairy than to understand evolution or calculus. I'm talking about ways of knowing.


Jonathan Badger said...

Is it really more "natural" to believe that thunder is caused by fighting gods and cancer is the gods way of punishing you? Would such thoughts ever occur to you if you weren't taught them as a youngster?

I'm rather dubious as to the assertion that humans evolved distinct genetic mechanisms to believe in gods as well, but all around the world civilizations with no contact with each other came up with nearly the same supernatural conclusion in regard to e.g. thunder. The Chinese god Lei Gong, The Norse Thor. The Mayan Chaac. Yes, *within* those cultures, these myths were passed from from parent to child -- but in order to explain why the myths originated, I think you have to admit that "thunder god" is a natural response to thunder.

steve oberski said...

Perhaps attributing agency to phenomena in our environment has a genetic basis.

You find the scattered remains of a fellow tribes person and you assume that agency in the form of a predator is responsible and modify your behaviour accordingly. Those more inclined to assume this sort of agency could be selected for.

This predisposition to assume agency then lends itself quite well to be hijacked to assume agency for everything you encounter and then culture provides the framework for inventing invisible agents.

I don't find it that surprising that these invisible agents (gods) have many similarities across disjoint cultures.

Georgi Marinov said...

I don't think the evidence supports the idea that our brains our wired to think rationally, if anything it goes in the direction. They are certainly capable of thinking rationally, however, this is not the default state. The people who think rationally most of the time typically become capable of doing so after a lot of training. And yes, I am well aware that this is not a good controlled experiment because both groups are exposed to a lot of major societal influences pushing them in the direction of irrationality.

So I have no problem with the "Religion is more natural than science" view. However, I have a major problem with the interpretations of it. It is complete insanity to take that idea and claim that because humans are predisposed to holding irrational beliefs, we should not attack irrational nonsense at every opportunity. That's exactly the opposite of what the rational strategy in such a situation would be - if people are naturally predisposed to something, that means you should work much much harder to actively combat it, preferably from a very early age.

Georgi Marinov said...

You don't need to invoke active selection in this case. There is only one correct way of thinking. There are myriad wrong ways. As long as there was no strong selective pressure towards the correct way of thinking to evolve, it is hardly surprising it did not evolve. Some components of it did - hunter-gatherers practiced something very similar to empirical science when understanding their environment and they were very good at it. But thinking in modern abstract logical categories was not something they needed thus it never occurred to them that the deeper religious explanations for how their world works they had come up with were untested. They never developed a rigorous epistemological system - first, there was no need for it, and second, it is far from certain that hunter-gatherer societies have the resources needed for the development and maintenance of such a system (even we, with all our material excesses, seem incapable of accomplishing it). And, of course, these are developments that happened recently enough for any adaptive genetic explanation to make much sense.

Alex SL said...

I am fairly sure we do have an evolved tendency towards personifying things (hyperactive agent detection), superstition, appeals to tradition, argumentum ad populum, and a bunch of other fallacies. Because those are generally useful; often it is better for us to believe what every other member of the clan believes than to believe what is true, as long as it is not a question of life or death.

As such, I am considerably less optimistic that religion is on the way out. We are very secure and wealthy now. Remove the safety and wealth - perhaps because cheap fossil fuels are running out and crops are failing due to global warming, who knows? - and there will be consequences. For one, there will be less education; and also, come a personal crisis people will again have to rely on the support of their family and village leaders instead of the welfare state, and thus their family and local leaders will again be able to demand submission to their traditional mores and ways of thinking.

It is well possible that our current level of skepticism and rationality is transient.

That being said, an evolved tendency towards all these fallacies is still something very different than an evolved tendency towards religiosity. The idea that this very specific form of illogic is natural is surely based on a very US-centric view of the matter. A Chinese or Norwegian thinker may have a different perspective.


