Is it just me, or...

Chris Roberts
Technews Writer
Sat Jan 22, 2011

At the risk of feeding a troll, this is a response to the article "Rebuttal to Rationality vs. Faith." I am not writing this to get into a flame war over the merits of religion, or lack thereof. TechNews has had them before; they are a tremendous waste of good ink. No, my focus is on something more troubling. I am getting rusty at distinguishing between the intentionally inflammatory writings of Internet trolls and the honest opinions of the highly ignorant.

If "Rebuttal" was not written by a troll, I am deeply worried for the state of education in this country. At minimum, it highlights the need for IIT to strengthen the Humanities department in general and English education in particular, if for no other reason than to introduce would-be writers to dictionaries. Nearly all of the author's claims can be quashed by exposure to biology, history, and physics; all of which should be readily available at a university.

"In fact, we all hold to a set of beliefs by which we interpret the world... These beliefs are inherently religious, since we assume them to be true by faith."

First of all, if one does not adhere to a religion, then one's beliefs and assumptions are not religious in nature, because there is no religion to base them on. Euclid's axioms are thought to be true without proofs. They have nothing to do with gods, holy texts, what to do on Sunday, or which sexual practices will result in one being trapped in an ever-burning lake of agony until the end of time (aka: divine justice).

Secondly, faith (unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence) does not directly equate religion. If the answer to the question "Do you have faith in ____?" is "I am still questioning and need more evidence," then you do not have faith in ____. People can have faith in regard to those they love, political ideologies, justice, and, yes, religious dogma. However, one need not have religion to have faith - ask any fallen Catholic. Moving on:

"Only within a worldview based on the Judeo-Christian God can the ability to do observable, testable, and repeatable science make sense… God created the world in an orderly fashion, with natural laws, such as gravity and conservation of energy."

Funny, looking through Genesis, I did not find anything about laws or gravity. God's "orderly fashion" reads more like an episode of Fairly Odd Parents, with things getting magically *POOF*-ed into existence. At least the Babylonian creation, Marduk killing Tiamat and forming the world out of her body, implies that some thought and engineering entered into it. One does not need to know how something was created in order to form a hypothesis about its attributes and behavior. You do not need to know where babies come from in order to predict that Americans will complain about paying high taxes.

"If we are truly here as a result of random evolutionary processes, why is the law of gravity universally true?"

So many falsehoods in one sentence, where to start… First of all, which law of gravity? Galileo's? Newton's? There are more than one and they are all flawed, thereby making none of them universally true. Secondly, evolution is not random; it is a very complicated system with many other systems affecting it. Just because it does not appear to be micromanaged by a sky-dwelling magician dressed in a toga, does not make nature or any of its workings (including evolution) random. Lastly, there is a reason why scientific disciplines are separated: they might not have anything to do with each other. The movements of planets do not require animals to evolve in any particular way, or even exist.

"Only the Judeo-Christian worldview provides us with the framework by which we can make sense out of our ability to predict discrete future events based on scientific knowledge."

I find it odd that the author specifically chose to exclude Islam from this worldview by saying Judeo-Christian instead of Abrahamic. Apparently, according to the author, the scientific contributions of Muslims, ancient Greeks, Romans (pre-Constantine), Mayans, Chinese (the list goes on) were utterly nonsensical because they lacked the proper view of reality: that of pious Jews and Christians. Somebody call the Texas school board, they have a lot more textbooks to change: mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, geography, medicine, geology, physics, engineering, metallurgy…

If, on the other hand, the author did not actually believe any of the claims made in the article and was simply trolling… That is even worse. That sort of lying and dishonesty serves only to legitimize and encourage ignoramuses who want to impose their baseless ideals upon others, while discouraging those who seek to expand and deepen human understanding.

Then again, maybe it's just me…

Appears in
2011 - Spring - Issue 2