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A Grand Bargain Over Evolution - Comments

VanYoungman's Avatar Comment 1 by VanYoungman

Robert Wright deserves a hearing. I strongly recommend the following interview between him and Dan Dennett.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 15:09:00 UTC | #390794

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 2 by Steve Zara

Wright is a shallow thinker. There was controversy over that interview between him and Dennett, with accusation of selective quoting.

He is quite an amusing read sometimes, but I can't take anything he says seriously.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 15:14:00 UTC | #390798

kraut's Avatar Comment 3 by kraut

The article is full of conjecture, suppositions, unsupported premises and I for the live of me cannot figure out this to be anything but another "accomodationist" attempt.

The matter is simply this, repeated for the umpteenth time:
Do science and leave your believes at the front door of the lab.
Religious bias in scientific research is unacceptable.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 15:18:00 UTC | #390800

bigkoala's Avatar Comment 4 by bigkoala

Robert Wright spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water.

I sense that Wright misses the old high school debate team, where you creatively attempt to defend any plank of your argument, regardless of how ridiculous it is.

Warmed over deism (God exists but you can't prove it because he did all the heavy lifting years ago and is never, never, never going to do anymore lifting!) is useless and non-predictive. You might as well say the Sugar Plum Fairies long ago decreed a universe where I'd become a diabetic, it's just as useful and testable an hypothesis as deism.

This article is sophistry at its worst. The universe exists. The universe contains patterns. When it comes to social dynamics, those patterns are hideously complex and context sensitive. This complexity does not require any gods or goddesses and, in the absence of any evidence about such beings, popping off long-winded explanations in an attempt to avoid verifiability of your hypothesis is just mental masturbation.

I want the minutes I spent reading this article back to use again on something worthwhile.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 15:22:00 UTC | #390802

beelzebub's Avatar Comment 5 by beelzebub

He seems to be arguing for a Deistic "light the fuse then stand back" approach - which doesn't really tell us anything useful.
Also, what is this gibberish about altruistic behaviour being, somehow, "out there"?
Oh, and what's this "Higher-order creative process" about? Not trying to squeeze god into the gaps, surely?
Ho Hum......

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 15:28:00 UTC | #390808

alexandrumeister's Avatar Comment 6 by alexandrumeister

What really gets my goat is the attempted "not-quite-lie-but-close-enough":

"But believers aren’t the only ones who could use some adapting. If there is to be peace between religion and science, some of the more strident atheists will need to make their own concessions to logic.

They could acknowledge, first of all, that any god whose creative role ends with the beginning of natural selection is, strictly speaking, logically compatible with Darwinism."

If I remember correctly, The God Delusion specifically calls deism the only halfway plausible God hypothesis.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 15:53:00 UTC | #390815

artisfact's Avatar Comment 7 by artisfact

"Awww...come on guys, can't we all just get along?"

This guy's pathetic. And until someone sees nonbelievers toting rifles and saluting a general in the name of atheism, I would like to see the term 'militant atheist' disappear.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 15:57:00 UTC | #390816

Mark Smith's Avatar Comment 8 by Mark Smith

I like articles like this. They confirm that the people who criticise the new atheists' stance don't have a thing to offer instead. All he does is blather.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 16:05:00 UTC | #390819

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 9 by NewEnglandBob

As I said over at the Reason Project:

Same old tired arguments from Wright that have been refuted and destroyed many times over the years. It is obvious that Wright is not paying attention. Theists like him have no real arguments so they dredge up the old lies over and over again.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 16:24:00 UTC | #390827

Sonic's Avatar Comment 10 by Sonic

Exactly, m d!