I am really puzzled by those who view science merely as "what scientists do". That is only one of at least three aspects of the term science, the other two being the scientific community and its institutions (which is compatible with religion in the sense that individual scientists can be religious) and the body of scientific knowledge (which is clearly incompatible with virtually all religious beliefs). Most bizarre, however, is that the things scientists do are also clearly incompatible with the religious counterparts, i.e. the things the religious do. The former is looking at evidence, testing models and hypotheses, choosing the simplest explanation, etc, the latter is believing in the truth of scripture, prophetic revelation, personal feelings, etc. Those are very incompatible methodologies indeed.

John Harshman said...

But I do think selection is a good argument. The idea that selection would not give us imperfect ways of thinking seems odd to me. Selection works with what's available, involves tradeoffs, and often settles for "good enough". It's entirely possible that we are genetically predisposed to certain heuristics that work in enough situations to be usually advantageous. Imputing agency to phenomena, even when the agent is unknown, sounds like a useful heuristic to me. And that leads to gods, kami, and such. Larry is putting up caricatures of the positions he wants to argue against.

Georgi Marinov said...

That selection settles for "good enough" is precisely what I was getting at.

I was talking about how you don't need to invoke selection for irrationality to explain its existence.

We should also be very clear that all of this is speculation until someone figures out the exact genetic basis of such behaviors and shows that those genes were subject to selection in the past.

Anders Eg said...

Isn´t it obvious that even educated people are stupid and easily made to believe in the most hilarious things like acupuncture, chiropractic, autotraction etc. That we as a species are so dumb can most easily be explained by an evolutionary disadvantage to critical thingking. Are clever specimens really at advantage in race to procreate offspring? Isn´t the advantageges of thr last several cnturies created by a vry small minority?
Anders Eg retired physician.

Georgi Marinov said...

There is education and education. Education as in having a nearly worthless document certifying you got past the system is not the same as having real education that actually taught you something. Unfortunately, the educational system seems completely incapable of understanding that simple truth

Georgi Marinov said...

It is well possible that our current level of skepticism and rationality is transient.

That is very much my opinion. The dynamics of resource allocation in human societies is such that in general they are only conductive to skepticism and rationality when significant energy and material surpluses are available and even then they are not always friendly to it. The first signs of this kind of thinking only appeared in the Mediterranean, India and some other places when there was a small class of sufficiently independent people who could afford to spend their time reading and thinking about things and arguing with each other about abstract matters. And for most of the time since then the continued existence of such people has been at the mercy of kings and governments who had to both provide for them and be enlightened enough not to have them executed or sent to labor camps. A large class of scientists and academics only appears quite far into the industrial revolution and it only exists because that's perceived as "good for the economy".

Remove the energy and resource surpluses and first, the societal will, and then the ability to support these people itself will disappear quickly. And due to the total unsustainability of our current civilization, it is inevitable that this will happen, in fact it is already going on. When kids no longer have time to read books but instead have to work the land and fight wars, it will be impossible to sustain anything remotely approaching a rational society (not that kids are reading books today, but at least they could in principle).

And, of course, the current level of skepticism and rationality is nothing to be happy about to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I don't really see a problem with the idea that we're naturally genetically prone to irrational thought and illusions, and therefore prone to believe in religions once religious ideas arise. We're naturally or genetically prone to rational thought, too, of course, but tend not to be good at it without training. Natural selection no doubt favors "good enough" thinking skills. "Good enough" would be a mix of rational thought, the kind of associative thought that I at least tend to do a lot, believing what the people around us who have lived long enough to reproduce tell us, and immediate emotional reactions. There are excellent reasons to teach good rational thinking, of course. The kinds of thinking that leads to religious belief isn't necessarily good just because it is natural for us.

Alex SL said...

The other question, by the way, is whether accommodationism is a good strategy. But a good strategy to what end? That is where people keep talking past each other. Some may think that one should adopt accommodationism so that one can join forces with the religious to defeat creationism.

The problem is, this only makes sense if theistic evolution is seen as a significant improvement over creationism. Unfortunately it is not entirely clear to me how theistic evolution differs from other forms of Old Earth Creationism. So to me allying with moderate believers sounds like a strategy that would allow replacing creationism with... creationism.

SRM said...

