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Wikipedian Darwinism: Higher Truth edits out lower-case truths

In “Wikipedia and the Sociology of Darwinian Belief” (Evolution News & Views, February 5, 2012), David Klinghoffer recounts the true tale of what happened when an enterprising South African tried to correct a Wikipedia article to reflect the approximately 50 ID-friendly papers published in peer-reviewed journals:

As anyone knows who’s followed the popular Darwinist blogging sites, Darwinism is an ideological movement seemingly rich in believers unhindered by responsibilities to family or work or both, with little better to do day and night than engage in (usually anonymous) skirmishes on the Internet. Editing the Wiki article, our South African friend inserted references to the 50-plus peer-reviewed articles from our updated list of pro-ID scientific literature. Sure enough, within just 30 minutes, someone had erased his additions and substituted snide and again false language to the effect that:

The Discovery Institute insists that a number of intelligent design articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals…. Critics, largely members of the scientific community, reject this claim, stating that no established scientific journal has yet published an intelligent design article. Rather, intelligent design proponents have set up their own journals with peer review that lacks impartiality and rigor, consisting entirely of intelligent design supporters.

This is preposterous, as anyone who has looked at the list of papers would have to honestly admit. Our South African friend went a few rounds with the Wikipedia editors but, last time I checked, without ultimate success.

But, David, the sort of person who would erase the corrections without checking out the papers’ existence and substitute boilerplate talking points  actually does know that he is bending or breaking the truth. And he probably feels okay with that.

Like most ideologues, he is the slave of some Higher Truth that justifies falsehoods on behalf of a lower, everyday truth – that peer-reviewed papers sympathetic to ID positions are no longer a great rarity. Indeed, it’s hard to think of one that has even been a source of huge controversy since the Sternberg affair at the Smithsonian in 2005.

Darwinism is that sort of religion. It does not attract people who prefer lower-case truths – or everyday relationships. For one thing, they probably can’t handle them.

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34 Responses to Wikipedian Darwinism: Higher Truth edits out lower-case truths

  1. as to:

    ,,, actually does know that he is bending or breaking the truth. And he probably feels okay with that.

    Like most ideologues, he is the slave of some Higher Truth that justifies falsehoods

    Deception is so persistent, and pervasive, from many of the neo-Darwinists on the internet, that I truly would not have believed it if I had not seen it firsthand. It truly IS that bad!,,, If you don’t believe me, try the South African man’s experiment, and try to correct a mistake on ID on wiki;

  2. News:

    You have put your finger on a major problem, one I have discussed in my note on selective hyperskepticism, under the descriptive rubric, the closed, ideologised mind[set]:

    CLOSED-MINDEDNESS*: Stubbornly irrational, question-begging resistance to correction and/or alternative views. (Cf. a typical turnabout accusation on this, here.)

    This fallacy manifests itself in a habitual pattern of thought, feelings and argument that is:

    (a) question-beggingly committed to and/or

    (b) indoctrinated into thinking in the circle of a particular view or position and/or

    (c) blindly adherent to “the consensus” or vision and school of thought or paradigm of a particular set of authorities. [NB*: This last includes today's new Magisterium: "Science."]

    As a result,

    (d) the victim of closed-mindedness becomes unwarrantedly (i.e. fallaciously and often abusively) resistant to new or alternative ideas, information or correction.

    (NB: Cf. discussions on belief, knowledge, warrant and justification here, here [an excellent introductory lecture note], here, here, here, here and here [technical].)

    That is, it is not a matter of mere disagreement that is at stake here, but of

    (e) stubborn and objectively unjustified refusal to be corrected or to entertain or fairly discuss on the merits ideas or points of view outside of a favoured circle of thought.

    In extreme cases,

    (f) the closed minded person who has access to power or influence may engage in the willfully deceptive (and even demonic) practice of actively suppressing the inconvenient truth that s/he knows or should know.

    (By contrast, a properly educated person is open-minded but critically aware: s/he is aware of the possibility and prevalence of error, and so (i) habitually investigates and then (ii) accurately, objectively and fairly describes major alternative views, fact claims and lines of argument on a topic, (iii) comparing them on congruence to his/her real-world experience and that of others s/he knows and respects, general factual correctness, logical coherence and degree of explanatory power; thus (iv) holds a personal view that results from such a process of comparative difficulties, while (v) recognising and respecting that on major matters of debate or controversy, different people will hold different views.)

    _________________

    * It is worth noting that it was unusually hard to find a serious, detailed, balanced and objective discussion of this key concept on the Internet; including in that well known generic reference, Wikipedia. It was therefore saddening — but utterly revealing — to then find the just following in that encyclopedia’s discussion on indoctrination: “Instruction in the basic principles of science, in particular, can not properly be called indoctrination, in the sense that the fundamental principles of science call for critical self-evaluation and skeptical scrutiny of one’s own ideas.” (This is of course precisely a case in point of diverting the naive reader from being critically aware on a significant and dangerous possibility for abusing science for indoctrination in various avant garde schools of thought that are often precisely capital examples of propagandistic advocacy, misleading or outright deceptive manipulation and indoctrination. And, given the painful and at points horrendous history of Social Darwinism, the eugenics movement and several other claimed scientific schools of thought over the past 100 years, this is inexcusable. In our day, the self-referentially incoherent and amoral worldview of evolutionary materialism often operates under the false colours of “Science,” even seeking to redefine science to suit its agenda. The 2009 Climategate scandal shows through leaked materials how even leading research and international institutions are not immune to bias, manipulation of data and processing, selective reporting of findings, suppression of limitations, abuse of influence of the peer review process in Journals, Conferences and reports to suppress valid alternative views, and the subsequent indoctrination of the public through resulting deceptive iconic case studies and illustrations.)

    Onward links of course can be found right there.

    What is most sadly illustrative of what is going on is the little bit about Wikipedia, “science” and closed mindedness:

    “Instruction in the basic principles of science, in particular, can not properly be called indoctrination, in the sense that the fundamental principles of science call for critical self-evaluation and skeptical scrutiny of one’s own ideas.”

    As a matter of easily established fact, several of the most destructive and utterly fallacious ideologies of the past 100 years or so, were promulgated in the name of science. To name just one, eugenics –”the self-direction of human evolution” [Logo of 2nd Int'l congress] — was embedded in Hunter’s Civic Biology, the book at the heart of the infamous Scopes Monkey trial. I can bet you most people never heard of that, nor did they know that the infamous movie, Inherit the Wind materially distorts the history and substance of what went on in Tennessee all those years ago now.

