Saturday, February 16, 2008

How Ethics Differ in Students with Diffeent Worldviews

Philosophers are resorting to actual experimentation to answer moral questions. Recently an experiment was conducted to see if the worldviews of different students made a difference in their ethical approach to testing. As though to prove the quote I lifted from Voddie Bahcham correct, the data from the experiment indicated what anyone with the good sense God gave a sheep should instinctively know; that students who are taught that they are meaningless bags of electro-charged biochemicals won't have a problem cheating to answer questions correctly. The control were students who received no such indoctrination.

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2 Comments:

Blogger NaturallySelectable said...

The AiG article on this experiment is typical of the kind of distortion that creationists apply to science in order to further an agenda that includes religious indoctrination in public schools.

The study did not in any way address god or evolution, but rather was a study in free will. One group was "taught that science disproves the notion of free will and that the illusion of free will was a mere artifact of the brain's biochemistry whereas others got no such indoctrination." (ScienceDaily, 1 Feb 2008)

The students who were given the excuse that free will does not exist were more likely to cheat.

The argument against free will can be drawn either way. If you believe in an omniscient god, then when he created you, he knew the outcome of every situation you would ever experience. If he was also omnipotent, then he must have likewise determined all of those experiences beforehand. Thus, a belief in an omnipotent and omniscient god is equivalent to a belief in determinism or a lack of free will. Indeed, there are major denominations within Christianity that have historically accepted this philosophy.

On the other hand, a consequence of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in modern physics on the microscopic level is that reality is only a set of probabilities, and these probabilities do not resolve into events until they are observed. As of yet, there is no known mechanism that determines which will appear as the reality, thus allowing room for free will of the observer influencing the observed.

So the moral of the story could be interpreted thus: Trust a nuclear physicist over a Calvinist any day. But I will not imitate the dishonest tactics of AiG by painting this into the "creationism vs. evolution" mold. Instead, I will draw the same conclusion as the authors of the study:

People with a belief in FREE WILL are less likely to cheat and steal than people with a belief in PREDESTINATION.

Since neither creationism nor evolution directly addresses this question, the study has no bearing on the argument.

But even if it did, the effects of a "worldview" on the behavior of humans has no bearing one way or the other on the overwhelming evidence in support of common ancestry with variation and natural selection. Reality does not conform to the way you would like it to be.

Tue Feb 19, 05:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Jim Pemberton said...

You said:

“The study did not in any way address god or evolution, but rather was a study in free will.”

And later:

“People with a belief in FREE WILL are less likely to cheat and steal than people with a belief in PREDESTINATION.”

These two statements don’t go together.

When discussing free will, one must understand the import of the presence of many differing theological and philosophical definitions of free will to the extent that this must be defined. If it is truly about free will, then the presuppositional foundation was given in the context of naturalistic philosophy, not reformed theology. Your argument puts reformed theology squarely in the naturalistic camp as a generalization rather than an exception. The two positions are presuppositionally incompatible. As such, the bulk of your argument is incomprehensible.

Actually, it’s not likely that the kids really bought the ideology as much as they thought that the test givers bought that ideology. This is sociological normalization. The indoctrinated kids were emboldened to cheat because they were given a plausible argument to justify their desires. The other kids exhibited more self-control because they didn’t have the same sociological normalization. It illustrates more than anything the depravity of human beings.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle concerns the observation of objects small enough to change significantly through the detection process itself thus nullifying particular results. The idea that one observes a sample and applies the results statistically to unobserved objects is the substance of the HUP. There’s no call to derive metaphysical philosophies mystically from this otherwise practical understanding any more than one can use general relativity to support relativism.

“So the moral of the story could be interpreted thus: Trust a nuclear physicist over a Calvinist any day.”

I guess this puts nuclear physicists who are Calvinists in a moral dilemma.

“I will not imitate the dishonest tactics of AiG by painting this into the "creationism vs. evolution" mold.”

You don’t have to if you draw your own false dichotomy. I say that tongue in cheek My point is that your perception of the argument comes from a different presupposition as the one that AiG uses. That’s also why your statement here seems to indicate that you believe that the staff of AiG know what you believe to be the real truth and are intentionally trying to deceive people. You haven’t stopped to consider that AiG really believes what they say they believe. If you think that they really do believe what they say, then you have just leveled a good ad hominem argument at them. It’s not the first one, but you’ve been more considerate than most. Wanna try for a straw man? I’d say you’ve been close to this common fallacy, but only unintentionally. That’s why I think you really believe this statement you made:

“But even if it did, the effects of a "worldview" on the behavior of humans has no bearing one way or the other on the overwhelming evidence in support of common ancestry with variation and natural selection.”

No one is saying it does. As for the “overwhelming evidence in support of common ancestry”, there is none.

“Reality does not conform to the way you would like it to be.”

I agree wholeheartedly. Same to ya’. That’s why I’m after the truth no matter what it is.

Tue Feb 19, 04:08:00 PM GMT-5  

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