I'm with the above thoughts as well and I can't help but be reminded of the old "there are no athests in a foxhole" idea. While the latter is certainly not always true, religious people use that phrase with some self-satisfaction since it implies that the convictions of atheists are not very robust. But it comes down to: whose deliberations would be more sound, the person who has the luxury of calm and considered thought or the person who is under the duress of believing their brain is about to be blown out of their cranium?

When the environmental and societal norms we are accostomed to (in many developed nations) collapse, rationality becomes something of an unattainable luxury. This isn't just a dystopic view of the future either of course, I believe it accurately describes the situation in many parts of the world right now.

John Harshman said...

So we're saying the same thing differently? We both think that selection may have produced heuristics that are often adaptive but sometimes fail. Similarly, our visual cortex has heuristics that can be fooled in ways we call "optical illusions". Is that what you're saying?

Cubist said...

The difference between Creationism and theistic evolution is largely political. Creationists actively reject all those bits of science they perceive as being in conflict with their religion, and therefore seek to erase all "godless" theories/evidence/etc from the textbooks; TE-pushers, contrariwise, are content to accept all of science, just with a superfluous "…and that's how God wanted it to be" slapped onto it. So as far as the US political issue of Keeping Religion Out Of Science Classes is concerned, yeah, theistic evolution is a lot less objectionable than Creationism. And yeah, if you're running a US political campaign to oppose Creationists' continuing efforts to Jesusify US science classes, it makes sense to get theistic evolutionists on your side, because of the peculiarly high degree of respect given to Xtianity in the US.

If one widens one's view to take account of the larger sociopolitical landscape, over and above the specific issue of religious-dogma-in-US-science-classes, it's less clear that theistic evolutionists are any improvement over Creationists.

John Pieret said...

I find the arguments confusing because I'm never quite sure what John defines as "science."

Oh, please, Larry! We both know Wilkins and we both know he is fiercely intelligent. So are you. Spare us the rhetorical flourish that you 'don't know what he means'.

I prefer the broad definition of science—the one that's more akin to "scientia" or the German word Wissenschaft. According to this view, science is a way of knowing based on evidence, rational thinking, and healthy skepticism.

Good! That's what IDers claim to be doing. You disagree. How is anyone not named Larry Moran supposed to know whether you or the IDers are doing "science"? After all, if Wilkins is defining science as a "very restricted domain," how can you claim that IDiots, given your "broad definition," are doing it wrong?

I know how that can be done by Wilkins' definition. You, Larry Moran, don't do "science." Albert Einstein didn't do "science." Isaac Newton didn't do "science." Nobody does science alone! No matter how brilliant Moran, Eienstein and Newton might be, if they just sat thinking in some hut and never published their work and had it checked by others, they would not be "scientists."

"Science" is a collective human activity.

Any one person can cobble together "a way of knowing." Philosophers have been at it for thousands of years. It takes more than one, or even a few, persons to do science.

Alex SL said...

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that for all our cognitive failures most people at least try to use of evidence and reason in all cases where it does not conflict with beliefs that they cherish. That is the big constant across time and space: As much as a Pakistani Sunni, a Kongolese animist and a Brazilian Jehova's Witness disagree about religious tenets, they will all to the best of their ability use reason and evidence to figure out how to build something and how to manage an orchard.

And this universality also means that five thousand years ago there will have been a few atheists muttering under their breath, "yeah yeah, sacrificial rites and all that, what a waste of a good heifer. I'm sure the bloody sun-priests made all that nonsense up to bilk the rest of our community." And whatever else will happen, I am sure in five thousand years somebody will think the same about whatever weird superstitions they will have then.

Rationalists will always pop up again because the only difference between a rationalist and everybody else is that the former is consistent while the latter use special pleading to exclude their religion from the same reasoning that is universally accepted for everything else, and that means that to get a rationalist you only need somebody who says, wait a second, why does that not also apply here?

SRM said...

The possible benefit of an accomodationist approach is not because it may bring the world to an acceptance of one narrow subject (such as evolution). Rather, in accepting something previously denied as an article of faith, it may demonstrate to people that there is value in (and no penalty from) understanding the universe from a non-supernatural perspective. In this way some accomodationists are employing their very own wedge strategy.