    But, going on, over the past week or so here at UD, we have seen where advocates of evolutionary materialism — in the teeth of descriptions, definitions and from the horse’s mouth examples — profess to be unable to recognise the dominant view in the intelligentsia and chattering classes of our time. As for seeing that a worldview (whether or no it likes to call itself science is immaterial) that posits matter, energy, space and time interacting by forces of chance and necessity as fundamental reality thus has in it no IS that can objectively ground OUGHT, and is therefore literally a-moral, that is deemed an attack on its adherents. Never mind that he real point of the argument is that even the very atheists imply by their actions that we are all under the government of OUGHT, i.e. the worldview reduces itself to self-referential absurdity and is unlivable. Of course atheists who adhere to evolutionary materialism are moral, they reflect the inbuilt candle that points to their real source, the Moral Governor of the universe!

    Don’t even take up the onward implication that — even though the leading advocates find it a hard-sell in their own camp (as Provine admitted in the very same Tennessee in 1998 in his Darwin Day address) — there is no such thing as a truly free power to decide, i.e. there is no free will. That means we cannot reason or decide responsibly. Which is another direct contradiction to experienced reality, another point of self-referential absurdity.

    But, we have here an ideological captivity, int eh name of science and being bright and educated etc etc. So, all who disagree “must” be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

    So, never mind the actual facts that can easily be shown, there “cannot” be genuine pro-ID research papers in the peer reviewed literature, or in the informal peer reviewed literature, i.e. the world of serious-minded publishing. (Was it not Timaeus who just reminded us on how a serious publisher with a reputation as a publisher of serious books to guard, will have especially controversial books informally reviewed by weighty minds? Dr T, well said. Dead right you are.)

    Closed ideologised mindset, again.

    We could go on and on.

    That is why I have now drawn the conclusion that the issue has moved on.

    We are now in the phase of revealing the absurdity and the clinging to ideology in the teeth of sound evidence and analysis. (And, contrary to the views of many, that is where something like UD is not a backwater, but the pivotal context for the debates that are playing out. For, there is a sea change coming, and it is going to have to be fought in the forum where the ideologically locked in magisterium cannot control what is going on. this is equivalent to Samizdat of the 1970s and 80s in Russia. Guess why the Russians exiled Solzhenitsyn, when they found his manuscript? Just one little voice of truth was too much for the system!)

    And that is exactly where we are, in the life of this culture debate: the era before final collapse, when more and more people are going to wake up and realise they have been had.

    Over the next ten years, it is going to get really interesting as the powers that be desperately try to stop the crumbling dam. they are going to find they have not got enough fingers to stop all the holes, and the holes are going to eat out the dam until, one morning, there will be an almighty roar, and the proud edifice will collapse.

    Ten years from now, it will be over.

    As far as I am concerned, just looking at water, and knowing what has to go into cosmology to get us to water, and then add in C-Chemistry and Nitrogen to get us to proteins, shows a cosmos designed for life, even through a multiverse speculation.

    The cosmos screams design, design to have C-Chemistry, cell based aqueous medium protein and enzyme life, starting with the next glass of water you drink.

    Let the proud defenders of the crumbling dam of evolutionary materialism from hydrogen to humans defend themselves from water.

    Let them explain to us, how cell based life is not only based on water and carbon chemistry, but on CODED algorithmic digital systems and integrated self-assembling nanomachines of ast5onsihing subtlety and sophistication.

    Let them explain to us how body plans requiring 10 – 100 million bits of such info can arise spontaneously by empirically demonstrated darwinian and similar processes.

    Let them explain the origin of speech and of the cognitive, thinking mind, on similar grounds, and how that mind is credible as a knower and reasoner.

    And, let them explain to us, how we are bound by OUGHT, in a world that according to them has in it only ISes that cannot ground ought.

    I guarantee they cannot, and can predict their response: red herrings, led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and ignirted through snidely or crudely incendiary rhetoric. to cloud, choke, confuse and polarise the atmosphere. That is what drives the likes of an Aiden, which imagines it can adequately answer the Christian gospel by smearing verbal filth across it, and by presenting the Christian clergy as blood mongering vampires; inviting the projection of demonisation that then of course — herr Schicklegruber knew this ever so well [guess who had stabbed the noble and hitherto victorious German army in the back in 1918, and then imposed the Versailles treaty that was to blame for all of Germany's ills . . . ] — then turns the scapegoats into targets of verbal rage and worse, potentially much worse.

    Indeed, I am concluding that what is driving atheism in our civilisation is overgrown teenage rebellion rage mixed with supercilious contempt that imagines itself brilliant and progressive, now holding science captive.

    And it is that pretence that such evolutionary materialist atheism is science, and the prestige that attaches to science that then appeals to prejudice in defence of ideology. Indeed, all of this reminds me of how it was said that in the old USSR, a PhD candidate was required to present a paper in defence of atheism to show that he had the properly scientific mindset.

    But, as we speak, the leaks in the walls are multiplying like rabbits, and the dam is beginning to crumble.

    In ten years, it will all be over.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Since the talking point is that to point to the inherent amorality and moral absurdity of evolutionary materialism is to target atheists as always immoral and to blame such for all the worlds ills, let me be direct: it is a foundational, inscripturated Judaeo-Christian teaching, that all men are implanted with the candle of God, the conscience, so we will all have the core morality written in our hearts. But, warped ideologies can undermine that and help build corrupt systems in society that hamper us from seeing and living by the right that we know or should know. This holds across the board, for ever so many systems of thought, and indeed the fundamental human problem is that we are finite, fallible, fallen and too often ill willed. All of us. Hence the sting in say Bernard Lewis’ remarks that I have cited with approval and set in context here. It just so happens that the currently dominant system is evolutionary materialism, wearing the holy lab coat. But ever, it seems, “de system, de system, de system is a fraud” — Mutabaruka.

  3. Folks:

    Let us do an empirical test, since we know that the usual anti ID sites monitor us closely, and have a very wide audience that is literally global. (I know that though the pattern of hits on my personal blog when these sites try to play rhetorical games with what I have had to say.)

    CASE 1: Life 2012, 2(1), 106-134; doi:10.3390/life2010106

    Is Life Unique?
    David L. Abel email
    Department of ProtoBioCybernetics and ProtoBioSemiotics, Origin of Life Science Foundation, Inc., 113-120 Hedgewood Drive, Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA
    Received: 17 November 2011; in revised form: 16 December 2011 / Accepted: 19 December 2011 / Published: 30 December 2011

    Abstract:

    Is life physicochemically unique? No. Is life unique? Yes. Life manifests innumerable formalisms that cannot be generated or explained by physicodynamics alone. Life pursues thousands of biofunctional goals, not the least of which is staying alive. Neither physicodynamics, nor evolution, pursue goals. Life is largely directed by linear digital programming and by the Prescriptive Information (PI) instantiated particularly into physicodynamically indeterminate nucleotide sequencing. Epigenomic controls only compound the sophistication of these formalisms. Life employs representationalism through the use of symbol systems. Life manifests autonomy, homeostasis far from equilibrium in the harshest of environments, positive and negative feedback mechanisms, prevention and correction of its own errors, and organization of its components into Sustained Functional Systems (SFS). Chance and necessity—heat agitation and the cause-and-effect determinism of nature’s orderliness—cannot spawn formalisms such as mathematics, language, symbol systems, coding, decoding, logic, organization (not to be confused with mere self-ordering), integration of circuits, computational success, and the pursuit of functionality. All of these characteristics of life are formal, not physical.
    Keywords: formalism; prescriptive information (PI); sustained functional systems (SFS); functional sequence complexity (FSC); the law of organizational and cybernetic decline (The OCD Law); the formalism > physicality (F > P) principle; choice-contingent causation and control (CCCC); the cybernetic cut; the configurable switch (CS) bridge; the organization (O) principle

    (Note, this is a review that builds on a whole series of peer reviewed articles over about six years by Abel and co, which are referenced in it. It is across those articles that he and co build the sort of terms you will see above, in interaction with the wider research community.)

