A Call for Honesty in Christian Scholarship

faith statement

At first glance, faith statements seem reasonable. There’s plenty to criticize, but let’s first see them from the standpoint of the Christian organizations that use them.

What’s a faith statement?

Faith statements are declarations like these.

  • “The mission of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is to advance the understanding that human beings and nature are the result of intelligent design rather than a blind and undirected process.”
  • A fragment from the faith statement of Houston Baptist University: “[Those connected with HBU must believe] that man was directly created by God, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, as the Son of God, [and] that He died for the sins of all men and thereafter arose from the grave.”
  • A fragment from Answers in Genesis: “By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.”

There are lots of interpretations of Christianity. If you want to donate to a Christian organization, you need to see if their beliefs line up with yours. The faith statement helps make that evaluation.

Academic freedom and conflicts of interest

Faith statements are good for donors, but they’re bad for the institutions that have them. A faith statement is a commitment to a conclusion. By accepting the conclusion beforehand, institutions governed by them forfeit their ability to defend or even comment on the points in those statements.

When a scholar from HBU concludes that the virgin birth is history rather than mythology, why believe it? That’s just the faith statement talking. The same is true when the Discovery Institute reports that intelligent design beats evolution or Answers in Genesis argues for a 6000-year-old earth.

Might the scholar simply have come to an unbiased conclusion? That’s possible, but how would we know? Mike Licona is a Christian scholar who found out the hard way that faith statements have teeth. In 2011, he lost two jobs because, in a 700-page book, he questioned the inerrancy of a single Bible verse (more here).

There is a stick raised above these Christian scholars that demands that they toe the line or else. With some conclusions predetermined to be correct and others incorrect, how do we know that their work is an honest search for the truth? We don’t, and indeed the work of every Christian scholar constrained by a faith statement is suspect.

By committing to the faith statement, they are ruling out certain conclusions before they’ve done any research. For example, the HBU statement says Jesus was born of a virgin. By signing that statement, a professor is publicly stating (among other things), “I promise to never conclude that the virgin birth was just a myth.”

Accepting and rejecting claims because of dogma rather than science got the Church into an embarrassing situation when it rejected Galileo’s heliocentric solar system. They only publicly retracted their error in 1992.

There are close to a thousand religiously affiliated U.S. colleges and universities plus many more ministries that make intellectual claims. The cloud of scholarly untrustworthiness hangs over a lot of Christians.

How things work in the real world: disclosure

Faith statements are a restriction on academic freedom according to The American Association of University Professors. But that’s not enough. In other areas of intellectual discourse, this constraint would be disclosed. Many medical journals have policies that demand that authors disclose conflicts of interest. The same is true for science journals (source). The American Historical Association’s “Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct” calls for historians to disclose any research assistance that could bias their conclusions.

Journalists are careful to avoid not only conflicts of interest but even the appearance of such conflicts. You’ve probably seen articles with an aside such as, “Full disclosure: I have a close relative who works for the company that is the subject of this article.”

The equivalent in judicial, legal, or governmental fields is called recusal—abstaining from participation in an issue that would cause a conflict of interest.

Does it matter when research about climate change is funded by a fossil fuel company rather than Greenpeace? Does it matter when research about smoking is funded by the Tobacco Institute rather than the National Institutes of Health? Does it matter when research about gun violence is funded by the National Rifle Association rather than the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence?

Just because research is funded by an organization with an interest in the result doesn’t mean that the research is flawed. The point is simply that that all potential biases should be made public.

Carry this thinking into Christian scholarship. Every blog post, journal article, book, or lecture from a Christian scholar constrained by a faith statement should have that faith statement disclosed.

The parallel world of Christian scholarship

Christian scholars seem to admire the respect given to fields like journalism, medicine, science, and so on. But rather than earning that respect the old-fashioned way, Christian scholarship creates a parallel world with training wheels.

Creationists can’t get published in Nature or Scientific American? No problem—Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis has created its own “peer-reviewed journal,” Answers Research Journal. The problem is that this is a journal constrained by yet another faith statement. The author submission guidelines make clear that any paper will be rejected if it “conflicts with the best interests of [Answers in Genesis] as judged by its biblical stand and goals outlined in its statement of faith.”

Christian colleges can teach whatever they want and call it “science.” Their religious shibboleth for science make it noteworthy when they teach evolution—that is, when they teach actual science.

They give themselves the right to domesticate science to avoid anything that steps on their theological toes and have their own science-y books, conferences, and home schooling curriculum.

But their parallel world is just a play table with clay and crayons. They only dream that they’re sitting at the adult table. Christian scholarship has sold its soul.

Here’s the cause and effect relationship. Donations power the Christian machine, and they don’t happen without a faith statement; a faith statement means that any “scholarship” is suspect; poor scholarship means that Christian scholars can’t play with the big boys; and that leads to their parallel Christian world with a low bar that they can cross.

Correcting the problem

With this article, I’m calling on Christian scholars to, as a first step toward legitimacy, disclose faith statements they’re bound by. Not admitting to a faith statement that prevents honest research is to break the ninth commandment against lying. Unfortunately, any who read this will ignore it because to do otherwise would risk breaking the spell. It would call attention to a weakness.

What’s surprising is that they will ignore it without embarrassment. They don’t need to whisper about damage control among themselves. They can publicly use the word “recant” when demanding that an errant scholar return to the fold, unconcerned about how that makes them very unlike the scientists, historians, and the other conventional scholars they admire. That was the word used with Mike Licona, the Christian scholar called to account (above). They used “recant” four centuries ago for Galileo; why not for Licona now?

But times are changing. In the time of Galileo, the church wasn’t questioned in the West. They held the intellectual high ground. That’s no longer true, and I expect that the need for credibility will increasingly conflict with the need for donations. Ignoring conflicts of interest and doing “scholarship” with Christian training wheels will become less acceptable.

This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests
for the purpose of defending doctrines
not able to take care of themselves.
— Robert Green Ingersoll

Image credit: Denise Krebs, flickr, CC

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • RichardSRussell

    “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

    —Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American revolutionary, author, scientist, inventor, satirist, statesman, and rake

    • eric

      “What does God need with a starship collection plate?”

      • Michael Neville

        “Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

        “But he loves you. He loves you, and he needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money!”–George Carlin

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        Right? Money, just being an IOU points system that only has any worth among a group of humans who all posit that it does, is absolutely worthless to the person who is claimed to already have all the resources!

        The same worthlessness holds true for written language. Is God going to be dead someday? Is he stranded out in space somewhere? God, who at least is a human in capabilities plus omnipresence and immortality super powers, has no problems that written language can solve and all of the shortcomings of communicating through text people frequently mention in these Patheos comment sections. What does God need with a book?

        • Bob Jase

          There’s a table in heaven with one short leg…

        • TheNuszAbides

          pah, just pull a few gold bricks out of the street, that’ll prop her up.

    • sandy

      rake…love it!

    • TheNuszAbides

      one of the loveliest Quakers yet.

  • Bob Jase

    Intellectual honesty? Why do you think its called apologetics?

    • TheNuszAbides

      yep, rhetorical defensiveness doesn’t leave a lot of headroom for that smarty-pants stuff.

  • grasshopper

    There seems to be an unstated axiom in christian educational institutions, inspired by Isaac Newton himself, which explains why they cannot accept some scientific facts: “When we don’t see as far as others it is because we are standing on the toes of giants.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Brilliant!

  • skl

    “The mission of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and
    Culture is to advance the understanding that human beings and nature are the
    result of intelligent design rather than a blind and undirected process.”

    On the September 11 blog “Is God of the Gaps a Valid Atheist
    Argument?” part of one of my responses to eric included this:

    “I don’t understand why you’re so upset that the DI doesn’t produce
    scientific papers. It’s not a science organization. Maybe a philosophical organization,
    or a philosophy of science organization. But not a science organization (i.e. with labs, field work, and
    such).

    I don’t know if you consider Charles Darwin to have been a scientist, but if
    you value his methods, perhaps you would also value Stephen Meyers’,

    as he apparently admires and emulates Darwin’s methods:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRk8HC791y0

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I agree–it’s not a science organization. Given that, I wish they’d stop making science pronouncements.

      • eric

        And that’s a very pithy summary of how I responded to ski.

      • Chuck Johnson

        They can’t help themselves. – – – They have lost the race.
        They have noticed that science has the public credibility, so they are magically converting their superstitious doctrines into science.
        It’s cargo cult science.

        http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/51/2/CargoCult.htm

        • Joe

          I would say that there’s also a covert, or not-so-covert in some cases, war against science and reason being waged in the public’s opinion by those with a vested interest in keeping people gullible. I wouldn’t declare the race totally over yet.

        • Lark62

          The DiscoToots Wedge Document said exactly that.
          Destroying evolution was the first step toward theocracy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The Disco Institute isn’t a science organization; it’s a PR organization. For proof, we only need to look at who their audience is. They don’t write papers for scientists; they write articles and books for the lay public.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, and their audience tends to believe that science is verified and explained by the (apparent) authority of the experts, just the way that theology is verified and explained.

          Empiricism and a personal understanding of the scientific principles involved is not a part of their view of the universe.

          Too many of them see scientific theories as just another form of politics.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Too many of them see scientific theories as just another form of politics.

          and seem unfortunately successful at convincing low-information apatheists to join in that outlook.

    • Joe

      I don’t know if you consider Charles Darwin to have been a scientist

      I do.

      but if you value his methods, perhaps you would also value Stephen Meyers’,

      I do not.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Now that religions are pretending to be verified by scientific investigation, this is a sign of The End Times.
        And I don’t mean magical end times, either.

    • Rudy R

      But his contemporaries don’t emulate him.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Steve Meyer is lying in this video.
      He does not understand the Darwin-Wallace discovery, but he pretends that he does.
      He is a professional deceiver, he makes money at it.

      • TheNuszAbides

        or he understands it but consciously disinterprets it for fear of his cushy employment agreement and/or social-control mission statement.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    • MNb

      “But not a science organization (i.e. with labs, field work, and such).”
      Let me be generous – you’re very naive.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biologic_Institute

      They pretend to be scientific, including labs and “peer” reviewed stuff.

    • Kevin K

      The problem is that despite their creed, they represent themselves as a scientific organization and advocate for their particular version of creationism (let’s call a spade a spade, m-kay) to be taught in American science classrooms as a valid scientific hypothesis. It’s hypocrisy on an epic scale to then give them an “out” by declaring “Oh well, they don’t really mean it, because they’re not a science organization.” Every single thing they do is in service of inserting their religious beliefs into the scientific world. They make scientific pronouncements, criticize scientific studies, fight with science communicators — it’s their only reason for being.

    • David Cromie

      Myers is really saying that since he cannot explain where DNA coding, for example, came from, therefore ‘god did it’.

      • MNb

        I’m pretty sure Myers isn’t saying that at all.

        https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/

        :)

      • skl

        I think what Meyers is saying first and foremost is that human
        experience shows
        coding (i.e. directed information; instructions) always
        originates from intelligence.

        • epeeist

          And this fails on two counts.

          Firstly he is begging the question in assume that DNA is coding and secondly that just because human experience shows something that something that is done by humans is always done by humans that it can act as analogy for something totally different.

          Seriously this guy is supposed to have a postgraduate degree in philosophy and this is the best he can do?

        • skl

          “.. he is begging the question in assume that DNA is coding”

          I don’t think he’s begging the question. But if he is then so is the
          National Institutes of Health and many other science/medicine groups.
          “The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases…”
          https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/basics/dna

        • David Cromie

          By ‘intelligence’ he means ID. In other words, ‘god’ did it!

  • skl

    “Just because research is funded by an organization with an
    interest in the result doesn’t mean that the research is flawed. The point is
    simply that that all potential biases should be made public.

    Carry this thinking into Christian scholarship. Every blog
    post, journal article, book, or lecture from a Christian scholar constrained by
    a faith statement should have that faith statement disclosed.”

    That sounds reasonable.

    However, I would also say that Christianity appears to be a
    system of belief not based on science or on observations to
    be expected from the working of natural laws. Its very foundations appear to be
    on belief in un-scientific, un-natural phenomena (e.g. commanding seas to part;
    walking on water; rising from the dead). As such, it could be reasonable to
    reprimand a believer who tries to challenge the beliefs by using investigative
    methods which that faith was never subject to or based on to begin with.

    • Greg G.

      As such, it could be reasonable to
      reprimand a believer who tries to challenge the beliefs by using investigative
      methods which that faith was never subject to or based on to begin with.

      Only if the goal is belief with no consideration of desire for truth. It would keep the donations rolling in from people who prefer to have their beliefs supported rather than have to face the truth.

      • skl

        “Only if the goal is belief with no consideration of desire for truth.”

        Or only if one does not make the unscientific presumption that the only truth which exists is that which is subject to and revealed by scientific methods.

        • Tommy

          Can you show anything to be true without using the scientific method?

        • Jump

          “Can you show anything to be true without using the scientific method?”

          The statement “Nothing is true [or alternatively, can be known to be true] except what can be shown via the scientific method,” cannot itself be proven via the scientific method. Then there are a host of truths science depends on, which we are rational to believe, which do not and cannot get their justification by appeal to science.

        • Tommy

          So, in other words, you cannot.

        • Jump

          I’m sorry you think that, Tommy, but there’s an embarrassment of riches, here.

          First, let’s revisit, because you missed the point, it seems. The rhetorical question you asked expresses a view called scientism. Scientism is baldly self-refuting. This is because if it’s true, it’s false, and if it’s false it’s false. But here are more things we know independently of science: mathematical truths; logical truths; moral and aesthetic truths (e.g., don’t falsify lab results; it was wrong for Hitler to murder Jews); properly basic beliefs, like the belief that you aren’t a brain in a vat, or that the world wasn’t created five minutes ago with the appearance of age, or that there are other minds besides my own; testimonial beliefs; memorial beliefs; whether sense experience is veridical.

          None of those depend in any way on science, and yet, we’re rational to believe them. Moreover, science couldn’t even get off the ground without our knowledge of those, so the dependence relation is of science upon this foundation of knowledge, and not the other way round.

          Here’s more that science depends on: metaphysical claims presupposed in our physical theories, such as claims about the nature of causation, the nature of explanation, the nature of law, the nature of space, time, and matter themselves, for crying out loud; whether there are physical simples or if reality is just gunk all the way down; whether our theories should be understood realistically, anti-realistically; which views in mereology are true; whether there are composite objects; what properties, relations, and substances, are; in virtue of what two electrons are different and not the same; how to adjudicate between empirically equivalent interpretations of a body of data (e.g., do you go Copenhagen? Bohmian? Everettian?, or any one of a dozen others); how to interpret the terms in the sentences of a physical theory. And, of course, the crown jewels: what demarcates science itself; what the scientific method is or whether there even is such a thing.

