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Is Richard Dawkins Really That Naive?
“Scott — who is an atheist — has repeatedly said that one cannot claim that science requires atheism because atheism is a philosophical position, not a scientific one. She leverages the standard distinction between philosophical and methodological naturalism: if you are a scientist you have to be a methodological naturalist (i.e., assume for operative purposes that nature and natural laws are all that there is); but this doesn’t commit you to the stronger position of philosophical naturalism (i.e., to the claim that there really isn’t anything outside of nature and its laws).”

“The real problem is that, pace Dawkins, evidence has nothing to do with it, because this isn’t a scientific debate. Look, even the most outrageous version of young earth creationism cannot be scientifically falsified.”

“But a staunch creationist will argue (I know this from personal experience) that god simply orchestrated the whole appearance of fossils and intermediate forms to test our faith. As stunning and nonsensical as this “theory” may be, it makes the creationist completely and utterly impervious to evidence: the more evidence you bring up, the more he feels validated in his faith, because faith is belief regardless or despite the evidence. Now Dawkins will say that these people are irrational ignoramuses, and they certainly are. But that misses the point entirely: the lowly creationist has just given the mighty evolutionist a humbling (if unconscious) lesson in philosophy by showing that evidence simply does not enter the debate. If evidence is out, then we are left with sheer rhetorical force.”

“One almost gets the feeling that if Dawkins had the resources of the Inquisition at his disposal he might just use them in the name of scientific Truth (a philosophical oxymoron, by the way). Thanks for the public relations disaster, Dick!”

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.””
richard  atheism  religion  naturalism  science  deism  methodological  dawkins  philosophical 
december 2016 by yufufi
The mismeasure of machine: why machine metaphors in biology are misleading | Plato's Footnote
Dawkins disagrees, and writes in The Selfish Gene:

“When a man throws a ball high in the air and catches it again, he behaves as if he had solved a set of differential equations in predicting the trajectory of the ball. He may neither know nor care what a differential equation is, but this does not affect his skill with the ball. At some subconscious level, something functionally equivalent to the mathematical calculations is going on.”

No, it isn’t. In fact, experiments show that humans (and dogs) use a deceptively simple heuristic to catch a ball: keep your gaze fixed at the ball, and adjust your running speed such that the angle of the ball remains constant (for references to this and other claims in this post, see the original paper). When you follow this heuristic, you will be there when the ball hits the ground. As it happens, baseball players are very poor at predicting where a ball is going to hit the ground when they are asked not to run towards it. They just manage to get there when the ball does.
evolution  biology  philosophy  mathematics  baseball  design  Dawkins  Pigliucci 
october 2016 by ernie.bornheimer

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