In the 17th century, Nicolaas Hartsoeker, after squinting though his microscope at ejaculate, became so convinced that each sperm was actually a little man (homunculus), he produced detailed drawings as shown on the right.
When his imaginative drawings were brought into question by those suggesting that such a notion leads to an infinite regress as each little man himself must possess sperm that also held other smaller little men ad infinitum, bible believers defended the drawings by invoking scripture. The sin nature was able to pass from Adam to all humans since all humans once swung in the testes of Adam.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. —Romans 5:12-14
Incredibly, scientists today have rejected the theory of Mr. Hoarsoeker. Scientist now claim that sperm do not at all resemble little men. But the track record of biblical insight into natural phenomena has suffered very few setbacks as fundamentalist will attest. It was simply Continue reading
The following is a portion of a comment response to a Christian commenter (commenting on this post) who suggested that there is no real contradiction between the methods of science and those of faith, and that there was necessarily too much inherent subjectivity and unsubstantiated assumptions for the scientifically minded to appropriately assess god claims.
Here are some basic steps to follow when assessing the existence of any god.
- Determine which god is being posited.
- Determine whether the god being posited is logically coherent.
- Does the god posited claim to be loving and “slow to anger”, then become so impatiently wrathful upon the very first offense of humans that he damns then to eternal torture?
- Does the god posited claim that a 3-day death of his “son” pays the price of eternal torture for the offender?
- Does the god posited make the personal acceptance of his son a requirement for salvation, then let much of the world die without knowledge of this fact?
- Does the god posited claim to offer an absolute morality, then suddenly decide that slavery, polygamy, genocide and men taking women as booty of war to be suddenly immoral after years of complicity in these actions?
- Does the god posited claim to be omnipotent, then find himself impotent against chariot of iron?
- Does the god in question claim the bible to be inerrant, then have one of the “inspired” writers take another writer completely out of context?
(Matthew 2:15 -> Hosea 11;1)
- Does the god posited suggest that believing MORE upon LESS evidence is “blessed”?
If the answer is yes to even one of the questions above, the god posited is as illogical as a square triangle, and deserves no further consideration.
- Determine whether the god being posited can be distinguished from an imaginary god.
- Does the god posited make any promises that can be tested?
- Can the god posited affect the material causal chain in a way that can be tested? Continue reading
Imagine you and your friend find a coin on the street, and without either of you examining the coin carefully, you make a bet. If a flip of the coin turns up “heads”, you must pay your friend a dollar, and every time it turns up “tails”, he pays you a dollar.
You flip. A “heads” turns up. You pay your friend a dollar.
You make the same deal again, and again a “heads” deprives you of another dollar.
Not wanting to cut your losses, and certain that there are at least a few “tails” ahead, you try again. “Heads”.
You sigh as you hand over a 3rd dollar, but then challenge your friend to a 4th flip. Again you lose.
An amazing history and explanation of chaos theory.
If we were simply minds designed to assess truth, life would be easy. We could simply test and adopt the evidential heuristics and algorithms that provide the most predictive successes, apply these tools to the evidence for and against a given proposition, then simply assign a probability to the truthfulness of that proposition. There would be no default position of belief or disbelief. There would be no bivalent conclusion of belief or disbelief. Everything would be comfortably a matter of epistemological probabilities that had no bearing on our survival.
However, we find ourselves active agents in a world in which we are driven to survive and secure happiness for ourselves and those we love. We find ourselves emotional beings that are very much disturbed by uncertainty. We are driven to “know”.
This drive to “know” is what pulls us away from proper probabilistic positions on the truthfulness of claims, and compels us to claim “knowledge” that a proposition is either true or untrue. While this bivalent approach to truth destroys our credibility as effective assessors of epistemological probabilities, it is nonetheless fully human.
I would like to argue that, as the world becomes more global, it will also become more skeptical. Let me first give a bit of background before I argue the reasons for this prediction.
Skepticism is an epistemological disposition. It is a commitment to disbelief until a certain threshold of evidence has been provided. It disparages faith and credulity.
What would humanity look like were skepticism not the default disposition towards new propositions? It would look exactly as it does now with -isms of every imaginable sort, all competing with specious but majestic assertions and other emotional weapons to trespass the barriers of evidential warrant and created bloated ontologies of mythical entities and proportions. Waiting for the proper evidence to arrive that would substantiate a wonderful concept is not very agreeable to the impatient human psyche that is constantly seeking more existential validation than is ever available. But this longing for existential validation is no warrant for violating the barriers of evidential warrant, and any mind that trespasses in this manner must constantly self-delude. This is the rate of exchange; self-delusion for a bit of existential comfort.