Jun 03 2011

Creationist Politicians

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421 responses so far

421 Responses to “Creationist Politicians”

  1. Kawarthajonon 03 Jun 2011 at 11:57 am

    Steve,

    I have to object to you calling politicians “ideologues”. While I will concede that some, maybe even many, are, you cannot paint all of them with the same brush without committing some sort of logical fallacy yourself. There are policiticians who are defenders of science and there are others, who might fit into a more moderate range, who may hold beliefs but aren’t extreme enough to be referred to as ideologues.

    Anyway, I agree with the rest of your article and it is amazing how ideology can distort a person’s sense of reality.

  2. mufion 03 Jun 2011 at 12:04 pm

    “Idealogue” is a rather loaded and ambiguous term. That said, in what sense are politicians “idealogues”? And did you mean to include all politicians or just some, like those who attempt to pass laws that challenge the scientific consensus (whether the issue be creationism, global warming, or something else)?

  3. mufion 03 Jun 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Sorry, I posted before seeing Kawarthajon’s comment, which is overlaps with mine.

  4. Nikolaon 03 Jun 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Maybe it was a bit of a broad generalization, but the point stands, imho.
    The language of the politician is obfuscation, while the language of the scientist is discovery and revelation.

  5. Karl Withakayon 03 Jun 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Micro time vs macro time:
    I can see the second hand move on my watch, so micro time of seconds is real, but I cannot perceive the movement of the hour had on my watch, so the macro time of hours does not exist.

    As to the distinction of species, I suggest the representative look up “ring species” in Wikipedia or Google.

    The word species is a term invented by humans, not nature. It is normally a very useful term and concept, but nature is not bound by our definitions of words or the labels we use, such as the words planet, sun, moon, or species.

    The nature of an object is not defined or controlled by our definition of that object. Pluto is what it is, regardless of how we label it.

  6. eeanon 03 Jun 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I still think this law is pointless.. we know science teachers across the country are terrorified of their creationist students and their parents. This law won’t change that.

    My great high school biology teacher taught evolution in the context of teaching about the scientific process in general. first we learned about some of the other origin theories (eg Lamark) and then Darwin, Mendel inheritance etc. so she would be fine with this law as well.

    so really I think if this is the best they got, then we can say we won defensively in the state capitols. The battles of this cultural war are now in the classroom, I’m not sure you can legislate on the problem of fearful teachers one way or another.

  7. mufion 03 Jun 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Nikola, “discovery and revelation” may be the ideal language of the scientist. Do all scientists live up to it? I doubt it, but I agree that they should.

    Similarly, I would say that the ideal language of the politician is (to borrow from linguist George Lakoff) that of a “moral mission” towards “protection and empowerment.” Promoting creationism in the classrooms does not (as far as I can tell) fit that mission, and any politician who pursues that goal is an embarrassment to the profession.

    Fortunately, not all politicians fit that description (particularly in my region of the country). And the share of them that do seems to be concentrated in the Bible Belt, where a different view of government’s mission is also dominant; namely, one that accords with a Strict Father model of morality, which emphasizes obedience to authority (e.g. the Lord, as interpreted by clergy and Scripture).

  8. Steven Novellaon 03 Jun 2011 at 1:42 pm

    While of course there is a spectrum, and some politicians manage to be quite pragmatic – politics is an inherently ideological game. Still – I should have added some qualifiers to that sentence so that it did not come off so absolute.

  9. mufion 03 Jun 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Steve, I now feel obliged to cite some definitions (using the Merriam-Webster online dictionary), starting with “ideological”:

    1: relating to or concerned with ideas
    2: of, relating to, or based on ideology

    According to the broad implications of 1, even science is “an inherently ideological game”, so I suppose that we should turn to “ideology”:

    1: visionary theorizing
    2a : a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture b : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture c : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

    Here again, 1 may characterize certain tasks in science (e.g. the hypothesis and interpretive stages); 2a may characterize the “systematic body of concepts” of specific fields, like evolutionary biology and “especially” the social sciences; and 2b the “manner or the content of thinking characteristic” of individual scientists or the scientific community, in general.

    That leaves 2c, about which I would agree that, in this sense (and only in this sense), it is fair to say that politics is “an inherently ideological game” in a way that science is not, or at least is not supposed to be, given the norms of the latter profession.

  10. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 2:56 pm

    @eean

    This law is far from pointless, since if it is passed school boards will be able to design curriculum with specific questions like “how could the eye have evolved if all it needs all its parts to work together?” or “why does nature work if its the product of random chance?”

    even if most teachers shy away from evolution, now they will be required to give anti-evolution arguments the appearance of credibility.

  11. jreon 03 Jun 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Within the context of this post, the “ideologue” comment seems perfectly reasonable to me. You are, after all, drawing a contrast between scientists (understood generally) and a group of people who are inalterably wedded to an ideology. Do scientists, being human, sometimes act or speak from ideological motivation? Sure. Do politicians, also being human, sometimes exceed our expectations and act or speak from evidence and reason? Absolutely. The fact that exceptions may be found in both camps does not make the broad conclusion invalid.

    Here’s another example from the bill:

    Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrator shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.

    Well, I’m sure that some of us are relieved that administrators will now have to stop prohibiting teachers from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review. Others among us may consider this to be the best example of weasel-wording to come down the pike in several moons. Still others among us may object: “Hey! What’s wrong with weasel-words? Weasel-words are the only thing that separates us from the animals. Except, of course, the weasels.”

  12. mufion 03 Jun 2011 at 3:08 pm

    PS: I suppose that one could broaden my interpretation of “sociopolitical program” to include any body of evidence- or science-based political issues/causes, such as those that drive the Union of Concerned Scientists). Granted, the “assertions” part of that same definition is particularly problematic for scientists, but only insofar as they claim to state facts. Insofar as they merely state their values (e.g. public health), they are on safe ground – as are politicians.

  13. Steven Novellaon 03 Jun 2011 at 3:18 pm

    mufi,

    The process of politics is dominated by ideology, in the sense politicians adhere to a certain philosophy or world view as the determining factor in their political choices. The number of legislative votes that are largely or completely down party lines is good evidence in support of this. There is an “ideological to pragmatic” spectrum among politicians, and I prefer the pragmatists, but this is within a spectrum already skewed largely to the ideological side.

    Whereas the very nature of science is anti-ideological – it is the use of observation and experiment to figure out how the world works, and to control for bias and ideology – even to break free from ideology.

    I don’t think a narrow reading of Webster is reflecting these nuances.

  14. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I never cease to be amazed by you atheist ‘skeptics’. You are inveterate censors, using professional destruction and legal force to prevent people from asking questions about your ideology that you (thinly) disguise as science.

    The academic freedom bills like the ones in Tenn and Louisiana mean just what they say. They protect teachers (from people like you) who help students:

    “understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.”

    What, exactly, is wrong with that? Of course, you don’t like their ‘motives’, although you don’t seem to have a problem with the atheist motives of 99% of evolutionary biologists who proclaim their materialist creation myth a ‘scientific fact’. If motives, rather than evidence, is the problem, your motives are every bit as ‘unconstitutional’ as are the motives of the creationists.

    And if it’s facts, not motives, that matter, why do you have a problem with critical discussion of facts?

    Why not let people speak freely, in schools and everywhere, and you can make your best argument, and they’ll make theirs, and people can decide for themselves. That’s how a free society works.

    I am astonished and enraged by the censorship that has become the default tactic of the atheist ‘scientific’ community. No scientist should ever be opposed to an academic freedom bill. I don’t give a damn what the “motives” are. Academic freedom, especially for ideas you don’t like, is the indispensable foundation of science.

    And if the “creationists” (i.e. the taxpayers and the parents of the schoolchildren) try to teach “creationism”, you can always railroad them into federal court, get an injunction, and threaten them with financial ruin and jail to shut them up. You’ve done it many times; no reason to stop now.

    Why use such totalitarian tactics?

  15. Dianeon 03 Jun 2011 at 3:36 pm

    @robm

    I’m not convinced that addressing those kind of questions “gives anti-evolution arguments the appearance of credibility” as you say. In fact, I think it’s a good idea, especially for teachers in communities where most kids are hearing creationist propaganda outside the classroom. It is probably impossible to teach evolution to kids who have already been biased against it if you *don’t* explicitly address creationist arguments.

  16. mufion 03 Jun 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Steve, remember this gem from Lewis Carroll:

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    That’s how your response came across to me (Webster’s be damned!).

    Anyway, I agree that science aspires to those goals (as it should). But I would also say that its mission is inherently different from that of politics, and that to judge one profession strictly by the standards of another seems like a categorical error.

    Better, I think, just to acknowledge that politics is more obviously influenced by the moral values and interests of those involved (as it should). And, ideally, the policies that follow will also reflect the best (scientific) information available. But, sadly, it seems like that’s too often not the case.

  17. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I agree with Diane.

