Saturday, September 24, 2005

Pressing the Antithesis' Goose (Part 2)...

(Continued from part one)

Now, onto addressing Paul more directly…

Paul Manata must not (can’t possibly) comprehend the difference between religion and philosophy, as he proclaims evolution to be both simultaneously, at different times:

“My point was that evolutionism is a philosophy, not a scientific theory”


“Evolutionism is a religion”

Now he has introduced two separate and different postulations, to which the burden of proof is on him, the presenter. He goes on to attack Aaron, crack jokes, and relish in his own deluded sense of superiority, but does he present any evidence verifying his position?

Well, he provides a string of quotes dated near thirty years ago (’74, ’67, ’67, ’63, ’76). I feel I must inform Paul that many scientific advances have been made since the mid ‘70s, providing us with a much more precise grasp on the subject matter at hand, and more firmly asserting, not refuting, the evolutionary theory.

I insist it is paramount to note that there is indeed a philosophy of evolution. But Paul is, most assuredly, referring to evolution in terms of biology, which is undisputedly a science. I will expound on this shortly.

The terms “evolve”, “evolution”, and “evolutionism” have been in use since before what we currently refer to as the Theory of Evolution came into existence, and have held more than one connotation.

We should note that what we currently accept as the Theory of Evolution is not a carbon copy of what Darwin was proposing in Origin of Species. This reflects the intrinsic nature of a theory.

Paul is both alleging that modern evolutionists purport that the very idea of evolution was unheard of before Darwin, and perpetuating the misconception that evolutionary biology remains exactly as it was when presented by Darwin. Both are drastically unfounded and completely out of line.

He continues to present brilliant deductions like:

“Doesn't the idea that all the flora, fauna, fish and fowl came from one (or just a few) basic stuff sound familiar? Of course it does, it's evolutionism.”

“Note: does the view that says, "From one basic type of thing many types of things came" sound familiar? Sound like evolutionism?”

“The view that from one basic "stuff" came the diversity of "stuff" (common ancestry to the diversity called life) is evolutionism. Evolutionism is a philosophical theory, not a scientific one.”

His argument is based solely on parallels. It is nothing more than a similarity. He presents basic ideas of thought held in days of yore that resemble the premise of a modern scientific theory. Paul surely isn’t – can’t possibly be - suggesting that these Greek philosophers expressed an identical theory. Most notably, the mechanics are quite different. If this isn’t what he’s suggesting, then well, what the hell is his point?

His argument that evolution is not scientific theory, based simply on observations that comparable ideas have existed over time, though with varying application, is not only blatantly fallacious and invalid, it is analogous to me saying that Islam is Christianity because they both mention Abraham, Israel, Moses, Jesus, etc..

The existence of ideas in antiquity that bear a resemblance to the popular conception of the basis of the present Theory of Evolution does not at all imply that the theory we refer to in modern biological evolution derives directly from them, much less that they are one in the same.

Virgin-born sacrificial redeemer figures are commonplace in the lore of ancient people. Does this mean those legends were Jesus? There are examples of ideology remarkably similar to Christian theology in more ancient belief systems, but that does not at all imply that those religions were, in fact, Christianity. I’ll take this a step further and propose that the faith system that evolved into modern Christianity (no pun intended) was not practiced by its original adherents in the same form as it is by the masses today. The accepted scripture, particular dogma (i.e. the trinity), and even essential beliefs (i.e. Jesus’ incarnation as a man) have not remained constant (thus schisms). Surely, Paul’s massive library, with its volumes on philosophy, evolution, and apologetics also includes works of theology. His fervor for attaining knowledge of the history of evolution (something I’ll assume he doesn’t subscribe to) must also manifest applied to the history of his religion (something I’ll assume carries critical consequence to him).

He quotes Michael Ruse as saying "Darwinian evolutionary biology continues to function as a kind of secular religion” [emphasis mine].

Through his choice of language (emphasized), we can deduce here that Ruse is quite clearly equating evolution(ary biology) to, but not defining it as religion. There is a difference.

Likewise, the quotes of Richard C. Vitzthum, Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, and UC Berkley prove absolutely nothing in his favor, as they just rehash his coincidence of similarity argument, and provide no pronouncement whatsoever that evolutionism is in fact not a scientific theory.

For instance, he states that “Sagan provided back-up, proving that these ideas of process and becoming have been around for thousands of years” and asserts that this supposed backup and proof relates to Paul’s assumption that “evolutionism is a philosophy, not a scientific theory.” How's that? If this is true, I certainly wouldn’t want Carl to have my back.

Again, what exactly is Paul’s point? Oh, it must be that Aaron is an immature, effeminate, neurotic, imbecile, because he takes plenty of cheap shots, such as implying Aaron wears panties, takes meds (presumably psychotropic or antipsychotic), and mindlessly plays Gameboy “rather than” engaging in true scholarly pursuits (it's Paul that certainly knows quite a bit about Zelda). His personal attacks on Kinney are truly not suprising at all. In the spirit of fairness, I must acknowledge that Aaron and his evil "ilk" [read: coven of atheist minions] are also guilty of ridiculing Paul, and not just his position (one of a “rear naked choke hold” – dammit, now I’ve been reduced to such juvenile tactics).