    CASE 2: Rumors of transcendence in physics
    William G. Pollard
    Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Institute for Energy Analysis, P.O. Box 117.
    Oak Ridge. Tennessee 37830
    Am. J. Phys. 52 (10). October 1984
    (Received 4 November 1983; accepted for publication 26 January 1984)

    Abstract: There are several hints in physics of a domain of external reality transcendent to three?dimensional space and time. This paper calls attention to several of these intimations of a real world beyond the natural order. Examples are the complex state functions in configuration space of quantum mechanics, the singularity at the birth of the universe, the anthropic principle, the role of chance in evolution, and the unaccountable fruitfulness of mathematics for physics. None of these examples touch on the existence or activity of God, but they do suggest that external reality may be much richer than the natural world which it is the task of physics to describe.

    main text begins: “At the beginning of this century, there were no hints within physics that it was going to be led beyond three-dimensional space and time in its quest for
    understanding the structure and behavior of the natural order. It seemed possible that physics, and science in general, would prove competent to explain any object,
    event, or structure in the natural world in terms of laws or components wholly within space and time. As the century has progressed, however, more and more rumors of a reality transcendent to space, time, and nature have emerged.”

    (Oldies but goodies dept, and it sure looks like BA despite the many dismissive attacks he has faced, has a serious point.)

    Case 3: The Evo Info lab of Marks and Dembski, let’s use the list of major articles:

    Bernoulli’s Principle of Insufficient Reason and Conservation of Information in Computer Search William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
    Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
    LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
    The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
    Efficient Per Query Information Extraction from a Hamming Oracle [with Erratum] Winston Ewert, George Montañez, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II
    Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
    A Vivisection of the ev Computer Organism: Identifying Sources of Active Information George Montañez, Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II

    (Here we turn to recent work by arguably the leading ID researcher, in major part, on the issue of the source of the active info that overcomes the odds facing a blind random walk search.)

    Case 4: The DI list of 50.

    Now, let us see how the penumbra of objector sites and Wikipedia will respond to something that is as objective as objective gets.

    If the objectors to design of the ilk who dominate Wikipedia cannot agree that articles such as the above, at least in material part, were properly peer reviewed and published in the scientific literature as at least worthy of consideration, then we have no reason to trust them on any less easily established claims.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Contrary to the highly revelatory phrasing that appears at wikipedia, the 2004 PBSW article by Meyer and under the editorship of Sternberg, per investigator report, DID pass “proper peer review,” indeed, by “renowned scientists,” and was published after revisions as suggested. What happened is that there was an obviously ill intentioned attempt to breach the walls of confidentiality, and we are seeing sour grapes, per Aesop.

  4. Since the talking point is that to point to the inherent amorality and moral absurdity of evolutionary materialism is to target atheists as always immoral and to blame such for all the worlds ills

    No, this is your talking point. Nobody is making this connection except you.

    What some of us are trying to point out is that your accusation that people you call “evolutionary materialists” promote an amoral and “morally absurd” worldview is false.

    But you insist on reading that as saying that you are accusing atheists of being immoral. We know you are not saying that.

    It’s what you are saying that we are disputing.

    We do not think our “worldview” is either amoral or morally absurd. In fact, some of us think that many Christian “worldviews” are, viz the moral absurdity of William Lane Craig claiming that an act that would normally be a wrong, e.g. genocide, is not wrong if it is commanded by God.

    Moral absurdities don’t come much more morally absurd than that.

  5. Dr Liddle:

    the facts say otherwise, sorry.

    Whenever a point has been made about the worldview of evolutionary materialism, predictably the talking points about atheists come up.

    Indeed, it just happened again.

    I plainly stated that atheists like others, on Judaeo Christian foundational premises, have core morality written in their hearts, but like the rest of us face the challenge of being finite, fallible, fallen and to often ill willed.

    I also pointed to the implications of a dominant worldview that reduces morality to relativism, being inherently amoral, as tending to undermine morality in the community. That is a longstanding observation and relates to evolutionary materialism, as well as other worldviews that end up in the same boat.

    Atheists who adhere to evo mat, being made with consciences and in many cases raised on decent principles, can transcend the raw implications of such materialism, but the tension due to the “universal acid” involved in such evo mat is always there; as can be seen.

    I again ask you not to jump from the one to the other, as though there is not something between the two; as has again been pointed out. In short, I do not appreciate the putting of words in my mouth that do not belong there.

    Having said that, I think today’s evolutionary materialists need to face the challenge of the IS-OUGHT gap, the implications of their system for both morality and mind, and the history of the systems that have derived from that over the past century. And 100 million ghosts from the past century join me in saying such.

    GEM of TKI

  6. F/N: the issue in this thread, which should be its main focus, is plainly a case in point of the tension I speak of.

  7. F/N 2: And,BTW the scare quotes that try to suggest that ther eis no objectively definable worldview that can properly be descriptively labelled as evolutionary materialism, on discussions and examples since Plato’s The Laws Bk X, and down to the assertions of Lewontin and co:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism [--> which is of course evolutionary from hydrogen to humans] is absolute . . .

    . . . are a further illustration of the problem at work. KF

  8. Where did it “just come up?”

    And I didn’t “put words in your mouth” – I quoted your own exact words.

    You repeatedly allege that (let me quote you directly): evolutionary materialists need to face the implications of their system for both morality and mind and the history of the systems that have derived from that over the past century”.

    This is exactly what we dispute and find offensive, because we do not consider that “evolutionary materialism” has the “implications…for both morality and mind” that you keep alleging that it does.

    We consider that the implications of “evolutionary materialism” are exactly the same as the implications of any other morally defensible worldview: that we are morally responsible for the effects of our actions on other people.

    You keep on talking about “the IS-OUGHT gap” without explaining what you mean by it. I see no “gap”, so I don’t even know what your challenge means.

    What I do see is a huge moral problem for the idea that if God commands something that would normally be wrong it becomes right. That’s a gap alright.