    Censorship of critical discussion in science classes won’t work anyway, and will probably backfire on you in the long run. Kids have extraordinary access to information about this debate (parents, friends, churches, internet, etc). Your censorship of discussion in classrooms is largely irrelevant to the educational issues, which will be determined by forces that are way beyond your control.

    If I were an atheist and I were gullible (stupid) enough to believe that evolution was unguided, I would still support critical discussion in classrooms. My reasons:

    1) I’d want the kids to hear the issues in a science classroom where I (an atheist scientist) had at least a little bit of influence.

    2) I hate censorship.

  18. HHCon 03 Jun 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Ideology can be a set of beliefs, or attitudes that form an individual’s social network, including political or economic theories. Politicians have a base of support, ( electability). If some politicians are pragmatists, then those prefer to negotiate their positions (reasoning towards a goal for their base of support.) Politicians are elected on their ideology unless they are running on their name for power/ glory.

    Scientists can be ideologues, for example, in social psychology I had two Catholic professors who presented their anti-abortion views in a manner as follows: 1. I was only allowed to do a meta-analysis of abortion studies which presented the females as mentally disturbed by the abortion experience or 2. I presented a research project on abortion with projected mathematical predictions of beliefs based on positive integers. The consensus of the professors felt the study had potential. The Catholic professor insisted on the use of negative integers. That style of research was not reasonable for me, I’m pro-choice.

  19. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 3:58 pm

    @Diane

    You make a good point, but the point of the law is to allow teachers to raise doubts, not to have teachers pose these questions and then give the answers that clearly refute them. If I had to design a highschool biology curriculum (which I am in no way qualified to do) I would have a section on evolution, and a section afterward debunking anti evolution arguments.

    The whole idea here is to change ID into ID? under the guise of critical thinking and just asking questions.

  20. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 4:10 pm

    @Mike12

    2+2=5 is not promoting critical thinking in math, giving Kennedy and 9/11 conspiracy arguments treatment in history class is not freedom of information its lending a superficial veneer of credibility to crackpots.

    Opposing creation arguments having a forum in public schools is not about censoring creationism because the kids couldn’t handle it, its ensuring good curriculum. I personally don’t have a problem with kids being exposed to an evolution faq where they see creationist questions are either answerable that yes evolution is true, or improper framing (has Darwin stopped beating his wife?).

  21. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 4:14 pm

    @robm:

    “I would have a section on evolution, and a section afterward debunking anti evolution arguments. The whole idea here is to change ID into ID? under the guise of critical thinking and just asking questions.”

    To debunk “anti-evolution” arguments in a classroom, you must concede that such arguments are constitutionally permissible in a classroom. You can’t debunk something that you’re not permitted to discuss.

    And I’m amused by your choice of the words “under the guise of critical thinking” to describe your approach to curriculum. Is ‘the “pro-evolution” viewpoint merely the “guise of critical thinking”? Do you mean it’s not really arrived at by critical thinking? What then could motivate it, pray tell?

    I admire your candor.

  22. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 4:27 pm

    @Mike12

    “Do you mean it’s not really arrived at by critical thinking?”

    Actually evolution arrived at by critical thinking and multiple lines of evidence, each of which requires more education to understand than can be covered in a single year of high school biology.

    “you must concede that such arguments are constitutionally permissible in a classroom”

    This depends on intent and context if they are presented in the same way as the flat earth or Aristotle’s physics i don’t see a problem, allowing a rebuttal from those theories and leaving it at that is bad policy.

    I admire your sophistry, wait no I dont

  23. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 4:28 pm

    @robm:

    @Mike12

    “2+2=5 is not promoting critical thinking in math, giving Kennedy and 9/11 conspiracy arguments treatment in history class is not freedom of information…”

    Actually, there’s a ton of leftist bullshit taught in public schools, especially in history and social studies, but that’s a matter for local people to decide for their own kids in their own schools. I don’t think that teaching that promotes Kennedy or 9-11 conspiracies (those exceptional leftist tropes that aren’t in the curriculum) is good education.

    On the other hand, a reasonable argument can be made for including discussion of such matters in social studies curriculum and pointing out the factual problems with such conspiracies. The kids are going to hear them anyway. You might as well discuss them in a rational forum.

    What is beyond dispute is that federal judges have no role in such curricular matters whatsoever.

    “Opposing creation arguments having a forum in public schools is not about censoring creationism because the kids couldn’t handle it, its ensuring good curriculum.”

    No. Teaching scientific theories without discussing the strenghs and weakness of those theories is bad educational practice. Science is about questioning and about skepticism. Period.

    “I personally don’t have a problem with kids being exposed to an evolution faq where they see creationist questions are either answerable that yes evolution is true, or improper framing (has Darwin stopped beating his wife?).”

    Again, you are admitting that creationist arguments can be introduced into science classes. Now you can drag yourself to federal court and sue yourself. Isn’t censorship a bitch?

  24. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 4:37 pm

    @robm:

    “This depends on intent and context if [creationist arguments] are presented in the same way as the flat earth or Aristotle’s physics i don’t see a problem, allowing a rebuttal from those theories and leaving it at that is bad policy.”

    Oh, now I get it. Presenting pro-religious arguments in science classes is constitutionally prohibited is the intent is to endorse them, but presenting pro-religious arguments in science classes is constitutionally permissible if the intent is to rebut them.

    The “separation of church and state” only applies to me, not the thee.

  25. sonicon 03 Jun 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Karl-
    Does it bother you that in each example of ring species the creatures at the ends of the rings can and do mate?
    It bothers me because this is not what is supposed to happen- this is not what Mayr was looking for at all.
    It seems these examples are equivocal and are being promoted as definitive.
    I find this bothersome.

  26. sonicon 03 Jun 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Perhaps there is more controversy than is generally known–

    Here (at about the 9 minute mark) we have Craig Ventor questioning common decent. He seems to be denying it.
    http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/the-great-debate-what-is-life/what-is-life-panel

    Carl Woese has questioned for some time whether there even is a tree of life.
    As I read it, the tree of life can’t be produced by the actual physical evidence.

    If well known, highly regarded scientists can question the ‘tree of life’ and ‘common decent’, then I would think it would be OK for a student to do so.
    Why not?

    If it is OK to teach that there are questions about a theory (including some of its foundational hypothesis), then it must be possible to do so without allowing pseudoscience to replace science- how else would science be able to advance?

  27. SARAon 03 Jun 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I imagine in most schools, this language will be of no interest to anyone. On the one hand, it is nice to have the debate, since it brings up all the scientific fallacies of creationist theory. It gives a good teacher the opportunity to teach kids scientific theory, critical thinking and decision making. Of course, those teachers already do that.
    However, the bill is probably designed to protect a small minority of teachers who would use their teaching position as a pulpit. And that is unfortunate.

  28. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 4:52 pm

    I agree with sonic. Students get a much deeper understanding of a theory if they understand the conceptual issues at the core of the science.

    The issue of common descent is not closed, and there are arguments that can be made for both sides. Students will understand the science underlying the theory of common descent much better if they have a detailed and critical understanding of the evidence and logic that are used to address it.

    Good science, at all levels, is a discussion, not mere rote.

    Ideology, on the other hand, is perhaps best left undiscussed. That’s why you bastards are such censors.

  29. mufion 03 Jun 2011 at 5:11 pm

    It’s cherry-picking time, already? Let’s all mine the web for comments by lone individuals, which seem to cast doubt on the dominant ideas within evolutionary biology (or those of any other scientific field), and assign them more weight than the dominant (or near-consensus) views of that field.

    It’s one thing if a child raises the question. But if one of my children reported to me that her science teacher did likewise, I would object that the teacher is wasting valuable classroom time, and probably using his/her position to promote a personal agenda.

  30. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Wow Mike, I cant believe you admitted creationsim/ID is religious, in that case it is a separation of church and state does apply. I was going to point out that irreducable complexity, “it couldn’t have happened by chance”, something from nothing, no trasitional fossils etc. were criticisms that science has firmly refuted, and that the students are to be taught science in science class… but since you were kind enough to say it was all religion, and therefore teaching why its wrong violates the first amendment, fine then by the first amendment it cannot be promoted either.

    I was even going to put something in about being so open minded your brains fall out, and how pro vs con, strength and weaknesses, should be based on controversies in the respective field of study and not somebody somewhere who comes up with a new story about stuff with no evidence. But alas we must exclude both promotion and criticism of religion, and creationsim/ID must not be mentioned positively or negatively…

  31. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 6:11 pm

    @robm:

    “Wow Mike, I cant believe you admitted creationsim/ID is religious, in that case it is a separation of church and state does apply.”

    All theories of biological origins are religious, in the sense that all such theories presume either the teleological (theist) or non-teleological (atheist) nature of evolution. To assert that living things manifest evidence of intelligent design is obviously tending to theism, and to assert that living things lack evidence for intelligent design is tending to atheism. ID (teleology) is the denial of Darwinism (ateleology), and vice versa.

    It could quite plausibly be said that all scientific theories, and all worldviews, are closely intertwined with metaphysical assumptions, some theist, some not. You can’t escape religion. You can (and do) only lie about your own assumptions.