Attempts at Christian/Darwinian harmonization need to keep something about Jesus dying for sins. Or else it's not Christianity.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 16:56:00 UTC | #390841

sane1's Avatar Comment 11 by sane1

Wright's view is really not all that incompatible with a scientific skeptical one. Maybe you whiners didn't understand it and need to read it again.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 17:01:00 UTC | #390844

j.mills's Avatar Comment 12 by j.mills

I'm with you, m d: the 'religion' this guy is proposing is barely theism, and certainly not christianity. I don't know who he thinks would buy it - certainly not the creationists! Where are the hordes of believers looking for someone to strip out of their religion everything that's incompatible with science and leave them with just a deistic warm glow?

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 18:07:00 UTC | #390858

illusion's Avatar Comment 13 by illusion

I was going to say exactly what was said above. The view pointed out in this article is that "You can still believe in A God and evolution, but you must believe in a God that set up the universe and then is not hear of again."

I don't know any Christians, Jews, or Muslims that would agree to that.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 18:07:00 UTC | #390859

Quine's Avatar Comment 14 by Quine

<!-- -->I have a problem with his use of the word "purpose." He does not seem to get that evolution is what happens because it can happen in a system having materials and a flow of energy through it. There was no "purpose" before control systems in organisms evolved the ability to construct a desired future and take steps to go there. Wright has accepted the idea that evolution produces conscious beings (who ponder it all) sooner or later. However, there is no way to substantiate that. It may be that evolution in some places/times can hit a local peak in configuration space, from which no intellectual improvement adds fitness (perhaps that explains the stability of some political parties).

Purpose exists for us because of the way our minds work. We see it in some other species as well. Imputing purpose to the Universe is feel-good projection. Go ahead, feel good; it makes no testable predictions.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 18:07:00 UTC | #390860

Sonic's Avatar Comment 15 by Sonic

Wright flies in the face of this observation -- in practice, if a Christian/Darwinian harmonization needs to keep something about Jesus dying for sins, then we get all the strangeness in Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? by Michael Ruse and The Language of God by Francis Collins.

It's like the Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil comes on to his assistant Frau Farbissina and he says, "Don't worry momma, it won't get weird." Then after they get it on, Dr. Evil says, "It got weird, didn't it?"

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 18:58:00 UTC | #390874

sane1's Avatar Comment 16 by sane1

M d: true. He is telling the religites to abandon everything that conflicts with natural selection as the explanation for complxity. He is proposing a compromise from atheists: "purpose" may be an aspect of reality like it's 3 dimensional aspect that we have " discovered.".

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 19:11:00 UTC | #390878

sane1's Avatar Comment 17 by sane1

Quine: he discusses "purpose" as the idea that natural selection tends to create an order that better copes with an can work with "reality" as a survival advantage. Including his view that " reality " includes reciprocal altruism as an aspect of reality with survival advantages. I can live with that if the crazies stop opposing evolution as a "true" theory explaining biology anduch of the natural world.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 19:17:00 UTC | #390881

Quine's Avatar Comment 18 by Quine

<!-- -->Comment #408592 by sane1:

I can live with that if the crazies stop opposing evolution as a "true" theory explaining biology anduch of the natural world.
Most of us would rather have the "crazies" be any closer to reality than they are. Over time, as older "crazies" die out we hope that the replacements from the younger generation are much closer to reality so that the average view in the population gets real.
Quine: he discusses "purpose" as the idea that natural selection tends to create an order that better copes with an can work with "reality" as a survival advantage.
Yes, but his choice of words works an equivocation with the "purpose" of intention, and we all know who's intention he has in mind. He could have dropped in some kind of Pantheism as in the "Universal Mind" to have that intention, but just let it hang as his linkage to accommodation. It did not feel very honest to me.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 19:34:00 UTC | #390882

Janus's Avatar Comment 19 by Janus

Wright thinks that with enough word games and obscurantism, he can cover up the fact that religious beliefs are false and faith is insane.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 20:29:00 UTC | #390895

mmurray's Avatar Comment 20 by mmurray

William James said that religious belief is “the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.” Science has its own version of the unseen order, the laws of nature. In principle, the two kinds of order can themselves be put into harmony — and in that adjustment, too, may lie a supreme good.

