Monday, July 2, 2007

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Michael Egnor continues his reflections on the problem that consciousness (or mind) poses for materialistic naturalism. The materialist argues that mind is merely an epiphenomenon of matter. Mind isn't a structure, the materialist insists, it's merely a word we use to describe the function of the brain, like the word "digestion" is simply a word used to describe the function of the stomach.

Egnor maintains that the materialist position is more than just a metaphysical stance. It's a hypothesis which can, in fact, be empirically tested.

The irony is that whatever the results of the test turn out to be the materialist loses.

You can read Egnor's argument here.


Et Tu, Richard?

The pseudonymous Galapagos Finch, founder of the BRITES, worries that some of his most revered Darwinian heroes are losing their faith, or at least compromising their convictions. Read his amusing editorial expressing his alarm here.


Civil Discourse

Brian McLaren has a very good post at God's Politics. He writes about the disappointing tone of much of the commentary he finds in the blogosphere and how it has driven a lot of people out of that arena:

A number of my friends have given up blogging, either temporarily or permanently. The reason? The blogosphere seems to indulge a certain kind of rhetoric that they don't want to be associated with anymore.

Although I continue to post here at the God's Politics blog on occasion, and I believe in the power and potential of the blogosphere, I share my friends' frustration with the kind of disrespectful dialogue that frequently ensues in the comments section of so many blogs. The majority want to have substantive and respectful dialogue, and they tolerate the static because they believe in the level playing field of the blogosphere. But the ambivalence is real.

Misleading labels, name-calling, innuendo, insult, cynicism, deception, even flattery can find their way into any of our communication and add another straw to the overweighted camel of civility and mutual respect. (I've already edited out some of my own rhetorical descents in this piece, and I imagine I've still failed to live up to the ideal I'm espousing.)

As if to put an exclamation point at the end of McLaren's post one commenter, speaking from the Christian left, takes to calling Jim Wallis (who didn't even write the post) a moral relativist and a coward for not speaking out on behalf of the poor(!), and another criticizes conservatives, almost all of whom, he/she alleges, are "shrill and ugly." Other commenters seem to think that merely disagreeing with or criticizing a person's ideas or behavior is itself uncivil.

Like McLaren, I sometimes find the line between civil and uncivil rhetoric a little blurred. What seems to me to be on the civil side of the line does not always seem so to some of our readers, and I regret this because one of the qualities I have wanted Viewpoint to consistently display is courtesy and respect. I confess, however, that it is sometimes difficult to criticize those who themselves are disrespectful, unfair, and vitriolic without coming close, in some readers' eyes, to that blurry line. That is our goal, however, and I appreciate it when our readers let us know when they think we haven't met it, even if, in some instances, I believe their judgment mistaken.