Freedom, Creationism, ID, and Naturalistic Evolution

A recent commenter, Mynym, wrote:

People who believe in creationism can advance science and create political systems in which great freedom exists. That is simply a matter of history. So what if they did achieve political dominance, it’s not necessarily a great danger which will stop Progress as we know it. It should also be noted that people who believe in creationism can also be moral degenerates who create despotic systems in which freedom hardly exists. Yet an interesting question is whether or not those who believe in forms of Nature based paganism in ancient times and philosophic naturalism and the Darwinian creation myth in modern times can create political systems in which great freedom exists. Given their philosophy and their history it seems that they cannot. They have a history of tending towards totalitarianism just as their philosophy tends towards a supposedly total form of knowledge which tends towards determinism and allows for no “gaps.”

Indeed. Creationism does not entail despotism or totalitarianism. So far an atheistic aspect of governmental structure has entailed these things. Although I do not say that it must. In reality, it has. And Creationists can be as evil as anyone else. Of that, I do not doubt.

Those who believe that mind and intelligence don’t “exist” and have an impact on the natural world have always tended towards having their own minds degenerate to the level of psychologists working for totalitarian governments based on the false view that conditioning is all that matters.

The following is attributed to Pavlov, the Russian physiologist, who advanced ‘classical conditioning’:

Conscious until his very last moment, Pavlov asked one of his students to sit beside his bed and to record the circumstances of his dying. He wanted to create unique evidence of subjective experiences of this terminal phase of life. The great scientific courage of Pavlov is exhibited by this story: he tried to learn, and to increase knowledge of physiology, even on his deathbed.

(1)

The great American behaviorist, and atheist, BF Skinner wrote,

Cognitive science is the creation science of psychology, as it struggles to maintain the position of mind or self.

And yet, cognitive psychology is the dominant view of modern psychology. BF Skinner did not believe in anything like free will. The only thing that was important was reinforcement and punishment. Where is the room for personal freedom in such a position that is so consistent with naturalistic evolution?

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32 Responses

  1. Wow, there’s so much here that I disagree with, I hardly know where to start!

    The bit about “Nature based paganism in ancient times” strikes me as vague. I’m not sure what the target of criticism is here. Would Athenian democracy count? Why or why not?

    As for freedom: it strikes me that there are two ways of proceeding here. One is to ask the question whether freedom as an ethical (or political) ideal requires metaphysical support in the first place. (Hume, for example, thought it didn’t.) Another is to ask why kind, or how much, of a metaphysical support it needs.

    For example, some philosophers have argued that cognitive science and evolutionary theory don’t give us all the content of the traditional notion of “free will,” but they do give us all we need in order to make sense of our commitment to freedom as an ethical and political ideal. In other words, they give us enough of what we need, even if that’s not everything that the traditional concept promises.

    Finally, I’d like to say that there are some extraordinary conflations going on here — or, it would be better to say, certain associations are being made here which strike me, on the basis of my assumptions, as conflations. The most crucial conflations here are between evolutionary theory, naturalism, and atheism. These are far from being the same — and far from even entailing one another! Important distinctions are being lost, and critical thinking suffers as a result.

  2. “BF Skinner did not believe in anything like free will. The only thing that was important was reinforcement and punishment. Where is the room for personal freedom in such a position that is so consistent with naturalistic evolution?”

    And yet, along with Skinner and many others, our education system has been heavily influenced by these atheistic ideas. As Mynym pointed out, at the end of his comment, our schools have become battle zones, where parents can’t be assured that their children will return home safely or, if they do, educated. Our education system, as well as our society, is despotically run by material science, the government and corporate agendas (who, by the way, are in the sack with each other), which have little to do with learning, values, ethics or morality. The corporations want “good consumers,” as I was instructed in my college education courses. The government wants informed and aware constituents, supposedly, yet their every slogan and agenda creates students who are, every moment that passes, becoming more lacking in knowledge, problem solving, creativity and discernment (wisdom), as well as, for the most part, moral decency and rational judgment. Material science wants students who have been been fully indoctrinated into a belief system which denies anything greater than man and, of course, science: the scientist cries, “Where will the tax supported funding come from if someone blows the whistle on our weak theories and science adventures?”

    We’re creating, in my estimation, dehumanized robots, out of our students, which is not surprising if you consider that we have simply devalued human life and existence, over the past century plus, and all in the name of human, self-absorbed arrogance, as well human blindness to anything resembling the TRUTH. We’re getting what we have coming to us!

  3. Carl, are you disagreeing so much with what I wrote, or Mynym?

    I think I was commenting more on Creationist perspectives and atheist perspectives, and the practical entailment of atheism and freedom. Although practically, the Creationist perspective has at times resulted in oppression and lack of freedom, communism + atheism has in each case, so far, entailed despotism, totalitarianism, and lack of freedom. I’m not asserting that for either view, that the entailments are logical per se, but I am asserting that so far they track with reality, and what has actually occurred. I think it’s great to be logical, but you have to back up to what actually happens in the world, instead of always just considering what is logical in an abstract sense.

  4. I was responding to both Mynym and to the Country Shrink.

    I’m not asserting that for either view, that the entailments are logical per se, but I am asserting that so far they track with reality, and what has actually occurred. I think it’s great to be logical, but you have to back up to what actually happens in the world, instead of always just considering what is logical in an abstract sense.

    At the same time, however, you can’t let your sense of the possible be constrained by the actual.

    And, more to the point, the fact that most people make these associations is the problem. I’m interested in examining the arguments at stake, not just recording what people happen to believe. I want to see if what people believe is based on good reasons or not. And if not, that needs to be demonstrated. For that matter, if the reasons are good ones, that too needs to be demonstrated!

    If we can learn anything from history, it’s this: anything less that submitting our beliefs to the dual tribunals of experience and reason will result in our being the unwitting dupes of despots and charlatans.

  5. Carl wrote:

    At the same time, however, you can’t let your sense of the possible be constrained by the actual.

    I don’t let my sense of the possible be constrained by the actual. That’s why I noted the entailment aspects. However, I think we must consider the practicality of real-world events.

    I’m interested in examining the arguments at stake, not just recording what people happen to believe. I want to see if what people believe is based on good reasons or not. And if not, that needs to be demonstrated. For that matter, if the reasons are good ones, that too needs to be demonstrated!

    That’s fine, but don’t ignore what actually tends to happen for the sake of the possible or logical.

    If we can learn anything from history, it’s this: anything less that submitting our beliefs to the dual tribunals of experience and reason will result in our being the unwitting dupes of despots and charlatans.

    Indeed. And, based on history, I think you need to seriously consider the real-world associations between different ideologies and events, in addition to the logical or possible.

