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Skepticism, Intelligent Design, Darwinism, Philosophy homework

Warning: Please do not use my work and submit it as your own. Students have been caught plagiarizing from this site, and at least one university knows about this site due to that issue. This article, itself, was copied directly into two discussion posts. This blog is not peer-reviewed, and thus is also not acceptable for scholarly research. Feel free to read the articles and papers here, but do your own research for your own schoolwork. Thank you!

So this week’s discussions were oddly interesting, and I figured I’d post my points here to let you dissect and dismantle my thoughts, particularly since it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any of my classmates will actually read my topics, let alone have something intelligent to say on the matter. (Edit: I’ve had to adjust the wording of the assignment so it is not as easily found through searching, and to prevent any issues stemming from announcing assignments that may be the intellectual property of AU.)

Discussion 1

Can a person be skeptical about everything?

My response:

Title: Logically, no.

My initial response to the first question is no. If a person believed they needed to doubt everything, they would also doubt that they need to doubt everything, and thus would be skeptical of being skeptical. They have conviction that they need to doubt, and with conviction, doubt is erased. From the text, it was “impossible to know anything with certainty,” but to say something is “impossible” seems pretty certain to me (Mosser, 2010). Turns out, this is almost the same argument Descartes had.Word games aside, I think in order to become beliefs and proven facts, any assertions should be justified in the face of skepticism. That’s what makes facts proven- to have someone try to debunk your theory, and emerge victorious, is the epitome of scientific triumph. Anything worth believing is worth defending in the metaphysical realm, and scientific fact or mathematical proofs can be held up against detractors. Once the facts are established, the game isn’t over. We are constantly discovering new horizons, new particles, new building blocks, new facts to hold up to scrutiny, and we must always keep our minds open to the possibility of change.

I can show two examples of beliefs that I believe hold up to skepticism- one is math. Math is constant no matter what you do. The mathematical equation for acceleration due to gravity is the same whether you are on Earth or Mars. Skeptics can doubt it, but math does not change. The second belief is that one should always have an open mind. If the skeptic were to say “you don’t need to have an open mind,” it would defeat their own purpose. The entire point of skepticism is to prevent closed-mindedness. We don’t just believe whatever has been stated in the past. We dig deeper, find new truths to provoke thought, and find new ways to view the world. Just because Aristotle was a smart guy doesn’t mean he was 100% right 100% of the time, or that his ideas have not been surpassed by new technological or scientific insight. We must always be vigilant against complacency and keep an open mind about everything.

Mosser, K. (2010). Philosophy: a concise introduction. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books

(Side note, I think we need to petition the dictionaries to add “assertation” to the English language.)

Discussion 2

(Edit: Video link removed)

What is the basic issue about teaching creationism (or Intelligent Design) in public school science classes? How would you resolve this dispute?

My response:

Title: The World is Flat!

Whenever people close their minds to ideas, when people just argue over each other instead of sharing information, when people plug their ears and shout “I can’t hear you!” over the person they are debating, all I can think about is that one day, hundreds of years ago, there were people insisting that the world is flat. People knew that if they sailed too far in one direction, they’d fall off the edge of the world and get eaten by sea monsters. People once knew that the best way to get rid of a headache is to drill a hole into the top of your head. Everything we knowis only a discovery or two away from being tossed into the dustbin of history. This is why it is important to have an open mind when dealing with science, or anything else for that matter.Personally, I have struggled with issues of faith in my life. I was not raised to be religious, but have never considered myself to be atheist either. The best description I could find was how I perceived agnosticism- I don’t know, so I withhold an opinion. When the rest of my family decided to follow the Christian God and Jesus, it put pressure on me. My mom started asking me, every time I talked to her, when I was going to get baptized. I have always been skeptical and have always been more scientifically minded, and it seemed to me that faith, particularly the ‘faith’ that has no evidence, was simply something to make us feel better, make us less lonely, make us feel safer in dangerous times. An old saying is “There are no atheists in foxholes” and even I had muttered some prayers in my time as we went through dangerous waters during my time in the Navy or through rough turbulence in an aircraft. My dad found Christ through a book called The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel and suggested it to me. I went a step further and read The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator as well. Lee Strobel is a journalist who had been an atheist since he first learned of Darwin in high school and decided to go to experts to try to debunk the “Jesus myth,” as it was called. Using the same skills he used as a journalist, he searched for factual evidence and actually wound up becoming a Christian because of the strength of the evidence pointing towards Jesus being a real person, Jesus actually performing miracles, and evidence of a transcendant Creator. If you want to see the scientific evidence for creationism in one place in a fairly easy-to-read format, you can’t do much better than The Case for a Creator. In fact, after it went through and disabled many of Darwinism’s strongest arguments, it says, ” . . . people who believe that life emerged naturalistically [Darwinism, evolutionism] need to have a great deal more faith than people who reasonably infer that there’s an Intelligent Designer” (Strobel, 2004, location 699). If the argument between creationism, Intelligent Design, and evolutionism is interesting to you, I strongly recommend this book.

