The Lament of Deirdre

Deirdre McCloskey has changed my life several times, and always for the better. I had my first economics lessons from friends who were so inspired by Deirdre’s lectures that they felt compelled to repeat them to me over dinner; she was one of my most influential teachers long before I’d ever laid eyes on her. Later on, I had the privilege of knowing her personally, counting her as a treasured friend, and being repeatedly re-inspired by her twin passions to understand the world and to make it work better.

When I decided to write a textbook that competed directly with Deirdre’s own, she was my strongest booster. When I decided to follow up with a book for the general public—the book that became The Armchair Economist—Deirdre told me exactly how to sell it to the publishers. Fifteen years later, the Armchair Economist remains one of the bestselling popular economics books in at least six languages, and at multiple levels—intellectual, practical and personal—I owe it all to Deirdre.

So it was with considerable delight that I received Deirdre’s recent email with subject line “Your Splendid Book”. But as I fully expected (having had this conversation with her more than once), her praise was tempered with disapproval of my “adolescent” atheism:

As you know, I don’t think the assault on religious belief is among its charms. You are very indulgent towards the on-going, searching, preliminary character of faith in physics but, in the style of a adolescent who has just discovered that “the stories they’re liable/ To tell in the Bible:/ They ain’t necessarily so,” unwilling to extend the same indulgence to the faith that a lengthy roster of idiots including Galileo and Newton worked on. You need to read, say, Polkinghorne, but haven’t.

With Deirdre’s permission, I’m responding here on the blog:

  • Aside from a snarky comment or two, The Big Questions is not, in whole or in part, an assault on religious belief. I do offer a non-religious account of the fabric of the Universe that I find compelling; while this account could be certainly be wrong, I’m not sure that the act of offering it counts as an assault on the alternatives. I do point to inadequacies in several of the standard arguments for belief in God, just as I point to inadequacies in Richard Dawkins’s arguments to the contrary; this is largely equal-opportunity carping. And I do mention in passing that I find all religions to be patent hokum (just as gratuitously as I mention my taste for Diet Coke), but I’ve not attempted to write a sustained defense of that judgment. That’s not what the book, or even any part of the book, is about.
  • What I do claim in The Big Questions is that to a large extent, religious believers do not believe so much as they believe that they believe. That is, they “believe” only because they’ve never stopped to think hard about what they really do believe. (This is not a pejorative judgment; none of us has the time to think deeply about more than a small number of things, and there’s no particular reason God should be among them.) Take your average devout Christian, transport him back to the cave where the newly crucified Christ has just been laid to rest, ask him to predict whether this body is going to be resurrected in the next week or so, and somehow convince him that the lives of his children depend on getting the answer right—and I’ll bet that in most cases good old-fashioned materialism will displace religion in a hurry. Obviously I could be wrong about this, but it’s my defense of this assertion, as opposed to any mockery of Bible stories, to which I’ve devoted substantial space in The Big Questions.
  • In fact, my expectation that most belief is shallow is precisely the reason I don’t think it’s worth assaulting.
  • What exactly is wrong with “adolescent” insights, anyway? Early adolescence is when a lot of people first realize that reindeer can’t fly.
  • I have, in fact read Polkinghorne. (That’s John Polkinghorne, the theoretical physicist who keeps writing books defending his simultaneous faith in science and Christianity.) In fact, I’ve read Polkinghorne for the sole and sufficient reason that Deirdre once told me to. And he has, actually, some interesting things to say, though they don’t prove what he thinks they prove. (Indeed, I think they come pretty close to confirming the non-religious vision I offer in The Big Questions.) He also spouts what seems to me like an extraordinary amount of nonsense. I’d meant to elaborate on all this here, but I think this post has gotten long enough as it is. So let’s add John Polkinghorne to the list of topics I promise to blog about soon.
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19 Responses to “The Lament of Deirdre”


  1. 1 1 Dick White

    As a card-carrying Landsburgian (Armchair, Fair Play, Sex and TBQ) I look forward to this discussion of God, Christianity, Pokinghome or whatever form it may take. That said, the cornerstone of Christianity is faith, not proof. Thus, the average devout Christian who tries and continues to fail, when transported back to the occupied cave would almost certainly opt for the material answer not the divine. This is not to disrespect Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, Chesterton, Knox etal. After all, it was no less than Augustine contemplating the Trinity, who (apoocryphaly) coming upon the child at the seashore pouring the sea into a hole dug in the sand condescendingly observed the impossibility of transferring the sea into the hole, was surprised to hear the child respond that so too was Augustine’s effort to understand the Trinity.

