No conflict between science and faith?

April 14, 2010 • 7:32 am

If, as Francisco Ayala, the National Center for Science Education, and many accommodationists insist, there isn ‘t a conflict between science and faith, then they need to explain why Bruce Waltke, a professor at Florida’s Reformed Theological Seminary, was forced to resign after appearing in a BioLogos video that not only espoused harmony between faith and science, but also criticized those Christians who deny evolution.

According to Inside Higher Ed:

Michael Milton, president of the seminary’s Charlotte campus and interim president of its Orlando campus, where Waltke taught, confirmed that the scholar had lost his job over the video. Milton said that Waltke would “undoubtedly” be considered one of the world’s great Christian scholars of the Old Testament and that he was “much beloved here,” with his departure causing “heartache.” But he said that there was no choice.

Milton said that the seminary allows “views to vary” about creation, describing the faculty members there as having “an eight-lane highway” on which to explore various routes to understanding. Giving an example, he said that some faculty members believe that the Hebrew word yom (day) should be seen in Genesis as a literal 24-hour day. Others believe that yom may be providing “a framework” for some period of time longer than a day. Both of those views, and various others, are allowed, Milton said.

But while Milton insisted that this provides for “a diversity” of views, he acknowledged that others are not permitted. Darwinian views, and any suggestion that humans didn’t arrive on earth directly from being created by God (as opposed to having evolved from other forms of life), are not allowed, he said, and faculty members know this.

Asked if this limits academic freedom, Milton said: “We are a confessional seminary. I’m a professor myself, but I do not have a freedom that would go past the boundaries of the confession. Nor do I have a freedom that would allow me to express my views in such a way to hurt or impugn someone who holds another view.” Indeed he added that the problem with what Waltke said was as much his suggestion that religion will lose support over these issues as his statements about evolution itself. (The statement of faith at the seminary states: “Since the Bible is absolutely and finally authoritative as the inerrant Word of God, it is the basis for the total curriculum.”)

I guess we can resolve this conundrum by telling the Reformed Theological Seminary that their faith isn’t “proper.”  Sounds like a job for Peter Hess.

76 thoughts on “No conflict between science and faith?

  1. Please, cry me a river and forgive me if I’m not too upset by this. Basically, Waltke was a teacher at a vacation Bible school instructing kids to glue macaroni on to construction paper; teaching fiction at a place where you’re mandated to believe the fiction.

    I wish him all the best discovering the Real World ™ and I’d send him Bombshell McGee’s phone number if I had it!

  2. Nor do I have a freedom that would allow me to express my views in such a way to hurt or impugn someone who holds another view

    Didn’t seem to stop Michael Milton from expressing his views on Bruce Waltke.

    Or is the issue more nuanced than that ?

  3. No one denies that there are people who hold the view that religion and evolution are incompatible. The point is that not everyone thinks that. And different sciences and different religions may agree or disagree, and to different extents. Is there any fundamental conflict between chemistry and Hinduism?

    But there are some, both at Waltke’s former place of employment and in the scientific community, who seem to like the simplicity of the “religion vs. science” stance, and would like to reduce things to that simple view. But reality often turns out to be more complex than the models we adopt to try to study and explain it.

    1. You seem to be using the old “I know someone that believes a scientific fact and a religious dogma simultaneously therefore there is no conflict between science and religion card.” Many accommodationists do this, probably because the philosophical approaches are in conflict and its the only leg the accommodationist can stand on. Pedophilia and catholicism are also in perfect harmony, no conflict there by the same reasoning.

    2. The goal of the practice of science is to minimize and preferably eliminate any unknowns. The goal of the practice of christianity is to maximize a reliance on faith, a practice that cannot be achieved without the insertion of unknowns. Christians rely on the fabricated unknowns.

      The goals of the practice of christianity and the goals of the practice of science are incompatible and conflicting. If one person practices both science and christianity, they are pursuing conflicting goals or they aren’t committed to the goals of the both.