As for the actual question here, the issue lies in personal choice, personal belief, and education. I don’t remember actually learning about creationism OR evolution in my school district. I’m almost positive we didn’t learn about creationism. I think that when it comes to issues like this, the best way to handle it is to approach all major theories equally, present them equally, and let the students determine which makes more sense. We should not be squashing the desire to find truth in our students. If truth is ever to be found, all options need to be considered, not just those that people agree with. There are many factors in many branches of science that point towards Intelligent Design, even if the Designer cannot be named, particularly in cosmology, or the study of the beginning of the universe. There have been hundreds of scientists who have committed themselves to God because of their discoveries. Automatically assuming that there is no God removes an option from the table, something that should never be done in truthful pursuit of scientific evidence. We should act the same way when teaching our children. Present all sides of an argument equally. At the very least, they should know that there is a debate about which way is correct instead of simply presenting theories as fact when they are anything but.

Strobel, L. (n.d.). The Case for a Creator [Kindle version]. (Original work published 2004) 
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08/17/2011 - Posted by | College Papers, Learning, Thinking | , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. I found this to be an interesting read. It is fantastic that you have taken the extra step to expand your knowledge on the subject by reading the Christian authored books you listed. However, I would warn against researching only the one side of an argument. If you are truly an Agnostic about the existence of a god much less “The God” then, I challenge you to pick up another book. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

    I too spent many years defining myself as an Agnostic. Slowly but surely I gained more knowledge and asked more questions. The biggest hurdle I have discovered involving the acceptance of any religion is a Social question. What effect does culture have on a persons beliefs? When an individual is raised in the United States it is likely they will enjoy baseball. If a person is born in South America it is likely they will love soccer. The examples of this type of behaviour are endless. The point is that individuals will usually identify with the activities of those around them. You have said yourself that your parents identify with the Christian God. However, if you had been born in the Middle East you would be more inclined to be a Muslim. Just a quick statistic only 1 out of 12 children separate from the religion of there parents.

    If we like it or not the cultures we live in define us. As you look past your culture to the cultures of others you can clearly see the differences. Each culture posses there own religious beliefs and each one of them have the most powerful faith and conviction that they are right and you are wrong. The scariest part of each and every one of these religious sects? If you do not identify with their religion you will be greatly punished in the afterlife. That holds true if you are Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist or Jew. There is a “hell” waiting for you in every direction.

    I believe the biggest difference between a theist and an atheist is; a theist studies one religion where as an atheist studies them all.

    -Nitsua

    Comment by Austin Williams | 08/18/2011 | Reply

    • I have no doubt that the reason I feel more draw to Christianity is because of my culture and upbringing. Even if we weren’t religious when I was growing up, I’d go to Sunday School once or twice with the neighbor kids, and we still celebrated a “secular” Christmas, as much as is possible, anyway. I’ve had this nagging thought that perhaps all the religions are connected, that perhaps God has just revealed himself to humanity in ways they could understand throughout history. At first, people couldn’t comprehend such power, so they saw God as nature spirits… then as a pantheon of lesser deities since they couldn’t comprehend how one being could be everywhere and do everything (and gave them human flaws because they couldn’t see how anyone or anything could be “perfect”), and finally as a single omnipotent, omnipresent Supreme Being. Maybe there will be a new prophet who says that God isn’t so much a “being” but something else that we can barely comprehend. I don’t know… but after reading those books, and doing limited research into others, I am fairly confident that if Christianity isn’t the “one correct religion” it is the one I’d prefer. As for the comment about reading only one side, growing up all I saw was the atheist side of the argument which is why, for the purpose of this assignment, I brought up the other. I assumed that unless you have strong conviction in your faith, you would probably believe the images of Darwinism that were presented in school. A word about the people in my class, though- they are stubborn and closed-minded… on both sides of the argument. Everybody assumes their way is right and everyone else is stupid for not believing, and you can take the words “creation” and “evolution” out, and you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart because they both want to stick their fingers in their ears and sing the Smurf song. That’s why the first paragraphs in each of these responses was a bit on the hostile side.

      Comment by Jennawynn | 08/18/2011 | Reply

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  8. Hello–I’d like to make a request. I found the post you made to be very well-written, but you may not be aware that students taking this same course at your school are finding it through internet searches and copying it as their own work. I work in Academic Affairs for that school, and we cited two students who copied your post for plagiarism this week. You have every right to post whatever you want, but it would help if you would put some kind of warning at the beginning of your posts so that students know we are aware of this site, and they will get disciplined for plagiarism if they copy any part or all of it. Thank you.

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