Letters to the Editor - August 2

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Landlords or slum lords?

Dear Editor,

Landlords in the City of Lacombe should have guidelines to follow when renting apartments and houses.

It has come to my attention there are landlords in Lacombe who rent very run down apartments and houses with unsecure locks. The interiors of these properties are unfit to live in, which is very disturbing to the tenants and surrounding homeowners.

Some of these residents are rented by handicapped and senior individuals. The renters not only pay high rent but also pay heat, power and water. Also the lawns are not cut and the steps and walkways are in poor condition. There should be protection for tenants where landlords have to ensure they meet city rental standards.

These standards are to have adequate locks, outside lights, have appliances in excellent condition, walls and floors should be clean and painted and in good condition.

In my opinion the landlords would not live in these conditions. These are slum lords. These landlords who do not live up to the city standards should be given an extravagant fine.

-Joyce Redekopp,
Lacombe, Alta.

More empiricism, less subjective opinion

Dear Editor,

I must admit to finding Mr. Lewis’s style of debate fascinating. He counters John Locke’s call to broad heterodoxy with the statement there are ‘more than 130 English variations of the Bible and at least 33,000 Christian sects, often contradicting one another,’ which highlights the Christian heterodoxy he tries to refute, then rebuts his own argument in his discussion of Locke.  There is no liberty, brotherhood, equality, freedom, etc. in any other social or political system other than classical liberalism. It’s ironic one would attack the beliefs and conclusions of Locke, then list them as a set of values to seek at the end of the letter.

I don’t argue from authority, I merely present an empirical conclusion based on verifiable evidence.  I don’t claim to have some secret understanding of what Enlightenment philosophers meant.  I do claim to have read much of what they wrote.  Superimposing some self-serving fictional interpretation about what a writer meant results in fiction, not history or historical evidence.  Facts don’t care about subjective opinion or whimsical fantasy.

Seeing as Mr. Lewis has done a fair job of refuting his own argument, I’m left to answer the title of his letter: “More science, less Christian privilege.”  His opinions draw heavily on oft-repeated, but historically inaccurate, conjecture about the conflict between Christianity and modern science.

He claimed the Scientific Revolution was the product of adopting inductive reasoning and not Christian fanaticizing about the nature of nature. This is technically incorrect as deductive reasoning is preferred over inductive in the scientific method, and empiricism is designed to remove fantasy from the equation.  The Scientific Revolution resulted from frustration with the limits of Aristotelian Natural Philosophy, entrenched in medieval secular institutions and about half of the Catholic Church, and the desire to separate objective truth from subjective observation (the core of Aristotelian Science).

The goal was a systematic approach to the study of nature, using deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning (in that order) based on reliable evidence.  At the root of empiricism was the belief the universe was governed by intelligible laws created by an intelligent god.  The empirical method was created to study a work of engineering not unguided process and it only works because the subject matter is governed by predictable and consistent laws and not random chance.  For that we turn to the branch of mathematics known as probability theory and much of the scientific method would be redundant.

When discussing motivations behind the Scientific Revolution, one can’t ignore Sir Francis Bacon, the Father of Empiricism and the developer of the scientific method.  Bacon drew heavily on his Christian convictions in his development of empirical science.  In fact, all five primary figures of the Scientific Revolution – Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Bacon himself, Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton – all clearly recorded their motivations came from their belief in a rational creator and consequently, an orderly universe.  Newton’s introduction to Principia Mathematica is quite clear on this issue and Kepler was emphatic about the Christian injunction to seek truth above all else as the key driver of his scientific endeavors.

Again, Mr. Lewis needs to be careful not to attribute the personal ignorance of individual Christians to Christianity, just as Christians mustn’t attribute the ignorance of atheists purely to atheism.  In addition to the big five of the Scientific Revolution, we can add Robert Boyle, Michael Faraday, James Clerk-Maxwell and Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington as devout Christians whose scientific works were foundational to their branches of science.  If one looks at the top 200 scientists of the 17th century, the ‘Golden Age of Science’, all but three were Christians and 50 per cent were devoutly Christian.  The Scientific Revolution is characterized by its lack of skeptics, not its domination by them.

The idea Christianity and science are incompatible or mutually exclusive is based on ignorance and deliberate misinformation, the prime example of which is the late 19th century ‘Conflict Thesis’ by John William Draper and Andrew Dixon White.  The commentators make the same mistake as Mr. Lewis, labelling the dogma of a specific branch of Catholicism as Christianity and then defeating their own straw man.  Had Draper and White’s work been scientific, it would’ve fit the definition of pseudoscience, where the observer only considers evidence supporting their preexisting hypothesis, assumptions or beliefs.  This is in direct opposition to empiricism, the foundational principle behind modern science.

This dichotomy between proponents of secular dogma and the historical evidence is stark.  The overwhelming historical evidence makes such dogma precisely what the secular accusation claims to refute: dogmatic superstition.  In astrophysics and cosmology, we still see the reverberations of such dogma in the resistance to the emerging evidence of a beginning to space-time in the mid-1960s, which came from secular scientists like Sir John Maddox, then-editor of “Nature” magazine.   Despite being a biologist who should have little opinion about cosmology, Sir John fought to hang on to Aristotle’s infinite universe model as a counter position to Genesis 1:1. Up to his death in 2009 he continued efforts to find scientific justification for readopting an Aristotelian model.   There are plenty of flat earthers on both sides of this discussion.

What we need is more objective empiricism based on evidence and less subjective opinion based on personal whim.

-Stewart Staudinger