  6. The bit about “Nature based paganism in ancient times” strikes me as vague. I’m not sure what the target of criticism is here. Would Athenian democracy count? Why or why not?

    One of the best summaries of the urge to merge typical to Nature based paganism which I’ve seen was written by a historian trying to summarize the irrationality of Nazism, as he put it Nazism was a form of paganism defined by “…a practical and violent resistance to transcendence.” In contrast to Plato’s advice to come out of the symbolic cave to see the Form of things this type of paganism typically seeks a union with Nature through immanence alone. To use another layer of metaphor, some fellows seem to want to crawl back into the womb of their Mommy Nature and they hate the idea of Father God and so on. In contrast Greek philosophy generally doesn’t comport with Nature based paganism, if anything it typically goes to far toward transcendence as with Plato’s radically distinct Forms but fortunately Aristotle generally had a more reasonable attitude about immanence and form which has something to do with “science”/knowledge as we now know it.

  7. The most crucial conflations here are between evolutionary theory, naturalism, and atheism. These are far from being the same — and far from even entailing one another! Important distinctions are being lost, and critical thinking suffers as a result.

    For some reason many Christians have struggled to reconcile Darwinian reasoning with Christianity or to deny that Darwin developed his theory from a philosophy of naturalism and so on. Darwinian reasoning is often far too blurred to say that it entails much of anything. To this day proponents of the Darwinian creation myth name their supposedly scientific blogs after theological “panda’s thumb” type arguments yet then say that theology should not intersect with science at any point. In theory you can say whatever you like about supposed distinctions but in fact they mean little. It is a matter of historical fact that evolutionary theory has often been derived from a philosophy and/or theology of naturalism, yet then it is also said to provide “overwhelming evidence” of naturalism. Sometimes this pattern becomes so radical that it is the material of satire: “We are professional scientists now and not amateur natural theologians, theology can be left to theologians but we’re studying the natural world. Natural explanations are all that we allow in science now. In fact, the evidence for evolution and the idea that everything has a natural explanation is now overwhelming.”

    The interesting thing is that people who adhere to an anti-ID type of philosophy of naturalism generally associate Progress with it because the “separation”* of science and theology took place at a time when technological progress was/is increasing. This is ironic because technology has much more to do with intelligent design, engineering principles, creativity, invention, patent laws based on information and design, etc., than with a philosophy of naturalism.

    *It’s important to note that a hypocritical standard of supposed demarcation only seems to be applied one way:

    In constructing the arguments for his theory of evolution, Darwin repeatedly argued that God would never have created the world that the nineteenth-century naturalists were uncovering. Shortly after going pub lic with his theory, Darwin wrote to a friend: “There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the [wasp] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that the cat should play with mice.”
    […]
    Nature seemed to lack precision and economy in design and was often “inexplicable on the theory of creation.” In addition to this growing list of imperfections and mistakes, Darwin questioned the way the various species were designed. He observed, on the one hand, that different species use “an almost infinite diversity of means” for the same task and that this should not be the case if each species had been independently created by a single Creator. On the other hand, Darwin observed that different species use similar means for different tasks.” This too, he argued, does not fit with the theory of divine creation.

    What exactly did Darwin expect God’s creation to look like? We may never know, but for our purposes the point is that Darwin was significantly motivated by nonscientific premises.
    (Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil
    by Cornelius G. Hunter :12-13)

    A larger excerpt

  8. In contrast Greek philosophy generally doesn’t comport with Nature based paganism, if anything it typically goes to far toward transcendence as with Plato’s radically distinct Forms but fortunately Aristotle generally had a more reasonable attitude about immanence and form which has something to do with “science”/knowledge as we now know it.

    That’s a bit of a dodge, though, isn’t it? I mean, Plato and Aristotle were reacting against the religious/cultural context in which Athenian democracy was born. And in fact neither of them was a big fan of democracy — Plato, at any rate, didn’t like a system in which the virtuous few were subject to the desires and fears of the non-virtuous many. I don’t yet know Aristotle’s views on democracy.

    The fact is that Athenian democracy took root and flourished in a culture in which traditional religious practices centered around Zeus, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, etc. were taken very seriously. So, I’ll put the question again: is Greek religion an example of “Nature based paganism”? If not, why not? And if it is, is the flourishing of Athenian democracy a counter-example to the generalizations being made here? If not, why not?

    (Of course Athenian democracy was a notoriously unstable system, vulnerable to corruption, and not particularly just by modern standards. But it did have the core notion of isnonomia, equality before the law, in place several hundred years before the rise of Christianity. The most important achievement of Christianity, so far as I can tell, has been to universalize that notion. I should add that, although I am an out-and-out atheist, I have nothing but utmost respect for that aspect of Christianity’s historical significance.)

    I don’t wish to downplay the relation between Nazism and paganism. If anything, I find it much more helpful to view Nazism as a contemporary version of paganism than as indicating anything about the political repercussions of atheism! So for now we can provisionally agree on that characterization of Nazi ideology.

    (Further discussion would require, I think, getting more clear on the relation between scientism and paganism within Nazism — I find this very intriguing, and I’d like to know whether there was an ideological conflict going on between scientistic Nazis and pagan Nazis, or if the same people embraced scientism and paganism. I sometimes wonder if perhaps some of the popular appeal of Nazism turned on this peculiar dual embrace of scientism and paganism.)

    Where I take issue, rather, is with the thought that the connection between naturalism and paganism goes very deep. Although in both cases there is a denial of transcendence in a Platonic or Christian sense, the denial takes very different forms and goes in different directions. Or so it seems to me.

  9. I don’t yet know Aristotle’s views on democracy.

    Aristotle generally agreed with Winston Churchill that it would be the best system for the real world, although tending towards mediocrity and so on. As Churchill put it, “…it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” It’s interesting to note that if Aristotle had to choose between monarchy, aristocracy or democracy in an abstract or ideal way then he argued that rule by a benevolent monarch would be the best of all governmental systems. This view tends to comport with Jewish and Christian tradition in which there is a King of kings in the abstract but the kings of this world are typically corrupt. Another important link between what the Nazis would call the “Jewish influence” of monotheism is that the king/Führer could be condemned by prophets/philosophers based on laws not subject to human will, i.e. human rights are unalienable even when they are not expressed.

