« Genes affecting human intelligence | Main | Two years in jail for killing cat »

November 13, 2007

Comments

You write that religion gives you justification to believe whatever you want, but this is not true, no more than that science gives people justification just misinterpret data to get the results they want.

Best is to keep in mind that although reason may be infallible (which can be debated), human reason is not. There is little as fallible as human reason in fact, be it in religious matters or scientific.

Also, the line between science and religion is somewhat elusive. Science, a method with limitations, is increasingly being personified. "Science claims this", or "science claims that."

And finally, the role of students is to rebel against their teachers. When your teacher tells you something, which is considered a 'scientific truth,' and you choose to disbelieve it, you can take the time and effort to disprove it somehow. Many have been successful at that, and then it is called a discovery. If you are not successful, you are referred the title of an idiot.

In conclusion: I liked your article, just as I like most of your articles, but that final paragraph stung the eyes because it seems, how to put it, uninformed and unjustified? And it seems so because I disagree, so it would be nice if you were to debate it a bit.

Scientific evidence does not contradict religious beliefs. Of course it doesn't support them either; it is more accurate to say that religious faith exists as a matter of, well, faith, separate from science and logic.

Not to quibble, but the whole "Curse of Ham" bit was always sloppy scholarship. According to Genesis 9, the curse was specifically on Ham's son Canaan, which curse the Hebrews fulfilled rather decisively when they exterminated the Canaanites after their own liberation from Egypt.

The African races, meanwhile, are believed to be decended from Ham's son Cush.

And while I can't point to a reference, I'm pretty sure that Southern slaveholders latched on to Darwinism as providing justification for slavery. This doesn't discredit Darwinism as science, in my view, but we should face up to the fact that Darwinism, as metaphysics, has no arguments against slavery, or a lot of other bad things.

Not to quibble, but the whole "Curse of Ham" bit was always sloppy scholarship. According to Genesis 9, the curse was specifically on Ham's son Canaan, which curse the Hebrews fulfilled rather decisively when they exterminated the Canaanites after their own liberation from Egypt.

The African races, meanwhile, are believed to be decended from Ham's son Cush.

sophist:
You write that religion gives you justification to believe whatever you want, but this is not true, no more than that science gives people justification just misinterpret data to get the results they want.

the difference is that science is falsifiable.
religion is not.

Would Southern slaveholders have even heard about a recently published British scientific tome by the time the Civil War started? Origin of Species came out in November, 1859, and took several more years and editions to become widely distributed. Only about 4,000 copies existed by the time the War started on April 12, 1861. I don't think they had enough time to use Darwinism as an official justification. Their followers would not have known what they were talking about!

Not to mention, I doubt religious Southerners with religious justification would have dropped it so easily for godless science.

As you point out, God has been used to justify inequality, and a millennium of Christianity did not bring about political equality in medieval Europe. The current ideas of equality have their source in Enlightenment thinkers who were not strongly religious, and whose ideas were inspired by modern science.

I would say that the source of modern political equality is Isaac Newton. Before him, people believed the Aristotelian cosmos in which superlunary objects behaved according to their own eternal laws, and the objects on Earth had their own separate imperfect laws. This idea was reflected in the human order, in which higher and lower social classes were accorded a different set of laws and privileges believed to be assigned to them by nature.

Newton showed that the laws of motion and gravity are universal, in other words, that apples, rocks, Earth, Sun, Moon and planets are "equal" before the laws of physics. And then it was easy to extend this idea to the political order, in which all humans are equal before political law, and have certain natural rights.

Thus modern political equality has little to do with equality before a Christian God. But political equality does not lead to the conclusion that people are equal in other respects.

Basically, ideological equalitarians/leftists want it both ways. Everything is biology, Darwinsim, and science, except of course racial intelligence. Then, a "miracle" of some kind occurs and all the stuff I mentioned no longer holds true. If there was proof that god didn't exist, then I am sure they would be all for it being publicized. Strangely, when it comes to race, they act as if there is something to hide. That smells like fear.

To my knowledge, there is nothing in the Bible that claims that all humans are equal in ability. It is stated that God "is no respecter of persons;" that is, He loves all humans equally and each human can become a member of His fold. Redemptive equality of souls, not capacity, can be rendered from the Scriptures. I do not see how the recognition of individual or group inequality nullifies theism.

Roissy writes that science is falsifiable, and religion is not. This does not contradict what I wrote about both being used to justify erroneous things, in their own ways.

Falsifiability is an important (and useful) part of the scientific method, which deals with physical things. Faith is an important (and useful) part of religious traditions, which deal with metaphysical things.

And while one would have to learn a lot in order to disprove a lot of things produced scientifically, one need only decide to disbelieve things of religious nature.

I've repeated this argument before. Religion is pretty much the only thing that can justify the complete equality of humans, despite intelligence gaps.

