‘Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon.’ Fodor, J. ‘Why Pigs don’t have wings,’ London Review of Books, 18th Oct 2007

Friday, 30 April 2010

Judge's assault on 'irrational' religious freedom

With all the election hype this news story about religious freedom may have been missed. The basis for English Law seems to have changed from one based on God's authority, to one based on subjective human sentiments. Legal rights are given to those who can gather the most sympathy. It is a utilitarian corruption of the concept of rights and duties and is a pathway to legal tyranny. So a Christian can lose his job with all the stress and real hardship to family, in order to save another person's feelings being hurt.

Telegrqaph - Gary McFarlane: judge's assault on 'irrational' religious freedom claims in sex therapist case

The problem is also one of relativism in ethics. Popper in The Open Society and its Enemies was concerned about dialectical reasoning because concepts can change through the dialogue. If ethics are relative, then there is nothing to stop tyranny from arising. And this is the problem with secularists, they do not really want pluralism in terms of respecting people's rights in a free society, but want to undermine Christian faith and tear up the Judeo-Christian foundations of our society. Far from leading to respect and understanding in a free society, the secularists are leading us to a closed society based on relative ethics where those in power decide who has rights and who does not. That is a dangerous road to take.

As Christians we should also uphold the rights of those who are not Christian allowing freedom of belief, but recognising that Judeo-Christian values provide the best basis for a loving and just society. I don't think anyone seriously is arguing for a strong theocratic Christian state in Britain where other's rights are denied - but that is the spectre that the judge raised.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Telegraph is reporting the death of Anthony Flew

The Daily Telegraph is reporting the death at the age of 87 of Anthony Flew who was a life long atheist, but converted to a vague theism near the end of his life. You can read the obituary here
Daily Telegraph 13/04/2010 - Professor Antony Flew, the rationalist philosopher who died on April 8 aged 87, spent much of his life denying the existence of God until, in 2004, he dramatically changed his mind.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Is Dawkins going to arrest the Pope?

No its not April 1st.

The Sunday Telegraph reports this; Richard Dawkins planning to have Pope Benedict arrested over 'crimes against humanity'

I'm not going to get into the rights and wrong of recent events surrounding the Roman Catholic Church, but it seems to me that a bit of persecution from bullying, militant atheists is exactly what the Vatican needs to help restore its image and authority.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Christian Values and Intelligent Life at the BBC

There were two significant programmes on BBC television on Easter Sunday night (4th April) that highlighted one of the major challenges we face as Christians in education

Nicky Campbell investigates whether Christians are being discriminated against Nicky Campbell, Are Christians being persecuted? BBC1, Sunday 04 April, 10.50 - 11.50 pm

In a BBC 2 Documentary Prof. Brian Cox explored how the search for aliens has followed the search for water. Last in the series (5/5) Prof Brian Cox, Wonders of the Solar System 5 Aliens, BBC2, Sunday 04 April, 9-10 pm.

In a two minute segment (05-22 to 07-24 minutes into the BBC1 programme on iplayer) Nicky Campbell looked at what is happening in schools. He mentioned a recent report that looked into the teaching of RE in schools (can anyone identify this report?) The report found that most Christian student teachers thought that sharing their beliefs in the classroom could be unprofessional. But it was a different story for agnostics and atheists – they believed that sharing their lack of beliefs or questions could be a positive contribution. Nicky then went and talked to education students at Canterbury Christ Church University (a Christian foundation!) and found this to be exactly true.

This highlights the most important thing that my colleague Mark Roques and I (www.realitybites.org.uk) always want to get across. There is no neutral position – everyone is thinking, speaking and acting out of a worldview position, even if (as in our world of a fundamentally uneducated populace, i.e. worldview ignorant) that worldview is eclectic, self-contradictory and unrecognised. The trouble with agnosticism, atheism and secularism is that they are essentially negative positions, whereas their proponents will actually all have positive beliefs that (aware or unaware) they are living out. They may deny (agnostically) that they have any worldview, but actually they cannot avoid living as if a particular worldview is true. Our worldview is what we live, not what we profess (these are often very different – another reflection of the lack of worldview education – of the ignorance of the relationship between beliefs and life) So the key question is: what is their worldview (their faith, their divinity belief à la Roy Clouser’s The Myth of Religious Neutrality)? Then let’s have that worldview on the table and open to the same searching critique that Christians are expected to face.

Secularists treat their position as a default starting point that doesn’t need to be scrutinised. We have seen this in almost all of the recent Darwin Year programmes. A Richard Dawkins or Colin Blakemore is given free reign to (negatively) critique religious beliefs, but their own materialism is not exposed to similar critique. Implicitly, the different varieties of secularism are positions of science and reason that don’t need to be critiqued.

Brian Cox’s BBC2 programme illustrated this. There was nothing new in his programme, but it was interesting to see key assumptions laid out unapologetically, but without any rational (never mind empirical) justification being offered.

In the first place he assumed that physicalism is true – that in the end there is only physics, that the universal laws of physics create everything.

He also assumed that life is just chemistry (we are 96% just four elements: C,H,O, and N, he noted). All we need for life to be possible is chemicals, an energy source (such as the sun) and a medium (water). However he did concede that, even on this view, the creation of life on Earth was probably due to “the rarest combination of chance and the laws of physics”.

Thirdly he assumed that because life can exist in the most extreme (‘alien’) environments on Earth, therefore life may exist in extreme environments elsewhere in the Solar system (such as in a possible ocean beneath the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa). This is a proposition that requires a lot more justification: that organisms now live in such environments does not demonstrate that they could arise in such environments (granting, for the sake of the argument, that life can ‘emerge’ from purely chemical systems).

At no point (like Dawkins, Blakemore et al.) did he consider the materialism-busting problems of free will (agency), consciousness, intelligence (etc.). If we are just chemical machines, wholly governed by some combination of chance and the universal laws of physics, then from where do we get human free will (to follow the evidence, to follow an argument …), reason, science, morality ….? What, then, do we teach the children in school? At present it is actually still Christian assumptions that govern much of the teaching in citizenship, PSHE etc. We can’t allow that dishonesty and deception to continue can we? Are we ready for a truly Godless world?
Arthur Jones

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Telegraph blogger finds Lovelock worrying and confusing

'Only global fascist tyranny can save us now' says nice old man

Although Lovelock says some good things about science and climate change all is not so well under the surface. According to Delingpole he writes in The Vanishing Face of Gaia;

"We need a more authoritative world. We’ve become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say. It’s all very well, but there are certain circumstances – a war is a typical example – where you can’t do that. You’ve got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it. And they should be very accountable too, of course.

But it can’t happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one. But even the best democracies agree that hen a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

Perhaps under the hood of every nice liberal tree hugger is really just a lust for power and control, all in the name of the pagan idea of 'mother earth.'