    Note the ground which anti-Nazis typically stood on, for instance:

    Young Peter Yorck…was perhaps the bravest, answering the most insulting questions quietly and never attempting to hide his contempt for National Socialism.
    “Why didn’t you join the party?” Freisler asked.
    “Because I am not and never could be a Nazi,” the count replied.
    When Freisler recovered from this answer and pressed the point Yorck tried to explain. “Mr. President, I have already stated in my interrogation that the Nazi ideology is such that I…”
    The judge interrupted him. “…could not agree…you didn’t agree with the National Socialist conception of justice, say, in regard to rooting out the Jews?”
    “What is important, what brings together all these questions,” Yorck replied, “is the totalitarian claim of the State on the individual which forces him to renounce his moral and religious obligations to God.”
    “Nonsense!” cried Freisler, and he cut off the young man.
    (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
    By William L. Shirer (Simon and Schuster) 1990 :1070-1071)

    Contrast the Nazi belief in a Führer with the American system designed by men who read and respected Aristotle, they admitted that all were corrupt instead of seeking a Messiah figure and sought to design a system to get the best out of each form of government, whether monarchy (the presidency), aristocracy (the senate) or democracy (the house of representatives). Going on further here would be too much of a tangent…

    So, I’ll put the question again: is Greek religion an example of “Nature based paganism”?

    Some of it was and some of it wasn’t. Cultures generally have different currents of thought within them that tend towards immanence or transcendence and there are typically different schools of thought in each. Usually you can look to the symbolism or metaphors used to see whether a school of thought or “worshippers” or what have you tends towards immanence or transcendence. For example, if they choose masculine metaphors then their focus is typically transcendence and if feminine then immanent. It would be fair to say that Athens (governed metaphorically by the Greek goddess Athena) tended towards a more immanent mindset than Sparta. Of course America’s Lady Liberty is little different than Athena symbolically speaking. At any rate, I wasn’t arguing that a more immanent mindset is necessarily wrong, only radical forms of it in which immanence is thought to be all that is, was or ever will be. I’d criticize a radically transcendent mindset on the other side in the same way, e.g. radical Islam with its radical forms of masculinity and radical suppression of femininity.

    ….getting more clear on the relation between scientism and paganism within Nazism — I find this very intriguing, and I’d like to know whether there was an ideological conflict going on between scientistic Nazis and pagan Nazis…

    The disagreements between Ernst Roehm (leader of pagan hedonists) and Himmler (leader of scientists) would probably be the best example, for instance their disagreement on homosexuality. The simple fact of the matter is that supposedly amoral science is very little different from immoral science. The idea that ideas don’t have consequences has consequences.

    ….or if the same people embraced scientism and paganism. I sometimes wonder if perhaps some of the popular appeal of Nazism turned on this peculiar dual embrace of scientism and paganism.

    I’d argue that the popular appeal of Nazism was linked to the decadence of the Weimar Republic and the decline of civilization. Some point to economic hardship in the wake of WWI and so on but there have been civilizations which faced external pressures without collapsing into barbarism and moral degeneracy from within, so it seems to me that to explain such things one must look to the culture itself.

    Note that Darwinism pervaded German culture and Darwinism naturally tends to dissolve symbols and signs of any design (i.e. language) and therefore civilization. For example, one might argue that you’re saying what you’re saying only because of your biological ancestry and evolutionary history instead of actually dealing with your language as if it is designed by a mind. What would be your argument against reducing the text that you write here to brain events that derive mainly from your environment and biological ancestry?

  10. mynym wrote,

    What would be your argument against reducing the text that you write here to brain events that derive mainly from your environment and biological ancestry?

    This statement points to my trouble with understanding how human ethical and moral standards could have somehow evolved. If our ethical and moral senses are “because of our biological ancestry and evolutionary history,” and subsequently, according to natural selection, still evolving, then how can we trust our judgment on any ethical and moral issue, since tomorrow, or the next day, we may have another and completely different, evolved opinion. I am not suggesting, BTW, that evolutionists are amoral or immoral. I am suggesting (since we sense, deep inside our cognitive and affective, what is wrong or right) that there must be a better explanation, for this, than natural selection.

  11. one might argue that you’re saying what you’re saying only because of your biological ancestry and evolutionary history instead of actually dealing with your language as if it is designed by a mind. What would be your argument against reducing the text that you write here to brain events that derive mainly from your environment and biological ancestry?

    Firstly, let me say that I think this is a very serious objection to evolutionary theory, at least in a certain version. And I think that naturalists have not done enough to respond adequately to this objection. I cannot promise to have an adequate response to it myself.

    Now, some preliminaries . . . I think it’s a mistake to treat language itself as having been designed in the same way that specific linguistic products (poems, plays, theories) are designed.

    But that aside, I think that the question here can be re-phrased as follows: “what, if anything, guarantees that human cognitive capacities, including linguistic capacities, allow us to have accurate representations of reality?”

    The broader question at stake here concerns the status of meaning and (as DB suggested) of value. So one way of putting the question might be, “what resources are available from within naturalism for understanding phenomena such as meaning, value, and knowledge?”

    I’m tempted to say much more, but I’ll refrain for now. Instead, I want to put it up for discussion whether the questions as I’ve phrased them here are even the correct questions to be asking.

  12. If our ethical and moral senses are “because of our biological ancestry and evolutionary history,” and subsequently, according to natural selection, still evolving, then how can we trust our judgment on any ethical and moral issue, since tomorrow, or the next day, we may have another and completely different, evolved opinion. I am not suggesting, BTW, that evolutionists are amoral or immoral. I am suggesting (since we sense, deep inside our cognitive and affective, what is wrong or right) that there must be a better explanation, for this, than natural selection.

    I think that also points out the nearly universal experience of different things in the world that make us think that there must be something more. It can be a very deep and powerful feeling. I think that’s one reason many naturalists have trouble giving up on the concept of a mind or free will (unlike BF Skinner). We certainly experience ourselves as having minds, free will, consciousness, and a moral sense. This seems to put naturalists through all types of mental contortions to find a way to explain how these things could be real. Because I think they know, or sense, deeper down that there is more to us than neurons firing and responses to reinforcement. That’s when I think the mind kicks in its defense mechanisms in the intellectual realm (intellectualization)…to avoid the feelings that would come along with accepting the nearly unacceptable position that we are just machines who react emotionally to beauty, have moral programs (written by evolution), and that there is nothing more to us or to the world. And to add to that, that our experience of the ultimate something more (God), is a cruel lie played upon us in order to make sure we keep propagating our genes. …That the cruelty that is shown in the world is just an alternate program (evil doesn’t exist). And I don’t think that even the most bold naturalist can stare that reality in the face and say, “Yes, this is true. There is nothing more going on here. Everything else is a lie.” That is to say, they might say it out loud, but I don’t think they can live it, connect with it, and believe it on a day to day basis.

  13. Where I take issue, rather, is with the thought that the connection between naturalism and paganism goes very deep. Although in both cases there is a denial of transcendence in a Platonic or Christian sense, the denial takes very different forms and goes in different directions.