  2. 2 2 Deirdre McCloskey

    Dears,

    Let me start slow here. (Product safety warning: I’ve been a [progressive, non-homo- and-gynephobic] Episcopalian since 1998; before that I was a typical academic agnostic, 14-year old style.) Physics requires faith. Anything requires faith. All right, Steve, I’ll exempt math, though you know that constructivists think that the Greek-style proofs-by-contradiction that most of you favor are acts of faith; and calculus got along on faith in dividing by [almost] zero for a century and a half.

    We humans do not have access to the mind of God. So we have to persuade each other. Any persuasion involves axioms, or to put it another way, rhetorical rules.

    Let me leave it at that for starters. There’s a lot, lot more, as I discovered with a jolt when in 1996 I started reading theology with something other than a sneer on my face. I wish opponents of religion, like Ditchins (= Dawkins + Hitchins) would crack a serious work on theology, instead of resting with Jerry Falwell as their target.

    In Christ,

    Deirdre

  3. 3 3 MattF

    I’ve been reading Michael Potter’s terrific book on the philosophy of set theory and let me tell you, if you think that mathematics doesn’t require faith, it’s only because you believe what mathematicians tell you about what they believe.

  4. 4 4 Vishal

    >> Physics requires faith. Anything requires faith.

    A belief in Santa Clause also requires faith. But that, in itself, is not sufficient to confirm the existence of Santa Clause.

    Embracing faith shouldn’t mean a complete rejection of logic (and reason).

  5. 5 5 Snorri Godhi

    WRT the hypothetical “average devout Christian” transported back in time: many early Christians accepted a slow, painful death rather than recant their faith; so it is at least conceivable that they would have had enough confidence in the bodily resurrection of Christ to think it a safe bet for their children. (If I understood the hypothesis correctly.)

    A book which I found informative is The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark. It is the kind of book, about the initial spread of Christian memes, that a believer in natural selection (let’s call him Dawkins) could have written, were he not fixated on the idea that Christian memes offer no selective advantage for the carriers. (It’s sad that apparently Brooks is skeptical about evolution, but I guarantee that you can read the book without worrying about that.)

  6. 6 6 Snorri Godhi

    Sorry, please make a mental substitution in my previous comment: Brooks –> Stark. I tend to get confused between Rodney Brooks and Rodney Stark, although they have little in common apart from both being American academics.

  7. 7 7 Patrick R. Sullivan

    ‘In fact, my expectation that most belief is shallow is precisely the reason I don’t think it’s worth assaulting.’

    Well, some famous guy, in regard to this, did say that conscience makes cowards of us all. Anyway, here’s another chance for me to tell my ‘most amazing European on a train’ story:

    In October of 1980 I found myself on a train from Strasbourg sitting next to a man reading a French bible. I was reading the IHT, marking me as an American. The guy had a big interest in the upcoming Presidential election and took the opportunity to question me at some length on that.

    As a born again Christian, he told me, he was sympathetic to Carter, but was much more worried that there would be another European war thanks to Carter’s weakness. Then I found out why.

    Post 1940, as an Alsatian, he was drafted into the German army and found himself fighting on the Russian front. Where he had to retreat from Stalingrad. Eventually he realized he was surrounded by Red Army troops and trapped. He told me he dropped to his knees in the snow and prayed, ‘God, if you save me, I promise to devote the rest of my life serving you.’

    Just as he was completing the thought he heard a noise, looked up to see a German tank headed his way, and jumped onto it and rode it to safety. Then said to himself; ‘Just a coincidence.’

    However, twenty some years later, when his wife had left him, he was about to put his head in his oven and turn on the gas, when he said he heard a voice; ‘Do you remember the time I sent that tank to save you in Russia?’

    From that time forward he did indeed devoting himself to religious work. Can’t say whether he actually did hear that voice, but I know he BELIEVED he did. And, ‘shallow’ would have been the last word to come to my mind about that belief.

  8. 8 8 AC

    “Physics requires faith. Anything requires faith”

    The implication seems to be that neither one is on firmer ground. I hope there are better arguments than this in all that sophisticated theology.

