JFK and Apologetics

Recently limejelly asked the very honest and profound question:

I know you believe there’s more to it than that. Why don’t I?

Today I stumbled across an interesting article with the intriguing title “The JFK Assassination and Apologetics,” which suggests the answer is worldview. Arguing facts will get us nowhere; going deeper to uncover and argue the presuppositions that form each of our worldviews (the medium through which facts take on meaning) is the only way. So we’re on the right track!

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29 Responses

  1. I think an important part of my angle is that you’ve got your religion tied down and mapped out as one explanation without room for manoeuvre. There sre infinitely many alternatives, so if you’re remotely scientific, you have to persue those alternatives as potential better explanations. You’ve decided to take your picture as the right one, and that seems wrong to me. OK, I have a picture which I think is right – physics and evolution leading to complexity. Religion is an explanation, but I think complexity is more powerful and complete in some sense that I am duty bound to justify. The framework I currently accept as the best option isn’t completely populated. There are holes in physics and evolution. Oh, and I believe that when I die, I will simply be no more from my own perspective, and that perspective disappears.

  2. I never write polite preambles, do I? Nice post, Rube.

  3. And I think that if you are remotely scientific, you will come up with a better hermeneutic of Scripture than that it was a con job.

  4. Hi Bruce. You’re absolutely right. The con job is an important aspect, but there is a great deal more to Scripture which ought to reveal something of the human condition during its construction.

    I believe that Scripture is a synthesis of metaphorical tales to address moral issues, narratives of historical events, and absurd flights of fancy on the part of stoned fanatics, all interwoven with spiritual interpretations which were the best available to the tellers at the time. There will also have been serial and parallel rewrites of any of the above based on exogenous motivation (the con job(s)).

    Clearly I don’t believe any of it is inspired by a deity, and that the deification is without merit except as mollification. I can’t insist that this is true, however: it’s my opinion. I do believe that Scripture’s core is inspired by a desire to understand the Universe, principally because much of it speaks to issues we can recognise as practical, emotional or otherwise instructive.

    Not the end. Kick back a bit? I have to go to bed.

  5. I never write polite preambles, do I? Nice post, Rube

    You’re a regular around here! C’mon right in and sit at Your Table — no need to tip the maitre ‘d!

    And not much of a post from me; the Bahnsen article was I thought an interesting take on Stone’s JFK. Always looking for an opportunity to let others speak interesting things so I don’t have to (“be slow to speak, and quick to listen” (if only #1 could figure that out!))

  6. One of the lessons I try to remember is something the head teacher of my primary school impressed upon us. He said that he was going to write a test on the blackboards (there were a lot), and that we should only start answering when we’d read all the questions and the instructions at the end. He started writing, and the vast majority of us (including me) started writing answers quietly, hoping he wouldn’t notice. We’d answered about five (they were quite hard) when suddenly Mr Warren (for twas he) said, “Right, we have our winners” and Peter Hull (my best man many years later) and Trudy Hart stood at the front. They’d read the instructions: “Only answer this question: what is your name?”

  7. ie: philosophy boils down to psychology in the end. absolutely.

    and limejelly, i’ll be kind here – is a scientific materialist fundamentalist. it’s the error that many people make in assuming that the limitations of the scientific method in turn prove the non-existence of the spiritual dimension.

    not for him the ‘more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy’.

    the reason for that? i’d say arrogance fits more than anything, the belief that we’ve got everything nailed down and in its place. it’s the same mindset of the religious fundamentalist who believes they and their fellow enlightened have access to a ‘divine truth’ denied to the poor benighted religious folk.

    secretly though i think he is searching for God – that’s why he comes round here. alone and unfulfilled in his scientific materialism, he wishes to find the wholeness in spirit that he sees others have.

    have just written something about the irrationality of scientific materialism on simplyconnect – didn’t have limejelly in mind at the time, but it fits…
    http://simplyconnect.org/?page_id=78

  8. In the story about your teacher (limejelly) you would have failed that quiz because you approached the test as a problem to be solved and processed rather than waiting for the final instruction.