        1. Notagod probably doesn’t realize who he’s addressing. I offer James F. McGrath as a source based on his previous writings on the subject (see: I “Get” This Part.

          McGrath prefers the argument from personal experience as his proof for the existence of “something.” Here’s how he expressed it two years ago.

          Would if be going too far to say that those who have had mystical experiences are in very much the position of sighted people trying to explain color to the blind, or music lovers trying to explain why a piece moves them so much to someone who is tone deaf? In this conversation, however, it is not clear that the other side of the conversation is “disabled”. They simply have no interest in understanding the experience or appreciating the music. And there is no way I can introduce someone to the music or why it moves me just by talking in abstract terms about something that is deeply experiential.

          On the other hand, part of the issue is that I have no interest in defending any particular doctrines about God, and so my “views” seem hard to pin down, because I hold them so loosely. I realized long ago that the life-changing experience I had when I cried out to God in surrender and felt a sense of peace wash over me does not prove that a tomb was empty 2,000 or so years ago, or that God is 3-in-one, or any other such claims. What seems to confuse some people is that I still can find Trinitarian language helpful and inspiring and meaningful, not as a statement about what God is “really like” (as though I had a means to study that scientifically or objectively), but as an image of how this God that we speak of only in inadequate symbols and metaphors can be eternal love (since love requires more than one person).

          This is the modern, “sophisticated,” approach to religion. It still looks like faith to me. Notagod was correct and now he has an impeccable source to prove it!

          1. Perhaps you’d care to explain exactly how my religious outlook, which accepts everything science has to tell us, is nonetheless in conflict with science? Or perhaps you’d care to say that it isn’t really religion?

          2. You believe your transcendent feelings are coming from a mystical source, and so you neglect the more provincial explanation for such feelings and/or presume that atheists don’t have such feelings just because they don’t associate such feelings with the supernatural.

            I don’t think of people who have had mystical experiences as “being in the position of sighted people trying to explain color to the blind”– I see them more akin to someone being on hallucinogens trying to explain their “deep” experiences to someone who is sober.

            I’ve come to think this about my own experiences that I once thought of as “mystical”. And since there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, I naturally feel this way about all people having experiences that they imagine are coming from “divine” sources rather than brain phenomena.

            Come on, do you think those who are talking in tongues are having “real” mystical experiences because THEY think so? What about Scientologists and other blissed-out cult members? Why should a rationalist think any differently about your experiences than you think of those??

          3. Accepting personal “mystical experiences” as evidence of reality is not compatible with the scientific way of trying to gain real knowledge.

            Science tells us to be very skeptical about experiences such as the one you claim was “life-changing.” Science tells us that most experiences like that are delusions and none have ever been proven true in a way that science can accept.

            The key word here is “skepticism.” If you don’t got it then it ain’t science. It’s faith.

          4. No, I don’t claim that such mystical experiences give me access to a “mystical reality” that is other than the universe we inhabit. I do not assume that atheists do not have such experiences, and indeed have some appreciative interaction on my blog with such individuals who do/have (e.g. André Comte-Sponville).

            I consider such experiences, like the experience of a breathtaking symphony, to be interesting and transformative, and important as part of our experience of the way the universe is. They given me an appreciation of the depth of reality.

            You’re under no obligation to accept my views, and you are free to interpret my experiences however you like. But I don’t see that appreciating them is incompatible with science, any more than enjoying listening to a symphony is incompatible with a physical description of the mechanics of a musical performance. I don’t see why one has to choose between scientific description and aesthetic appreciation.

          5. “accepts everything science has to tell us, is nonetheless in conflict with science”

            You’re getting closer. People arguing an accommodationist point rarely define their terms. “Science” can be defined as the consensus of scientists, or as the method used to produce those results. “Religion” can mean every belief system being practiced, some specific set of beliefs, or the methods used to obtain those beliefs (faith, revelation).
            That there are belief systems that conflict with the scientific consensus should be uncontroversial. That some specific set of beliefs (i.e. unfalsifiable beliefs) are not ruled out given the scientific consensus as true is similarly uncontroversial.