  9. 9 9 Ken Mueller

    What exactly is wrong with “adolescent” insights, anyway?

    I think Ms McCloskey and others of your correspondents are trying to be as charitable as possible. She could have said “arrogant certainty” or other even stronger words.

    The rest of your book is a shining example of truth-seeking.

  10. 10 10 Bennett Haselton

    In addition to the Christian martyrs mentioned above, many sources say that the parents of Palestinian child suicide bombers are proud of their children for martyring themselves, and celebrate the act:

    http://middleeastfacts.com/Articles/what-the-parents-of-suicide-bombers-say.php
    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=14337

    Then again some sources claim the contrary:
    http://www.fromoccupiedpalestine.org/node/1375

    If this in fact the case, it’s a pretty stark example of “betting your child’s life on getting the right answer”.

    (Of course, there are also parents in the U.S. who “bet their child’s life” on faith healing rather than medicine, but that doesn’t really contradict your hypothesis since it’s only a very tiny minority of parents in this country that do that. But it seems the proportion of children in the Middle East who are recruited to martyr themselves is greater.)

    Bennett

  11. 11 11 Ron

    Physics requires faith. Anything requires faith.”
    Um, no. “Reality is what happens even if you don’t believe
    in it.” Despite the Wile E Coyote “physics” demo, you can’t
    step off a cliff and not fall until you look down.

  12. 12 12 ryan yin

    Dr. Landsburg,

    Can I say that I was a bit confused, given the first page of the chapter, by the number of times you use the phrase “I believe” or its equivalent in Chapter 6?

    (I really do say the equivalent of “I believe” quite a bit when espousing the virtues of free trade. I don’t think I say this because I’m a closeted protectionist.)

  13. 13 13 Scott

    Reading this post, my largest objection was to the assumption of what the average devout Christian would do in Jesus’ burial cave. But it seems others have responded to that already, and better than I would have.

    The only other thing I have to add is this: Not to disagree with Deirdre McCloskey, but in my experience, I have found that, while believers easily acknowledge the role that faith plays in their lives, they tend to have much more respect for proof and logic than the typical atheist gives them credit for. I’m sure that many would agree the most “irrational” Christians are the young-earth creationists, who go to such lengths as building huge museums to creationism detailing their arguments. Let me be clear, I think those arguments are scientifically inaccurate. The point is that they do have logical, proof-driven arguments, even if that proof is flawed. Newton was no less a scientist just because Einstein proved him wrong. Young-earth creationists could just as easily throw up their hands and say “God said it so you’re wrong,” and admittedly some do. But most of them who are interested in the subject actually try and learn what evidence they can to support their side.

    I find this entire narrative that atheists are for logic and reason while theists are for wavy hands and not looking too close utterly ridiculous. And, if I may so, I think that’s where the comment of “adolescent insights” comes into play. It’s difficult for adolescents to understand that two perfectly reasonable, logical, honest people can come to two utterly different conclusions.

  14. 14 14 ouchris

    “We humans do not have access to the mind of God”

    It’s these kind of statements from people who are clearly extremely smart that make me go “huh?” I mean, come on. That’s like me saying “Yes but we don’t know the mindset of why Santa Clause flies around and gives kids presents.” Both have about the same probability of having any meaning whatsoever.

    To put it another way, as if you have any idea of the validity of that statement. I think there are enough Deepak Shopra’s in the world.

  15. 15 15 Drew

    Deirdre McCloskey: “Physics requires faith. Anything requires faith.”

    I’ve never really understood this assertion. Why does it? Assumptions, particularly the ones in empirical science that come carefully labeled as “provisional” just aren’t the same thing as religious faith that I can see.

    That’s because doing science doesn’t require me to really BELIEVE that truly and fundamentally the laws of the universe are the same everywhere. Or even that reality exists. And I don’t really. For all I know, I could be a philosophical brain in a jar. I wouldn’t want to run around claiming for certain NOT to be. I might well turn out to be wrong, and I have no way to disconfirm the idea one way or the other. So while I operate as if I’m not, I wouldn’t recite creed claiming not to be.

    But if I’m going to make do in our seemingly common physical reality in the meantime these assumptions seem largely unavoidable IF I’m going to proceed to get anywhere in the possibility of learning something about this apparent universe, and so far it mostly seems to be a helpful assumption. If anyone can show that it’s harmful or confusing, though, that’d be really interesting and exciting, actually. Otherwise, though, we can all just consider our ideas about physics to take place in the context of some provisional assumptions: i.e. elaborate “for the sake of argument, let’s assume….”