    Our worldview doesn’t land us in that complete moral absurdity.

  9. Dr Liddle:

    I am sorry, this thread is primarily on another matter, but I will note that the problem just happened yet again.

    KF

  10. Liz,

    You keep on talking about “the IS-OUGHT gap” without explaining what you mean by it. I see no “gap”, so I don’t even know what your challenge means.

    He’s talking about Hume’s is-ought problem. What he doesn’t seem to realize, or else doesn’t want to admit, is that the “problem” applies as much to him as it does to atheists.

    Even if we could know exactly what God wants us to do, the “ought” of “I should do X” cannot be derived solely from the “is” of “God wants me to do X.”

  11. Well, I thought he was. But as he doesn’t seem to respond to any attempt to address it, and doesn’t seem to recognise that theism doesn’t solve it either, and that it’s something that as human beings we collectively bootstrap into our social justice systems, because it’s the best we can do, I figured he must mean something else.

    We are stuck, at best, with the benign horn of Euthyphro’s dilemma, or at worst, the malign one (the one adopted by William Lane Craig, and, ironically, the epitome of Might Makes Right).

    I’ll stick with the better horn.

  12. I am sorry, this thread is primarily on another matter, but I will note that the problem just happened yet again.

    And I will note that you have not answered my question: “where?”

  13. I seem to be missing something here – what is that an empirical test of, exactly?

  14. Ch:

    Sorry but the IS-OUGHT gap as presented by Hume (and actually many others) has a big problem, i.e. he has left off a big possibility — a worldview foundational IS that can ground OUGHT by being intrinsically and reasonably a ground of the good and of moral obligation.

    Unless one has such, then ought cannot then be grounded at any onward point in a worldview.

    In addition, the foundational IS then has to be separately reasonable, i.e. we cannot go in a narrow question-begging circle.

    As has been discussed at 101 level — and as has been repeatedly previously linked — here on in context (I know, not a short ten bullet point summary on one sheet, but we are there dealing with a cluster of biggie issues), there is a credibly sound answer anchored in the inherently good, reasonable, loving Creator God. (And indeed Dr Torley in the original thread has pointed to some significant discussions also.)

    And, this was addressed, with discussions and links in the previous thread, so it cannot properly be said that I have ducked the matter or failed to cogently address it.

    I think a serious minded onlooker will see that it is not exactly a useful answer to the IS-OUGHT gap faced by evolutionary materialism and similar views, to try to suggest that the problem is a presumably unanswered and unanswerable problem for theism too, so there.

    KF

    PS: Observe the silence so far in response to a very direct challenge on the topic of the OP.

  15. Wikipedia’s assertion on the status of design thought with respect to peer reviewed publications, as can be seen from the original post. Do follow up the onward links to see what happened with the South African reader of ENV who tried to correct the record at the relevant Wikipedia page. I have posed four test cases, above.

  16. Kindly note this, from 3 above: “If the objectors to design of the ilk who dominate Wikipedia cannot agree that articles such as the above, at least in material part, were properly peer reviewed and published in the scientific literature as at least worthy of consideration, then we have no reason to trust them on any less easily established claims.”

  17. there is a credibly sound answer anchored in the inherently good, reasonable, loving Creator God

    Possibly there is, but it still requires an a priori definition of “good”.

    Otherwise how would we discern true gods from false?

  18. Well, FWIW, I just argued that the link to the DI’s claim should be updated.

    However, note that the section is under “criticism”. Yes, those criticisms have been made. That is factually true.

    It is also true that “Life” is not an “established scientific journal” (it only has two issues, and one of those contained that Andrulis piece on gyres), and that many of the items on the DI list are either in Bio-complexity, a specifically ID journal, or in symposia proceedings. Also that of the few empirical papers in actual scientific journals, none, AFAICT are either particularly pro-ID, nor controversial. There are a few pro-ID theoretical papers that have made it into actual peer-reviewed scientific journals, however, and these should be acknowledged IMO.

  19. Dr Liddle: Let’s see, do we have an a priori definition of “life”? Does that mean then that biology does not work as a legitimate field of knowledge? Do you see the selective hyperskepticism involved? (And I need not elaborate here about being for a purpose, fitness for purpose and fulfilling or summing up purpose as all reasonably bound up in the concept of goodness . . . )KF

  20. Dr Liddle:

    Thanks for bringing out the first step of the problem.

    Let’s start from the well it’s a young journal case. H’mm, so how old must a journal be before its papers count? And, in that case, how can a journal ever get started, and gain credibility? So, should we ever publish other than in the house organs for certain schools of thought?

    (Which are of course ideologically controlled to make sure something like what happened with Sternberg — actually taking the declarations about advancing knowledge and putting thoughts worthy of consideration before the informed, for their consideration seriously — never happens again. Do I need to spell it out: C-E-N-S-O . . . -P?)

    In short, the issue of “peer review” here is a smokescreen.

    The REAL question is not about whether something is cogent and credible on the merits of fact and logic, or whether it has been vetted by competent people who are knowledgeable and is worthy of consideration, or is somehtig that we need to think about. Nope, it is about control, withthe sort of behind the scenes power games that the Sternberg affair exposed.

    But, the matter is much simpler than this.

    Wikipedia, insistently, is making a global absolute claim.

    That claim, with whole series of articles in play, is patently and demonstrably false.

    But, there is no willingness to acknowledge the truth.

    The name of the game is ideology and power, not respect for the well warranted truth.

    So, such have ZERO credibility on matters that are harder to check.

    Period.

    It’s not about, well they should maybe edit and correct an article.

    The articles have been corrected any number of times, over the course of years; this is just one recent case. The power brokers at Wiki have always put them back to what hey know or should know is falsehood, and a falsehood they expect to be taken as truth to their advantage, by many.

    I don’t need to spell out the three-letter word that means what was just summarised.

    And unfortunately, when we move up to the level of the actual peer reviewed journals and the academics, we too often find find a subtler version of the same basic game going on. (And what just came out over Climate gate II, shows that this is far wider than just this one topic. Something is deeply wrong in the state of the current academy, including Science. And if reformation does not happen real soon, things are going to spin out, crash and burn horrifically.)

    All of this is utterly revealing, and points to the exact tendencies that Plato warned us about ever so many years ago.

    GEM of TKI

  21. No, I do not see “the selective hyperskepticism involved” kf.

    I see a totally inappropriate analogy.

    You proposed that we can anchor what is good in an “inherently good, reasonable, loving Creator God”.

    What I want to know is how we can tell when we think we are being commanded by an “inherently good, reasonable loving Creator God” and when we are being commanded by a false God, unless we, a priori, have some idea of what constitutes “good”.

    You have not even attempted to address this.

  22. Guess why the Russians exiled Solzhenitsyn, when they found his manuscript? Just one little voice of truth was too much for the system!