    I’d argue that the denial takes different forms but goes in generally the same direction. Marxism and Nazism could be cited as examples of this type of divergence and convergence between paganism and naturalism. Fascism is the heretical branch of socialism so one shouldn’t be surprised that Nazis and Communists killed each other despite fundamental agreements in their views. John Adams noted of Jacobin/Leftist thought that began in the French Revolution:

    And what was their Phylosophy? Atheism; pure unadulterated Atheism . . . . The Univer[s]e was Matter only and eternal; Spirit was a Word Without a meaning; Liberty was a Word Without a Meaning. There was no Liberty in the Universe; Liberty was a Word void of Sense. Every thought Word Passion Sentiment Feeling, all Motion and Action was necessary. All Beings and Attributes were of eternal Necessity. Conscience, Morality, were all nothing but Fate.
    Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson
    (Mar. 2, 1816), in The Adams-Jefferson Letters

    Marxist/Fascist disagreements are little different than the disagreements between Catholics with a more immanent focus on the Mother of God and tradition and Protestant heretics with a more transcendent focus on God and scripture. Atheistic forms of socialism have never really gone “in different directions,” historically they seem to wind up in the same place:

    Among all the nations and petty ethnic groups of Austria there are only three which have been the carriers of progress, which have played an active role in history and which still retain their vitality—the Germans, the Poles and the Magyars.For this reason they are now revolutionary. The chief mission of all the other races and peoples—large and small—is to perish in the revolutionary holocaust.
    [(Engels, “Der Magyarische Kampf”;trans. as “Hungary and Panslavism” in Blackstock and Hoselitz: 59)]

    Hugh Lloyd-Jones comments that, ‘remarks about Lassalle sometimes recall the tone of Goebbels.’ W. H. Chaloner and W. 0. Henderson claim that Marx ‘detested his own race. ‘Max Geltman writes that Jews ‘never knew that Marx had called for their utter disappearance from the face of the earth.’ And Robert Payne remarks that Marx’s ‘solution of the Jewish question was not very different from Adolph Hitler’s.’
    (“In the Interests of Civilization”: Marxist Views
    of Race and Culture in the Nineteenth Century
    By Diane Paul
    Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 42, No. 1.
    (Jan. – Mar., 1981), pp. 115-138)

    Based on a philosophy of naturalism and scientism Marxists agreed with Nazis on the issue of eugenics:

    For the biologists, the test of a scientific outlook was generally identified with a society’s attitude towards eugenics; that is, its willingness to adopt a genuinely scientific stance towards questions of what used to be called “race betterment.” The Marxist and Fabian biologists believed that Western societies had largely failed this test.”
    (Eugenics and the Left
    by Diane Paul
    Journal of the History of Ideas,
    Vol. 45, No. 4. (Oct. – Dec., 1984), pp. :569)

  14. I am suggesting (since we sense, deep inside our cognitive and affective, what is wrong or right) that there must be a better explanation, for this, than natural selection.

    Before proceeding to thinking about morality I would think longer on the fact that natural selection has been falsified an explanation for biological form in some instances and what that implies. If predictions derived from natural selection are found not to apply to man then one has to ask how far back in the history of man has natural selection failed to apply. The existence of celibate priests, woman who have abortions, condoms, cooperation/altruism*, etc., can all be advanced as evidence that natural selection does not govern the biological form of man, let alone his psychology as some evolutionary psychologists argue. Yet if that’s the case then we have to ask what is governing man and it seems to me that the door is open to things like sentience and intelligence.

    *As the philosopher David Stove pointed out:

    Huxley implies that there have been “one or two short intervals” of the Darwinian “struggle for existence between man and man” in England in quite recent centuries: for example, the civil war of the seventeenth century! You probably think, and you certainly ought to think, that I am making this up; but I am not. He actually writes that, since “the reign of Elizabeth . . . , the struggle for existence between man and man has been so largely restrained among the great mass of the population (except for one or two short intervals of civil war), that it can have little, or no selective operation.”
    You probably also think that the English civil war of the seventeenth century grew out of tensions between parliament and the court, dissent and the established church, republic and and the monarchy. Nothing of the sort, you see: it was a resumption of “the struggle for existence between man and man.” Cromwell and King Charles were competing with each other, and each of them with everyone else too, à la Darwin and Malthus, for means of subsistence. So no doubt Cromwell, when he had had the king’s head cut off, ate it. Uncooked, I shouldn’t wonder, the beast. And probably selfishly refused to let his secretary John Milton have even one little nibble.
    Huxley should not have needed Darwinism to tell him— since any intelligent child of about eight could have told him— that in a “continual free fight of each other against all” there would soon be no children, no women and hence, no men. In other words, that the human race could not possibly exist now, unless cooperation had always been stronger than competition, both between women and their children, and between men and the children and women whom they protect and provide for.
    And why was it that Huxley himself swallowed, and expected the rest of us to swallow, this ocean of biological absurdity and historical illiteracy? Why, just because he could not imagine Darwinism’s being false, while if it is true then a struggle for life must always be going on in every species. Indeed, the kind of examples for which Huxley searched would have to be as common as air among us, surrounding us everywhere at all times. But anyone who tries to point out such an example will find himself obliged to reenact T. H. Huxley’s ludicrous performance.
    There is (as I said earlier) a contradiction at the very heart of the Cave Man way out of Darwinism’s dilemma: the contradiction between holding that Darwinism is true and admitting that it is not true of our species now.
    (Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution by David Stove :7-9)

    My point here is only that before moving on to try to explain how we actually know right from wrong and so on it is important to have a deep knowledge that Darwinism is indeed wrong because it seems to me that people typically try to mix it in again as a supposed “explanation” for intelligent agency after they just got done admitting that it has been falsified, just got done admitting that it can’t apply to them, etc. E.g. Richard Dawkins saying that we ought to rebel against what natural selection dictates by choosing to wear condoms or structuring a society based on non-Darwinian principles, yet then still arguing that Darwinism explains almost everything in biology. If it’s wrong in one area then that shouldn’t be forgotten in the next sentence. (Note that if Darwinism is wrong in the case of man, then it may be the wrong type of “explanation” for other intelligent organisms as well.)

  15. My point here is only that before moving on to try to explain how we actually know right from wrong and so on it is important to have a deep knowledge that Darwinism is indeed wrong because it seems to me that people typically try to mix it in again as a supposed “explanation” for intelligent agency after they just got done admitting that it has been falsified, just got done admitting that it can’t apply to them, etc.

    Yes, I agree totally! Thanks for the info! I didn’t mean to imply, by my comment, that I’m seeking to prove naturalism correct in any way. But you’re right, I don’t even need to go there, with morality and ethics, since what stands before, in naturalism, has already proved to be false!

  16. On the two questions: ““what, if anything, guarantees that human cognitive capacities, including linguistic capacities, allow us to have accurate representations of reality?”

