Friday, March 16, 2007

The Wedge Document - Let's Get It Out in the LIght

It would appear that the wedge documents has done more than almost any other published work to cause naturalists, humanists, and others to become angry with or question the motives of the leaders of the ID movement, and by extension others who would like to see the trend towards humanism in our schools and laws reversed. The document is long, so I am only showing the goals here, and for now, I will only speak to one of them, as this has been an issue for Kit and others in comments elsewhere on this blog. Feel free to discuss other aspects of the Wedge Document here, as well.

Governing Goals

  • To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
  • To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals

  • To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
  • To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
  • To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals

  • To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
  • To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.
  • To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

The concern of many seems to be that those who are behind the wedge document are interested in imposing their views on everyone else, and that these views are theistic. My answer is a short one. Everyone is interested in their views being imposed on the rest of us to some degree or other. Even the desire to end a rule is the imposition of a view. In this case it is clear that ever since Dewey introduced humanistic principles into the schools, we have been moving as a nation in the direction of humanism and a way from objective ideas of morality. Are those objective ideas of morality religiously based? Some are. But as stated on other posts, if my world view is based on moral absolutes, I certainly have the right to vote my opinion. If your view is based on your understanding of the current science on a subject, you have the right to vote your opinion.

A theocracy, on the other hand, is where the church and clergy are in charge. We can all pray that this never happens here. Our form of government allows for my pov to provide the basis of my vote, even if I'm an unconvicted mass murderer. May it always be thus.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Randy,

You wrote:

"The concern of many seems to be that those who are behind the wedge document are interested in imposing their views on everyone else, and that these views are theistic."

Randy: no, no, no. I thought that I explained this very clearly on the Panda's Thumb blog where you and I first started talking.

If I have to say it again, I will:

If these people were atheists, I would have the exact same problems with them. My problem, and the problem that other people have (including a large number of christians who are also scientists) is that these people are LIARS AND SCAMMERS.

If I have to continue writing this over and over, I will.

THAT'S my problem with them. If you read the Wedge Document, and read everything related to it, you'll see that they pretty clearly say, "so, here's the gist... we want The Bible taught in public schools as being scientifically accurate... but we can't just do that, because any court in the nation will strike it down... and we certainly can't just do the science and show that we have something, because there's no there, there. So, what we have to do is make up this front for it called 'Intelligent Design', but we can't say that it's really about the christian God (because the courts will kill it) to the public; only to the people in our tent. We also have to be quiet about the fact that our primary finacial contributor is a dominionist who wants Biblical law instituted in the USA."

Randy, I don't care that these people are christians; I care that these people are lying scammers.

You said: "Everyone is interested in their views being imposed on the rest of us to some degree or other." Randy, when you can show that someone that I support or agree with is trying to institute their views through a system of lying and deception, I'd be happy to go after those people also.

Lastly, I don't believe that your entire view is based on moral absolutes. For example, do you think it is *always* wrong to have an abortion? Do you think it is *always* wrong to cause the death of another person? Do you think it is *always* wrong to tell someone a lie? I have a very hard time believing that you can honestly answer "yes" to that last question.

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

Moral absolutes don't have to be stated in three words. My moral absolutes take about 1400 pages or so depending on the translation. (And please, my moral absolutes from the OT are guided by the teachings of the NT.)

One moral absolute that is fairly short and to the point is that you should always lie when asked by your wife: "Does this outfit make me look heavy."

bernardo said...

To be honest I don't really care about this "wedge" document very much.

Intelligent Design is bad because people try to call it science when it is not science. I don't care who those people are or what their agenda is. I try not to make ad hominem criticisms. All that they are proposing right now is to teach Creationism as science, and this is wrong on its own, independently of who the proponents are or what they want.

The last thing I like to hear when debating a proposition/argument is "But the people who believe this are crazy!". I don't care. Let's focus on the argument, not on the people making them.

Hey Skipper said...

Randy:

Some time ago I wrote The Argument Clinic", that is precisely on topic here.

You should read it, as it contradicts your assertion as to what the whole argument is about.

Randy Kirk said...

