Defenders of the Natural Sciences (they might want better friends)

Analyze this argument attacking Intelligent Design and see if you can find anything logical, based on evidence, or any other way indicative of the scientific method and not harking back to mere authority or ad hominems. Let me know if you find anything.

7 Responses

  1. Well, that’s sort of what I said. Your religious freedom is in no way impacted by an inability to force that on others.

  2. If that is all you mean by freedom from religion, I agree with you. I can only say that 1. that isn’t what others I’ve heard use the term have meant, and 2. it’s a pretty slippery use of the phrase.

    I would argue that what you are describing isn’t freedom from religion, it is freedom from religious coercion, with which, being a Christian, I concur.

    To be free “from” religion would require that those who practice religion would have to be restricted in their religious expressions.

    To illustrate, most people who speak of freedom from religion are fine with me having freedom of religion as long as it is kept in the private realm. But that makes the freedom meaningless. How do I have freedom of religion if I can only practice it when and how you (or whoever is in power) approve of it? How am I free to practice my religion if I cannot vote my conscience?

    Therefore, when I hear “freedom from religion,” I do hear Stalin, Mao, etc. You can’t be free from something (say, poverty, oppresion, racism, taxation without representation) if you don’t restrict that thing.

    You, on the other hand, might well fear the religious coercion of the high days of the inquisition. I can understand that. But when a freedom starts to eat itself it isn’t itself anymore. Freedom of religion sets its own limits by virtue of its definition. The solution to religious oppression is not to oppress religious expression.

    What’s evident is that we represent two different fears. I fear the loss of religious freedom, and believe it has been eroded systematically over the last century under the guise of separation of church and state. I think you fear that religious folks will impose their beliefs on you.

    Ironically, the solution to both anxieties is the same: freedom of religious expression and honest negotiation about the particulars.

    That’s why I’m worried about it.

  3. you can have freedom from religion only by destroying or severely limiting it (think Stalin, Mao, etc.)

    I call Modified Godwin’s Law!

    Freedom of religion necessarily requires freedom from it – you cannot have true freedom of religion unless you are free from all attempts to be coerced into any one in particular.

  4. Come on! Freedom from religion means just that – freedom not to have religion imposed on one. It’s a basic human right, and recognised as such internationally. It doesn’t take away the rights of religious believers to practice their own religion, just their right to impose on others.
    Raising Stalin, Mao, etc., is a dishonest diversion.

  5. Mike,

    Good distinction. I’ll put it this way, the direct attack is on these proponents of ID. Implied throughout the article is the stupidity of ID “A slick update of creationism” etc. etc.

    So my challenge wasn’t really fair because she wasn’t trying to expose ID. The whole intelligent world already knows their intelligence arose from something other than intelligence.

    Ken, you iterate Mike’s good point from another angle. You are right about the text of the article.

    I think I was reacting to the subtext of the article, as described in my response to Mike.

    As for the question of human rights: if that is what it was about, and I can see how it seems to be framed in that context, then she has a very confused view of them. I agree, by the way, that, assuming the accuracy and completeness of the information, the firing was unjust.

    But the last sentence seems to reflect some very careless thinking about rights. If one group has freedom from religion, then the other group cannot possibly have freedom of religion, not in the sense our constitution includes it anyway. You can’t continually chip away at the religious rights of one group in order to defend the right of the other group not to have to tolerate religion and then declare that both have their rights.

    Our constitution comes down decisively on the side of those who seek the free expression of their religion. It has nothing whatsoever to say on behalf those who wish to be free from religion.

    Each position excludes the other, with this fine disctinction: you can have freedom from religion only by destroying or severely limiting it (think Stalin, Mao, etc.). You can have freedom of religion only by practicing it.

  6. You have this wrong. The article is actually about the forced resignation of the director of science curriculum for the Texas Education Agency because she passed on an email advertising a lecture on evolution.

    Sure, the presumably ID supporters who employed her look bad, but the article is surely about human rights, not about scientific method.

  7. Unless the argument is its proponents, the article isn’t attacking ID. It is attacking the ID movement, which is a whole different thing.

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