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On the Unz Review I find a piece by Razib Khan, Can a Religious Person be a Good Scientist? His answer, yes, is inarguable since, as he points out, many good scientists are religious (Newton, a Christian, by most accounts did pretty fair work.) But why should it be necessary to ask such a luminously foolish question?

Because we live in luminously foolish times. Mr. Khan cites, not approvingly, a scientist who wanted to have another dismissed from his position for being an evangelical Christian. Why? Well, you see, the manner of thinking of religious people renders them incapable of science.

This makes sense only in terms of bitter hostility to religion. Why can a Christian scientist not study, say, the possibilities of rotaxanes as bistable devices in molecular computers as well as can an atheist or agnostic?

While Christians can think about science, I wonder whether scientists, as scientists, can think about anything else. Are their mental capacities not grossly limited in comparison with those of other people?

It is a question of blinkers. They think inside a box containing only a part of reality.

Logical systems, such as those to which scientists are tightly wed, depend on assumptions and undefined primitives. Their conclusions cannot go beyond results derivable from their assumptions.

Consider plane geometry, a field encompassing the behavior of planes, lines, points, and angles. Like many branches of science and mathematics, it produces interesting and useful results. Yet it rests on things that cannot really be defined. (What is a point? “An infinitely localized whereness” perhaps?) It cannot explain things not contained in its premises. For example, it has nothing to say about mass, energy, volume, or chili dogs. Yet these things exist. If a plane geometer thinks only within the postulates of his field (which of course no plane geometer does), he cannot understand the greater part of reality.

The silences as a whole enjoy the same strengths and suffer the same limitations. They deal with matter, energy, space, and time, however hyphenated, and nothing else. These are undefined. (Dorm-room definition: “Space is what keeps everything from being in the same place. Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”)

Science enjoys great prestige as it has led to great results, such as iPhones. Perhaps because of this scientists, for some reason thought to be smarter than the rest of humanity, are seen as oracles and almost as priests. Yet they have nothing to say, and can have nothing to say, about meaning, purpose, origins, destiny, consciousness, beauty, right and wrong, Good and Evil, death, love or loathing.

These are matters of some importance to normal people whose thinking is not crippled by strict adherence to the Laws of Motion. A scientist, as a scientist, must dismiss them as empty abstractions, simply ignore them, or provide unsatisfactory answers and quickly change the subject. A physicist may speak solemnly of the Big Bang, but it has no more explanatory power than Genesis. A child of six years will ask, “But where did God come from?” Or the Big Bang.

A man whose thinking has not been shackled by the restrictions of science can say, “This sunset is beautiful.” A scientist cannot not, not if he is thinking as a scientist. Beauty has no physical definition, the only kind allowable in the sciences. (I confess that in my ancient chemistry classes we accepted as the unit of beauty the millihelen, defined as “that amount of beauty necessary to launch one ship.”)

Trouble begins when one tries to stretch a system beyond its premises. Here we come to scientism, as distinct from science. A great many people, some of them scientists, want science to explain everything whatever. This of course is the function of a religion.

Scientism, like other varieties of political correctness, is de rigueur among much of the cognitive or approximately cognitive elite, and has been inculcated in the populace by endless repetition. The credo runs roughly Big Bang, stars form, planets, oceans, life, evolution, Manhattan. Acceptance—unexamined acceptance—of scientism is now regarded as evidence of right thinking. Most who accept it have no idea what they are accepting, but they know that it is the proper thing to do.

For much of the public, this is a sort of religion by Disney, the Force Be With You, with an origin of of the universe that, well, you know, the scientists understand it, and we are evolving upward and onward into like, better beings and all. And death? Let us speak of other things.

Here we come to Mr. Khan’s scientist who (as distinct from Mr. Khan) wants to remove Christians from the practice of science. A religion, however manqué, cannot brook any doubt whatever. A Christian cannot say, well, maybe Jesus was the son of God, but maybe Mary wasn’t a virgin after all. If he does, his faith no longer serves its function of providing certainty. Any doubt threatens the whole edifice.

So with scientism. Serious believers cannot abide heresy. The need to believe, to protect the edifice, is most commonly seen regarding the theory of evolution, any questioning of which results not in answers, but in fury.

The acolytes of scientism invariably see the enemy as Creationism, which they correctly if not consciously recognize as a competing religion. Thus the desire to remove believers in any religion from scientific posts. Thus the pathological outrage that arises if the schools of Kansas want to mention Biblical Creation. Why? Obviously doing so would not result in the burning of laboratories or crucifixion of chemists, and would be unlikely to discourage a kid from going into the sciences. This doesn’t matter. Heresy cannot be allowed.

Scientism is part of the curious culture-wide campaign to remove any trace of religion from public life. It is the equivalent of the Christian iconoclasm of the late Roman times: we must tear down the statues of those pagan gods. The purposes are identical.

Scientism requires a willful ignoring of undeniable aspects of reality, such as death. To a scientist, (again, thinking as a scientist), death means only the cessation of certain chemical processes. He says after the funeral, “John is gone,” but never, “Where has John gone?” But do not even atheists wake up at three a.m. and think, “Where are we? What is this all about?” And, ominously, “What comes next, if anything?” The atheist might reply, “Nothing”—but what if he is wrong? How does he know? Except to the religious, who don’t have the answers either, even to mention these questions seems slightly obscene.