The problem with accomodationism is that it forces the dishonest (or by some accomodationists, the genuine) opinion that there still remains some inherent core value in supernatural beliefs as a body of knowledge.

Larry Moran said...

I think we should rethink our definition of "accommodationist." John Wilkins says that, "The term “accomodationism” has been used to label the idea that science and religion are compatible, although there are some wrinkles ..." [Accommodating Science: What is the problem?].

That's not the sense I prefer. The word started to become common in the blogosphere as an alternative to "Neville Chamberlain Atheists" (see The Neville Chamberlain Atheists, where I first used the word "accommodationist). It refers to atheists who go out of their way to defend some aspects of religious belief. Usually it takes the form of defending compatibilism by restricting science to certain magisteria (e.g. methodological naturalism). In this sense, only atheists can be accommodationists.

The important philosophical issue is not accommodationisn but compatiblism. Are science and religion compatible or not? If they are, then it's quite legitimate for an atheist to argue that theistic evolution, for example, may not conflict with science. That's what the folks at NCSE do.

Rolf Aalberg said...

-- but in order to explain why the myths originated, I think you have to admit that "thunder god" is a natural response to thunder.

The way I see early civilization, there was a god for every aspect of nature that "we" did not understand. I believe the God of monotheism was the logical outcome of the realisation that there IS a ghost in the machine; a spirit in our soul. That's the one Moses struggled with a whole night through, asking for his name and got the answer "I am that I am". A pity Carl Gustav Jung is not here to lay it out for us.

John Pieret said...

Oh, good, Larry! You're giving the up the "Neville Chamberlain Atheists" metaphor? ... the one that sucked from the beginning? You know, the brave Churchill who wouldn't "accommodate" the evil Hitler as Chamberlain did ... but had no problem "accommodating" Joseph Stalin? I suppose we could have endless debates as to who was the bigger monster of the 20th century but it would certainly be close.

The important philosophical issue is not accommodationisn but compatiblism. Are science and religion compatible or not?

There is no question that the methods of religion are not the methods of science. So?

The real issue is whether you or Jerry Coyne, et al. can drum Ken Miller, Theodosius Dobzhansky or Francisco Ayala out of "science" by denying they are True Scientists™?

If they are "True Scientists" then you have to do more than make (almost always misapplied) reverences to "cognitive dissonence."

In the meantime, please explain how "True Scientists" hold such unscientific beliefs as that J. M. W. Turner is the greatest painter that ever lived or that cats are "better" than dogs or that James Joyce's "The Dead" is the greatest short story ever written ... all of which I agree with.

But holding those thoughts in my mind are just as "incompatible" with science as holding a belief in a god that does not interfere with the study of science.

John S. Wilkins said...

Larry, I have been at a conference and out of internet range, but I can now reply briefly.

I do discuss what "science" is here (see the section entitled "What is science?").

I argue that "science" is not a simple category. It is neither a body of knowledge nor a method. Like "religion" is is largely undefinable, so it is arguable what religious believers need their religious belief sto be compatible with. Nevertheless, one can say that there are results of science that count as factual knowledge, so I would say that is the relevant sense.

Here I take some models and theories to be as factual as anything we may know in other direct ways. That natural selection can drive evolution is one such fact. That drift can do it too is another. Theories form a kind of conditional knowledge: when certain conditions obtain, then a particular outcome will occur. I treat this kind of science as something religions have to accommodate.

Also, as a side note, I do distinguish between accommodationism, compatibilism and the strategic issues.

Larry Moran said...

Thanks for replying. I read your articles and, like I said, I don't understand how you are defining science. This is quite important since we are talking about whether science and religion are compatible or not.

If you think of science as "models and theories" and as "when certain conditions obtain, then a particular outcome will occur" then this is a very different definition than the one I (and some philosophers) use. I can see why that kind of science doesn't conflict with the existence of gods and miracles.

That's okay, but it fails to address the issues that concern some of us.

Also, as a side note, I do distinguish between accommodationism, compatibilism and the strategic issues.