        • Joe

          Stale apologetic talking points detected. Danger Will Robinson Tommy!

        • sandy

          Time to put the bottle down dude.

        • Jump

          “Time to put the bottle down dude.”

          sandy, I would love a drink, actually.

        • Tommy

          The rhetorical question you asked expresses a view called scientism.

          It doesn’t. It’s called Reality.

          The rest of your comment is one incoherent, rambling excuse for why you can’t show anything to be true without the scientific method.

        • Jump

          “It doesn’t. It’s called Reality.”

          Welp, I gave you a whole raft of things assumed by science and known independently of science, which falsified your claim.

        • Tommy

          You gave my whole raft of gibberish, that’s what.

        • Joe

          No, you asserted a whole list of things. Most of which have been pointed out are not knowable.

        • epeeist

          moral and aesthetic truths (e.g., don’t falsify lab results; it was wrong for Hitler to murder Jews)

          Er, wut? How is something like “it was wrong for Hitler to murder Jews” true or false?

          properly basic beliefs, like the belief that you aren’t a brain in a vat

          Er, wut? How do we know this?

          or that the world wasn’t created five minutes ago with the appearance of age

          Or this?

          And so on.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Er, wut? How do we know this?

          Using the Just Because Method of course…silly.

        • Jump

          epeeist,

          Well, if you doubt that what Hitler did was wrong, I can’t help you. I am more certain of that fact than I am of a good many scientific theories (and I bet you are too in your unguarded moments).

          If you doubt that there exist truths known by reason and not by science (such as that the world didn’t come into existence 5 minutes ago with the appearance of age, or that there are other minds, or that there’s a mind independent world, or moral truths), then you’ve just undermined everything science is built on. From which it follows that much of science is false. That’s a bullet I wouldn’t want to bite, myself.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Huh? We all agree that what Hitler did was wrong, but that’s just personal opinions. If that moral claim is part of an objectively true morality (“moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not” as WLC puts it), you need to show that.

        • Michael Neville

          epeeist didn’t doubt that what Hitler did was wrong, he asked you to show how that statement is true.

        • Joe

          Well, if you doubt that what Hitler did was wrong, I can’t help you

          Why not?

        • epeeist

          Well, if you doubt that what Hitler did was wrong

          I don’t doubt that what Hitler was wrong, nor do I suspect that the majority of people think he was wrong. However, all this says is that there is an inter-subjective agreement that he was wrong. It says nothing about the truth of the proposition ” it was wrong for Hitler to murder Jews”.

          If you doubt that there exist truths known by reason and not by science (such as that the world didn’t come into existence 5 minutes ago

          I asked a simple question which you seem to be evading, let’s take the above as an example, thus the proposition is ” the world didn’t come into existence 5 minutes ago”. How do you know this?

          As for “moral truths”, are you claiming that there are objective moral values?

        • Jump

          I’m not evading. I didn’t even recall you’d asked it. I’m happy to answer your questions. But I also have a life and also 9 zillion people here replying to me. It’s easy to miss one or two. Or to lose context between discussions. Sorry in advance if I lose track of where we were.

          I’m trying to keep our eye on the ball: scientism is self-refuting. Based on how you talk, I suspect you understand better than most in these threads that that’s about as case-closed as anything ever gets. Ever. . In any world.

          Re: intersubjective agreement on Hitler doing wrong, sure there’s agreement, but why think it follows from agreement about some proposition P that there’s no fact of the matter about P? To wit, even if there were intersubjective agreement about its contradictory (I.e. that Hitler did right or good), it would still have been wrong. Surely, you agree with that.

          “take the proposition ‘the world didn’t come into existence 5 minutes ago’. How do you know this?”

          I actually didn’t make a claim to know this. I only needed to point out vis-a-vis scientism that the truth of basically all of science entails its falsity—and yet, the paradigm methods of empirical science can’t ecen in principle justify an answer to that question (honestly, what experiment could you run? The data would be consistent with both th truth and falsity of that proposition).

          Here, I go with Chisholm here, and solve the Problem of the Criterion via particularism and not methodism or skepticism, or infinitism, so I don’t think, for every proposition, we need to know how we know it in order to know it.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “Well, if you doubt that what Hitler did was wrong, I can’t help you.”

          Why would Hitler do something he had no doubt sounds wrong to do to people, just like you and the rest of us? How would there be something to call wrong if it is wrong in the objective/absolute sense?

          “such as that the world didn’t come into existence 5 minutes ago with the appearance of age”

          To your credit, you are at least skeptical to young Earth creationism.

          “you’ve just undermined everything science is built on. From which it follows that much of science is false.”

          Spell the letter ‘Aa’.

        • epeeist

          I wouldn’t bother, I think he has just remembered an urgent appointment in Croydon.

        • Bob Jase

          What would Hitler be doing in Croydon?

          So many threads to follow, so little brain space.

        • epeeist

          What would Hitler be doing in Croydon?

          It is an in-joke from when I used to comment on the UK Guardian newspaper. After one complete disaster of a comment its author reported that he had an urgent appointment in Croydon and was never seen again.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Croydon exists, ergo his excuse was totally valid!
          has anyone managed to get a copy of this incident onto vellum yet?

        • TheNuszAbides

          Why would Hitler do something he had no doubt sounds wrong to do to people, just like you and the rest of us? How would there be something to call wrong if it is wrong in the objective/absolute sense?

          unfalsifiable, quasi-immaterial, selectively-will-possessing evil influences, duh!

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Adding those whatsits into the mix makes morality relative again. How can they be evil if morality is “whatever”?

        • MNb

          “Scientism is baldly self-refuting.”
          As long as you haven’t even tried to describe what you mean with “scientism” this sounds as hollow as an empty barrel. At this point my bet is that you mean something with it nobody supports – ie use it as a strawman. Lark and Joe seem to be right above.

          “more things we know independently of science: mathematical truths;”
          Yeah. I can easily show that Pythagoras’ Theorem is true. I can just as easily show that it’s false.
          This alone shows that you’re either ignorant about epistemology or intellectually dishonest; possibly both.

          “it was wrong for Hitler to murder Jews”
          As long as you don’t show how you determined that this is true you just have elevated your personal opinion to dogma.
          See, lots of people disagree(d).

          “properly basic beliefs, like the belief that you aren’t a brain in a vat, or that the world wasn’t created five minutes ago with the appearance of age,”
          Same here. Tell us your method, otherwise these are just empty statements.

        • Jump

          “As long as you haven’t even tried to describe what you mean with “scientism” this sounds as hollow as an empty barrel.”

          Scientism is “Tommy”‘s view (see above). If you don’t like it, blame him. I’m just the messenger.

          “This alone shows that you’re either ignorant about epistemology or intellectually dishonest; possibly both.”

          LOL. You can’t show the Pythagorean theorem both true and false in the same sense. Moreover–and here’s the key–you can’t show any mathematical truth (or any of the many other truths I listed above to Tommy) true by virtue of any empirical data.

          “As long as you don’t show how you determined that this [Hitler murdering the Jews is wrong] is true you just have elevated your personal opinion to dogma.”

          Well, you’ve lost my nomination for president, then. Moreover, even supposing this claim were dogma (it’s not), you seem to assume it’s wrong to just dogmatically assert without reason–I think that assumption’s right–but that’s yet one more example of something science can’t even in principle speak to.

          “Tell us your method, otherwise these are just empty statements.”

          Uh, false. You seem to assume that you need a method for showing how you know something before you can know it. That’s an epistemological view called methodism. You’re welcome to argue for it, but it’s something you can’t know via science (I’d love to see the “experiment” that verifies it!)–and therefore, it’ll be just another example of something that falsifies Tommy’s assumption. The more you help yourself to philosophical commitments, the more you drive my point to Tommy home.

        • MNb

          Tommy asked a question with “Can you show anything to be true without using the scientific method?”
          He didn’t explain a view. A question you thus far haven’t answered. Plus you start lying – I don’t blame anyone. I just would like you to specify what you mean with scientism. Good to read you refuse; that way you undermine what you write yourself.

          “You can’t show the Pythagorean theorem both true and false in the same sense.”
          I totally can. I only need to change one axioma of Euclides. Thanks for displaying your ignorance and lack of understanding of math.

          “you can’t show any mathematical truth (or any of the many other truths I listed above to Tommy) true by virtue of any empirical data.”
          Yes, stupid. My point is that you can’t show mathematical truth at all. That’s the point.

          “Well, you’ve lost my nomination for president, then.”
          A nomination I never had, even never could have, in the first place. I’m not American. Thanks for totally not addressing my argument. I’m inclined to conclude you can’t, but I’m always in for second chances, so I just repeat:

          “As long as you don’t show how you determined that this [Hitler murdering the Jews is wrong] is true you just have elevated your personal opinion to dogma.”
          Of course it’s something science can’t speak of. It’s still just your personal opinion elevated to dogma.

          “You seem to assume that you need a method for showing how you know something before you can know it.”
          Of course. A method is nothing but the way you determine whether something is true or false (regarding science it would better to talk about correct and incorrect, but that probably will be a bridge too far for you). Without a method your conclusions can be nothing but personal opinion, dogma, wishful thinking etc. Your entire comment confirms this.

          “(I’d love to see the “experiment” that verifies it!)-”
          Every single comment of yours on this page verifies it. Now that was easy.

          “The more you help yourself to philosophical commitments, the more you drive my point to Tommy home.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          My dear, every single philosophical commitment we brought up in your point actually confirms that science is the only method to gain knowledge. Everything else you brought up is nothing but wishful thinking and your personal opinion elevated to dogma. You have given up to even try to back up your claims.

        • Ignorant Amos

          None of those depend in any way on science, and yet, we’re rational to believe them. Moreover, science couldn’t even get off the ground without our knowledge of those, so the dependence relation is of science upon this foundation of knowledge, and not the other way round.

          What method would you us to demonstrate your claim to another person?

        • Jump

          “What method would you us to demonstrate your claim to another person?”

          Reason.

        • Joe

          Reason is highly subjective.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Anyone who looks into studies that make up dissonance theory can see that. People who have magical ideas about freewill either dismiss it out of hand or feel saddened by the knowlege.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Now all ya have to do is to learn what “reason” means.

          How would you reason me out of a religiously held belief that I was a brain in a vat without a reference to a discovery made by science for example?

          Let me help….

          https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Erik_Lebret/publication/288040528/figure/fig7/AS:365248533024780@1464093444487/Figure-7-Branches-of-science-and-the-hierarchy-of-science-mapped-to-the-scale-of-the.jpg

        • Jump

          LOL. Good one.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)
        • Chuck Johnson

          The statement “Nothing is true [or alternatively, can be known to be
          true] except what can be shown via the scientific method,” cannot itself
          be proven via the scientific method.-Jump

          To a very substantial degree, the scientific method has been proven to be true.
          But not to a perfect (100%) degree of proof.

          The many successes of science are the proof.
          Also, you don’t have to be a professional scientist to be competent using the scientific method. Small children can use it.

          ————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

          “But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

          “Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

          “But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

          The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

        • Jump

          Chuck Johnson, You could become a pragmatist, sure, and just say, “Well, science works.” But that assumes that “working” (whatever that is) entails truth–which, of course, is all and only a philosophical claim about science–not a claim which science settles. This isn’t even raising the further objection that, as every philosopher of science, and many good scientists, know, there is no such thing as “the scientific method”–as evidenced by the veritable cottage industry that exists trying to define what it is or to tackle the Demarcation Problem.

        • epeeist

          You could become a pragmatist, sure, and just say, “Well, science works.”

          Or you could invoke Putnam’s “no miracles” argument.

          there is no such thing as “the scientific method”

          However there are sets of heuristics, evinced by something like McMullan’s The Virtues of a Good Theory, which provide a commonality.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Chuck Johnson, You could become a pragmatist, sure, and just say, “Well, science works.” But that assumes that “working” (whatever that is) entails truth–which, of course, is all and only a philosophical claim about science–not a claim which science settles.-Jump

          Yes, science does work.
          It helps us to provide practical, useful knowledge which then becomes things which are practical and useful.
          Many examples are available to show us that science works under this definition.

          Practicing science does entail truth.
          Truth is those stories which best explain the available evidence, information or data. Creating such explanatory stories is a big part of what scientists do.

          If you take a broad view of what science consists of ( I do) then such things as semantics and word definitions will be considered to be a part of science.

          My definition of science is:
          Science is the search for knowledge using the tools of curiosity, competence and truthfulness.

        • Jump

          “Practicing science does entail truth.”

          I think you mean to say “science working entails truth”. In any case, a good many anti-realists, operationalists, instrumentalists, and the like will take issue with you on that. Are quarks real? What’s the right interpretation of QM data among the dozen-plus contradictory interpretations? They all say they work. What about eternalism vs. presentism. These all work. Yet they contradict one another, so they can’t all be right. Moreover, the claim that working entails truth is yet another philosophical claim ABOUT science, and not a scientific claim on its own.

          “My definition of science is: Science is the search for knowledge using the tools of curiosity, competence and truthfulness.”

          That’s fine, but (a) that definition, even if true, wouldn’t be something science speaks to–it’s a philosophical claim ABOUT science, and (b) many disciplines that aren’t what you’d consider science fit that designation (e.g., maths, theology).

        • Chuck Johnson

          Are quarks real? What’s the right interpretation of QM data among the dozen-plus contradictory interpretations?-Jump

          Quarks are real to the extent that information about them is available, organized, non-paradoxical and non-contradictory. Also, to the extent that the information allows scientists to make valid predictions about their behavior.

          So quarks are somewhat real, and their reality increases as more is learned about them.

          My definition of “real” here is “noticed and understood by human perceptions”.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Moreover, the claim that working entails truth is yet another philosophical claim ABOUT science, and not a scientific claim on its own.-Jump

          I have (as you have seen) a broad definition of “science”.
          It is broad enough to encompass the defining of words.
          That working entails truth fits within my definitions of working and of truth.

          Working in this case would be defined as “verified by scientific examination to be achieving its stated goals”.

          Also, when philosophy is done with sufficient competence, it becomes a scientific pursuit. The work of Daniel Dennett is an example.

        • Chuck Johnson

          That’s fine, but (a) that definition, even if true, wouldn’t be something science speaks to–it’s a philosophical claim ABOUT science,-Jump

          This is both a philosophical claim about science, and it is something that science speaks to. – – – Notice how broadly I define science.

        • Chuck Johnson

          . . . and (b) many disciplines that aren’t what you’d consider science fit that designation (e.g., maths, theology).-Don

          I definitely consider math to be a scientific pursuit.

          I also consider theology to be a scientific pursuit, but a highly defective one. Theology includes too much blind obedience to authority, and insufficient respect for empiricism.