            Because some religions conflict with the scientific consensus, the methods of obtaining religious beliefs are in conflict with the methods of science in that they will not both reliably get you to the truth.

            As Larry Moran pointed out, the method of science is based on skepticism, that is allowing no assumption to go untested. People have cognitive biases that can result in irrational conclusions, and the scientific method is successful because it compensates for those biases. Faith is the opposite of that. That is why a faith based belief that is not currently contrary to the scientific consensus is still in conflict with science.

          6. First, I don’t know the particulars of your religious outlook but I’m curious. Does it include the belief in the death and resurrection of the god/man Jesus? Did Jesus perform miracles? Do we have a soul, distinct from our bodies, that persists after we die?

            These would be examples of beliefs not being compatible with what we know about reality.

            I have had religious experiences that felt trans formative. I now am an atheist. Was this feeling that I had as a Christian the same as the feelings that you offer as proof of your belief in God? What about the feeling of peace and calm that I had when I realized that there was no god? They were both feelings, but neither are worthy evidence in defense of god or no god. They are feelings and could be explained in a number of ways. Science is good at following the evidence and not feelings. Religion seems to focus on the opposite.
            This seems to be a difference between the focus of science and religion.
            What are your thoughts, James?

          7. I use my experience in the present as a guide to my interpretation of the past. That is a rule in history as well as the sciences. I’m not willing to claim that someone in the past did miracles, when I don’t see those kinds of things happening today. I certainly am willing to acknowledge that psychosomatic illnesses may have been cured in ways that also can be observed today.

            I should emphasize that I don’t even claim that my experience allows me to make claims about the nature of God. Like most mystics, I hesitate to describe my experience and use the term “ineffable” quite a bit. It is an intuition of transcendence, and doesn’t offer any kind of proof that would allow one to conclude that this transcendence is a different sort of reality as opposed to something that emerges from and is an aspect of the observable universe.

            I don’t want to sidetrack the discussion here, so I’d encourage anyone who wants to know what I think about whether there is an afterlife, the stories about the resurrection, and other topics to take a look at my blog, Exploring Our Matrix.

          8. The problem is the word, religion, which is viewed by some as the formalization of the mystery every human experiences, excepting those who don’t.

            My question would be, “Is it possible to be a scientist and not sense mystery?”

            The word religion, in it’s root, means simply the linking or binding of human experience to the mystery of human life. Those who see nothing mysterious in life need no religion, they have absolute knowledge.

            That is my explanation of your critics view. I wonder about the mystery of human life, the creation of life, the creation of the universe and am, therefore religious.

          9. Or perhaps you’d care to say that it isn’t really religion?

            Well, only in the sense that it isn’t what most people mean by religion. Words only mean what people use them to mean. (shrug)

    3. I just wish those people who think there is no problem with the philosophical compatibility of science and religion would give philosophical arguments to support their case.

      Instead all we get are claims that there religious scientists, which totally misses the point and suggests those arguing for compatibility have no argument.

      With regards some religion being compatible with science, if the religion does not allow for an interventionist god then yes, there is then no conflict with science. It does rather emasculate any god though. The vast majority of religions, and religious believers do not think their god is simply an observer unable to act.

      1. On my blog — I’m really trying not to hock it too much — I have a statement on my at least compatiblist position. I argue that on statements of fact religions have to conform to science. Now, considering that to be the case, even though we don’t have proof of an interventionist God, why couldn’t there be an interventionist God?

        To settle this, we’d have to get into big arguments over what miracles are, whether or not they can be studied, and how to study or settle them. I’m willing to try …

        1. Willing to try heroic measures to prop up your christian god that has nothing else to keep it from fading away.

          At least acknowledge the fact that belief in your god can have negative and dire consequences to any society that might believe in it.

