Monthly Archives: November 2011

And Now the Double Standard

Tuesday, I posted that truth is not relative.  Truth is truth, and if it’s the truth, it isn’t going to go back and reverse itself, as science so often does.

I spotlighted 5 things I was taught in elementary school science class as irrefutable fact, all of which are now considered false.  At the end of the post, I stated that I already knew the reply to this and I agreed with it.  I posted the reply on Wednesday.

Science is great at discerning cause-and-effect, but I’m not so sure that I’d classify the findings as “irrefutable truth.”  Our knowledge base is growing rapidly, and so we will find out that we occasionally missed the mark with previously held scientific theories.

Considering the vastness of the universe, the average scientist is likely formulating theories with 10% of the necessary data.  We expect to revise theories as more data become available.  With that in mind, those five points I made become simplistic and silly.

Now then, why does that create a double standard for theists?

Because our critics expect us to be right from the outset and never change.  However, when I criticize science for reversing itself, I’m rightly called ignorant.  I’m making an overly simplistic statement that totally misses the mark.

By the same token, as more information becomes available, people revise their opinions and theologies.

For example, despite Matthew Bellasario’s bellowing, the early church did not accord Mary the special place that Catholic theology does.  They brought Mary into their liturgies because they felt that she deserved a place on account of her role in Jesus’ life, which eventually evolved to a Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces role.  Catholics pay her hyper-dulia, a high accord indeed (higher than the saints, but lower than God).

One can even see evolving theology in the New Testament.  The letter to the Hebrews was likely the latest document prepared, and it is rich in theology.  The Gospel of John was the last of the Gospels and (again) it is rich in theology not present in the earlier Gospels.  We can deduce John’s theology from the earlier Gospels and Paul’s letters, but it isn’t codified in either.

The Trinity was codified in the Athanasian Creed, the third of the three ecumenical creeds generally agreed upon by all Christians.  We see an evolution in the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and finally the Athanasian Creed — each becomes more intricate as we gain greater insight and understanding.

Why, according to the critic, must all Christian belief be found all at once and never change; a progressive evolution indicates falsehood?  I don’t discount science as false merely because scientists revise their findings later.  Therefore, theology shouldn’t be discounted as false merely because we have revised it as time went on.  All of the revisions were made for good reasons, like the revisions to various scientific theories.

One thing hasn’t changed: Salvation by the grace of God, effected by our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant: we all unite under that banner.

And now you may comment on the entire series.

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Why Yesterday’s Post Was (Only Partly) WRONG

I meant to post this a couple of hours ago, but life sometimes gets in the way.  I had a lot of work to do around the house.

Yesterday, I posted that truth is not relative.  Truth is truth, and if it’s the truth, it isn’t going to go back and reverse itself, as science so often does.

I spotlighted 5 things I was taught in elementary school science class as irrefutable fact, all of which are now considered false.  So much for irrefutable scientific fact, right?

At the end of the post, I stated that I already knew the reply to this and I agreed with it.  So let’s discuss that reply.

Science is great at discerning cause-and-effect, but I’m not so sure that I’d classify the findings as “irrefutable truth.”  Ever.  Which means that we are going to expect to find things we previously established through the scientific method to be false, because we might not have the entire picture.

It means our knowledge base is growing — more rapidly now than ever before — and so we will find out that we occasionally missed the mark with previously held scientific theories.

When a new CEO walks into a company, he can’t find everything out about everything in the company before he starts making decisions and changing the company around.  At best, he will make decisions with 70% of the data he needs.

Considering the vastness of the universe, the average scientist is likely formulating theories with 10% of the necessary data.

So that science is wrong isn’t a problem.  We expect to revise theories as more data become available.

With that in mind, those specific points I made become simplistic and silly.

Nothing ever suggested that the speed of light was the maximum attainable speed.  It looked that way for a long time.  Though we were confident in that conclusion, the universe is still quite mysterious to us and therefore finding something that moves faster than light should be exciting rather than garnering an “I told you so.”

If it’s possible to break the light barrier, then interstellar travel becomes a distinct possibility, and that would be cool.

The senses by which we perceive the world are varied, and scientists don’t officially agree on how many we have.  The do agree on the core five of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.  So it’s too simple to just say, “I learned about five senses, now there’s more?  Scientists are wrong!”  It’s more along the lines of discovering new ways we perceive the world.  Again, excitement and wonder should be the response, not “I told you so.”

Similarly, “planet” is a category that was never defined.  Now it is.  Pluto is no longer a planet and four asteroids are no longer asteroids because of semantics.  Changing these definitions was necessary because the solar system is far more complex than we thought it was.  After all, it’s weird to have moons larger than Mercury and asteroids roughly comparable to Pluto.  Even Pluto’s own moon is roughly the same size as its parent.

Revised definitions help keep things more consistent.

The brain is more complex than a Cray supercomputer and is far more compact.  It’s faster with its computations and it controls the body so seamlessly we barely know it’s there.

So it was overly simplistic of the scientists to ever postulate that the left hemisphere is cold logic and the right hemisphere is creativity.

Finally, I have no idea where that taste bud diagram ever came from.  I knew that was false the first time I saw it, because I tried liking an ice cream cone with different parts of the tongue.  I tasted it just fine.  For some reason, my teachers all tried to defend the diagram, but I think privately every student in that room knew better.

Revising conclusions in the face of new data is a staple of science, and I agree it is a valid reply to my over-simplified statements yesterday.  However, this is a serious double standard toward theism, and tomorrow I will explain why.  Then, you will be able to comment!