    Ah, is that why you don’t let my comments out of moderation? :-)

    (Sorry, Denyse, but I have 2 comments for Genomicus from the 1st of February still stuck in moderation. I’m not happy. I guess it doesn’t help Genomicus either, if comments are released several days after they are put up: it looks like (s)he’s ignoring relevant questions).

  23. 23

    Liz: “unless we, a priori, have some idea of what constitutes “good”.

    We have no idea what constitutes objective good. Good in terms you suggest, is relative. An abortion would be considered good from the mother’s perspective, but bad from the fetus perspective. Successfully robbing a liquor store would be considered good to the robber and to the his kids that were fed and clothed with the money, but bad to the store owner. Raping a person would be considered good by the rapist, and bad for the person. Kidnapping a child for ransom would be considered good to all the people who’s lives were enhanced by the money, but bad for the child and child’s family.

    There is absolutely no way evo mat can claim that the feelings of one party are more valid the the others.

    But as Christians it is simple. We understand goodness by the example of Christ, whereas Christ’s authority is grounded in the resurrection event, in which the source of this event is grounded in GOD, (whom is good(n.)), the necessary un-caused first cause of the universe.

    Therefore serious challenges to the Christian Source should begin with God (the un-caused first cause), Christ (the divine interface), and finally the resurrection event (the grounding of Christ’s moral authority).

  24. Heinrich: Perhaps it has not struck you that I am not monitoring the thread in question (too much happening here and elsewhere . . . ), nor do I — as far as I know — have comment approval power. So, your remark is personal, disrespectful, based on jumping to incorrect conclusions, and gratuitous. If your comment in the thread is of similar vein, that may well explain why it has not been passed by the moderators. Good day. KF

  25. Dr Liddle:

    It strikes me that you have not taken on board that there are several lines of evidence regarding the existence of a creator God, that make it a reasonable view, before we get to the question of morals, under which government we fall.

    Second, even — for argument — taking the term goodness as an undefined analytical primitive, to be fleshed out on intuitive insights (rooted in our experience of the world giving us key cases and a basis for assessing family resemblance thus allowing identification and validation of a concept . . . ) applied to analysis, we will observe that all fields have such analytical primitives.

    Starting with mathematics.

    Otherwise, we face infinite regress; which is absurd.

    So, any “definitionitis”-based objection is already selectively hyperskeptical, as has become increasingly common at UD over the past year.

    To avert question-begging, we make sure that on comparative difficulties, we have a starting point that is factually adequate, coherent and explanatorily elegant (neither ad hoc nor simplistic).

    Now, that is a general case, and applies to the basic structure of worldviews, as a glance at the 101 here on will confirm, starting with the turtles all the way down problem. (IIRC, I have borrowed that diagram a time or two here at UD.)

    So, immediately, the point that in major fields of study we have analytical primitives that are not defined on a precising basis but are formed as concepts on experience and/or rational intuition, is a central concept for discussion. Your disanalogy objection to pointing out that the whole field of biology rests on such a primitive, “life,” fails and is a case of selective hyperskepticism on the structure of domains of knowledge.

    It is worth pausing to note on rational intuition, our ability to recognise key concepts, patterns and cases, often beyond our ability to express analytically. For instance, field biologists are often able to reliably identify the base taxon of an observed creature, without any explicit analysis, because of their experience based expertise. Similarly, we can often recognise members of a family quite accurately, beyond our power to explain. Down that road lies the more fundamental path to “definition,” ostensive definition. Definitions on genus-difference, precising statements of necessary and sufficient conditions, or operational sequences, are dependent on this prior identification and rational intuition about key cases of a common theme and family resemblance that is close enough to be in, or failed resemblance that allows exclusion.

    This principle and practice of identification based on experience, family resemblance and rational intuition, is a reality of our life as knowing agents, and it traces to the core rational and cognitive capacities we have as a basic endowment. It is also tied closely to the issue explored by Plantinga in recent years, on the warrant for and reliability of knowledge based on proper function of our endowed cognitive and related capacities and senses functioning in an appropriate environment.

    Coming back to the concept of goodness, in fact, we do have a wide base of experience of goodness. We also have reasonable tests, that allow us to discern the morally sound in many cases. For instance, principles like reciprocity of valuable equals and the society-level incoherence of the morally unsound [evils can only thrive by parasiting off the fact that most of the time, most of us do not act like that, e.g. think about what would happen to the community if we routinely lied in essentially all communications . . . ) allow us to identify core principles and practices of goodness.

    So, we are not at all locked up to a definitionitis trap.

    Going beyond, we have in hand a reasonable concept of goodness with many good comparison cases, so it is plainly not "nonsense" or "meaningless" or "incoherent" to project on that basis, to the idea that the creator of a cosmos fine tuned for life, who would be responsible for the emergence of intelligent life -- and may even be conceived of as having made such life "in his image," is good to the nth degree.

    We may carry out a similar analysis of what it means to be "rational" or "reasonable" etc.

    So, in reasoning about our idea of God, we may indeed reasonably and in light of abundant and even compelling empirical evidence conceive of and even know of an inherently and ultimately good, wise and reasonable Creator God who is the necessary and transcendent being responsible for the cosmos we observe and for us in it. So, we have met the coherence, explanatory elegance and factual adequacy criteria at worldview foundational level.

    In that context, we may freely examine and draw a reasonable conclusion on the claim that such a good, wise, reasonable Creator God would be a worldview foundational IS who can ground OUGHT.

    Such a good God, would per essential character, make a world in conformity with his being and character, i.e. core morality would be an in-built feature of the world, and in particular of creatures capable of moral action.

    For instance, a world in which love is possible is of a different order of goodness than one in which all is based on pre-programmed automata, of mechanical necessity and/or chance in the physical world, and executed programs in the animated world of life. That implicates the power of real choice, i.e freedom. Which is another good of that higher order.

    But, with such, comes responsibility and come as well duties of care to value, choose and act aright towards the other.

    We have arrived at a basis for morality, on an objective warrant. It also pivots -- unsurprisingly -- on the power and freedom to value, choose and love.

    As a bonus, it is exactly these principles that are the pivot of the now classic Plantinga free will defense against the deductive and inductive forms of the problem of evil. (Cf here on for a 101.) We also have an answer, by extension, to the problem of good that especially confronts the materialist.

    In Dembski's words on Boethius:

    In his Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius states the following paradox: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?” Boethius contrasts the problem that evil poses for theism with the problem that good poses for atheism. The problem of good does not receive nearly as much attention as the problem evil, but it is the more basic problem. That’s because evil always presupposes a good that has been subverted. All our words for evil make this plain: the New Testament word for sin (Greek hamartia) presupposes a target that’s been missed; deviation presupposes a way (Latin via) from which we’ve departed; injustice presupposes justice; etc. So let’s ask, who’s got the worse problem, the theist or the atheist? Start with the theist. God is the source of all being and purpose. Given God’s existence, what sense does it make to deny God’s goodness? None . . . . The problem of evil still confronts theists, though not as a logical or philosophical problem, but instead as a psychological and existential one [as was addressed above] . . . .