        2. @ verbosestioc

          The ball is in your court. The existence of some intervetionist god is an extraordinary claim. There is no evidence, none. Why should I give a second thought to such claims?

          Miracles? Preposterous. What’s next, angels, devils, souls? Eternal life?

          1. So, if you’re giving it no thought, why should you care or have any opinion on whether or not it’s compatible with science (which is the point under discussion here)?

            Shouldn’t you leave that to the people — philosophers and theologians, certainly — who ARE thinking about it?

          2. If you can succeed in removing christianity from the places that it shouldn’t be, such as; science (and the science classroom), government (christianity provides an easy and invalid justification for harmful policy), currency (a nation cannot be united if it is officially divided), pledge (christianity there would only be valid for a theocracy) then but, only then, would your point have any validity at all.

        1. Imagine that!

          Did you also realize that there are theologians and philosophers who aren’t scientists who are making statements about science that some scientists view as problematic?

          Whoda thunk?

          1. If theologians get science wrong, scientists should correct them, and the theologians should listen and accept correction. But why is it that, when it comes to philosophy, some scientists are so confident that they know how things stand and need no such correction? Shouldn’t we all be open to correction about statements we make that are in an area of expertise other than our primary one?

          2. Great idea. Next time I hear a preacher talk about afterlife or heaven and hell, I’ll tell him that body-minded dualism is a hypothesis that is refuted by neuroscience and so all of that is baloney. Do you think they will “listen and accept correction”?

          3. Shouldn’t we all be open to correction about statements we make that are in an area of expertise other than our primary one?

            Yes, definitely.

            BTW, I’m an atheist. Who are the experts on atheism?

          4. Joel Green is one good example of someone who is a Biblical scholar with a religious faith but who rejects mind-body dualism. He’s not the only one.

            Experts on atheism? It depends what you mean. If you mean the philosophy of atheism, then presumably philosophers. Like religion, atheism is a field rather than a discipline. One can consider it from the perspective of philosophy, of literature, and presumably neuroscientists can look for the “no-God spot” in the brain that predisposes some people to be atheists. So it depends what kind of disciplinary perspective on atheism you have in mind.

          5. Seriously? So I can be a practicing Christian or Muslim and yet not believe in heaven or hell?
            Of course my question was not whether you can find an individual with unorthdox views among the faithful, but rather, if I approach a mainstream preacher and tell them their views on the afterlife are bunk, there is the slightest chance that will stop preaching it on the grounds that it contradicts science.

          6. When philosophy is inconsistent with observed facts, it is the philosophy which is wrong. Why the insistence that Philosophy is True?

        2. Can you offer some examples ?

          Only every time I ask how science and religion are philosophically compatible the question is either ignored or pathetic arguments, like people can be scientists and religious are offered.

    4. The case in point *is* simple. It’s an illustration of what happens when religious dogma collides with science. For a specific religion, dogmatic inviolability is a survival issue. Therefore, it’s not surprising when a believer who disagrees with core tenets gets tossed overboard, like a passenger on an overcrowded life raft.

    5. No one denies that there are people who hold the view that religion and evolution are incompatible. The point is that not everyone thinks that.

      They can’t both be right. Either religion and evolution are compatible, or they aren’t. One of those positions is wrong. You seem to think that it’s not the accomodationists, but you give no justification for that assumption.

      Maybe the people who think there’s no conflict are wrong? Maybe they’re just ignoring all the instances where those two things come into direct, absolute conflict?

      1. This is simply false, because “religion” is not a single unified phenomenon with a single view on scientific matters.

        This is like saying that either people drive on the right side of the road or they drive on the left, it cannot be both. That is true in England, and true in the United States, but not true if you are trying to take both into consideration.

        If one wishes to say that conservative American Christianity and evolution are incompatible, you’ll be able to make a much stronger case, although even this was not historically so (as illustrated by the lack of young-earth creationism as a “fundamental” of the original Fundamentalists).

