Friday, October 03, 2008

Appearing in Springfield

The date has been finalized for the MSU event. I'll be appearing on the Springfield campus of Missouri State University on Saturday, October 11 (2008). The event is a double-header, myself and PZ Myers (some details here). It's scheduled to run from 1pm to 4pm with informal meetups afterward. Sponsoring the event is the MSU chapter of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (see flyer, and for more on the CFSM see wiki, and there is also a good news article about the campus group, with associated video).

The event will be held in the Plaster Student Union Theater (901 S. National, 2nd floor, southwest corner) on the MSU campus in Springfield, Missouri. Contact man for further info is J.T. Eberhard (417-234-1399). If you use FaceBook, you can help the organizers plan for how many will attend by informing them here.

Dr. Myers will talk on his field (biology and creationism and why science indicates naturalism). I'll talk on the history of science and religion between antiquity and the present and "Why Science Is Better than Religion and Always Has Been." I've tentatively abstracted my talk as:

Scientific values have been in conflict with religion for thousands of years. So have the findings of science. Using the ancient Roman debate between science and religion as a starting point and model, Dr. Carrier will show how science has actually won the debate, in both facts and morals, then goes on to prove it shouldn't matter what the Bible says: if there is moral truth it should be evident and demonstrable from the natural facts of the universe and the human mind and body, without any appeal to god or religion. And once we know the truth, we don't need anything else.
Though just so you know, I will be distinguishing scientific religion (which is compatible with scientific values and even promotes them) with nonscientific religion, and it's only the latter that I will argue is and always has been in conflict. Although I should warn the pious: there will be some irreverent humor.

I will be signing and selling copies of my book Sense and Goodness without God at the event.

Update: video of my talk at this event has subsequently become available online (see Hambone Videos). A link is also available there to view the accompanying slideshow.

20 comments:

Josh said...

wahoo! I'm looking forward to attending!

JT Eberhard said...

We're looking forward to having you, Dr. Carrier.

JT

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Ramen!

AIGBusted said...

How do you derive morality from facts about the universe without committing the genetic fallacy?

Loren said...

AIGBusted, the appropriate fallacy here is the "naturalistic fallacy", deducing an ought from an is.

But Richard Carrier may be claiming that it isn't always a fallacy, and it will be interesting to see how he hopes to demonstrate that.

Loren said...

Sorry if I implied that Richard Carrier actually believed that one can deduce an ought from an is. I should have added "if that is what he is advocating."

CJunk said...

I sure wish you would come to Australia sometime R C. Keep up the good work. Can we get this event on DVD sometime?

Pikemann Urge said...

I was under the impression that we, human beings, made morality. It's what's in our heads and hearts.

Some folks give religion credit to bolster their tightly-held worldview. Of course this credit is not deserved.

Genetic and naturalistic fallacies are interesting, but I'm not sure they are relevant here. Unless I'm missing something?

Richard Carrier said...

The Naturalistic Fallacy, like most fallacies, isn't always a fallacy. For example, an Argument from Authority can be valid. Only under certain conditions is it fallacious. Likewise, a Naturalistic Fallacy is only committed when one derives an ought from an is through a non sequitur (the same can be shown for Argument from Authority). I'll be demonstrating that an "ought" can be derived from an "is" non-fallaciously (and in fact even Christians do this all the time--the whole Christian system of morality derives an ought from an is). But the full case for this is in my book.

AIGBusted said...

My mistake. I meant the naturalistic fallacy but said genetic instead for some reason.

Just out of curiosity, does your book address the following question: What about the evil found in nature?

Finally, can I read any excerpts from your book online?

Pikemann Urge said...

Evil in nature - let me try! ;-) I'm not sure that evil is a natural thing. It seems to be an invention rather than a discovery. You didn't provide an example so I could be way off.

AIGBusted said...

To give an example: Some evolutionary psychologists think that some men have evolved an instinct to rape in order to leave behind more offspring.

To give another example: What about people born with strong tendencies to murder?

Pikemann Urge said...

Aigbusted: rape is a bad thing but why need to call it evil? Why not rest with 'serious crime'? I think your initial question should be "Why do we do things against others?".

Rape could be a case-by-case motivation. It could be sociological, too.

In any case I'm not happy with evo-psych. Sounds like another trite cult to me. But I need to look into it more.

AIGBusted said...

Evil is when a conscious agent causes unnecessary harm to another conscious agent or agents. Rape surely qulaifies as this.

And yes, the evopsychs may be wrong, but there are lots of examples of evil in nature. Darwin gave a good one with the Ichneumon wasps.

Richard Carrier said...

AIGBusted said... ...can I read any excerpts from your book online?

The only direct section sample is the rather brief and generic one at the publisher's site. Though the book has some sections based on various of my past articles online, even that material has been rewritten, so nothing's an exact match.