On Science and Being Called Ignorant

For the record, I love science and I excelled in it at school.  I took some of the advanced classes — microbiology and anatomy & phisiology.  I couldn’t get into the marine biology or genetics optional courses that only the top 1% of science whizzes get into, unfortunately.  In other words, I’m not ignorant of science so please stop saying I am.

— Cory Tucholski

Two Simple Requests to All My Readers

Dear Readers,

I value everyone’s input and I really do read and consider your comments, even if I don’t always respond to them (or respond quickly).

At the end of yesterday’s post on truths that I learned as irrefutable in elementary school that have all been overturned by science, I explained that I knew there was valid reply to my points.  I purposely made them simplistic because I have a grander design that will play out today and tomorrow.

I know that when I touch a nerve,  I will get very angry replies.  I further know that suggesting science isn’t a 100% effective method for discerning truth to atheists is like yelling “Allah’s mother wears army boots!” in the middle of a crowded square in Afghanistan.  In fact, the stoning I’d get for that is probably a quicker and less painful death than the slow torture of 1000 atheists calling me ignorant and stupid in creative, pseudo-intellectual prose.  For this reason, I disabled the comments on yesterday’s post.

I already know exactly what I’ll read.  And in a mere couple of hours, atheists will read exactly what they automatically thought as they read the post.

Despite requesting people to hold all comments, even e-mails, until the end of the series, I received this e-mail from Mark Preston:

I notice that the concept of comments seems to have slipped you by since people are not actually able to make them. Given your appalling nonsense about science in the post today I am not surprised.

Obviously, he didn’t read to the end.  The first simple request, dear readers, is that you read to the end of my post before you leave a comment.  I don’t always go the direction you think I’m going to go, and I hope that my atheist readers find a pleasant surprise in this series, and a greater challenge than answering my purposely ignorant and simplistic riposte toward their messiah — I mean, science.

Exactly as I predicted, Preston suggests I’m ignorant in so many words, and is quite condescending.

You know what I noticed, though?

I’m ignorant, but he’s not attempting to correct me or explain why my points are simplistic.  Just arrogance and biting condescension.

I’m more open minded than the most open minded atheist.  Trust me.  If I’m wrong, show it to me.  Educate me.  Teach me.  I might not agree right away, I might discuss it further or offer contrary opinions — mine or other scientists.  But don’t give up.  I want to know I’m wrong if I am, but I still fall into the typical human mind trap of not letting go right away.

It’s not close-mindedness.  Its basic psychology.

So my second simple request: Please educate me, and don’t talk down to me about it.  I want to learn.

I try to educate the atheist as to why I think he’s wrong, and why his theology is totally whack.  Do me the same courtesy.

Sincerely,

Cory Tucholski

5 Truths I Learned in Science Class that are Now WRONG

Truth corresponds to reality.  This means that truth doesn’t change.  If it was true in 4000 b.c., it is still true now.

Atheists frequently insist that only science can discover the truth.

If truth is truth, then that means if a truth is uncovered by science, then it’s always true, right?

Nope.

Allow me to present 5 truths taught to me in grade school science class that have been proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry

Freedom of Speech

As far back as high school, I often lamented that some folks read the First Amendment to say “Freedom of speech until you offend me, then I’ll sue your sorry butt.”

I wasn’t concerned with a Christian audience that might abhor profanity, so when I said it back in high school and college, I didn’t use the term “butt.”

The point still stands, and I see it more clearly than I ever did at 17.  There is a tide of public opinion now that values tolerance and diversity, except for some people.  “Tolerance” isn’t selective by nature, but secularists tolerate views selectively.

Recently, a Christian in the UK was demoted for expressing his opinion that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry.  He did so on his own time, and on his personal Facebook page which is only open to his friends.

Now, legally speaking, regardless of privacy settings, there is no expectation of privacy on Facebook or Twitter.  I know this and I’m not going to argue otherwise.  But the comment on this story from Natalie sums up exactly what is wrong with the secular viewpoint:

No one limits the rights for private worship, promotion of christian beliefs in the private sphere. However, internet, blogs, facebook and twitter are all public domains. As a public servant, a representative of an actively secular institution- secular by the law of the land, no one should not publicly publish promotion of religious opinions and values in the public arena. No one ought to utilise public assets or services to promote religious views. This is a great aspect of freedom in western democracies and ought to be defended down to the smallest detail. The public servants were correct to chastise Christians for promoting their faith using public assets and in public spaces.

So, basically, once you can read it, it shouldn’t be allowed.  Like I’ve always said, “You have freedom of speech until it offends me.”

While I agree that the Internet and everything on it is public, this man is still entitled to his opinion and should be able to express it in a public forum, as Natalie may express hers.  Regardless of agreement.

I will argue with atheists.  I will challenge their points, views, biblical exegesis, and conclusions.  But I will never say that they don’t have the right to express their views in a public forum.  That’s precisely why the forum is public — so that differing opinions may be hashed out, challenged, and thought through.  Public means open to all.

Not being allowed to express religious opinions isn’t “freedom of speech” by any definition I can find.  It’s totalitarian oppression.  I know that my religious opinion has no value in secular mindsets.  But, I ignore opinions of no value.  Secularists don’t return the favor — they try to suppress my opinion.  Why?  That doesn’t make any sense.

Natalie’s promoting the evil she allegedly repudiates, though I doubt she sees it that way.  That’s actually the saddest part to all of this.  Christians have as much right to the Internet as atheists.  We just haven’t been as smart about using it.