          1. 47% who attend at least monthly and almost every week accept evolution. That they think God “guided” it is certainly an appropriate area for discussion. But that certainly is not “evolution denial” and their notion of “God guiding” may constitute little more than God starting the process in some undetermined way so that intelligent beings would arise, not necessarily ones that look like us. And while I think that those well informed by science certainly should engage problems and issues with the claim that God guided evolution, I don’t see how this can be construed as illustrating an inherent incompatibility between evolution and religion.

          2. McGrath, is this the best spin you can make up?
            There is an inverse relationship between church attendance (generically) and acceptance of evolution.
            Claiming that evolution was “directed by god” is like saying that Thor has to be present for there to be a lighting, whether you “believe in electricity” or not. And of course “directing” and “starting” are not the same thing-you are only trying to change the meaning of the poll by putting in your own words.

          3. No, I’m trying to explain why some who might not thing God “tinkers” with the evolutionary process might still choose “God guides” over “God has nothing to do with it.” If respondants were given more options, there might be answers that do not fit neatly into the choices offered.

          4. Which, of course, is pure speculation on your part as you try to wiggle your way out of the hard, cold facts.
            Evolution having been directed by god and the world being six thousand years old have one thing in common: they are claims grounded in religion and not supported by evidence.
            But while the inverse relationship between acceptance of science and frequency of church attendance is clear in the poll, all an apologist can do is to spin it.

          5. God is a word and like religion has different meanings to different people.

            How did life begin? Darwin didn’t say. Evolution is about changes in life forms, not its beginning. For many, saying God created life is a way to say the beginning is unknown. For others God is a transcendent being. There is more conflict between theists who believe in God as a being and those who use it as a word of convenience than between scientists and theists.

            That the definition of God changes seems to cause great pain within parts of the scientific community, but the changing definitions within science–elements, atom, mass to name three–is accepted as normal.

  4. Hmmm… an interesting parallel:

    The Ayala-type Scientists/Accomodationists (many of them, you say) ask us “Why all the fuss? There is no conflict between Science and Religion”

    On the other hand Pres. Milton and his associates tell us, by their actions, that there is a conflict.

    Just change the words “between Science and Religion” to “over the truth of evolution” to get the parallel.

    IS there a controversy? Do not your blog postings amount to promoting the idea of “Teach the Controversy!”.

    What foot is the shoe on?


    1. Nice equivocation.

      I don’t think anybody denies that there is a “controversy” between evolution and creationism in the sense that a non-trivial number of ignorant and/or dishonest people claim that evolution is false.

      The point is that there is no scientific controversy, and the creationist “arguments” are either nonscientific or just plain bad/inaccurate/dishonest science, so it is not a “controversy” that should be taught in science classes.

    2. So, what you’re saying is that competing the body of evidence supporting evolution against an unscientific alternative is equivalent to arguing that a body of arbitrary dogmas is compatible with a methodology that seeks to find the best description of the natural world and holds to no dogma…

      Good luck with that intellectually insipid pablum.

  5. When creationists tell us they want “academic freedom”, we know what kind they want; they want the “academic freedom” of Florida’s Reformed Theological Seminary.

    1. Bible schools — and that’s what this seminary is — are notorious for coming down hard on any of their own who stray from “sound doctrine”.

      We have to remember that they really think that heaven and hell hang on the balance of these doctrines.

      1. I was laughing about that too. Eight lanes, all traveling parallel, at nearly the same speed, to the same predetermined destination. Yep, sounds very diverse.

      2. It doesn’t matter which lane of the 8 lane highway you are in, they all go to the same place.

        As in ‘to nowhere’?

  6. Damn! I live in Orlando and I have visited the RTS several times. They have one of the best collections of religious materials I have seen. They were always nice to me. I interviewed one of the staff there for a project relating to my master’s degree. I did not know they were this right wing and I admit I am a bit surprised.

    The campus, BTW, is beautiful.