          These defects are two very good reasons that the science of naturalism has surpassed the science of theism in discovering the truths about our universe.

          Curiosity, competence and truthfulness are in short supply in many versions of theism.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          In ‘Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)’: “Science, at its core, is arrogance control.”

          A way I would put it is: Science is knowing the art of deception. Like our first detective agencies, who were made up of people who knew how to pick-pocket, burgle, pick locks, commit and conceal murders, etc, science emerged out of long histories of people trying to deceive each other for power and people being deceived. This includes questions about the world, as with the house arrest of Galileo. If you know how to commit crimes against people/how to deceive people, you can develop tools (forensic techniques/the scientific method) to hinder those things.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Science is knowing the art of deception

          i’d refine that to “vigilance against” said art.
          and of course, those are great notes to leave unsecured when the anti-intellectual revolution comes.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          … Yeah, I had a thought the other day about early detective agencies being comprised of reformed crooks and that quote about the easiest person to fool being oneself and medieval people toasting to make sure that their drink wasn’t poisoned to kill just them. So… a lot of thoughts. Basically, scientists figured out what not to do by knowing we can be deceived in a large variety of ways- trying to be less wrong.

          My bad…

        • TheNuszAbides

          no bad at all, just comparing notes 😉

        • TheNuszAbides

          ‘truthfulness’ seems vague, but I’m guessing it is meant to include the sharing of results and/or comparing of notes (which of course entail tests for competence as well).

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes.
          At first glance, many people will think that truth and sincerity are simple to understand, but they are not.

          Simpletons like Donald Trump might congratulate themselves for their wisdom, insight and honesty, but on closer examination, they practice corrupt and fraudulent versions of these virtues.

          Randomized, double-blind studies have been invented to discover hidden truths.

        • MNb

          “But that assumes that “working” (whatever that is) entails truth”
          Nope. “Working” can perfectly do without truth – whatever that is, because apologists like you like to use that term as ambiguously as you use scientism.

          “there is no such thing as “the scientific method”
          The Demarcation Problem – which is a semantic problem – is not evidence at all for the statement that there is no such thing as “the scientific method”. It has been summarized by Richard Feynman decades ago: “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment,
          it’s wrong.”
          Granted, this is incomplete (for one thing “experiment” should have been replaced by “observation”) and for several reasons it cannot be used to separate science from non-science. Still it’s an essential and crucial part of the scientific method – ie how scientists are supposed to work.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope. “Working” can perfectly do without truth – whatever that is, because apologists like you like to use that term as ambiguously as you use scientism.

          Soz…only read your comment here after replying to epeeist…Disqus is getting worse than ever, or is it because Patheos started fiddling with things. I’m getting notifications out of sync and as far apart as 3 days…it doesn’t make keeping up very easy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve got the same delay with notifications of comments via email. I’ve sent a complaint to discuss-disqus@disqus.com.

          I’m not optimistic.

        • Pofarmer

          Good luck with that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve made some progress! I’ve found that that email address (which I got from Disqus) doesn’t work. Yay.

          So I’ve started an Disqus discussion. So far, nothing.
          https://disqus.com/home/channel/discussdisqus/discussion/channel-discussdisqus/bug_reports_feedback_emailed_comments_are_late/

        • Pofarmer

          Lol.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And so far my “discussion” has gotten nothing.

          Disqus isn’t polishing its reputation here.

        • Pofarmer

          What’s the saying about polishing a turd?

        • Jump

          “”Working” can perfectly do without truth – whatever that is, because apologists like you like to use that term as ambiguously as you use scientism.”

          I assume you take your above statement to be true–that “we can do without truth”. If you don’t think so, then how are we to take your assertions? Why waste your time writing if you don’t think what you’re saying is true? For those of us who took Tommy or even the OP to be making a claim to *truth*, your reply insulates itself at the cost of irrelevancy.

          Note, further, though, that the move to jettison truth comes at another cost. Gone is scientific realism. I’m ok with being an anti-realist on certain things, but I sure like to think that statements like “The moon orbits the Earth” should be interpreted realistically–that they are *true*.

          Re: the Demarcation Problem, if it’s only a semantic problem, then the distinction between science and the other disciplines is only a semantic one. But that only makes things *worse* for the adherent of scientism, for it dissolves any claim to science being the sole or best source of knowledge, which is what Tommy was apparently arguing for, above.

          Re: the scientific method, this is a dirty little trick we play on undergrads. We show them a chart in page one of the textbook. We say, here’s how science is done, all the while not letting them know that much of what counts as the paradigm of scientific activity in the history of science and contemporary science, departs wildly from that example.

          Re: the Feynman’s quote, sure, that’s right as a ceteris paribus claim–you might take a “family resemblance” view of scientific methods (so that there’s no single thing called “THE scientific method”)–I am actually very friendly to this idea. You rightly note, to your credit (I think we could get along!) that this doesn’t solve demarcation, though, since demarcation attempts to state the necessary and sufficient conditions for science. (To remind the reader, here’s the Feynman quote “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment it’s wrong.”) What’s especially ironic about Feynman’s quote, though, (in this context, if not full stop) is that it’s consistent with the falsity of scientism, since an enormous amount of science cannot be adjudicated on observation.

          “How scientists are supposed to work” is a normative statement. It’s not something that science can speak to.

        • MNb

          “that “we can do without truth”.
          Depends on how you define truth.

          “Why waste your time writing if you don’t think what you’re saying is true?
          The answer depends on how you define truth.

          “your reply insulates itself at the cost of irrelevancy.”
          Nope. The way apologists like you usually define truth makes it irrelevant. The way for instance Jerry Coyne in Why Evolution is True defines it doesn’t make it irrelevant at all.

          “the move to jettison truth comes at another cost. Gone is scientific realism.”
          Not at all. It’s just a matter of proper terminology. Like I told you elsewhere I actually prefer correct and incorrect.

          “I sure like to think that statements like “The moon orbits the Earth” should be interpreted realistically–that they are *true*.”

          Again it depends on how you define truth. I can easily maintain that the statement is false – because the Earth orbits the Moon. Exactly that’s why I prefer correct and incorrect; it’s correctness can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. “The Earth orbits the Moon” is also correct.

          “If you don’t think so, then how are we to take your assertions?”
          I already told you. Science works. You confirm it every time you turn on your computer etc.
          The relevance of your dirty trick escapes me, so I will ignore it.

          “you might take a “family resemblance” view of scientific methods.”
          Ah, you’re getting somewhere. Regarding methodology there are three levels.
          1. The branch specific level; when trying to understand what the author of an Ancient text meant we can use hermeneutics, but not a thermometer. When measuring the temperature of the Sun’s surface it’s the other way round.
          2. Some methods that can be used in different disciplines: statistics, the principle Testis Unus Testis Nullus.
          3. The abstract level. Specific: all branches of science use both induction and deduction.

          “an enormous amount of science cannot be adjudicated on observation.”
          That doesn’t contradict Feynman’s quote, silly. You’ll have to do better – name one widely accepted scientific theory to which his quote doesn’t apply.

          “How scientists are supposed to work” is a normative statement. It’s not something that science can speak to.”
          Actually it can. This is what science speaks out: “if you don’t work like that your conclusions are unreliable.”
          Again that was simple.

        • Jump

          Sheesh, the posturing doesn’t help, buddy. You’ve helped yourself to all sorts of claims that don’t depend one whit on empirical considerations for their justification—Feynman’s quote among them.

        • MNb

          Your ignorance is ridiculous. My favourite fetish is an excellent illustration of Feynman’s quote. I repeat:

          “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
          Here are some empirical considerations that justify the quote.
          1911: Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovers superconductivity while researching the properties of Helium. He received the Nobel Price for this research in 1913.
          1957: Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer, three very smart men, formulated a beautiful theory that correctly described all known relevant empirical data. They received the Nobel Price for their research in 1972. Their BCS theory postulates that superconductivy above 30 Kelvin is impossible.
          1986: Bednorz and Müller demonstrated that in some material superconductivity at 35 K is possible. Their experiment showed BCS theory dead wrong. They received the Nobel Price for their experiment in 1987, a record.
          These empirical considerations are nothing but Feynman’s quote in full flight.

          Two more empirical considerations serve as justifications of Feynman’s quote. Both are well known creationist turds. Both the “never has a cat been born out of a dog” and Ray Comfort’s crococduck would actually refute Evolution Theory, because it says neither can happen.
          As a result of your ignorance and lack of understanding you come across equally stupid.

        • Jump

          You reek of insecurity

        • MNb

          You need to visit a doctor – you’re nose doesn’t smell things properly.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “truth – whatever that is, because apologists like you like to use that term as ambiguously as you use scientism.”

          I think whatever the Greek word translated as “Truth” in John 14:6 could probabably more accurately be translated as ‘meme’, as in:

          “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the meme, and the life…”

          This is doubly appropriate because, as we all ought to know:

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1uQ7xWN2gZM

        • TheNuszAbides

          Ceci n’est pas une meme.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Put every manufactured thing you have up for freesies on Craigslist then. None of it was developed over time to meet needs, and use has shown that none of it works.

        • Jump

          What’s so strange is your desire to just give up on truth. I think the statement “the moon orbits the earth” is true, myself, and not merely a useful fiction for making increasingly more accurate predictions, but I won’t bug you about that further if that’s your thing. . The problem here for scientism is that science “working” is perfectly consistent with a *denial* of scientism. So, you don’t go out and prove the thesis “Only that which science can in principle prove is true” by showing a bunch of things science has done, because, of course, science can still be a field of knowledge (which it is) even if scientism were FALSE.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “Only that which science can in principle prove is true”

          Given that science is a term for methods and equipment developed to test hypotheses, how is science being used in that sentence?

        • Joe

          cannot itself be proven via the scientific method.

          Yes it can, or at least it can be continuously verified.

          Then there are a host of truths science depends on, which we are rational to believe, which do not and cannot get their justification by appeal to science.

          Such as? Examples would help further the discussion.

        • Jump

          Joe, see my comments later to Tommy for examples.

        • Joe

          I saw “scientism” and stopped paying attention.

        • Jump

          “I saw “scientism” and stopped paying attention.”

          Why?

        • Joe

          Because it’s a lazy accusation attempted at belittling an epistemology rather than putting your own position forward.

          It’s a lazy term used by apologists, creationists and scam-artists who know none of their ideas will stand up to scientific scrutiny. Therefore they feel the need to poison the well.

        • Jump

          Huh? It doesn’t matter what you call it; it was Tommy’s view, and the view is self-refuting. “Scientism” is a widely recognized term in the philosophical literature that describes this view. You need to read around more if you think it’s an insult. Here are names for other views, logical positivism, verificationism, Reformed epistemology, coherentism, foundationalism, etc. Some people criticize these as well–I don’t complain that they name the view they criticize; I just care about the criticism. Scientism is the name of a view–a self-refuting view, as it turns out (or a self-defeating view if it’s “weak” scientism vs. “strong”). Yes, I didn’t put forward an alternative view. There’s only so much space in a combox. In any case, you don’t need to put an alternative view forward to point out the problem in another. Call the view “Pen Maddy’s Second Philosophy” if it makes you feel better; it’s still the same view. Plus, if you stopped reading there, you missed all the examples you asked for.

        • Joe

          Tommy’s view was science is the best way to verify the truth.

          I share that view and see no problem in that statement.

        • Greg G.

          Tommy’s view was science is the best way to verify the truth.

          Me, too! And as soon as I find a better way to verify truth, I’m switching to that one. In the meantime, I’m sticking with the best.

        • epeeist

          You have to be careful here, science might be best way to come to a good explanation, but truth is another matter. The best one can get out of empiricism is probability.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Well, I think we’ve found your problem! With Christianity, you can get certainty.

        • Jump

          “Well, I think we’ve found your problem! With Christianity, you can get certainty.”

          Hmmm…I don’t know anyone who says that.

        • Joe

          William Lane Craig?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK, thanks for the data point.

          It’s my understanding that quite a few fundamentalists feel certain that their Christian conclusions are correct.

        • Jump

          You are probably right that there are some. It depends on which Christian conclusions you have in mind. Among more sophisticated Christian intellectuals, you’ll find it more common that they’ll claim knowledge, justification, or warrant for some view without going so far as to claim utter certainty. I’m thinking of basically any Christian philosopher here. Plantinga, Van Inwagen, Swinburne, etc.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I was thinking more of lay Christians. I’ve seen quite a few commenting here that seem to be certain (that God exists, for example).

        • Jump

          I see. Makes sense. I would advise such people to distinguish between certainty and knowledge: a person can know something without their justification for it needing to rise to the level of certainty. I think those people would do better to say they *know* God exists, for instance, even if they don’t have certainty that God exists. That’s a much more modest claim, since we know lots, but almost nothing with certainty.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And science claims to know nothing with certainty.

          I think those people would do better to say they *know* God exists, for instance, even if they don’t have certainty that God exists.

          I think I see what you’re saying, but that’s still confusing from my standpoint. “I know God exists” sounds like a claim of certainty to me. For example, I can’t imagine that person saying, “I know God exists, but I could be wrong.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s that weaselly word “truth” again. Or at least it’s weaselly when believers tend to employ it anyway.

        • Pofarmer

          As a guest on Neil Degrasse Tyson’s show said the other night, “Science isn’t about finding the truth, science is about eliminating what is false.”

        • epeeist

          To paraphrase Popper, we couldn’t know we had found the truth even if we have.

          So yes, I would agree, though personally I tend to say that science looks for the best possible explanation.

        • MNb

          Plus the scientific method is the only reliable method we humans have developed that does so.
          If we scientism define like that I embrace scientism.
          In defense of GregG: if he defines truth the same way as Jerry Coyne does in Why Evolution is True it’s basically the same as the best possible explanation. I don’t like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

        • Jump

          “Me, too! And as soon as I find a better way to verify truth, I’m switching to that one. In the meantime, I’m sticking with the best.”

          The concern is not labeling things better or worse (though, as epeeist notes, credence is generally lower with empirical theories). What you should accept is that there are multiple modes (sources) of knowledge. Here’s a major one: reason and rational reflection. Science itself relies on these. So do you, in fact.

        • Joe

          “Reason and rational reflection” also rely on science, so i’d group those together.

        • smrnda

          I’d say that reason and rational reflection aren’t ways of testing knowledge. “Reason” and “rational reflection” gave us the Four Humors and other such nonsense, because it sounded reasonable.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, relying on “Reason” isn’t a very good indicator, is it? Sorry, reason, can’t tell if it’s correct or incorrect without induction. It has to be proven. “Rational Reflection” is, well, a really stupid example. The way I see it, “Science” is an outgrowth of Philosophy and metaphysics and reason because these things weren’t reliable. “Science” didn’t just pop out all formed, it’s actually an answer to a question.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s actually an answer to a question.

          nicely put – even touches on the confusion/overlap some folks sense (or deny, or question, or whatnot) between atheism and science.

