Monday, January 29, 2007

The ODoR of Howard Van Till

Over at The Secular Outpost, Taner Edis passed along a bit of information about Howard Van Till, formerly a physics professor at Calvin College. He links to the written version of a talk given by Van Till last May to the Freethought Association of West Michigan in which he describes his journey from Calvanist dogmatism to (still Christian?) free-thought. Central to his talk/paper is the concept of one's Operative Depiction of Reality (ODoR), somewhat similar to a worldview but perhaps even larger in scope.

He touches on a number of points that reflect my own experience and observations. For instance, I have asserted that beliefs can produce positive effects without the subject of the belief being true. Van Till writes "The fact that one’s ODoR exhibits many utilitarian values does not ensure that any particular portion of it is true."

The paper is only ten pages long, and well worth reading.

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