Friday, June 12, 2015

Hate Mail - The New Rule of (uhm) ... Intellectual Discourse, Hard Equals Wrong

I have had not one but two people complain that I write long pieces and I write long sentences.   The blogatheists' idea of an ultimate intellectual refuation, "word salad," was used.   I don't want to get into the Strunk-White religion again but those two pudding heads might account for some of that nonsense.  It is stupid to think that you can discuss complicated things in a way that would be comprehensible to the average fourth-grader.   How far the alleged left has come from the Reagan era when so many would point to his facile, foolish ideas and policies and repeat the words of H. L. Mencken, "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."  Or, more typically, paraphrase because they'd never really read Mencken.  For the record, Mencken was generally wrong in most important things but he got that one right.   It's a lot easier to get something obvious right even if the middle-brow mind has been educated out of understanding that.

I don't find that people who write about the things I do write in short sentences in the corpus of words found in Basic English.   Unlike me, a lot of them are real writers, not the more common scribblers.    The person who can condense complex ideas into sentences that average eight to twelve words is likely, actually, watering them down.  The reductionist thinking that is typical of most atheists is usually of that kind.  It is remarkably common among even the scientific luminaries among them,  especially those in the social sciences and the occupation staff of those of real sciences.  

For people who are constantly throwing the named logical fallacies around, easily three-quarters of the time entirely inappropriately to the context, they seem to think that the ones they constantly commit are some kind of rhetorical virtue.   Over-simplification is one of those that is most effective among those who know the least.   And it is ubiquitous among neo-atheists.   If you want to see that in action among some intelligent people you can listen to any of the debates between famous atheists and the philosopher and theologian, William Lane Craig.   I certainly don't agree with Craig on many theological matters but he is a master at exposing the things that even such eminent scientists as Sean Carroll are in the habit of leaving out of their considerations.  You can see if you agree with me, here.    If you want a good example of that, here is some of Craig's post-debate, response to Carroll's post-debate analysis.  Notice, especially how Craig catches Carroll in a bit of logical positivist "meaningless" double talk in the section headed Aristotelian Causation?    It looks to me that Carroll mastered the formula of dismissal without understanding that he contradicted his resorting to it in mounting a refutation.  And, from what I've observed, Sean Carroll is, actually, the most competent of the people who have debated with Craig.  While I would say that Craig beat Carroll, he didn't, as usually happens, mop the floor with him.   That isn't to say I buy Craig's proof, which I don't buy but don't reject.  I do, though, have to reject Carroll's arguments because they are reductionist and stuck in the place that cosmology has gotten itself into because the majority of cosmologists aren't involved in science these days, they're involved in debunking religion.    

Now, the one or two atheists who have made it this far might ask, if it occurred to them, why am I going into that?  Well, I'm wondering if they would reject what their atheist champion was saying on the basis of the length of sentences and the vocabulary he used.  But I'm not wondering very hard because I've read the pop atheist analyses of the debate and I know that they would have approved of it even if it had been the sputtering nonsense that other atheist debate opponents of Craig had resorted to.   

Intellectual atheism has always been a matter of reductionist thinking, among the Greeks and among the various Indian systems that are atheistic, the ones I've read something of,  they want to reduce the complexity of human experience down to one thing.   I think it's an emotional response to that complexity being complex and, to repeat the whine, "It's hard".   The trouble is, human experience of the world and the universe is hard.  The futility of the attempt to reduce it to an ultimate unity in physics is best seen by the resort to inventing jillions of universes and dimensions which surpass the ability of human beings to experience or comprehend as a reality, 9,11,.... who knows how many dimensions they'll have to use next year?  And, least you forget, none of it can be empirically observed it certainly can't be experienced and the equations are beyond the understanding of more than a few specialists in what has become a throwback to medieval scholastic science based in authority.

And in their quest for an ultimate unity, they have produced ultimate multiplicity and, certainly, if those universes and dimensions could enter into human experience, ultimate complexity.*   

But, for this post, my point is that by the rules of debate in the world of popular atheism, Carroll would have to lose.  That is were it not for the first rule of atheist discourse, the atheist is always to be declared the winner.   

As you can see, I'm not buying it.

* In one of his debates, in response to the multi-verse refutation of the argument from fine tuning of constants, Craig pointed out that a multi-verse ensemble would almost certainly require its own infinitely more finely tuned constants, which would make those who argue for God on the basis of fine-tuning even more convinced of their argument. 

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