Monday, June 20, 2011

Moving the goalposts, again

Over at Andrew Sullivan's blog, there's a discussion about psilocybin and the mental states it can induce, including the degree to which such states mimic the 'spiritual awakening' states of deep meditation. Andrew concedes that such states might be purely a matter of brain function, but then follows it with:

But the ultimate source of that feeling of universal beneficence that seems calculated to make humans the happiest and kindest they can be remains a mystery. Perhaps it's all neurons and chemicals - but if they are part of God too, that argument fails.

GAAAAAH! So in other words, it's not brain states, it's God. Oh, there's evidence it may be brain state after all? Well, that's all from God too, so I'm right!

No matter what, there has to be an invisible man behind the curtain, and if you can show it's not where he said it was last week, then we'll just move the invisible man to somewhere else, where you can't find proof just as easy, and sit back smugly as if we've proven something.

No, that argument doesn't 'fail.' If you're the one arguing that the invisible man exists, then it's up to you to show he exists. At one time, the structure of the eye was considered a pretty firm rebuttal to the atheist. Greater understanding of evolutionary processes debunked that... so the definition moved. Every time he moves it, it's always to someplace where the claims are even less testable. Which would be fine, if he weren't making truth-claims about reality. And no matter what, even when he's wrong, he's really right.

Gah. I say again, Gah.