Because, if we only think secularly, what make humans better than animals?

Our intelligence, and ability to build advanced societies.

However, there are REAL, GENETIC, differences in intelligence and "societal adaptability" between races. That alone, given our treatment of animals, perfectly justifies racial oppression and slavery (though of course not mass slaughter, I hope).

So, that's why I don't eat meat. If it's wrong to use another living being (with the capacity to feel pain) for enslavement, despite him being of (significantly, if we talk about Australians and pygmies) lower intelligence, then why should we do it to animals too?

Anyway, the noted bio-ethicist from Princeton, Peter Singer, claimed that the current liberal position of equating the equality of all human beings and equality of intelligence was a very dangerous position to take. Which is why we also can't do the opposite: assume the primacy of humans over animals based on intelligence.

Ultimately, we have to face the issue: how will the human race, with its histories of wars and genocides (one of which is going on RIGHT NOW and is not being stopped), react to this news? I'm not optimistic.

Of course, Christian principles were what led many (William Wilberforce, et. al.) to oppose slavery in all forms. And some had religious convictions to join in the civil rights movements of the 20th century. But of course, they also had co-religionists opposing them.

Hold on. We all accept that there are genetic differences between individuals - else we'd all be clones - but we are happy to treat individuals as equal before the law. Indeed, we try to insist on it. Well, except for lacrosse players, of course.

As you point out, God has been used to justify inequality, and a millennium of Christianity did not bring about political equality in medieval Europe.

The change from slavery to serfdom was an advance.

I've repeated this argument before. Religion is pretty much the only thing that can justify the complete equality of humans, despite intelligence gaps.

Because, if we only think secularly, what make humans better than animals?

Our intelligence, and ability to build advanced societies.

However, there are REAL, GENETIC, differences in intelligence and "societal adaptability" between races. That alone, given our treatment of animals, perfectly justifies racial oppression and slavery (though of course not mass slaughter, I hope).

Yes, there are real, genetic differences in intelligence and "societal adaptability" between races, but there is also a great deal of overlap. So it isn't really precise to say in a secular world that the enslavement of blacks by whites, and whites by Asians, and Australian Aborigines by pretty much everyone (they gave us the boomerang, and look at how we treat them!), is morally justifiable.

Think about it. If you are going to say that it is justifiable for whites to enslave blacks or Asians to enslave whites because of differences in intelligence, then what about the white slave owner with an IQ of 90 whose black slave has an IQ of 105? What about the Chinese slave owner with an IQ of 98 whose white slave has an IQ of 110? The argument falls apart pretty quickly.

"However, there are REAL, GENETIC, differences in intelligence and "societal adaptability" between races. That alone, given our treatment of animals, perfectly justifies racial oppression and slavery (though of course not mass slaughter, I hope)."

How can you make such a cross-species comparison? The survival, needs, and comfort of our own species hold primacy over those of animals, even from an evolutionary viewpoint.

Are you also implying that the treatment of a fellow human must be contingent upon his level of intelligence? Do you enslave your less cerebral sister or your C-minus-student cousin? Have you gassed your alcoholic also-ran of an uncle?

By the way, oppression and mass slaughter are not the exclusive historical misfortunes of the less intelligent people and groups. Jews and Southeast Asian Chinese were persecuted, dispossessed, and pogromed by virtue of their being significantly smarter than their compatriots.

Why so much love for science? Is it your religion?

Look, all I'm saying is that our society uses intelligence to justify slaughter of animals, that animals, by nature, are intellectually inferior to us.

With science now telling us that certain races are, by nature, intellectually inferior, where does that put us?

DAJ, you're comment about Jews and Chinese is irrelevant. We're talking about core issues of human equality, not market dominant minorities.

And no, I don't enslave my sister or whatnot, because I realize that the capacity to feel pain is enough to justify any living being to be allowed to live free. That's why I don't eat meat.

Look, of course our own species' survival takes precedence, but the differences between races are merely a much less extreme version of the differences between races.

I have 2 questions:
Is it justified to eat meat?
If so, why?
If you apply that logic to why it's justified to eat animals, apply it to unintelligent minorities, and see what you come up with.

And again, Marc, my point is that it is NOT justifiable to enslave them. But more importantly, if it's not justified to enslave them even though they're dumb, then the slaughter of animals is also wrong. To put humans in a special category you would need religion. No one doubts that most mammals have the capacity to feel pain, and the higher animals are self aware.

Just think of the implications of this knowledge. Peter Singer has written alot about relating racism and sexism to "specism."

Why so much love for science? Is it your religion?

The question is: Why so much hatred for religion?

I'm still young and get paid crap so I don't have a wife and kids yet, but if I and when I do, I'll be sure to baptize them and send them to Sunday School. Rather than immerse them in a life full of unchecked secularism or mindless atheism.