    And luckily, the basic assumptions of empiricism and physics also have the helpful characteristic of being roughly the same assumptions that you make every time you sit down in front of your computer and treat it like, well, a computer, instead of a banana, or a giraffe (I mean, why assume that your keyboard won’t be more like a banana today than the keyboard it seemed to be yesterday). So I can always be sure that if someone is responding to me and debating with me, we’re already basically using the same sets of assumptions about the consistency and at least partially know-ability of reality.

    I don’t see how any of the general theistic assumptions have this quality.

    As for sophisticated theology, I think there are two responses. The first is that by and large, the religious belief Dawkins and others address indeed ISN’T sophisticated, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Because it’s both real and far far larger as a cultural force than sophisticated theology. So they are addressing what most religious believers believe, and how and why they believe, rather than the esoteric few.

    The second is that just because there IS sophisticated theology doesn’t mean it’s successful or convincing, or even that people that attack shallower ideas haven’t read it. There is a lot of VERY sophisticated work in academia done that, no doubt, you would find to be utterly wrongheaded or even nonsensical. Is its sophistication of language and thought in and of itself proof that you just haven’t read enough of it?

    I’ve read quite a lot of sophisticated theology. A lot of it is very interesting and enjoyable. But as far as it helps prove things about reality, I generally find that it’s either unconvincing or so vague that it’s not really explaining what it’s really even claiming is true.

    You can claim, as many do, that this is all because the mind and operation of God is too far beyond understanding. But this is not really a good idea, if I may say so. Because the more unintelligible you make claims about God, the more you undermine virtually everything else you might claim about God, reality, or anything else. I.e., the more “rules” you strip away, the more flexibility you give all arguments, for and against God. That’s because we all get to play by the same rules. If “no, I don’t have to explain this” is ok for you, then why can’t I apply that standard to any phenomenon you demand I explain with physics?

    After all, no theologian I’ve ever heard has been able to explain how, say, conscious thought “works,” even though THEIR potential range of explanation is far less limited than that of conventional biology. Shouldn’t this failure be counted as evidence for the materialistic nature of consciousness? After all, when scientists are unable to fully explain the same thing, this is counted as evidence for the supernatural. Of course, scientists studying the brain, while not exactly having an explanation for conscious experience, certainly have come up with a heck of a lot of fascinating insights into the connection between conscious thought and the brain. So there’s that. What book of sophisticated theology can you point to that offers anything close to the level of a high school biology textbook when it comes to providing that level of detailed explanations and validated insights into the nature of thought?

  16. 16 16 Deirdre McCloskey

    Dears,

    I don’t pretend to have such deep knowledge of all this that I can persuade you-all on every point. I’ll be happy if I merely shake your confidence, a little, that you have it all worked out. Or that such questions are easy, slam-bang.

    Two points (as against the many others with which I agree, for example Scott’s point that the anti-evolutionists pay homage to logic and science in their very choice of a rhetoric of “creation science” and the choice to argue with unbelievers):

    To say that physics is based on faith—construed as the identity from which one works, and ON which one works—is not very controversial in itself. The people who are the most self-conscious about it are the children and grandchildren of Thomas Kuhn, Michael Polanyi, Paul Feyerabend. These sages studied science very deeply (Polanyi was a chemist just below Nobel level; his son won it), and they all emphasized that science is human argument, all the way down. Sure, there are stones. But a science of stones interacts with human ways of conceptualizing, and these are faith-full, at any rate in the way that science actually works, in the lab and on the page. That science is faith-based is therefore not such a strange assertion as some of you-all seem to think. Many levels of faith are involved. I take it for example that no one in the present conversation has verified, say, the Bohr atom for herself, but we all believe in it on authority/faith/identity, yes? And the Bohr atom itself is a metaphor (see Nancy Cartwright, How the Laws of Physics Lie). We humans live in a web of words, one of the chief discoveries of the 20th-century. (Or, rather, rediscoveries, because it was known by some Greeks.)

