[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: in the eye of the beholder

I don't know if perhaps I have opened up a line of discussion which can only end in unhappiness. I don't think we've ever had a discussion of theology on xmca. I don't know that it is feasible. I think that theological position which accepts natural processes as a sufficient basis for explaining the world, but in some way or another credits the creation of these processes, or their initiation, or the formation of the laws governing them, or whatever, to God, does no harm to most scientific activity. After all, Isaac Newton himself thought that God set the universe in motion, and there is plenty of evidence that these kinds of theological beliefs are compatible with scientific work. But let's not get carried away with that. Evolution by natural selection is *the* basic principle of biology. There is no science of biology without it. Creationism was what I was talking about, not one of the Deistic beliefs which are quite commonly held by practising, perfectly intelligent scientists. I will stick to my closing line from before though: God is not the answer to any unsolved problem of physics or biology.
Ask a metaphysical question, you get a metaphysical answer.
You mention the case of some child dying and the response: "It was God's will." I don't see this as meaning that God was causally responsible, rather than the bus that ran over the child. But the luck, the chance, or whatever, that it was *this* child and not some other. "It is in the hands of God." Leaving aside issues like vulnerability due to economic conditions, etc., such judgments are not contrary to science. It is just a way of finding meaning in what is in itself meaningless, but can be vested with meaning by, for example, a grieving community. Of course, it is to be hoped that children are still told to look both ways before crossing the road.
*Andy Blunden*

Patrick Jaki wrote:
Andy, let me attempt a response to some of the things you have said in response to Carol. Largely I am in agree with you.

Yes (Christian) theology is consistent with social practices and metaphysical beliefs. The three surveys you allude to state the findings based on how the question is asked. I believe if the questions are asked differently, it is probable that the findings might be also different.

If Carol is in 2, i.e., where creation and evolution interface, does it not follow that details about creation become superfluous? Is it just possible that creationism started it and evolution continues to complete it? I say so because of the reference made to 'faith' and 'details'. My position is that my understanding of faith requires the opposite, i.e., complete details become irrelevant. What counts is the truth of the activity. In this case that creationism accounts for the ontological beginnings of things. Does God approve of a health system? Yes, a just health system. This is embedded in the social practices and is linked to the Christian metaphysical beliefs as provided for in the idea of a just God. To God in every unexplained occurrence is rather a common phenomenon. For example, a child dies of some disease and it is exclaimed: It was God's will that he should die. In this case it is the death that is unexplained. I am loath to accept such apportionment of responsibility. But is there something that can be said, in theology, that the answer solely rests with God? And why not in some instances of physics and biology?

I don't know if I am taking away or adding to the discussion.


On 22 September 2014 10:35, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    As you know, Carol, my recent research has led me through the
    belief-systems and activity of a range of Christian denominations
    and I have learnt to value the enormous contribution which
    Christians have made to social change activism and the pursuit of
    social justice over the past 400 years, before which time the
    question is moot. Generally speaking all sorts of theology are
    consistent with all sorts of social practice and even metaphysical
    beliefs. The correlations are complex.

    Believing that God created the world does not imply any kind of
    supposedly literal or selective reading of the Bible and nor does
    it necessarily imply rejection of Darwinian evolution. Surveys
    about Creationism usually sort people into three categories; (1)
    God created the world 10,000 years ago or less; (2) God created
    the world by means of evolution, etc., or some such formulation
    consistent both with science and with Christian moral convictions;
    and (3) God had nothing to do with it. I think you would be (2),
    Carol. To be a Creationist requires a huge leap of faith about
    immense detail. It means believing things like "God created cows
    so man would have milk." I don't know where Spinoza and Hegel fit
    in that little 3-part scheme. I don't know what you mean by "order
    of creation". Do you mean "God created X on the Nth day" and so on?

    Creationism in the US is (I believe) a political position: it is a
    very specific array of concepts. Belief in God is in itself not a
    political question. The political question is only: if you believe
    in God, how do you conceive of Him (or Her)? Does God approve of
    public health, etc?

