Pro Logica

December 6, 2012

Scientism–the Religion of Science

Filed under: Philosophy of Science, Religion — Tags: , — Ron Toczek @ 3:52 pm

Not so very long ago an internet science site essentially posed this question in a contest format:  Of all the assumptions underlying the physical sciences, which one is the most dubious?  Since there were bound to be many answers, I imagined that the winner would be the one with the best argument.  I never did follow up to see what the winning entry was but have thought about it at times, coming up with good assumptions but absolutely no argument why those assumptions are dubious.  Take the ‘Big Bang’ concept in cosmology.  From a theoretical mathematicians perspective it certainly is an assumption but there is nothing dubious about it.  It does supply answers to questions and for many scientists it is nothing but a working hypothesis until something better comes along.  (Unfortunately, there are many who consider their belief in the ‘Big Bang’ to be more than belief.)  The same can be said of other assumptions masquerading as concepts such as evolution or the universal laws of natural physics.

Within the last month or two I have entertained an idea which, although not dubious, does play havoc with the really basic assumption of science, the scientific concept of the ‘real world’.  This concept represents an abstraction from the sense experiences of (all?) human consciences and is believed to be representable as a model within some complete abstract mathematical system that can be found by proper investigation–the so-called scientific method.  Aside from the explicit assumption in the last sentence, there are two even more basic and hidden assumptions which render that explicit assumption a necessary consequence.  First, humans are assumed to be incidental  to and, consequently, independent of the ‘real world’ ; and second, the principles of mathematical creation are embedded within this ‘real world’ and consequently also exist independently of human consciences.  As long as human consciences exist no proof is available and if humans do extinct themselves these assumptions disappear and cannot even have a meaningful formulation.

Being blunt, if the belief in God can be called a religion, so the belief in an independent ‘real world’ can also be called a religion.  An advantage to a belief in a Christian God introduces love and morals into the world.  What do you get with scientism?



December 2, 2012

An Apology (sort of), Plus Some Additional Comments on the Benghazi Debacle

Filed under: Foreign Policy — Tags: , , , — Ron Toczek @ 1:54 am

Three posts ago, I commented about Egypt, Libya and Yemen destroying and vandalizing sovereign U.S. territory within their boundaries and gave the unsurprising remedy that would be sanctioned under international law.  Even for lesser offenses, countries would invade the offending country and exact proper restitution from their point of view.  The problem in the Benghazi situation is that the attacked property was not part of our  embassy, at least from the accounts that I have read.  Does this mean that the terrorist attack on the mission house, also referred to as a consulate, was an undeclared act of war?  I truly don’t know, so, it is not completely clear that international law even applies.  Nevertheless, American citizens, one of whom was our Ambassador to Libya, have been killed by members of a Libyan militia group within the boundaries of Libya using weapons normally associated with actual warfare.  Also, regardless of the status of the property occupied by the Americans, that property received damage from mortar fire.  From all the reports that I have read, I cannot glean much more than this.  It needs to be pointed out that the attack being  perpetrated by an Al Qaeda leaning Libyan militia group was not discovered until after an investigation.  Rumors heard before the event do not constitute evidence

The deaths of our American citizens remove the possibility of labeling the Benghazi incident as trivial so we do have the responsibility of finding out what actually occurred and we must investigate any possible shortcomings of our standard procedures and eliminate them.  Most importantly, I feel that our American deaths need to be ameliorated by a gesture from the current Libyan government, namely that a suitable apology with proper compensation be given to the families of the victims by no less that the Libyan ambassador.  Our government should take steps to ensure that the compensation cannot be connected in any way to money provided through U.S. aid.  I am motivated to this action by our recent ‘honor payment’ to the Pakistani families for their relatives’ death by an American citizen.  America shouldn’t expect less!  (Considering the large amount of money paid by our government, I’d be willing to bet that most of that payment went to corrupt Pakistani officials, knowingly by the Americans.)

Most troubling in the after-event news discussions is the extreme call for transparency in this debacle.  Congress should and does have oversight control of America’s foreign policy but the day-to-day normal dealings are totally in the domain of the Executive Branch.  Successful foreign policy dealings depend on a certain amount of mutual trust and trust cannot be fostered by blabbering other nations secrets.  Considering the current Middle East situation with its rivalries, I’m sure there are lots of secrets floating around and the administration must be given some leeway.

One article that I read stated that this particular mission house in Benghazi was being used to recruit mercenaries for the Syrian rebels in their civil war.  While I can accept the use of mercenary forces in certain situations, I do not believe that a country with democratic principles should be actively engaged in procuring and/or paying mercenaries for any cause without consent of the governed.  Giving our government the benefit of doubt, I sort of assume and hope that we were only acting as recruiting agents for other organizations or nations willing to support and fund the Syrian rebel’s cause.  Supporting the downfall of an intolerable dictator is a worthy cause so long as that dictatorship is not replaced by another dictatorship.  It has not been a given that the government changes resulting from the protests alluded to by the name ‘Arab Spring’ , have produced non-ideological and non-dictatorial governing systems.

Lastly it is time for a stern bit of criticism.  The news reports indicated that our situation in Benghazi was not safe.  We don’t know whether this was due to some vague rumors of an attack on the mission house or just a general unease about the defensive procedures in case of trouble of some sort.  It is quite clear that there was inadequate defensive personnel available at the onset of the attack  I am amazed by the lack of precaution or the part of the ambassadorial staff given the logistics.  September 11, is a glorious date for any Al Qaeda outfit and most would love to conflict damage onto any American installation or personnel on that date.  There were known Al Qaeda leaning groups in Benghazi.  The defenses at the Benghazi mission house were deemed wanting.  Why didn’t either the Ambassador himself, or even the State Department just call a halt to all Benghazi activities and vacate those premises on that day?  It might have spoiled somebody’s fun.


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