        • Jump

          Sure they are. Else we have no way of knowing if science itself is justified. No one says reason is infallible. Some is, but most not. Thankfully, infallibility isn’t a necessary condition for knowledge.

        • Jump

          “Tommy’s view was science is the best way to verify the truth.”

          Tommy’s view seemed to me to be that science was the *only* way to know the truth, and not just the best way. But even if it was as you said, the problem is that this is false. There are all sorts of things that we know that science can’t even in principle verify (examples were in my list to Tommy). I have no problem with science, or science being able to verify SOME things. I just deny the stronger claims that it’s the only source of knowledge, or the most reliable source of knowledge.

        • Joe

          Lots of your examples were not,in fact, knowable by any epistemology.

          or the most reliable source of knowledge.

          Compared to sources of knowledge that aren’t founded on reliability?

        • rational_being

          I think most people have an inverted understanding of what science is. Science is not about finding “truth” (which is impossible in any absolute sense). Rather science tires to discover the vicinity of truth by mapping what is false. The truth must lie somewhere on what is not demonstrably false. It is fundamentally a humble exercise because, at any moment, something may be discovered that falsifies a treasured hypothesis.

          Sometimes, we think we have falsified something only to have to revisit the issue. For example, there was a controversy between Newton and Huygens as to whether light was a particle phenomenon or a wave. Young’s 1802 double-slit experiment seemed to falsify the particle theory decisively. The wave theory was further enhanced by Maxwell’s spectacularly successful synthesis of electromagnetism. Then, in 1905, Einstein wrote a paper (on the photoelectric effect) showing that light could display particle characteristics after all. The fact that light could display both particle and wave characteristics led us to Quantum theory.

          The true power of science lies in its humility.

        • epeeist

          “Scientism” is a widely recognized term in the philosophical literature that describes this view.

          Yep, the question is then, how many people adhere to this view and in more specifically, how many scientists adhere to it?

          As a follow up one can then ask, how many people are accused of scientism, particular by the “apologists, creationists and scam-artists” that Joe refers to (personally I would replace “scam artists” by “woo merchants”)?

        • Jump

          “Yep, the question is then, how many people adhere to this view and in more specifically, how many scientists adhere to it?”

          That’s not the question I’m asking, but it’s a free country; you can ask it.

          Not many philosophers adhere to scientism, from what I have observed. More scientists seem to adhere to it than philosophers, though. Not everyone calls it by that name. But so what? That doesn’t matter. I brought it up because Tommy in this blog assumed it (as do, it turns out, a good number of others commenting here). If you don’t like the word “scientism”, call it what I almost did: “P”. Call it “second philosophy”. Call it whatever you want. It’s the view I care about. We can call each other names like “woo merchants” all day and that won’t get us anywhere. You should probably just stick with the arguments.

        • MNb

          “Tommy in this blog assumed it ”
          Nope, he didn’t. He asked a question. You made an assumption, not he.
          If it’s up to me to define “scientism” it will become clear it’s not self refuting. In fact every single comment of yours has confirmed it’s not.

          “You should probably just stick with the arguments.”
          Every single argument you bring up will keep on hanging in the air as long as you refuse to specify what you think Tommy’s view is.
          He did nothing but asking a question, you see.
          You only have increased the suspicion that you’re attacking a strawman. Worse: you begin to realize it and hence desperately are looking for ways to duck my question.
          What do you think Tommy’s view is, the one you call scientism? Quote him. No paraphrazing, but a literal reproduction, preferably with a link.
          Because you’re losing credibility rapidly.

        • Joe

          Because you’re losing credibility rapidly.

          They started at zero, now they’re on negative credibility.

        • Jump

          I took it Tommy’s Question to be rhetorical. If it wasn’t, then ok.

        • epeeist

          More scientists seem to adhere to it than philosophers, though.

          Do they, from my experience few if any do. In fact they few times that I see “scientism” referenced it is usually by non-scientists and when accusations of scientism are made it is almost always by “apologists, creationists and scam-artists”.

        • Jump

          Talking about the concept of scientism, not the term.

        • MNb

          “”Scientism” is a widely recognized term …”
          Not at all. There isn’t even a proper definition. I could provide one, but that wouldn’t suit you.

        • Jump

          You’re wrong. It’s widely used in the literature. Nick Rescher uses it. Pen Maddy uses it. People know what it means. Maybe on a blog people don’t know what it means. But in the profession, people know good and well what it means. But even if they didn’t, I clarified what *I* meant by it: I noted that “scientism” was the name I gave to Tommy’s view. The more important thing is the view. Call Tommy’s view “Young Earth Creationism” if you like–the point is what the view *is*.

        • Joe

          Nick Rescher uses it. Pen Maddy uses it.

          William Lane Craig uses is. Sye Ten Buggancate uses it. Ken Ham uses it. David “Avacado” Wolfe uses it.

        • MNb

          I know what I mean with scientism. I want to know what you mean with it. The fact that you refuse to specify it – you could even quote those guys – confirms that I’m right: there is not even a proper definition.
          Plus what I already wrote – Tommy asked a question. He didn’t display a view.

        • Jump

          Scientism is roughly the view that only those propositions that can be proven (or supported, if you prefer) by the methods of science are true. There are minor variants but that’s the idea.

        • MNb

          Then nobody here and hardly an atheist accepts scientism.

          As several regulars have tried to make clear to you: science isn’t capable of proving anything. There is always room for doubt. Hence science cannot produce true propositions.
          Now some scientists have modified the meanings of proof and truth; the best example I can think of is Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True. He makes very clear in the beginning of this book that True does not mean absolute certainty.
          I suppose you can find yourself a few atheists who do think that science can prove things, ie produce definite statements. I’ve met one or two. They are exceptions. That’s why almost all accusations of scientism are nothing but strawmen.

          How to gain knowledge is something that has been extensively researched by philosophers for two and a half millennia. Famously Rene Descartes tried to show that deduction suffices, while Locke, Berkeley and Hume wrote about induction. Descartes failed – and as a mathematician he should have recognized it – because he didn’t recognize that we never can prove axiomata, presuppositions, assumptions etc. His Cogito Ergo Sum is a non-sequitur. Hume failed because all inductive methods rely on Induction by Simple Enumeration and it can be easily shown that such induction never can prove anything either. This is reflected by the well known warning regarding stock trade: results in the past are no guarantee for the future.

          Science uses both deduction and induction. If they result in the same conclusion we can say we have knowledge. However that knowledge is still tentative (the axiomata still can be wrong and there still may be undiscovered empirical data that contradict it), so knowledge proven by science is imo bad terminology.
          However besides deduction and induction there is no known objective method. As a result the scientific method (which, I repeat, combined deduction and induction) is the only road to reliable conclusions. Interestingly that means that math is not scientific either. It’s not possible to find out with math alone whether Euclidean geometry or some non-Euclidean geometry is true. Given that faith (in the proper meaning of the word: using revelation, whether coming from yourself or from others like a Holy Tekst) is subjective (hence so many religions and denominations) religion is not reliable. That’s not meaning that it’s false; it means that there is no reason to accept any religious proposition. Kierkegaard realized this and hence introduced the Leap of Faith.

          What I call scientism is nothing but the observation that science provides the only reliable and objective method to gain knowledge. There is a circular element here: only science produces knowledge hence all knowledge is scientific and everything non-scientific is not knowledge. However there is an escape route, one that remarkably is part of widely accepted philosophy of science. As Richard Feynman said:

          “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
          I think my theory beautiful and I think I’m not the dumbest guy around. Now if we stretch the meaning of “experiment” it’s obvious what to do. If you think not only science can produce knowledge you have to develop a third method (ie not deduction nor induction) that’s also objective. If you succeed I’m wrong. However listing a couple of random, unspecified examples (if I remember correctly you mentioned math, philosophy and art) is not nearly enough.
          You’re invited.

          Still scientism as a definite proposition (ie truth) is wrong and a strawman. Scientism as a tentative proposition is simply correct as far as I can see – and consistent with the scientific method.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          it was Tommy’s view, and the view is self-refuting.

          Self-refuting? I think you mean that it can’t be proved with itself. That’s quite different.

        • Jump

          “Self-refuting? I think you mean that it can’t be proved with itself. That’s quite different.”

          I did mean self-refuting. It’s self-refuting precisely because it can’t be proved by the means it says everything true must be proven by. The sentence, “Everything true is provable by science” is itself not provable by science, and thus, if true, is false. That’s the definition of self-refuting.

        • Pofarmer

          Except “Science” in the loosest term doesn’t generally claim “truth.” It typically claims to eliminate what is false.

        • Lark62

          It’s just like “evolutionist” and “Darwinism.” These terms were created by creationists to diss science. Kind of a tit for tat response to the fact that they are considered “creationists” not scientists.

        • Jump

          Lark, don’t get hung up on the term. The issue is what the view itself is.

        • Lark62

          People who use words and concepts made up by creationists reveal their bias and their ignorance.

        • Jump

          If you think this discussion is about creationism, You should read around more.

        • MNb

          Correct. That’s why he asked whether Skl could show anything to be true without using the scientific method.

          “there are a host of truths science depends on”
          Such as? And how do you know they are true?

        • Jump

          “Correct. That’s why he asked whether Skl could show anything to be true without using the scientific method.”

          Ok, then it appears we agree. I showed something that cannot be proven true without using the scientific method.

          “Such as? And how do you know they are true?”

          See my examples in my longish reply to Tommy. This is why there exists the discipline called philosophy of science–not to mention M&E, logic, math, etc.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHA!
          Listing a couple of examples is no answer to “how do you know?” It’s about the how.
          Brilliant failure – you jump into the gutter instead of on the embankment.
          The discipline called philosophy of science exists ao to show how void your position is – nothing but personal opinion elevated to dogma.

        • Jump

          Re: “how do you know?”

          You should read a paper called “The Problem of the Criterion.” By Roderick Chsiholm. What I would say in answer to your question has been said better there. You might also read up on Alvin Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology. Or Swinburne’s principles of charity, credulity, and testimony in The Evolution of the Soul. And GE Moore’s reply to the external world skeptic.

        • MNb

          Funny, how a not too dumb but not particularly smart guy like me is perfectly capable of summarizing established philosophy of science in a few short comments but apologists like you always fall back on mentioning 10 big fat expensive books.
          Let’s make a deal. You buy them and send them to an address I’ll give you. Then I’ll read them.
          Until then I take your answer as an implicit admission that those sources are a waste of time and money; both are limited as far as I’m concerned (and the latter very much at the moment because of personal problems).
          What are you going to do? Are you going to put your money where your mouth is? Or are you going to tell us why these guys are relevant for the question “how do you know”? My bet is neither – you’re going to try to weasle out and ultimately you will disappear.

        • Jump

          Your problem isn’t that you’re not smart enough. Your problem is your hubris. You know nothing about me but you go on the attack constantly. Who does that? Anyway, all that stuff you should be able to get for free online or at your local university library in the case of the book chapters. Or, shoot, just look some of it up on SEP. These aren’t all “big, fat books”; Chisholm’s The Problem of the Criterion is a short, classic paper by one of the best analytic philosophers of the past century. I’ve used it in Intro to Philosophy courses. Free online probably now. You could read it in 20 minutes.

        • MNb

          “Your problem isn’t that you’re not smart enough.”
          Your problem is that you refuse to admit that you’re not either.

          “Your problem is your hubris.”

          BWAHAHAHA!

          What did I write again? Ah yes, “a not particularly smart guy like me.”

          “You know nothing about me”
          I know what you write because I read your comments.

          “but you go on the attack constantly.”
          That’s the point of this blog, silly. Attacking your comments. That’s what I do. If you take that personally it’s your problem, not mine. If you quit today I have forgotten you tomorrow.

          “Who does that?”
          Someone who has read your comments.

          “to get for free online”
          Then provide links.

          “or at your local university library”
          I don’t have access to it.

          “a short, classic paper by one of the best analytic philosophers of the past century. I’ve used it in Intro to Philosophy courses.”
          That doesn’t say much when coming from you, who first demonstrates his non-understanding of that Feynman quote and then refuses to address my explanation.
          “”Free online probably now. You could read it in 20 minutes.”
          Again: provide a link. I’m not someone who needs to repeat promises.

        • RichardSRussell

          It’s not necessary to prove that the scientific method works well. It’s only necessary to look at its track record vis-a-vis the competition. What else ya got that works better?

        • Jump

          Oh, I’m fine with science. It works fine for many things. It’s just that provability by science is not a necessary condition for knowledge. There are plenty of things we know independently of science (see my examples in my reply to Tommy).

        • RichardSRussell

          see my examples in my reply to Tommy

          I typed “Jump” into my browser’s Find window and got 26 hits. I typed in “Tommy” and got 17. Frankly, I don’t have the time to try to match them all up to find the one you’re referring to. Would you mind repeating your best example?

        • Jump

          Hi RichardSRussell, I understand what you mean. These threads get unwieldy after a while. I can’t keep up with multiple discussions very easily this way. My examples were just the standard list: truths that science depends on, but which cannot be justified by appeal to science on pain of circularity. Things like truths of mathematics, logic, morality, the veridicality of sense experience, testimony, memory, metaphysical truths such as that the world didn’t come into existence 5 minutes ago with memory traces, or that there are other minds besides one’s own, or that we’re not all just brains in vats (or almost as bad, Boltzmann brains). Stuff like that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s just that provability by science is not a necessary condition for knowledge.

          You only think that, because you are too stupid to fully understand the human endeavour that is known as “science”.

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/75/The_Scientific_Universe.png/450px-The_Scientific_Universe.png

          There are plenty of things we know independently of science (see my examples in my reply to Tommy).

          Your list to Tommy was a loada ignorant tripe if you think it doesn’t involve a branch of science, so pah!

        • Jump

          Your chart includes non-empirical fields of knowledge, like math and logic. I couldn’t be in greater agreement with their inclusion. Calling those “formal sciences”, as your chart does, is using the term “science” in that much broader sense the Medievals used it (as “scientia”—literally, “knowledge”) whereby math, logic, theology, natural philosophy, etc. were all scientia. I’m cool with that use of “science” as scientia, too, for I think there is a host of non-empirically justified propositions. Let’s just be clear on our use of terms, lest we equivocate.

          In contrast to the schema on your chart, the view I object to is rather the one according to which science **as understood in contemporary vernacular** (i.e., empirical science, paradigmatically exemplified in something popularly called “the scientific method”) is the sole (or alternatively, most authoritative) source of knowledge. As such, while I’m perfectly friendly to your chart, your chart is plainly in contradiction with this view (which I earlier called “scientism”, but if it bothers you, we can just call it “P”).