    As an attorney, I am contemplating offering my services to Professor Waltke, although he might object to my lack of religious belief. I hope someone takes up the cause.

    1. Per his statement in the link @ 1: “I knew the issue of Genesis 1-3 and evolution was emotionally charged, but not this charged,” he may have concluded that he’s just as well off by walking away from their whole sorry lot. Plus, sounds like he has a new position at Knox in Ft Lauderdale. Might be good to stay tuned to what he has to say there.

  7. This reminds me of a recent post by Hemant Methta at the Friendly Atheist:

    A Christian gives 8 reasons why he decided not to debate online with atheists anymore. I especially like this one:

    5. “Christians” are your own worst enemies in these contexts. A week’s worth of reasoned and fruitful discussion can be very easily undone by one comment made without being mindful of presenting the “truth with love.”

    Or the forced resignation of a science professor at a Christian school because he wants them to do what they ask others to do. Like “Teaching the controversy” or having “Academic freedom”. Tsk, tsk.

  8. No, you all don’t understand.

    Accommodationists argue that there is no conflict between science and faith.

    They only believe there is conflict between faith and science.

    [/hair-splitting sarcasm]

  9. An eight-lane highway of possible views that one can have on creation? And theistic evolution isn’t on that highway? Sounds like the good ol’ straight and narrow to me.

    People in Bible Colleges (and I attended one) are sometimes daring enough to take a peek at science and learn that the world is old. But try to make them look at evidence of the evolution of man and they’ll squirm and squeal and throw things at you.

  10. “If, as Francisco Ayala, the National Center for Science Education, and many accommodationists insist, there isn ‘t a conflict between science and faith, then they need to explain why Bruce Waltke, a professor at Florida’s Reformed Theological Seminary, was forced to resign after appearing in a BioLogos video that not only espoused harmony between faith and science, but also criticized those Christians who deny evolution.”

    It’s very simple, really. You’re asking the wrong question. No one disputes that science conflicts with some religious claims, such as a 6,000 year-old earth. But that is not to say that science and faith, or even science and Christianity, inherently conflict.

    #2: “Basically, Waltke was a teacher at a vacation Bible school instructing kids to glue macaroni on to construction paper; teaching fiction at a place where you’re mandated to believe the fiction.”

    Basically, you’re a moron.

    Waltke is Harvard PhD and a well-regarded scholar. That you (and I) may disagree with the foundational creed of his former employer says absolutley nothing about the academic rigor his academic work employed and his former employer required for faculty and students.

  11. Equating Florida’s Reformed Theological Seminary with faith is like using the kiwi as proof that birds can’t fly.

    Take two Dramamine, then visit their website to learn, “This is a place of vocational and spiritual formation under the mentoring of godly pastors-scholars who share your burden for the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Word of God, for the lost, for the saints to be equipped, and for the nations to be discipled.”

    These are the absolutists fighting both scientists and the inclusive faithful for their nano-scopic view of the world.

    1. “sufficiency of the Word of God”

      Does this mean that we don’t need to know anything about anything except the bible? No medicine, no engineering, no nothing? This is pretty extreme stuff, and clearly nuts!

      1. Excellent question. My interpretation would be–considering the plethora of literalist Christians it has been my burden to know–that “sufficiency of of the word of god” means anything in conflict with it is void and anything not in conflict is acceptable.

        The problem is whether one reads scripture–from any faith–literally or metaphorically.

    2. Yes, but there is no method for delineating a good or true brand of faith from a bad or false one– is there?

      All believers feel like they have the true faith– Who shall we use an example for faith (and how many believers would disagree with your choice in preference of their own?)

      Do you see the problem?

      Scientists should be able to treat all faiths, supernatural beliefs, superstitions, and pseudosciences similarly. Moreover, people should be encouraged to keep these sorts of beliefs private. Scientists should have no part in making people feel special, coddled, or entitled because of what they’ve been indoctrinated to “believe in”. It just weakens scientific progress. If you allow it for some groups, where do you draw the line?