So how come our innate sense of moral goodness is revolted by most of what evolution does to achieve its purpose ?


Sun, 23 Aug 2009 20:40:00 UTC | #390896

Guy Smily's Avatar Comment 21 by Guy Smily

When people use the term militant atheist it only shows there ignorance of history.
It is an offense to the REAL militant atheists like the ones who would have been part of the French Revolution and literally took up arms against Religion and class oppression and gave there lives to the cause.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 21:17:00 UTC | #390905

Rational_G's Avatar Comment 22 by Rational_G

This article is pathetic. It bends over backwards trying to accommodate a plausible supernatural world view in the face of all rational scientific evidence. It really is tiring to hear Mr Wright again as an apologist for the wishy washy milk toast vague incoherent "liberal" religious view.

You can't have it both ways. Take a stand, for crying out loud!

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 21:31:00 UTC | #390909

Rational_G's Avatar Comment 23 by Rational_G

I love the New York Times and read it every day, but they just can't help themselves and feel the need to publish shallow feel good nonsense opinion pieces occasionally, especially against those rude militant new atheists!

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 21:44:00 UTC | #390912

j.mills's Avatar Comment 24 by j.mills

Rational_G said:

Take a stand, for crying out loud!
Well, quite. You might as well claim that it is "compatible with science" that god created the entire universe 10 minutes ago, complete with light from distant galaxies, fossil record and human memories. But who's looking for a god like that? What use is that idea, or Wright's? What work does it do and what difference would it make?

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 21:45:00 UTC | #390914

lumea's Avatar Comment 25 by lumea

If Robert Wright wishes to be the purveyor of some sort of golden mean between religion and science, he would do better to keep to himself his own apparent biases, as when he says that believers simply are "intense" "fans" of C.S. Lewis, "intellectuals" who "can be excused for positing" a designer god, but calls atheists "strident" "militant[s]" who just don't seem to "get" it on the question of "higher purpose."

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 21:49:00 UTC | #390915

Friend of Icelos's Avatar Comment 26 by Friend of Icelos

The term "militant" should only be used for people who are actually violent - or at least legally oppressive. Otherwise, anyone who argues strongly for any position whatsoever is a "militant". Theists who nonviolently argue back are also "militant". Anyone who raises their voice when talking politics is a "militant". So we have "militant" liberals, "militant" conservatives, used-car salesmen, etc.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 21:50:00 UTC | #390917

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 27 by Border Collie

No closer to getting it than the last time I read him.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 22:08:00 UTC | #390925

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 28 by mordacious1

30. Comment #408628 by Friend of Icelos

Webster's disagrees, see definition #2:

Main Entry: mil·i·tant
Pronunciation: \-tənt\
Function: adjective
Date: 15th century
1 : engaged in warfare or combat : fighting
2 : aggressively active (as in a cause) : combative

synonyms see aggressive

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 22:09:00 UTC | #390926

Quine's Avatar Comment 29 by Quine

<!-- -->Comment #408623 by Rational_G:

I love the New York Times and read it every day, but they just can't help themselves and feel the need to publish shallow feel good nonsense opinion pieces occasionally, especially against those rude militant new atheists!
I don't mind the articles that take the form "Rude Atheists should stop rubbing in the facts" because the facts are slowly sinking in. At a future time, what is "rude" now will simply look like "tell'n it like it is." I am sure it was rude, once, to suggest that there was anything wrong with one person owning another.

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 22:33:00 UTC | #390930

InfuriatedSciTeacher's Avatar Comment 30 by InfuriatedSciTeacher

upset theist checklist:

used militant?
used strident?
special pleading about the nature of liberal religion?
incoherent wishful thinking?
egregious logical error?

well done! you've hit every point, Robert! I especially enjoyed the bit about Paley being scientific, as he examined 'evidence', despite the fact that he only took and kept the bits that fit his predetermined conclusion.
What. An. Asshat>

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 22:42:00 UTC | #390932