    The Big Bang is something else. No physicist thinks this is a
    closed question. Personally I think  the solution to the obvious
    contradictions is that time, like space, is finite but unbounded.
    Plausible, involves no insuperable logical contradictions, no
    Prime Mover or First Cause, or Before Time, but it is all still an
    open question. But I think to insert God wherever you find an open
    question is just silly. It is a bit like John R.Searle who inserts
    quantum uncertainty into human biology to solve the problem of
    free will or introducing UFOs to explain unexplained events. God
    is fine, but he is not the answer to any unsolved problem of
    physics or biology.


    *Andy Blunden*

    Carol Macdonald wrote:

        Dear Andy

        I haven't kept up with the previous 15 conversations, but need
        to add my tuppence worth.  I believe that God created the
        world, but not anything literal about the Bible.  We need to
        know what triggered the  Big Bang. Even Richard Dawkins the
        professed atheist is agnostic about this very point.  Also it
        seems that the order of creation, although allegorical, seems
        to map out the order of events, although Biblically we really
        have to give "day" a different time frame.

        I just say this in case this example can be accommodated in
        your theory.


        On 22 September 2014 08:58, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com
        <mailto:lpscholar2@gmail.com> <mailto:lpscholar2@gmail.com
        <mailto:lpscholar2@gmail.com>>> wrote:


            Taking project as the KEY concept and stating that
        projects are shared
            collective desires to change *concepts* is highlighted in your
            The *intended* project is to change people's understanding of
            asbestos as a
            miracle substance to a deadly substance.

            Returning to the article Peter posted on *perspectival*
        assumptions as
            being collective and developing the concept of
        *perspective* away
            from its
            subjective bias to taking *perspectival* as collective
        could be
            as a *project* [writing articles to change others concepts of

            I sense an *overlap* and possible synergy between notions
        of *changing
            concepts* intentionally AND realizing changing perspectives by
            with an intentional focus.
            Are we referring to similar phenomena??
            The inherent stability of concepts/perspectives and the
            projects to change the *shape* of harmful
            Is there a bias to see perspectives AS images and concepts AS
            Is this the question of multi-modality [recently shared on

            I appreciated the clarity of the example of asbestos
        workers who
            shared an
            understanding of asbestos [as a miracle substance that was

            The relations between perspective taking, interpretive
            understanding,  and
            concept development is the question I'm left with.


            On Sun, Sep 21, 2014 at 10:57 PM, Andy Blunden
        <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
            <mailto:ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:

            > Michael, Charles.
            > This is an issue which I think can be tackled by Activity
            Theory, not just
            > climate denial, but a whole range of belief/disbelief
            like this.
            > Social justice issues and social change in general depend on
            > and solving these kind of prejudice and scepticism.
            > has given us a poisoned chalice indeed.
            > I believe that Activity Theory is well placed to solve this
            category of
            > problem and give some guidance as to how to tackle
        deeply held but
            > irrational prejudice. Developed using 'project' as the
        unit of
            analysis I
            > think Activity Theory gives us a really useful theory of
            ideology which has
            > the advantage of being firmly connected to a living
        tradition in
            > psychological science and meaningfully connected to how
            live their
            > lives.
            > Taking Creationism as an example, among European and
            > the USA boasts the largest percentage of people in the
        world who
            > that God created the world just as it is today about 10,000
            years ago. They
            > are rivalled only by Turkey. And it does not correlate
        with lack of
            > education. In fact, among Republican voters, the more
            you are the
            > more likely you are to believe in the Old Testament story of
            Genesis and
            > not Darwin. A significant percentage of Democrat voters also
            believe in
            > Creationism, but this declines with education.
            > The point is that when people evaluate evidence, as
        Charles was
            > suggesting, we do so by integrating the new data into
        our existing
            > conceptual frame. I regularly dismiss all sorts of news
        and theories
            > because it doesn't fit into my conceptual frame! We all
        do. The
            reason why
            > there is so much Creationism in the US is that Darwin
        versus the Old
            > Testament has been *politicised*. You prefer the Old
            for guidance
            > as to the origin of species rather than science (personal
            experience can
            > shed no light on the question) because it is a litmus
        test for
            adherence to
            > the Good Life, just as some people hate bicycle-riders
            it is a
            > signal of support for Greeny ideas which are deemed
        hostile to
            the ordinary
            > person. I believe that Climate Denial is part of the
        same issue. In
            > Australia there are rather too many Climate Deniers
        because the
            issue has
            > become politicised. Officially the conservative government
            accepts the
            > science, but every knows they don't and this is reflected in
            policies like
            > appointing climate deniers to head committees to review
            > repealing the carbon price, etc., etc. There are a higher
            percentage of
            > climate deniers in Australia, as a result, than in
        Europe where
            the climate
            > is not politicised in that way.
            > One's conceptual frame is unified through commitment to a
            > Opinions and evidence which don't fit the conceptual frame
            generated by the
            > central concept of a life-project, its vision of the
        Good Life.
            There is a
            > 10 minute talk on this in relation to denial of the dangers
            posed to health
            > by asbestos here:
            > The_Case_of_Asbestos
            > Apologies for going on too long.
            > Andy
            > *Andy Blunden*
            > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/