    Language can be used to specify information which can act as a model or theory which can then be verified or falsified empirically or experimentally in a systematic way through the application of intelligence. Often a researcher will cite an experiment and call it a “clever” way of attaining knowledge and so on as the intellect must be applied because science is not simply a matter of crude empiricism. Ultimately it should be noted that only those who have a Rationale for rationality itself have grounds for sound knowledge/scientia. As Paul Davies noted:

    The mystery that now confronts us is this: How did human beings acquire their extraordinary ability to crack the cosmic code, to solve nature’s cryptic crossword, to do science so effectively? I have mentioned that science emerged from a predominately Christian culture. According to the Christian tradition God is a rational being who made the universe as a free act of special creation, and has ordered it in a way that reflects his/her own rationality. Human beings are said to be ‘made in God’s image,’ and might therefore be considered (on one interpretation of ‘image’) to share, albeit in grossly diminished form, some aspect of God’s own rationality. If one subscribes to this point of view it is then no surprise that we can do science, because in so doing we are exercising a form of rationality that finds a common basis in the Architect of the very natural world that we are exploring.
    Early scientists such as Newton believed this. They thought that in doing science they were uncovering part of God’s rational plan for the cosmos. The laws of nature were regarded as ‘thoughts in the mind of God,’ so that by using our God-given rationality in the form of the scientific method, we are able to glimpse the mind of God. Thus they inherited a view of the world—one which actually stretches back at least to Plato—that places mind at the basis of physical reality. Given the (unexplained) existence of rational mind, the existence of a rationally ordered universe containing rational conscious beings is then no surprise.
    (Paul Davies, “The Intelligibility of Nature,” Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature, ed. Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy, and C.J. Isham (Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory Publications, 1996) :155)

    ….one way of putting the question might be, “what resources are available from within naturalism for understanding phenomena such as meaning, value, and knowledge?”

    What resources are available depend on what you think Nature is. For example, some naturalists now include imaginary multiverses in their view of Nature.

  17. mynym wrote,

    “What resources are available depend on what you think Nature is. For example, some naturalists now include imaginary multiverses in their view of Nature.”

    This sentence reminded me of something: “For example, some naturalists now include imaginary multiverses…” Shrink, aren’t there a couple of psychological terms which describe what mynym is pointing out about some naturalists: “denial,” “intellectualizing,” and perhaps, “self-fulfilling prophecy” and “Dementia?”

  18. “Note that if Darwinism is wrong in the case of man, then it may be the wrong type of “explanation” for other intelligent organisms as well.”

    This sentence is a little confusing. How many other “intelligent organisms” are there at present or in the past? Do baboons choose their mates based on size, strength, social position, etc.? Quite possibly they do. But no one argues that “intelligent selection” is all that related to “natural selection”. If “really very intelligent selection” is correct in one particular situation, that says nothing about other situations where the participants are clearly not really very intelligent.

    Humans have been selecting plants and animals and their sex partners for thousands of years. That really does not have anything to do with the “truth” of natural selection over hundreds of millions of years.

    And why couldn’t “intelligent selection” be considered “natural” once “natural selection” has selected for intelligence?

    There are too many people in this world, so choosing not to reproduce might be very intelligent. And children are very expensive.

  19. Shrink, aren’t there a couple of psychological terms which describe what mynym is pointing out about some naturalists: “denial,” “intellectualizing,” and perhaps, “self-fulfilling prophecy” and “Dementia?”

    Anyone who engages in ‘pathologizing’ of those with whom one disagrees will not have any justified grounds for complaint when one is pathologized in turn.

    And please, let’s not have any “but they started it!” That’s the sort of logic that keeps the world poised on the edge of nuclear armageddon.

    When one’s opponents are pathologized, or demonized, one effectively says that those people are outside the scope of rational discourse. When the issue is put that way, the issue is not one of disagreement between rational people of good will, but rather between those who are inside the space of reasons and those who are outside of it.

    The insistence upon the link between fascism or communism and naturalism is, I think, an especially pernicious form of pathologizing of the opponent, and quite frankly, I think it’s uncalled for. By all means, say that naturalism is false if you think it is, and argue against it — speaking as a naturalist, I very much enjoy arguing with you all! — but it’s one thing to argue, and another to pathologize.

  20. For what little it may be worth, I do take seriously the thought that freedom and rationality are basic features of human life, and that any adequate version of naturalism will have to account for them, not dismiss or ignore them.

    The basic question between us, then, is whether or not this can be done. The view of DB and Mynym, if I understand it correctly, is that they very much doubt this can be done, and that as a consequence, any adequate account of freedom and of rationality will require thinking of human beings as having a non-natural or super-natural component.

    By contrast, my view is that a naturalistic account of human freedom and rationality is possible. Though there are some details to be worked out, I think I’m fairly close to having it, though I don’t deny that my version of naturalism will be “unorthodox” compared to that of prominent evolutionary biologists.

    Whether or not there can be a naturalistic account of freedom and reason is quite different, of course, from debates about the origins of life or of the universe. But the debates are not separable, either.

  21. “Shrink, aren’t there a couple of psychological terms which describe what mynym is pointing out about SOME! naturalists”

    In response to the quote by mynym, SOME naturalsists, not all, but “SOME” according to his point about “SOME” naturalists and multiverses. And it does, with these “some,” seem to be some form of denial etc., in my opinion.

  22. Other than dementia, DB is pointing out psychological defense mechanisms which may be pathological and may not be. We all have them and utilize them to one form or another (even shrinks–or especially shrinks?). I don’t believe he was referring to you, Carl. Some believers and ID folks also invoke views that may be described in this way.

    I suppose that would make an interesting discussion for a different post.

  23. I didn’t think that DB was referring to me, CS.

    But I thought it worth remarking all the same, that when one regards one’s intellectual (or political) opponents as suffering from a deficiency of rationality, then one has taken a huge step. Because in doing that, one is basically saying that those people have nothing to say that is worth taking seriously. It follows further that if they are dangerous, they had better be stopped with force, because such people cannot be stopped with arguments. The Nazis are, we can all agree, a paradigm case of people who could not be stopped with arguments.

    This is not to say that we can all just hold hands and get along. Maybe we can and maybe we can’t.

    I was thinking last night, reflecting on my posts from yesterday, that there are limits to mutual understanding. For example: I’m one of those people who believes that the Holocaust was the worst thing that has ever happened in history, and that it was unique in important ways. So when I hear someone compare abortion to the Holocaust, or if someone else compares factory farming to the Holocaust — and I’ve even seen seen massive deforestation and logging compared to the Holocaust! — then I feel whoever is making such comparisons does not inhabit the same moral universe that I inhabit. They do not see and feel and judge as I do. They are moved in ways different from how I am moved, and I cannot understand them.