I didn't see anything that even remotely resembles the definition of accommodationism that I, and others use. This is also quite important since your book is going to be about "accommodating science" and that's not a problem for most deeply religious people. They have all kinds of rationalizations.

I wrote to you about this but you must of decided that my view of accommodationism was not worth mentioning. Right?

Atheists don't have any difficulty accommodating science either. I think your book is actually going to be about compatibilism and it would probably be easier if you used that word instead of accommodation.

John S. Wilkins said...

I say explicitly that science cannot be easily or even effectively defined.

And what exactly is your definition of accommodationism? I looked but couldn't find one before I wrote.

Larry Moran said...

We agree that the demarcation problem is a serious problem. That's why I always try to explian what I mean by "science" whenever I discuss the compatibility issue. You are free to employ a different definition of science and reach a different conclusion about compatibility but you are not free to criticize MY stance based on YOUR definition. I don't think you spent enough time reflecting on the views of those who disagree with you.

I'm pretty sure I emailed you a link to my old post on Neville Chamberlain Atheists (see link above) and explained that my view of accommodationism comes from that part of Dawkins' book. An accommodationist is an atheist who goes out of his/her way to accommodate the views of believers, usually in order to form an alliance against a common enemy.

The main characteristic of the accommodationist position is that they argue in favor of the compatibility of science and religion even though they, themselves, do not accept any of religion's foundational beliefs. In other words, they are not compatibilists but they think it's still a good idea in principle.

People like Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, and me have no problem getting along with believers and joining with them in common causes such as keeping the worst part of creationism out of the schools. Where we have a problem is when some of our fellow atheists argue that science and religion are compatible as though that were the only conclusion possible and the only one allowed in court.

Peter said...

"I don't believe that we evolved to favor religion over science."

Totally false. For a person to whom genetic drift is supposed to be important you would think that the findings of the science of demographics would be important. But what has evidence ever had to do with evolution. Prof Moran proves over and over again that evolution is not about evidence as much as his ethical world view that religion is a source of harm:

favor slavery, male superiority, castes, homophobia, and a host of other things that have disappeared or are about to disappear. Religion, especially the extreme versions, is soon going to disappear as well. I don't believe that those seven things are innate, hard-wired, ways of thinking.

He conforms exactly to the description of evolutionists of Prof Cornelius Hunter.

That facts on the other hand, as shown by demographers are that religious people out breed seculars all the time. Just have a look at secular Europe vs Europe when it was religious . Religious people stay married, do not abort their young, and have larger families. Secular societies are just the opposite. THAT IS REALITY. So to claim that society will become some utopia after religion has been eradicated is totally delusional.

If survival is good, then religion with its many warts is preferable to extinction.

steve oberski said...

religion with its many warts is preferable to extinction

Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Larry Moran said...

That facts on the other hand, as shown by demographers are that religious people out breed seculars all the time.

Then Christians better get busy breeding in France, Belgium, and Denmark because right now they are losing their religion faster than they can make new Christian babies.

Peter said...

Then Christians better get busy breeding in France, Belgium, and Denmark

You found Christians in Europe? That's highly unlikely since Europe has become your secular utopia.

because right now they are losing their religion faster than they can make new Christian babies.

Almost correct, they are not creating babies because they lost their religion. If you knew what you were talking about you would know that secularism occurs before a below replacement fertility rate. You sound like breeding is a pejorative when as an educated evolutionist you should know that the best breeders are the fittest. They survive and pass on their dna. Too bad secularists are such lousy breeders. I guess they are just losers in the evolution of life.

Piotr Gąsiorowski said...

Take Poland, then. Roman Catholic 88% (41,5% regularly practising), atheist/agnostic 6%, other 5% (2010) -- hardly a secular utopia. Population growth rate -0.4/1000 (negative!); fertility rate 1.25 (2013).

France has a growth rate of +3/1000 and a fertility rate of 1.974. Do you seriously believe the difference correlates in any way with religion?

SRM said...

Too bad secularists are such lousy breeders. I guess they are just losers in the evolution of life.

