Yet Another New Discoveroid Book

Once again, we visit the cutting-edge thinkers at the Discovery Institute. The latest at their creationist blog is In a New Book, Philosopher J.P. Moreland Exposes Bankrupt Scientism. Ooooooooooooh! Bankrupt scientism.

The Discoveroid post was written by Sarah Chaffee. They describe her as “Program Officer in Education and Public Policy at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. She earned her B.A. in Government. During college she interned at Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office and for Prison Fellowship Ministries.” We call her “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

A chemist-turned-philosopher, J.P. Moreland approaches the intersection of science and worldviews with a love and respect for both. A Center for Science & Culture fellow [i.e., a Discoveroid creationist] and distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola University [a bible college], Dr. Moreland is just out with a new book, Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology.

Here’s the book at Amazon. The publisher is Crossway, which describes itself as “a not-for-profit ministry in 1938, to publish gospel-centered, Bible-centered content that will honor our Savior and serve his Church.” We can’t tell from their website if they’re a vanity publisher. Maybe not. Anyway, Savvy Sarah says:

He argues that scientism is bankrupt. It pervades the culture and, ironically perhaps, harms both science and faith. What is scientism? Moreland writes:

Roughly, scientism is the view that the hard sciences — like chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy — provide the only genuine knowledge of reality. At the very least, this scientific knowledge is vastly superior to what we can know from any other discipline. Ethics and religion may be acceptable, but only if they are understood to be inherently subjective and regarded as private matters of opinion.

Ooooooooooooh! Scientism is bad! Savvy Sarah tells us:

Moreland mounts a strong attack on this influential but ultimately unsound ideology. He begins by describing the impact of scientism and its internal contradictions. … Moreland argues that theism should be preferred over scientism. Finally, he issues a call to integrate science with Christianity.

A worthy objective! Skipping a lot, she continues:

Scientism focuses on experiments; the philosopher is free to acknowledge limitations and the necessary authority of the subjective observer. [Yeah, phooey on objectivity!] But in what areas should philosophy precede science? Moreland says questions about the beginning of the universe, an ex nihilo beginning, the origin of the life and the origin of the mind require philosophical answers.

Right — phooey on science! Let’s read on:

Moreland notes that we can even conceive of life in non-embodied entities, such as angels. Life fails to fit neatly into the researcher’s sphere of authority, as it is difficult to test all of the above in the lab. But philosophers can speak to its nature.

Yes — hooray for angels! Another excerpt:

Another key part is Moreland’s response to the God-of-the-gaps charge, often leveled against the theory of intelligent design. … Design supposedly fills holes of ignorance with “God did it” and so will always lose ground. Moreland’s response? I’ll just give you a teaser:

[Here’s the teaser:] First, within the intelligent design model, God’s causal activity is clearly not limited to gaps. God constantly and actively sustains and governs the universe at all times. Nature is not autonomous. Moreover, intelligent design theory need not have any apologetic aim at all. A Christian theist (or a Muslim, for that matter) may simply believe that he or she should consult all that we know or have reason to believe is true, including theological beliefs, in forming, evaluating, and testing scientific theories and in explaining scientific phenomena. And even if someone uses an intelligent design approach with apologetic intentions, intelligent design advocates do not limit their apologetic case to gaps. The model merely recognizes a distinction between primary and secondary causes and goes on to assert that at least the former could have scientifically testable implications irrespective of the apologetic intentions of such a recognition.

Wowie — that was impressive! The intelligent designer — blessed be he! — isn’t merely a god of the gaps, he explains everything!

The Discoveroid article is rather long, so we’ll cut this short. Here’s how it ends:

I have no doubt this new book will advance the case for design among young academic seekers, who, like Moreland himself, love asking the big questions about the universe.

That’s it, dear reader. Now you have another great book to add to your creationist library. Darwinism is doomed!

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “Yet Another New Discoveroid Book

  1. Sarah!!! Show me your idiot gawd, then we can start talking, till then religion is BS!

  2. I agree with Moreland that scientism should be rejected, but I disagree with his definition of scientism. Massimo Pigliucci (also a philosopher, and as an atheist not particularly friendly towards religion) defines scientism as “the attitude that the only kind of reliable knowledge is provided by science” and “Scientism seeks to expand the very definition and scope of science to encompass all aspects of human knowledge and understanding”. In short, we get to scientism when scientists overstep the boundaries of science.

