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The preposterous assertions of Douglas Wilson

In a recent debate with Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Wilson, who evidently has published a book on logic of all things and has read philosophy, made some claims that really astounded me.

In his closing statement (as well as at the beginning of the debate) he "argues" that in a universe that is just an accident, just particles whizzing around, how could there are in a subset of it (humanity) a knowledge of how it came there.

It must be said that we ought to question Mr. Wilson's competence to publish a book on logic and to read philosophy when he actually deems this worthy of the term "argument".

Aside from the fact that Mr. Wilson ought to know that he is presented a false dichotomy in intending this to support his theism, he also made the following claim:

"Not one single atheist" he knows has ever tried to answer that question.


Now I think that's a very astounding conclusion. Perhaps he has never actually read any significant philosophy - or at least he must have failed to understand the whole enterprise. In any case, he does seem to have no idea whatsoever about the tradition ranging from the stoa to Hume to the modern Naturalists have worked on exactly that question. Not to mention the contribution of biology, the modern neurosciences, systems theory and so forth.

People have worked on this question for a long, taking nothing for granted except for rules of logic and critical reason - who have looked at the world around them, investigated what we can know about it methodologically, take the established body of empirical data and scientific findings and integrate mentality and our attempts at explaining the world and our place in it!

Mr. Wilson simply does not seem to know about this, yet he makes grand claims about exactly this subject, in implying that a)a naturalistic worldview cannot allow for order, life and mentality and b)theism can explain this.

He talks a lot about "truth and beauty" being related - which just shows his irrational conviction that his own aesthetic judgement can determine, without any cogent arguments (but with a lot of non-sequiturs and outright falsehoods) demonstrate that the mysticism he advocates has any value whatsoever. Mysticism can easily be claimed to explain everything - while actually it explains nothing.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of outstandingly brilliant people have put hard work into understanding how it is that in a world of atoms there should be molecules, stars, animals and even mentality. Actual understanding - not being so complacent and/or dogmatic, indoctrinated and compartmentalizing as to assume that in contrast to such heavy explanatory lifting as has been done by these people, a retroactive rationalization of mythology created by people who knew nothing of the universe compared to us.

Someone ought to write to the university that employs him and ask how he can be deemed competent in the matters where he claims or assumes competence. The education of a lot of people is potentially at stake here.

Comments

(Anonymous)

Useless to try

Wilson is a professor at a private Christian college called Grey Friars.

(Anonymous)

"in a universe that is just an accident, just particles whizzing around, how could there are in a subset of it (humanity) a knowledge of how it came there."

So how does it help to make up an external "knowledge source"... In the theist version, does God have knowledge of how he came to be, or rather why he has always existed? How does he know this stuff?

-windy