Monday, February 4, 2008

The scourge (and stupidity) that is postmodernism

Sometimes it's not just academic follies, sometimes it spills out into the real world. Seems there's a recent law review article posted that makes the argument:

  • The government is required by the constitution to be neutral on matters of religion, and therefore to treat all "ways of knowing" as equal;
  • Science (specifically evolution) focuses on natural causes, rejecting supernatural causes out of hand, without even considering them, and is therefore itself a belief system, a type of religion;
  • Therefore for govt to endorse science, particularly evolution, is to forcibly indoctrinating students into the "religion" of secular humanism, and compelling them to undergo religious instruction;
  • while instead the constitution clearly requires government to remain "neutral" and teach "alternative" theories, explicitly including supernatural ones.
Yes, the fundamentalists are adopting the language of postmodernism to "prove" that creationism should be taught in schools.

See, this is why us geeks make such a big deal about rigorous logic, clear definitions, etc. It can be shown (relatively easily) that if a logical system has a contradiction anywhere, it is possible to prove anything in that system, no matter how absurd. Of course, there are several problems with this argument, including weasel words, non sequiturs, and so on; it's not a solid argument. But why didn't the law journal catch that? Don't they review articles? Doesn't anyone notice such leaps of logic? I was under the impression lawyers were trained in such things... Perhaps I was misinformed.

Fortunately, in this particular case at least, there's a blistering point-by-point rebuttal... But the fact the original article ever got published in the first place is scary.

[h/t: Ed Brayton]

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