Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ezekiel Bulver Reacts to Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

C.S. Lewis invented "Bulverism" in an attempt to name the current condition of argumentation as he saw it in the last bit of the 20th century. The idea is to discredit your opponent's argument by discrediting the person themself.

Here is Lewis:

"Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is “wishful thinking.” You can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself. When you have checked my figures, then, and then only, will you know whether I have that balance or not. If you find my arithmetic correct, then no amount of vapouring about my psychological condition can be anything but a waste of time. If you find my arithmetic wrong, then it may be relevant to explain psychologically how I came to be so bad at my arithmetic, and the doctrine of the concealed wish will become relevant - but only after you have yourself done the sum and discovered me to be wrong on purely arithmetical grounds. It is the same with all thinking and all systems of thought. If you try to find out which are tainted by speculating about the wishes of the thinkers, you are merely making a fool of yourself. You must find out on purely logical grounds which of them do, in fact, break down as arguments. Afterwards, if you like, go on and discover the psychological causes of the error.

In other words, you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it “Bulverism.” Some day I am going the write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father - who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third - “Oh, you say that because you are a man.” “At that moment,” E. Bulver assures us, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.” That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century."

"Bulverism" from God in the Dock

This is just as prevalent of an argument tactic in the Twenty First Century. For the detractors of Intelligent Design, attempting to explain it away by accussing it's proponents of being Christians, or Jews, or Theists, leaves the argument regarding the merits of ID right where it was, on the side, untouched. Bulverism gets us nowhere, using it as our vehicle of discussion we can gain no ground. Intelligent Design's merits, or lack of merits, can never be discovered by it. The negative reactions I've seen to Expelled, for the most part, are just this sort of argument.

Intelligent Design and the Laws of Nature

"Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died: it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it. Two significant developments have already appeared-the hypothesis of a lawless sub-nature, and the surrender of the claim that science is true. We may be living nearer than we suppose to the end of the Scientific Age....

Theology says to you in effect, 'Admit God and with him the risk of a few miracles, and I in turn will ratify your faith in uniformity as regards the overwhelming majority of events.' The philosophy which forbids you to make uniformity absolute is also the philosophy which offers you solid grounds for believing it to be general, to be almost absolute. The Being who threatens nature's claim to omnipotence confirms her in her lawful occasions. Give us this ha' porth of tar and we will save the ship. The alternative is really much worse. Try to make nature absolute and you find that her uniformity is not even probable . . . You get the deadlock as in Hume. Theology offers you a working arrangement, which leaves the scientist free to continue his experiments and the Christian to continue his prayers."

--C.S. Lewis, Miracles

The philosophy which allows for God's involvement in nature, and therefore that nature is not autonomous, is also the philosophy which allows God to be the provider of her laws, and therefore our trust that she is trustworthy. "The Being who threatens nature's claim to omnipotence confirms her in her lawful occassions." This is very profound insight by Lewis.I can see no ultimate reason why we should consider nature's laws, apart from a Legislator, to be always obeying laws that we can observe. On the hypothesis that she was once a singularity, and now, she isn't anything like that, why should we consider observation over time to be ultimately trusted? If there were conscious beings inside the singularity, operating under the assumption that the conditions they had found themselves in would continue uninterrupted, and of which conclusion would have been based only on the strength of collective observations over time, the explosion would certainly have ruined their trust in the uniformity of nature. In admitting God as her Legislator, we can trust in her laws, and that they actually are "laws" and not a collection of occurences which may be otherwise in time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Biological Imperative

We have now begun to take every human sensibility, and in madness, begun the attempt of retro-fitting it into a biological imperative. For that’s all evolution is at the bottom, the "biological imperative." Kant was wrong, there is no Categorical Imperative. All human notions, even of morality, have now been subordinated to the biological imperative. We see terms like “Reciprocal Altruism” in which we are meant to believe that either altruism is reciprocal, or that biologists don’t understand language. Altruism is, by definition, a selfless act. Reciprocation is, by definition, a self-interested act. Reciprocal Altruism is saying Selfish Selflessness. Here is the definition of Reciprocal Altruism according to the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences: “An apparently altruistic behavior performed with the understanding that the recipient will reciprocate at some future date.” The anthropologists and the biologists will have us believe that altruism doesn’t mean “altruism” in the usual sense that the word has had since its inception in human usage. It now means an act done within the framework of animal behavior and takes on a brand new meaning. This new meaning is no longer altruism, or altruism as it’s always been known and used in the sense of man doing an act in accordance with some moral notion of that which is “right.” It is now an act done for the purpose of helping another animal at a reproductive cost to itself, yet increasing the reproductive chances of another.