    “teaching why its wrong violates the first amendment, fine then by the first amendment it cannot be promoted either.”

    No. The first amendment is quite clear about the religious constraints on government. There are two religion clauses:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..”

    and

    “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    There is no constitutional doctrine of ‘separation of church and state’. That doctrine has been applied to the constitution, but it is not part of the constitution. The actual constitutional doctrine is quite specific: it prohibits an establishment of religion- a National Church, like the Church of England. An establishment of religion is a very specific entity: it entails coercive financial support, official government sanction, mandatory assent to doctrine, etc.

    Discussion of the strengths and weakness of evolutionary theory in a school classroom is not an Establishment of Religion. Every understanding of evolution (Darwinist, adaptationist, non-adaptationist, ID, Creationist) has religious implications and presumptions, but the discussion of the scientific issues does not Establish a National Religion in any way.

    An example of something that I believe would violate the establishment clause would be to teach students that God did/didn’t create species, and to require the ‘correct’ answer on an exam. That would entail teaching a religious doctrine and requiring assent, which I believe violates the establishment clause.

    The free exercise clause can be summed up succinctly: government should stay out of religious disputes.

    Teaching about the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin’s theory is not a violation of the establishment clause, nor is teaching about the strengths and weaknesses of ID. It’s still a free country (despite your best efforts), and it’s chilling when Federal Courts use legal force to silence discussion of scientific theories in schools.

    Why are you so afraid of debate that you are willing to censor people?

  32. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Odd that I haven’t heard from Dr. Novella.

    What do you think, good Dr.?

    Is it unconstitutional to critique creationism or ID in a public school classroom?

    If the (theist) motives of creationists or ID proponents preclude their discussion of their views in science classes, why don’t the (atheist) motives of evolutionary biologists preclude discussion of their views in science classes?

    And if it’s the facts, not the motives, that matter, what is wrong with critical discussion of those facts? After all, if those sneaky creationists sneak in something you don’t agree with, you can just censor them and drag them into court to shut them up. No reason to stop now.

    I’d love to hear more about why you oppose academic freedom.

  33. jreon 03 Jun 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Ideology, on the other hand, is perhaps best left undiscussed. That’s why you bastards are such censors.

    Hee, hee! This is why people who actually understand the science roll their eyes.
    I did a quick search on my local university library’s catalogue for “evolutionary biology.”
    I got 1027 hits for those exact keywords alone.
    Needless to say, there are many more books with “evolution”, “evolutionary processes”, etc.
    This is not a terribly important result in itself, but it serves to illustrate the size of the body of knowledge related to biological evolution, and how oblivious its ideological opponents are to what they’re up against.
    I use the word “ideological” consciously, because it seems to be a rallying point in this thread, and because these comments shed some light on what it means.

    No — whether they be bastards or not, advocates of science education are not in favor of censoring anything; just the opposite.

    Pace Mike12, the issue of common descent is closed, at least in the sense he intends it. It is closed because over the course of two hundred years, within the fields of geology, paleontology, population genetics, molecular and developmental biology (among others), multiple independent lines of evidence have arisen lending overwhelming support to the proposition that the living things of the earth are related by descent. It is not “proven”, simply because in science (outside mathematics) nothing is ever proven. Rather, a scientific proposition is considered to be well-established when the evidence supporting it is so strong that it would be unreasonable, understanding that evidence, to withhold assent. That’s where we are at today with regard to evolution. That mountain of evidence is so large, and so compelling, that anyone with no ideological axe to grind is going to be convinced by it.

    Presenting all the evidence, censoring nothing, is to make a powerful case for the reality of evolution. That, and precisely that, is the reason advocates of this cockamamie Tennessee bill are properly described as “ideologues.”

  34. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 7:01 pm

    @jre:

    “Presenting all the evidence, censoring nothing, is to make a powerful case for the reality of evolution.”

    So do it. Present it. In every classroom you can find. Make your case, with abandon. The Academic Freedom legislation protects you.

    You say that you have no fear of open critical discussion, because genuine critical discussion makes a “powerful case for the reality of evolution”. Yet you sneer that the Tennessee Academic Freedom bill is “cockamamie”. What is it about legislation that protects academic freedom that so frightens you?

    Is it that the legislation protects everyone’s freedom, not just yours’?

  35. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 7:07 pm

    @jre:

    “No — whether they be bastards or not, advocates of science education are not in favor of censoring anything; just the opposite.”

    Oh, so you’re asserting that the NCSE and most evolutionary biologists believe that Federal Courts should not impose restraints on discussion of evolutionary theory in classrooms?

  36. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Mike isn’t it odd that you stated

    “The “separation of church and state” only applies to me, not the thee.”

    Shouldn’t that be “‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;’ applies to me and not to thee” then?

    Or is that not just the definition of irony? :)

    The establishment clause has a broader meaning, much like freedom of speech and the press applies to more forms of communication than speaking with ones voice and printing with a printing press. It’s there to keep the government from promoting religious policies on citizens of differing views, by the 14th amendment it is applied to the states.

    To address your post-modern outlook, just because one or several religions claim to be theories of everything does not imply all beliefs outside of those worldviews are religious in nature, believe it or not evolution just means that the diversity of life on earth is the product of random mutation and natural selection.

    Because this conflicts with a scriptural literalist view you assert it must be the work of atheism when infact it was the result observations such as the fossil record, selective breeding, differences among finch beaks based on the source of food, etc.

    The facts are that there is a natural world, it behaves in certain ways, thats science, it is fact. The questions of “why”, and is this all there is are open for subjective interpretation. Mine is that the natural world is all there is, this doesn’t change what it is.

    This “dispute” is religion versus everything not in that religion, which in this case includes multiple independent lines of evidence. If you wish to say that this evidence is satan burying dinosaur bones feel free to do so in your home, your church, on the street, in your workplace, or just off school grounds but don’t try to peddle “it’s all subjective truth” and “everything is a religion” when both are not the case.

  37. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 7:31 pm

    @robm:

    “The establishment clause has a broader meaning, much like freedom of speech and the press applies to more forms of communication than speaking with ones voice and printing with a printing press. It’s there to keep the government from promoting religious policies on citizens of differing views, by the 14th amendment it is applied to the states.”

    When the government prohibits critical discussion of only one scientific theory (evolution), and no other, and it does so in such a way that it shelters the atheist presumptions and implications of an ateleological understanding of biology from scrutiny, then it is promoting atheism on citizens of differing views.

  38. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 7:35 pm

    @robm:

    “…it’s all subjective truth” and “everything is a religion” when both are not the case.”

    I asserted neither. I most definitely believe in objective Truth, and it is not true that everything is “religion”.

    I did state the obvious: all claims about reality have a metaphysical context, and all metaphysical contexts have religious presuppositions and religious implications.

    I do not assert this. It is obviously true, and I merely point it out.

  39. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 7:50 pm

    All sciences have an “ateleological” understanding of reality sodium does not bond with chlorine to make the ocean salty, they bind because of chemistry.

    The notion that god made sodium and chlorine want to bond so the ocean would have salt would be unconstitutional if you had thousands of people trying to put their religious views into chemistry curriculum.

    Of course chemistry doesn’t present the vexing problems to a handful of religions the way evolution does, so that is not a widespread problem. If such people were beating down the door to try and have it taught chemistry would also have protection from creationists.

    Of course sodium bonding with chlorine is a scientific fact as opposed to the notion that is the Earth element in saltwater, along with air, water, fire, and aether which are just as scientific as ID.

  40. neverknowon 03 Jun 2011 at 7:55 pm

    If, as some believe, the universe is made out of information, rather than “matter,” then it would not be far-fetched to say that intelligence is what nature is made of. And if nature is made of intelligence, then the origin and evolution of life would not be a haphazard unguided process. It would be an expression of the evolving creative intelligence of the universe.

    The controversy between Intelligent Design and “evolution” is really a controversy over whether evolution is guided or unguided. Intelligent Design says it is, and the currently accepted neo-Darwinist theory of evolution says it is not.

    Biblical creationism is really not on the table. Anyone who has read more than one book or taken at least one high school science course knows that the bible cannot be taken literally.

    As physics and biology continue to evolve, the support for the idea that the universe is made of information, not little pieces of “matter.” We also have an ever-increasing sense that things are infinitely more complicated and strange than scientists ever imagined a hundred years ago.

  41. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 7:57 pm

    @robm:

    Teleology merely means directedness in natural change. Whether the directedness presupposes God is a matter of debate that goes back 2300 years. Aristotle thought it didn’t; Aquinas thought it did.

    Darwinists have asserted that their theory eliminates the need for teleology, which it doesn’t. They also generally assert that teleology necessarily implies God, which is a matter of debate.

    You understand none of this, of course. That’s (in part) because you were educated in a system in which such important matters were censored from school curricula, leaving you ignorant. Which seems ok with you.

  42. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 8:03 pm

    “All theories of biological origins are religious, in the sense that all such theories presume either the teleological (theist) or non-teleological (atheist) nature of evolution.”

    False. Dichotomy. Period.
    The teleology (or lack thereof) of life or gravity or whatever has no bearing on observation about what it is they are or how they behave. Weather or not facts have meaning they are what they are.

    “It could quite plausibly be said that all scientific theories, and all worldviews, are closely intertwined with metaphysical assumptions, some theist, some not. You can’t escape religion. You can (and do) only lie about your own assumptions.”

    Sorry if I missed the nuance there, but if answers to religious questions are inescapable, what is excluded from having religious implications?

  43. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 8:10 pm

    “They also generally assert that teleology necessarily implies God, which is a matter of debate.They also generally assert that teleology necessarily implies God, which is a matter of debate.”

    “teleological (theist) or non-teleological (atheist)”

    interesting since this distinction only appears when it suits you, kind of like separation of church and state, and I can understand that with my censored education.

  44. Mlemaon 03 Jun 2011 at 9:15 pm

    When I was in high school, we were taught evolution as fact. Do you know what the kids took away from that? That: people used to be monkeys. That’s it.
    Then, in religious ed, which I attended by crossing the street from the public school to the catholic church once a week, I experienced: a nun trying to get the attention of a fidgety boy by abruptly asking him: “what’s the difference between you and a dog?” When the boy said “I don’t know” the nun said “OK Lassie” and everybody laughed.

    The more information we can give to kids, the better. Tell them EVERYTHING. Facts, theories (be careful to label them properly – kids trust teachers) and then trust the kids.

  45. nybgruson 03 Jun 2011 at 9:24 pm

    haha… good ol’ Mike12:

    Science is about questioning and about skepticism. Period.

    Damn shame you don’t actually even have the faintest whisper of a vapor of the shadow of an electron as to what that actually means.

    I’d jump in more on this, but is seems robm is handling things quite nicely. But reading Mike’s absolutely inane babble and obvious to the point of pain religious motivation and ideology behind his babble – I had to speak up.

    No it, isn’t odd that Novella hasn’t spoken up. He is actually a busy neurologist and I’d be shocked if he took the time to try and refute the… well, there isn’t a word that adequately describes how incredibly asinine and duplicitous your “arguments” are.

    Suffice it to say, there is no controversy or question on the concept of common decent. PERIOD Anything said otherwise is the product of uniformed, unintelligent, religiously driven piffle.

    Robm – keep up the solid work. I spent all of last year “debating” creationists and IDiots and am pretty spent from doing so. I say “debating” because it is like explaining to a 6 year old why they can’t eat chocolate instead of dinner.

  46. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 9:40 pm

    @robm:

    “The teleology (or lack thereof) of life or gravity or whatever has no bearing on observation about what it is they are or how they behave. Weather or not facts have meaning they are what they are.”

    Teleology in nature is simply a matter of fact. Natural change is generally directional, which is teleological. You can do quite a bit of science without explicit reference to teleology, just as you can do quite a bit of science without reference to quantum mechanics. Yet teleology and QM are how nature works. Period.

    Newtonian mechanics seemed (to poorly educated scientists) to minimize the importance of teleology, because a mechanical model of nature emphasizes efficient causation and de-emphasizes final causation. That is somewhat useful for the manipulation of nature, although it hampers understanding of nature.

    Einstein and the founders of quantum mechanics reintroduced teleological concepts in physics. The motion of a body along a world-line determined by the curvature of space is a teleological concept (the motion of the body in space-time has a directedness imposed on it). Quantum entanglement is another concept that is unintelligible without explicit recourse to teleology.

    Your education has been stunted by materialism and atheism. Censorship hasn’t served you well.

    You need to get out more.

  47. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Actually my education was “stunted” by a minimal interest in philosophy. Care to give any examples as to how teleology is a fact and how teleology is as necessary as quantum mechanics?

    Hint, you might not want to try and shift directedness to mean direction, where something is headed in space is not the same as purpose, end, final cause, or finality, thats kinamatics.

    oh btw if what you are now referring to as “teleology” is part of science and not inherently religious, then I have no problem with your current theism-optional, necessity to science teleology being taught in school.

  48. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 10:12 pm

    @nybgrus

    “…But reading Mike’s absolutely inane babble and obvious to the point of pain religious motivation and ideology behind his babble – I had to speak up.”

    And I’m glad you did.

    “No it, isn’t odd that Novella hasn’t spoken up. He is actually a busy neurologist and I’d be shocked if he took the time to try and refute the… well, there isn’t a word that adequately describes how incredibly asinine and duplicitous your “arguments” are.

    I guess if I were just a teeny bit smarter, Dr. Novella would deign to point out my errors.

    “Suffice it to say, there is no controversy or question on the concept of common decent. PERIOD Anything said otherwise is the product of uniformed, unintelligent, religiously driven piffle.”

    The Scientific Method, circa 2011. So would you agree that all funding of research on common descent should end, now that it is proven?

    “I spent all of last year “debating” creationists and IDiots and am pretty spent from doing so. ”

    These right-wing creationist-IDiots are sooo frustrating… I can see how angry you are. How about this, Nybgrus: boycott their money. Refuse to accept research grants etc from creationist-IDiot taxpayers, which means pretty much all taxpayers. It’s a matter of principle, appropriate for an elite scientist like you.

    Show them how angry you are.

  49. jreon 03 Jun 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Well, these discussions do tend to descend into food fights, don’t they?
    Which is fine by me, so PASS THE DINNER ROLLS!

    So do it. Present it. In every classroom you can find. Make your case, with abandon. The Academic Freedom legislation protects you.

    Thanks. Science teachers do it every day, protected fairly adequately by the US Constitution. What’s your point?

    Yet you sneer that the Tennessee Academic Freedom bill is “cockamamie”.

    Perhaps I was too kind. The Tennessee Academic Freedom bill is, on the one hand, silly and transparently dishonest — cockamamie, if you will — because it attempts once again to slide public teaching of religion under the Constitutional tent with a pretense administrators are likely to “prohibit [teachers] from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.” Do you have any idea how silly-assed that sounds? No; I guess not. We’ve got one of those two-cultures things going on here. But this bill is far worse than that. It presumes that each of us among we, the public, cares most about his or her most cherished personal beliefs, and is willing to see the freedoms of everyone else sacrificed in their service. Pass this bill and you’ll be swindled by the next demagogue, and the next one after that, who sees political advantage in exploiting religious division. Bills like this one are a recipe for a pig-ignorant public. So I’m sorry that I only called the bill “cockamamie.”

    Oh, so you’re asserting that the NCSE and most evolutionary biologists believe that Federal Courts should not impose restraints on discussion of evolutionary theory in classrooms?

    Yes, I’m asserting it.
    And you would be asserting … what, exactly?

    You see, Mike12, the problem you need to overcome here is that the entire history of creationism is one of shameless dishonesty. The claim that this bill protects “academic freedom” is a towering pile of steaming hooey. You know, and I know, and the dogs, the rocks and the trees know, that this bill is about teaching students in science class that God created everything. Period. You are within your rights to teach that in your church (the Constitution protects that, after all) but not in science class (sorry, it doesn’t).

  50. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 10:37 pm

    @nybgrus

    I’m actually fairly new to skepticism, so I enjoy it, hopefully I wont get tired of debating these cranks. But then again I’m under no illusion I will convince mike12 of anything, except that he must retreat to ever more nebulous fallback positions, and insult my education (it’s in progress) to try to score points.

  51. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 10:40 pm

    @jre:

    “… the entire history of creationism is one of shameless dishonesty.”

    Right. Those creationists are shameless. Haekel’s fake embryos, Piltdown Man, Kettlewell’s moths, Archaeoraptor… At long last, sir, have creationists no shame?

    “The claim that this bill protects “academic freedom” is a towering pile of steaming hooey. You know, and I know, and the dogs, the rocks and the trees know, that this bill is about teaching students in science class that God created everything. Period. ”

    If criticism of evolution demonstrates that “God created everything”, what was it that evolution demonstrated?

    “You are within your rights to teach that in your church (the Constitution protects that, after all) but not in science class (sorry, it doesn’t).”

    I propose only this: to teach children in science class that evolutionary theory is a theory, and that it has strengths and weaknesses. Thats precisely what the law protects.

    What about that makes you so spitting mad?

  52. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Mike,

    “If criticism of evolution demonstrates that “God created everything”, what was it that evolution demonstrated?”

    it demonstrated that the diversity of life is explained by natural selection on random variation within a population.

    I hate to disappoint you but science is not a grand ideology handing down pronouncements on the ultimate questions of life and human existence, it understanding the natural world, but that appears to mundane for you.

  53. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 10:58 pm

    @robm:

    “Care to give any examples as to how teleology is a fact and how teleology is as necessary as quantum mechanics?”

    Teleology obvious in nature. It simply means that natural change tends to an end- acorns become oaks, not flowers; struck matches burn, not freeze; the earth turns on one direction, not another. Classical philosophers observed that this seemingly commonplace characteristic of nature was quite remarkable. It is from these concepts of ‘directedness’ in nature that the concept of ‘laws of nature’ emerged.

    Aristotle, although he was a theist, do not believe that teleology implied the existence of God. Aquinas did (his Fifth Way). The debate continues. I agree with Aquinas.

    Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon in which one of a pair of entangled particles assumes a final state in accordance with the final state of it’s paired particle, even if the paired particle is not in proximity to it. Traditional ‘mechanical’ science is unable to account for this ‘retrocausation’. In the traditional Aristotelian view, this is simply final causation (teleology), and makes perfect sense. Many of the founders of quantum mechanics were not philosophically illiterate, and they wrote quite a bit on these issues (Heisenberg explicitly noted that quantum mechanics was a vindication of Aristotle).

    “you are now referring to as “teleology” is part of science and not inherently religious, then I have no problem with your current theism-optional, necessity to science teleology being taught in school.”

    Yes, it now seems that you will let me speak. How open-minded of you.

  54. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 11:06 pm

    @robm:

    “[evolution] demonstrated that the diversity of life is explained by natural selection on random variation within a population.’

    “Natural selection” is a tautology (survivors survive), so it’s a banal observation, not an “explanation”.

    The hinge of the matter is “random” variation. What do you mean by “random”?

    If you mean without teleology (directedness), you’re wrong. All natural change is ‘to’ something.

    If you mean without intelligent purpose, then you are making a religious (atheist) assertion, which, in a classroom, is a violation of the establishment clause, according to you.

    Get a lawyer.

  55. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Mike, nice quote mining, the fact is you said

    “To assert that living things manifest evidence of intelligent design is obviously tending to theism, and to assert that living things lack evidence for intelligent design is tending to atheism. ID (teleology) is the denial of Darwinism (ateleology), and vice versa.”

    (surprise its a full sentence) contradicts what you later said:

    “Teleology merely means directedness in natural change. Whether the directedness presupposes God is a matter of debate that goes back 2300 years. Aristotle thought it didn’t; Aquinas thought it did.”

    You contradicted yourself, that sucks, learn to argue better with all your supposed education. Either teleology is religion or its not, no creator(or director, prime mover, purposer, final cause maker etc), no problem.

    Your argument that teleoolgy is science is that aristole was a quantum physicist? or are you just shoehorning 2300 year old philosophy into modern physics hoping to win by appeal to quantum mechanics?

  56. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 11:32 pm

    More of your “Darwin is not aristotle, aristotle is arisotle, therefore aristotle wins” arguments.

    Selection and variation are what makes evolution explanitory, individuals possessing benficial traits survive more that those without them, benefit is specific to the cricumstances of population.

    “Survivors surviving” changes the traits of a population. Just because some species survive and change over time doesn’t mean that they were destined toward what they became.

  57. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 11:33 pm

    @robm:

    Teleology is understood by most philosophers and theologians and educated laypeople to imply theism, but there are many who take the Aristotelian view that it doesn’t imply theism (Aristotle believed that God exists and that His existence can be demonstrated by the Prime Mover argument, not by the argument from teleology).

    “Your argument that teleoolgy is science is that aristole was a quantum physicist? or are you just shoehorning 2300 year old philosophy into modern physics hoping to win by appeal to quantum mechanics?”

    The only metaphysical understanding of nature that is consistent with quantum entanglement is Aristotelian teleology. Heisenberg also noted that Aristotle’s concept of potency and act was the best paradigm to understand quantum states (potency) and the collapse of the wavefunction.

    That’s not ‘shoehorning’ anything. It’s pointing out that the philosophical view that is the underpinning of modern science continues to have astonishing relevance.

    It’s a view of which you are utterly ignorant. But you’re an atheist, so one shouldn’t expect much except bluster and censorship.

  58. Mike12on 03 Jun 2011 at 11:49 pm

    @robm:

    “Selection and variation are what makes evolution explanitory,”

    Selection “explains” nothing, because ‘survivors survive’ is a tautology. “A is A” explains nothing about A or about anything else. It’s a trivial logical assertion, not an empirical observation.

    “individuals possessing benficial traits survive more that those without them”

    Of course they do. Because ‘beneficial traits’ are defined as those traits that actuate survival. Tautologies are powerful things.

    “benefit is specific to the cricumstances of population.”

    As opposed to, say, the circumstances of other populations? Evolutionary science never ceases to inform.

    “Survivors surviving” changes the traits of a population.”

    Tautologies don’t change anything. Preditation, disease, mating patterns, luck, etc change the traits of a population.

    Darwinian evolutionary “science” is a pretentious amalgam of tautology and banality and non-sequitur. It explains nothing.

  59. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 11:52 pm

    No one has censored your trolling to my knowledge. You change what you mean and what is discussed to suit your creationist world view. teleology only came into the discussion when you promoted it as a theism then change to aristotles non-theistic understanding when that didn’t fly.

    “It’s pointing out that the philosophical view that is the underpinning of modern science continues to have astonishing relevance.”

    You claim that Aristotle is the underpinnig of modern science is just plain wrong in almost any sense, except that aristotle made huge contributions to philosophy 2300 years ago, and other philosopher came later. The enlightenment empiricists are the underpinning of modern science, since modern science is based on empiricism (a tautology, but it had to be said.)

  60. Jeremiahon 03 Jun 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Mike, I like what neverknow commented on earlier to the effect that:
    >Biblical creationism is really not on the table. Anyone who has read more than one book or taken at least one high school science course knows that the bible cannot be taken literally.
    As physics and biology continue to evolve, the support for the idea that the universe is made of information, not little pieces of “matter.” We also have an ever-increasing sense that things are infinitely more complicated and strange than scientists ever imagined a hundred years ago.<

    Add the teleological views of such as A N Whitehead and your more simplistic versions of "directedness" will be rendered harmless.

  61. robmon 03 Jun 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Actually it explains genetics, anatomy, physiology, biology, ecology, selective breeding in agriculure (unless that too is a tautology since survivors survive maters mate and desireable traits are desirable). All these fields have benefited and gained understanding, and can make sense of the crazy stuff they discover because of evolution.

  62. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 12:04 am

    @robm:

    “You claim that Aristotle is the underpinnig of modern science is just plain wrong in almost any sense…the enlightenment empiricists are the underpinning of modern science, since modern science is based on empiricism.”

    Empiricism is indeed important to modern science. Roger Bacon and Albert Magnus, working in the High Middle Ages, are the fathers of Enlightenment empiricism.

    Magnus was one of the earliest Christian Aristotelians, and was the teacher who introduced Aquinas to Aristotelian metaphysics. Bacon was a lecturer on Aristotle at Oxford. Both were Aristotelian to the core, and both were the pillars of empiricism that would give rise to enlightenment science.

    You’re ignorant of science, philosophy, and now history. A combox hat trick.

  63. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 12:09 am

    ““Survivors surviving” changes the traits of a population.”
    Tautologies don’t change anything. Preditation, disease, mating patterns, luck, etc change the traits of a population.”

    And surprise surprise they are the survivors that survive.

    ““benefit is specific to the cricumstances of population.”
    As opposed to, say, the circumstances of other populations? Evolutionary science never ceases to inform.”

    If it is so obvious why don’t you accept evolution. Other population won’t have the same traits selected for over time these changes accrue. See its not so hard.

    “Selection “explains” nothing, because ‘survivors survive’ is a tautology. “A is A” explains nothing about A or about anything else. It’s a trivial logical assertion, not an empirical observation.”

    But the fossil record is, and it shows that at different times there were different species, whats more some recent fossils look like different versions of modern mammals, these are followed by fossils that look more like the modern version. And that is damning, hard to refute, empirical observation predict only by evolution and the devil burying dinosaur bones.

  64. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 12:13 am

    @robm:

    Actually [evolutionary theory] explains genetics, anatomy, physiology, biology, ecology, selective breeding in agriculure (unless that too is a tautology since survivors survive maters mate and desireable traits are desirable).

    Modern genetics began with Mendel, who worked independently of Darwin and who ignored him. Watson and Crick used molecular biology, biochemistry, and crystallography, not evolution, to unravel DNA.

    Anatomy dates to at least Galen. Biology was made a science by Aristotle. Ecology dates to pre-history, as does animal breeding.

    Darwin used some of these disciplines to formulate his theory. He depends on them; they, not much on him.

    The ‘success’ of Darwin’s theory was summed up nicely by Dawkins a couple of decades ago: it allows one to be an intellectually satisfied atheist.

    A low standard to meet, it seems.

  65. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 12:16 am

    Lets not forget Hume, and is saying aristotle had remote and indirect influence really disproven because you can name 1 empiricist who was an Aristotelian, and another who taught a class where he was to recite Aristotle (its how they taught philosophy back then).

    Why are all my zingers ignorant? And further more why do you need inform me of that whenever I point out that your assertion is flawed or incorrect?

  66. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 12:20 am

    @Jeremiah:

    “Add the teleological views of such as A N Whitehead and your more simplistic versions of “directedness” will be rendered harmless.”

    Teleology merely means directedness to change in nature. It does not address the complexity or simplicity of that directedness.

    We are finding that a deep understanding of nature is remarkably complex and is best described by elegant mathematics.

    Teleology is not being rendered harmless; it’s being understood as beautiful, in a mathematical sense.

  67. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 12:28 am

    Inherited traits are necessary for Darwin theory, and guess what they are fact.

    Common descent predicts animals will share genes and have similar genes that are different, guess what, Fact!

    Animals have similar structures, vestigial structures, and the development of structures in an embryo looks similar at first then differentiates. What might best explain that, organs have purpose so they assembled animals?

    Further more these structures are far from elegant the eye flips things upside down and the brain flips them rightside up. Ducks grow webbed feet, lose their webbing and then grow it again. the list goes on and on.

  68. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 12:30 am

    @robm:

    “Why are all my zingers ignorant?”

    Because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    “And further more why do you need inform me of that whenever I point out that your assertion is flawed or incorrect?”

    Most of the viewpoints you have expressed are unworthy of a high school student. New atheism is a remarkably ignorant ideology, and regrettably you are in thrall to it. I regret the personal allusions, but the public square has been polluted by this crap for several decades now, and Christians and informed non-theists are fighting back.

    I also insist that people who censor the viewpoints of others deserve to be called out, without the gentleness that one might accord to non-totalitarians.If you think that your viewpoints are so well established as to be the basis for the legal silencing of teachers and other educators, be prepared for a fight.

    You bastards ticked us off.

  69. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 12:43 am

    Fighting back against a fraction of >2% of the population? I think thats called shouting down gnu athiests. Perhaps my inferior education has prevented me from understanding how the topic changed from history of philosophy of science to the terror of new atheism?

    All I want is the current consensus of the field of biology taught in the public schools without religious viewpoints or unscientific assertions that agree with religious viewpoints, or false doubts about the current scientific consensus encumbering the educational process. The plus side is that would leave time for aristotle. What about that is the cruel censorship of the totalitarian gnu atheists elite?

  70. jreon 04 Jun 2011 at 12:46 am

    I also insist that people who censor the viewpoints of others deserve to be called out, without the gentleness that one might accord to non-totalitarians.

    Again, to state the simple truth, no one’s viewpoints have been, are being, or will be censored. This relentless whining about an imaginary injustice wears thin after a while. It is unfortunate, and unfair, that Tennessee is likely to be humiliated and caricatured yet again in the public mind as a province of the self-righteous ignorant, but hey — it’s your choice. Have at it.

  71. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 1:00 am

    @jre:

    “Again, to state the simple truth, no one’s viewpoints have been, are being, or will be censored.”

    Bullshit. If you copy this comment thread and give it to any one of several school districts in the US that are under federal court injunction, those educators will be in violation of federal law and will face fine/imprisonment if they showed our discussion to students in their schools.

    Succinctly, this comment thread may not be shown to students in any public school, under threat (or actuality) of federal litigation.

    School districts across the US have been threatened and intimidated by you bastards with litigation and financial ruin if they critically assess evolutionary theory or mention ID. The Dover school district alone was wrecked financially. Here’s the ‘lesson’ from you brownshirts:

    “Richard Katskee, assistant legal director for Americans United, said of the trial’s cost, “Any board thinking of trying to do what the Dover board did is going to have to look for a bill in excess of $2 million,” and “I think $2 million is a lot to explain to taxpayers for a lawsuit that should never be fought.”"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

    I despise totalitarian thugs who silence people and destroy them financially.

  72. Jeremiahon 04 Jun 2011 at 1:13 am

    Mike, you say that “We are finding that a deep understanding of nature is remarkably complex and is best described by elegant mathematics.”

    That’s a big part of the problem. Mathematics describes dimensions, but has no explanation for the rise of functions and the purposes they serve.

    “Teleology is not being rendered harmless; it’s being understood as beautiful, in a mathematical sense.”
    I didn’t say that it’s being rendered harmless, just your versions.
    Whitehead’s versions were much better and that was four score and more ago – and both his mathematics and philosophy were better then than yours are now.

    “The ‘success’ of Darwin’s theory was summed up nicely by Dawkins a couple of decades ago: it allows one to be an intellectually satisfied atheist.”
    That was then when Dawkins and the like were easy targets.
    This is the new now.

  73. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 1:19 am

    Mike

    You missed the part of the case where it was proven that the Discovery Institute and several dover school board members intended ID as a way of legally teaching creationism and promoting the christian faith.

    btw calling people who believe in science “brownshirts” is goebbels-esque propaganda.

  74. nybgruson 04 Jun 2011 at 2:17 am

    Perhaps my inferior education has prevented me from understanding how the topic changed from history of philosophy of science to the terror of new atheism?

    No robm, it is the fact that it is pure an unadulterated ideology and religious fanaticism that completely ignores science and bends the history of philosophy to its depraved religious means. It is discussed quite nicely in Liars for Jesus which is exactly what the likes of mike do. He unintelligently parrots the abdolute drivel issuing forth from his mentor William Lane Craig with an obvious lack of any clue as to what evolutionary theory or the history of it is all about. This sort of blatant lying is exactly what Dr. Novella was writing about and what makes the likes of the “cdesign proponentists” like mike a lying sack of pond scum intentionally using obfuscatory language to make the average American confused and think there actually is a controversy (hint: there isn’t) and the religious IDiots cheer and applaud thinking they have someone intelligent speaking on their behalf.

    Anyone who can cite the Dover vs Kitzmiller case as anything but a pure and simple example of religious lying and decption to censor scientific consensus and try and wedge religious creationist doctrine into schools as a “science” is clearly either incredibly misguided or lying through their teeth.

    Your blatant lies and intentionally erroneous and obfuscatory intent sicken me mike. And no amount of down-talk about “atheist science” is going to negate the fact that my 7 year old nephew knows more about evolution than you do.

  75. L. Tayloron 04 Jun 2011 at 6:29 am

    @Mike12,

    Why do you say that Dr. Novella is in favor of censoring academic freedom? He clearly stated that the reason he’s against this bill is because students should already be being taught to think critically, so there’s no reason to pass the law in the first place.

    It’s not academic censorship to be against passing a law that would protect the teaching of something that is not science in the science classroom. This isn’t about silencing someone one disagrees with, it’s just a matter of keeping science in the science classrooms, and religion and philosophy in their respective classrooms.

  76. BillyJoe7on 04 Jun 2011 at 6:44 am

    Mike,

    “Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon in which one of a pair of entangled particles assumes a final state in accordance with the final state of it’s paired particle, even if the paired particle is not in proximity to it. Traditional ‘mechanical’ science is unable to account for this ‘retrocausation’. In the traditional Aristotelian view, this is simply final causation (teleology), and makes perfect sense.”

    How exactly does teleology make any more sense than entanglement.
    At least those who use the term entanglement are honest in the sense of just putting a label on the phenomenon and not pretending that doing so solves any problem, real or imaginary.

    Time dilation, space contraction, and the constancy of the speed of light don’t make sense either. They are just observed realities of the world of the super quick. Just like entanglement and uncertainty are just observed realities of the super small.

    There’s no reason why the super quick and super small should behave anything like the objects of our everyday experience.

  77. BillyJoe7on 04 Jun 2011 at 6:56 am

    neverknow

    “If, as some believe, the universe is made out of information, rather than “matter,” then it would not be far-fetched to say that intelligence is what nature is made of.”

    Depends on what you mean by intelligent.
    Are computers intelligent because they contain information?
    Are libraries intelligent because they contain information?

    “And if nature is made of intelligence, then the origin and evolution of life would not be a haphazard unguided process. It would be an expression of the evolving creative intelligence of the universe.”

    A first order far-fetched begets a second order far-fetched begets a third order far-fetched.

  78. BillyJoe7on 04 Jun 2011 at 7:00 am

    mufi

    Let’s all mine the web for comments by lone individuals, which seem to cast doubt on the dominant ideas within evolutionary biology (or those of any other scientific field), and assign them more weight than the dominant (or near-consensus) views of that field.

    Nail on the head. :)

  79. tmac57on 04 Jun 2011 at 8:51 am

    Mike12-Churches in the US probably outnumber schools by 10 to 1 at least,and are dedicated entirely to teaching only a religious point of view.Religious channels are numerous on our airwaves/cable TV (not so atheist only channels),so your crocoduck tears about how the big bad atheist bastards are preventing your message from getting out is pure nonsense.Your real agenda is to keep the science of evolution from being taught,and you and your Godwin shirt friends are knowingly using this as a wedge issue to undermine the teaching of evolution,and you know this to be true.

  80. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 10:59 am

    Wow, this thread quickly took off. I might have known.

    I like when BillyJoe said: There’s no reason why the super quick and super small should behave anything like the objects of our everyday experience.