          All the items on my “Tommy list” are items of knowledge (scientia); they just aren’t items that get their justification from empirical knowledge. (And before I forget, let’s add one more to my “Tommy list”: the list of what counts as a science on your chart!)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We can’t prove that statement, but so what? We can test that statement and see whether there are exceptions.

        • Jump

          “We can’t prove that statement, but so what? We can test that statement and see whether there are exceptions.”

          Not only can we not prove the statement, but worse, you can’t prove it by science–which contradicts the original claim.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The original statement is irrelevant. I don’t make it.

          That’s the problem with the “Aha!! Your statement is self-defeating, moron!” argument. In my experience, the statement is usually changeable into something that doesn’t have this problem.

          For example: the scientific method does a great job delivering new knowledge about reality (unlike religion). I’m sure you could find other phrasings that would avoid your concern.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Are screwdrivers impossible to make without another screwdriver? Are English words unable to be formed until one has spelled the letters? You are repeating tripe an apologist taught you without really giving it much thought to how ridiculous the question sounds applied to other tools humans have developed.

        • Jump

          It’s unadvisable to psychologize. Best to stick with the arguments. You’re talking about tools; I’m talking about the truth of propositions, and a particular one that is self-refuting.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Methods are tools just like screwdrivers and written language.

        • David Cromie

          Mathematics is ‘true’ by definition, and science relies greatly on this very fact. If this were not the case, Einstein, if remembered at all, would be just a small footnote in history.

        • Herald Newman

          Can you show anything to be true without using the scientific method?

          Of course I can! Any true analytic proposition can be shown to be true without the need for science. I can prove that 1+1=2 simply from the definitions of 1, +, =, and 2.

          Now, if you’re talking about synthetic propositions, that’s a different story.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          Of course you can. Don’t you know that there are… other ways of knowing? And that you’re a closed minded fool for not accepting that there are… other ways of knowing?

          What are these other ways of knowing, I hear you ask? Well… they’re… other ways.

        • Joe

          Some would say mysterious ways.

        • Greg G.

          Licona got fired for not accepting the zombie apocalypse of Matthew 27:52-53. We should not accept the ridiculous claims of any religion without good evidence.

        • Herald Newman

          You mean the say-so of a superstitious, first century, author isn’t good enough for you? With standards that high you’ll never have any friends. :)

        • Greg G.

          What is wrong with me? I have taken Mike Licona’s opinion over the written word of a saint.

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, but where exactly is that saint’s up-to-date documentation of good standing?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve just been hoking through my favourites and coincidentally come across an old article I’d forgot I had on subject matter that has been getting a wee bit of attention on CE just recently.

          I may have linked to it before on Bob’s blog, or you may have seen it already elsewhere, but it’s worth posting again, I’d certainly not remembered about it anyway.

          1 Corinthians 15 and the “500 Witnesses”

          https://celsus.blog/2013/07/04/1-corinthians-15-and-the-500-witnesses/

        • TheNuszAbides

          pretty much everything by Matt F is worth posting again, especially for the history PRATTs.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Remind me of the other routes to truth besides those informed by scientific methods (science, history, etc.).

        • skl

          “Remind me of the other routes to truth besides those
          informed by scientific methods (science, history, etc.).”

          That seems to be changing the subject.
          I wasn’t talking about “routes to truth”, I was talking about truth which might exist which is not subject toand revealed by scientific methods.

          For example, the truth about the origin of the universe or
          of the origin of life have thus far been beyond the powers of science to answer. (And I don’t see how science could ever answer definitively since scientists can’t turn back time to observe what actually happened. That holds even
          if
          abiogenesis was demonstrated in a lab today.).

          A more everyday example is the thoughts inside your head
          right now. They may truly be XYZ. You may say truly that they are XYZ. But science can’t know that ‘XYZ in your head’ is true.

        • Lark62

          If a reliable answer to those questions are ever found, it will be through science. There is no other route to truth.

        • Kevin K

          Pre-poisoning the well, are you? Yes, we know. We can’t ever know how life got started blah blah blah.

          Now, tell me how the currently understood laws of physics and chemistry prohibit the formation of life from pre-biotic precursors in a highly energetic world. I’ll wait. (No, I won’t, because you can’t.)

        • skl

          I’ll wait for you to tell me how the currently understood
          laws of physics and chemistry require the
          formation of life from pre-biotic precursors in a highly energetic world.

        • Kevin K

          “Require”? Well, I think all of that research has actually already been done. You can start with organic chemistry 101, move to organic chemisty 201, 301, then 401. Then biochemistry (a subset of organic chemistry) in the same order. Add a class or two in thermodynamics — senior level, of course.

          Come back when you’re finished and we can discuss. Until then, what you repeatedly offer is the logical fallacy known as “argument from incredulity”. Just because your Creationist mind can’t figure it out, doesn’t mean it hasn’t already been figured out, or that it is impossible to do so.

        • skl

          In short, the old ‘Abiogenesis, because chemistry.’

        • Susan

          In short, the old Abiogenesis, because chemistry.

          In short from you, skl:

          Ignorance, incuriosity, reset button

        • Kevin K

          Yes, and it’s your job to prove otherwise. You can start by discerning which chemical reaction called “biochemistry” is impossible to replicate outside of a living being.

          Good luck with that.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          What are humans made of? How did those chemicals get from other forms to simple lifeform(s)? Also, it’s abiogenesis because the word abiogenesis translates to a fitting description in common English of what our current observations can tell us to look for.

        • Greg G.

          For example, the truth about the origin of the universe or
          of the origin of life have thus far been beyond the powers of science to answer. (And I don’t see how science could ever answer definitively since scientists can’t turn back time to observe what actually happened. That holds even
          if abiogenesis was demonstrated in a lab today.).

          Science maybe will never be able to answer all such questions, but what method stands a better chance? Even science can’t give us absolute answers because we could be a vat in a brain or Immaculately Deceived.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well skl fits the profile of someone with “a vat in a brain” for sure.

        • Bob Jase

          “fat in a brain” FIFY

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was punting towards a “vac in a brain”…as in vacuum…or the void the vat fills….probably too cryptic…but fat is good enough.

        • Susan

          I was talking about truth which might exist which is not subject to and revealed by scientific methods.

          For example?

          For example, the truth about the origin of the universe

          That is subject to scientific methods.

          or the truth about the origin of life.

          Also subject to scientific methods.

          A more everyday example is the thoughts inside your head right now.

          Subject to scientific methods.

          Do you have anything but ignorance, incuriosity, skl-of-the-gaps and the reset button?

          skl demands quantum gravity, abiogenesis and consciousness be perfectly explained to him, even though he shows no knowledge or interest in any of the realated fields. or skl gets to say it’s reasonable to believe in ghosts.

          skl thinks that makes him a sceptic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do you have anything but ignorance, incuriosity, skl-of-the-gaps and the reset button?

          Certainly not…behave yerself missus.

          skl demands quantum gravity, abiogenesis and consciousness be perfectly explained to him, even though he shows no knowledge of or interest in any of the related fields. or skl gets to say it’s reasonable to believe in ghosts.

          But we already know skl is just a sealioning numbskull from past experience. Maybe skl just forgot we know this when the hit the reset button was pushed?

        • Ignorant Amos

          For example, the truth about the origin of the universe or of the origin of life have thus far been beyond the powers of science to answer. (And I don’t see how science could ever answer definitively since scientists can’t turn back time to observe what actually happened. That holds even if abiogenesis was demonstrated in a lab today.)

          Your ignorance and incredulity was duly noted here quite a while ago.

        • David Cromie

          “…truth which might exist which is not subject to and revealed by scientific methods”. How is one supposed to access such ‘truths’ if there is no route to follow that might, at least in theory, give access to them?

        • skl

          Some possible other routes which come to mind are logic and
          personal experience.

          Some religious types would add divine revelation.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          You listed empirical phenomena and then said to stay away from it (if anyone could find such things). You’re selling something from the farm, and it isn’t fresh produce!

    • Chuck Johnson

      As such, it could be reasonable to reprimand a believer who tries to challenge the beliefs by using investigative
      methods which that faith was never subject to or based on to begin with.-skl

      When magic and superstition are involved, do not say “reasonable”.
      Instead say “supported by doctrine”.
      Because “reasonable” has to do with a reason or reasons, not magic.

    • Chuck Johnson

      However, I would also say that Christianity appears to be a
      system of belief not based on science or on observations to
      be expected from the working of natural laws.-skl

      Christianity contains many beliefs which are based upon natural laws.
      Christianity also contains a great deal of ignorance and dishonesty.
      That humans are often ignorant and dishonest is only natural.

      Christianity and Christians are all products of our natural universe.

      • David Cromie

        Religion is the product of ignorance and superstition, which was to be expected in pre-scientific times, since humans are, by nature, inquisitive, always seeking answers, even where the necessary tools for discovery are missing. Con men have taken advantage of that to found their respective religions, all the better to con the ignorant and superstitious and control them for their own nefarious ends.

    • sandy

      However, I would also say that Christianity appears to be a

      system of belief not based on science or on observations to

      be expected from the working of natural laws.-skl In other words Christianity is just made up shit.

    • TheNuszAbides

      it could be reasonable

      nobody is claiming that the kind of suppression you describe makes no sense from within the precious internal coherence of the narrative-bubble of a theist in-group. nor that it can’t be a bluntly effective way to keep members “in line”. it’s just that the behavior is founded on crappy ideas. and these faith statements quite blatantly undermine any commitment (written or unwritten, justified religiously or otherwise) to honesty.

    • David Cromie

      it could be reasonable to reprimand a believer who tries to challenge the beliefs by using investigative methods which that faith was never subject to or based on to begin with….”. ???

  • eric

    I think this issue is already mostly resolved for experts. Peer review journals do list the author’s university/organization, and people in the field will typically be aware of that universities’ reputation in that field. That sort of reference might be too subtle for lay people to pick up on, but I doubt you need to inform a philosopher or theologian that a paper coming out of Biola likely comes with theological assumptions a paper coming out of Harvard doesn’t.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I agree, but I’d like to see a far clearer statement. We’d want to see “Part of this research was conducted with financial help from Exxon-Mobil” plainly stated on a paper that concluded that climate change was crap. Again, that doesn’t prove the research was biased, but we’d want that risk factor clearly displayed.

      I want to see Christian “research” penalized. When “science” like ID has moved from the domain of science into PR, the audience is not scholars as much as the lay public who don’t understand these subtleties.

      I would like to see “The conclusions in this paper are suspect because of the [institution] faith statement that obligates the author to reach this conclusion” prominently displayed wherever appropriate (or as close to that wording as possible).

      • eric

        I fully support financial disclosures in journals. That’s actually already standard in many good journals, though there’s no real stringent enforcement policy (science peer review policies are generally geared towards stopping errors, not fraud).

        But i don’t want to see any research “penalized” beyond the normal process of technical criticism of it when it’s crappy. What you’re proposing is not getting rid of bias, it’s attempting to create a bias against researchers that have the temerity to take positions at religious institutions. And it’s a blunt instrument that doesn’t distinguish between poor scholars who, yes, might owe their job to the loyalty oath that few other credible scholars would take, and good scholars who take whatever ideology oath is required,but then try their best to give the kids at those schools a real education, do real research.

        And again, I don’t think experts need the cautionary note you want, as long as the institution’s name is published in the paper. Because the institution’s own reputation will be known in the field. Contra that case, the reason it’s important to explicitly call out funding sources is because publishing the researcher’s name and institution doesn’t give you any transparency into who or which groups may be funding him/her. Scholars get funding from a variety of public and private grants that aren’t necessarily indicated or deducible by their name or institution.

        • Lark62

          I am going to do a study to detemine whether commenters whose screen name begins with an “E” have anything valuable to say.

          If I say commenters whose screen name begins with an “E” make valuable points, I will lose $100k of funding.

          Surprise. I conclude that commenters whose screen name begins with an “E” make no valuable points and have nothing valuable to say.

          My conclusion has no value and adds nothing to any discussion because whether I did a thousand hours of work or made this all up, my conclusion would not charge.

          This is not about improper bias against researchers that have the “temerity” to take positions at religious institutions. This is about proper bias against researchers who have an obligation to reach one specific conclusion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And it is a real problem, not just a hypothetical.

          Thompson, Licona, and Brodie, are just three esteemed scholars who got the bullet for views that ran contrary to the establishment.

          Thompson, who held the then fringe position of OT minimalism and which is today the mainstream view in scholarship, was treated like a pariah.

          There is no doubt that there are scholars hiding in the closet because they differ on all manner of positions contrary to the institution where they are employed. We know it’s true for atheists and LGBT folk, we know it’s true for clerics in the pulpits of different religions who no longer believe, through the work of The Clergy Project…and we know it exists throughout academia too.

          Even with those who were content at faith based institutes, but now find their positions untenable because the woo-woo is going too far.

          I’m [Brandon G. Withrow] also aware of faculty at other Christian schools who are wondering when they should leave. They’re finding it unhealthy to stay, but they have family relying on their income and school loans or mortgages to pay, and the job market is meager at best.

          https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/10/17/how-know-when-give-faculty-job-religious-college

          Even tenured professors are not free to express themselves openly.

          https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/01/14/can-statements-faith-be-compatible-academic-freedom

          http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/november/crisis-of-faith-statements.html

          http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2008/april/114-43.0.html

          And let’s not pretend that donors have no influence on who gets hired and fired. Also, not only because of religious bias either.

          http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/think-tenure-protects-wealthy-donors-less-public-funding-think/

        • eric

          Notice of the obligation is provided by the University affiliation. What you and Bob want to do is ensure you rub readers’ noses in it. Which not only does a disservice to the readers, it does a disservice to departments and individual professors who work to do good science despite some political or institutionally imposed obligation.

        • Lark62

          I don’t know which universities have statements of faith. Nor have I memorized the contents of those that exist.

          All that is expected is that people tell the truth. It mattered when tobacco companies funded research that concluded smoking does not cause cancer. It matters when oil companies fund research that car emissions don’t contribute to global warming.

          If a researcher does not tell the truth about funding, biases and limits placed on conclusions, they are liars and nothing they say can be trusted.

        • Kevin K

          In the biomedical field, financial disclosures are required. Again, with the large company-funded trials, it’s an open book anyway. You’d have to be very, very dumb not to know which company is sponsoring a trial of drug X.

          But in the field of religious apologetics? “Funded by the Templeton Foundation” would say a lot to me.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I fully support financial disclosures in journals.

          Financial support is just one source of bias. The post makes clear that the obligation of a faith statement is another.

          But i don’t want to see any research “penalized” beyond the normal process of technical criticism of it when it’s crappy.

