I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Paul Gross pans David Berlinski's "The Devil's Delusion"

Paul R. Gross has written a negative book review of David Berlinski's book, "The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions."

For starters, Paul Gross has no credibility with me. He is a co-author -- along with Barbara Forrest -- of the book "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design," which is about a ridiculous conspiracy theory that promoting ID is part of a plot by fundies to turn the USA into a theocracy. Also, as chief editor of the Fordham Institute's (no connection to Fordham University) report on state science standards, he threatened to drop Ohio's overall science grade from a B to an F just because of Ohio's evolution lesson plan that included weaknesses of evolution theory.

In contrast to Gross's negative review of the book, Amazon.com's customer reviews of the book are mostly favorable. There are now 67 customer reviews posted and the average rating by the customer reviewers is four stars, broken down as follows: 5 stars, 36; 4 stars, 15; 3 stars, 2; 2 stars, 4; and one star, 10. Also, the "product description" in the book's Amazon.com website makes some good points:
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Product Description

Militant atheism is on the rise. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have dominated bestseller lists with books denigrating religious belief as dangerous foolishness. And these authors are merely the leading edge of a far larger movement–one that now includes much of the scientific community.

“The attack on traditional religious thought,” writes David Berlinski in The Devil’s Delusion, “marks the consolidation in our time of science as the single system of belief in which rational men and women might place their faith, and if not their faith, then certainly their devotion.”

A secular Jew, Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. An acclaimed author who has spent his career writing about mathematics and the sciences, he turns the scientific community’s cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and answer some rather embarrassing questions:

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?
Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?
Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?
Dead on.

Berlinski does not dismiss the achievements of western science. The great physical theories, he observes, are among the treasures of the human race. But they do nothing to answer the questions that religion asks, and they fail to offer a coherent description of the cosmos or the methods by which it might be investigated.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it is very obvious that Creationists and other religious fundamentalists wish to turn the U.S. into a theocracy. If this wasn't true, then how come all of the stuff they support have nothing behind them but religious "arguments"?

Monday, December 08, 2008 6:01:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Do you have an intelligent argument to make? Where does the bible say anything about irreducible complexity, DNA, co-evolution, the Cambrian explosion, etc.?

Monday, December 08, 2008 8:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

And Berlinski doesn't even support intelligent design. He mainly makes the point that Darwinism, or any other theory of perfectly mindless, mechanistic evolution of life, isn't supported by the evidence. His view of the origin of species is "intelligent uncertainty:" or in other words, nobody knows much about what the Hell happened, or why.

The anonymous ones ought to educate themselves. Berlinski, for instance, isn't a Christian, a theist, or even a deist. He's an agnostic.

Monday, December 08, 2008 1:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

The war between the old-line apostles of the conventional theory of evolution, and the rest of us, greatly increased in fury beginning in 1996. In February of that year biochemist Michael Behe's book Darwin's Black Box was published; and in June came the essay The Deniable Darwin by David Berlinski, in the Jewish intellectual magazine Commentary.

Behe, while not a creationist, proposed biochemical evidence of intelligent design: i.e., that intelligence of some sort had designed some features of life. His version of intelligent design held that all life had descended from a common ancestor over vast ages, but that some intelligence had played a scientifically detectable role in the process.

Berlinski, while not endorsing any form of intelligent design, found no reason to believe in the conventional theory of evolution, either. His position was thus a strictly skeptical one: that we really don't know how or why species in general arose.

It's amazing how wildly the Darwinists, who grimly and apparently desperately hold to the old evolutionary theory that stems mainly from Darwin, have misrepresented Behe, Berlinski, and every other thinker who dares to question the basic notions of Darwin and his disciples. Richard Dawkins even wrote a letter to Commentary absurdly calling Berlinski, who is an agnostic, a "creationist."

Monday, December 08, 2008 3:50:00 PM  
Anonymous A_Hunt said...

"...skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and answer some rather embarrassing questions:

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?"

I would think that question should be more than 'rather' embarrassing to anyone asking it.

Friday, December 12, 2008 6:41:00 PM  

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