The Opposite of Faith is NOT Reason

I understand the limits of language in small spaces; and I understand how language choices on complex topics can be made to make or break an argument.  The word choices in this small article on what Neil deGrasse Tyson said, starting with the title, are unfortunate. [Re: “Neil deGrasse Tyson: Science and Religion Are Not ‘Reconcilable,’ So Stop Trying“]

When it comes to categories, “reconciliation” is a matter of degree, not a statement of absolutes.  Reconciliation does not mean one thing becomes the other or that one is subsumed by the other.  It means there are harmonies, with each component remaining itself with concessions in tuning.  Religion and Science, on the surface of the words, can indeed be reconciled.  And Faith and Reason are made polar and mutually exclusive opposites willfully, not necessarily.

I can certainly sympathize with an argument that reconciliation means something like “make align.”  I favor the definitions that focus on making “exist or be true at the same time.”

For reason to operate, it requires assertions whose truthfulness is filtered structurally (formally) and substantively (informally).  Reason is a faculty, not an operation or machine.  Logic is the machine and operation.  Reason is not science – science, also, is an operation, an approach.  Reason as a faculty is about giving thought to, and due processing and consideration beyond faith in, concepts and perspectives.  It is the ability to comprehend and to make comprehensible.

Matters with more faith than science can be approached reasonably.
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Our Weakness for Agnotology

We typically think of ignorance as the absence of knowledge or education. In fact, it can be the opposite: “knowledge” that is founded on untrue information. It is what you believe is knowledge, when in actuality it was false information designed to resist the scrutiny of provable or proven fact. The resistance comes as a function of how deeply it is believed to be true: the more strongly we believe it, the more we resist data that disproves it. Cognitive Dissonance.

Meet Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association: « If HIV caused AIDS, Magic Johnson would be dead. Doesn’t even look sick to me. How about you? »

Doubt anyone?

Agnotology is the manufacture of ignorance by cognitively structuring misinformation to represent reality to support a desired narrative. Agnotology is « culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.»

For example, as Wikipedia has recorded, the tobacco industry’s constant barrage of misinformation to create what would henceforth be mistaken for actual knowledge within the culture: the doubt about cancer risk in smoking.

If you are a medical scientist, you know HIV causes AIDS because you have investigated all the invisible micro & macro factors that Joe the Plumber cannot see by simply staring at the surface of a person’s body.  You know how smoking harms the lungs and cancers develops.

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Arrestable Development of Dominionism

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man.”
~ Heraclitus.

The America of today is different from the newly born America and the 50-year old America and the 100-year old America. As different as a new-born human is from his teenage years and his 60th year.

Anyone who wants to “take back America” – back as in some delusional ownership or back in time to some fantastic state when their perspective is imagined to have reigned supreme – is really trying to transform America in his image, just as he has done his God and his Christ.

Even if he should succeed, that America won’t be the same as any other America. America will have changed, gotten smaller in mind and spirit. It is easy to think you can go back in time IF you mean less complexity and purer faith. But what one will be imagining as less-complexity and pureness is really  one’s rejecting today’s realities, narrowing minds, and overlaying simplicity onto what passes for thinking. In that way, simplicity means willful stupidity.

Do we need to fear the Christian Dominionist movement?

Change is evolutionary in the sense that it happens in reaction to environmental conditions (not progress in the ameliorative sense). If we think of these nutbags as environmental conditions, we are at this moment changing in response. Somehow, I don’t think the loudness and extremeness of their voice equates to actual power to effect dominionism. It could be just the opposite, where the evolutionary adaption that results is to solidify ourselves against what amounts to a bacterial disease.

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Can You Advocate Violence & Not Mean It?

Words have impact, especially on non-critical-thinking hordes & minions. Rhetoric that borrows from the vocabulary of violence & war BREEDS thoughts of violence in these same hordes.

You cannot say “we don’t advocate violence” but imply armed conflict if you don’t get your way, blatantly say the opposition (the Left) is preparing for armed conflict against you (the Right), use images and frames of war and violence, and speak in terms of revolution.  If you do these things, you ARE advocating violence by framing your message (and, therefore, the solutions) in terms of violence. Continue reading

Alien Rhetoric

I have not happened upon a formula that can be employed in argumentation (where persuasion is a primal motive) to influence my fellow arguer’s position or thinking process to a degree that has apparent instant and lasting effects. This is not really as important to me as being able to detect that I have reached my fellow in a meaningful and positive way. I’ve been pondering this more or less since forever, but not syllogistically or systematically. Not that this note will be syllogistic or systematic, but I hope the stream of thought will be refinable and productive toward uncovering the imagined formula. Imagined because I can conjure scenarios in my head about wonderful, edifying, fallacy-free exchanges of ideas (that don’t attack the other’s character); but these scenarios always rely on an assumed level of relatively balanced Continue reading