    The problem of good as it faces the atheist is this: nature, which is nuts-and-bolts reality for the atheist, has no values and thus can offer no grounding for good and evil. As nineteenth century freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll used to say, “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments. There are consequences.” More recently, Richard Dawkins made the same point: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” ["Prepared Remarks for the Dembski-Hitchens Debate," Uncommon Descent Blog, Nov 22, 2010]

    So, pardon me, your comment “You have not even attempted to address this” was extremely ill-founded and presumptuously presented, given that the already repeatedly linked discussion on grounding worldviews has a considerable discussion of the relevant matters.

    The real problem, it seems, is selectively hyperskeptical definitionitis.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  26. “However, note that the section is under “criticism”. Yes, those criticisms have been made. That is factually true.”

    This is true. It also is an irrefutable fact that the DI claims to have published peer reviewed ID based papers in non-ID scientific journals. However, even when you state it like this (Rather than stating it as an absolute fact), your statement gets removed. The reason? A link to the DI is “unreliable”. So I’m left asking, if you make a statement “The DI claims…” and uses a link to the DI as a source, how on earth could the source be “unreliable”?

    The simple fact is, no matter how you state it, the slightest hint that there might actually be peer reviewed ID papers makes the DI look too good in the eyes of its critics, and that cannot be allowed.

  27. I’d like to propose an experiment, maybe Casey Luskin can do this.

    Write in the Wikipedia something to the effect of “Some scientists have expressed agreement with this and that point made by Behe”. And then as supporting source, refer to the peer reviewed article. It is important that the Journal that is selected is a recognized biological journal that cannot be labeled “pro-ID”.

    I notice that the rules state that Wikipedia prefer secondary sources over primary sources. So, if the article states something in support of ID, and references Behe as a source, then that is “unreliable”. However, if the source is some other scientist that referenced Behe, then the source is more authoritative. It would be interesting to see what excuse they come up with to remove it.

  28. 28

    KF: “when we move up to the level of the actual peer reviewed journals and the academics, we too often find find a subtler version of the same basic game going on.”

    “Climategate scientists “must get rid of” the editor for a peer-reviewed science journal because he published some papers contradicting assertions of a global warming crisis.”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/ja.....-debate/2/

  29. H: the only thing I knew worked — to a limited extent — was a serious threat of legal action by someone slandered in a Wikipedia “biography.” At this stage, I simply think Wikipedia should be red flagged as of zero credibility on such matters, and have to live down that misdeed. KF

  30. Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your questions on goodness. I see you’ve been asking about the meaning of goodness. I’m rather surprised that you’re even posing this question, given your background in Scholastic philosophy.

    You have said that Brian Davies is your favorite theologian, so I presume you’re familiar with his book, “An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion,” which has gone through a few re-prints by now. He has some very sensible things to say from a Thomist perspective about the meaning of goodness, especially as applied to God.

    Very briefly: (i) to ascertain what’s good for an individual, you need to know what its built-in ends are, as an individual of a certain kind; (i) a thing is good to the extent that it is true to type, and realizes the built-in ends it has as an individual of that type (e.g. for a sheep, being good entails being four-legged, whereas for us, it entails being two-legged); (iii) the derivation of “ought” from “is” is not a problem, because some facts about the world are inherently value-laden. Biology cannot be divorced from its teleological underpinnings: as biologist Karen Neander has pointed out, biologists cannot avoid locutions such as “Hearts are for pumping blood”; hence anything that tends to block or prevent the heart from doing what it is meant to do (e.g. smoking or eating excessively fatty foods) is ipso facto bad; (iv) human beings, as social animals, also have certain built-in ends which go beyond bodily health and involve relating to others; additionally, as rational animals, we are capable of language, and of various speech acts, such as making promises; (v) in our everyday interactions with others, goodness consists in simply doing things as they should be done – which for speech, means (among other things) honoring our commitments, which in turn means that it is wrong to break a promise, as that goes against what speech is for. That, in a nutshell, is how a Thomist like Feser would derive moral norms. Notice that it assumes some form of essentialism is true. I know you’re a Darwinist of sorts, but given the glacial pace of species change in ordinary circumstances, you could say that species are fixed for all practical intents and purposes, and hence there’s no reason for a Darwinist to objects to statements like, “Daily exercise and regular social interaction are good for dogs” (and, I might add, for human beings, who can, unlike dogs, reflect on the rightness and wrongness of their actions, and resolve to improve their conduct in the future).

    But my main point is: if you take away these built-in, objective natural ends, what have you got left to build your foundation of ethical theory on, except people’s subjective preferences? But these are surely an inadequate foundation for morality, by themselves. For instance, a preference for heroin is a very unhealthy thing, and there is no objective reason why an outsider should respect that preference and assist that person to get a “fix.” Without a well-thought-out theory of human nature, our capacity to behave in an ethical manner towards others will be very limited, as we’ll have no way of deciding which of people’s preferences we should respect and which we should not.

    I’ve just had a look at your reply (see http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-418897 ) to my earlier comment on another thread (see http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-418842 ) in response to the questions you have raised above. You wrote in your reply, “I don’t think we need to appeal to ‘essence’ to hold people morally responsible for their actions.” I hope you will now understand why Professor Edward Feser argued for the necessity of essentialism to ethics: “If neither human beings nor anything else have any ends toward which they are directed by virtue of their essence, then there can be no objective basis in terms of which to define what is good and bad for us.”

    Re Divine Command theory: Aquinas, as you correctly note, was not a Divine Command theorist, but he also wrote, in his Summa Theologica II-II q. 64 art. 6 (reply to objection 1):

    God is Lord of death and life, for by His decree both the sinful and the righteous die. Hence he who at God’s command kills an innocent man does not sin, as neither does God Whose behest he executes: indeed his obedience to God’s commands is a proof that he fears Him.

    For Aquinas, God can only command what is rational. However, God might have a perfectly good reason for decreeing that death would be the best thing for some innocent person, in the overall scheme of things. Consequently He could justly command that this person’s life be taken.

    Right now, there is a lively discussion going on over at Professor Ed Feser’s blog on the morality of killing the Canaanites, at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.....t-vii.html . One blog contributor named BenYachov argues that torturing babies for fun can never be commanded by God, taking an innocent person’s life could be. He writes:

    It’s not wrong for God to kill children. Their lives & their existence belong to Him since he sustains both.

    He doesn’t owe them life or existence. If He wills to end their Earthly lives by whatever means then that is His prerogative. The Command of Haran (God ordering the destruction of a whole people) can only be given via a Public Divine Revelation. Since the death of the Last Apostle (i.e. St John) that can no longer happen.