    In effect, the scientific approach of making the best guess with the available data failed–as a purely scientific approach always will, since the concept of having a hypothesis and testing it corrupts your data from its inception since the scientist goes in with a prejudice that they do not admit. Human nature makes it a legit scientific approach impossible.

    I’m more of a moral philosopher as I am a bible thumper. I think the question of what our moral world is founded upon is extremely important. And, though I may argue any point with dead certainty, I’ve been known to change my position: how can you test a point of view properly unless you are able to defend it with ferocity?

    You admit that evolutionary theory has holes (btw, not just am armchair yacker on this one I have a degree in anthro somewhere under a stack of books). This is true–just as religion has holes. Both are human creations. Though I am a Christian I agree completely with Nietzsche’s description of the church–God is dead in many, many ways.

    What I found is that science is as much a “religion” as Catholicism. It requires faith and it is buried in dogma and misinformation that muddles what truth that may lie within.

    The primary of the question for me has always been what is at the core of any ethos? Religion is based upon an attempt to understand the spiritual world. If you deny the existence of the ethereal–then the discussion ends there and a study based upon our understanding if physics is sufficient. If a person believes that there is an element to his soul (or rather the existence of a soul) that cannot be rationally explained by theories of evolution and other physical systems, then something more is needed—an exploration of the spiritual world.

    To go back to your classroom story—as I grow over I see the wider stretch of what was being written on the blackboard I can’t help but conclude that there is something more to man than the physical world can explain.

  9. Bloogist dear fellow, I was a child. You can’t extrapolate from what I did there to a scientific approach. I wasn’t thinking.

    I’m completely with you from “You admit” to the end, bar your concluding the presence of more than the physical. I would ask why you conclude this.

    I totally dig your blog title and the blurb.

  10. I think y’all might be reading too much into limejelly’s classroom story; I saw it merely as a free association on the quote “slow to speak, quick to listen”

    Or, limejelly, did you actually mean that to relate to the original post?

  11. the belief that we’ve got everything nailed down and in its place

    Well certainly limejelly has characterised the religious of us as thinking this way, and claims the high ground of spending his life looking for things to nail down. I think even limejelly would agree, however, that he feels that scientific materialism has enough nailed down that religious pursuits are not necessary.

  12. It was free association. And yup, but it’s not a focus on what’s already nailed down (to different extents) but more that we continue to nail things down (to various extents, refining our fixtures as we go).

    Go RubeRad!

  13. I wasn’t drawing upon your story as anything literal or meaning it as a dig, I was borrowing it as a (fitting) analogy.

    To answer your question as to why I believe there is more to the world than the physical–there are simply far too many things that cannot be aptly explained through strictly physical interpretations. Far to many of man’s instincts and impulses defy any sort of evolutionary advantage or explanation. Mainly that I can have a comfortable living, a family (thus fulfilling my primary evolutionary purpose), and I can have anything I want at my fingertips–yet I am still discontent—this is anti-adaptive, yet it is undeniable that it has been constantly present in man since as far back as we know. Read Hesiod’s Works and Days, one of the oldest written Greek texts, it’s chalked with it.

    Do you think a bird sits in his comfortable nest and starts asking questions about the nature of trees and how they came to be?–like all of us do and are doing right now?

    I do not see any evolutionary purpose or advantage of the human imagination in comparison to limited-function instincts aimed at the perpetuation of the species (which we see in every other animal.)

    You can argue that the imagination enabled man to dominate the rest of the world, and I would agree with you. But that does not answer the question of how such a trait would evolve in man to such a high degree or if, in it’s slow and random development, the human ability to imagine would be a good thing (as I would argue it is one of our least-advantageous traits in the strictest evolutionary sense). Why would it be so prevalent in Humans and yet only have minimal presence (if any) in other creatures (a whole other avenue of debate).

