Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dr. David Berlinski and Dennis Prager Interview

This is Tuesday's easy to listen to interview by Dennis Prager of Dr. David Berlinski, whom Ben Stein spoke with in the movie, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.”

Tuesday April 22, 2008
H3: Ultimate Issues Hour: Atheism and Science With Dennis Prager
Prager H3: Dennis talks to David Berlinski, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle and a former fellow at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques in Paris, France. His new book is The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.
Length: 00:34:14


Dr. David Berlinski is the scholar that Ben Stein visited in Paris in the movie.
Something about him intrigued me. I checked him out and I found out why.

In the late 1950's, a stronghold of positivist empiricism in academic philosophy that had held sway for 50 years was debunked by Harvard philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine. Quine was a mathematician-logician who was not pressing a transcendent reality. He agreed with the status quo academic standard that the empirical data was all that there was to begin our investigation with (I don't agree with that, BTW-I'm a Christian).

However, applying cold logic, he demonstrated that empirical data alone cannot establish and justify a belief system: we must apply certain aesthetic standards and objectives. Dr. David Berlinski is a secular agnostic Jew. But, he is a mathematician and logician. He watched the publication and celebration of authors like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens and felt compelled to speak out against the outrageous presumption that science has debunked important non-scientific “disproved” religious claims. We make and live by many assumed truths that science cannot prove or disprove, including most of the important matters of our life. As with the empiricist philosophers, these have noisily overstated the implications and the capacity of science. These contemporary “science” advocates (their metaphysical claims and curses have nothing to do with real science) are a tardy and relatively vulgar manifestation of an error long ago put to rest. I just love it when a neutral party demonstrates the audacious presumption of a false dogma.

In addition to this a much less turgid interview with radio talk-show host Dennis Prager, I will post links to his discussion on C-SPAN's Book TV, and and a reference to Berlinski's new book, "The Devil's Delusion,".

At C-SPAN’s Book TV page:

Author: David Berlinski – The Devil’s Delusion

About the Program
David Berlinski, teacher and author of books on mathematics, challenges the fields of science and atheist thought by arguing that science has not been able to prove the inexistence of a God nor explain the start of the universe. This event was hosted by the Discovery Institute in Washington, D.C.
About the Author
David Berlinski is the author of several books, including "A Tour of Calculus," and "Newton's Gift." A former fellow at the Institute for Applied System Analysis, Mr. Berlinksi is currently a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.

Go to this page and click on "Watch."

The Devil's Delusion

Militant atheism is on the rise. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have dominated bestseller lists with books denigrating religious belief as dangerous foolishness. And these authors are merely the leading edge of a far larger movement--one that now includes much of the scientific community. "The attack on traditional religious thought," writes David Berlinski in The Devil's Delusion, "marks the consolidation in our time of science as the single system of belief in which rational men and women might place their faith, and if not their faith, then certainly their devotion." A secular Jew, Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. An acclaimed author who has spent his career writing about mathematics and the sciences, he turns the scientific community's cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and answer some rather embarrassing questions: Has anyone provided a proof of God's nonexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good? Not even close to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even ballpark. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on. Berlinski does not dismiss the achievements of western science. The great physical theories, he observes, are among the treasures of the human race. But they do nothing to answer the questions that religion asks, and they fail to offer a coherent description of the cosmos or the methods by which it might be investigated. This brilliant, incisive, and funny book explores the limits of science and the pretensions of those who insist it can be--indeed must be--the ultimate touchstone for understanding our world and ourselves.

15 comments:

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Larry, I saw Mike Huckabee last night on "Hannity and Colmes." He was extremely impressive. Mike would make a good vice-presidential choice. I still favor Gov. Sarah Palin, possibly the best human being in elective office, but Mike also looks very good. It might not be a bad idea for the large "Huckabee Nation" of bloggers to start promoting him.

steve maloney

I have not sad hardly anything about Gov. Palin's "taking to term" a child she knew had Downs Syndrome. I haven't said much because I expect a consistent magnificence not only in her own behavior but also that of her wonderful family. I think it was T. S. Eliot who spoke about "a faith that demands not less than everything." She has it.

Larry said...

I was out-of-town for the weekend. I have a lot to catch up on. I said before that I would obviously be happy with Huckabee as the VP choice. But, he'd have some work to do to win the Romneyacs, who hate him. I think he has the ability to do that, but be certain that there's a problem, now.

I think it's important that McCain enthuse the social conservatives who do so much voting and campaign legwork. But right now, most of the Romney people don't like Huckabee and most of the Huckabee people don't much like Romney. And, I don't think Romney is likely to change that.

I also said after a previous comment of yours, that I think both Palin and Bobby Jindal will be on some Repiblican ticker by 2016.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Larry, I hope you'll bring Nat Hentoff's piece to the attention of your readers. They can find it at: www.lifenews.com. It's critically important that the Supreme Court in coming years votes to return abortion issues to the states -- and it seems poised to do so, but it won't happen if Obama becomes President.

PRO-LIFE DEMOCRAT NAT HENTOFF CAN'T SUPPORT BARACK OBAMA OVER ABORTION
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- Leading pro-life Democrat Nat Hentoff wrote a national editorial on Tuesday saying he had considered supporting Barack Obama for president. That was until he investigated Obama's record on abortion and found that the Illinois lawmaker essentially supported infanticide.

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