Deep thought

Apparently disagreeing is the same as “dissembling.”


  1. #1 Dave W.
    July 15, 2009

    Seems to me that “nobody doubts” and “it’s trivial” aren’t signs of disagreement.

  2. #2 Ted Herrlich
    July 15, 2009

    So basically all accommodational talk aside, conflict is going to happen. Our objective shouldn’t be to minimize that conflict — because I am not sure we can. Our objective should be to not allow the public school science classroom to be the arena for airing that conflict.

    As to why I doubt we will ever actually reduce the conflict? IMO hardcore Creationists, including those less-than-stalwart fellows over at the Discovery Institute, have no interest in minimizing the conflict. They feed on it and use it to generate revenue (donations) and rationalizations for their own existence. They not only fan the flames of conflict, but where they are no flames, they start the fires.

  3. #3 Josh Rosenau
    July 16, 2009

    “Our objective shouldn’t be to minimize that conflict — because I am not sure we can.”

    This is like saying “Our objective shouldn’t be to bring peace to the Middle East — because I’m not sure we can.” Or “Our objective shouldn’t be to eliminate poverty — because I’m not sure we can.” There are lots of things that are hard, or even impossible, which are still worthy goals.

    Yes, Disco., et al. will keep pushing their conflict, the same way neo-segregationists keep pushing their ideology today. But we can get the public to treat Disco. with the same disregard they treat birthers and 9/11 conspiracists, and that would be a good step. And addressing misconceptions about the relationship between science and religion is one step in that process. Through public discourse we can move people from anti-science religious views to pro-science religious views, reducing the conflict.

  4. #4 Amar
    July 16, 2009

    It seemed to me that Coyne was implying that Scott was playing the accomodationist role cynically (by the use of the word dissembling). If i remember correctly, you know her personally / professionally. Do you think that is an accurate portrayal of Scott’s ‘real’ position? And do you think that that is a valid position to take?

  5. #5 Josh Rosenau
    July 16, 2009

    As a matter of policy, I don’t comment on internal NCSE dealings. I’d say that if Coyne thinks Genie is making arguments she doesn’t really believe, he ought to have some evidence to offer before smearing her reputation. He’s making a serious charge and ought to offer evidence himself, not rely on her or her friends to defend herself first. I note only that no such evidence is on offer from Coyne.

  6. #6 FastLane
    July 20, 2009

    I think Coyne’s description is only accurate if Scott is still making the claim of compatibility in the non-trivial sense, as espoused by PZ, Coyne, and many others. I don’t know that Euginie is doing so, so I will not comment. Maybe Coyne has information that I don’t.

    However, your post is just as suspect, since Coyne explicitly spells out where the differences lie, and the trivially true bit in which many on the accommodationist side seem to be insisting that it is also true in the non-trivial sense.

    The way in which certain other bloggers have been using the phrase lately almost certainly points to dissembling, or the creationist tactic of bait and switch when talking about different meanings of the same thing.

    So no, I don’t think dissagreeing is the same as dissembling, but it does not appear to me that Coyne is saying that she is dissembling because she is disagreeing, either. If it were anyone I didn’t know (in the blogosphere sense), I would wonder if they actually read Coyne’s explanation.

  7. #7 Josh Rosenau
    July 21, 2009

    Just because Coyne wants to redefine terms doesn’t mean it’s dissembling for other people to use the term the way they always have.

    Coyne regards it as trivial that people can be scientists and have religious faith, but I’ve seen people like Larry Moran, and lots of PZ and Larry’s commenters, deny exactly that. They claim that someone isn’t a scientist if he or she ever believes something without evidence.

    Coyne might want to pretend they don’t exist, but they do. I could claim he’s dissembling by ignoring those people, but I wouldn’t sink so low.

  8. #8 FastLane
    July 21, 2009

    I’ve seen people like Larry Moran, and lots of PZ and Larry’s commenters, deny exactly that. They claim that someone isn’t a scientist if he or she ever believes something without evidence.

    Can you provide links? I’ve seen PZ, Coyne, and Moran ackowledge the trivial point that one can be religious and do science, but don’t recall any of them saying what you are claiming here.

    And I know some of their commenters might, but I really don’t think you want to go down the road of calling Coyne a liar because some of his commenters (regular or otherwise) have a different opinion.

  9. #9 Josh Rosenau
    July 21, 2009

    Lots of people do deny it, but that’s not the question. Lots of people think its true. For instance, a recent poll by the British Council found ” just over half (54%) of those surveyed across Great Britain agreed that it is possible to believe in a God and still hold the view that life on Earth, including human life, evolved over time as a result of natural selection; against 19 percent who disagreed.” If my math is right, another 27% would have been undecided on the point. In Britain, where fundamentalism is much less common than in the US. Which means that the public NCSE deals with is much less accepting of what Coyne considers a trivial point.

    Coyne labels NCSE as accommodationist for our views on evolution and religion. NCSE only argues that it is possible to be religious and accept evolution. We note a range of ways people do that, and take no position in favor of any particular approach, or even of the necessity of doing so. If Coyne is now adopting a definition of accommodationism that requires advocacy for a philosophical position that scientific understanding and religion are compatible, then he should be correcting previous claims that NCSE is accommodationist, and he should stop claiming that Eugenie Scott dissembled simply for restating what NCSE has always stated.

    If he thinks that NCSE is accommodationist, then he can’t just define away our form of accommodationism as trivial.

    Finally, I didn’t call Coyne a liar, and wouldn’t. Nor should he call Genie or Chris liars simply because they have different opinions from his. This is my entire point.

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