Hey Skipper,

Your post mentioned above is exceptional. However, Peter Burnet gave you a pretty good response. Who is he? How do we get him to help me over here?

Anonymous said...

Randy,

Are you now starting to understand our problems with the Wedge Document and its authors, and why I disagree with what you presented as our problems with it?

Kit

Randy Kirk said...

I think I can understand your problems with it. I'm not sure yet whether or not I agree that the folks are intentionally being disingenuous, in that to do so you generally don't want folks to know you are. So, in law school and debate we learned the proposition of arguing in the alternative. This might fall within that category. I do believe in God and think he did it. However since that might mean you won't let me play in your sandbox, let me say that in the alternative I will merely state that some intelligent agent did it.

Hey Skipper said...

Randy:

I will merely state that some intelligent agent did it.

You are reaching that conclusion via a God, uhh, Intelligent Agent-of-the-Gaps argument. If there was ever a self defeating strategy, that has to be it.

Better to assume the opposite, and hope to force a contradiction (all the while understanding that contradiction may not exist).

What's worse, though, is that presuming something like SCI or IC entails some very, very serious theodicy problems.

If naturalistic evolution is God's plan for, in the fullness of time, realizing a being capable of comprehending His works, then cancer is essential.

Otherwise, it is merely heinously cruel.

Randy Kirk said...

I'm a tad short of time right now, cause I want to go back to reading "The Selfish Gene," but my quick scan of the reference above seemed most importantly to ask whether the fact that humans have the same genes as banana's and other living things would be pretty important evidence of similar heritage. Yep, it would be evidence. We and many rocks are made up of carbon or other minerals, and pretty much everyhthing in the universe has atoms, electrons, quarks and such. So the building blocks are the building blocks. No need to make two different kinds if the one kind will suffice.

Once again we get to evil. I wonder what the answer is for naturalistic causes of cruelty, human causes of cruelty. If God isn't, we've still got them. Then what?

Hey Skipper said...

Randy:

Very good question.

I think the causes are reasonably simple: tension between self and group interest, possession of empathy to a greater or lesser degree, and knowledge of the future without the ability to predict it.

As for "then what", see Robert Wright's Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny

Hey Skipper said...

Randy:

BTW, another post fell prey to Word Verification most foul.

Thank you for the compliment.

Peter Burnet very ably blogs at Diversely We Sail.

Unfortunately, work load has him on a hiatus.

bernardo said...

I think what Skipper was saying in his 8:29PM post is that it's just not good enough to say "We don't know how this happened/happens, so God did it": You have to be able to say "We cannot know how this happened/happens, so God did it", which is much harder (arguably impossible). How can you know that the complexity really is irreducible?

"Once again we get to evil. I wonder what the answer is for naturalistic causes of cruelty, human causes of cruelty."

If you're still wondering about this, you have not looked for an answer very hard.

We have evolved to be compassionate and caring towards our small group (tribe, family, etc) but not towards other groups (another tribe, another nation). You can see this as the "origin" of human evil: The more we help our family/tribe and impede outsiders, the better off we (and our genes) are.

(We later created something called "society" so that we would help each other out more in a way that benefits everyone. However, while we all (except some conservatives ;]) recognize intellectually that this kind of cooperation is better than Darwinian competition, we do often feel the impulse to break society's rules, to take advantage of it, etc).

It is often hard for us to empathize with all the people affected by our decisions. It is easy to empathize with people we can see, and easier to empathize with people we know, and even easier to empathize with our families, but beyond that, we're just not that good at it, because we evolved to not be good at empathy that doesn't help carry on our genes. Pretty much no one is mature enough to keep in mind (let alone be motivated by) all the bad consequences (or, at least, probable bad consequences) of their cutting corners, breaking rules, and doing less than "the right thing". As intelligent animals, our (cooperative) intellect sometimes has to battle our (competitive) instincts, and sometimes our instincts win and we don't do the right thing. Heck, sometimes our instincts hijack our intellect to figure out exactly how much bad behavior we can get away with.

I'm not a psychologist, so I don't have a fine understanding of human motivation, but that explanation of what the problem is with humanity, and where it came from, is pretty satisfying to me.

Randy Kirk said...