            > Charles Bazerman wrote:
            >> Michael,
            >> I am with you, and not only because of climate change
        deniers.  The
            >> sociocultural critique has been important to show that
        humans make
            >> knowledge, and they do it from their own interests and
            perspectives.  Yet,
            >> various disciplines and sciences, have come to know
        more about
            the world in
            >> ways that are less entangled with the limits of
        individual or
            small group
            >> perceptions and interests.
            >> Disciplines do represent the world outside of
        themselves, gathering
            >> data--of course selectively through their own devices,
            means of
>> collection, forms of inscription and display, etc... Historically, the
            >> methodological standards in different fields have
        evolved to
            include more
            >> awareness of the contingency, fragility, and specificity of
            samples, data
            >> and analysis--along with increasing cleverness of our
        tools.      This is what
            >> methodology is all about.  I tend to view objectivity
        not as an
            >> but an awareness of ways in which we are entangled with the
            phenomena we
            >> are trying to study, and to find ways to disentangle
            >> So from this perspective, incorporating the
        sociocultural critique
            >> creates challenges to maintain the persuasiveness of
        our data,
            >> representation, and analysis. Over the last few decades, we
            have been
            >> struggling in different disciplines to incorporate this
            critique but yet
            >> maintain the disciplinary projects of advancing
        contingent, but
            useful and
            >> reliable knowledge.  I like your term warranted
            I myself
            >> have relied on the idea of accountability--in terms of
            able to give a
            >> good account of your research actions when queried from
            >> But it is important to the advance of knowledge that we
            ways to gather
            >> and understand information about the world (in which we are
            both living
            >> parts and the constructors of knowledge about that
        world including
            >> ourselves) that recognizes the contingency of our
        knowledge but
            does not
            >> evaporate our confidence in that knowledge into a vapor of
            contingency only.
            >> I have struggled with this issue for many years in my
        work on the
            >> rhetoric of science and have discussed it in various ways,
            drawing on the
            >> work of many others (Ludwik Fleck still seems important
        to me
            over many
            >> years), but more work needs to be done to crystallize an
            understanding that
            >> leaves science and social science standing despite it being
            created by
            >> poor, frail, interested, humans of limited and skewed
            >> best,
            >> Chuck
            >> ----- Original Message -----
            >> From: "Glassman, Michael" <glassman.13@osu.edu
            <mailto:glassman.13@osu.edu <mailto:glassman.13@osu.edu>>>
            >> Date: Monday, September 22, 2014 11:21 am
            >> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: in the eye of the beholder
            >> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
        <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
            >>> It seems to me that articles like this can be a double
            >>> They use examples where culture has an influence on
        how we see
            things but
            >>> then offer the generalization that science is
        perspective.     This is the
            >>> same line you hear by climate deniers who claim that the
            >>> have a liberal bias.   Science is based on individual
            perspective until it
            >>> doesn't.   I'm their book is a much more nuanced
        discussion.      This is a
            >>> really complex issue which at this particular moment has
            >>> import.  Maybe we need to find other ways to discuss
        this -
            like warranted
            >>> assertability.  Perhaps I have been spending too much time
            reading about
            >>> the politics of climate change lately and it has
        spooked me.
            >>> Michael
            >>> ________________________________________
            >>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
            >>> on behalf of David Preiss [daviddpreiss@gmail.com
            >>> Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2014 9:41 PM
            >>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
            >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: in the eye of the beholder
            >>> And they make claims for all humankind.
            >>> Enviado desde mi iPhone
            >>>> El 21-09-2014, a las 22:16, Martin John Packer
            >>> <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co
        <mailto:mpacker@uniandes.edu.co <mailto:mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>>>
            >>>> So there are two distinct problems here: First, the
            researchers are
            >>> not diverse. Second, the people they (we?) study are
        not diverse.
            >>>> Martin
            >>>>> On Sep 21, 2014, at 8:11 PM, David Preiss
            <daviddpreiss@gmail.com <mailto:daviddpreiss@gmail.com>
        <mailto:daviddpreiss@gmail.com <mailto:daviddpreiss@gmail.com>>>
            >>>> wrote:
            >>>> Loved the WEIRD acronym. One of the best ironies I've
        seen in
            >>>> recent scientific writing.
            >>>> Enviado desde mi iPhone
            >>>>>> El 21-09-2014, a las 18:57, Rod Parker-Rees
            >>>>> <R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk
        <mailto:R.Parker-Rees@plymouth.ac.uk>>> escribió:
            >>>> Great article, David - highlights the importance (at
        every level)
            >>>>> of being aware of what others might find odd about
        us (secondary
            >>> socialisation?).
            >>>> Rod
            >>>>>> -----Original Message-----
            >>>>>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
            >>>>> [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>>] On Behalf Of David
            >>>> Sent: 21 September 2014 18:31
            >>>>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
            >>>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: in the eye of the beholder
            >>>>>> This article is revelant for this topic:
            http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~ <http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/%7E>
            >>>>>> henrich/pdfs/WeirdPeople.pdf
            >>>>>> Enviado desde mi iPhone
            >>>>>>> El 21-09-2014, a las 13:42, mike cole
        <mcole@ucsd.edu <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>
            <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu <mailto:mcole@ucsd.edu>>> escribió:
            >>>>>>> The book by Medin and Bang, "Who's asking"
        published by
            MIT is GREAT
            >>>>>>> reading. Seeing this in Scientific American is super.
            >>>>>>> mike
            >>>>>>> On Sun, Sep 21, 2014 at 8:18 AM, David Preiss <
            >>>>>>> daviddpreiss@gmail.com
        <mailto:daviddpreiss@gmail.com> <mailto:daviddpreiss@gmail.com
            >>>>>>> wrote:
            >>>>>>>> What a fantastic piece Peter! Loved the references to
            >>>>>>>> David
            >>>>>>>> Enviado desde mi iPhone
            >>>>>>>>> El 21-09-2014, a las 7:31, Peter Smagorinsky
            <smago@uga.edu <mailto:smago@uga.edu>
        <mailto:smago@uga.edu <mailto:smago@uga.edu>>>

