So I stopped believing in capitalism when I started believing in the internet, which is to say that what I want isn't capitalism, but that which I thought was synonymous with it: the low barriers to entry, the fact that truly anonymous people can put themselves or their kids through college with initiative and a good idea (or even stupid idea). How empowering that is! But this desirable confluence of opportunists and opportunity came along with a bureaucracy or two, and a measure of centralization, which I had previously believed antithetical to the freedom needed to "put ideas into action" (if you'll forgive my stagnantly Hillary Clintonesque phrasing). I couldn't move away from capitalism until I realized I wasn't losing anything at all.
This brings us to blogger Santi Tafarella, who may or may not be a dualist. Santi has responded favorably to Intelligent Design (but may or may not subscribe to it), and has been receptive to global warming skepticism (but may or may not think the skepticism warranted), and, though this last one is different, is critical of new atheism (but is himself an agnostic). In a similar spirit you'll find the title of nearly half his blog posts end in a question mark.
Santi made an admirably candid admission in justifying his own ambivalence, which, in one of its forms is essentially an ambivalence with respect to the truth of naturalism.
I absorb your critique of me taking to hand anybody who puts forth a plausible anti-naturalist argument that keeps me in my agnostic abivalence. I like agnosticism. It gives me a space for irony and emotional range that I can’t find in theism or atheism. I like the Whitmanesque freedom of swinging all sorts of ways, and dropping into the shoes of others. It’s a personality thing. I think people who are atheists and theists also have personal motivations for their beliefs, and contingent (not just rational) reasons for arriving at their beliefs.
Santi, you use this ambivalence as an opportunity to pose questions, to occupy that space of contemplative wonder, analogous to what many of us might claim we are doing when we make music.
So, where most of us would wash our hands of (for instance) Intelligent Design and walk away, you perceive a spiritual space closing up, and come to the defense of the indefensible Michael Behe. For fear of so-called new atheists closing the debate on the truth of religion entirely (which seems to have nearly happened in analytic philosophy circles), you defend discredited ideas and regard their gangrenous creep into the philosophical establishment with sympathy.
Let me make clear that my quarrel is not with ambivalence itself, but ambivalence about truth claims, as though each next question and attempted answer is just another excercize in a normal life of spiritual creativity. There is a difference between the creative activity of imagining something to be true, and literally suggesting something is true. Naturally this same imaginative capacity must be at play in understanding new things about the world, and bringing ourselves before an open question seems always to inspire what is called a religious feeling. But many (I would say most) activities of spiritual exertion have nothing whatsoever to do with this, nor should they.
When George Will says that "God, supposedly, and Wrigley Field, actually, are perfect" what should we take to be his meaning that Wrigley Field is "perfect"? Surely the field came first and perfection grew into it. If I didn't know what baseball was, if I couldn't think that the team in some sense represented me and that their victories were mine, I would see no perfection there. But if I'm a Cubs fan it gives me a history, it gives me numerous openings for investing empathy and hope.
Not unlike a slug, we glide along a surface of our own flesh and the payoffs are reflective of that investment (though one might object that the Cubs don't offer much in the way of emotional payoff). What this should make clear is that Wrigley Field isn't actually perfect, but by spending time there and accumulating experiences, the joy spills over into every accidental association until there is no friction, and Wrigley Field appears to be the platonic form of perfection. In truth it was only a vessel.
There is nothing wrong with vessels, and it's true that they really can be fountains of spiritual wonder even when the vessels are completely artificial constructions (as I think religion is). The problem is that these must be physicalised, actualized, the word must be made flesh, as it were. If you've ever really loved dancing, for instance, you'll know that it brings out the feeling that you really have a role in creating the music, just as important, just as participatory as if you were plucking the strings yourself.
And I recall once, bringing groceries out to my car to find a church flier on my dashboard. It had started raining while I was inside, and someone had rolled up my windows for me. If no flier was left, perhaps I wouldn't have even noticed the act of compassion. But, more than an act of compassion, leaving the flier made clear that it was a religious act of compassion. I think the kind person, whoever she was, was "doing God's work" in more ways than she realized.
Unfortunately, one way of acting creatively is to insist on a truth claim, to stand for it, to in some sense defend it and live for it. "I know there are angels out there, making sure my breaks won't fail!" I wouldn't suggest that there is no exertion of passion in the preceding claim. But the kernel of inspiration motivating the truth claim is misattributed to something that really isn't there. And this entails a tornado of confusions, as you mistakenly defend angels in your car, mistaking your flaring heartstrings, and your right to them, for evidence of something else.
This class of creative acts, apart from others, must be attended with responsibility, precisely because it mingles evidence claims with the freedom and fruits of introspection, the latter of which everyone is right to defend furiously. And when an evidence claim becomes so personalized admitting you are wrong is like killing yourself. Most of us just won't do it, and couldn't.
Lukeprog of Common Sense Atheism summed up well when talking about Christian apoligist William Lane Craig's approach to evidence:
Basically, Craig defends his faith against the evidence the same way my mom does – “I know because I know that I know that I know.” And that’s it. “I know in my heart that Christianity is true, and I know my heart is right because my heart tells me it is right.”
And thus, I think, Santi misperceives his heart as being between the jaws of an atheism-theism divide. And in valiant defense of it, you get such spectacles as an embarrassingly bad defense of Michael Behe, wherein Santi implies that it is reasonable to doubt random mutation can produce macroevolutionary changes, which any casual stroll through wikipedia might easily disabuse one of. To that I say, Santi, no! Your heart is over here!
(In the four wiki links referenced above, the third one directly addresses Behe's skepticism about how random mutation works, the others deal with general arguments made by William Lane Craig.)