How to Mediate a Dispute

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Reader Comments (53)

...*I* thought it was clever. :'(

I guess it concerns the foundations of knowledge, not practice (doesn't contain any reference to the ideas of "useful" or "therefore you should", which are quite separate cans of worms). :)

It is basically asking the question "what assurance do we have that our mental processes are actually reliable tools for finding truth?" If so-called "logical thought" is just a evolutionarily conditioned response, like a sneeze, or a craving for sweets...why place such ultimate trust in its conclusions? And yet it is supposedly on the sole, inviolate authority of "logical thought" that we know that every part of what we are, including logical thought itself, is nothing but conditioned evolutionarily responses. I don't know if it's a contradiction, but it seems like a legitimate paradox. :)

To me, expecting the mind of a creature that evolved by chance to find truth kinda seems like expecting a thermometer to tell you the time. The mind exists based on its ability to do one thing (i.e. survive); why should we expect it to do something completely different (i.e. evaluate the "truth" of statements that have no relation to survival like "the universe is/isn't here purely by chance" or "there is/isn't a God", etc)?

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

See John Cleese's views on religions - that they were started by some very smart people as metaphors for how we should live our lives, then interpreted literally by some very dumb people. It's when they're interpreted literally that they sound crazy.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSnarkous

Meh. Science works, or you all wouldn't be looking at a computer screen debating it over thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable debating about it. Blanket statements equating religion and science as exactly equal in this day and age and asserting science is fantasy that doesn't work is ludicrous in this day and age. Science = how, religion = why. If we keep in mind that they ask different questions, there doesn't need to be a conflict. Even Einstein was religious, even the pope believes in science.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKarl Hungus

@Karl Hungus
"Even Einstein was religious, even the pope believes in science."
So true!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

it was two to one. you're crazy Scott.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjames yeamans


Count me in on the bowling!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBiscus

Love this site; always have.
Also enjoy the entertainment provided by those unable to comprehend basic scientific information yet who have no shame in attempting to poorly-reason their way around it to justify their comfort with their ignorance.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoeSchmoe


"In the Bible, the order is light/dark, land/sea, vegetation, sun/moon/stars, marine creatures and birds, then land animals.
"In short, the similarities are extremely superficial. This is to be expected as both theories teach the origin of life. The actually sequence of events, however, is almost completely different."

I would disagree with the statement that the sequence is completely different. The main difference that you are showing is explicitly resolved if you change your perspective of the sequence of events from solar or universal to the surface of the earth. Early earth had excessive cloud cover and atmospheric particulates. and the surface of the earth would have been completely dark. The "let there be light" command would have been at the time when the cloud cover was thinning enough to allow light to the surface. however there still would have been a constant cloud cover and no "heavenly lights" would have been visable.
you then have tectonic movements that would have thrust the land up through the sea.
Then the vegetation shows up on the dry land. You indicate that this is absurd because the Sun wasn't "created" yet but let me remind you that there was plenty of light at this time it was just always cloudy and the Sun, Moon and stars were not visible.

the following article details the entire creation timeline if you care for more information.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob

"It is basically asking the question "what assurance do we have that our mental processes are actually reliable tools for finding truth?""

The scientific method.

"If so-called "logical thought" is just a evolutionarily conditioned response"

Why would that make logic invariably unreliable? Because it makes good copy?

Skepticism ABOUT YOUR OWN ASSERTIONS is required because logic *can* be unreliable and even nonexistent (you can fool yourself a lot easier than other people). But if you're going to use that nihilistically, then there is no point to your assertions and why bother making them?

We cannot PROVE that the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe, but if we can't take that as an axiom, then there's no conclusion that can be made.


No shoe-ing in God there, because there's no conclusion that can be made.

Which makes the discussion completely null and void.

So it really doesn't work to use this line of argument. It goes nowhere, LITERALLY.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWow

I'd like to call foul on the original comment about scientists having 'faith' in their premises. It's a diversion, possibly deliberate, conflating different meanings, much like discussions of scientific 'theory'. Faith has a loose meaning, epistemologically as 'to accept a belief with great confidence', ( I have faith that sun will rise
) also 'to believe in the capability of someone(s)' ("I have faith in you" ) It can be used to idiomatically to represent a promise or covenant (We're keeping the faith.)

But Faith, in a religious context also means the embrace of unknowable principles. And that's where people who keep faith with science get touchy when dealing with the Faithful. Because science, fundamentally, is a project of dismantling the unknowable, replacing it with the merely unknown, and knowledge. It is a rejection of the acceptance of ignorance. And of course, the religious kind of faith starts with acceptance of ignorance and the choice to accept things on the other side of that ignorance.

Sciency folks have beliefs. They have things that they take for granted. They have assumptions and confusions and mistakes and ignorances. Some may even have profound, religious experiences. But, when they're wearing the Science Hat, they don't accept that they should submit to the mystic power of the Unknowable, and instead directly approach the unknown, eyes open.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMhoram

Well, like I said: trying to form a parallel between evolution and creation doesn't do justice to either. The core problem with the article you linked to is in the first few paragraphs. Instead of reading the Bible and asking what it says, these scholars decided what they wanted it to mean and found ways to make it so.

Let me put it this way: if you wanted to relate the creation account as six literal days, you would be hard-pressed to do it much more clearly than what you find in Genesis. If, on the other hand, you wanted to relate a story in which the sun predated the earth and evolution happened, it would have been pretty easy for God to write the story that way. Given that the ancient Hebrews had no trouble recording periods over 900 years, I think the argument that they just didn't have a good word for a long period of time is pretty fallacious.

Of course, if you don't believe God guided the writing of the Bible, then who cares what it says anyway? And if you do believe God wrote it, then why are you concerned with what a bunch of atheists think about you? They're gonna think you're loony whether you're a "young earth" or "old earth" creationist. Believing in a supernatural being in a country that denies that possibility has that effect.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Philosophers, please leave the explaining of science to scientists.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLlol

Evolution is a demonstrable fact. For example: everyday scientists demonstrate bacteria evolving immunity to antibiotics.

The success of science is its ability to predict results of experiments not yet devised. As such, 'Evolution' and 'Quantum Theory' compete for the title of best theory ever. Both have been spectacularly effective in such predictions.

Also. The fact that most people have difficulty understanding the interaction of the Higgs field with baryons does not mean that 'nobody understands gravity'. Some people do.

We need to develop a proper approach to educatiuon so that there is no bar to showing young people just how weird the universe really is. Then we can work towards a time when most people will understand gravity.

April 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterancient.brit

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