If only we could all be winners like JimBob Duggar and his baby factory wife. We would have god's good earth filled up 'n no time.

Robert Byers said...

Oh no What science is again? If what it is IS not settled then evolutionists etc should stop accusing creationism of not being science. Not being WHOM!!?
Its all just a attempt to bypass making a intellectual case for some conclusion about nature by defining the opponent as already not adhering to the principals about a case.

ID teaches nature shows a complexity demanding a thinking being and questions, to some degree, evolutionism. YEC insists upon Genesis as determining major boundaries in origins.
Everyone attacks and defends positions while claiming using high intellectual standards and even a special methodology called science.
Science is a verb and and not a sum of nouns.
Its just suring up conclusions relative to regular methodology.
Evolutionism fails as a scientific thing because it fails the high standard demanded by the methodology.
Its mostly lines of reasoning, including extrapolation, and hijacking other subjects to make a biological claim.
Evolution was a grand desired hunch in small circles back then and now. The rest of the world simply accepts or rejects trust in these circles of researchers.
Thats why the revolution against evolution is prevailing and accelerating in our time.
ID scientists smell blood and awards. YEC smells holding a better defence

Peter said...

Take Poland, then. Roman Catholic 88% (41,5% regularly practising), atheist/agnostic 6%, other 5% (2010) -- hardly a secular utopia. Population growth rate -0.4/1000 (negative!); fertility rate 1.25 (2013).

A very superficial comparison. Poland is Catholic in name only. They certainly don't believe in death do us part. In the words of one Pole:


The divorce rate is sky-rocketing among Polish people compared to the rate from the past. It went significantly up since Poland entered the EU. But even in Poland, for the people who actually live in Poland, it has increased. It's not close to 50% like in the USA, but still, pretty high. I am not even sure if that has anything to do with the Catholic tradition in Poland. People are tired of the religious / political bs that they are exposed to. Especially younger generations, like myself, we do not seem to be attached to Church that much anymore. I don't think my family has ever been, to be honest with you.

Any country that has widespread divorce is hardly comprised of practicing Catholics.

Your analysis of France is equally shallow. France has 5 million Muslims out of a population of 65 million. that is almost 10 percent. Are Muslims secular? Do they have a low fertility rate also. I think not. It is the growing Muslim population that is responsible for the high French fertility rate.

Piotr Gąsiorowski said...

@ Peter: Yeah, yeah, I know. No true Scotsman... etc.

Piotr Gąsiorowski said...

Divorce rate in Poland (2010): 20.6%
Divorce rate in France (2010): 55.0%

Number of declared Muslims in France: about 3.5 million, not all of them practising believers. Estimates like 5-6 million are probably overblown.

Fertility rate among French Muslims: about 2.2, just a little above the national average.

But I'm sure there are more "true Scotsman" arguments up your sleeve.

steve oberski said...

"MT [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

― Christopher Hitchens

That is the reason reproduction rates are going down.

It's the equal treatment of women under the law.

Strangely enough, in jurisdictions where women are full participating members of society they choose to have fewer children and to have them later on in life.

And guess what, by all measurable metrics, these societies are the ones that have the highest standard of living.

And those societies where there are still "practicing Catholics"* have the lowest standard of living.

the best breeders are the fittest. They survive and pass on their dna.

Those poor confused paedophile Catholic priests, if only they knew. Germ plasm, they're doing it wrong.

* I'm using catholic as a proxy for all religious nutters whose morality is informed by goat herder snuff porn.

steve oberski said...

Time to step away from the keyboard and let that nice nurse change your diapers, top up the meds and strap you in for the evening, Robert.

Nothing good can happen when you get this excited.

SRM said...

In the U.S., it must be the deep south where true societal bliss is most manifest due to its high religiosity. But somehow, highest rates of teenage pregnancy and poverty, and lowest rates of educational attainment and overall well-being overlap in the same region.

John S. Wilkins said...