Note that the premises of the sciences, if accepted other than provisionally for a particular investigation, lead to paradoxes, as for example the Aquarium Effect. Scientists view the universe as if it were an isolated system in a vast aquarium. They can look at it, poke at it with sticks and instruments, but they are apart from it. If they regard themselves as being within the system, problems arise.

For example, the brain is an electrochemical mechanism, all parts of which follow the laws of physics and chemistry. Successive states of a physical mechanism are completely determined by preceding states, just as they are in a computer. Physical systems cannot choose their behavior: a rock when dropped cannot decide to fall sideways. Our thoughts are therefore predestined. Are they then still thoughts?

Which leads to the obvious conclusion that one cannot simultaneously be part of a physical system and fully understand it. Like conjugate variables or something. But we are part of the universe.

Note that all science is physics. Chemistry is the physics of the interaction of atoms and molecules, biochemistry of particular classes of molecules. Consequently evolution is a subset of physics. (How is it not? Everything that happens in an organism from metabolism to mutation obeys the laws of physics. If this is not true, then physical behavior is affected by Something Outside of Physics—eeeeeeeeeek!)

Part of physics is the requirement of causality. Every physical event, which means every event, must have prior physical causes. Anything that doesn’t can’t happen. But do we really know this? A normal person can wonder. A scientist cannot.

To amuse ourselves, let us assume that something physically inexplicable actually happened. Let us suppose that the shade of Elvis appeared in my living room, sang Blue Moon over Kentucky, and disappeared in a flash of green light. Remember, for the moment we assume that it really happened. How could a scientist, or the science, handle this?

I could tell my friend the astrophysicist about it, but he would assume that I was joking, lying, or delusional. I could tell him that my neighbors heard it, but he would say that it was a recording. I could say that people walking in the street saw it though my window, but he would say that it was an Elvis impersonator. The event not being reproducible, I could not possibly convince him—even though it had actually happened.

Scientism appears at its most desperate in matters of evolution, where things clearly explicable in physical terms (astronomy, electronics, combustion) bump up against things not nearly so explicable (life, consciousness, motivations). Scientism always finds a way, however strained, to avoid the ravages of doubt. Conceding or even considering anything outside of that small scientific box would open up a Whole Lot of Doubt.

Consider Cochran’s Virus. Evolutionary theory of course says that traits that make for successful reproduction will flourish in a population. This makes sense and can be observed in many things. It fails badly in the case of homosexual men. As these produce no or few children, the selective pressure to eliminate them from the population would seem to be great. Yet they are not eliminated. Scientism cannot say that here perhaps is something not explained by the theory. That would shake the whole edifice. How does it manage this difficulty?

Desperately. The biologist Greg Cochran says that homosexuality is a disease caused by a virus. Which virus is that? We don’t know because it has not been discovered. What is the evidence for it? Why, homosexuality. Round and round….

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology, Science • Tags: Religion, Scientism 
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  1. Priss Factor [AKA "The Priss Factory"] says:

    “Euclid Cannot Explain a Hamburger”

    Wendy’s burgers are square, so Euclid can make burgers.

  2. gcochran says:

    Fred, once upon a time there was a well-established theory of gravitational motion, but the orbit of Uranus didn’t seem to agree with that theory. Leverrier and Adams figured that the gravity of another, undiscovered planet must be perturbing Uranus’s orbit. This wasn’t just going “round and round”. Leverrier predicted (roughly) where that unknown planet should, astronomers looked there, and they found Neptune.

    Today we have a well-established theory – neodarwinism. It does a good job of predicting many things, but not human homosexuality , which is an anomaly. A syndrome that drastically reduces reproductive fitness shouldn’t be that common, yet there it is. If you take theory seriously (of course you personally don’t, but I do) you’d look for another influence, likely from a class that causes many other syndromes that drastically reduce fitness and are common – such are often caused by infectious disease. When you see that 50% of the people in African village are blind by age 40, you don’t reach for an explanation rooted in human evolution – it’s river blindness, onchocerciasis. Not so long ago there were parts of central Africa in which tens of percent of women were sterile or subfertile – some might have argued evolution had prompted those women to help their sisters raise kids (which actually happened) but the real reason was the clap (gonorrhea and chlamydia -> tubal scarring).

    So since human homosexuality is not very heritable ( identical twins are discordant ~75% of the time) as well as too common to explain by mutation, some infectious organism is a good bet.

    This is so simple that even you should be able to understand it.

  3. Rich says:

    I am curious about this “neo-darwinism” of which you write and what exactly it has predicted that has been proven. Has much “evolution” occurred since “paleo-darwinism” gave way to the new and improved “neo-darwinism”? Evolution is an interesting theory and by constantly changing it’s definition it is difficult to disprove, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tested and questioned and thrown against the wall until it is proven. I can’t argue with gravity and I wouldn’t try, but the various definitions of “evolution” can be argued against without ever mentioning any religion. Honest and open debate should never be shut down, if someone’s theory is true it shouldn’t have to be forced down peoples’ throats by judicial edict, it should be proven by experiment and example. Something the followers of scientism have a hard time with. The fact that there are a significant number of what you call “anomalies” in this particular theory means it should still be open to reasonable debate.