    I don’t think, or try not to think, that such people are sick, insane, delusional, etc. I would say that they are operating within a different world-view from mine. I can try to feel my way into their world-view through conversation, through reading what they read, or experiencing the world from a different point of view — but there are limits to how far one might go in seeing the world from a point of view other than one’s own. This situation calls for extraordinary humility and patience, not demonization or pathologization of the other person.

  24. Carl wrote:

    But I thought it worth remarking all the same, that when one regards one’s intellectual (or political) opponents as suffering from a deficiency of rationality, then one has taken a huge step. Because in doing that, one is basically saying that those people have nothing to say that is worth taking seriously. It follows further that if they are dangerous, they had better be stopped with force, because such people cannot be stopped with arguments. The Nazis are, we can all agree, a paradigm case of people who could not be stopped with arguments.

    Carl…my position is that we all have deficiencies in rationality. Even intellectuals–our emotional side creeps into our arguments in subtle ways even if we are not aware of it. A deficiency of rationality does not cause someone to be dangerous. It just means that have a deficiency of rationality. We all have defense mechanisms and from my point of view, we are all capable of the things that the Nazis did (although only in the same circumstances which do not exist for us currently). We like to view ourselves as being fundamentally different, but sometimes I think we need to have more humility than that and recognize that these things reflect on the human condition.

    I don’t think, or try not to think, that such people are sick, insane, delusional, etc. I would say that they are operating within a different world-view from mine. I can try to feel my way into their world-view through conversation, through reading what they read, or experiencing the world from a different point of view — but there are limits to how far one might go in seeing the world from a point of view other than one’s own. This situation calls for extraordinary humility and patience, not demonization or pathologization of the other person.

    I wish more atheists had your perspective. So far, in my discussions with atheists, you are one of a kind in this regard. I’m sure there may be others out there, but all I can say, is that I have not yet encountered them (Jim Lippard does to some extent, but he does not have your humility). I read other blogs where atheists frequent and I often see the following words directed at believers: “crazy, delusional, stupid, idiot, insane, denial, so on and so forth.” So, sometimes, I think believers want to lash back at those saying those things. I’m not saying it’s the best approach, but one does tire of being called such things.

  25. I read other blogs where atheists frequent and I often see the following words directed at believers: “crazy, delusional, stupid, idiot, insane, denial, so on and so forth.” So, sometimes, I think believers want to lash back at those saying those things. I’m not saying it’s the best approach, but one does tire of being called such things.

    Carl,

    I don’t believe I was “demonizing” anyone. I sensed, in one particular person and their comments, these issues. I wasn’t as much seeking to label this particular person anything, as much I was trying to point out to them how they come off. This person has remained silent, on this issue, but he knows who he is. Your point, however, is well taken. Perhaps, I was lashing back, but I don’t believe so, since my intent was to try to make a point to this person. Evidently, I failed!

    You respond in a more civil way, which is appreciated! I’m sorry that I offended you, and perhaps, I need to make my point, next time, in a different and less critical way!

  26. I’m late but a few points anyway.

    The insistence upon the link between fascism or communism and naturalism is, I think, an especially pernicious form of pathologizing of the opponent, and quite frankly, I think it’s uncalled for.

    The irony of that statement is that you’re supporting what you claim to be against. Given the immanent mindset that typifies both fascism and communism all disagreement is pathological just as when given philosophic naturalism all that can be said is physically and environmentally dictated. I.e. a brain state is either pathological or it isn’t and so on. Nazis argued that the biology of their opponents needed to be liquidated, there is no argument about it because it is a medical issue. (See generally The Nazi Doctors by Robert Lifton) Marxist argued that the history of their opponents and their class status was all that needed to be dealt with, again there is no rational argument given the immanence of such thinking. As one historian noted, instead Marxist arguments are constantly shifting away from what is being said to the class position of the speaker and the supposed conditions of the statements production. Marxists socialists are not so different than their heretical branch the National Socialists, they merely focus more on nurture/environment more than nature/biology.

    ….it’s one thing to argue, and another to pathologize.

    Given naturalism, what is the difference? It seems that you want the fruit of the ideas of philosophers who admitted to transcendence and set up rules of civility about ad hominem based on such views even as you work to cut down the tree of transcendence that bears such fruit.

    Note that the oxymoronic concept of “mental illness” is widely supported by adherents of naturalism based on little empirical evidence of pathological brain lesions so that proponents can simply merge the two concepts together. Clear thinking and language shows that if something is mental then it is in your mind but if it is an illness then it is physical.

    Note the blurring and merging of language typical among proponents of naturalism:

    Clearly, if disease means bodily disease, then mental diseases are metaphoric diseases, just as priests are metaphoric fathers. But this is precisely what is denied by all contemporary authorities and institutions that define the terms by which we must play the medical game. They unanimously declare that mental diseases are bona fide diseases, that metaphoric diseases are literal diseases. Conceptually, psychiatry (except insofar as it addresses bona fide brain diseases) thus rests on a literalized metaphor…
    (Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences
    (Syracuse University, 1997) by Thomas Szasz :37)

    The naturalizing/literalizing tendency in Nazism, a “pollution of language” as Karl Kraus would say:

    The proverb was no longer a metaphor under the Nazis, but rather became crude reality (see also Frind 1964:21—23).
    Most Germans did not notice how Hitler and his propaganda machinery manipulated them with such popular expressions. But the Austrian cultural critic, Karl Kraus, had already analyzed the Nazis through their language in 1933 and attempted to show through satirical analysis that Hitler was in fact negating the metaphorical nature of proverbs and proverbial expressions. The expressions that refer to parts of the body especially were interpreted not metaphorically, but realistically. The result was a brutality and inhumanity of language that became progressively worse as time went on….
    (Proverbs in Nazi Germany
    The Promulgation of Anti-Semitism and
    Stereotypes through Folklore
    By Wolfgang Mieder
    The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 95, No. 378.
    (Oct. – Dec., 1982), pp. 435-464)

    Darwinism, also rooted in philosophic naturalism, cannot support language, symbols and signs of design or conceptual thinking being imprinted on matter as such and instead once again language dissolves and civilization along with it. This is a matter of history and perhaps also basic forms of logic apparently designed to unfold in the human mind, which could explain why naturalists have such a difficult time being consistent.

  27. I thought it worth remarking all the same, that when one regards one’s intellectual (or political) opponents as suffering from a deficiency of rationality, then one has taken a huge step. Because in doing that, one is basically saying that those people have nothing to say that is worth taking seriously.

    This is my point about naturalism, nothing said can be taken seriously intellectually. Whether given Darwinian naturalism in which what you say has to do with biological brain events that have to do with the mating habits of ancient worm-like creatures or given Freudian notions in which what you say has to do with unconscious drives dictated by your childhood the common feature is that nothing said can be taken for what it is, an act of intellect. Note that Darwinian and Freudian “reasoning” rely mainly on imaginary evidence, whether the blurred imagery of dreams or mythological narratives of naturalism rooted in imaginary events in the past.