    Haran was not an open ended Command. Catholics don’t believe in Scripture Alone. Jewish tradition teaches if any of the inhabitants of the Land placed under Haran choose to flee or accept the Seven Laws of Noah then they must be spared.

    I have discussed Aquinas’ views in my online article on Dawkins’ views on the killing of the Canaanites. Scroll down to question 9, about 70% of the way down, for a discussion of the views of the Church Fathers on this question. As you’ll see, most of them held the same views as Aquinas. As far as I am aware, Origen was the only Christian Father to defend a purely spiritual interpretation of the conquest of Canaan, in his Homilies on Joshua (Homily 5 and Homily 15). Origen interpreted the story of Joshua’s invasion of Canaan as an allegory of the battles each person must engage in, against the vices. On the other hand, in his work Against Celsus Book IV, chapter 12, affirmed that the Flood (or Deluge) was sent by God for the express purpose of punishing humanity. Therefore he too must have believed that God has the right to take human life.

    Interestingly, the Christian thinker C. S. Lewis condemned the Biblical atrocities of Joshua. Only four months before his death, Lewis wrote in a letter to an American philosopher that there were dangers in judging God by moral standards. However, he maintained that “believing in a God whom we cannot but regard as evil, and then, in mere terrified flattery calling Him ‘good’ and worshipping Him, is still greater danger.” (Letter quoted in full in John Beversluis, C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985, pp. 156 f.) Lewis was responding specifically to the question of Joshua’s slaughter of the Canaanites by divine decree and Peter’s striking Ananias and Sapphira dead.

    Knowing that the evangelical doctrine of the Bible’s infallibility required him to approve of “the atrocities (and treacheries) of Joshua,” Lewis made this surprising concession: “The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible.” (Ibid., p. 157.)

    “To this some will reply ‘ah, but we are fallen and don’t recognize good when we see it.’ But God Himself does not say that we are as fallen at all that. He constantly, in Scripture, appeals to our conscience: ‘Why do ye not of yourselves judge what is right?’ — ‘What fault hath my people found in me?’ And so on. Socrates’ answer to Euthyphro is used in Christian form by Hooker. Things are not good because God commands them; God commands certain things because he sees them to be good. (In other words, the Divine Will is the obedient servant to the Divine Reason.) The opposite view (Ockham’s, Paley’s) leads to an absurdity. If ‘good’ means ‘what God wills’ then to say ‘God is good’ can mean only ‘God wills what he wills.’ Which is equally true of you or me or Judas or Satan.” (Cited in ibid., p 157.)

    Towards the end of my online article, (scroll down 90% of the way), in a section entitled, “My own thoughts on the slaughter of the Canaanites”, I give my own views on the issue, which are somewhere in between Lewis’s and Craig’s. I hold that God can only command what is good for us, and that it is at least conceivable that God might order the killing of innocent people, in order to spare them from an even more horrid fate that would befall them were they to live – e.g. abuse of the most hideous kind. However, I also hold (unlike Professor Craig) that God does indeed have duties towards His creatures, and that He does not own us, as Aquinas and many other thinkers held. The view that God owns us leads to bizarre consequences: Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica I-II q. 94 art. 5, (reply to objection 2), took it to absurd extremes, arguing that not only can “death … be inflicted on any man, guilty or innocent, without any injustice whatever,” but that since “adultery is intercourse with another’s wife; who is allotted to him by the law emanating from God,” therefore “intercourse with any woman, by the command of God, is neither adultery nor fornication.” (That was Aquinas’ explanation for the Biblical story of Hosea.) Aquinas applied the same logic to theft, which he defined as the taking of another’s property: “For whatever is taken by the command of God, to Whom all things belong, is not taken against the will of its owner, whereas it is in this that theft consists.”

    The fatal premise in Aquinas’ logic here is that God owns us. However, there is no reason for Christians, who believe that we are God’s children and not His slaves, to adopt such an absurd view.

    In my article, I conclude that if God intentionally took the lives of the Canaanite children – whether by His own hand or at the hands of the Israelites who were carrying out His will – He would have been obliged to kill them in a way that ensured that they did not suffer, and experienced neither pain nor dread when they were being killed – in other words, they must have been unconscious, even though Scripture nowhere says this. However, at this point in time, more than 3,000 years after the alleged events, it is difficult for us to ascertain to what extent the narratives of the conquest of Canaaan were historical, and some Evangelicals (including Professor Alvin Plantinga) have argued on exegetical grounds that Scriptural references to indiscriminate slaughter were always intended (and understood in ancient times) as hyperbolic references to defeating the other side in battle or driving them out – rather like a victorious football team boasting after the game: “We totally slaughtered the other side.” I discuss this view in my article.

    One last point: among the Jews, stories of God’s commanding Moses to wipe out the Canaanites and other peoples were traditionally regarded by the rabbis as valid for their time (after certain conditions had been satisfied), but no longer applicable after the end of the first century A.D., since the peoples who were originally targeted were no longer identifiable (see here and here ).

    Jews and Christians alike agree that God could never command such a killing again, if indeed it happened. For atheists to use it as a stick to beat believers with is really flogging a dead horse.

    Anyway, I have to go now. Hope that answers some of your questions.

  31. Thanks for this, vjtorley.

    I agree with quite a lot of it, and have sympathy with some of the parts I disagree with :)

    Just to clear up a couple of things: I do not have a background in scholastic philosophy. And I do not know of Brian Davies! The theologian I probably referred to was Herbert McCabe, a Dominican at Blackfriars Priory in Oxford, and a Thomist scholar (one of the editors of the Summa).

    However, what he writes seems to be cut from the same cloth as your guy. I’ll check him out, thanks.

  32. So far as I know – or amongst people I know – Wikipedia is well-recognised to have its faults and limitations. It can be a quick and useful source of facts and data on non-controversial subjects (I used it only today as a quick primer on a group of chemical compounds I had not used before, and I doubt there was anything wrong with that information), but no-one I know would regard it as anything other than a potentially useful pointer to where to start looking for substantiated facts on anything in the least degree controversial. To be used with caution
    Of course, this generic fault of all such resources is illustrated with even greater force by such wretched imitators as “Conservapedia” or “CreationWiki”

  33. Onlookers:

    Wikipedia, of course must stand on its own two feet and answer for its claims to a neutral point of view [NPOV in Wiki-speak], and implied therein, full and fair objectivity.

    The “other” wikis as mentioned at most claim to be balancing, giving the other side of a story that tends to be demonised and dismissed, obvious from the very names taken. At a more sophisticated level, we could compare the New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia, which on relevant topics, is always worth a seat at table as giving its own perspective.

    They are most definitely not imitators of Wikipedia, though they use a similar technology (which, BTW has significant flaws as inter alia, a markup language, that makes a WYSIWYG interface hard to do; hence my current preference for blogging technology to do information pieces without getting too deep into the terror-fitted depths of coding).

