I read an article today that was drivel.
It makes me furious when religious viewpoints are allowed to first assume they are true, and then defend themselves as though they were as valid as any scientific theory.
What makes me even more furious is that most people cannot see what is wrong with that.
To demonstrate the fact that idiots pervade every strata of society, Mark Vernon of the Guardian obligingly offered up his apologies as to why Anglican priest and physicist John Polkinghorne can't seem to stop talking about god and chaos theory in the same sentence, and why this *cough* definitely isn't the god of gaps fallacy.
Mark Vernon, who flirts far too closely with religion, probably because if he didn't he'd lose his job (more on jobs where honesty is discouraged later in the blog), immediately puts me on edge with this little gem:
"The challenge is to avoid concocting a "God of the gaps" – a deity whose action occurs in the gaps where scientific explanations apparently fall short. The best known example of this is probably the bacterial flagellum."
In his usual snivelling, apologetic fashion he forgets to mention that there is no "apparent" about the bacterial flagellum having no explanation, at least not beyond the "apparent" inability of science to explain why the universe is only 6000 years old. It was a creationist myth spawned by another incompetent scientist marred by an inability to believe in a god for which there is no rational justification, the ever-twattish Michael Behe, who was promptly smacked down in his court action when he came up against the fact that 99.99% of scientists in his field have actually read about the bacterial flagellum and, whether or not they believe in god, recognize that there is overwhelming evidence as to its evolutionary origins.
Notice the logical fallacy already? Both Polkinghorne and Behe have done what all scientists have to do in order to believe in god; they've decided on what is true first and tried to make the evidence fit.
But it doesn't fit. Like smacking a square block into a spherical hole; if you choose a random idea spawned from humanity's ignorant past (Christianity in this example) and go "THAT'S TRUE", owing to the fact there that are literally infinite things that can be believed but do not exist, you are going to be incorrect and when you go looking for the evidence that you're right it won't exist.
Now, not many people know this, but for most of humanity history there has been no rational discourse, and the "empirical model" was completely outside of the consciousness. In its place was what was called "the authority model", whereupon things were considered true if somebody in authority said them.
Almost all things that were 'known' were known because somebody in authority had said them and the same rule that choosing a random belief will guarantee you're wrong applies; during this entire time the only people who actually knew anything true were the scant few empiricists, who the church was hanging in order to transfer their souls to another dimension full of fire where their cosmic being put his army of fallen demon angels whilst they waited for the end of the world (compare and contrast their views, and remember whose side you're on if you're arguing religion is true, as if that's even a rational claim given there are so many).
Now this is the natural human urge, clearly; most people still exist thinking according to the authority model, and the only reason that's not what is actually done is because people operating on this principle do not have the capacity to do what scientists do, which means economics and politics will always favor science (it's also why I don't sit around trying to 'save' science from irrationality. Money will do it for us; nobody is going to be choosing homeopathy or religion over science because both are bunkum and provide no results).
In essence, no amount of "authority" translates into reality, which is why a nuclear scientist can create an explosion that'll turn a city to glass and theologians are still sat around scratching their arses trying to decide whether to take gods word for it that homos are the devil incarnate.
And yet because theology, postmodernism, homeopathy and all other manner of bullshit dresses up like academia, idiots still operating on the authority principle can't see that their claims are meaningless unless validated against reality. Meanwhile science works entirely on evidence and does not actually assert authority, but this is only comprehensible to other scientists who recognize the fallacy of appealing to authority, which leads to a tremendous rejection of scientific ideals in the majority of the population.
So how does this apply to the case-in-hand? Well, Mark Vernon is a great example of why people think it's significant that John Polkinghorne believes in a god; he is an authority. They do not care for the claims he's making because they cannot comprehend them, but they know he is a 'scientist' therefore he's an 'authority' therefore he should be taken seriously.
It is the same reason creationists go insane for trying to prove that Einstein and Stephen Hawking were religious; they are human beings who operate on the 'authority' principle, as comes naturally to humans, and they don't understand that even if they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that ALL people in authority were religious it wouldn't mean anything.
Reality has no authority.
This is why before something exists you need to prove it; reality doesn't answer to anyone. If you claim something is true then go "you can't disprove it" reality doesn't give a flying rats anus, even if you get people to agree with you. God won't exist even if you get every person on earth believing in it; there is no authority when it comes to things that exist, only facts which are known through evidence.
Back to the article; John Polkinghorne has managed to baffle Vernon into trying to explain his viewpoint from any perspective other than "He's lying or imperfect in his reasoning or even afraid of dropping dead", and he wraps up this drivel on a note which essentially proves the 'Authority model' as the culprit behind religious apologists:
"Whether or not you buy that will depend much on your prior metaphysical assumptions. We all have them. But be they theistic or otherwise, there is a general conclusion that can be posited about science: from the point of view of mathematical description, what chaos theory and reductionism more broadly demonstrate is that most of nature is scientifically underdetermined – which is to say that scientific explanations are limited. "
Firstly: we don't all have them. [This will drive imbeciles mad, because it requires a huge brain to understand properly] Some people operate on logic, which is the antithesis of an assumption.
Secondly: It's irrelevant whether we do or don't have them. Stop trying to "allow" failings of science by saying "we're only human, we all fuck up!". That doesn't excuse anything; if I answered all my coursework questions (yup, I'm studying) "Well, I could derive the equation for this systems action, but actually GOD DID IT GOD DID IT" I wouldn't have explained anything to anyone, and because I'm not an authority figure there'd be no apologists to go "Come on now, hes' not wrong; we ALL have metaphysical assumptions".
"Further, it's not an epistemological gap that's being appealed to in John Polkinghorne's work, but rather an ontological causal openness. Hence the possibility, at least, of making the link with divine action."
Openness? OPENNESS? Are you fucking kidding me? He believes that a GOD is causing everything he says it's causing.
A) what kind of quack definition of 'openness' involves not only a single explanation.
B) That explanation is from the fucking Bible.
Also what is this "possibility" of a divine cause? SCIENTISTS are the ones open to the possibility of a divine cause.REVEREND Polkinghorne is the one who is absolutely fucking sure that the indeterminate nature of things is god secretly hiding there playing the odds and making the things we haven't explained happen.
Why is it people who talk about being open minded are usually the ones who have already decided on an explanation and are pissed of that you won't let them assert it without a challenge? Never mad that you disagree though; the "closed minded" bullshit crotch shot line only ever comes out when they want you to pretend that they're smarter than they are.
Do I need to point out here that John Polkinghorne was raised in a religious society, indoctrinated into religious belief them smacked that religious belief all over science in the vaguest way possible and now just sits there lapping up the confusion it causes in retards who are too stupid to comprehend evidence so they just believe whatever the fuck anyone claiming to be an academic says?
This isn't openness and this isn't a rational viewpoint; this is a stupid (or weak) man claiming something is true then refusing to be dislodged from that position for anything.
And most importantly....
This IS the 'God of Gaps' fallacy