  4. Kid Jones says:

    Fred, as a son of the South myself and an old Austinite, I enjoy hearing from you.
    This post was…interesting, and inspired, I suppose, by the good Padre Kino.
    You mention Newton as an example of the religious man who excelled in observation, math, and science. You’re right. Like all of us, he was a man of his place and time, and believed in religion as fervently as he believed in alchemy.
    I don’t drink wine, but have been known to take a cup with old Captain Morgan, and your contention that science brooks no heresy made me cough some through my nose. Projection? In my experience, the more rational minds are open to new data and interpretation, and the first to admit that we only know what we know, and to recognize the limits of what we can know. Only religion claims to “explain everything”.
    I’ve been to town on a train, traveled the Deep South, and even been as far as Kansas. Nowhere did I find the “pathological outrage” you speak of. If there were fears that the edifices of scientific inquiry were threatened by religion, they were well hidden. What I saw were concerns about a particular Iron Age mythology, supported by nothing, being taught in public schools as the equivalent of a theory supported by everything we know about everything.
    Anyway, the Captian calls. I think I’ll answer. Be well.

    • Replies: @SecretaryNS
  5. A point is the smallest whole part of space.

    Homosexuality need not be genetic in origin. It might be hormonal imbalance in utero. A slightly different hormonal balance might be a survival advantage, so nature “tolerates” the inevitable reproductively bad results.

  6. Sean T says:

    No mention of negroes in this article. You need to step up your game, Fred.

  7. Flemur says:

    Whenever I can’t understand or explain something, I know it’s because Huitzilopochtli is not getting enough human sacrifices.

  8. Fred’s sober, let’s celebrate a well written, thought provoking article. I’ve long viewed science as a religion with a dogma and narrow rut of inquiry. Now, having said that, there’s a bit of a problem has arisen of late for western science, here’s the crux of it:

    Theoretical physicist Bernard d’Espagnat states: “The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment”

    If d’Espagnat is correct and I believe he is, western science is on very shaky ground. In other words, in the words of Alfred North Whitehead, ‘Europe being a footnote to Plato’ [paraphrased] points to all of the so-called ‘intelligence’ of the big-brained White people founded on ‘objectivity’ or that is to say is grounded in a fallacy. Put another way, in simple cracker language, y’all haven’t known what you’re talking about since the pederast Plato sent y’all off the rails over 2,500 years ago.

    Small wonder the world is as f’d up as it is, even the Vatican worships at the alter of science (these days.)

    Now, I’d given considerable thought to the preceding and anyone that might be curious can have a look.

    Here’s the short of it:

    And here’s the long of it:

    ^ Can scientists think? Sure and so can ‘tards’, and that’s about the end of it.

    And the obligatory satire:

    (I’ve not sent a copy of this last to Noam Chomsky, not knowing whether he’s capable of laughing at himself)

    • Replies: @Wyrd
  9. Sean C says:

    I have a skepticism of both religion and science. This skepticism comes from personally knowing “experts” in many fields. Also my simple hunches about things are often confirmed years later. An example would be the prevailing wisdom use to be modern humans and Neanderthals never interbred. Now I am reading that yes they did interbreed.

    • Replies: @Jim
  10. Retired says:

    Part of Scientism is the lie that scientists are smarter than the rest of us. Having lived and worked with them most of my life, I can attest that it is a lie. They are no smarter or better than anyone else. It is people who can work with words and ideas who run the world.

    • Replies: @Cameron
    , @Jim
    , @Hacienda
  11. Wyrd says:
    @Ronald Thomas West

    Ronnie hates white people. His lunatic links support that. I wonder if a fund for him would be helpful.

  12. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Religion is not believing and has nothing to do with god or whatever the creator of all things is named. Religion is an institution. An institution with rules, accepted standards and rites. Very similar to science. So the question “can scientists belongs to an contrary “Institute”” is’nt that wrong it looks like.

    Here in germany science is called “Wissenschaft”. Which imho is the better term. We do nothing else than knowledge collecting and we know nothing.

    Compared with an Mid age priest this is surely wrong, but he simply knows nothing more. Much more.

    What is a field, what is gravity, electromagnetic waves (or the visible wavelengths known as light)? What is beauty (or why it is necessary for evolution). Why is the atmosphere transparent for the cosmic background radiation. And for what reason, you believers in knowledge aggregation? What is space, why did we see in every direction the same stuff. And what will hubble see if it take a deep field picture in opposite direction? Billions of years, a wall or the same (which results in the always inevitable and endless question in what is the whole stuff embedded)?


  13. Comparing science with religion is like comparing apples with oranges. There are complete separate from each other. Science describes the physical world, molecular biology, etc. Religion is about motivation and goals. What do we want to do with scientific knowledge. Are individuals free to pursue their own dreams and goals in life? Or are they required to serve some larger agenda? These are questions that science cannot answer. These questions can only be answered via philosophy and religion.

    Another key difference is that science is objectively real. Religion and philosophy are not. Rather, they are individually specific. One man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh. Religious and political labels are not fundamental criteria. Politically (philosophically, and religiously) humans divide into two groups. Those who want to control other humans and those who have no such desire. Much of religion, philosophy, and politics is nothing more than rationalizations of the former to assert control over the latter. There is no other really to any of this stuff.

