The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


How many times? How many times will Dinesh D'Souza be annoyingly wrong and vacuous? It's getting almost as tiring as refuting Deepak Chopra. D'Souza once again spits out arguments against atheism that he seems to smugly smile at as proof that a religious mindset is better than a secular one. He, on this occasion, uses Immanuel Kant as a battering ram against naturalistic thought to, he seems to think, great effect.

Well, I have a few things to say about that.

D'Souza says:
Consider a tape recorder. It captures only one mode of reality, namely sound. Thus all aspects of reality that cannot be captured in sound are beyond its reach. The same, Kant would argue, is true of human beings. The only way we apprehend empirical reality is through our five senses. But why should we believe, Kant asked, that this five-mode instrument is sufficient? What makes us think that there is no reality that lies beyond sensory perception?
This is just silly in the face of technological advances. I mean, the light spectrum, for example. We never knew - certainly Kant didn't - about radio waves for a long long time. We never knew about quasars, pulsars or binary stars or how to find them. Then along came radio telescopes that can find these waves we had no way to see before. We couldn't touch, smell, taste, or hear them either. Gee, that's all five senses. So I guess we found out that there's a reality that lies beyond our sensory perception. Sorry Dinesh.

Next point:
...comparing our experience of reality to reality itself is impossible. We have representations only, never the originals. So we have no basis for presuming that the two are even comparable. When we equate experience and reality, we are making an unjustified leap.
I'd disagree with that. We can, perhaps, not have the originals, but we can have a group consensus among humans experiencing the same event or situation who all agree on the architecture of the parts involved. That's as close as we can get and that, as far as we high-primates are concerned, is reality in its original form. Show me it's not and I'll argue then.

Here's a great bit:
It is entirely rational for us to use science and reason to discover the operating principles of the world of experience. This world, however, is not the only one there is.
I'd love for D'Souza to show his work for that statement. What is, or where are, these other worlds?

D'Souza's crux:
Kant (is) positing two kinds of reality: the material reality that we experience and reality itself. To many, the implication of Kant's argument is that reality as a whole is, in principle, inaccessible to human perception and human reason.
Well then, let's just give up on trying. A poster in a comment bank on another website (forgive me for not having a link) mentioned the similarity to the "intelligent" design idea here: reality is "inaccessible to human perception and human reason", so let's just say that god did it and call it a day.

And then, of course, the "spiritual world":
Kant's philosophical vision is largely congruent with the teachings of many faiths that the empirical world is not the only world...The spiritual reality constitutes the only permanent reality there is. Christianity teaches that while reason can point to the existence of this higher domain, it cannot on its own fully comprehend that domain.
I'm going to need a definition of "spiritual reality"; and why is it a "higher domain"? Does reason really point to it? I think not. I half expected D'Souza to mention quantum mechanics in this paragraph as we all know Chopra would have.

D'Souza follows with:
We learn from Kant that within the domain of experience, human reason is sovereign, but it is in no way unreasonable to believe things on faith that simply cannot be adjudicated by reason.
Why not? If something cannot be judged real by reason, why should I believe in its existence? I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again - there's no reasonable means of finding out if there are flying green six-legged buffalo on Venus, so why should I believe in them on faith? Belief in gods is the same problem and D'Souza seems to have no answer as to why he believes in a sky-daddy but not my six-legged flying green buffalo. We can call this the Flying Spaghetti Monster Problem, if you like.

Atheism foolishly presumes that reason is in principle capable of figuring out all that there is, while theism at least knows that there is a reality greater than, and beyond, that which our senses and our minds can ever apprehend.
Well it would be a cocky scientist indeed who says that one day, we shall know all there is to know about our world and universe. This is the boast of religions flipped around and stuck the the back of the scientific method like a schoolboy slapping a "kick me" sign on his buddy...and it's getting old.

This seems to me to be the old "science doesn't like mystery", "science is unweaving the rainbow" argument. It is religion and faith-mindedness that hates mystery and must have an explanation for everything. What do the faithful leaders say when they see a beautiful sunset? "God makes the world beautiful." What do they say when they look at a human eye/bacterial flagellum? "God must have been involved because this is too complex - irreducibly so! - to have come about by chance." What do they say when they contemplate the origin of the Universe? "God set it in motion after creating it in his wisdom and glory." And here, D'Souza says with certainty that theism knows that there is a reality beyond our comprehension. How, exactly does he know this? How does his religion know this?

Scientists who use the scientific method know one thing that theists like D'Souza seem to have a HUGE problem with, and that is saying the most important three little words we have: I don't know.

Hey Mr/Ms Scientist, where did the Universe come from? Well, we don't know for sure, but here's what we think based on the available evidence.

Mr Scientist, is there an afterlife? Well, no one has gone and come back to tell us, so I don't know for sure, but all the evidence says no - but we're still looking into it.

Ms Scientist, is there a reality greater than, and beyond, that which our senses and our minds can ever apprehend? Well, I don't know, but our research is ongoing and we'll keep adapting our views to stay abreast of the available evidence.

See how it works, Dinesh? Doubt and skepticism advance our species through openness and change while theism stagnates and regresses our minds through static dogmatism to the Dark Ages where people in robes decree that we KNOW this for sure and anyone who is so arrogant as to think that THEY have the answers is going against the very will of God.

I tire of you, sir, and I'm going to bed.

4 Barbaric Yawps:

At 19/10/07 1:59 am, Blogger EvilPoet said...

D'Souza? Ugh.

At 19/10/07 7:10 pm, Blogger Lugosi said...

So he's saying that God is a tapedeck?

At 19/10/07 11:09 pm, Blogger tina said...


At 20/10/07 6:20 am, Blogger Protium said...

ha ha.
"This atheist attack is based on a fallacy – the Fallacy of the Enlightenment." Immanuel Kant

hmmm. Sounds made up.

Good post Mike


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