    But when he calls for an integration of science with Christianity, the good doctor Moreland is also overstepping the boundaries of science. Science doesn’t deal with the supernatural; it has nothing to say about the supernatural. Full stop. How can he justify a ‘theistic’ science? We’ll also need a Muslim-, Hindu-, and Buddhist science. And yes, here in New Zealand there are voices that demand a Maori science to be taught in universities.

  3. Moreland, stating the obvious, says “…we can even conceive of life in non-embodied entities, such as angels.” Indeed we can, but he left out leprechauns, gnomes, and banshees, along with gods. But imagining them doesn’t provide any evidence they exist.

  4. abeastwood says: “But imagining them doesn’t provide any evidence they exist.”

    You must be one of those hell-bound scientism-ists.

  5. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    “The term scientism generally points to the cosmetic application of science in unwarranted situations not amenable to application of the scientific method or similar scientific standards.” Now who does that make you think of?

  6. J.P. Moreland completely fails to recognize that “Supernatural explanation” is an oxymoron. Within science, “to explain” means to render unknowns in terms of knowns. “Supernatural explanations” on the other hand try “to explain” unknowns with even greater unknowns, and even, as shown above to explain knowns! This clearly makes J.P. Moreland a moron. BIOLA is exactly the type of anti-education organization where Moreland is a perfect fit (pun intended).

    As far as “other ways of knowing”, show some evidence that these are not merely ways of “believing” and have verifiable results. Thus far, hundreds of thousands of different religions cannot even agree on how and when the Earth was formed or the age of the universe, both of which have solid scientific evidence supporting their currently known ages. Where are those angel and leprechauns detectors?

  7. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    So in fact a book pushing scientism of intelligent design, which is a theory that has nothing to do with the science method.

  8. Moreland argues that theism should be preferred over scientism. Finally, he issues a call to integrate science with Christianity.
    Why am I not surprised. Of course, the next phase is to eliminate science altogether.

  9. I assume that he would want to take account of the variety of religious and philosophical opinions. For example, what the Pope and the Dalai Lama would have to say about evolution, the age of the Earth and the Big Bang.

  10. “God’s causal activity is clearly not limited to gaps.”
    Which raises the question: to what exactly is this god’s causal activity limited? None? Then Sarah is savvy enough to admit that IDiocy is not science. See, scientific explanations have to be limited or they cannot be tested.

    @Hans: “defines scientism”
    hence the entire discussion is nothing but semantics and hence a waste of time. To make things worse, one’ll have to define “knowledge” first and the chosen definition almost always depends on the argument one wants to make. The result is of course circularity and hence uninteresting. This applies to Pigliucci as much as to Moreland and Savvy Sarah. You ask:

    “How can he justify a ‘theistic’ science?”
    I ask:

    How can you justify moral knowledge? Esthetical knowledge? What do these things even mean? If they have meaning, how can we get access to such knowledge and how do we know that the used methodology is reliable and credible? Be careful to avoid IDiot answers like “intuition”. Good look avoiding double standards resulting in “moral knowledge” meaning something different than “scientific knowledge”, because any such difference can be used to justify scientism.
    As long these topics aren’t addressed the question whether to prefer theism or scientism is totally useless.

  11. Moreland is an Christian apologist; a dualist; and so on. Naturally, he’s sour that his particular discipline– philosophy– finds itself downgraded in the current climate, playing second fiddle to more rational, empiricist-based methods of inquiry.

    Who cares if philosophers– or anyone else– can conceive of life in “non-embodied entities, such as angels” if they can’t provide the evidence for their existence in the first place? Who cares what we call it– science, or “scientism”– if the end results are basically the same either way, and Moreland fails to show his belief in angels (and demons) is justified?

    If Moreland, and stooges like Savvy Sarah want to masturbate over semantics– fine, knock yourselves out. But we’ve been through these absurd bogey-man dichotomies before, with talk of “Jewish science”, and “Aryan science”; and now, in our time, the apologists playing identity politics and calling for “Christian science”, or “Muslim science”, as opposed to just “science” proper.

    Maori science is a new one to me, though, I must admit.