  14. Cameron says:

    It is people who can work with words and ideas who run the world.

    If you’ve been reading this web site for any length of time, you’d realize that this statement is false.
    Most commenters here truly seem to believe that it is the “Judaists” who run the world.

    • Replies: @palladino
  15. abj_slant says:

    The circular argument in the last paragraph sounded hauntingly similar to the one used by theists: God exists because the bible says so.

    I’ve read some of Mr. Reed’s articles on evolution, and it seems his biggest complaint with the theory is not the idea of evolution, but rather the origin of life. Not the same thing.

    As for creationism in the classroom, only if the subject was ‘Myths and Folklore in Various Civilizations.’ There is no basis–or justification– for presenting it in a science class.

    • Replies: @Wyrd
    , @Jim
  16. Wyrd says:

    Theist: God did it.

    Atheist: Feces happens.

  17. gored says:

    Wow. There are many strange comments here.

    I have less of a problem with religionists ignorant of evolution rejecting it than I do with atheists ignorant of evolution claiming to believe it despite having very little actual understanding of it.

    The religionist believes what he believes on faith and says as much.

    The evolution believer who doesn’t even understand it is a liar when he says he agrees based on reason.

    Several years ago, in the NYTimes, Nicholas Wade had an interesting article on the evolution of lactose tolerance in adults. The comments were startling in the stupidity and ignorance displayed by the evolution believers.

    Comments are still viewable:

    The last comment makes the point quite clearly:

    Zaotar Los Angeles March 2, 2010
    There is an astonishing amount of scientific illiteracy displayed in these comments, ranging from the person denying that evolution is “causal” on the grounds that it is “non-teleological” — an absurd non sequitur, whether something is teleological has no necessary relation to whether it is causal — to the gibberish about inheritance of “acquired traits.” Evidently a significant portion of the NYT readership is composed of convinced Lamarckists. Sad. This article’s research has absolutely nothing to do with Lamarckism. And that’s not even to mention the various bonkers permutations of “evolutionary theory” other commenters are putting forward.

    Goes to show that creationists aren’t the only ones operating with a miserably defective understanding of how the modern evolutionary synthesis works. Apparently most of the NYT readership is in the same boat as the creationists.

    • Replies: @Abraham Lincoln
  18. GW says:

    Well said Fred.

    For example, the brain is an electrochemical mechanism, all parts of which follow the laws of physics and chemistry. Successive states of a physical mechanism are completely determined by preceding states, just as they are in a computer. Physical systems cannot choose their behavior: a rock when dropped cannot decide to fall sideways. Our thoughts are therefore predestined. Are they then still thoughts?

    What’s most problematic about physicalism is how easily it works for objects which are unquestionably physical–stars, planets, atoms, neutrons, etc.–but is laughably unqualified when applied to things which aren’t unquestionably physical–human thought, reason, consciousness, self-awareness, beauty, love, etc. In other words, physicalism’s greatest strength is its greatest weakness. If the mind were physical (the truest counterfactual one can conceive) we’d be able to model and test things like consciousness and reason and beauty as easily as we can a hydrogen atom or the moon’s orbit around the earth. The fact we can’t discounts physicalism of the mind as even reasonable prima facia.

    Scientism is on even worse grounds–philosophers (even secular ones) are retreating from it and positions like it–leaving those downstream in academia (including physical scientists) to defend what is a self-defeating metaphysics. To answer your question, no, most scientists can’t (or don’t) think. If they could, they wouldn’t take a philosophical position decrying philosophy as lesser than the sciences.

    • Replies: @JIm
  19. 5371 says:

    Assuming ”homosexuality” is as simple to diagnose as blindness – there’s your problem, or at any rate a large part of it.

  20. Seraphim says:

    @ homosexuality is a disease caused by a virus.

    Rather by a bug(ger).

  21. DH says:

    Darwinian evolution is grossly over rated.
    Darwinian processes can only explain microevolution, e.g. why some people have red hair while others dark hair, or why moths change color with time.
    They cannot explain macroevolution, e.g. how we go from small organisms to larger more complex animals (assuming that such macroevolution ever happened, which is not proved anyway so far). More interesting it cannot explain either how life started.
    Michael Behe’s books on irreducible complexities and the edge of evolution are two good starters.
    Razib Khan filters comments that do not fit his darwinian narrative. His ways are not dissimilar in principle to those of a Gulag Komissar.

    • Replies: @Jim
  22. Jason says:

    The Gay Virus Theory makes a lot of sense. Anyone who reads the original article would see why it is plausible.

  23. Jim says:

    Average IQ of physical scientists is probably about two standard deviations above the US average.

  24. JIm says:

    Obviously scientists think and are conscious. They’re not zombies. Please try not to make idiotic assertions such as that scientists can’t or don’t think.

    • Replies: @GW
  25. Jim says:

    People tend to get very excited about all this. Personally I don’t doubt that the Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old and that life has existed on it for at least some 3.5 billion years but it doesn’t in the least bother me that somebody thinks the earth is 26,000 years old. In day to day life it generally doesn’t make any difference what one believes about the age of the earth.

    So creationists don’t upset me and I certainly have no desire to persecute them although I probably wouldn’t bother to pay much attention to their cosmology.