      To go back to your analogy, if you allow only “birds that can fly”, then what about birds like chickens that can “kind of fly” and won’t the penguins feel slighted? And bats have bird like features, by what means do you exclude them? What about aged or infirm birds who can no longer fly? Birds with clipped wings? Do better flying breeds get extra coddling? And why can’t we just treat all birds the same since their flying capacity is not an issue in regards to whether they are birds or not?

      Faith and feelings are just not methods of doing science.

      1. Why don’t you focus on the groups that really ARE incompatible with science and leave the groups that aren’t inherently incompatible alone?

        Classification of things like birds does indeed work on that principle. Bats aren’t considered birds because the consensus on what is required for a bird excludes mammals. Penguins are because even though they can’t fly, that’s not enough to make you not a bird.

        We decide this by doing good philosophy — defining terms — and then good science to determine what has what qualities. Shouldn’t we be doing that here, too, instead of simply a priori stating that religion and science are inherently incompatible?

        1. Shouldn’t we be doing that here, too, instead of simply a priori stating that religion and science are inherently incompatible?

          No, because there have been hundreds of general and specific examples previously given to show why they are not compatible.

          What has not been given are counter examples to show any compatibility other than the trivial “this guy believes something and does science”.

        2. I’d be glad to leave all superstitions alone so long as people keep them quiet. I will not be silent as people try to hitch their magical beliefs up with the respectability of science. I think the notion that there are “other ways of knowing” is harmful to society in general and on par with posting that the emperor COULD be wearing magical robes that only a few could see.

          Religionists ought to be as private in their beliefs as they want those with conflicting unsupported faiths to be.

          1. If I claim that my religion has to conform to scientific fact, and that therefore any differences between my religion and science are in cases where there are hypotheses but no scientific facts in question, why shouldn’t I be able to attach myself to science in at least some way?

            I want all people to be able to talk about their views, religious or otherwise, on these topics. So, do I get to talk about my religion, then, or do I have to be quiet?

            BTW, I never said you had to leave them all alone. I DID say that you should focus on the ones that really ARE incompatible with science instead of just assuming they are a priori.

            You are free to express what you think, but at some point even you are required to argue your case.

        3. verbosestoic,

          You really have a warped idea of the reasoning behind the classification of animals. The basis for the classification is driven by the relatedness of the animals. The classification is not driven by people arbitrarily making choices of which animals to group together. Scientists don’t always know which animals are related so sometimes corrections of classification are needed but, it isn’t based on a consensus of choice, it is based on a consensus of evidence and facts.

          1. I was talking about “natural kinds” here, while trying to avoid them. To get natural kinds, you do philosophy — and a bit of science — to get the qualities that indicate a natural kind and then do science to determine what has those qualities. It was decided that the natural kind of “mammals” includes bats and the natural kind of “birds” doesn’t.

            Give up natural kinds, and you give up your consensus of evidence and facts.

          2. Uh, no.

            The facts and evidence stay around, and whenever you go look – the relationships are still there.

            Shocking, I know.

            You could startout with the assumption that everything is totally different, and you’d end up showing yourself wrong.

            Or that all kinds are only arbitrarily different and, once again, you’d show yourself to be wrong.

  12. It never fails to astound me that people think of an ancient (highly edited over the years) book of myths can provide knowledge about anything. It’s funny, in a very scary way, how people start out with the absurd assumption that this book of myths is somehow the word of some deity and then go through elaborate contortions to convince themselves that they are continuing to derive ‘truths’ from this book and that they can divine the cryptic thoughts of this deity of theirs by reading the book. The Jews have a name for that class of divination: Kabbalah. Are people so ignorant of history that they don’t see this as being exactly the same as the Greeks, Romans, and even medieval monarchs consulting any number of famed books of prophecies?

    1. Thanks! I had already written a draft post about this, and you’ve prompted me to go ahead and put it up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *