Proof by Debate

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Epistemology / Reality /

2002 11 15 Real Quick: just to get started:
Debate is a time honored way for groups to decide which of two positions will be centered for the group. Some debates have become much referred to. Sometimes other rituals take on the guise of a debate. Shortly after Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859, Huxley defended Darwin’s theories. He took challenges, such as that from Bishop Wilberforce, resulting in an exchange still much quoted. Decades later in the United States the Scopes Trial assumed some of the character of a debate.

I want to ask one thing:

Is understanding requisite for refutation?

Did Bishop Wilberforce feel any obligation to understand Darwin’s book in order to qualify for the right to attack it?

Wilberforce vs. Huxley
Wilberforce vs. Huxley
thanx ateismoparacristianos

I presume most literate persons these days would assume that Huxley did feel such an obligation before taking the stand. Am I right that many would agree with me that Wilberforce felt no such obligation?

(Now here’s a different question: did Huxley in fact understand Darwin’s theories?) (That’s trickier. I’ll venture that he understood it better than any other (known) contemporary (other than Alfred Russel Wallace).) (I’ll also say that the debate, 1860, followed the publication of Darwin’s book by only a year: that’s not much digestion time for an important idea: there are other ideas from millennia ago which are only now only fractionally reaching us in even partly digested form. And we have no way of telling, only guessing, what percentage of ideas have been assimilated and what percentage blocked.)

In the Scopes Trial William Jennings Bryan attacked Darwin. Clarence Darrow defended Darwin. Did Bryan understand Darwin? (How well could he have passed tests given by biologists prior to Darwin?) Did Darrow?

I’ll develop these points further another time. But while here now let me say, still using Darwin as an example, that in decades of reading I have seldom been confident that the writer had Darwin right (not is Darwin’s theory true, but does the writer understand Darwin’s theory? (regardless of whether it’s true)). I hasten to name the exceptions: Bateson, Diamond, Behe. (I guess Gould does too: but he so orthodox: like he’s stuck in the groove.)

Oh. Don’t forget to see the implications above? don’t care about Darwin? Fine. Apply the same question to any issue. Does the Communist really understand Industrial Capitalism? Does the Republican really understand Marx? Or are we all just making a lot of noise, posturing and preening, while we stress and pollute the earth?

2013 05 03 The above was posted to K. probably in the early 2000s. Today I add a note I’d thought to include among my DeGate sections, maybe among my other institutional abuse sections as well, maybe among my category four section on FLEX: Feedback Databases / Professional Abuses.
My loved late Catherine had a living will. She was as clear as she could be in it that she didn’t want any extraordinary inerventions in her death, no life support machinery, bureaucracy once it was decided she not not mend, be active, once again. She was also crystal clear: she was an atheist, she didn’t want anyone praying over her.

I am not an atheist, but, as good a friend as Catherine was to me, I knew that she didn’t have the intelligence, the sophistication, the background, the training … to debate it with me, not even to discuss it. I had decided early in our friendship to share other things with her despite that shortcoming. I may not prefer to love an atheist, but if I love an atheist, then I love that atheist: you have your own preference; allow me mine.

Once Catherine was very sick, almost terminal, then terminal, she aged 96, blind, crippled for 94 years, no longer able to recognize even me (unless I had my arms around her and was whispering in her ear), nurses came and went by the hour. I had her Living Will, all pages, posted on the wall by the entrance.

One nurse started praying over her. I immediately led that nurse to the Living Will on the wall, pointed out the No religion, No preaching section: told her she could pray over me all she wanted, but not over Catherine. She was in Catherine’s house, she must abide by Catherine’s preferences. The law required it, I required it.

Oh, no, the nurse protested, Prayer is good, God is good

I chased her out of Catherine’s house, called the agency. But the agency could understand my point, their legal obligation, no more than did the nurse. Bishop Wilberforce’s church wouldn’t restrain Wilberforce on the mere basis that he didn’t understand what he was talking about.

Imperialist Missionaries
image entropy

Gulliver cannot get the Lilliputians to disqualify themselves as judges of how English London is: they’ve never been there, they can’t imagine any place they haven’t been, can’t imagine that ignorance, inexperience disqualifies them in any way.
Imagine a judge trying to get the Brinks robbers to volunteer, without coercion, that robbery is wrong. Imagine getting a judge to admit that coercion is wrong. How about getting Pilat to un-crucify Jesus?
There is no simple solution, short of a nuclear furnace. There may be no survivable solution.



About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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