And I’ll stutter over miracles, I really will.

A great series of videos. If you’ve the time watch all seven. But this is a great one.
I like Father Coyne’s honesty about his intellectual dishonesty.

“It puts me in an embarrassing position as a scientist, but none the less…”
I think both Dawkins and Coyne really enjoyed the exchange.

10 thoughts on “And I’ll stutter over miracles, I really will.

  1. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

    Not a reply to the video, just to vex cathedra in general, since I have just come across an excellent statement of what I believe about ethics, from a much greater writer than myself, William S. Burroughs:

    There are 2 bases for any ethical system. (1) Aristocratic code (2) Religion. Liberals reject both which leaves them with exactly nothing. There are no ‘knots’ in a consistently selfish position. You can oppose to it a code of conduct, or the belief in some Cosmic order. A man without code or religion has no reason other than mere preference to consider any interests rather than his own. Why should he ‘think in time’ beyond his own life? What does he care for ‘complex problems’ or ‘human corruption’? Why should he hesitate to exploit anyone?

    (William Burroughs, Letter to Allen Ginsburg, May 1st 1950)

    Reply
    1. winstoninabox Post author

      I doubt you believe Burroughs words yourself. With the myriad systems for both, throwing one’s hat in with them is to admit that it’s a free-for-all. It’s like Lennox talking about ‘theists’ as if they’re some sort of club. Dislike following rules that are imposed upon you? Then you must hate being under constant and all-seeing scrutiny from a god that offers either eternal pleasure or pain for one’s reward. Or maybe your cup of tea is something less authoritarian? Regardless, I doubt you believe it to be the reason you follow your moral code. Whatever that reason may be, neither god nor king need enter into it.

      Reply
  2. winstoninabox Post author

    Well ,yes Chris.

    From a logical perspective Burroughs offers a false dilemma – to agree with him you’d have to believe that there are ONLY two bases for ANY ethical system. I’m pretty sure that you can come up with more than two without even putting your fingers to the keyboard to google it.

    So once his first statement is proven wrong, the rest falls apart pretty easily. With more than two bases for an ethical system it’s quite possible that Liberals are left with something – which observation easily shows they obviously are. I’m quite sure you’ve met a lot of them who seem to follow some code. And in the contrary it’s pretty easy to find people who follow an ethical system based on religion, yet still never question why they shouldn’t be exploiting someone.

    Apart from the above, I doubt you find the reasoning of religious-based ethical systems compelling. They always tell you what not to do, they sometimes tell you what to do, they hardly ever tell you which to choose when two are in conflict, and they never tell you the why. And I’m sure that that is a burning question for you. Why shouldn’t one covet one’s neighbour’s oxen? Then answer of ‘because god says not to’ is an extremely unsatisfactory one.

    And religious systems, invariably mired in centuries old cultural norms, have difficulty in giving guidance to modern ethical dilemmas. Neither of Burroughs two systems have much to say about recent ethical problems such as stem cell research. And it’s not too hard to come up with ‘what if’ problems that finds Burroughs systems lacking. Because religious systems are overly concerned with what not to do they rarely give guidance about inaction over action.

    So what you really truly believe, I’m not so sure. My guess would be something similar to our discussion about beauty – that our brains have evolved with basic ethical systems that becomes more complex as we mature, just as they’ve evolved a sense of beauty that becomes more complex as we mature. But that you really believe Burroughs binary take on ethics that excludes readily observable evidence – no, I don’t.

    Reply
    1. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

      …which observation easily shows they obviously are…

      No, this question-begging is the crux of where we disagree. ‘Liberals’ got nuffink. If you haven’t got a system, you’re just swayed back and forth by random sentimental sound-bites from the media and other minions of the Insect Men from Minraud. ‘Humanism’ is a disconnected set of often contradictory feel-good platitudes. And that’s the best they’ve got.

      Stem-cell research is not an ethical problem, just a media beat-up. And I haven’t read anything said about the ethics of stem-cell research from any source that was *not* religious that had any reason or logic to it at all.

      Finally, it is just a gross misunderstanding of religion to say that religion talks more about inaction than action. F’rinstance, there are 365 positive and 248 negative mitzvot. And the proportion in other religions is similar.

      And finally I reject your beauty/ethics analogy. The thing about beauty is that it’s in the eye of the beholder. And my iron-clad conviction for which I would die in a ditch is that ethics is not.

      Reply
      1. winstoninabox Post author

        “No, this question-begging is the crux of where we disagree. ‘Liberals’ got nuffink.”

        Humans have an ethical system. We can be administered a set of ethical dilemmas, and everyone will be able to answer which option they would choose. They will often be able to give consistent answers, and recognize that there is a subtle difference between two similar ethical problems. They may even be able to explain their choice, or their discomfort about the choices offered.

        You may not like the system of others, you may not agree with it, you may find their reasoning abhorrent, infantile or far too malleable, but we all have a system.

        “Stem-cell research is not an ethical problem, just a media beat-up.”

        Does it have to be a real problem for it to be an ethical one? No, I don’t think so. As ethical dilemmas reside solely in our imagination of the problem, If we imagine it to be an ethical problem, then the simple belief that there is a problem makes it so. Or to put it another way, sharks aren’t troubled by the ethics of murder.

        “Finally, it is just a gross misunderstanding of religion to say that religion talks more about inaction than action. F’rinstance, there are 365 positive and 248 negative mitzvot. And the proportion in other religions is similar.”

        And taking a look at the 365 negative commandments you’ll find most of them are (as usual) telling what NOT to do. DON’T eat swarming things. Priests DON’T have sex with a widow. They are in fact prescribing an action – albeit one that one should not take. I’m asking (although not explaining very well) about the ethics of doing nothing when something can be done. And as I said, there are no satisfactory reasons given as to why these 365 should be followed. Just follow them because… well, just because god says so. If the code was invented by a god’s whim, I guess it’s OK.

        What if I were to make the exact same list, and present as such to those unfamiliar with the originals. They know it only as a list made on my whim. Does it lose its ethical force? Would you be as equally keen to describe it as ethical knowing that I made it up?

        “And finally I reject your beauty/ethics analogy. The thing about beauty is that it’s in the eye of the beholder. And my iron-clad conviction for which I would die in a ditch is that ethics is not.”

        And yet it is possible to come up with radically different approaches to an ethical dilemma by following different codes. And some may not even see an ethical dilemma where you see one. If ethics were an immutable thing, then we wouldn’t be having this debate at all. That is unless you lump me in the ‘having no code at all means that I can’t even begin to understand your side of the story’ camp.

        Reply
  3. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

    Finally watched the video… will have to see what else Fr Coyne has to say. Richard comes across as astonishingly nice in ‘real life’, doesn’t he? But then Fr Coyne was giving him a pretty easy ride. Would like to have seen Chesterton take Dawkins on but unfortunately he’s been dead for 75 years.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s