    Ah, but there’s good (evidence-based) reason to believe that reason itself is partly a product of everyday (concrete sensory-motor) experience (and partly a product of our biological and cultural heritage). This cognitive tool helps to get us through the night (so to speak), but there is no good reason to believe that reason (or any other human faculty) can connect us to metaphysical or transcendent truths (which, assuming they exist, are probably even weirder than the super quick and super small). It’s only our hubris that leads us to believe otherwise, and that comes in different varieties: both religious and secular.

  81. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 11:14 am

    @mufi:

    “but there is no good reason to believe that reason (or any other human faculty) can connect us to metaphysical or transcendent truths…”

    But your conclusion that reason is unreliable was reached by… reason.

    If reason is unreliable, then the reasoning you used to arrive at that conclusion is unreliable, and then there’s no reason to assert that reason is unreliable.

    The denial of reason presupposes the reliability of reason, at least to the extent that it can ground the denial.

    What you’re proposing is a variant of positivism, which is self-refuting gibberish.

  82. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 11:16 am

    @ all commenters who support censorship:

    Is the use of Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene” in a public school biology class/library unconstitutional?

  83. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 11:18 am

    @ all commenters who support censorship:

    Is the mention of creationism or ID in a public school science class for the purpose of refuting it unconstitutional?

  84. Jeremiahon 04 Jun 2011 at 11:31 am

    >BillyJoe7 on 04 Jun 2011 at 6:56 am
    neverknow
    “If, as some believe, the universe is made out of information, rather than “matter,” then it would not be far-fetched to say that intelligence is what nature is made of.”
    Depends on what you mean by intelligent.
    Are computers intelligent because they contain information?
    Are libraries intelligent because they contain information?<

    Computers are "made of" and intelligence, they contain intelligence and they impart intelligence. Libraries are "made of" and intelligence, contain intelligence and provide intelligence.
    Is it making good use of intelligence to argue otherwise?

  85. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 11:32 am

    Reason works well enough as a tool in everyday life, but it is far from flawless and is by no means reliable enough to be trusted as a lighting rod to “metaphysical or transcendent truths.”

    Even in the knowledge-garnering professions of science and engineering, (a priori) reason alone (e.g. definitions and intuition) is not deemed trustworthy, which is why a hypothesis must pass a battery of tests before it is deemed worthy of provisional acceptance.

  86. Jeremiahon 04 Jun 2011 at 11:40 am

    >Mike12 on 04 Jun 2011 at 11:18 am
    @ all commenters who support censorship:
    Is the mention of creationism or ID in a public school science class for the purpose of refuting it unconstitutional?<

    I'm not one who supports censorship, but as to allowing creationism or ID to be mentioned for a purpose that includes refuting it, be careful what you wish for.

  87. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 11:51 am

    @Jeremiah:

    “I’m not one who supports censorship, but as to allowing creationism or ID to be mentioned for a purpose that includes refuting it, be careful what you wish for.”

    I only insist on unfettered discussion. Let the chips fall where they may.

    I welcome efforts to refute ID, Thomism, Christianity, whatever. If they can be refuted, then I won’t believe them. I have no fear of truth.

    Censors fear open debate, because they fear truth.

  88. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 11:56 am

    @mufi:

    “Reason works well enough as a tool in everyday life, but it is far from flawless and is by no means reliable enough to be trusted as a lighting rod to “metaphysical or transcendent truths.””

    Your assertion that reason’s reliability is limited is itself a metaphysical assertion. You can’t coherently make a metaphysical assertion that metaphysical assertions lack truth value.

    There’s no way around positivism’s self-refutation.

    It is certainly true that reason has its limitations, but it is a tool that can help ascertain metaphysical truth. If it wasn’t, then there’s no way that you could know that it wasn’t.

  89. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 12:10 pm

    The problem is an epistemic one: I have no way of knowing whether a metaphysical assertion is true or false. It’s just that: an assertion, and a highly speculative one at that.

    I don’t even claim to know that scientific “discoveries” are true or false in the strict sense. I’ve simply come to trust that the various research communities have arrived at certain evidence-based conclusions, which could change in the future, depending on various factors (not the least of which is more evidence).

    IOW, scientific “truths” are at best provisional truths, which is a far cry from the eternal, transcendent claims of arm-chair philosophers, both religious and secular.

  90. Traveleron 04 Jun 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Do the bill’s sponsors realize that it would also protect teachers who want to present effective sex ed?

  91. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 12:21 pm

    @mufi:

    “The problem is an epistemic one: I have no way of knowing whether a metaphysical assertion is true or false. It’s just that: an assertion, and a highly speculative one at that.”

    Your epistemic problem is.. a metaphysical assertion. In fact, it’s an ‘ eternal, transcendent claim’, just like the [theist] claims you dislike.

    You can’t coherently deny the value of the application of reason to metaphysics, because reason and its denial are synchronously plausible/implausible.

    If reason isn’t reliable, neither is the assertion that it’s unreliable.

    There’s an old adage about philosophy that applies: there is no such thing as not using philosophy. There’s only good philosophy and bad philosophy.

    Philosophy/reason is the fabric of thought. You can’t do anything without it, and that includes denying it.

  92. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 12:28 pm

    @Traveler:

    “Do the bill’s sponsors realize that it would also protect teachers who want to present effective sex ed?:

    If “present effective sex ed” takes the form of critical analysis of a scientific theory, the bill does (and should) support it.

    I have no problem with open discussion of scientific theories in schools, and that includes the expression of viewpoints with which I disagree.

    That’s what “critical analysis” means.

  93. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 12:51 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    “Mathematics describes dimensions, but has no explanation for the rise of functions and the purposes they serve.”

    True. That is why some who support teleology don’t believe that it can be used as an argument for theism Teleology means directedness; it doesn’t necessarily mean purpose, in the sense of being guided by a Mind.

    I think that Aquinas’ Fifth Way (the Teleological Proof) is valid. It’s based on the hylemorphic concept that the final cause is a form, and that forms that do not exist in a substance can only exist in a mind.

    There are some very thoughtful people who wouldn’t agree, though.

    “Whitehead’s versions were much better (than Mike 12′s and Aristotle’s) and that was four score and more ago – and both his mathematics and philosophy were better then than yours are now.”

    I don’t know Whitehead’s views well, but I don’t doubt that much of what he wrote is much better than mine. I merely assert that teleology is true, and that Aristotle provided a strong framework for understanding nature and metaphysics. Many have surpassed and will surpass him.

    “That was then when Dawkins and the like were easy targets.
    This is the new now.”

    Darwinist remain very easy targets, as you may have noticed.

  94. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I trust reason enough to look both ways before crossing the street (e.g. based on the experience of witnessing and visualizing the potential consequences of not doing so), and I also trust it insofar as it’s proven itself useful in other applications (e.g. in designing new technologies).

    That said, if you feel it’s appropriate to characterize this limited trust as a “metaphysical” position (even though I think “epistemological” is more apt), then go right ahead – so long as you’re clear on what I actually mean by it, which is that I do not put much trust in claims that cannot be empirically tested (e.g. gods, immortal souls, karma, platonic forms, etc.).

  95. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 1:05 pm

    PS: That limited trust (or limited skepticism, depending on how you look at it) extends to teleological claims (i.e. regarding final causes in nature), which seem to be beyond anyone’s ability to test empirically.

  96. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 1:09 pm

    @ mufi:

    “I do not put much trust in claims that cannot be empirically tested (e.g. gods, immortal souls, karma, platonic forms, etc.).”

    How do you empirically test your distrust of claims of immortality?

  97. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Hume said:

    “If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

    This is the archetype of mufi’s distrust of metaphysics and reason. But think of the absurdity of Hume’s assertion; Humes assertion itself didn’t contain quantitative abstract reasoning nor experimental reasoning.

    Hume’s assertion was unbelievably stupid self-refuting gibberish. Of course, although Hume was a fool and a swine, he wasn’t the least bit stupid. I prefer Elisabeth Anscombe’s characterization of Hume as a “mere-brilliant-sophist.

    I despise Hume.

  98. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 1:16 pm

    no evidence for immorality = distrust of immortality

  99. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Good thing science doesn’t depend on Hume (or any other dead philosopher, for that matter). :-)

  100. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 1:23 pm

    @mufi:

    But you have asserted that such metaphysical claims intrinsically cannot be adjudicated. Why then is distrust more plausible than trust?

    May I suggest that your actual view is better summarized:

    distrust of immortality=no evidence for immorality

  101. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 1:25 pm

    @mufi:

    “Good thing science doesn’t depend on Hume (or any other dead philosopher, for that matter).”

    Science depends critically on countless presuppositions that we have gathered from countless dead philosophers.

    You just don’t know where your biases came from.

  102. PhysiPhileon 04 Jun 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Hey Mike12,

    I enjoy the controversy you bring the the forum, and would like clarification on a couple of your arguments.

    “They also generally assert that teleology necessarily implies God, which is a matter of debate.”

    Can you explain how they start with the (self-evident) premise that the universe is changing (or a better word would be ‘rearranging’) and deduce a God. If this deduction if free of logical errors, I am curious what such a deduction could say about the nature of God.