    So, we have here a strawman comparison.

    A much better reference for comparison would have been New World Encyclopedia, and even this explicitly indicates that it takes a specific values position. I assume, this would be similar to that of the Washington Times, also owned by Rev Moon’s Unification Church.

    That noted, the simple comparison of the articles on Intelligent Design will strongly expose a decided inferiority in Wikipedia’s offering. Indeed, this is one of NWE’s articles that does NOT credit the Wiki article as a base source revised and adjusted under NWE curatorship.

    On the wider encyclopedia market, the comparison is to DVD and the now moribund paper encyclopedias. And, wikipedia comes up short too often on such.

    Wikipedia’s merit is breadth, as a first quick go to, but one would be well advised to then use key terms and issues identified to guide onward investigations. But then, that was always the case with general reference works. Wiki’s main problem is that it is locked up by a sccio-cultural agenda that imagines it has cornered the market on objectivity and wisdom. That blinds its moderators and enthusiasts to their biases and errors, sometimes amounting to outright distortion, stereotyping, strawmannising, scapegoating and denigration, or even slander.

    Welcome to the Saul Alinsky activist culture.

    My bottomline remains: only when the Wikipedians have been sufficiently exposed and shamed, will we see any serious reformation.

    My further note is that being human entails the following moral hazard that we should all take heed to: finite, fallible, morally fallen/struggling, too often ill-willed.

    GEM of TKI

  34. Dr Torley:

    A significant effort, and well worth an expression of gratitude on effort expended. Sadly, since this general issue has been poisoning the atmosphere for months, we will need to address it again.

    I will, with thanks in advance, add the link to your article, to my own response to the “the God of the Bible is a bronze-age moral monster and tribal deity with genocidal barbarian followers” talking point, here on.

    I note that the most glaring defect in the talking point highlighted is what it entails, but which those who use it are ever so tellingly silent on: in the Bronze age, just which “tribe” was worshipping YHWH. In short, while one can easily get away with the sort of blatant anti-Christian hostility and scapegoating that we are seeing from new atheist circles — and it is worth noting that there has been a revealing expose of Dawkins being carded to share a stage with Aiden, a band that sees itself as justified in responding to the gospel by plastering verbal filth across it, and in characterising the Christian clergy as blood-mongering arson promoting vampires [the evasions of this and shoot at the messenger rebuttal attempts are all too blatantly revealing] — the underlying unfair stereotyping and bigotry come out when we see the implied antisemitism put in blatant terms.

    I next have a very serious problem with the characterisation of “genocide,” which of course is a term specifically invented to describe what the Nazis did to Jews. (The implicit turnabout false accusation here is chilling in onward implications.)

    Given the context of the text, which I take a few moments to draw out, those who point to high-context war rhetoric have a point. Let’s just say, that it is significant that the Chroniclers made a point of highlighting that two of the ancestors of Israel’s greatest king were Rahab the Canaanite innkeeper from Jericho and Ruth, a Moabitess. Similarly, that immediately implies that these women were ancestresees of Jesus, the Messiah of the Christian faith.

    Racially motivated hostility and massacre cannot be the proper term for whatever happened. So, the very term, genocide is inapt, and is a tendentiously toxic talking point. One, used to smear and poison discussion with those who are troubled by the relevant texts, precisely because we do not support genocide or the like. And that, on moral principles tracing to the very book and faith traditions that are being smeared as well.

    So, sorry, but the whole game looks to me like a big lie propagandistic smear ploy designed to polarise and stir implacable hostility.

    Going beyond, it seems further clear that the context is in large part one of war rhetoric, within a high context culture. That is, those who argue that the terms are not to be taken in a simplistic literal sense, have some fairly obvious points, as I discuss at 101 level in the already linked, and as further onward links and references will elaborate.

    A sounder understanding, is that power centres that were utterly corrupt and destructive were to be confronted and broken. The populations under their control were evidently partly displaced, partly absorbed, partly subjugated. But, in all this, there was the problem of a hereditary feud culture such that the matters were not finally resolved until the licensed feud in the Persian Empire a thousand years later when Haman tried to wipe out the Jews. (Note the parallel case of the Roman Empire’s dealings with Carthage, a colony from the same general culture. Particularly observe what happened with Hannibal.)

    I note, we now confront a significantly similar challenge with IslamISM.

    Now, on your remarks concerning sola scriptura, my thought first is that Lewis was an Anglican, which is a bit of a different position itself.

    But, more directly, my thought is, that the text lives in a context, and a locus along a revelatory timeline, that gives due notice to how we must interpret with due learning and balanced, spiritually enlightened wisdom. For, we are warned in no uncertain terms, at the close of St Peter’s Theological Last Will and Testament:

    2 Pet 3:15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. [NIV]

    No one who is not sufficiently instructed and demonstrably matured in wisdom and grace, should be taken seriously in expounding the scriptures. We are explicitly warned that there are challenging, difficult things in them, that are prone to distortion and destructive abuse. So, we should not have arrogant conceit in our opinions, especially where we have not got the depth to truly handle the scriptures aright. Of course, balancing that, we must reckon with the fundamental human moral hazard — finite, fallible morally fallen/struggling, too often ill-willed — and recognise that his does not warrant blind adherence to a tradition or august bodies of the learned (or for that matter one’s favourite Bible teacher) either.

    That, in the end, is one fundamental lesson of the Reformation of 500 years ago.

    The reasonable balance we need to strike is found in Acts 17, in the lead-up to the classic Mars Hill discourse at Athens:

    Ac 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

    13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The brothers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea.

    If we blend in lessons from the exchange on Mars Hill (cf 101 thoughts here on), we see where also well worldview level considerations are a legitimate part of the process. (Sorry if that seems to make for a stiff challenge to those who see themselves as having a right to their opinions and to hold these to be at least as good as any other views, but I cannot come to a responsible conclusion without acknowledging and even highlighting that part, too. no prizes for guessing why the just linked is unit 2 in an in-development street-level systematic theology survey course based on the Nicene creed.)

    So, we seek a reasonable faith, one that is balanced at worldview level, and faith tradition level, with well warranted insights from authenticated scriptures being a part of the theological package. And in this, no-one is exempt from reasonable and civil, cross-examination.

    In short, we here deal with well warranted, reasonable faith.

    I trust we can now strike a balance of that in response to the moral monster talking points that are being used to stir up hostility and polarisation, rather than to find a true and reasonable view.

    And, in all of this, I insist that before we judge too harshly, our hearts must lurch first.

    In some ways, that is my deepest concern, as too often, I do not hear the echo of heart-lurched tears in response to the dilemmas faced by good and decent leaders in the face of confrontation with rampant, hitherto all-conquering evils.

    Hope this helps

    GEM of TKI

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