Okay, so what do you want to say, Christian right? That obeying God will bring you prosperity and denying God will bring you suffering? So then you are saying that might makes right? One should obey whoever is the most powerful because that person is the most powerful? But even if your beliefs about God were true, which there is no evidence for, this does not provide an objective ground for ethics. We are the ones that say we want prosperity and do not want suffering. It is still predicated upon the subject positing values—not any sort of objective standard. That this subjective standard may be universally endorsed only provides an inter-subjective ground for ethics, not an objective one. Were there a being that wanted hell for itself, you would have no basis for criticizing its decision. But in that we want prosperity and not suffering, we have an inter-subjective ground for ethics without God, so God adds nothing to the equation.
1 “Why is it raining?”
“Because God wants it to be raining.”
“Why is that person sick?”
“Because God wants that person to be sick.”
“Why is that person in charge?”
“Because God wants that person to be in charge.”
2 My only problem with the institution of science is that it is too religious and not scientific enough. Look how they brutalized Rupert Sheldrake for having the audacity to dare and question their materialist assumptions about the world—and to do so experimentally as well as theoretically. For the more visually inclined, watch the fourth session of the “Beyond Belief” conference, in which the audience of scientists seem almost personally offended that Stuart Hameroff would dare to theorize that consciousness might be something more than simply an epiphenomenon. How far have we really come since Galileo? But I'm not asking you to be uncritical, rather extra critical. The question should always be about what the evidence actually shows, but the institution of science, too, has its prejudices. Certain hypotheses are not taken seriously because they fly in the face of certain entrenched worldviews. These hypotheses don't have to concern any sort of extra-physical reality (Joan Roughgarden argues in the third session of “Beyond Belief” that male chauvinism and loyalty to traditional Darwinian theory have prejudiced the institution of science against different hypotheses concerning the nature of sexual selection) though they may (a la theories such as those presented by Rupert Sheldrake or Stuart Hameroff). I'm not here arguing that the theories of Sheldrake or Hameroff (or Roughgarden, for that matter) are necessarily correct, but I do think they are good examples of scientists employing the scientific method who are treated poorly by the scientific community simply for presenting theories which are controversial. So, in order for science to work effectively, we all have to think critically about the data and question our own and one another's assumptions. This doesn't mean that there are good reasons to hold beliefs in favor of things like Intelligent Design or against things like global warming. I'm certainly not suggesting that the dogmas present in the institution of science should lead to considering institutions with an even greater degree of dogmatism (conservative Christianity) or deeper degree of vested interest (the oil companies) somehow on equal ground with the scientific community in terms of their epistemic claims. I doubt that anyone who thinks the performance piece of ID is a reasonable alternative to the scientific theory of evolution has thought very critically about the matter at all. Similarly, I think anyone that thinks global warming is a hoax has probably been getting their information either from people not really interested in the truth of the matter, anecdotal evidence, or nowhere at all.
Some of this is taken from my discussion with Brett Paatsch:
3 Is this, too, a metaphor that appeals to human sensibilities? Yes, I think so. But it is certainly much less so than “Intelligent Design.”
4 Jhuger has a great parable about this called “The Watchmaker” which I think puts things in perspective:
5 You really should hear him tell it. The presentation he gave at the second session of the “Beyond Belief” conference was excellent and enlightening. I highly recommend it.