    In my opinion, the existence of the human ability to imagine (an obvious double-edged sword) cannot be adequately quantified through simple theories of development. Somewhere in the evolutionary chain a ‘leap’ is required, a light-switch is flipped on. There must always be a cause and effect—since we live in a series of effects in the physical world, the assumption that something must cause those things (read: existence) is the logical conclusion.

  14. hello all – i’m not just here to wind up limejelly, but genuinely interested in your views…

    would be keen to get your response to the following article I’ve just put together on Darwinism/God/Intelligent Design.

    i’m a freelance journalist in the UK, and will be looking for a publisher for something on the subject… it’s not a subject that has taken off at all over here.
    http://simplyconnect.org/?page_id=81

  15. Bloogist, Let me answer for the materialists. Imagination is just a token we assign to certain chemical/electrical reactions. Why and how it is that we have them and rocks don’t is a minor detail we haven’t worked out yet. But, give us more time and we’ll get back to you. How about another 2 billion years. One thing is for sure. We have faith that we can figure it out.

  16. David of Simplyconnect, your forum link on the bottom is broken. Thought you might like to know.

  17. Bruce isn’t misrepresenting my impression, except in the timescale. I’d say we’re looking at something in the order of thousands of years. That’s an impression/belief base on the acceleration of assemblage of understanding over our history. It will require effort and patience.

    I had a look at Simple’s article. It’s the usual drivel hobbling along on linguistic contortion rather than understanding and reasoning, somewhat in the manner of a London pigeon missing a foot, yet surviving on food festooned upon it by tourists. That’s my impression of it. I think RubeRad and Bruce would make a significantly better job of propounding the intelligent design theory, if they didn’t think it was a nonsensical attempt to compromise two by now clearly defined stances (even in the tiny domain of these blogs)?

  18. Re: comment 7
    Eh? I think both the article you linked and the comment reveal more about your prejudice about scientists/science than it says anything about science.
    Having spent a substantial part of my career surrounded by scientists, this hard materialists stance that science supposedly embodies just doesn’t exist. With the exception (perhaps) of Dawkins I’ve never heard anyone suggest that there is any proof of there not being a god. Many scienctists may not believe but keep in mind a recent survey of physicists discovered that just over 40% do believe that there is a god.
    As for denying a spiritual dimension I can’t imagine anyone not even Dawkins denying it’s existence.
    I really can’t be arsed to dissect the ID article. Again it is full of assumptions that say more about the author than they say about either ID or darwinism.

  19. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that there is any proof of there not being a god

    There are plenty of atheists out there who do their darndest to prove there is no God. One of their favorite arguments is “evil exists==>God can’t exist”. Some pretty simple Googling yielded this site right off the bat

    As for denying a spiritual dimension I can’t imagine anyone not even Dawkins denying it’s existence.

    Look no further than OMF limejelly, who has asserted many times in our various fora that there is nothing beyond the physical; we are nothing but gently electrified bags of meat; consciousness is nothing more than an illusion — there is no ‘I’ or free will behind the veil of neuro-electric complexity. (Excuse me for not taking the time to dig up exact quotes)
    Of course, limejelly also occasionally protects himself with “there might be a god after all”, if that’s what you mean by “not denying a spiritual dimension”.

  20. I regard the spiritual realm as an abstaction, encapsulating those aspects of existence which we don’t understand intellectually, but to which we respond emotionally. It exists in that sense. I don’t believe there is a god, but I’ve been wrong often enough to recognise that I’m capable of flawed reasoning. And that I is indeed an illusion mintained between its different parts/aspects.

    I’m going to use that “gently electrified bags of meat” in the future, if I may. Splendid.

  21. Itchythumbs is hopefully right when he says that ‘most scientists’ don’t argue that the spiritual dimension doesn’t exist.

