The Danger in Uncritical Thinking

Three posts today called my attention to the problem of uncritical thinking amongst Christians. This is a topic I bring up frequently. It’s not that I believe those who think critically will automatically agree with me. I’ve had to revise some of my own opinions after thinking critically about them at a later date. But some people seem to be sailing through the intellectual seas without any rudder at all.

How long, gullible people, will you love being gullible?
You scorners delight in scorn?
And fools hate knowledge? — Proverbs 1:22

Test everything!
Hold onto what is good.
Keep away from every form of evil. — 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
(Translation by the author)

It seems that many Christians change this latter verse into “Accept everything, as long as the authors make sufficiently pious pronouncements.” This morning the gullible seem to be out in force. Actually, they probably always are, but this morning they caught my attention, which gave me a chance to blog about two of my favorite Bible verses (the two I quoted above, in case you missed it).

The first item I found via Dispatches from the Culture Wars via the post Catholic Art is Satanic. Ed Brayton’s post refers to an article over at WorldNetDaily titled ‘Satanic’ art in Catholic Church exposed: Documentary links clergy sex abuse with occult imagery. Sometimes “testing” doesn’t take very long. This one doesn’t pass the “snork test,” i.e. can you read it while drinking coffee and not have to clean your keyboard and monitor afterward. On the other hand, it illustrates a willingness amongst Christians to believe anything nasty about “those Catholics.” And just be aware that I did read the part about the authors being Catholic themselves, which is a good indication that often Catholics can be their own worst enemies. I bet this will be spread far and wide by non-Catholics looking for reasons why Catholics must not be real Christians.

Then I browsed over to The Panda’s Thumb where Nick Matzke pointed to another really interesting case. Here Robert C. Newman, in an article titled Rumors of Angels: Using ID to Detect Malevolent Spiritual Agents has now proposed a way to discover the activities not just of angels, but also of demonic agents in the world. What he seems to have failed to accomplish is to find any way to define just what it is that these agents do, or how one would scientifically determine the difference between a world in which angels and demons repeatedly made adjustments to creatures, and a world in which random mutations were selected for naturally. I do think that the folks in the intelligent design movement shouldn’t laugh at Newman’s work, however, since he has as much of a solid basis for it as they do for an “intelligent” design agent of undefined capabilities.

Finally, thanks to Nick Matzke’s entry, I followed a trackback to Uncommon Descent (Dr. Bill Dembski’s blog), where DaveScot demonstrates elitism for us. His original comment suggested that Nick Matzke had finally found an opponent that would make him look well-versed in science. That was a cheap, and inaccruate shot in itself. But then he tries the “we’re more elite than you” form of argument by posting an update to add that Newman has a PhD from “(Ivy League) Cornell” and thus he offers his ” . . . abject apologies to Dr. Newman for the comparison.” Yes, he really did add “(Ivy League)” in parentheses before the word “Cornell” for those of us to ignorant to understand the true importance of someone with a PhD from an Ivy League school. Hmmm . . . let’s see. While he was at it, he referred to Nick Matzke’s school as “unremarkable” and to his field of geography as much more lightweight than that of chemistry or biology.

I would suggest that it’s pretty silly for the person in the minority to try to make an argument based on the weight of degrees and on elitism. I find that generally a sign of intellectual vacuity in any case, and when one knows that one’s opponents are more numerous, with more prestigious degrees, and a much more substantial research and publication record, then it’s vacuity compounded by stupidity. Of course, he would like to think he’s merely attacking Nick Matzke, and perhaps is enjoying his cheap shot when he thinks he can get by with it. I would suggest instead working on some of that scientific research. Perhaps he can show us sometime how any amount of mathematical formulas will make garbage-in not result in garbage out.

I would not claim the prestigious degrees of the majority as proof that they are right. I know that minorities can become majorities if they have a good case.

(Oh, by the way, let me save you some time. I’m not a mathematician. My degrees are not in the natural sciences, not even in “lightweight” geography. I have not attained a PhD. My schools were not Ivy League, nor are they spoken of together with the University of Chicago. But my nonsense detector is in good shape.)

Similar Posts


  1. DaveScot says:

    “But my nonsense detector is in good shape.”

    Says you…

  2. bigdumbchimp says:

    “Says you…”


    I’ve changed my opinion on the basis of that 2 word retort.

  3. CedricKatesby says:

    Hey, cut DaveScot a break.
    He doesn’t have time to come up with anything really snappy.
    He’s spends pretty much all his time deleting unwelcome posts at UncommonPissant.
    Sad really.

  4. Well, I was going to comment as to how my ego was so deflated by DaveScot’s incisive commentary that I’d probably have to quit blogging, but it appears others are equally impressed with his retort.

    I’m wondering something. How many people actually believe that the reason comments are removed from UncommonDescent is that Dembski is bored with them as he says in his comments policy? How many people think he has a distended and sensitive ego and can’t stand people making fun of him?

    I would note that DaveScot made it back here to post his highly intellectual comment, but my trackback to them never showed up. It’s possible that a trackback got lost in cyberspace or …

  5. steve s says:

    I seem to remember Davetard and company admitting to “editing” trackbacks as well as comments.

    It’s very simple. ID is a PR movement. It doesn’t look good to post something and have 40 Ph.D’s call you an idiot in the comment section below. So they have a little Potemkin comment village.

  6. steve s says:

    I remember for instance, when Discovery Instituter Jay Richards put up a post explaining that Einstein had been confused about relativity. (http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/04/did_richards_really_do_away_with_einstein.html)
    The first 8-10 comments/trackbacks on the ID blog where he posted that were from Physicists saying things like “Trackback: Some raging moron over at IDTheFuture just embarrassed himself by saying…”

    You can’t maintain the fiction that you’re a vibrant new scientific movement, if people see those kinds of things.

Comments are closed.