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The New Atheists as "God's Prophets" - last commented 13 June 2010 08:20 AM

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Go to: Obituary for John Dawkins

MBDowd's Avatar Jump to comment 99 by MBDowd

My heart goes out to you and your family, Richard.

~ Michael

Sun, 12 Dec 2010 02:04:03 UTC | #561916

Go to: Daniel Dennett on Scientism

MBDowd's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by MBDowd

Amen, Steve!

Tue, 14 Sep 2010 22:21:35 UTC | #517999

Go to: Daniel Dennett on Scientism

MBDowd's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by MBDowd

Jos Gibbons @20: The "day language vs. night language" distinction that David Sloan Wilson mentions toward the end refers to a distinction I make in my book, Thank God for Evolution. Here's the basic idea:

Human experience is necessarily mediated in symbolic language: words really do create worlds. It is thus vital to remind ourselves from time to time of two complementary sides of the one coin of our reality. On one side there is the realm of what’s so: the facts; what is objectively real; what is publicly, measurably true. Let’s call this side of reality our “day experience.” We communicate about it using “day language,” or normal, everyday discourse. The other side of our experiential coin — what I call “night experience,” communicated through “night language” — is the realm of symbols, interpretation, and meaning: What does it mean? How shall we interpret the facts? This side of our experience is subjectively real, like a dream, but not objectively real.

Problems arise when we fail to distinguish the factual, objectively real side of reality from the meaningful, subjectively realistic side — that is, when we mistake our interpretations and meanings for what’s so. They are not the same. Facts are delimited; interpretations are manifold.

We cannot solve the problems posed by night-language disagreements by jettisoning that face of reality. We need both day and night expression in order to have a meaningful experience of life. The important thing is to get the order right. When we seek clarity on the measurable facts first (which is the very mission of science), the night language stories and expressions of meaning that derive from those facts can enrich our lives — and reduce conflict with others who hold different interpretations of the same set of agreed-upon facts.

Tue, 14 Sep 2010 22:04:48 UTC | #517991

Go to: Daniel Dennett on Scientism

MBDowd's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by MBDowd

Just as my wife Connie Barlow and I have recently been promoting substitution of the term "emergentism" for the pre-evolutionary term "materialism", this particular interchange has inspired me to advocate in this forum, and others like it, a transition from the term "scientism" to "evidentialism".

The evidentialist view is one I am sure that all of us here proudly support. A huge benefit is that it is broader than the discipline of science. It includes the scholarly community of professional historians who stand on a completely evidential platform for supporting their interpretations of human history. It also includes professional sociologists who are likewise devoted to an evidential understanding of cross-cultural experience around the world. Overall then, evidentialism is a bigger concept than scientism and one that will force religionists and postmodernists to rethink their reflexively negative response to those of us who value the scientific method as humanity's foremost means of collective intelligence.

Updated: Tue, 14 Sep 2010 21:47:05 UTC | #517976

Go to: Daniel Dennett on Scientism

MBDowd's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by MBDowd

Thanks for posting this, Richard, and for getting discussion along these lines going.

As I mentioned to you in an email, I'm sick and tired of religious people and some postmodernists leveling the criticism of "scientism" at those of us who are committed first and foremost to evidence and a scientific worldview.

Other than Dan's clip posted above, if anyone reading this knows of any other good written, audio, or video responses to this challenge, please mention it in this thread.

Just this morning Peter J. Richerson recommended Don Campbell’s 1975 Presidential Address, and Loyal Rue recommended Susan Haack's book, "Defending Science--Within Reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism". I've not read either yet but ordered Haack's book on Amazon.

Other suggestions?

Tue, 14 Sep 2010 18:54:17 UTC | #517869

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