          Right—religion gets a pass. They’re talking about magic, if you can believe it, with a straight face.

          What you’re proposing is not getting rid of bias, it’s attempting to create a bias against researchers that have the temerity to take positions at religious institutions.

          Oh, stop! You’re just trying to flatter me.

          And it’s a blunt instrume nt that doesn’t distinguish between poor scholars who, yes, might owe their job to the loyalty oath that few other credible scholars would take, and good scholars who take whatever ideology oath is required,but then try their best to give the kids at those schools a real education, do real research.

          Why is this hard? When they come to a conclusions identical to their faith statement, how can it be trusted? “This is a cushy job you’ve got here. It’d be a shame to see anything happen to it. But don’t let me sway your research, professor.”

          And again, I don’t think experts need the cautionary note you want, as long as the institution’s name is published in the paper.

          Is the faith statement understood? Not embarrassing? Cool—then making it public wouldn’t hurt.

          Or is the reluctance because it would be embarrassing? Then all the more reason to make it public.

          Because the institution’s own reputation will be known in the field.

          Have the lay Christian read this post. If they say, “Well, duh—everyone knows that” then you win. Adding the note about the faith statement would inform no one (but if that’s the case, I wonder what your opposition is based in). But I doubt that that would common knowledge.

        • eric

          Right—religion gets a pass. They’re talking about magic, if you can believe it, with a straight face.

          It doesn’t get a pass if the religion shows up in the research approach, methodology, assumptions, etc. But it does get a pass when it stays inside the researcher’s head. You only have to look at how the scientific community treats Michael Behe vs. Kenneth Miller to see that being religious is largely irrelevant to scientists, as long as you aren’t doing religion in your science.

          Why is this hard? When they come to a conclusions identical to their faith statement, how can it be trusted?

          Who is ‘trusting’ them? We’re talking about scientific journal publications. Readers expect the data to be shown. And any extraordinary claim is going to have to be extraordinarily well supported before it’s accepted, regardless of the religious beliefs or nonbeliefs of the authors.

          Have the lay Christian read this post. If they say, “Well, duh—everyone knows that” then you win.

          I’ve said this twice but I guess I have to say it again; I don’t think professionals in the field will gain any benefit from what you’re proposing. And those are the vast vast majority of readers for any peer reviewed journal article. When was the last time you, Bob, read any article from the Research Articles section of Science? Picking one from the latest volume, do you think the structure of Heliobacterium modesticaldum elucidated by Gisriel et al. makes a solid case for it’s evolution from a homodimeric protein? And if it turned out that ASU made their professors sign some ideological statement, would that improve in any way your probably very minimal understanding (and to be fair – my minimal understanding too) of the details given in the paper?
          Lay Christians aren’t reading these articles. They aren’t even reading the abstracts. They aren’t even buying the journals. Not even science-supporting atheists like you are reading the articles, unless/until some news outlet reports on it – then you might read it. Or you might just stick with the summarized version given by those news outlets. So it seems to me that if the note you demand isn’t useful to scientists, then it’s just extra wasted ink.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You only have to look at how the scientific community treats Michael Behe vs. Kenneth Miller to see that being religious is largely irrelevant to scientists, as long as you aren’t doing religion in your science.

          Are they bound by a faith statement? I doubt it, which is why they’re not relevant to our discussion.

          Who is ‘trusting’ them? We’re talking about scientific journal publications.

          No, we’re not. I’m talking about every single lecture, book, article, blog post, or other communication where their commitment to a faith statement is relevant. The scholars we’re talking about write few articles for Science or Nature.

          Readers expect the data to be shown. And any extraordinary claim is going to have to be extraordinarily well supported before it’s accepted, regardless of the religious beliefs or nonbeliefs of the authors.

          Peer-reviewed journals? Where the peers are unbiased by faith statements? I have no complaints here (and, yet again, this is not the area we’re talking about).

          I’ve said this twice but I guess I have to say it again; I don’t think professionals in the field will gain any benefit from what you’re proposing.

          Perhaps not. They’re not my concern, since professionals are rarely the audience.

          When was the last time you, Bob, read any article from the Research Articles section of Science?

          When was the last time you, eric, saw any article in Science written by someone bound by a faith statement?

          Is this deliberate misdirection, or do you really think that that kind of journal is the primary outlet for professors at Biola?

          Lay Christians aren’t reading these articles.

          Right. Since they’re not what I’m talking about, why bring them up?

          So it seems to me that if the note you demand isn’t useful to scientists, then it’s just extra wasted ink.

          If my proposal were implemented, it would embarrass Christian scholars who are writing to laypeople.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “good scholars who take whatever ideology oath is required,but then try their best to give the kids at those schools a real education, do real research.”

          I think this is a really important point. I hope there are plenty of researchers and teachers in these sham “skools” that do say, “Screw the rules! Science and education have standards!”

        • Ignorant Amos

          It seems that ball has started rolling.

          A link I posted earlier… https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/10/17/how-know-when-give-faculty-job-religious-college

    • Kevin K

      I may be wrong on this, but my impression is that most if not all peer-review journals strip out the authors’ identification before sending a paper out for peer review just to avoid this kind of bias. Now, of course, any “peer” worth his salt will know that the PANTHER trial is supported by pharmaceutical company X, and the lead investigator is Y, so there are a lot of obvious limitations to that approach. But at the very least, not prejudicing the reviewers with the name of the eminence gris who is heading the trial is at least a good first step.

      • Ignorant Amos

        As far as I’m aware, the system is anonymous in all cases where it is possible, but there are exceptions to the rule, for obvious reasons of course. Hyper specialised subjects to begin with.

        Anonymous, attributed, and open peer review.

        For most scholarly publications, the identity of the reviewers is kept anonymised (also called “blind peer review). The alternative, attributed peer review involves revealing the identities of the reviewers. Some reviewers choose to waive their right to anonymity, even when the journal’s default format is blind peer review.

        Starting in the 1990s, several scientific journals (including the high impact journal Nature in 2006) started experiments with hybrid peer review processes, allowing the open peer reviews in parallel to the traditional model. The initial evidence of the effects of open peer reviews was mixed. Identifying reviewers to the authors does not negatively impact, and may potentially have a positive impact upon, the quality of reviews, the recommendation regarding publication, the tone of the review and the time spent on reviewing.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholarly_peer_review#Different_styles

        • eric

          there are exceptions to the rule, for obvious reasons of course. Hyper specialised subjects to begin with.

          My PhD was in a fairly specialized field. We co-authors could usually figure out who each reviewer was simply by writing style. I’m sure they could do the same when we reviewed their papers. Nevertheless, I think the ‘anonymization’ still served a good purpose. It helps to put just enough distance between colleagues that it’s easier to keep that thick skin you need in science. You want to take criticism, but you don’t want to take it personally because that tends to short-circuit the more intellectual parts of the brain. So even gestures that turn out to be largely symbolic can be helpful, if they provide the participants with a psychological ‘helping hand’ to not take it personally.

        • smrnda

          It can also prevent people from being biased in terms of accepting a paper just because of the reputation of one of the authors. Even experiences researchers can be incredibly sloppy, or can be attempting to lend their ‘name’ to shoddy work with the hopes that reputation carries the day.

      • eric

        I think you’re right and I’m good with that. I was referring to the final publication in a journal, which will indeed list authors, school affiliation, and in most cases of good journals, funding sources.

        Though maybe I have been misinterpreted Bob the entire time? I thought he was demanding disclosure of the fact of a loyalty oath in final publication. If I’ve misinterpreted him and he’s calling for such information to be included in the anonymous package going out to reviewers, then I don’t disagree with him…I really disagree with him. :)

    • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

      Not enough. The statement of faith, with it’s presuppositional commitment, should be required for every peer-reviewed article as a clearly stated conflict of interest. Conflicts of interest in scientific peer review are this clear, and it has an effect on the credibility of the article.

  • sandy

    Faith statements are declarations like these. “believe me” and “trust me” that’s what faith statements are like. And do we trust those type of statements? No, but only when it comes to religion. Sad.

  • Kevin K

    Presuppositionalism — it’s turtles all the way down.

    When I was a work-a-day journalist, I refused to join/affiliate with any political party because of this exact reason. Not that I don’t have my own biases, of course. But I wanted to at least make an effort to correct them (journalistically) and not be seen has having my biases hard-set.

    Even today, I’m registered to vote as an “independent”, which screws me out of the primary process … but I can’t bring myself to do it, regardless of the fact that I’m quite unlikely to vote for any political party that would nominate a short-fingered orange white supremacist for the Presidency.

  • RichardSRussell

    You know what else falls into this bin? Those questionnaires I get from various political or social-issue advocacy groups that pretend to be so very, very interested in my opinion about whatever their particular cause is. You never see anyone quoting the results of these surveys because they’re so obviously not generated by a random sample of the general public — and, since they’re derived from a self-selected subset of the target audience, probably aren’t even representative of that audience, either. In fact, I’m guessing that their mail clerks probably separate the contents of the return envelopes into 2 piles: the checks to go to the bank and the completed surveys to go to the shredder.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Don’t forget your mailing address. Your database entry gets the “gullible” box checked so they can be sure to send you some more.

  • Peter White

    Good luck getting honesty from any religion. You are attempting to undermine their cornerstones – lies, logical fallacies, emotional manipulation, and ignorance.

  • TheNuszAbides

    But their parallel world is just a play table with clay and crayons. They only dream that they’re sitting at the adult table. Christian scholarship has sold its soul.

    [insert snapshot of Paragraph 1 of Kent Hovind’s “thesis”]

  • Gary Whittenberger

    Bob, another excellent essay, IMHO! However, I’d like to quibble about two statements you made:

    “With some conclusions predetermined to be correct and others incorrect, how do we know that their work is an honest search for the truth? We don’t, and indeed the work of every Christian scholar constrained by a faith statement is suspect.”

    “By committing to the faith statement, they are ruling out certain conclusions before they’ve done any research.”

    You admit that we don’t know that their work (prior to signing the faith statement) is an honest search for the truth. This means that it could have been, and this possibility runs counter to your second claim here. They may have done honest research and THEN signed the faith statement, consistent with what they concluded through their honest research. Of course, honest research can be poor research, and in these cases it almost always is. Still, I think you’ve gone too far in your second statement here, juxtaposed to your first statement.

    Honesty in research is not equivalent to quality in research.

    • David Cromie

      Honest research does not start with the conclusion, then cast around for anything that might be forced into seeming agreement with it. These ‘christian researchers’ are a hoax in the main, often because they try to use the so-called ‘bible’ as proof of itself, or by appealing to dodgy ‘archaeology’ by other christians, for whom superstitious beliefs are more important than facts.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        I think you are missing the same point that Bob did. Some of them probably engaged in “an honest search for the truth” BEFORE they signed the faith statement. They just reached conclusions ahead of time which you, Bob, and I strongly disagree with.

        Surely you do not claim that EVERYONE who engages in an “honest search for the truth” always agrees with us!

        • Michael Neville

          No doubt most of the scholars signed the faith statement without reservation. However when an honest search for truth reveals something against the faith statement, then the scholars are faced with the dilemma of rejecting the faith statement or rejecting the truth. Mike Licona discovered the hard way that truth is less important to the evangelicals running the school he worked at than the faith statement.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I agree with what you say here, but it does not refute the point I was making. Some of those scholars probably made an honest search for the truth BEFORE they signed the statement. We cannot or should not simply say that if somebody reaches conclusions different from our own that they did not make an honest search for the truth.

          On the other hand, it seems to me that signing the statement is a commitment to dogmatism or closed mindedness. They are essentially saying “As long as I work here I am in agreement with these conclusions, regardless of the evidence or anything else.” Of course, if they began to have doubts or changed their minds, they could resign.

        • Greg G.

          If they had done an honest search for truth, they would not be offered the faith statement to sign unless they recanted their honest findings. I read many creationist books and they cannot honestly state the evolutionist position. The faith statements tend to be “not honest” positions themselves.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I disagree. If the employer believed that they did “an honest search for truth” beforehand, the employer would probably be more likely to hire them and offer the faith statement to be signed.

          I think you are confusing “an honest search for the truth” with “a rational search for the truth,” and the two just aren’t the same thing.

        • Greg G.

          I think you are confusing “an honest search for the truth” with “a rational search for the truth,” and the two just aren’t the same thing.

          You are correct. I tend to not make a great distinction between someone who deliberately tells an untruth and someone who repeats the untruth without a regard for whether it is true. I think the former is worse than the latter but the latter is not completely innocent.

          I disagree. If the employer believed that they did “an honest search for truth” beforehand, the employer would probably be more likely to hire them and offer the faith statement to be signed.

          The employer is not likely to offer employment and the faith statement unless the conclusions reached in the past concur with the beliefs of the employer, no matter how the conclusions are reached.

          A faith statement should be understood as saying, “I agree with this theology today and I acknowledge I will be unemployed if I publicly announce a change in my understanding in the future.”

        • Gary Whittenberger

          “The employer is not likely to offer employment and the faith statement unless the conclusions reached in the past concur with the beliefs of the employer, no matter how the conclusions are reached.”

          Well, of course, that is the case, but it misses my point. If the applicant agrees with the faith statement and says that he/she has made an honest search for the truth then that applicant is more likely to be hired than a similar applicant who agrees with the faith statement and who does not say he/she made an honest search for the truth, all other things being equal.

          “A faith statement should be understood as saying, “I agree with this theology today and I acknowledge I will be unemployed if I publicly announce a change in my understanding in the future.”

          That’s pretty good, but I’d prefer something like this: “I agree with this theology today, but if I change my mind and come to disagree with it, then I will inform the administration. I understand that if I do not inform the administration which then discovers that I have changed my mind, then it my impose discipline on me, including dismissal.”

        • Greg G.

          When it comes down to it, the faith statements are performance art for the donors and tuition payers.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I disagree. The faith statements are more like economic contingencies than performance art. They help to guarantee the flow of money to the institution and keep it running for a narrow-minded group of people.

        • Greg G.

          They help to guarantee the flow of money to the institution and keep it running for a narrow-minded group of people.

          That is exactly what I am saying.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Didn’t sound like it, but if so, then we agree.

        • Greg G.

          They make them sign statements to alleviate fears of donors or potential students of what they will teach. Either the signee will adhere to the pledge no matter what his/her honest research tells him/her, won’t do honest research, or will renege on the statement. Signing the statement is a performance for the money sources.

          The results of a study done under the faith statement are then impossible to take at face value without going over the whole study. At best, it provides a bibliography that was used to make the check up easier.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nice!

        • Lark62

          Employers who demand faith statements do so to prevent an honest search for truth. They specifically demand that nothing contradict their religious conclusions.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I disagree. Employers who demand faith statements do so to prevent employees from speaking and acting in public or to the public in ways which undermine their theology. They cannot prevent an honest search for the truth. Candidates and employees can do that whenever they wish.