"Ok son, instead of going to church on Sunday you can go ahead, curse at the TV until you turn blue and play your videogames that simulate intergalatic war with evil space aliens."

"And for Christmas, I'll buy you the entire Richard Dawkins, Karl Marx and Ayn Rand collection."

Seriously, people who pen books entitled: "The Case Against God" or "Why There is No God" really need to get a life.

The thing about religion is that it gives you a justification to believe in whatever you want. But science reveals inconvenient truths.

Not quite right. You've never seen your father weep bitter tears because he thinks his parents will burn in hell.

“Look, all I'm saying is that our society uses intelligence to justify slaughter of animals, that animals, by nature, are intellectually inferior to us.”

You seem to assume that the general human society has become atheistic or agnostic. Most humans, to the dismay of staunch secularists, still retain various degrees of religious beliefs (though probably less so than a century ago). Thus, the distinction between man and beast still principally rests on theistic notions of soul-possessing humans distinguished from animals. Most world faiths are not vegetarian (though dietary restrictions do exist, they normally involve proscription of certain types of meat, not all animal flesh). In short, relative intelligence is employed less as a justification for slaughtering animals than the traditional religious beliefs of human supremacy and consequent dominion.

As Half Sigma implied, humans are prone to use whatever beliefs they hold to justify their actions. The Old Testament passage of Noah-Ham-Canaan was wrongly and deliberately interpreted by slavers to defend the enslavement of blacks. Anti-slavery abolitionists used their beliefs in Christianity to refute the peculiar institution. Atheistic Marxists in Stalinist USSR referred to communism to validate their murderous regime, Islamo-Fascists today utilize the Koran, Nazis used nationalism, etc. If humans want to end or save life, bless or curse, or build or destroy, they will often employ a higher, moralistic system of belief as justification.

Also, in general, even the dullest human is smarter than the most intelligent animal (can you teach a collie how to read?). You are comparing apples to radios.

By the way, HS, thanks for the one-paragraph definition of "race realism" in your post a few days ago. Race realism in contrast to a wholly false PC idea about "culture bias." You have not directly addressed any of my comments, which point to deeper questions about culture than your or any of your fans have really taken on. Again, the philosophical depth needed to give an adequate treatment of these questions is far beyond you. You don't even see how far you are from an answer. You are a worshipper of science, not a subtle thinker.

Then again, you have a blog. I just reminded myself why I shouldn't be reading this silly thing!

Oh and by the way, Delenda, Darwinism is not and should not be construed as metaphysics Nor should it be viewed as bounding metaphysics or other realms of culture. Drawing metaphysical and/or ethical conclusions from PHYSICAL SCIENCE is a sign of an untrained mind. It's a great folly of our time, this desire to use science to "disprove" religion. As D.B. Hart put it:

In fact, the presupposition that all social phenomena must have an evolutionary basis and that it is legitimate to attempt to explain every phenomenon solely in terms of the benefit it may confer (the "cui bono? question," as Dennett likes to say) is of only suppositious validity. Immensely complex cultural realities like art, religion, and morality have no genomic sequences to unfold, exhibit no concatenations of material causes and effects, and offer nothing for the scrupulous researcher to quantify or dissect.

Darwinism won't give you a morality, and it will not legitimately take one away; neither will it explain away or invalidate religious belief.

Actually sexual selection has often been cited as the medium by which art, ethics, and religion have evolved in humans.

Hey Hujuty! Glad you to decided to stick around. I hope you remain here and argue with us.

Immensely complex cultural realities like art, religion, and morality have no genomic sequences to unfold, exhibit no concatenations of material causes and effects, and offer nothing for the scrupulous researcher to quantify or dissect.
See, this is where I disagree. Religion and art take different forms, and certainly qualities like personality have been shown to be heritable. There's no reason the capacity to create art or religion shouldn't have a genetic background, nor preferences for different sorts; while I doubt you will ever find a gene for the Roman Catholic Church, there are probably genes that predispose a person to prefer a highly structured religion like Roman Catholicism or Orthodox Judaism over a mystical religion like Sufism or Quakerism, or atheism or irreligion. Environment also plays a role; a mystical person born in a Muslim country might become a Sufi, whereas in a Christian country that person might become a Quaker, whereas in a heavily unchurched area here that person might go into New Age beliefs.
Genes interact with environment; a Jew's sons who choose Orthodox, Conservative, Reform Judaism or atheism/agnosticism are choosing based both on their genes and on their environment.

As for concatenations of material realities, what do you call the symbolism of the cross? The historical contingency of an unlucky Jewish preacher in Rome's execution combined with the human desire for salvation from death to produce a symbol that has spoken to billions of people across time. But if he'd been executed in another place, we might now be seeing another symbol.

P.S. What was your philosophical objection that we didn't answer again? That thread ran a bit long and I'm having trouble finding it.

The comments to this entry are closed.