    As I say in the article, it’s the evolutionary theorists who hold the real dislike for God/spirituality – for the simple reason that ‘natural slection’ proposes that no intention exists in life. Firstly they beg the question and secondly the evidence for natural selection is close to non-existent.

    Dawkins, Dennett and many other evolutionists do claim to have proved that ‘God doesn’t exist’. Which just shows them up to be fools as far as I’m concerned.

    What is interesting – and can’t possibly last long – is this irrational and tetchy refusal to discuss things that question the materialist worldview. See how the evolutionists resort to half-truths and lies to paint all those who disagree as young-earth creationists.

    that means you, limejelly and your arrogant posting about ‘usual drivel’. just admit that you’re out of your depth here and you are psychologically unable to question your own basic assumptions. It’s quite funny, I can well imagine why you would come up with a strictly deterministic view of humanity with yourself as a model. Some of us actually think, rather than just reacting.

    Is there a name for this tactic of dismissing those who disagree as ‘not worth bothering with’? there really should be as it’s all too common with the pseudo-scientific and their cowardly approach to debate…

    because this seems to be the only thing holding back a proper debate about evolution, this control of the discourse that the materialists have. there has been literally zero proper attention paid to the debate in the UK – no journalist has written a proper overview of the debate.

  22. I don’t fight with invalids.

  23. The dismissive tactic, coming from a materialist, is no different than all their utterances. It is a sound (or typing, in this case) caused by a chemical/electrical reaction occuring somewhere in their body which itself is caused by a prior chemical/electrical reaction occuring somewhere in their body – ad infinitum (up to, roughly, 2 billion years). These materialist utterances are no more reliable conveyors of truth than what is conveyed by a gurgling stomach (which is a chemical/electrical reaction occuring somewhere in the body).

    The odd thing is that they forget to see your sounds (typing) as mere chemical/electrical reactions caused by prior chemical/electrical reactions and they do feel the need to somehow invest them with some soulish influence (which comes from God knows where) and then pronounce them to be drivel. Even more odd is that they somehow view your stomach gurglings as not drivel.

    What is most fascinating is that LJ (and his brood) allow that they will be confined in this state of confusion for the rest of their lives since LJ’s recently randomly co-located set of chemical/electrical reactions has predicted that no randomly co-located set of chemical/electrical reactions are going to occur which will convey an answer to the question of how a randomly co-located set of chemical/electrical reactions can be anything other than a randomly co-located set of chemical/electrical reactions in less than a couple thousand years.

  24. it’s not your views i take against so much, limejelly as your real unpleasantness.

    i tried to be pleasant to you when i first encountered you, but you’re a nasty piece of work, i’m afraid.

    i’m genuinely interested in hearing some sense from others here – you seem a pretty bright bunch, but lj, you have forfeited any right to engage in polite discourse with, or about, me or my work.

    you must not comment on anything i say or write if you behave like this. this is a moral rule – either put up, by engaging (which will now include an apology) or shut up.

  25. Whatever you say, David.

  26. Hi Bruce – that’s close, but you need to add in the concept of localized entropy. Did you see that thread? In the case of your comment, that resolves to appreciating stochastic choice over feasible reconfigurations of, well, spacetime. That feasibility is defined in terms of the current state, which encodes imperfect information about the path so far.

  27. Why “stochastic” (the rich man’s probabilistic)? So you’re saying that the progression of the universe is not completely deterministic (perhaps due to quantum effects?), but the illusion of self has no control over either the deterministic or stochastic reconfiguration of spacetime? Potato, potato, it seems to me. You still have no right (based on your philosophy of (non-)self) to even bother arguing about anything? What does it matter?

  28. Stochastic is quite different to probabilistic – it implies inaccesible reasons rather than no reasons. I can argue in the abstract at a level related to my consciousness, and interaction with exogenous agents, in a manner which guides occurences that map down to something which optimizes my objective experience.

  29. Rubbish – I mean subjective experience, sorry!

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