AIGBusted said... ...does your book address the following question: What about the evil found in nature?

Yes. Although I'm not sure in what sense you mean.

In your reply to Pikemann Urge you mention rape instinct and born murderers. Those are both naive characterizations of the scientific facts, but in respect to the latter, what you seem to have in mind is the psychopath, which I do in fact discuss quite significantly, and in respect to the former, there's no such thing as a rape instinct. There's only lust. Everything else is fantasy and social construction, and ultimately always a conscious choice when action is taken. The science used to try and argue for a rape instinct is junk science, a plain and obvious abuse of the facts (you could easily identify the fallacies yourself if you dig up and read any of the papers attempting to propose such nonsense, so I won't bother hunting them down again--if it worries you, by all means please do, and if you still find nothing wrong, bring it up with a citation here and I'll point out the flaws).

However, this is not an indictment of evo-psych (as some like Pikemann Urge call evolutionary psychology). That's a valid field. But many participants grandiosely overstep the evidence to get media attention (or sell their pet book).

unBeguiled said...

I just watched this lecture on youtube. Good job.

I have a question.

I have been challenged by apologists that all scientific reasoning is circular and therefor fallacious. For example, you cannot point to the fruits of science to justify empiricism without begging the question.

I have developed my own response to this challenge, but I'm wondering how you would handle it.
I don't think you answered this in your book. Thanks.

Richard Carrier said...

unBeguiled said... I have been challenged by apologists that all scientific reasoning is circular and therefor fallacious.

Just FYI, tautologies are not inherently fallacious (in fact, they are inherently valid). It's only when they are used a certain way that a fallacy results--so you would need them to present a more formal description of where the fallacy lies.

For example, you cannot point to the fruits of science to justify empiricism without begging the question.

Begging which question? Always ask them to explain that.

As most philosophers will tell you, if they don't have anything better on offer, then they can't be Christians (since only radical skepticism would be valid if all arguments are circular), and yet every complaint they may have against science can be turned against any alternative they propose (as even Swinburne and Plantinga have conceded).

I have developed my own response to this challenge, but I'm wondering how you would handle it. I don't think you answered this in your book.

My book's epistemology does indirectly answer it (cf. the index on warrant, and Cartesian Demon, and the section on the meaning of words, esp. the part on reality vs. illusion, and the section on "finding the good method"). But for more direct explanations start with my Critique of Rea and end with my Epistemological Endgame blog.

unBeguiled said...

Thanks, I will check out those resources.

By begging the question they mean that I'm assuming that empiricism works to show that empiricism works. As soon as I point to some accomplishment of science, then I am in a sense using science to prove science.

These guys are presuppositionalists, so want to claim that their faith in the Bible is just like my "faith" in my own senses.

All I have to counter this is that all animals rely on the senses. We must, or we will quickly die. I use my eyes, ears and experience to cross streets safely. If they have a more reliable method, they have yet to divulge it. Even the Christian must first rely on his eyes to read and his ears to hear a sermon. Unless they claim to be in direct contact with God, which many of these folks claim anyway.

Thanks for your book and other writings. I appreciate you straightforward style and thoroughness. I just read Atheism Explained, and noticed you were cited twice from essays on infidels.

Richard Carrier said...

unBeguiled said... These guys are presuppositionalists, so want to claim that their faith in the Bible is just like my "faith" in my own senses.

Even if that were so, what good does it do them? Can they build a radio or send a man to the moon or cure someone's cancer with their faith, or yours? If everyone's just sitting on faith, then the only proof left is in the pudding.

In any case, see both "faith" and "warrant" in the index of my book Sense and Goodness without God for exactly what I've said about this.

By begging the question they mean that I'm assuming that empiricism works to show that empiricism works. As soon as I point to some accomplishment of science, then I am in a sense using science to prove science.

If they are doing this, they are playing an equivocation fallacy: you are showing results, and they are criticizing methods. Not the same thing. You don't have to assume scientific method works to observe that medicine and computers work. So there is nothing circular in inferring the latter from the former. See the opening of my book's chapter on method, where I discuss the two universal indexes of a reliable method.

If they are saying you can't really "know" that medicine and computers work without presuming your senses and reason work, then the debate is over who has the better explanation of the observations: empiricists or presuppositionalists? In that regard, my critique of Rea is directly on point (as linked earlier).

On the point about trusting our senses (and reason), see again the two items I linked earlier, and book sections I recommended, plus every reference to Plantinga in my book (see the index). You might also benefit from parts of my Repper Critique, although that is vastly long, and his Argument from Reason is not identical to presuppositionalism, it is close enough for overlap on what you're dealing with.

Richard Carrier said...

Update: video of my talk at this event has subsequently become available online (see Hambone Videos). A link is also available there to view the accompanying slideshow.