    • Replies: @abj_slant
  26. Jim says:

    No doubt biological evolution is a very complicated process and there is a lot about it that we don’t understand but describing it as a sucession of untold numbers of miracles is of no intellectual value.

    • Replies: @DH
  27. Jim says:
    @Sean C

    Are you so skeptical that you won’t travel in an airplane or drive over a bridge? Science has produced an astonishing amount of knowledge and has shown a great deal of ability to correct it’s mistakes. I’m not personally upset by religious beliefs but I don’t think that religion matches at all the record of science. The value of religion seems to be more an emotional value of comfort and consolation.

    • Replies: @Nico
  28. DH says:

    Darwinian processess of random mutation plus natural selection are simply the wrong framework to understand the origin of life and the diversity of life (apart from trivial microevolution items).
    If you believe that “macroevolution” happens by means of darwinian processes then you have a sort of religion of your own. You are making the choice of believing in that. Don’t try to impose it on others as if it were a proven and observed fact.
    Nobody has ever actually observed a case of speciation (i.e. the appearance of a new species). Deal with it.

    • Replies: @Jim
    , @MarkinLA
  29. Mark Caplan says: • Website

    “Successive states of a physical mechanism are completely determined by preceding states”

    Quantum mechanics and chaos theory have disproven that out-dated concept. We now know the universe injects some inherently unpredictable randomness into all physical systems. The universe is not deterministic: the future is not determined by the past, not even in theory.

    • Replies: @Jim
  30. Mike Zwick [AKA "Dahinda"] says:

    David Eagleman is a prominent scientist who is a little more lenient about religion and science:

  31. Mike Zwick [AKA "Dahinda"] says:

    I sort of came up with this hypothesis myself at one time because a big group of guys I grew up with all turned out to be gay. The guys all lived in roughly the same 2 or 3 block area of the town I grew up in and all were born in 1965-66. When all of these guys began to come out, I mentioned to somebody that it must have been something in the water in that part of town. That of course got me a lot of dirty looks as it was politically incorrect but I still insisted that it must have been some kind of environmental factor that caused this. What were the chances that all these guys, roughly the same age and living within a small radius, all turned out to be gay and younger or older kids from the same neighborhood didn’t?

    • Replies: @SecretaryNS
    , @Sean T
  32. Hacienda says:

    I lived and worked with ordinary people a great deal. I’ve been around scientists a great deal.
    There is no question that scientists are smarter than ordinary people. But ordinary people can to just about everything else as well scientists can except think analytically. Things like running, balancing, hearing, tasting, seeing, sex (they are actually better at this), emoting. And these abilities are done at such a high level, that analytical thinking seems like a quaint ability.

  33. Roosh has a well argued post called: “The Theory Of Evolution Does Not Apply To Modern Human Beings” which is a good companion piece to Fred Reed’s:

    Good work on this one Mr. Reed.

    • Replies: @Flemur
  34. @Mike Zwick

    There is a high correlation between child sex abuse and homosexuality. How big was this group of guys? It’s an unpleasant thought, but they may have been victims of abuse from a common predator, or group of predators.

  35. @Kid Jones

    Which religion seeks to explain everything? Mine (Christianity) just has the one book. It is the Good Book, but it is just the one all the same. It is limited in scope. I don’t anyone who disagrees.

    I’ve been to town on a train, traveled the Deep South, and even been as far as Kansas. Nowhere did I find the “pathological outrage” you speak of. If there were fears that the edifices of scientific inquiry were threatened by religion, they were well hidden.

    Did you try looking online?

  36. Jim says:

    No one has ever observed the appearance of a new galaxy but I doubt that M-87 suddenly miraculously came into existence one fine day.

    If you seriously believe that the vast number of present and extinct species have independent origins you’re gaga.

    Unfortunately I lack the power to impose anything on others. Even my cat pretty much does what he damn pleases.

    • Replies: @DH
  37. Jim says:
    @Mark Caplan

    Do you actually know anything about these subjects. Just curious.

    • Replies: @Jim
    , @Mark Caplan
  38. GW says:

    I suppose I’m giving this response more weight than it’s worth, but how does someone committed to scientism actually assent to this? Self-consciousness and thought can only be directly experienced as no physical measurement can affirm what you claim is “obviously” true–that is the existence of other realms of self-consciousness than your own.

    (Of course when I say scientists either can’t or don’t think I’m doing so to insult them and I don’t actually believe they are zombies. Goodness sakes.)

  39. Jim says:

    Chaos theory is a subject about which I know very little. But my limited understanding of it is that chaotic systems can be completely deterministic.

  40. @Jim

    Chaos theory is a subject about which I know very little. But my limited understanding of it is that chaotic systems can be completely deterministic.

    That’s not a big deal. Chaotic systems are subject to laws of physics, i.e. “chaos” doesn’t really mean complete unpredictability, randomness, an independent space-time, etc. What “order” means is more than a little bit arbitrary. And so what? Chaos is differently arbitrary.

    • Replies: @Jim
  41. DH says:

    No one has ever observed the appearance of a new galaxy but I doubt that M-87 suddenly miraculously came into existence one fine day.

    Bad analogy. You are evading the subject.

    If you seriously believe that the vast number of present and extinct species have independent origins you’re gaga.

    The onus probandi is on your side. It is your responsability as a proponent of darwinian evolutionism to prove THAT.

