On 4/27/2013 7:11 PM, System Administrator wrote:
You infer strong emotional bias but I intended the statement
to be objective.
Let's examine the statement I criticized:
The god concept can only exist where understanding ends. Good science
seeks understanding, therefore good science must progressively destroy
the god concept.
The first sentence is an assumption about the relationships among
some extremely vague notions:
1. The "god concept", which has no clear definition of any kind.
The literature that contains the word 'God' or 'god' is
immense, and it runs the gamut from trash to deep insight.
2. The word 'understanding' has no clear definition of any kind.
As with the "god concept", the literature on the subject
ranges from trash to deep insight.
3. The claim that #1 can only exist where #2 ends depends very
heavily on what kinds of interrelationships between the
two you are talking about. There are many good studies
of aspects of #1 and #2 that are insightful. They can
4. On the whole, I suspect that sentence #1 is a "flame" whose
primary purpose is to generate more heat than light.
I'll accept the second sentence, but I'll add that the concepts
of good science, seeking, and understanding are vague. None of
the three are sufficiently well defined to support a syllogism.
The conclusion adds more vagueness. Two interpretations:
1. Any science that begins by assuming the existence of God is bad.
2. Good science is inconsistent with the claim that God exists.
I certainly agree with statement #1. I also agree with any version
that replaces the term 'God' with 'meme' or any other vague notion.
But statement #2 has two vague notions: 'good science' and 'God'.
There are so many different definitions of both that no valid
conclusion about their consistency is possible.
I assume from your statement that that you are opposed to the concept
of a "meme" and believe that it is a misuse of scientific argument.
I am not opposed to anything as a *concept*, and I think that any
term that is widely used is a worthy object of some study -- even
a linguistic / sociological study to determine how and why it is used.
It [meme] does, however, appear to be gaining credibility. It must,
therefore, be subjected to scrutiny and the validity (or otherwise)
will be determined by that process.
The first sentence would require some analysis. There is a difference
between use and credibility. I would also question the word 'must'.
I believe that both words 'god' and 'meme' are worthy of further study,
but there is no compulsion that requires anyone to do so.
If it is true then it simply enhances our understanding of how
ideas are propagated and may shed light on the mechanisms of instinct.
I agree that it would be useful to analyze the notion of 'meme', and I
certainly agree that a study of how ideas are propagated is an important
topic for further research.
My primary complaint about Dawkins and Dennett is that they did not do
their homework in (a) defining 'meme' precisely, (b) relating it to the
vast literature on linguistics, sociology, and semiotics, and (c) doing
further studies to verify whether their hypotheses were justified.
Instead of doing that work, they simply assumed that their hypotheses
about memes were sufficiently well founded that they could use them
to "destroy the god concept" -- as you said.
I would not criticize anybody who wants to prove or disprove the
existence of God, Bigfoot, or the Big Bang. They have every right
to do so. But I do criticize people who use vaguely defined terms
(such as 'meme') and then claim that they have a "scientific" proof.
As a "lapsed" Animal Scientist I am fascinated by that idea,
as there is clear evidence that social animals communicate...
I certainly agree. That is a field that has a large amount of
very good work. But as I'm sure you know, there are also many
people who make wild claims about what animals can or can't do.
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