I realise that there is an issue that I did not make much of. What you call accommodationism is what I have called "trimming" science to fit religion. I have none of that. I think almost nobody outside the religious traditions does. What I call accommodationism is shaping religion to fit science. This is, I think, very common, and what you object to with the NCSE and others like the scientific institutions who have made statements take that approach, not trimming.

As always you and I seem to be hung up on words. As the coiner of the term you are of course free to define the term accommodationism any way you like, but if what you want to do is characterise these compatibilists, the term cannot mean trimming science.

Larry Moran said...

John Wilkins says,

What I call accommodationism is shaping religion to fit science. This is, I think, very common, and what you object to with the NCSE and others like the scientific institutions who have made statements take that approach, not trimming.

No. What I object to is when NCSE and scientific organizations claim that science and religion are compatible. They defend this claim by placing limitations on science, such as methodological naturalism.

This is a case of scientists—many of whom are atheists—shaping science to make room for (accommodate) religion.

I don't think scientific organizations (e.g. AAAS) should say anything at all about religion.

In the case of NCSE, it can promote the idea that science and religion are compatible if it wants but it's being dishonest if it makes the claim that this stance is universally accepted by philosophers and scientists. That's a lie.

Peter said...

You know you have a good theory when data you uncover, the theory continues to hold.

Divorce rate in France (2010): 55.0% etc, etc

The truth is:

Fertility rates:
1.8 French nationals (secularists)
3.2 Algerians, 3.5 M0roccans 3.7 Turkish (Muslim religious immigrants).

Immigration, 'Race' and Ethnicity in Contemporary France
By Alec Hargreaves

The higher birth rate in France is not because of the secular nationals, but the Muslim immigrants. This once again confirms my view that secularists do not have babies. The secular family is a dying family. Secular societies need religious immigrants in order to have a stable population. But it is only the total population number that is stable as the secularists, who do not have enough babies to replace themselves always die out.

More proof that evolution has favored religious people that
don't believe in evolution. Strange isn't it.

Piotr Gąsiorowski said...

You make some tacit assumptions: all "French nationals" are "secularists"; all immigrants from Muslim countries are religious. Polls tell a different story. You also assume that Hargreaves's stats are "the truth", though tha actual figures for France, specifically, are quite difficult to determine. It is known, for example, that Muslim families quickly assimilate to the rest of population in terms of fertility rate (the increase is short-lived, restricted to the first years of their residence in France; that's why it's easy to overestimate it). In their countries of origin they had the following fertility rates roughly at the time when Hargreaves's book was published:

Algeria: 2.38
Morocco: 2.38
Turkey: 2.14

Why does Inner London, with its huge immigrant population of Asian origin, have one of the lowest fertility rates in the country? Considerably lower than, say, the almost exclusively White (= "secular"?) Northumberland.

But still, the truth is: "French nationals" in France have on the whole a much higher fertility rate than "Polish nationals" in Poland despite the divorce rate in France being more than double that in Poland and the secularisation of France being certainly much more advanced.

Peter said...

You can't see the forest for the trees. Your lower numbers for Algeria, Morocco, and Turkey still confirm what I am saying. The nationals are still below replacement. Nothing really changes in what I'm saying.

Sure there are some Christians in the Nationals, but the society as a whole has become so secular that it can't reproduce without immigrants - no fault divorce, abortion, pornography; in general living as if there is no God. Too bad Nietzche isn't around. He would have learned that maybe it wasn't so good an idea to live as if there isn't a God.

I don't know anything about London's oriental population. I think Japan is secular and has a below replacement fertility rate. A plague could sterilize a population by making it impossible to reproduce. So there are perhaps more than one reason for below replacement fertility rates. But just because there is more than one cause, that does not mean either are false.

If both Poland and France have below replacement fertility rates the results are the same. The only difference is how long it will take to disappear. One thing you should know is that once a society turns below replacement it is game over. They never grow again.

BTW. I think we were discussing secular vs Hasidic Jews the other day. Hasidics are 10 percent of the population, with 5 children per family. I calculated how long it would take for the Hasidics to equal the seculars. I was stunned by the answer. It is less than two generations.

John S. Wilkins said...

That is something to object to, correctly. Can you give me an example ot two of this move?