    • Replies: @Jim
  42. Immigrant from former USSR [AKA "Florida Resident"] says:

    You wrote:
    “But my limited understanding of it is that chaotic systems can be completely deterministic.”

    Yes and no; in other words it depends, what do you mean by
    “completely deterministic” and by ” chaotic systems “.
    I will make statement containing definitions.

    I denote as ‘deterministically governed’ the systems,
    whose behavior, whose time evolution
    is regulated (described) by deterministic equations,
    be they equations of transitions
    from one discrete time moment to another one,
    or by continuous differential equations of time evolution.

    Statement: deterministically governed systems,
    after reasonable number of discrete steps,
    or after reasonable continuous interval of time,
    may (or may not) exhibit behavior,
    which by all criteria may be considered as chaotic.
    In other words, future state may have ever-increasing sensitivity to particular initial conditions.
    This topic of strange attractors, or of chaotic behavior of deterministically governed systems, is rather recent.
    At least I learned about it around 1980.
    See e.g.1) ,
    2) ,
    and Lorentz attractor:
    3) .
    # 1) and # 3) have nice animations (movies.)

    For me it was a quite a revelation, a resolution of a paradox:
    how the differential equations of Classical Mechanics,
    which by themselves possess time-reversal invariance,
    can lead to time-irreversible phenomena of Classical Statistical Physics and Thermodynamics.
    Revelation was that you do not need inclusion of Quantum Mechanics
    to describe thermodynamic irreversibility.
    Albeit you do need Quantum Mechanics to describe
    existence of stable atoms and molecules; in other words, to describe world around us.

    Your F.r.

  43. Jim says:

    I’m curious? Do you seriously believe that the appearances of new species in the geological record are supernatural events?

  44. Jim says:
    @John Jeremiah Smith

    “Chaos theory is differently arbitrary.” I’m lost – differently arbitrary from what?

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  45. MarkinLA says:

    Nobody has ever actually observed a case of speciation (i.e. the appearance of a new species). Deal with it.

    I was once on one of those idiot leftists sites like Salon or Huffpo defending a guy who made this same statement. I was viciously attacked as a dumb know nothing and all these experts pointed to “papers” that supposedly had proven speciation by evolution. I read some. They all tried to downgrade what I thought was the classical definition of what a species is where two different species cannot breed and produce fertile offspring. And members of the same species can produce fertile offspring regardless of other features in the same way that a dog is really an extremely docile wolf. One of these papers even when so far a to call something a different species if the two had different distinguishing features like a bird with one type of beak and another a different type.

    I pointed to the implications of this type of definition and asked if blacks and whites were two different species. They started ignoring my comments.

  46. Nico says:

    While “neodarwinism” is a term more recently used by such original and brilliant (sarcasm intended) luminaries as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins, its genesis (no pun intended) does not follow Origin of Species by more than forty years. Further proof that in the modern academy the trendy buzzword is as influential as it is in journalism, and certainly more important than any substantial scholarship.

    The subsequent development of Darwin’s theory and the expansions on his insights notwithstanding, there is not a biologist alive who can hold a candle to Darwin, or even come close to rebuffing those brave (if foolhardy) souls who dare call the fundamentals of his claims into question.

    • Replies: @gcochran
  47. Nico says:

    I don’t think that religion matches at all the record of science.

    I am not in agreement with Gould who proposed that the various spheres of human knowledge and experience be isolated from one another, but with respect to “predictions” a fairly clear distinction can be drawn between religion (and I add that the understanding of “religion” even in the vaguest sense in this sort of discourse is always peculiarly Western i.e. Christian in its confessionalist outlook) and science. Religion does not claim to make systematic predictions. “Prophecies” as they are are usually fairly vague and apocalyptic, and only make sense in hindsight. You cannot compare the “records” of the two in this respect because there is simply nothing to compare.

  48. Flemur says:
    @Cagey Beast

    Roosh: “How could Darwin explain the prevention of reproduction by deliberate and conscious choice from fit humans beings?”

    Terrible little article. If they don’t reproduce, they’re not fit. Duh.

    And the reason is really simple: Humans changed their environment faster than humans can genetically evolve, and being smart, healthy, educated, etc., are no longer indicators of genetic fitness – probably just the opposite.

    He’s misusing the term “fit” to mean “someone who has characteristics that I personally happen to like.”

    The “baby daddy” with 34 kids is very obviously much fitter than the author of that article.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  49. gcochran says:

    Neodarwinism is just natural selection plus genetics – Darwin didn’t have a working theory of genetics. Some call it the modern synthesis. You have to call it something. Once you understand the genetic mechanism, it’s obvious that there will be phenomena that Darwin never predicted, like driving genes.

    As for those that think that there’s something magical about speciation, it’s nothing special – just the emergence of reproductive barriers between two populations. You could easily make a new mouse species, if you wanted. Start out by picking a few founder individuals with a Robertsonian translocation, inbreed till that’s fixed – all your special mice now have it. A Robertsonian translocation (also some other chromosomal rearrangements) reduces interfertility with members of another population that doesn’t have that translocation, but not with other individuals of the same type. Now add another translocation, inbreed till fixed. Now your special mice have two partial barriers to fertility with ordinary mice. Do this ten times: you have a new species, one that can’t interbreed with wild mice.. While you’re at it, you can select for some interesting special characteristic, like being tiny or having a fluffy tail. Do this long and hard enough and you could end up with a new mouse species that barely looked like the ancestral mouse, any more than Chihuahuas look like wolves.