Bernardo,

You have just made my point regarding Dawkins with your discussion of human interaction. However, in a way, you simplify it like he does. Some of the most horrific behavior happens in the family unit, the neighborhood, and the tribe. I am far more likely to believe in the concept of the social covenant...if you don't kill me, I won't kill you.

Christians believe that all humans are born inclined toward "sin." I think that you might believe that we are born more inclined to be good and nice, but we become sinful.

So then WHO teaches us how to empathize, forgive, etc? What system has proven itself to be capable of actually convincing vast numbers of people to believe that loving others as ourself is the better way?

Anonymous said...

"What system has proven itself to be capable of actually convincing vast numbers of people to believe that loving others as ourself is the better way?"

Code of Hammurabi is one, as is humanism, secular or otherwise.

The Bible wasn't the originator of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

Actually, I find that practicing, "treat people as they want to be treated", since the way I prefer to be treated doesn't always match.

(This also completely ignores asian philosophies that were also around long before the bible.)

Kit

bernardo said...

"I think that you might believe that we are born more inclined to be good and nice, but we become sinful. "

I don't believe that. I believe that we are born animalistic and selfish. Over time we come to learn the consequences of our actions and thus to see that being nice sometimes gets us more of what we want in the end.

"So then WHO teaches us how to empathize, forgive, etc?"

A few things.

One, society all by itself. It is a system that rewards those who are nice, and a smart person should see this.

Two, parents. They always point out when behavior has consequences that are more negavite, and/or less just, than a child expected.

Three, a sense of identity. Group B does these terrible things, but we're proud members of Group A, we don't do that stuff.

Four (which is somewhat connected to Three), religion. God wants you to be good, and if you're not, you'll disappoint him and he'll send you to hell. Somewhat absurd, and certainly not necessary, but doubtlessly powerful.

Of course, all these things don't directly make you want to be less selfish. They cause you to develop something called a conscience, which is a rule of thumb that says that bad things happen to people who do bad things, that it is shameful to do bad things, that people who do bad things are not likable (where "bad" means "selfish beyond what is deserved/allowed"). This conscience becomes so powerful, soon you don't want to do even the bad things you could get away with.

That's how I look at it, anyways.

Randy Kirk said...

You'll undoubtedly think I've really lost a screw when I say that I disagree about developing a conscience. Emprically, it would appear that many of the things we call sin are so universal that the understanding that they are wrong is built in to us. Psychology agrees with this premise when the talk about the psychopath who has no sense of right and wrong. We also have sociopaths who didn't get the part you're talking about.

But sure, I agree that parents, peers, society, experience all contribute to our understanding of right and wrong. Unfortunately this is where we can get into a big mess, and do on a regular basis.

I will now throw out a cannonball. If folks lived Biblically based lives, everyone would be better off. Don't tell me about slaves. I can show you that God did not condone slavery, Jesus was definitely against, and even the slavery practiced by the Jews was more like indentured servents, but better.

Don't talk to me about the OT wars or even the wars in revelation as I have already posted a clear argument on that, but no one was interested in really debating it.

If we were forgiving, loving to the point of sacrifice, empathetic, conerned about the poor and downtrodden, less interested in material things and wealth, etc. we would all be better off.

Anonymous said...

"If folks lived Biblically based lives, everyone would be better off."

Ok, and I disagree.

I think if folks lived secular humanist-based lives, everyone would be better off.

So there. :-)

Kit

bernardo said...

Yes, if everyone were good (whatever your favorite synonym for "good" is), we'd all be better off. Duh. ;)

"Emprically, it would appear that many of the things we call sin are so universal that the understanding that they are wrong is built in to us. Psychology agrees with this premise"

You could be right. I'm not an expert. But even if we are born with some part of our conscience already hard-wired into us (i.e. there is a genetic basis for altruism), I insist that at least some of it comes from observing that bad things happen to bad people, and creating a rule of thumb that makes us feel uneasy about doing bad things. So it's not ALL deliberate, but it's not ALL hard-wired either.

Randy Kirk said...

But Kit, I gave specific examples. What part of Biblical instruction do you think would make folks worse off, or what part of humanism do you think is different and better than Bible.