Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hired guns

i) Moral debates sometimes appeal to science. For instance, contemporary proponents of transgender rights sometimes appeal to alleged neurological evidence of gender dysphoria. 

Scientific appeals can put Christians at a disadvantage. After all, most Christians (as well as most unbelievers) lack the training to evaluate scientific claims. That's even more so in the case of "cutting-edge" science in contrast to "settled" science.

ii) Keep in mind that appeals to science cut both ways. For instance, it's a scientific fact that homosexual activity is very destructive. 

iii) Another problem is when scientific results are rushed to corroborate a social agenda. For instance, "gay rights" didn't begin with a scientific theory of homosexual orientation. Rather, it began with a notion of "social justice." The scientific justification, if any, was an ex post facto rationalization of a position motivated by considerations having nothing to do with science. The same is true for transgender rights. 

iv) Apropos (iii), it's amusing to see the sudden shift in arguments for transgender rights. The argument used to be that gender is just a social construct. Now, however, some proponents are asserting that it's hardwired. They adopt arguments and ditch arguments depending on whatever's political expedient at the moment.

Just a few years ago, the search for a "gay gene" was all the rage. But that's dampened down somewhat, because, at best, that's scientifically simplistic. 

v) And this brings me to my final point and major point. Social activists begin with a political agenda, then cast about for scientific evidence to prove their foregone conclusion. 

It reminds me of expert witnesses for hire. Corporations and rich defendants often hire expert witnesses to testify in their defense. This can happen in murder trials, where guilt or innocence depends on forensic evidence. It can happen in malpractice suits. Or suing tobacco companies or pharmaceutical companies. Law-suits involving scientific technicalities.

The prosecution has a theory of the crime. The prosecution then shops around for an expert witness to support its theory of the crime. The defense may have an alternative theory of the crime. Or it may simply poke holes in the prosecution's theory. In any case, the defense shops around for an expert witness to support its alternative theory of the crime, or debunk the prosecution's theory of the crime. 

Notice the pattern. Both sides begin with what they want to prove, then find an expert witness to argue their position. The prosecution calls an expert witnesses to implicate the accused while the defense calls an expert witnesses to exonerate the accused. 

This is all "scientific." Expert witnesses typically have very impressive credentials. The point is, though, that you can find an expert witness to scientifically defend anything the prosecution's theory of the crime requires. Or scientifically impugn the credibility of the prosecution's case. Whatever the defense or prosecution requires, an expert witness is readily available. In trials like this, you have distinguished expert witnesses scientifically contradicting each other's scientific testimony. 

That's something to keep in mind when social activists appeal to "scientific evidence" for homosexual orientation, gender dysphoria, global warming, macroevolution, &c. Think of hired guns at trials who argue both sides of the case.


  1. Such arguments as you mention also betray a naive, touching, but seriously flawed faith in 'science' (whatever they deem 'science' to be). The scientific method is a handy tool, but it is hardly infallible, and is being used by fallible, wicked human beings, all of whom are in denial about something, and many of whom are in denial about the most important facts of life, the universe, and everything. It's actually amazing we can get anything scientific done. We are fools if we allow supposed scientific 'evidence' to skew our moral thinking out of its proper ken.

  2. Steve -- Social activists begin with a political agenda, then cast about for scientific evidence to prove their foregone conclusion.

    This is precisely how "The Roman Catholic Hermeneutic" works:

    Rather than trying to understand the text, and then allowing it to speak its word, the Roman Catholic starts with modern Roman doctrine, and then uses Biblical texts in such a way that they can seemingly provide support for those doctrines.

    This is just one more reason why the Roman Catholic Church has been such an evil all through its history: Celibate men sit around applying scholastic scrutiny to find and exploit the loopholes in any system.