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I believe I was reading a book review the other day of a book by philosopher Thomas Nagel. The book basically argues that science is going to have a difficult time, at some point, proving everything. He also seems to be making the argument in the book that we seem to be evolving toward some higher-order species, and that it is not as obvious to him that this is simply an evolution/natural selection process alone — even if the natural selection process is the tool by which our progress is happening. I won’t comment more on this – but Nagel seems to be saying that we don’t know if God exists or not, or whether God has a hand in any of this, but from the perspective of an unbiased extra-universe “person” it appears that we are evolving in a way that a God-like being would sort of like to see us evolve.

That’s still not quite the correct characterization, but it’s close enough.

And what do you know about the response among some in the intelligentsia?  That books like this are just so typical of we neanderthal thinkers – that it is just one more representation of the “complete abandonment of science by conservatives.” Never mind this. Or this. And these slurs are causally thrown around as if any and all classical liberals must by definition reject the idea of evolution.

Well, I suppose we can play this stupid game if you want. So if some member of a group that I am a part of adheres to some stupid, wrong, (or right) belief, then that means every member does? It means that every member is an idiot? You know, I once met a progressive-liberal that believed in aliens. Seriously. That seems pretty anti-science and pretty “stupid” to me. Good, great, so all progressive liberals are stupid anti-science idiots. How mature. And here I thought we are all supposed to celebrate the diversity of thought and ideas that is out there in the world.

But let’s consider some other serious scientific evidence. What share of “progressives” believes that the minimum wage is an effective way to fight poverty? Because even if you take the best of the literature that shows the minimum wage has small or no negative impacts on employment, that’s a far cry from helping. That’s like saying, “great, so drinking a lot doesn’t kill you.” What proportion of “progressives” believe the minimum wage helps the poor? That’s a totally anti-science position to take. Or better yet, how about the idea that centrally planned economies work better? What share of “progressives” believe in that fantasy? And how does that compare to the share of “stupid, old, white, conservative people” who reject evolution? I actually don’t know, but surely such things can be estimated, no?

This does not mean that the appropriate strategy is to spend time smearing people who disagree with you on these kinds of grounds. Rather the point again is to demonstrate the utter nudity of these emperors, and to mock these arguments out of existence, as they have little place in a serious conversation.

4 Responses to “Sunday Morning Ponderance: Religion and the Abandonment of Science Edition”

  1. Harry says:

    Great piece, WC. So much meat.

    Today’s “liberals” liking to call themselves progressives, get uncomfortable with metaphysics. This way of thinking goes back, I think, to Nietzsche and others who thought that through what they thought was enlightenment and science was and is solvable.

    The other Nietzhean pronouncement was that God is dead, which became an axiom of our Progressive world, and by extension meant that metaphysics is dead, and materialism is all. Never mind that this was an assertion from a philosophical bully who had other things in mind, including avoiding difficult metaphysical questions.

    How convenient. The argument abolishes previous thought about such questions as natural rights, which are indeed at the root
    metaphysical questions.

    So we get The Will to Power, dialectical materialism, Marxism, Nazism, whatever makes you feel good about yourself values. On the one hand, we have the United States, but on the other hand, we have Pol Pot, the Kims of North Korea, Ayatollah Khameni of Iran, and assorted Africans and despotic Asians, and who are we to make any value judgements about them, members of The International Community? On the one hand, we have our free country, but on the other hand, their countries are run with progressive science. It’s about time for us to stop our imperialist ways, and accept the inevitable victory of socialism that Marx predicted.

    Ergo, do whatever you wish.

    One item of news from not long ago: California might parole Charlie Manson.

  2. Harry says:

    As usual, I did not answer WC’s question about assorted fallacious reasoning that changes the subject to a side question about mad uncle Homer in the attic who wants to kill everybody, including the Martians and followers of Wicca. This strategy was well-executed in the last campaign. Some tea partiers believe birth control pills should be as illegal as heroin to buy, and their parents believe(d) in creationism, so therefore anyone who believes that somebody is not contributing their fair share to the federal government wants to hurt the working men and women of our country, so unless you are a racist you should vote for Obama.

    This logic worked, and now we have him for another four years. As a close relative, not in my immediate family put it when I asked, “What do you think is going to happen? ” remarked, s/he said, “Well, they have to compromise and get along,” meaning that marginal tax rates have to rise back to Clinton levels for the people who make as much as Warren Buffet.

    This person said s/he thought Obama is a “moderate”, and that Mitt Romney and his Tea Party supporters are extremists. S/he does not have any of my concern that any damage, let alone disaster has occurred.

    My next comment was to agree that yes, a four percentage point reduction in income tax rates for a couple earning $250,000 a year indeed caused today’s economic problems, and that yes indeed all would be well if we could just reverse that error, plus increase the rate on dividends, capital gains (eliminate the “loophole” on capital gains when you sell your house for depreciated money and do not adjust the cost basis, etc.). This is the road to recovery and prosperity.

  3. Common Sense says:

    “But let’s consider some other serious scientific evidence. What share of “progressives” believes that the minimum wage is an effective way to fight poverty?”

    You and your “science.” That ridiculous! Without minimum wages, things would be unfair. Best way to fight poverty is by printing money and using it to buy 30 year bonds. Duh! These are “basic economics.”

    Why dont you stop thinking about “science” and trust in our superiors for once? It feels so comfortable. You should cheer up and join our circle of equality, singing happily as we dance our way towards hell.

  4. chuck martel says:

    When I queried my youngest daughter on her feelings about the outcome of the national election she commented that she “didn’t like Romney”. I asked her if his “likeability” was a valid or even necessary quality in an elected official. She shrugged the question off but if many people have a similar outlook, perhaps it’s time for George Clooney or Jerry Seinfeld or Matt Lauer to throw their hat in the ring.

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