December 09, 2011

Cat, meet New Ager

I'm sure at least a few of you have heard by now about Daniel, the cat with 26 toes.

Here's the part of the story I "love":
"I've always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and this is definitely the case," said Amy Rowell, owner of Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center in Greendale.
Other than to say that, in this case, the "reason" was genetic mutation, in all likelihood, followed by possibly epigenetic mutation, no further comment is needed, or warranted.

This then gets to issues of Gnu Atheism vs. secular humanism. I'd not go out of my way to prick Ms. Rowell's bubble, but, had she said that to a group of which I was a party, I would have either made the serious comment above in a sarcastic voice, or else asked the sarcastic rhetorical question, "And the reason was?"

Assuming she answered "god" or "higher power" or whatever, I would then disabuse her of that. Or disabuse her of the idea that was a rational thought.

And, I can catblog instead of scatblog on a Friday!


Sheldon said...
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Sheldon said...

"Cause" or "Reason" ?

It could be argued that they are different you know.

Gadfly said...

To inject a bit of Aristotelean ideas on causes and a bit of language analysis with it, I would say that, in talk like the animal shelter person's, or similar, about "reasons" for something, that:

"Cause" is to "reason" as "proximate cause" is to "final cause" or "ultimate cause."

Therefore, with that backgrounder, calling "reason" a cause is accurate and legitimate. It seems clear that in such cases, the person is referring to a final cause, whether an impersonal New Agey Higher Power (hence the post title, since the shelter owner didn't mention gOd by name) or a personal divinity.

In light of this, the shelter owner might fully agree that genetics is the *proximate* cause but would reject me stating that it's the final cause as well, since it is the only cause.