Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sounds like something PZ Myers would say…. Really?

In this post on his blog “Pharyngula” PZ Myers publishes the following cartoon with the comment “Sounds like something I would say except that you wouldn’t find me in a foxhole”.

(Click to enlarge)

The most natural interpretation here is that PZ is referring to the large speech bubble in the cartoon. But this is extraordinary! Would PZ really say: “I’m not denying the possibility of the existence of any forms of higher intelligence beyond the scope of our comprehension”? Is this the PZ Myers we have come to know? I suppose “higher intelligence” could refer to evolved aliens, but if so then it might be claimed that beings who share origins similar to our own are not entirely beyond the scope of our comprehension! If such possible and yet unspecified "higher intelligence" is beyond our comprehension then perhaps that may include the origins of that intelligence; perhaps that intelligence always existed, or perhaps it has a necessary existence (Asiety)…. perhaps that unknown intelligence is the most natural candidate for that vexing appellation…..shhh!….God!

For a long time now I have kept banging on about formal “test tube precipitating science” facing increasing epistemological problems as the ontology it deals with gets more complex. Accordingly we must develop what Nassim Nicholas Talib calls “epistemological humility”. For that reason the cartoon’s expression of science’s diffidence toward mysterious epistemologically intractable objects such as “forms of higher intelligence beyond our comprehension” is not at all untoward – in fact as a pensive theist I could almost say along with PZ “Sounds like something I would say”! This is encouraging – it may mean that PZ is not as sold out to “scientism” as I thought, but I don't think PZ will be setting up an altar "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD" just yet! (Acts 17:23)

Roman altar to an unknown deity

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