        • Greg G.

          Candidates and employees can do that whenever they wish.

          Only if the employees are independently wealthy and do not have families to support. They are highly trained for a very limited field of work. They may be stuck in a SITCOM situation (Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage).

          The fact that many of them are in such a situation, how can we tell which ones are not publishing because it is necessary but not what they actually believe? That is why a faith statement discredits anyone who signs it.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Candidates and employees can still do whatever they wish. However, choices may have consequences, good and bad.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah…a disingenuous play on words. That doesn’t help, especially when now you are just being a semantic pedantic.

          Let’s have a look see….

          Consequences mean that candidates and employees cannot do whatever they wish. That is a fact.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          No, it is an ingenious and honest understanding of words. Candidates and employees can do whatever they wish, regardless of consequences. That is a fact. For example, you can rob a bank if you wish, even though there may be bad consequences to robbing a bank.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are playing semantics and in doing so, you are losing credibility.

          They can’t do what they wish because what they wish will involve there being no consequences…ergo, not what they wish.

          I can rob a bank if I want, there being no consequences is what I wish. But since I can’t know I’ll get my wish, I won’t be able to do what I want.

          In any case, enough of this semantic silliness, You know fine well what Greg meant, stop being silly about it.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I completely disagree with you, and I think your position is mistaken.

          They may wish that there will be no consequences, but given the fact that they know there is a risk of suffering bad consequences, they can still do what they wish under those circumstances.

          You can wish that there be no consequences to your robbing a bank, but at the same time believe there is some probability of getting caught if you do, and yet you can still rob the bank if you wish under those circumstances.

          Yes, I know fine well what Greg meant, and I believe that both you and he are mistaken on this point. Our wishes can be influenced by our beliefs about consequences, but in the end we do what we wished to do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Gary, you can disagree all ya want…the fact remains that the world is full of people who wish their circumstances could be different, but due to the unwanted consequences of actions, those actions are untenable.

          No one rational and sane of mind is going to put their family on the street to starve because of a wish in employment that can’t be realised.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Ignorant Amos, you can disagree with me all you want. That’s fine. I still think you are mistaken.

          Many people who are rational, sane, honest, and courageous will and already have done what they wished to do — inform their employers that they no longer believe a faith statement, despite the risk of being fired and the risk of some difficulty to themselves and their family. Don’t you know anyone like this? I know a few.

          Wishing can be hierarchical. A person may wish that condition X were not present, but if it is present they may wish to leave condition X behind or have some other wish.

        • Lark62

          Prove it.

          Show me where a college has required, recommended, suggested, or even hinted that a person should seek evidence before signing a faith statement.

          Show me one faith statement that has been amended because evidence contradicted it.

          Yes. I agree that they want to “prevent employees from speaking and acting in public or to the public in ways which undermine their theology.” This is the same thing as preventing an honest search for truth.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          You prove your claim!

          You are still confusing honest search with rational or competent search. I don’t think there is much point in continuing this disagreement.

        • Lark62

          You made the claims. You said people research evidence before signing faith statements. You said employers with faith statements “would be more likely” to hire people who look for evidence.

          Back up your claims or admit you make b up nonsense.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I identified three possibilities. I believe one of them. You must believe one of the others because you disagree with my belief and the three possibilities are mutually exclusive. The one you apparently believe is that NONE of these people who sign faith statements made an honest search for the truth beforehand. So, where is your proof?

          Here you are even distorting the claim. The claim was not that “people research evidence,” but it was that they “make an honest search for the truth.” Those are very different ideas.

          I backed up my claim. You just don’t like the way I did so. Nevertheless, all people who do not back up their claims are not making up nonsense.

          To my knowledge there are no scientific studies of these people who sign faith statements to get jobs at these colleges. Our different claims merely predict what the results would be if there were a sound scientific study done on this topic. I stand by my prediction and think yours would be disconfirmed if a study were to be done.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I identified three possibilities. I believe one of them. You must believe one of the others because you disagree with my belief and the three possibilities are mutually exclusive. The one you apparently believe is that NONE of these people who sign faith statements made an honest search for the truth beforehand. So, where is your proof?

          But your three possibilities are not the only possibilities. You are assuming that any kind of search is being made before pen is put to paper, why?

          I would suggest that those that are predisposed to sign a faith statement, will need to do no research in order to sign a faith statement. Those that hold a position contrary to a faith statement, will either not sign it, or lie about it. No honest research required before signing.

          To my knowledge there are no scientific studies of these people who sign faith statements to get jobs at these colleges.

          Perhaps not, but there is evidence of sorts that even those that are already in faith schools and who are asked to sign amended statements that go against the grain, are prepared in a bit of a turmoil n whether to lie and sign, or lose everything by not.

          Soulforce, a nonprofit group that works to end religious discrimination against gay students at Christian colleges, has heard from one faculty member on campus who is concerned for his job, said Jason Conner, the group’s community director. “They don’t want to be dishonest and not sign the policy that’s going around, but at the same time, they want to be true to who they are,” Conner said.

          https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/12/01/controversy-shorter-over-faith-statements

          Our different claims merely predict what the results would be if there were a sound scientific study done on this topic. I stand by my prediction and think yours would be disconfirmed if a study were to be done.

          Well, that is a wee bit of a stretch. But, like you say, unless an anonymous study was conducted, the whole thing is a matter of conjecture.

          Still, I liken the situation to that of scholars of the bible.

          As an atheist Philippino blogger writes…

          The Secret of the Bible Scholars

          The Bible scholars have a secret. A secret that they cannot afford to reveal.

          What many “scholars” are telling the public is not exactly what they believe. They know that the “Jesus”, as we know and understand him today, was nothing special but rather, a mere product of the Greco-Roman culture – a hellenization. They also know that the core doctrines and theology of the Christian religion was simply a fusion of hellenistic ideas and ancient mediterrenean culture, was a product of its time, and was no different from other competing religions of that time. These “scholars” also know that modern-day Christians are following a set of books believed to be the “Word of God” where 80% of which we have no idea who wrote. They know for a fact that Moses has nothing to do with the Pentateuch. It is also known to these “scholars” that none of the Gospels were written by the apostles nor by an eyewitness of the account written on them. And yet we have been fed up with the “fact” that the authors of the Bible had been ascertained. These are just few of what they truly know.

          http://atheist-seeker.blogspot.co.uk/2005/07/secret-of-bible-scholars_07.html

          Those that have stuck their heads above the parapet have ended up being victims because of their honesty. To think that there are no scholars living a lie to keep a job seems a bit naive to me. The Clergy Project is evidence that clerics are doing it, there is no reason to think it is an across the bard thing.

          And here in the UK, non-believers are feigning religious affiliation in order to get their children into high achieving faith schools too.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW1: I identified three possibilities. I believe one of them. You must believe one of the others because you disagree with my belief and the three possibilities are mutually exclusive. The one you apparently believe is that NONE of these people who sign faith statements made an honest search for the truth beforehand. So, where is your proof?

          IA2: But your three possibilities are not the only possibilities. You are assuming that any kind of search is being made before pen is put to paper, why?

          GW2: I think I see your point here, so let me try to reformulate the possibilities.
          1. All of them made a search for truth, and for all of these it was honest.
          2. All of them made a search for truth, and for some of these it was honest.
          3. All of them made a search for truth, and for none of these it was honest.
          4. Some of them made a search for truth, and for all of these it was honest.
          5. Some of them made a search for truth, and for some of these it was honest.
          6. Some of them made a search for truth, and for none of these it was honest.
          7. None of them made a search for truth.
          Do you agree that these possibilities are exhaustive and mutually exclusive?
          I predict that if we were to do a proper scientific study of these signers, we would find that #5 would be confirmed.
          Which do you believe would be confirmed?

          IA2: I would suggest that those that are predisposed to sign a faith statement, will need to do no research in order to sign a faith statement.

          GW2: Of course, they would not “need to,” but some of them probably did anyway. See #5 above.

          IA2: Those that hold a position contrary to a faith statement, will either not sign it, or lie about it. No honest research required before signing.

          GW2: I agree, but those who did an honest search for the truth and agree with the statement will sign it.

          GW1: To my knowledge there are no scientific studies of these people who sign faith statements to get jobs at these colleges.

          IA2: Perhaps not, but there is evidence of sorts that even those that are already in faith schools and who are asked to sign amended statements that go against the grain, are prepared in a bit of a turmoil n whether to lie and sign, or lose everything by not.

          GW2: But this is evidence not relevant to the issue.

          IA2: Soulforce, a nonprofit group that works to end religious discrimination against gay students at Christian colleges, has heard from one faculty member on campus who is concerned for his job, said Jason Conner, the group’s community director. “They don’t want to be dishonest and not sign the policy that’s going around, but at the same time, they want to be true to who they are,” Conner said.

          GW2: They should be true to who they are and not sign the statement. Let the administration do what they think they must do.

          GW1: Our different claims merely predict what the results would be if there were a sound scientific study done on this topic. I stand by my prediction and think yours would be disconfirmed if a study were to be done.

          IA2: Well, that is a wee bit of a stretch. But, like you say, unless an anonymous study was conducted, the whole thing is a matter of conjecture.

          GW2: My prediction is not a stretch just because it differs from yours. Of course, this is a matter of conjecture, but I just think your conjecture would be likely to be disconfirmed.

          GW2: Regarding the rest of your post here, I agree that some who publicly stand on Christian principles are lying for different motives. On the other hand, some are just delusional or mistaken. Some of them are just honestly wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Some of those scholars probably made an honest search for the truth BEFORE they signed the statement. We cannot or should not simply say that if somebody reaches conclusions different from our own that they did not make an honest search for the truth.

          This is your assumption, or do you have something more concrete to go on?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Is it your assumption that all of them did not make an honest search beforehand? If so, do you have something more to go on?

          Probabilities.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is it your assumption that all of them did not make an honest search beforehand?

          Just as it appears with you, I have no way of knowing for sure, hence my question. I know the level of dishonesty that otherwise honest believers will display when it comes to their faith. I have no reason to doubt the same application if getting a peachy job is at stake.

          Though as I noted in a link on another comment, it would seem that once academics start to be honest with themselves, those faith statements start becoming untenable.

          Over the last year, as I was writing a book on academic freedom in religious schools, I decided I could no longer continue on at the seminary in good conscience. The more I engaged my field in a purely academic form, and not as an advocate for a belief system, the more my perspective changed, and the less of an adherent I became. It was no longer healthy for me to stay, and it wasn’t fair to the faith expectations of the institution or its people.

          I’m also aware of faculty at other Christian schools who are wondering when they should leave. They’re finding it unhealthy to stay, but they have family relying on their income and school loans or mortgages to pay, and the job market is meager at best.

          I came to my decision after asking myself three big questions. Honestly answering these may prove helpful to others as well.

          https://www.brainyquote.com/photos_tr/en/r/richardpfeynman/137642/richardpfeynman1-2x.jpg

          If so, do you have something more to go on?

          https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/10/17/how-know-when-give-faculty-job-religious-college

          Probabilities.

          Indeed…there’s the major problem with self deception though. And how would we know?

          http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-the-habit-of-employing-self-deception-to-maintain-one-s-self-esteem-has-often-become-bhikkhu-analayo-58-53-85.jpg

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I am largely in agreement with what you presented here. Yes, some of these people will change their minds after they sign the pledge and resign or get fired.

          Here are three possibilities for the background of those who sign the faith pledge:
          1) None of them made an honest search for truth before they signed the pledge.
          2) Some of them made an honest search for truth before they signed the pledge.
          3) All of them made an honest search for truth before they signed the pledge.

          When I somewhat cryptically said “probabilities,” what I meant is that #2 above is much more probably true than #1 and #3.

        • Lark62

          And what is your evidence for that convenient conclusion?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Which of the other two conclusions do you support? And what is your evidence for that one?

          The evidence for my conclusion is partly anecdotal. I know many Christians and have followed them for decades. And it is also based on an understanding of probability. Lets say that 1000 persons signed the faith statement. What is the likelihood that all 1000 DID NOT make an honest search? Now what is the probability that all 1000 DID make an honest search? Now, what is the likelihood that some DID NOT and some DID make an honest search?

          Do you think ALL Christians are dishonest?

          You are still confusing an honest search with a rational one, and they aren’t the same.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What makes you think that anyone pays any more attention to a faith statement than they do to the T&C’s on a Window’s 10 software licence?

          Those that hold with a presupposition on the truth of the statement won’t bother to search for the truth, they are already committed. And those that don’t give a fiddler’s just as long as they get a position, don’t care about doing an honest search. Those that had some reservations enough to do an honest search, are the genuine skeptics. Doubtful any of those would honestly sign it. They are the ones that will walk.

        • Lark62

          If a faith statement contains a claim for which there is no evidence (i.e. the resurrection of a person named Jesus), one can safely conclude that the signer did not rely on evidence because there is no evidence.

          If a faith statement contains a claim that the evidence shows to be false (i.e. humans did not evolve from earlier primates, mammals, vertebrates, etc) one can safely conclude that the signer did not rely on evidence because they evidence shows the conclusion to be wrong.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          You are confusing honesty with competency.

          This reminds me of another debate. Some atheists think that when the pope talks about God, he is lying. I don’t think he is lying. I think he is delusional.

        • Lark62

          “Some of those scholars probably made an honest search for the truth BEFORE they signed the statement.”

          Name one.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Name all the ones who did not.

          Do you actually think NONE made an honest search for the truth?

        • Lark62

          Could a person who engages in an honest search for the truth conclude:
          – The earth is flat?
          – Jupiter orbits the earth?
          – Whales did not descend from land animals?
          – Humans are not primates and we do not share a common ancestor with chimpanzees?

          Some things are true. Some things are not true. A search for truth that ends in with the conclusion that a lie is true was not honest.

          Sure there is much to learn and many areas of disagreement. What is the exact nature of each of Jupiter’s moons? Which living land animal is most closely related to whales? How closely are we related to chimpanzees? Of the hominin species found so far, which are our ancestors and which are cousins? How much was evolution influenced by genetic drift rather than natural selection? How many Pluto like objects will we find?
          The questions are endless.

          But some things are certain. The smallest human population was about 10,000. Humans evolved over millions of years from other primates. A literal Adam and Eve are not possible. And I find it unlikely that people who signed a faith statement attesting to a literal Adam And Eve studied population genetics.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          The answer to your first set of questions here is YES. You are confusing an honest search for the truth with a rational or competent one, and they just aren’t the same thing.

