Over at scienceblogs there is a recurring
argument debate about “framing”. My definition of framing is wording an argument in a manner that your audience is going to be most receptive to. It’s crafting an argument carefully with the goal of convincing people of its authenticity.
Using this definition its literally self-evident that if you want to convince people of something that you should approach your argument in a manner most likely to do so! That’s just obvious.
It’s a separate question whether you should have that goal or not. I.E. it would be a tedious world if everyone always spoke with utter care for maximum convincing power. I’m going to talk about religion differently if I’m with a bunch of atheists than I do if I’m at a funeral. Sometimes we preach to the choir and enjoy reveling in our superior views.
But, yes, if your goal is to convince, framing is a no-brainer.
Generally the framing debate at scienceblogs relates to the “new atheists” and the “battle of science and religion”. Dawkins and Myers alienate the people they are trying to convince, says one side. Dawkins and Myers respond: fuck you, we have every right to speak our opinions when and how we feel.
They are both right.
Dawkins and Myers do alienate the people they are trying to convince by focusing on the most radical and ridiculous examples of religion. That’s not all they do, by a long shot and I agree with them on literally almost everything. But they do alienate people. That’s a fact whether you like it or not. Religious moderates, who are an important political ally of secularists, are painted with the same broad brush as loonies like young earth creationists.
But on the other hand, and really more importantly, what Dawkins and Myers have done is say what they think. They used their best judgment. They have no responsibility to religious moderates, secularists or anyone else. Their words have been a very important part of the debate and we would be much poorer without them. We’re all grown ups and we should be able to handle it if it gets a little rough sometimes.
Here is a very interesting interview I did with Ernan McMullin. He is a fascinating guy who knew Schrodinger and Carl Sagan. He is a priest and he studied theoretical physics. He is currently the Oâ€™Hara Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the godfather of a good friend of mine. I blogged about him before in regards to Intelligent Design, which he thinks is nonsense on both scientific and theological grounds. It’s a fairly long but highly interesting interview. Check it out!
Download/Listen (MP3, 01:13:19, 34.4MB)
Here’s what we know:
1. 13.73 billion years ago, the universe was created.
2. Somewhere around 4 billion years ago the Earth was created.
3. Around 3 billion years ago, life formed.
4. Life evolved and grew more and more complex and diverse.
5. Today there are millions of species.
The Intelligent Design (ID) movement, exemplified by the movie Expelled, has a problem with #4. They think God mucked around in #4. Science doesn’t have a theory (yet) for how the universe was created (#1). We know exactly what happened milliseconds after the Big Bang, but we don’t know how the Big Bang banged. We don’t have much of a theory about how life was created (although we are making significant progress) (#3). We have really, really good theories of #2 and #4. They are based on hardcore science and have been argued about and tested very thoroughly.
So if you are fervently religious and want to believe that God did #1 and #3, fine, great, have at it. We’ll probably prove you wrong on #3 someday but for #1, God snapping his fingers is as good of theory as any.
But why would you argue with #4? Evolution is obvious. Natural selection is obvious and if you think God is smart then he might think of a way to do things that was clever! He didn’t zap fully formed humans into existence He created a beautiful machine that opened up like a flower over billions of years from which stepped a mind capable of wondering and worshipping. Evolution is a testament to the patience and the brilliance of God. Science is never and could never be at odds with the will of the Creator.
So ID isn’t just bad science, it’s bad theology, it’s bad philosophy, it’s bad everything. It’s especially destructive because it falsely presents itself as being on the side of believers. That is nonsense. True believers are in awe of God’s creation, including the Big Bang, the old earth and natural selection. Science studies God’s creation, it doesn’t oppose it.
I heard this story mentioned on NPR and if you do a Google search you’ll see it was on a lot of national media.
They call it the “Highway of Holiness.” Others call it Interstate 35.
Evangelicals throughout the Midwest, from Laredo, Texas, to Duluth, Minn., have been praying at 24-hour prayer rooms for a month for Interstate 35 in order to “light the highway.”
…The scriptural basis for the new movement comes from Isaiah 35:8, which reads, “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it.” Because of chapter 35, believers say the highway mentioned must be Interstate 35. In addition, a number of people in the “Highway of Holiness” movement claim to have had prophetic experiences that involve Interstate 35.
Now there is a phrase for this: COMPLETELY FUCKING CRAZY. I was appalled at how “respectful” everyone was being about this. This is insane. You are insane if you believe that Interstate 35 is written about in the Bible. This sort of quackery should be ridiculed and these people evaluated for possible institutionalization. They should be arrested for abusing their children with this insanity. The last thing we should treat this tripe with is respect.
Of course the Jesus freaks are up in arms about the upcoming movie The Golden Compass because it was written by…gasp…an atheist! The Head Retard of the Catholic League is concerned:
Our concern is this, unsuspecting Christian parents may want to take their kid to the movie, it opens up December 7th and say, this wasn’t troubling, then we’ll buy the books. So the movie is the bait for the books which are profoundly anti-Catholic and at the same time selling atheism.
First of all, this series of books is really, really entertaining and IT’S FICTION! It’s made-up stories about a made-up world. It is no more “selling atheism” than Narnia is selling Christianity. Bill Donohue has proven once again that he is an intolerant bully with his head up his ass.
Second of all, even if this book was “selling atheism”, you and your kids can still enjoy it and make up your own minds. Can’t you? Are you capable of making up your own mind? Are yours kids capable of being exposed to different ideas? Or do you need to shelter them in a little dome of ignorance?