There is, though, a difference between insults and outright lies. Paul makes the following accusation:

“Kinney once ‘refuted’ Nelson Goodman's article ‘The New Riddle of Induction’ admitting that he never actually read the article!”

Utilizing an admittedly quick and simple search, I only found one instance that would fit what he’s described.

In this post and the subsequent comments, Aaron never claims to have “refuted” Goodman – he challenges Goodman with an “assertion that the PoI relies on a violation of causality.” Aaron also doesn’t “admit” to never reading the article (an anonymous commenter – hmm, wonder who? – asks "who has read Goodmans paper?”, to which Kinney replies, “I dont know. Maybe anonymous did?”

Misquotes are an underhanded tactic and sure sign of foul play. They’re also closely related to a device that is extremely pertinent to this specific discourse.

Aaron does accuse Paul of quote mining (a concept Paul is obviously ignorant of), and as the accuser, the burden of proof rests on Aaron. Of course, to do this, Aaron would have to read each work Paul quoted from, which would certainly take more time than Paul allowed before declaring Aaron defeated.

But what's this? It appears that the time required is not near as lengthy as one may have initially supposed, as I have uncovered evidence supporting the claim of quote mining.

Paul’s quote from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a fine example. Interesting that he chose the very first paragraph of the article, because, if one reads further, it is declared that:

"Darwin's epoch-making doctrine rested upon a vast mass of ascertained facts” [emphasis mine]

This is pivotal. Remember here, the inclusion of fact is what separates philosophy from science. It’s all mere speculation until evidence arrives to test it against. There is a procedure to this testing, and it is called the scientific method.

Interestingly, the very same article proclaims:

"The idea of evolution was not particularly dominant in patristic and scholastic theology and philosophy…on account of the generally accepted Christian theory of creation. However, evolution is not generally denied” [emphasis mine]

Evolution is then demonstrated as included in the beliefs of the likes of: early Christian church father (and saint) Augustine, theologian Erigena, prelate Nicholas of Cusa, and Giordano Bruno, who, although burned at the stake for heresy by the Inquisition, was still a theist. (For those who aren’t aware, “St. Augustine's influence on Christianity is thought by many to be second only to that of St. Paul”, and he is a crucial figure in the institution of ideas such as the Trinity, original sin and the fall of humanity as dogma for the Christian church.)

Now, I can't imagine why he left that part out.

In fact, soon after the segment Paul quoted, the article places this ancient evolutionary philosophy in the teleology vs. mechanism debate, which also shows that creationism and ID have earlier precursors than their modern manifestations. Does this somehow refute a theist’s view of creation as put forth in the Bible? Of course not.

Paul continues to load his “arguments” full of personal attacks, attempting to appeal to his base, as he really has nothing else to stand on.

He quotes Aaron as saying,“some kind of popularity or authority argument” and then offers the huffy reply that “Numbers may determine popularity but not authority arguments. So, get your ‘games’ right.” Did Paul not notice the inclusion of “or”, a comparative conjunction which is, by definition, “used to indicate an alternative”?

Paul also typically attempts to belittle his opponent’s intellect by pointing out typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors.

"Kinney: Wow, manata [sic] really has been pushing his 'dont[sic] play with adults' article all over the place. I must say, its an excellent study in quote mining."

(He forgot the [sic] after “its”.)

As a Christian, I would really have expected Paul to be more familiar with Matthew 7:1-5. Paul has many planks in his eye:

“Kiney [sic] is not a human.”

“leaving Kinney all ugly and disfugured [sic]”

“Kinney his inserted foot in mouth” (dyslexics of the world UNTIE!).

“What he doesn't know is that the sword he waves is paeper [sic]”

Paul also resorts to semantics (imagine that), and berates Aaron for wishy-washiness with the absolutism of the word “all”. I find this particularly humorous, as he’s already demonstrated his mastery over the precise meaning of language. I’m sure Paul has been guilty of absolutism with words. He’s definitely good at being bad with usage.

For instance, “myriad amounts of quotes” is both redundant and hyperbole.

Speaking of redundancy, there is no further need to continue. The basic point here is that Paul made a statement (evolutionism is not a scientific theory, but a religion/philosophy) which Aaron challenged, and Paul presented no evidence to support his claims. A philosophy predating a theory based on empirical, objective evidence used to investigate the thoughts brought to light by that philosophy, does not invalidate the theory, much less its nature of being a theory.


Aaron Kinney said...

Wow, Dub! I come back on Monday to find this two part analysis of my little Manata disagreement. Well done, and thanks!

Of course, you should expect Manata to insult you in all kinds of crazy ways now. It's the only thing he can use, since all the facts are on your side ;)

DUB said...

He's already started in the comments section over at Goosing the Antithesis.

He's named me "dumb".

Get it?

Dumb. Like DUB, but with an M. HA!

Get it?

Damn he's so clever and witty. Never heard that one before.