    Materialism is the material of satire so Karl Kraus said of the pseudo-science of his day:

    My unconscious knows more about the consciousness of the psychologist than his consciousness knows about my unconscious.
    __

    The new science of mad-doctoring has dared to invade the mystery of genius. ….I will stand watch and personally consign these manufacturers of madness-whose cry, ‘Anything to treat?’ is now heard all over the land-into oblivion. Their teaching enlarges irresponsibility and thus diminishes the personality.
    __

    If mankind, with all its repulsive faults, is an organism, then the psychoanalyst is its excrement. Psychoanalysis is an occupation in whose very name “psyche” and “anus” are united. Its practitioners are divided into separate sects, each with its own Journal, each representing its own distinctive, and yet typically psychoanalytic, doctrine of destroying God, disgracing Nature, and demeaning Art.
    __

    Psychologists: unmaskers of the insignificant, swindlers of the significant.

    (As quoted in Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry, By Thomas Szasz)

    Significance is a matter of the symbols and signs of design typical to language, yet design is where the pseudo-science of Darwinism fails just like any form of scientia/”knowledge” supposedly totally grounded in naturalism.

  28. I don’t believe I was “demonizing” anyone.

    One ought to focus on civility which can only be grounded in language/civilization designed to unfold providentially in all those created in the “imago dei” unless that is non longer possible based on reason.

    Note that there is little difference between the concept of demoniac or maniac, in fact history shows that one was simply reclassified into the other based on a shift in worldview towards naturalism with little to no actual empirical evidence. There is still little evidence that brain lesions or a manifestly physical “illness” can cause highly complex actions which mimic intelligent agency. There is still just as little reason for the judgment “Not guilty by ‘reason’ of insanity.” as “Not guilty by reason of the Devil made me do it.” (Note the irony typical to both claims, at any rate.)

    The only ground we have for doing away with both concepts is by admitting intelligent design and focusing on it in a systematic way. As David Stove notes of “puppetry theories”:

    …just as Calvin divides created things into potent demons and causally impotent everything else, so Dawkins divides the organic world into potent genes and causally impotent everything else. According to Calvinism, we are pawns in a game, in which the only real players are the demons and God. According to The Selfish Gene, we are pawns in a game in which the only real players are genes.
    [….]
    I do not believe that humans are the helpless puppets of their genes, and cannot even take that proposition seriously. Why? Because I have heard far too many stories like that one before, and because it is obvious what is wrong with all of them.
    “Our stars rule us,” says the astrologer. “Man is what he eats,” said Feuerbach. “We are what our infantile sexual experiences made us,” says the Freudian. “The individual counts for nothing, his class situation for everything,” says the Marxist. “We are what our socioeconomic circumstances make us,” says the social worker. “We are what the Almighty God created us,” says the Christian theologian. There is simply no end to this kind of stuff.
    What is wrong with all such theories is this: That they deny, at least by implication, that human intentions, decisions, and efforts are among the causal agencies which are at work in the world.
    This denial is so obviously false that no rational person, who paused to consider it coolly and in itself, would ever entertain it for one minute.
    ….
    The falsity of all these theories of human helplessness is so very obvious, in fact, that the puppetry theorists themselves cannot help admitting it, and thus are never able to adhere consistently to their puppetry theories. Feurerbach, though he said that man is what he eats, was also obliged to admit that meals to not eat meals. The Calvinistic theologian, after saying that the omnipotent Creator is everything and his creatures nothing, will often then go on to reproach himself and other creatures with disobeying this Creator. The Freudian therapist believes in the overpowering influence of infantile sexual experiences, but he makes an excellent living by encouraging his patients to believe that, with his help, this overpowering influence can be itself overpowered. And so on.
    In this inevitable and tiresomely familiar way, Dawkins contradicts his puppetry theory…
    (Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution
    by David Stove :176-184)

  29. Mynym wrote:

    Note that there is little difference between the concept of demoniac or maniac, in fact history shows that one was simply reclassified into the other based on a shift in worldview towards naturalism with little to no actual empirical evidence. There is still little evidence that brain lesions or a manifestly physical “illness” can cause highly complex actions which mimic intelligent agency. There is still just as little reason for the judgment “Not guilty by ‘reason’ of insanity.” as “Not guilty by reason of the Devil made me do it.” (Note the irony typical to both claims, at any rate.)

    I think if you start out with the assumption of naturalism, you could make a claim for insanity in the case of EVERY crime. Insanity is a legal term, not a diagnosis, but in the general vernacular it’s used that way. But the fact of the matter is it only works about 1/1000 times. Courts don’t buy it very often. But if you believe that we are completely the result of our past experiences, and possess no free will, then there is no way to justify our legal system in its current form. Everyone is insane, because the definitions utterly break down. You can’t say someone committed a crime, with evil intent, if their actions are merely the result of a chain of cause and effect.

    Darwinists of the ilk of Freud and Dawkins don’t like it very much when their own theories are turned back around to explain their own theological positions (i.e., atheism). They seem to want to believe that everyone else is ‘mentally ill,’ or there are psychological factors in the choices of everyone else, but they only make choices on purely rational scientific grounds when it comes to their beliefs.

  30. But the fact of the matter is it only works about 1/1000 times. Courts don’t buy it very often.

    The legal notion of an “insanity defense” is an extreme form of the concept of “mental illness” which is much more pervasive culturally and there are also more common legal notions like “diminished capacity” which also derive from it. It’s not just a philosophy of naturalism or determinism that tends to corrupt the legal system, the pollution of language advanced in the name of mental illness results in a lack of judgment in general. Culturally it has an impact on many issues, anything from prescription drug use/abuse to involuntary hospitalization.

    As far as its impact on the legal system even determinism would at least trace back to some view of ultimate causation and attempt to derive a view of justice from a supposed history of cause and effect but “mental illness” is just a blurring of language defined at will by psychiatrists. The maniac is the demoniac of old, all that has changed is that things are stated in a less supernatural language.

    For example:

    He simply identifies the option he approves as sane and the other as insane, and then introduces the idea of irresistible impulse, which he claims represent the scientifically correct understanding of the old theological concept of diabolical possession.
    That the evil temptation and diabolical possession of the theologians has simply been renamed the morbid impulse of the psychiatrist finds support in the fact that each of these terms is applied only to morally disapproved options or acts. Priests never talked about temptation to do good: sinners were tempted to be sinful, but saints were not tempted to be saintly. Similarly, Maudsley and other psychiatrists never talk about irresistible impulses to do good: the insane are driven by irresistible impulses to commit mayhem and murder, but the sane are not driven by such impulses to love and honor their fellow man.
    (Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences by Thomas Szasz :240-241)

    The ill-defined notion of mental illness is often merely a way for psychiatrists to mask their moral judgments as medical judgments. As long as the psychiatrist is moral or there is no disagreement this may not make a difference but if they are immoral or if there is a disagreement then they can hide in blurred definitions and a general lack of sound conceptual distinctions combined with a lack of empirical support.

