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I'll post some day

The number of LJ entries I've been wanting to post has crept up to about 5 or 6. I've been too good at keeping my nose to the grindstone to take time outs for these postings. Maybe tomorrow I'll begin with an observation on how some academics are no different from mindless, scripture-spouting fundamentalists.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2005 02:55 am (UTC)
It's odd that you say that. I'm about halfway through Michael Shermer's book The Science of Good and Evil and it finally hit me: This guy sounds just like a preacher, only he preaches in the name of the Holy Trinity of Scientism, Skepticism, and Secular Humanism. The whole book is turning into little more than citing studies which happen to support whatever Michael Shermer thinks is moral or immoral.
May. 11th, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC)
What do you expect from Shermer? After all, he used to be a fundamentalist Christian. He's one of those guys who have simply switched teams. Ted Schultz is another. Don't get me wrong; I am happy that these guys switched, because now they are on the right team. And I like scientists to be enthusiastic about the truth. It's just that there is a fuzzy line between enthusiasm and religious-style fervor.

I browsed The Science of Good and Evil on amazon.com before ordering it. I was struck on the very first page by a very dangerous question: "If we are nothing more than the product of sightless natural forces operating within a merciless uncaring cosmos, from whence can we find absolute ethical standards or ultimate moral meaning?" If he spends the entire book trying to answer this question, I may be sorry that I ordered it. I do not see "finding absolute ethical standards" as the job of a scientist. Science is about describing, not prescribing. Furthermore, you know that I think that any quest for ultimate, absolute moral standards is doomed, because there are none.

Which is not to say that lack of moral absolutes will lead to behavior often described as "immoral." But that is a topic for another post--what motivates atheists to behave "morally."

Despite my lack of belief in absolute moral standards, I am fascinated by attempts of godless people to find them and their motivation for such a quest. Shermer provides the lamest excuse for his search: In order to get people to accept the theory of evolution. A much more powerful approach to getting people to accept evolutionary theory is to show how much the theory explains, relative to alternatives, and to show how the theory suggests practical solutions to social problems. We don't need any stinking absolute morality to solve problems, so why waste time chasing that chimera?

Sam Harris (author of The End of Faith) is another atheist who believes there is such a thing as absolute ethical truth. I loved his book, but I think his propositions about ethical truths are false.

But all this is material for those forthcoming posts. I'll get into this stuff later.
May. 11th, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, Shermer supports provisional ethics and morality, not absolutes.
May. 11th, 2005 03:16 am (UTC)
I'll post someday...
I was starting to worry but now I am glad to see that you are still alive!
May. 11th, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC)
Re: I'll post someday...
Yep, and hopefully there will be more evidence of this soon.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )