Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Science versus Ideology

Recently, Barry O'Bumble reversed George W. Bush's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR, should I need to use the term again). One of his lame pieces of rhetoric was the tired complaint that some would cling to religion over the knowledge gained by science. "Ideology over science", they like to scream. This is blarney (St. Pat's reference). If anyone is showing a marked departure from the path science shows is best, it is Barry himself, and other chuckleheads who believe we absolutely MUST continue murdering humans still in the embryonic stage in order to advance our knowledge and find cures. As this article shows, there are tons of advancements being made without such destruction of human life, and, there is an even better way to go regarding stem cells that are better than embryonic for the fact that they would not be rejected by the body into which they were placed.

Ideology is not something that should take second place to science. Science without limits is what Nazis believed in. It is a sad commentary on our society if we were to allow science to progress without the guidance of our ideologies and morals. And hell, our society is a pretty sorry lot as it is. It appears more and more as if we no longer need to use embryonic stem cells to get the biggest bang for our funding buck. So what guides Barry to rescind the ban put in place by his predecessor? It can only be a scheme to support his abortion position, by further dehumanizing those people unfortunate enough to have been conceived, but not yet born.

When we review Barry's position on life, be it the abortion issue, the stem cell issue or how cost will determine who gets treatments should his health care proposals go as planned, it's a real insult to our intelligence when this punk speaks of "his faith". I don't buy it. He's a worm.

UPDATE: Here's another article saying much the same thing. Yeah. We conservative Christians are anti-science. Sure.

24 comments:

Democracy Lover said...

Let's be clear - science is not anti-Christian and Christianity is not necessarily anti-science. There are however, many Christians who simply refuse to believe scientific evidence if it runs counter to their interpretation of the Bible. These people refuse to engage in scientific inquiry and try to prevent their children from learning about science because at some deep level, they realize that their belief system cannot stand up to rational examination.

The question in this and the other cases is not whether science should work within some ethical guidelines, it is whether we should choose to believe science or hold to mythological beliefs developed by our primitive ancestors.

If you want to prove that Christians (well you Marshall in particular) are not anti-science, then tell us you don't oppose Darwinian evolution, or that you agree with science about the age of the earth, or that you acknowledge that the laws of physics are not about to be suspended because somebody entreats his or her idea of a supreme being to do so.

I thought so.

Marshall Art said...

"I thought so."

What is it you think, exactly? That I hold to some 6th century notion of how the world works? I don't think Christians have to defend themselves against the charge of being anti-science. I think psuedo-sophisticates like yourself have to prove that we are.

To insist that Darwinian evolution, which isn't even the most modern understanding of evolution, is so sacred as to deny other opinions a hearing smacks of incredible insecurity on your part. I know of no serious push to remove evolution from the schools. Do you?

Nor is anyone arguing about the laws of physics, except as to whether those laws were created or not. How do you prove they weren't created by an intelligent designer exactly? We work within those laws, but does the creator of those laws need to? The point about a supreme being is that that being doesn't function within the universe he created, but outside it. Since he created the laws that govern us, he cannot then be governed by them himself. He can alter those laws as he sees fit without there being any evidence afterwards that he has, and that he can and will upon being asked if he so chooses.

The above general description does not mean that science is ignored by the believer of a supreme being.

But none of this is really relevant, is it? The point is that we people of faith are accused of putting ideology over science as if there's something wrong with that. I wouldn't want it any other way. The problem is who's ideology? You would have it be some secular ideology which has never been a fixed set of morals or beliefs. It's an ideology that has one's self as creator and god and that's a poor basis for determining right vs wrong.

More to the point of this post, the chucklehead in chief has shown a marked propensity for putting science aside for HIS ideology. Science has not shown ESCR to be a truly viable option for research. It is the LEAST productive area of stem cell research, yet he insists on spending YOUR tax dollars on it, when the real progress is made in non-ESCR areas. In this area, as in the area of abortion, we sorry superstitious Christians have shown a far greater appreciation of science than does the Brilliant One and his sheep.

Bubba said...

DL, you're a real work.

The question in this and the other cases is not whether science should work within some ethical guidelines, it is whether we should choose to believe science or hold to mythological beliefs developed by our primitive ancestors.

It doesn't matter if we kill our fellow human beings by the millions in the name of science: the important thing is bashing Christianity.


You apparently believe that science rules out the possibility of the miraculous. You apparently hold that it's absurd to believe that God can suspend the laws of physics in answer to prayer, "because somebody entreats his or her idea of a supreme being to do so."

If that's what you believe, you can't really believe your claim that science is not anti-Christian, since Christianity's central claim is the historicity of a miracle, namely the resurrection of Jesus: the claim that a man who was scourged, crucified, and pierced through the side, had a clean bill of health three days later, to the degree that he was taking long walks with his friends.


The fact of the matter is, science cannot disprove the miraculous. Science ASSUMES that the laws that govern the here-and-now apply to all places at all times and without exception: that assumption is the underpinning for the act of generalizing specific observations. But that assumption can never be proven scientifically, and any attempt to do so engages in circular reasoning.

What's more, naturalistic materialism -- the belief that the physical universe is all that there is -- CANNOT account for science. Science can only be trusted if humans are capable of rational thought, but rational thought cannot be explained if human beings are merely complex chemical reactions floating in an unguided universe.

Christian theology provides a firm foundation for human rationality and scientific inquiry: We are rational because we are made in God's image, and our studying the universe is productive because it is governed by a sovereign and faithful Creator.

No atheism or agnosticism can provide a foundation for either that is nearly as firm as what Christianity provides, so when you dismiss the essential faith of Western civilization, you denigrate those beliefs that made your oh-so-precious science possible in the first place, and that continue to make it a reasonable activity for discovering truth.

When you display such contempt for Christianity in the name of science, you take an axe to the limb you're standing on.

Democracy Lover said...

You aren't aware of a serious attempt to remove evolution from the schools?
I would think a quick Google search could help you there.

Science and religion-based ideas like intelligent design, young earth, and miracles can't co-exist as long as there cannot be some neutral and empirical method of determining truth. There is one, but some simply refuse to accept it because it will show their beliefs to be unfounded.

You can believe what you will, that's your right. Children however, need to learn the scientific method and learn what science and history have revealed about the world we live in and learn how to arrive at their own conclusions about the nature of the world. When anti-science groups undermine science education and anti-history groups undermine history teaching it does a disservice to our youth.

We need a government that is based on scientific fact, not speculative belief. Science doesn't ASSUME that the laws of physics apply or that evolution as currently taught is absolutely true, it continually studies the phenomena of nature to test whether those beliefs are true. The same cannot be said for religion. Some religious people hold to their beliefs regardless of evidence to the contrary and spend a great deal of time trying to gather or invent evidence to prove their belief.

I will grant Bubba's contention that the resurrection of Jesus is the central claim of Christianity. I would also argue that Christianity is only tangentially related to the teaching of Jesus as described in the gospels, but then to arrive at such a conclusion one would have to examine all the evidence and see where it leads - something far too many Christians are unwilling to do.

Bubba said...

DL:

We need a government that is based on scientific fact, not speculative belief.

It's worth noting that our government is found, among other things, on the self-evident truth that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

In order to be moral, government must be rooted on beliefs that cannot be proven scientifically.

For instance, no scientific fact can explain why murder is wrong and why it ought to be criminalized.

In fact, your claim that government should be based on scientific fact CANNOT BE PROVEN SCIENTIFICALLY, because no set of facts about how the universe does behave can ever explain how humans should behave.


You're so eager to bash Christians, DL, that you're not examining your own positions thoroughly. If you did, you would see that you're thinking at a very superficial level.

You claim that miracles and science are mutually exclusive, not realizing that science cannot prove its own assumption of a predictable universe.

You present a false dichotomy between science and faith, not realizing that the rational thought on which science depends cannot be explained by a purely materialist view of existence.

And, now, you preach about the moral imperatives of making science supreme, not apparently realizing that science cannot possibly explain moral imperatives.


And, frankly, I don't see what you're getting at when you write that Christianity is "only tangentially related to the teaching of Jesus as described in the gospels."

The Gospels are clear that Jesus Himself taught His own divinity and predicted His death and resurrection. By affirming that Jesus is God and that Jesus is risen, we affirm what He taught.

If you're saying that we Christians aren't as faithful as we should be in obeying Christ's commands, you're not telling us anything we don't already know and readily admit.

If there's anything more to this comment than Christian-bashing, perhaps you should explain yourself.


If not, I want to get back to this ridiculous claim:

The question in this and the other cases is not whether science should work within some ethical guidelines, it is whether we should choose to believe science or hold to mythological beliefs developed by our primitive ancestors.

Please explain, why is renouncing one's religious beliefs more important than protecting millions of human lives that might be killed in the name of scientific research?

Democracy Lover said...

Bubba, our revolution may have been fought on the "self-evident truth that all men are endowed by their Creator", but our government was founded on strictly human terms without reference to any creator or belief system.

To address your final point first, there is a big difference between making personal ethical decisions based on one's religious beliefs and having one's government make policy decisions based on the belief system of some (not all) its citizens.

As for the "...false dichotomy between science and faith", let's understand that science does not pretend to have all the answers, in fact quite the opposite. A good scientist is always open to the possibility that some new set of facts may appear that will cause a theory to be adjusted or proven wrong. However, there is an established process that has stood the test of time for determining whether a new theory can supplant an existing one and for investigating phenomena.

Religion does not pretend to have such a process. Religions generally have a longstanding set of beliefs and one either subscribes to them and is considered by his coreligionists to be a believer, or he does not and is considered an infidel. When facts arise that appear to render some part of the belief structure erroneous, the religion doesn't work to understand those facts and admit the possibility that its beliefs might change because of them - it usually either denies or attacks the facts or creates a baseless theory of how their belief was right anyway.

One last point. Morality exists everywhere human beings exist and has existed throughout recorded history. It is not a function of a particular religious belief. If it were, those who practiced that religion would be moral people and all others would be immoral. That is rather obviously not the case.

Bubba said...

DL, first, I believe you don't grasp the assumptions that are the foundation of science's "established process" for determining truth.

For instance, science assumes a predictable universe, but it can never prove this assumption, thus science is INTRINSICALLY incapable of disproving miracles.

And, science relies on the scientist's capacity for rational thought, so science presumes a metaphysics that accounts for rational thought -- which excludes naturalistic materialism.


Anyway, you miss my point regarding religion and morality:

Morality exists everywhere human beings exist and has existed throughout recorded history. It is not a function of a particular religious belief. If it were, those who practiced that religion would be moral people and all others would be immoral. That is rather obviously not the case.

I'm not saying that religion makes people more moral.

I'm saying, religion can account for the existence of an objective moral law, where the irreligious cannot give an account.

Someone who rejects religion may well be a more moral guy than some believer, but the irreligious cannot explain where morality comes from. He might be more obedient to the moral law, but he cannot EXPLAIN the source of the moral law.


Finally, you write:

To address your final point first, there is a big difference between making personal ethical decisions based on one's religious beliefs and having one's government make policy decisions based on the belief system of some (not all) its citizens.

You don't explain what that difference is, but I don't think you've given much thought to the most fundamental civil laws for any society: laws that criminalize theft, fraud, murder, etc.

There are people who don't think theft and murder is wrong; in fact, they make careers out of it, becoming professional thiefs or hitmen.

Because a minority of people reject the immorality of these acts, should these acts not be criminalized?

Because quite a few people believe that theft and murder is wrong, in part, because of their faith, should these acts not be criminalized?

You attack policy positions that you don't like for reasons that apply to laws that you almost certainly do support: not everyone agrees fraud is immoral, and many who do base their belief on their religious faith, but that almost certainly doesn't stop you from supporting the criminalization of fraud.

You're being inconsistent.

Marshall Art said...

The real issue here is whether or not Obama is pushing science or HIS ideology. He claims he is overturning some unsupportable ideological position of George Bush's, but what he's actually doing is forcing HIS ideology over the science that shows ESCR is less than what is advertised. As the article in my update shows, two examples of leading ESCR proponents have changed their tunes and abandoned ESCR for more likely successes elsewhere. What this shows is that Bush's ideology has proven itself to the extent that, as he thought, butchering human beings still in the embryonic stage of development wasn't necessary and therefor federal funding of it was bad policy.

Scientific freedom is NOT Obama's goal here, and that's the point. HIS ideology, developed from who knows what source or belief system, insists that human life has no value unless it meets HIS requirements. Far more barbaric, backwards and illogical than any Christian understanding of when life begins, an understanding, by the way, which is totally supported by all available scientific data.

4simpsons said...

Obama supports developing and harvesting human beings for destructive testing. In fact, the cloning he supports is only legal if you kill the human being in question.

He also supports abortion on demand without restrictions and fought hard against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

Abortion kills an innocent human being. That is a scientific fact.

Therefore, either Obama is either anti-science or he thinks it is morally acceptable to kill innocent human beings for scientific reasons or for no reasons.

What a reprehensible worldview.

Mark said...

From the linked article:

"With all of these adult stem cell achievements and the controversy-free potential of iPSCs, you would think that the President would be even more gung ho about these treatments than he is about embryonic stem cell research. But instead, when Obama nullified former-President Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem cell research funding, he also eliminated Bush's funding for these "alternative" forms of stem cell research. In other words, Obama paved the way for massive federal funding of an unsuccessful and ethically-flawed avenue of research and stripped away funding for successful, controversy-free avenues."

Gee! It almost seems that Obama is actively searching for a reason to kill babies.

Really, that's all the whole controversy is about. If he can get legislation passed that funds all embryonic stem cell research, it is a short slide to funding abortions in order to provide material for stem cell research. Killing babies is the objective here. Not saving lives.

Shades of Dr. Mengele!

Marshall Art said...

Mark,

I hate to defend Obumble, but I don't think that he has negated funding for non-embryonic stem cell research. Though he did rescind Bush's exec order 13435 that allows for funding research of non-embryonic stem cells, his own exec order does not prohibit such funding. Thus, to revoke exec order 13435 was only a matter of eliminating redundancy. It looks to me like his order allows for funding for ALL stem cell research.

Mark said...

Art, I merely copied and pasted from the article you linked to.

I don't know what Hussein's executive order says. I only know what the article says.

But, as I said, the article you linked to would indicate our Duck in Chief just wants to kill babies.

Andrew Clarke said...

Those who make science a 'god', the source of all their hope, should remember what happened at the time of the Tower of Babel. Human beings became arrogant in their quest for great advances and God cut them down to size. I wonder if the First World War happened, with all the horrors it brought, because western society in the late 1800s and early 1900s had made huge technological advances and became arrogant and proud because of it - and forgot their need for God. The result was that their own technical brilliance became a means of their own destruction. Science without conscience is, as you say, the creed of the Nazis and also hard line communists. It rebounds on those who make it their idol. We do not all have to take the Amish approach (with all respect to the Amish) but we need to be careful and remember the claims of God in what we do. I think stem-cell research, using embryos for research, is an unholy abomination.

Andrew Clarke said...

That article you direct your readers to is a MUST READ for anyone intellectually honest who wants to hear what is, as distinct from what political correctness says. It looks shonky and cruel to advocate research on embryos when there is a better way. The word that comes to mind for me is DIABOLICAL.

Marshall Art said...

Mark,

I didn't mean to reign you in specifically. I just to your comment as a chance to bring out that point about the executive orders. There was a Townhall column by a local guy named Guy Benson, a young dude who's generally got it on the ball. But he commented on Obama's move and suggested Barry was blocking funding for non-embryonic stem cell research because he revoked Bush's exec order. From what I can see of Barry's exec order, that isn't the case. Sorry for any confusion.

Marshall Art said...

Andrew,

And therein lies my point. The science, for which we Christians are accused often of ignoring in favor of our religious ideologies, is pointing to another, more favorable direction that will make obsolete the need for the destruction of more human beings. If Barry is so concerned with science, he should stay abreast of the latest, rather than take this opportunity to both once again be the anti-Bush, as well as champion his ideology which says that the pre-born are not people endowed with the unalienable right to life, which is also anti-science.

Democracy Lover said...

The number of fallacious arguments in this thread boggles the mind. I won't try to address them all, but:

Scientific Theory: In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact." (U.S. National Academy of Sciences)

Allowing scientists to experiment in order to prove the hypothesis that embryonic stem cells may enable us to prevent or cure disease and injury is not an ideological position. Preventing them from doing so because one has religious beliefs about the nature of human embryos is an ideological position. Closing the door to potential lifesaving therapies on ideological grounds is morally reprehensible.

The idea that human embryos are "people endowed with the unalienable right to life" is a religious position. Believing otherwise is not anti-science, it merely contradicts a particular religious ideology that has no scientific basis.

Marshall Art said...

Speaking of fallacious.

First of all, nobody doubts the reality of gravity. It has moved beyond theory except perhaps in explaning it. Those are two different things, the reality and the explanation for that reality. But when it comes to something like "The Big Bang", there are only possible explanations based on data derived from our understanding of the physical world. In this there is neither reality nor proof. There is only speculation or theory.

There is a pile of data that suggests various notions of evolution, but for macro-evolution there is no proof, only theory and speculation.

There are a variety of areas wherein people speak as if they are relating facts, when the truth is they are relating only theories or speculations. No matter how you try to explain it, the notion of "theory" falls short of "fact" or "truth". Theory is only our best guess based on what we know so far no matter how factual it may seem.

When it comes to the human embryo, however, there is no doubt that it is merely a stage of human development through which each of us has gone. In any case, in order to produce another human being, the very same process must occur, that is, the joining of sperm from a man and ovum from a woman. The natural way of achieving this is through sexual intercourse. The purpose of intercourse is to bring into existence another human being. It takes ideology to suppose that the product of that intercourse, the embryon, blastocycst, zygote, fetus, whatever, can be anything other than another human being at its initial stage of development. Science, reason, logic, objectively held without taint of ideology proves that it is self-evident that we're always talking about another human being.

Furthermore, it takes ideology, and generally selfishness and immaturity, to pretend that one's humanity, worth, value, "personhood" attaches to that embryo at some point after conception.

That is, unless you have some science to support your fallacious assertion that heretofor has yet to be presented in these debates. I'm a-twitter with expectation.

Democracy Lover said...

Marshall, you have every right to ignore science, disbelieve science, belittle science or even pretend to know something about science. That's your right. What you can't do is convince anyone that your opinions are based on anything that can be tested and proven.

The larger problem we have here is that we have one segment of our citizenry that simply does not accept science because it threatens to demonstrate that their mythological religious beliefs are erroneous and inconsistent. There is no basis for dialogue with someone who lives in a parallel universe.

Fortunately for you, there are lots of other people who share your willful ignorance and prefer to believe nonsense over science. I am not one of them.

4simpsons said...

"Preventing them from doing so because one has religious beliefs about the nature of human embryos is an ideological position."

That's a typical straw man used to dismiss the views of religious people. But I know atheists who are against ESCR. And I know "Christians" who are pro-ESCR. Do you eliminate their ESCR views based on their religious views as well?

Being anti-murder is an ideological position. Obama took the ideological position of being against cloning (Even though he is a moron or a liar for not knowing/admitting that his plans involve cloning. They just say you have to destroy the clone and not let her be born.) So the claims of ideology prove nothing.

You are the one who is anti-science. Go check out the embryology textbooks. Life begins at conception.

http://abort73.com/index.php?/abortion/medical_testimony

"Closing the door to potential lifesaving therapies on ideological grounds is morally reprehensible."

Destroying human beings in medical experiments to help other human beings is detestable. Using your logic we should do medical testing on death row inmates and pay women to have abortions so we can use the organs and such.

Marshall Art said...

DL,

I've neither ignored, "disbelieved", belittled or pretended anything regarding science. Quite frankly I believe I honor it better by keeping it in proper perspective.

You, on the other hand, have made quite a few accusations regarding that about which this post isn't concerned. However, if you'd like to entertain me, you could try to explain where I've gone wrong. That would be a lot different than what others have done after assuming a position of "scientific sophistication".

Not to put too fine a point upon it, I maintain that it is Obama that has made his moves based on ideology as there is no science that proves a human embryo isn't the very same as you and I as far as our inherent humanity. I maintain, as Neil suggests in his last comments, that there is plenty of science that confirms my position every bit as clearly as it does evolution, if not more so. I also maintain that ideology has more value to our culture than does science without ideology, or else we get people like Obama, those that wish to kill embryos for research that is being proven less and less viable, and the Joe Mengeles of history.

The larger problem we have here is that there is one segment of society that demonizes another for their deeply held religious beliefs and will accuse them of superstition without giving any thought to their protests, and it doesn't even matter if the protest concerns real life and death questions. That's an ideology that is far more dangerous to society than that which prefers caution and reflection before using science without any care at all.

Unfortunately for us, there are way too many such sorry individuals among the rest of us, who feel that science trumps any sense of conscience. You are one of them.

Bubba said...

DL:

The idea that human embryos are "people endowed with the unalienable right to life" is a religious position. Believing otherwise is not anti-science, it merely contradicts a particular religious ideology that has no scientific basis.

What, exactly, is the "scientific basis" for the moral sanction against, or the legal prohibition of, murdering human adults?

Do you believe that it is wrong to murder a human adult? Can you use science that it is wrong?

If you can't while you still insist on the immorality of killing human adults, why in the world do you insist that the immorality of killing human embryos must be proven scientifically?


There are other claims you make that are nonsense: you write that scientific theories are "based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment," but it's quite obvious that the speciation that macroevolution claims to explain has no such basis. It hasn't been directly observed, nor has it been reproduced in an experimental setting, and yet you insist that the theory is "accepted fact" while it fails to meet the standard you set for it.

And, it's not remotely clear how denying the rights of a human embryo is any less ideological than affirming his rights.

But I want to focus on the fundamental point that the moral law does not need to be proven scientifically.

If you insist to the contrary, you should show us how you would prove, scientifically, ANY moral law that you accept as true.

Marty said...

I have not studied stem cell research and don't have a solid opinion on it as of yet. I did find an article on the pros and cons that was simple enough for me to understand. I am uncomfortable with taking the cells from embryos since there is other promising research regarding the adult cells and cord cells. But even the cord cells is somewhat bothersome for me. I don't like playing with human life. Using the adult cells can cause damage to the bone marrow. So there seems to be risks involved in all of it. Using embryonic stem cells could possibly lead to factory farming of which I am certainly opposed. This is a touchy issue, but nevertheless, research is still needed to find the best course of action that will help many many people.

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