    • Replies: @DH
  50. @Flemur

    I think you’ve misunderstood the point of the article. Roosh is saying Richard Dawkins and others are wrong to try to use Darwinism to explain current social behaviour; he’s not saying the rules of natural selection no longer apply. It’d probably be best to take up your concerns with him in his comments section though. I posted a link to it here because the comments there are similar to many here.

  51. DH says:

    What you are describing is a designed (pun intended) process. Dawkins made the same points on dog breeding trying to rebuff Behe’s Edge of Evolution and got destroyed. If it is so easy, why are we not seeing new species appearing naturally on permanent basis?
    Behe concedes that it is theoretically possible that inversion mutations (eg random mutations) may lead to new species. With the edge of evolution being somewhere between species and orders.
    But he develops robust biochemical arguments why above taxonomic clases darwinian evolution (random mutation + natural selection) simply does not and cannot explain anything.

  52. @gored

    To be fair, there is a significant and growing body of knowledge concerning non-Mendelian inheritance. However strict your interpretation of Lamarckism, epigenetics and especially transgenerational epigenetics hew perilously close.

  53. @DH

    “Why are we not seeing new species appearing naturally on a permanent basis?”

    Who is “we”? Humans? We see new species appear on a regular basis in, say, bacteria. There are new bacteria that pop up ever year with novel new mutations to do such-and-such thing. There are probably millions of bacteria strains in your gut, unique to your gut. And if you looked, I have no doubt you’d find biologists who have personally witnessed and probably even purposefully induced speciation in eukaryotes.

    If you want to know why “we” don’t notice speciation, it’s because it happens in complex, visible flora and fauna on timescales astronomically long compared to the human lifespan. Take humans’ most recent common ancestor, Mitochondrial Eve. This particular example includes only female humans, I know, but let’s not nitpick. Mitochondrial Eve lived ~150,000 years ago. ~150,000 years have passed since humans shared a common ancestor, yet Africans and Europeans and Asians can have perfectly healthy mixed babies. Most of the extant peoples of those three groups aren’t actually separated by ~150,000 years; Europeans, for example, are separated from Asians by ~60,000 years, but 60,000 years is sixty thousand years.

    In contrast, the Age of Enlightenment began ~350 years ago.

  54. Immigrant from former USSR [AKA "Florida Resident"] says:

    Writing long exposition as a reply to Jim, I lost the ultimate purpose of my comments about chaos.
    Fred Reed in his article above writes:
    “Part of physics is the requirement of causality. Every physical event, which means every event, must have prior physical causes.”

    Here esteemed Mr. Reed thinks at the level of Laplace’s determinism, .
    Pierre Simon Laplace wrote (in all probability, in French originally):
    “We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.”

    Comparison to Laplace is one of the greatest accolades that can be directed to a philosopher like Mr. Reed.

    However, the notion of strange attractors in deterministically governed systems renders Laplace’s (and Reed’s) determinism wrong. Even minuscule variations in initial conditions (i.e. in physical causes by Mr. Reed) may lead to exponential growth in time of the distance between resultant trajectories. This is post-Laplacian science of chaos in dynamic systems.

    I am fascinated by Mr. Reed’s intuition, but in view of modern science it is not enough.

    Respectfully yours, F.r.

  55. abj_slant says:

    So creationists don’t upset me and I certainly have no desire to persecute them …

    Me neither, provided the discourse is limited to adults. It gets disturbing, even alarming, when presented in a classroom setting with the full weight of authority behind it. Lowering the bar is no way to educate our future.

  56. gcochran says:

    Behe’s an idiot. So are you, but it would be impolite to say so, and I’m trying to be polite.

    What I can do in 15 years, nature can also do over a longer period. Typically, mammalian sister species take more than a million years (more like two million) to become intersterile. Given that piece of information, you could conclude that anatomically modern humans could likely interbreed with Neanderthals ( who split off maybe 600,000 years ago) and other archaic humans. And so they did. But you can see the beginning of reproductive incompatibility developing between the two groups – some regions of the modern human genome, especially on the X chromosome and with genes involving testis function, have almost no Neanderthal contribution.

    Thinking like a neodarwinist (which most paleontologists are not – too dumb) suggested that we (modern humans) would have picked up some of Neanderthals and other archaics more useful gene variants. And lo, we have. For example, turns out that one of the more useful gene variants contributing to the enhanced altitude adaptations in Tibetans was picked up from Denisovans. As I predicted.

    This is, I think, just about the the only time I’ve ever wasted electrons arguing with a follower of Michael Behe, and with God’s mercy, it will also be the last time.

    • Replies: @DH
  57. “I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

    — R.P. Feynman

  58. @gcochran

    ” human homosexuality , which is an anomaly. A syndrome that drastically reduces reproductive fitness shouldn’t be that common, yet there it is.”

    It’s actually not “that common”
    You are confusing its appearance in the media with its appearance in the population.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  59. rod1963 says:

    It’s not about that.

    They really don’t like religious folks or those who hold opinions that the scientific orthodoxy does not approve of. What happened with Forest Mims III is a case in point, a well known electronics writer was approached by the Scientific American to write a series of articles and when they interrogated him about his personal beliefs they found out he was a Christian, believed in creationism read the bible and didn’t agree with abortion they shit canned him.

    It didn’t matter he was a talented writer and well regarded and liked in his field.

    As far as the scientific intelligentsia goes, your personal beliefs are not personal. If you have the wrong ones – well you’re persona non-grata.

    They are a very nasty bunch.

  60. Sean T says:
    @Mike Zwick

    I would suggest a neighborhood pedophile, perhaps?

  61. DH says:

    Insults. Check
    Ad hominen. Check.
    Circular arguments. Check
    Mixing up theories with actual data. Check
    Avoiding data and arguments contradicting the narrative. Check
    Petitio principii. Check
    Religious fanaticism. Check.

    LOL, And all in the first exchange. Darwinian evolucionists are so predictable, boring, and impotent. Even tenured ones, or especially tenured ones. Sorry, this is not your little hermetic Gulag where you get to insult, repress, and supress anything you do not like. You make fun of leftist aparatchiks, but you act the same. Grow up.

  62. Immigrant from former USSR [AKA "Florida Resident"] says:
    @Jean Cocteausten

    Only a person familiar with the story of parity-violating (V-A) current, describing weak interaction with what we now know to be W-boson, could choose the pseudonym “Murray Gell-Insole”.
    This is an allusion to the work by M. Gell-Mann and R. Feynman, as well as their competitors at the time, R. Marshak and E. (?) Sudarshan.
    At what stage did you stop working in the field ?
    I have never met Feynman, my hero, or Marshak, or Sudarshan.

  63. @Jim

    What “order” means is more than a little bit arbitrary. And so what? Chaos is differently arbitrary.

    “Chaos theory is differently arbitrary.” I’m lost – differently arbitrary from what?


    Pay attention.

  64. Mark Caplan says: • Website

    “Do I actually know anything about these subjects?” I studied quantum mechanics and general physics in college, plus have maintained an interest in the philosophy of science. What I wrote about the non-deterministic universe is the accepted, well-established view of physicists and is completely uncontroversial.

  65. @gcochran

    Today we have a well-established theory – neodarwinism. It does a good job of predicting many things

    Really? I dare you to name one prediction.

  66. palladino says:

    I think Retired’s assertion is correct. Of course, most people who can “work with words and ideas” are not assigned to the committee that runs the world. LOL.

  67. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Newton was not a Christian.

  68. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Bill Jones

    No he’s not. Evolutionary theory wouldn’t predict that even 1-2% of the population should be homosexual. It would predict that if the trait were genetic in origin, it would eventually die out.

    • Replies: @BlueSonicStreak
  69. @Anonymous

    On the other hand, a zoonosis so adaptable that it’s crossed to virtually every mammalian species on the planet while remaining so benign that we’ve never noticed it doesn’t sound too plausible to me either. But I hardly specialize in infectious diseases.

  70. dab says:

    Reed’s argument regarding homosexuality is wrong, and you are right to call him out on it. But your argument isn’t much better. First of all, it isn’t “scientific” to just make up numbers based on a dim memory of a study you once skimmed over (“identical twins are discordant ~75% of the time”). Homosexuality has a considerable heritability. Second, the “theory of evolution” doesn’t predict the things people seem to naively assume it predicts. It isn’t “science” to just say “theory of evolution” without actually using the theory to model something. If you do bother to model stuff, you often find effects that aren’t immediately intuitive but which are nevertheless “predicted by the theory of evolution”. There are plenty of examples where there is in fact selective pressure to reduce fertility. The “theory of evolution” can predict lots of things, but such things will always depend on the precise configuration of the system you are looking at.
    Finally, your “onchocerciasis” example is sound, and it illustrates (by analogy) that homosexuality may or may not, in some cases, be caused by infectious agents. What it does not illustrate is that you may then jump to the conclusion “homosexuality is probably caused by infection”, any more than you would suggest “human blindness is caused by infection”: Just because you found one case where blindness is the result of infection it does not follow that blindess may not be caused in much greater frequency by other causes, e.g. by poking people in the eyeballs with sharp objects (an obviously “enviromental”, non-heritable cause). Homosexuality is clearly polygenetic, partly heritable and partly not, and the part that isn’t may be caused by lots of orthogonal causes, one or several of which may or may not be infectuous.

    I am sorry if this doesn’t pass the “even you should be able understand” threshold you seem to favour, but reality more often than not turns out to be complicated.

  71. Christianity was taken down when geologists discovered the true age of the planet. That destroyed the myth of the biblical age of the earth as being 6,000 years old. In turn, that cast serious doubts on the existence of a Garden of Eden. And without a Garden of Eden, there is no “original sin”. Without “original sin” there is no need for a Redeemer. It seems the Hindu mystics were right all along.

  72. @gcochran

    Hey you guys have overlooked the obvious when it comes to homosexuality.

    Think about the human machine as one that has a set of tolerances. The brain where most sexuality originates is not a tight tolerance design. So sometimes the brain / body sexuality matrix is mixed. No big surprise. Voila! You’re gay. Presto! You’re not.

    But it does run in families so there is that too.

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