    And, Drew, I don’t share your enthusiasm for brain science. You are honest, because you say precisely and candidly that the brain scientists “while not exactly having an explanation for conscious experience, certainly have come up with a heck of a lot of fascinating insights into the connection between conscious thought and the brain.” Yes. Not exactly an explanation for conscious experience, but a lot of modern phrenology, one might uncharitably put it, about which continent of the brain lights up when we see a bowl of ice cream. Compared to, say, Alvin Platinga (a philosopher of religion at Notre Dame who is well worth reading), the amount we learn about the mind—not the brain, note, but the mind—from brain scientists is, well, not much. The assumption that we are going to learn about what we really want to learn about (conscious experience, mind) by studying the brain is a faith-basing less sensible than that which most educated Anglicans practice, I reckon. (The philosopher Jerry Fodor is eloquent on this point, vs. people like Pinker.) We learn more about the mind from Aquinas (not to speak of Shakespeare) than from rat running or electrode probing, yes?

    My second favorite motto for life is from Oliver Cromwell, sorely vexed by the Scots: “Consider in the bowels of Christ that you may be mistaken.” Good advice!

    Regards,

    Deirdre

  17. 17 17 Walter Sobchak

    Word Prof McCloskey.

    At a minimum, a scientific world view must accept Spinoza’s God. See Jammer, Einstein and Religion. The problem with a scientific world view is that it is crabbed and washed out.

  18. 18 18 Tony Castaldo

    Dierdre, DEAR:

    (Have I struck the right note of implied superiority?)

    You believe because you want to believe; like all of the religious you reason backward from what you WANT to be true (God exists, Christ existed) to the necessary premises; and then like a stage magician reverse the process to produce — voila! God and Christ.

    Without the Bible in hand, it would be impossible to derive Christ from anything on Earth; indeed isn’t that why missionaries must be dispatched to spread the word?

    However, it is quite clear how to derive geometry, mathematics, physics, chemistry and cosmology from reproducible experiments here on Earth. The only thing I take on “faith” is that I am not being lied to about these experiments, and in fact I did enough of them in grade school and high school to see for myself.

    In short, without your emotional belief in what you have been told, you have absolutely no recourse to experimentation to verify that what you have been told is in fact true.

    On the other hand, my faith in what I have been told is not necessary; if I suspect I have been misled I could resort to experimentation; and in fact on almost every point of science for thousands of years people have doubted results and only been convinced by reproducing them. Religion has no such “convincing” mechanism, it relies solely upon emotion. If there is anything a life of science teaches us it is that emotions are not dependable guides to objective reality.

    The faith I apply in science is not nearly as profound as the faith you apply in religion. Without your faith there is no rescue for your conclusions, not a single one of them. The entire edifice crumbles to dust without faith, it does not leave a single stone.

    Faith is simply not central to science in this way; and faith is simply not central to atheism either. I don’t have to know the truth to recognize a self-serving and self-contradicting lie; and that is the crux of the matter. I don’t believe in unicorns, garden fairies, Zeus, Christ or God because there is simply no evidence whatsoever that any of them exist, and plenty of evidence they were simply invented out of whole cloth for a variety of both innocent and nefarious ends.

  19. 19 19 Drew

    “And, Drew, I don’t share your enthusiasm for brain science. You are honest, because you say precisely and candidly that the brain scientists “while not exactly having an explanation for conscious experience, certainly have come up with a heck of a lot of fascinating insights into the connection between conscious thought and the brain.” Yes. Not exactly an explanation for conscious experience, but a lot of modern phrenology, one might uncharitably put it, about which continent of the brain lights up when we see a bowl of ice cream.”

    Well, I of course disagree, because I think they’ve been able to discover all sorts of intriguing things that do seem to weigh in on how my mind works, whether or not it “is” demonstrably just the same thing as my brain.

    For instance, if I am dead-set in a desire to avoid eating too much cake, scientists have discovered that if they give me a long sequence of numbers to try and memorize, then I am far more likely to give into temptation and eat cake when suddenly offered it. It’s as if the rational part of my brain has a finite capacity, and when it is occupied, it’s far less capable of helping me avoid temptations. And yes, brain scans do seem to confirm that different areas of my brain light up in the various permutations of these tasks which seem to correspond to precisely this idea. Denigrating this as “phrenology” seems rather lame.

    Does that tell me exactly what my mind “is” or why it feels “like” something to have one? No. Does it prove that there are no other components of my decision-making floating around that are not made of brain tissue? No. But it is an intriguing insight into how my mind works and what factors play into how it makes decisions. It’s actually useful information, for one thing: it can help me make better decisions (i.e. that resisting temptation isn’t simply a matter of pure, disembodied willpower, but also of self-strategy) and it actually explains some of the techniques that salesmen successfully use to get people to buy things they might not otherwise agree to.

    And it also seems to conform to all sorts of other things we’ve learned about how the brain works. For instance, if you knock out precisely that “rational” side of the brain, my “mind” seems to be altered in a way that pretty much conforms to the expectations we have from what we’ve learned about what various parts of the brain do. I don’t recall any phrenologist proving that they could alter someone’s intelligence by cosmetically adding or removing bumps from the skull.

    That’s still not _everything_, no: and it still doesn’t really answer the question of what the mind IS and why it has a particular internal experience.

    But it’s still a huge degree closer and more informative than ANYTHING I’ve ever seen from a theologian talking about my soul (indeed, I highly recommend Carl Zimmer’s “Soul Made Flesh” for a great intellectual history of thinking about various theories on souls and how that developed over time into thinking about brains).

    Most theologians never even bother to explain what a “soul” is in any intelligible way, much less explain how it goes about making decisions, or why one soul would differ from another, and so on. They aren’t tied down by the limits of natural laws or anything, and they STILL can’t explain what, say, free will IS or how it plays into a given person making a given choice (i.e. can any theologian describe side by side the way beings with or without whatever “free will” is go about making a choice?) . I don’t get why this is inability to produce in the face of nearly limitless imagination supposed to be so impressive.

    “Compared to, say, Alvin Platinga (a philosopher of religion at Notre Dame who is well worth reading), the amount we learn about the mind—not the brain, note, but the mind—from brain scientists is, well, not much.”

    I’ve read a lot of Platinga, in large part because he is a fascinating writer and an exacting logician. But again, that doesn’t mean I find him very convincing when it comes to his core assertions. And I don’t think I’ve ever read from him anything even approaching the question he’s so bold about chiding scientists about: that they cannot explain the mind.

    Well, he can’t either. In fact, he can’t even explain what a “non-material” explanation would even look like in the first place. Most of his work ultimately seems to come down to trying to justify why HE doesn’t have to explain anything: that what he believes is simply true by absolute necessity and thus needs no further mechanistic explanation. This strikes me as ultimately being sort of boring at best, and lazy at worst. It’s also basically giving the game away, because if he doesn’t have to explain anything, why should any of his intellectual rivals?

    “The assumption that we are going to learn about what we really want to learn about (conscious experience, mind) by studying the brain is a faith-basing less sensible than that which most educated Anglicans practice, I reckon.”

    I don’t see why. It’s a big deal that we’ve figured out that, say, MY conscious experience is directly impacted by what happens to MY body, and not yours, and more specifically, that this experience all seems to lead back to something going on in the brain. And not just some unitary something: but something that is DEEPLY and in a very detailed way affected by the particular things that happen to the brain.

    “We learn more about the mind from Aquinas (not to speak of Shakespeare) than from rat running or electrode probing, yes?”

    Aquinas is also a fascinating writer. But I struggle to understand what you really even mean by “learn” here. Aquinas has lots of fascinating things to say, but I don’t see how, after reading it, I’ve “learned” anything about the mind other than learning what _Aquinas_ thinks about it (which is a form of learning, just not demonstrably learning about the mind). To say I’ve learned something about the mind would require some standard of right or wrong claims about the mind.

    Either you concede to a given standard or not. If not, Aquinas is simply whistling in the dark, along with the rest of us. But if so, then I’m afraid we’re going to have to be as equally demanding of Aquinas as we are of scientists, and on that measure, he really doesn’t measure up very helpfully.

    The problem seems to be that you want to hold science to one standard and theology to another. Science tries very hard to meet a very very rigorous standard of evidence, and falls far short in many respects, in large part because it has a hard time dealing with questions that aren’t even very well formed to begin with. But theology has no evidential standard for itself beyond very vaguely reasoned poetry and yet STILL can’t seem to produce even the middling results or insufficient but suggestive explanations that science can. That’s always very disappointing.

    It’s as if we played a game of basketball in which I was forced to play by a strict set of game rules, and you could do literally anything you wanted to try and win… and yet I still managed to make a basket or two while you failed to make any.

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