If we took the animalistic definition and applied it to humans, altruism would mean something like a man donating sperm or a woman donating an egg, so that the sperm and egg will not produce a child for the donor, but will produce a child for another set of human parents. But also inherent in that act would be the understanding that the recipient of the egg or sperm would reciprocate at some future date, and provide an egg or sperm. Now could you imagine using such a narrow definition applied to humans? We would be relegated to saying that anything is altruistic only when it is in the context of having babies, in a tit-for-tat relationship. There wouldn’t be a term left for anything done in a selfless act outside of procreation. If you held the door open for a stranger or risked your life rescuing someone from a fire, “altruism” wouldn’t apply.
And this raises another question. How would such a practice, that is obviously not in the interest of the individual, “evolve” when the whole impetus for evolution is natural selection for the reproduction of the individual? Didn’t we learn what the selfish gene is? And here we find again the biologist’s answer is that the altruism helps with the “fitness” of the group as a whole, or society. See now how evolution is actually for and not for the individual? See how evolution is either for the fitness of the individual or not for the fitness of the individual? And see how our evolutionary traits evolve for the individual and not for the individual? This is another example of why evolution is not really falsifiable, and therefore not really honestly scientific. It’s a worldview. The whole framework of “natural selection producing small changes amounting to increased fitness”, will be totally reversed when we find evidence that is exactly the opposite. It is the chameleon of all theories; it will change as needed to blend in to its new information. Evolution will evolve and devolve and contort and jettison and flow like water to the point of least resistance, all the while absorbing whatever it comes into contact with. Evolution tries to incorporate them both; both the selfish fitness imperative of natural selection, and the seemingly complete opposite. But they say, altruism is reciprocal, lest we forget, and that it has a selfish motive involved. I have argued with an evolutionist who claimed that animals are capable of traditional altruism, to which, to her surprise, I agreed. If nature fell, as we find in Genesis, it fell from something, from a complete goodness, just like man. We see vestiges of that “now incomplete” goodness in man, why wouldn’t we also see the shadows of that original paradise in nature? I think we do. But I was merely pointing out that altruism, whether we mean it in the animal kingdom or humans, in rocks or aliens, is not and can never be reciprocal, unless we are completely changing the definition of the word to suite our private academic needs. I pointed out that by the definition of reciprocal altruism, we can never reference anything resembling traditional altruism, in the natural world. We cannot forget what reciprocal altruism really means and confuse it with traditional altruism. She and I cannot even agree to what altruism is, so we cannot then exhaust our examples. She cannot take my defintion, for she would be suspending her own, and the very defintions are what is at stake in the argument. To assume my definition of traditional altruism, is to abandon hers. And to argue that traditional altruism "really" exists in nature, actually validates traditional altruism, and negates reciprocal altruism. They cannot have it both ways. There can be no "reciprocal altruism" definition that is actually one of traditional altruism, because, as we have seen, altruism is not done in the interest of selfish reciprocity.
The biologists have done just that, they have made “altruism” into a thing that can now be selfish and self serving. And all the while concealing this fresh new definition from the public, who may become indoctrinated by the term, and start to believe that traditional “altruism” has a biological and evolutionary heritage. And I can’t help but think that the biologists, anticipating this, used this word in particular for this purpose. Altruism has always been a difficulty for the evolutionists within the framework of the impetus of change being "natural selection for fitness of the individual." Now, they have found a solution, kill two birds with one stone; change the meaning of altruism, and yet retain the name, surreptitiously indoctrinating the public, and never actually dealing with the problem of real altruism within the framework of evolution.

Besides, altruism is based on morality, a sense of what we consider to be an action done for that which is actually "right" and "moral." When we recognize any action done in the world that we consider altruistic, we are arguing from an already established point of view, that we use to determine what altruistic behavior is. We do not learn it from nature, but instead we judge nature by it. It is the premise, by which our altruistic interpretations of nature are the conclusion, not vice versa.