            >>>>>>>>> escribió:
            >>>>>>>> affects-how-s
            >>>>>>>> cience-is-done/
            >>>>>>> --
            >>>>>>> Development and Evolution are both ... "processes of
            >>>>>> and
            >>>> re- construction in which heterogeneous resources are
            >>>>>> contingently but
            >>>> more or less reliably reassembled for each life
        cycle." [Oyama,
            >>>>>>> Griffiths, and Gray, 2001]
            >>>>>> ________________________________
            >>>>>> [
            >>>>>> This email and any files with it are confidential
        and intended
            >>>>> solely for the use of the recipient to whom it is
            If you
            >>> are not the intended recipient then copying,
        distribution or
            other use of
            >>> the information contained is strictly prohibited and you
            should not rely on
            >>> it. If you have received this email in error please
        let the
            sender know
            >>> immediately and delete it from your system(s).
        Internet emails
            are not
            >>> necessarily secure. While we take every care, Plymouth
            University accepts
            >>> no responsibility for viruses and it is your
        responsibility to
            scan emails
            >>> and their attachments. Plymouth University does not accept
            >>> for any changes made after it was sent. Nothing in
        this email
            or its
            >>> attachments constitutes an order for goods or services
            >>> by an official order form.

-- Carol A Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
        Developmental psycholinguist
        Academic, Researcher,  and Editor Honorary Research Fellow:
        Department of Linguistics, Unisa

*Odwora Jaki*

*Mob:  (27)  079 643 1097 <tel:%2827%29%C2%A0%20079%20643%201097>

P. O Box 505

_South Africa_*