  31. The ill-defined notion of mental illness is often merely a way for psychiatrists to mask their moral judgments as medical judgments. As long as the psychiatrist is moral or there is no disagreement this may not make a difference but if they are immoral or if there is a disagreement then they can hide in blurred definitions and a general lack of sound conceptual distinctions combined with a lack of empirical support.

    As a psychologist, I’ve always hated the term mental illness. I agree that psychiatrists can often mask their moral judgments in this way. Psychologists too.. Interestingly, mental health centers have been changing their names to behavioral health centers. I’m not sure which I like less. But the fact is, there are a lot of people out there suffering, and I try to do the best I can to help. I start with a design perspective on the mind, and belief that the “fall of man” described in Genesis is ultimately the reason for physical and emotional problems. That’s the general, then it gets down to the specific. So, were it not for my faith, I wouldn’t be a psychologist. I don’t think I could see a reason for trying to help others outside of the perspective of God. Maybe that makes the humanists ‘better people,’ than I am, but that’s how I see it. Personally, I don’t find the issue of ‘mental illness’ to be all that relevant to the work I do. But, maybe I’m digressing from your point.

    So is it common for a psychologist to have faith? Not at all. Psychologists, as a whole, are one of the most Godless groups going (2/3s atheists by most accounts).

  32. Interestingly, mental health centers have been changing their names to behavioral health centers.

    I agree with this type of argument pointing out that the issue must be judged behaviorally or empirically, leaving “mental” to others:

    Feigning bleeding from a peptic ulcer and bleeding from a peptic ulcer are two different conditions: the former consists of an act–namely, the impersonation of a person who bleeds from a peptic ulcer; whereas the latter consists of a display of an objectively verifiable bodily condition–namely, bleeding from an ulceration of the stomach or duodenum. By contrast, feigning insanity and being insane are not two different conditions, but are one and the same thing: both consist of the insane acts of a person or moral agent.
    …mental illness is an action, not a lesion. As Shakespeare showed–and I agree with him–it is also an act, in the sense of a theatrical impersonation. But if being psychotic is like playing Hamlet, then feigning being psychotic is like feigning playing Hamlet, which would be the same thing as playing Hamlet. The point is that Hamlet is nothing but a role. No one is, or can be, Hamlet. An actor who plays Hamlet and an actor who impersonates an actor who plays Hamlet….are both playing Hamlet. Similarly, a person who is psychotic and another who merely pretends to be psychotic are both acting crazy, both will appear to be crazy, and both will be diagnosed by psychiatrists as crazy.
    Of course, there are many different reasons why people act crazy, just as there are many different reasons why actors are actors; but these reasons or motives do not affect the phenomenon we see and observe–which is an act that we call insanity or psychosis.(Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences by Thomas Szasz :240-241)

    Personally, I don’t find the issue of ‘mental illness’ to be all that relevant to the work I do. But, maybe I’m digressing from your point.

    Since you’re a psychologist I wouldn’t think that it would be that relevant to you. In fact it seems to me that there should be a distinction between mind/language and body as well as a union between them in so far as is possible. The blurred notion of “mental illness” simply merges them together and often leads to the mistreatment of both mental and physical problems. So let psychologists deal with apparent mental and behavioral problems while psychiatrists focus on brain lesions or pathologies that can be treated with drugs.

    So is it common for a psychologist to have faith? Not at all. Psychologists, as a whole, are one of the most Godless groups going (2/3s atheists by most accounts).

    Given its original roots in atomism and leading proponents like Freud concluding that man created God in his image just as the ancient Greek atomists did that shouldn’t be surprising. Philosophies of form/imagery seem to contain recurrent mental patterns. (Note Freud’s attitude toward art and its essential element of intentionality.)

    Here is a short satire I once wrote against recurrent patterns of thought having to do with knowledge, art, form/imagery and determinism.

    The Art of Knowledge,
    Once upon a time there was an Artist who could draw other artists into his pictures, some to draw some things for him and even some who could draw things for themselves too. So he drew an apprentice in his own image and his new student asked him about a piece of art that he was working on, “What is it going to be?”

    “It’s a picture about good and evil, right and wrong.”

    “But how can you draw a picture about wrong that is right?”

    “Whatever I draw is right, even that which I let look wrong to those I draw to observe it so. It’s something in the lighting and my drawing, you see. Keep observing, I will not explain further until the picture is complete…. Come close little one, so that I may ask you a question. Now, why do you suppose I would draw you here to ask me annoying questions when I’m trying to work?”

    “Well, I suppose…I, uh, eh, I don’t know why! Well it seems to me that you must know all about your own art. Say, why don’t you just draw me to stop it? Huh?”

    The Artist turned to look at the little fellow staring up at him from his side, sighed, then said, “What you’re drawing me to do is going to hurt you more than it hurts me.”

    “Uh, wait a minute…” the little fellow looked back at the painting, “I suppose I can wait until the picture is complete.”

    “Very well, and besides the answer does not exist yet in any form that you can understand. You see, I’ve not drawn you to understand it yet. But perhaps you can think of it in this way as I work for now… making a picture about good and evil consists of drawing the line someplace.” As the artist spoke he drew a line and as he did some of the little forms that he had drawn into his picture murmured among themselves, “Why are things this way, rather than that? I can think of things my way and want them to be so, so why should they not be my way? Why?!”

    This caused the student to comment, “Say, they are a little like me in that way! A rather likable likeness if I do say so myself… So I suppose their next question about what will be, will be why don’t you just take their will away?”

    “Only I know, as I know all of my own art. Yet I would think that some of the answers about the will would be rather obvious, if you will.”

    “It seems an odd decision to me.”

    “Yes, I knew you would say that.”

    “Ah, but what if I knew you knew? See how my knowledge increases to approach your own!”

    The Master Artist just glanced at the little fellow and kept working on the picture. So his student asked, “Well…can you draw me to have some of your knowledge?” and the Artist answered, “For now you do not even have the symbols, imagery in your head or the forms of thought necessary to think many of my thoughts, so some of the best truths about my art and this picture will remain ineffable and paradoxical to you. That is my will. If you are willing to learn how my will must be done in all of my pictures then I will naturally draw you to have more knowledge of my nature.”

    “Naturally….yes, that seems logical to me.”

    “Yes, of course, I knew it would. After all, I just drew you to think so.” The little fellow just sighed at that, and thought that he might have heard the Artist chuckle as he did.

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