          In my high school years and first year at the university, I had made an honest search for the truth and concluded that Christianity was mostly true. If somebody asked me to sign a faith statement at that time, then I might have signed it. But the problem was not a lack of honesty, it was a lack of rationality or competency. I didn’t have the critical thinking skills to conduct the search in a proper manner. I suspect the same thing has happened to many of these professors who have signed the faith statements. They weren’t ALL dishonest.

        • Kodie

          You’re saying yourself as a student lacked the critical thinking skills, but these are faculty. You think faculty lack critical thinking skills? What it comes down to is confirmation bias, which is deceiving yourself. Part of the reason people believe silly things they shouldn’t believe, or see things that aren’t there in their research, is self-deception. From what I can tell about religious people who have posted here, they are settling. They want this thing to be true, so there’s a point where they stop questioning and just go ahead and believe. Yeah, that’s a lack of critical thinking skills if they think there’s just no amount of evidence that can satisfy a hard-hearted atheist. I believe their beliefs are sincere, but it’s an emotionally satisfying belief to them, such that they need to lie to themselves to preserve it. If someone signed a faith statement to get a job, and they already sincerely believed that it was honest, and then they were doing research and something came up to suggest that their belief was in error, their choice is to (a) ignore it and carry on, (b) justify and interpret it away, or (c) lose their job by admitting the research brought about a different conclusion.

          I mean, if the findings disrupt the beliefs in any way, and the reaction is to do anything but confront it and what that might mean, there is really no way to see it but dishonesty. Maybe that’s just so normal for religious people that you wouldn’t recognize how dishonest that obviously is.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          K: You’re saying yourself as a student lacked the critical thinking skills, but these are faculty. You think faculty lack critical thinking skills?

          GW: Yes, they may have lacked critical thinking skills during the time they were making a honest search for the truth, same as me.

          K: What it comes down to is confirmation bias, which is deceiving yourself. Part of the reason people believe silly things they shouldn’t believe, or see things that aren’t there in their research, is self-deception.

          GW: It may or may not be confirmation bias, but if it were, they might not be aware of it, and thus they could still be honestly seeking.

          K: From what I can tell about religious people who have posted here, they are settling. They want this thing to be true, so there’s a point where they stop questioning and just go ahead and believe. Yeah, that’s a lack of critical thinking skills if they think there’s just no amount of evidence that can satisfy a hard-hearted atheist. I believe their beliefs are sincere, but it’s an emotionally satisfying belief to them, such that they need to lie to themselves to preserve it. If someone signed a faith statement to get a job, and they already sincerely believed that it was honest, and then they were doing research and something came up to suggest that their belief was in error, their choice is to (a) ignore it and carry on, (b) justify and interpret it away, or (c) lose their job by admitting the research brought about a different conclusion.

          GW: They may have been indoctrinated very early in their lives and in an honest search for the truth simply confirmed what they were taught, all the while lacking the critical thinking skills that would have allowed them to escape the trap. When you say that their beliefs are sincere, I think you are partly agreeing with me.

          K: I mean, if the findings disrupt the beliefs in any way, and the reaction is to do anything but confront it and what that might mean, there is really no way to see it but dishonesty. Maybe that’s just so normal for religious people that you wouldn’t recognize how dishonest that obviously is.

          GW: If a person feels a little dissonance about their beliefs but they lack the critical thinking skills to deal with it, they are likely to stay where they are at. There is no dishonesty in that. They are just coping the best they can. Remember that I am not claiming that they all have made an honest search for the truth, but I am claiming that more than none have.

        • Kodie

          First, when I said confirmation bias, I probably meant cognitive dissonance… I get them switched in my mind and don’t think it through before I type it out. In certain ways, both terms apply but they’re not interchangeable.

          Anyway, of course they don’t realize they’re lying to themselves. When I listen to Christians here making their various arguments, it is difficult for me to take into account what they believe and how they see what they want to see, and there’s a pat answer for every criticism that just fits with their worldview in a satisfying way. I am not sure you were here before when I described this rich white guy I know, and his particularly strange denial of human-caused climate change. I think we’ve all heard people deny it by making the one sounds-right kind of argument – we know the earth has gone through many heating and cooling periods throughout history…. so they are not exactly denying it, is what I hear, they just (a) think it’s totally natural-caused, and (b) they don’t fucking panic that this is happening, which I seem to hear they admit that it is happening. That argument is a total admission that they realize the earth is getting warmer because that happens sometimes, but not because they don’t recycle, and think it’s cooler to drive a massive SUV than an electric car.

          So, this guy, his argument is so fucking dumb. This is the gist of it: since industrialization, people have fewer children on average, thus lowering the carbon footprint.

          This is a guy who is extremely successful almost despite himself. This is not his only wrongness. He believes almost religiously whatever he wishes to be true because he looks for support for whatever he wishes to be true. Climate change being normal earth fluctuations is actually a pretty decent guess for a wrongness, but sure, industrialization has indeed lowered the birth rate, but think this shit through, or don’t you want to – before industrialization, there really wasn’t any such thing as a carbon footprint, and there were about 5 billion fewer people 100 years ago. You kind of have to wonder how much actual information someone has to ignore before they come by some explanation which shuts out all the bad news they don’t want to think about and keep doing whatever they like.

          For another example, evolution and ID. Everyone KNOWS about evolution. I mean, they don’t know enough about it, maybe…. I certainly don’t think my public school education really cemented evolution for me, but the poison is rallying people to conceive of evolution as a government conspiracy to indoctrinate children against their religious upbringing and reject god. So that’s a lie, that’s marketing. They fill in the blanks with, for the uneducated schmuck, I’d say even like me, who didn’t like or study much science at school, yes, the school did expect me to memorize evolution, they fill in the blanks with bullshit like irreduceable complexity and shit, for the completely gullible.

          Being deliberately dishonest, even if you don’t realize it on the surface, is hunting for whatever supports your preconceived notions or wishful thinking. Clinging to whatever you can to keep yourself in the dark, I’m not sure what you’re saying is honestly fucking this shit up, because if you don’t want to confront a painful truth, you don’t have to make conscious decisions to lie to yourself. I think this is when people argue “who would die for a lie” as though they were anywhere able to admit consciously to themselves that it wasn’t true.

          Now if you don’t have the critical thinking skills to think it through, to even do an honest search and weigh all the arguments, loaded with your bias; if you fell for the first convincing conman you met, I don’t think you should even be a professor, even at a shit college that makes you sign a faith agreement, because they’re not interested in honesty. I mean, what kind of college or university doesn’t have an intellectual standard for their faculty? I can imagine that’s going to get the administration what it desires, but the quality of thinking, I mean, you describe yourself as a high school student and undergrad. Is this the kind of undeveloped, eager to please, incredibly flattered to be recruited, non-critical-thinking type of person? This dishonesty is just higher up, perpetrated by people who either can’t think critically, or who don’t want their faculty to use their critical thinking.

        • Lark62

          What sources did you study before concluding that christianity was “mostly true”?

          List them. Include at least 12.

          Put a ” * ” next to those written by a non christian.

          Put a ” ** ” next to those that defended another religion.

          If you cannot do this, it was an honest search for confirmation of a foregone conclusion.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          First, I was pretty much indoctrinated into Christianity at an early age. My mother took me to church and Sunday school and provided story books based on the Bible to read. Then, probably around 10-12 years old I began to try to understand what I had been taught and to ask questions, even in Sunday school. I was given Christian literature to read. There was a family Bible in the home, which I read. On the other hand, I didn’t get much training in critical thinking skills. I relied mostly on my curiosity. Finally, in my second year in college I took philosophy courses. I also read Bertrand Russel’s “Why I am Not a Christian” and that was the beginning of the end.

          Throughout my life when I was a Christian, I’d say age seven to nineteen, I made an honest search for the truth, given the thinking tools I had at the time. I’m sorry you don’t agree with this account, but that’s the way it was.

          I am one secular humanist who thinks it is a huge mistake to focus criticism of religious people on their supposed lack of honesty.

        • epeeist

          I was given Christian literature to read.

          And there’s the difference. By that sort of age I was reading the Greek and Norse myths as well as books by William Morris and Lord Dunsany. On top of that I had some reasonable science and history teachers. All of that tends to undercut the belief that a particular mythos is true.

          I am one secular humanist who thinks it is a huge mistake to focus criticism of religious people on their supposed lack of honesty.

          As others here are aware I am a fan of Salman Rushdie’s admonition, which could be paraphrased as saying that while people deserve respect systems of ideas are fair game. It fails to a certain extent when people hold so tightly to systems of ideas (religion being the obvious one) that it forms the basis of their personal identity. However in certain cases, with creationists in particular, pointing out their dishonesty is completely valid since their position rests on dishonesty and deliberate ignorance.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          You had a wider exposure to different viewpoints than did I. Good for you.

          I don’t mean to suggest that religious people are never dishonest. Of course, they are. But to imply that during their younger years religious persons (and I was one) were somehow dishonest is mistaken and misleading. Dishonesty implies a knowing deception. I was engaged in a honest search for the truth, whether you think so or not, and many other religious people have also done the same.

          The best approach to religious persons is not to come right out and accuse them of dishonesty, but to educate them and try to persuade them that they are mistaken.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you’re saying that Christians are often honest when they make their religious claims, I agree. However, following along with some of the discussions here with Christians will make clear that some Christians aren’t in fact honest. They have their conclusion, and they’ll defend it regardless of how stupid it makes them and their religion look.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You admit that we don’t know that their work (prior to signing the faith statement) is an honest search for the truth.

      I’m talking about their work after they’ve signed the faith statement. Only then does it constrain them.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        But you did not distinguish work before from work after signing the statement. You just referred to their “work,” and thus I think your statements, taken together, were overgeneralized.

        It is still possible that they engaged in “honest search for the truth” prior to signing the statement and reached conclusions with which you and I disagree. And so I think you were being slightly unfair in your claims. Now probably a large percentage of them did not engage in an honest search, but surely some of them did!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I think the post was pretty clearly talking about scholars bound by faith statements. In other words, first the faith statement, then the scholarly paper.

          It is still possible that they engaged in “honest search for the truth” prior to signing the statement and reached conclusions with which you and I disagree.

          That’s true.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Ok, looks like we are in agreement, even though I think those two sentences were poorly worded.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Which 2 sentences? If the post was unclear, point out the problem and I’ll see if it needs to be reworded.

        • Lark62

          You failed to kiss up to his conclusion unsupported by honest research that faith statements are not conclusions unsupported by honest research. Tsk tsk.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          But that’s not my conclusion. Please read the full discussion of this issue for a better understanding.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Bob, I clearly identified and quoted the two sentences. I’m not going to repeat myself.

        • Lark62

          WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, was true God and true man, existing in one person and without sin; and we believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there for us as Lord of all, High Priest, and Advocate.

          WE BELIEVE that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures, and in a state of original righteousness.

          That is two paragraphs from the Wheaton College statement of faith.

          And you think anyone who signed that actually has evidence of a virgin birth or ressurection from the dead? Seriously?

          You think anyone who signed that cares about the evidence for evolution, the evidence that humans evolved from an early primate, or the evidence that the smallest historical human population had 10,000 to 30,000 individuals?

          People who care about evidence would not sign that sludge unless they were so desperate for a job that they were willing to set aside integrity.

        • Greg G.

          Did you leave out the part of the faith statement that says they are willing to accept that Matthew’s zombies didn’t come out of their graves?

        • Lark62

          My bad.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          You are still confusing two different things — an honest search for the truth vs. a competent and rational search for the truth. We will not agree until you can appreciate that difference.

        • Bob Jase

          Most believers limit their search for the ‘truth’ to selectively reading only books that they know they will agree with and discussing them with other believers that do the same thing. Nothing honest or rational or competent about it.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I disagree. “honest — adjective, 1. free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere.”

          Nobody can make an honest search for the truth and come to conclusions different from yours and mine? If you think this, then I cannot support your claim.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          If Professor A did the study that agrees with the theology of the university that will fire him if he comes to a different conclusion, the study will have less credibility than if Professor A did the same study and arrived at the same conclusion at a place that would not fire him for coming to that conclusion.

          If Professor A consistently came to the same conclusions where there was no threat of losing his job while others were reaching the opposite conclusion and they were not under a faith statement, his ability would be questioned.

          If Professor A consistently comes to conclusions in agreement with his faith statement while other scholars are coming to the opposite conclusions, the professor’s ability and credibility would be questioned.

          Professor A would have to stick to uncontroversial topics and bury any honest, competent studies that come to the wrong conclusion.

          The only way to have credibility in the field under a faith statement would be to get fired for breaking it, though he/she would likely have to enter a different line of work.

        • Lark62

          An honest search is rational and competent.

          And I still have not heard of any person who comes to believe in the virgin birth or the resurrection or Adam and Eve after any sort of “search for truth.” These are things for which there is no evidence for and plenty of evidence against. Blind faith, preferably begun as a young child, is the only path to these beliefs.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          L: An honest search is rational and competent.

          GW: I disagree. An honest search for the truth is not necessarily rational or competent. Honesty is a matter of having a certain kind of attitude, whereas the latter require skills which must be learned.

          L: And I still have not heard of any person who comes to believe in the virgin birth or the resurrection or Adam and Eve after any sort of “search for truth.”

          GW: I have. These beliefs usually start through indoctrination in childhood. However later, many indoctrinated teenagers begin an honest search for the truth. Then they either conclude that their religious beliefs are correct or incorrect. This often depends on the degree of their curiosity and the degree to which they acquire critical thinking skills.

          L: These are things for which there is no evidence for and plenty of evidence against.

          GW: There is evidence for them — the Bible. It isn’t very good evidence, but still it is evidence.

          L: Blind faith, preferably begun as a young child, is the only path to these beliefs.

          GW: No, it’s not the only path. There are other paths, alien to us. Look, I do not doubt that some religious people are dishonest, lying, or deceptive, but all of them are not. I think most of them are not. Instead, they are delusional. They don’t know they are mistaken.

        • adam
        • Raging Bee

          It is still possible that they engaged in “honest search for the truth” prior to signing the statement and reached conclusions with which you and I disagree.

          Got any examples?

    • Lark62

      When has this ever happened?

      How many christians compared and investigated the claims of multiple religions before accepting Jesus into their heart at age 6?

      How many people come to a belief in a literal Adam and Eve after years of careful research?

      How many people are convinced of the resurrection or reject evolution based on an honest assesment of the evidence not colored by early exposure to christianity? Given the lack of evidence for the resurrection and incontrovertible evidence for evolution, those conclusions are simply not possible unless faith is injected to the assessment.

      Before you claim I’m being biased, christians do not accept the miracle claims of other religions even while they blindly accept their own. If someone tells you the earth is flat, do you give them credit for careful review of the evidence?

      Faith statements are faith statements because they are not supported by evidence. Childhood indoctrination not scholarship is the path to religious belief.