Rob Smith's blog

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Absolute Truth

What is truth? I tend to go with the 'things that are true' definition, but that's obviously pretty glib. There are all kinds of other definitions. Some are based on coherence; some on consensus; others on repeatability and the scientific method. Some stress logic; others stress parsimony. Some hold that truth is universal and absolute while others claim it's in the eye of the beholder. This is not a question that keeps me awake at nights, to be honest, but I'm damn sure truth isn't something you can vote on.

Recently, the Texas School Board added to its shame by voting 11:3 that Texas school books should include weasel text to make the scientifically determined age of the universe seem controversial - when it is not - ostensibly to open the door to teaching creationism.

There are objective ways to decide what's true and what isn't. Voting on it sometimes has the guise of objectivity, but it's doing it wrong.

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Fishers of men

Mark 1:17 (New International Version)

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

This is an intriguing analogy, isn’t it? Pull a fish from the water and see it writhing and gulping, its life or death entirely at your whim.
It will struggle to get back in the water, but it can’t. Then someone eats it.

John 10:11-18 (English Standard Version)

“I am the good shepherd.”

Another interesting analogy. I was brought up on a farm. Farmers care for their sheep, but they use overwhelming authority (usually a dog) to make the sheep do what they want. Then someone eats them.

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Is intellectual honesty the same as morality?

By Rob Smith

I spend more time than I should arguing with creationists. I can't help it: I'm offended by intellectual dishonesty and to be a creationist is to both ignore swathes of scientific evidence and yet to elevate pure speculation to the status of absolute proof. Creationists have no monopoly on intellectual dishonesty, of course and I don't mean to demonise them. However, the interesting part is that I suspect they tend to place more value on honesty than does the population in general.

I don't mean by this that they are more honest than the rest of us. I mean that creationists probably think about honesty more and hold it up as more of an ideal. I'm sure they don't think of their beliefs as intellectually dishonest, but when creationists are presented with evidence and proper argument, dishonest is what they become.

This leads me to the question of whether intellectual dishonesty is akin to immorality. It gives us an excuse to pick and choose what we want to be true and invent myths to back up any particular choice. We can't do that if we're intellectually honest. We have to go with the evidence.

Is intellectual honesty any different from the absolute standard of morality claimed by religions? Yes, because it is built on evidence and subject to peer review, rather than being defined in advance.

Does this distinction mean anything much in practice?

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