Reminds me of a brief correspondence I had with Dr. Duane Gish of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), one of the Floundering Fathers of "creation science" (an actual PhD, BTW, in biochemistry, so a rare bird in the creationism universe).
This was in 1984/5, a few years after the 1981 Arkansas creationism trial (McLean v. Arkansas, Jan 1982). Gish had been on a radio show where he cited a philosopher of science, Larry Laudan, as denouncing Judge Overton's decision for being wrong. I wrote to Gish asking about that statement and he sent me a xeroxed copy of Laudan's article, Science at the Barr”Causes for Concern.
It turned out that Gish had misrepresented that article (Surprise! Surprise!), though apparently by not understanding what it actually said (possibly as an unfortunate side-effect of the practice of quote-mining). Laudan was criticizing Overton's non-scientist ad-hoc definition of what science is while at the same time agreeing with Overton's assessment that "creation science" is not science, even to the point of disagreeing with Overton's statement that "creation science" is not falsifiable.
Laudan's point that made your post remind me of it was Overton's statement that "creation science" is not falsifiable and hence is not scientific. While it is true that religious beliefs are not falsifiable, that is not true of "creation science" when it makes testable assertions about the real world:
quote:In brief, these claims are testable, they have been tested, and they have failed those tests. Unfortunately, the logic of the Opinion's analysis precludes saying any of the above. By arguing that the tenets of Creationism are neither testable nor falsifiable, Judge Overton (like those scientists who similarly charge Creationism with being untestable) deprives science of its strongest argument against Creationism. Indeed, if any doctrine in the history of science has ever been falsified, it is the set of claims associated with "creation-science." Asserting that Creationism makes no empirical claims plays directly, if inadvertently, into the hands of the creationists by immunizing their ideology from empirical confrontation. The correct way to combat Creationism is to confute the empirical claims it does make, not to pretend that it makes no such claims at all.
Furthermore, Laudan demolished a common creationist false argument against evolution that if we don't know how evolution happens (ie, if we don't know the mechanism of evolution) then it cannot have happened:
quote: Quite how Judge Overton knows that a worldwide flood "cannot" be explained by the laws of science is left opaque; and even if we did not know how to reduce a universal flood to the familiar laws of physics, this requirement is an altogether inappropriate standard for ascertaining whether a claim is scientific. For centuries scientists have recognized a difference between establishing the existence of a phenomenon and explaining that phenomenon in a law-like way. Our ultimate goal, no doubt, is to do both. But to suggest, as the McLean Opinion does repeatedly, that an existence claim (e.g., there was a worldwide flood) is unscientific until we have found the laws on which the alleged phenomenon depends is simply outrageous. Galileo and Newton took themselves to have established the existence of gravitational phenomena, long before anyone was able to give a causal or explanatory account of gravitation. Darwin took himself to have established the existence of natural selection almost a half-century before geneticists were able to lay out the laws of heredity on which natural selection depended. If we took the McLean Opinion criterion seriously, we should have to say that Newton and Darwin were unscientific; and, to take an example from our own time, it would follow that plate tectonics is unscientific because we have not yet identified the laws of physics and chemistry which account for the dynamics of crustal motion.
When I pointed that passage out to Gish, he denied vehemently that it exonerated evolution in any manner, basically arguing that creationism is a special case. Ironically, the xeroxed copy of the article that he himself had sent me included the hand-written notes in the margins. Next to that passage someone had written "mechanism of evolution". Whether that was by Gish's own hand or another's, I do not know.
As this applies to Faith, her religious beliefs are not falsifiable and deserving of all due respect. However, the real-world consequences of her beliefs are open to examination, discussion, criticism, and even censure. And her blatantly false assertions about the real world are even more so open to examination, discussion, criticism, and censure. And her own flagrant failure to adhere to the standards of her own religious beliefs are equally open to examination, discussion, criticism, and censure -- yes, Christians make much of their own fallibility and tendency to "stumble" (opening the door to the theological trap of cheap grace which enables any believer to commit any sin, regardless of how heinous, and get away with it scot-free by asking their god for forgiveness), but what Faith does is just plain ridiculous.
I think the problem I created is with my understanding of "respect."
You see, I do think that Faith's religious beliefs are deserving of all due respect.
I just limit what I see as "all due respect." That is - allowing Faith to discuss and talk about her beliefs.
What is not included (not an exhaustive list): -no need to "respect" (in the sense of "accept") claims of fact that she believes in, but one should "respect"-fully go about disagreeing (in the sense that Faith is a person.) No need to use insults and all that sort of thing. Of course, we will all have different lines to draw on how many insults Faith is allowed to have before it's "okay" to insult her back. I expect and enjoy such differences. -no need to respect any speech about acting negatively toward anyone based on those beliefs (again, this line will be drawn different for each member of Faith's audience - differences should be expected and taken into account.) -no need to respect any actions about acting negatively toward anyone based on those beliefs (in fact, such things should be directly opposed.)
Yes. well, "with all due respect" is something of a loaded statement, isn't it? If a statement cannot have any respect due to it, then "all due respect" ends up meaning showing that shite deserves absolutely no respect whatsoever. So that's all the respect that such shite deserves.
Personally held religious beliefs must be respected. The consequences of those beliefs must be examined and properly critiqued.