This movie looks like it is going to be awesome.
In response to the comment on PZ sums it up for us:
1. Einstein was pretty much an atheist by modern standards although technically probably a deist. I agree with his notion of the mystery of it all and I don’t object to calling the mystery “god”, I just think it is a horrible name for it. Atheists are not like he describes us. We are mistaken for that because of…
2. Part of what you are feeling is that, once you accept atheism for what it truly is — a rejection of claims without proof — the coddling that religion enjoys seems utterly daft. I think religion is ridiculous. I am amazed at the number of highly intelligent people who do not reject its flawed, overblown and largely intolerant and unhelpful claims. Yes, religious people are capable of all sorts of great things. They are great people. Its just not their religion that makes them so. Often it is in spite of their religion that religious people are great people. The religion isn’t helping and according to some its hurting.
This is a painful observation to people who are spiritual. They don’t feel ridiculous and they are not happy with this characterization. I understand that. It doesn’t change the fact that I am not a radical by saying it. They are “radicals” because they believe a bunch of nonsense for reasons that, under scrutiny, are much more tenuous than they would like to believe.
Now add on top of this that religious people feel they have the moral high ground, that atheists are evil, immoral and will deservedly suffer for eternity in Hell and the fact that a large population in this country believes in creationism, a 6000 year old Earth and the Second Coming…it is we, the godless, who are force-fed the radicalism. And now that there are a few more percent of us speaking out, we take on criticism like this — that we are mean and hostile. It’s utterly fucking daft. We’re mean and hostile because we are surrounded by people who speak, as if fact, about how Jesus Christ entered their lives and speak of evolution, cosmology and physics as if they are bad lies made up by a conspiracy of evil scientists.
You’ll note that Einstein was solidly on the side of science. He was barely, if at all, on the side of the theists. He was uncomfortable with that last quantum leap, just like you.
I read a quote by James Lipton, the guy that hosts “Inside the Actor’s Studio”. He was asked his own question: “If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?”
He said “You see Jim, you were wrong, I exist, but you may come in anyway”.
It would be foolish to not want to exist forever. Everyone wants that. Just like everyone wants to win the lottery. I hate to tell you this, but you are never going to win the lottery. Does that make your life hopeless? Or course not. While we all would love to have highly improbably really great things happen to us, most often they don’t. You are not going to win the lottery.
You are also not going to exist forever. In fact, nothing lasts forever. Eventually the sun and the earth will be gone. Nothing exists forever. This is the natural state of things.
But look on the bright side, you exist! What a lovely miracle. You get some 80 years to live your life and learn and laugh and love. Think of all the things that won’t ever exist. Lucky you.
We don’t know what happens when we die. We don’t know why this is all here. But as lovely as it is to make believe that we are the chosen beings of some universe-creating supergod, there is no reason whatsoever to think so. You are alive. That is very, very special. Be happy with that.
This is hilarious:
Her point is valid and I’m surprised that the pious aren’t more offended by very rich people thanking Jesus for keeping them in money, blow and whores.
Muslims should have no reason to think that Mohammed will never be depicted in cartoons and Christians should have no reason to think that Jesus won’t ever be joked about. Welcome to Earth, a planet of 7 billion people, none of whom agree with you on everything or even most things. You can hope, but not expect, that everyone is going to be respectful of your wishes.
Says Fox News:
I want to actually show you that, in fact, Kathy Griffin is wrong. Jesus had everything to do with her winning that award. And here’s the reasoning.
Jesus died on a cross 2,000 years ago. His dying words were, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” He died and they buried him in a rock cut tomb. Three days later, as the Bible says, he rose from the dead. That day is what Christians celebrate as Easter.
After the resurrection, Christianity began to take off like wildfire, spreading from the Middle East northward to Europe and westward into Ethiopia. In 300 A.D. Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity and it beccame the religion of Europe. Rome soon became the seat of the faith. After several years of human failings, the church went through conflicts and quite a few unbiblical years â€” the crusades and the inquisition to name just two. Out of that came the Reformation â€” the reforming of the Church, sort of a back-to-basics Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Out of the Reformation emerged a vision of law by Samuel Rutherford, called Lex is Rex, Law is King. From that, others devised a secular version that is used to help lay the foundation of government for a new land called America. Ninety-four percent of America’s founding era documents mention the Bible; 34 percent quote the Bible directly. The idea of bringing unity to the universal is a particularly Biblical concept.
The freedoms we enjoy in this country to speak freely and to live freely are directly related to that man who died on a cross 2,000 years ago.
So, you see, Kathy Griffin, Jesus has everything to do with you winning that award.
I rest my case.
Griffin’s ‘offensive’ Emmy speech to be censored
A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Can you believe this shit? Hell has frozen over. Suck it, Jesus, this award is my god now.
I’m so sick of the fucking Catholic League. They are a bunch of thugs that try to squash any speech which does not honor their mythological gods. You know, the Catholic pantheon of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary and a gazillion saints. The Christians are becoming just as bad as the Muslims, with this false idea that we all need to revere whom they revere. It’s crap and we shouldn’t put up with it. It is not “hate speech”, it is simply the speech of people who have no reason whatsoever to treat him, her of the other guy with reverence.
I don’t expect you to revere whom I revere and you should not expect me to revere who you revere.