  12. Moreland (along with fellow DI members Meyer and Johnson) has long been an advocate of ‘Theistic Science’ aka ‘Theistic Realism’, the proposal to allow supernatural explanations in science in place of testable ones.

    This means that in my opinion (and I’d suspect the opinion of most of the scientific community), he’s not exactly the best person to distinguish good science from bad.

  13. @FrankB
    scientific explanations must be limited, or they cannot be tested
    Explanations are by their meaning limited. It doesn’t make sense to speak of an unlimited explanation. To improver an explanation one makes further limitations. That is true of scientific explanations, esthetic explanations, moral explanations, legal explanations, etc.

  14. Charles Deetz ;)

    One of the basic discussions I had back in my church days was whether god was an active or passive god. Looks like the DI club is on the side of active god. So if god is always active, and can change anything at any time, why doesn’t he? Forget about the invention of flagellums, why not change my Lite beer into a double-IPA?

  15. The restriction of God’s action to the distant past is basically deism.

  16. @ChrisS mixed up two loosely related disciplines: “Moreland is an Christian apologist; a dualist; and so on. Naturally, he’s sour that his particular discipline– philosophy”
    Apologists don’t do philosophy, they do apologetics, sometimes called philosophy of religion to make it look more respectable (in a similar way IDiots call their IDiocy science).
    Most philosophers don’t care much about the god question, because the topic is exhausted. As long as science has limits philosophers will be able to work beyond those borders. To they don’t worry about their being downgraded at all. I refer for instance to Bruno Latour, who has made a career with the question how humans and society (should) deal with technology.

    @TomS: ” It doesn’t make sense”
    There is hardly anyone on the internet and certainly not on this blog who cares less about semantics than me. In my (Dutch) dictionary explanations perfectly can be unlimited – scientific ones can’t. “Goddiddid” is an example of an unlimited and hence non-scientific (too often anti-scientific) explanation.

  17. That we can conceive of something does not mean that it exists, or even that it is logically possible for it to exist. Until the work of Galois arund 1830, demomnstrating its logical impossibility, people not only conceived of but actively searched for an algorithm to solve general polynomial equations of degree 5.

    There is also a small irony here. Moreland, we are told, denounces the “the view that the hard sciences — like chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy — provide the only genuine knowledge of reality.” Yet, at least within the sciences and especially when it comes to the scientific investigation of the past, this is precisely the position of the “Were you there?” Hammites.

    So why is Sarah not denouncing the Hammites?

  18. I would also point out that there are those creationists who argue that evolution is useless for medicine. As if utility were the only measure of value.

  19. TomS says: “there are those creationists who argue that evolution is useless for medicine.”

    When that happens, I point out that we test our medicines on closely related species like monkeys or other mammals — not toads or crabs, which would be cheaper to obtain and less controversial to those who complain about lab tests as animal cruelty.

  20. Yes, but this is just another example of a creationist argument which goes wrong in so many ways.
    Just as your example of the “were you there” argument.
    This presents a difficulty in rhetoric, the difficulty of the lack of time and attention span. If one points out that such-and-such is wrong with the argument, it might leave the impression that there is something right with the argument.
    To take the “use for medicine” example. It is wrong because
    1. Yes, the study of evolutionary biology leads to practical consequences for medicine.
    2. Even if there were no medical consequences for evolution, there are other practical consequences, in petroleum geology, for example.
    3. There are no practical, beneficial medical consequences from the rejection of evolution.
    4. There are reasons other than the immediate, obvious practical consequences for the acceptance of truth. There are plenty of examples of discoveries which have been of no immediate practical consequences which have turned out to be extremely beneficial. It is important that we not reject something just because we don’t know how to use it today.
    5. Truth has its own value.

  21. And it just occurred to me that for many people, they think that evolution is just a matter of ancient fossils. Evolution is rather a process which is taking place always wherever there is life as an important feature of life, including human life.

  22. I hope west didn’t fork out too much cash for this latest round of drivel from sarah. Times are tough for science haters right now.

  23. Karl Goldsmith (@KarlGoldsmith)

    “Apologists don’t do philosophy, they do apologetics, sometimes called philosophy of religion to make it look more respectable (in a similar way IDiots call their IDiocy science).” That is how he has two co-written books from early 2000s with William Lane Craig.

  24. Revelation as a way of knowing – not likely.