    While listening to a philosophy lecture by Peter Millican at Oxford about Aristotelian ideas about properties of matter, it seemed analogous to what you think about teleology. According to Millican, Aristotelian’s believed earth fell towards the center of the universe and objects in the heavens made perfect circles because it was the nature and desire of earth to fall towards the center of the universe and it was the nature and desire of heavenly objects to make circular orbits. Millican pointed out that this doesn’t provide a deeper understanding of matter which is why Galileo and Newton’s contributions to the understanding of matter is superior to Aristotle.

    Just as Aristotle anthropomorphized matter (e.g. matter ‘desired’ to be in a certain state), it appears to me you are anthropomorphizing teleology (e.g. configuration of matter desires change). Can you tell me if this is a valid criticism of your argument?

  103. Jeremiahon 04 Jun 2011 at 2:12 pm

    “Darwinist remain very easy targets, as you may have noticed.”

    Mike, Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been augmented over time by auxiliary theories, some of which, a la Weismann’s, Dawkins’ and the like, diminished it, but the new adaptive mutation theories and their theorists have resurrected it to steal any thunder left in your version of the teleological cosmosphere.

    By the way, according to my dictionary, teleology doesn’t mean directedness, or directed for a purpose, as you suggest it does.

    teleology |ˌtelēˈäləjē; ˌtēlē-|
    noun ( pl. -gies) Philosophy
    the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.

    Purposes served need not have been in any sense directed to have served them.

  104. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Mike,

    I am aware of where my biases come from, it called reality, my assumption is that the external natural world is real and thoughts I think about it are not, even the thoughts I think concerning my thoughts. How to determine what is true or not is to look to the surest measurements and observations and draw the most bare minimum of necessary conclusions then test the implications of that. If a greater overarching theory is devised than it should be tested and believed until it is contradicted.

    That is an approach that seems antithetical to your of arguments (when your not name calling), you seem to view philosophy as more real than observable reality, then get angry when others dont buy that.

  105. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Jeremiah,

    just a heads up but mike shifts his meanings when he doesn’t feel he’s winning, he switches from purpose by God to purpose of the acorn to become a tree, to “directedness”, to direction, and if you believe in direction all his previous definitions win.

  106. SkeptimusPrimeon 04 Jun 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Mike, you accuse the non-religious of censorship in the area of science.

    The problem I notice here is that you have a basic misunderstanding of how science works.

    Science, unlike politics is not egalitarian, all people and ideas are not equal in science, furthermore, the high-school classroom is not the place to have scientific debates. The science being taught in a high-school classroom is typically years behind what researchers are currently working on because it can take decades for a new theory or or idea to build consensus and make its way to pre-undergrad text books.

    If you believe that Intelligent design or whatever it is you believe in has scientific promise then by all means people may get involved in the scientific process, do the research and prove their case to the scientific community.

    If your evidence is strong then you will get there eventually, when Eisenstein first published relativity physicists thought he was nuts, but over several decades his theories one out through use of the scientific method. Relativity is now in high-school textbooks, but it wasn’t in the 1950′s

    The problem we all have is that creationists want to skip the scientific process and have their ideas taught without being tested properly. There is no censorship involved, you have freedom to preach or teach you’re ideas in a wide variety of venues, but to teach it as science you must be able to make testable predictions consistently for a long period of time.

    Evolutionary biologists have done this for well over 100 years, while a few minor changes have happened to the theory, by and large the lines of evidence, genetics, taxonomy, paleontology, etc. have all supported the predictions made in evolution.

    Why are you too good for that process? Why do you feel that you have the right to call ID science while refusing to follow the process that every modern scientific theory has managed to follow and prove itself using?

    The real problem here is not even about evolution, ID’ers and creationists want to change the entire scientific method to allow for metaphysical and/or supernatural causes to be considered. Oddly enough, scientists do not claim these do not exist but simply to not consider them because one cannot test for them.

  107. Jeremiahon 04 Jun 2011 at 2:47 pm

    robm, my purposes are served when Mike sees the necessity to shift his meanings, since if these meanings have been used as links in his chain of reason, changing them will make any goal they hope to be tied to unreachable by that method of argument.

  108. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Mike: I’m aware that Hume plays a role in the development of a kind of skepticism. But neither he nor any other dead philosopher is the main source of strength for scientific skepticism (which I’ll use interchangeably with the “limited trust” that I described earlier). Rather, its strength comes from its usefulness (a.k.a. utility or pragmatic value, relative to human goals and purposes). And far be it from me to argue that usefulness equates with truth (in any eternal, transcendent, or objective sense of the word).

    BTW, if you know of evidence for immortality, then by all means put it up. I’m interested in seeing what qualifies in your mind as “evidence.”

  109. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 3:29 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    “Mike, Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been augmented over time by auxiliary theories, some of which, a la Weismann’s, Dawkins’ and the like, diminished it, but the new adaptive mutation theories and their theorists have resurrected it to steal any thunder left in your version of the teleological cosmosphere”

    Evolution is a fascinating and important science, but the traditional Darwinist trope about ‘natural selection’ is banal. The real question is about how ‘heritable change’ occurs, and in what sense (if any) it is ‘random’. The issue is best summarized by observation that it is “the arrival of the fittest, not the survival of the fittest” that is the fundamental question in evolution.

    How the fittest “arrive” is of course a question about the nature of change in the world, and thus evolutionary theory, properly understood, is heavily informed by the metaphysics of philosophers like Aristotle, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Hume, Kant, Quine and many others who have investigated what we can say and understand about change in nature.

    The scandal of evolutionary biology is that it’s scientific practitioners are almost to a man utterly ignorant of the real questions at the core of their science. It’s like recruiting deaf men to study music.

  110. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 3:32 pm

    “It’s like recruiting deaf men to study music.”

    Ever hear of Beethoven?

  111. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 3:44 pm

    @mufi:

    “BTW, if you know of evidence for immortality, then by all means put it up. I’m interested in seeing what qualifies in your mind as “evidence.””

    There are several lines of evidence for immortality, of varying rigor:

    1) Millions of people have had experiences with life after death (near-death experiences, ghosts, revelations, etc). These experiences are obviously of varying and highly disputable credibility, but they are evidence nonetheless. And there are very many of them. Make of it what you will.

    2) Christians believe in eternal life because of revelation. We believe in revelation because we believe in the Christian worldview based on many different lines of evidence and reasoning. We accept the doctrine of life after death because we accept the credibility of the system of beliefs from which that doctrine emerged. It’s not all that different than accepting belief in multiple universes based on acceptance of cosmological science and trust in the cosmologists who formulate the doctrine. Alternate universes and eternal life are both notoriously difficult to test empirically. Keep in mind that you’ll almost certainly know the truth of the latter before you know the truth of the former.

    3) Philosophers have defended the eternal nature of the soul by pointing out that aspects of the soul (such as the intellect and the will) are intrinsically immaterial, and that the soul is metaphysically simple and not composed of parts, as a material substance is. Material things composed of parts ‘cease to exist’ because they lose their substantial form and the parts assume new substantial forms (wood rots, stones break up, etc). But the immaterial soul is metaphysically simple, so it cannot break up into parts, and it is not material, so it cannot lose it’s substantial form.

    I doubt that you will accept any of these lines of evidence, but there are lines of evidence, of debatable quality.

  112. Jeremiahon 04 Jun 2011 at 3:49 pm

    @Mike
    at survival>The issue is best summarized by observation that it is “the arrival of the fittest, not the survival of the fittest” that is the fundamental question in evolution.<

    If the new breed of scientific practitioners were as utterly ignorant of that question as you claim, they wouldn't have had it finally dawn on them that the fittest arrive at survival by their own calculative efforts rather than by the precalculated efforts of your gods to propel them to unthinkingly survive to fit.

  113. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Mike, I’m familiar with (although by no means expert in) all of those lines of argument for immortality, and you are correct to surmise that I’ve thus far found all of them wanting (to put it mildly).

    Mind you: I’m describing myself as of the past 12 years or so; that is, the period since I abandoned my own faith and drifted towards the outlook that I’ve presented here. Prior to this period, I was as fervent to prove (rationally) that my religion is true as you are now (in Internet forums like this one, too, although back then they were “news groups” rather than blog comments). And, as you might have already guessed, that mission backfired, although (unlike some other secular types), I still see some value in religion. It’s just not for me.

    More to the point, if any force were to draw me back to religion, my guess is that it would be more emotional than rational in character – not that there’s anything wrong with that (!)

  114. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 4:59 pm

    “arrival of the fittest”

    wow, just wow…

    looking backwards has led to thinking backwards. The outcome of natural selection is in no way determined in advance without a gene pool and selective pressure, to claim otherwise is simply an act of faith not fact.

  115. mdcatonon 04 Jun 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Why does it never occur to people to confront these legislators with the awesome science education statistics from East Asia where (correct me if I’m wrong) there’s never been an atom of creationism taught? Maybe we need a good media stunt. Every time one of these bills gets proposed, I think maybe someone should propose an amendment that says, “Let’s go one better. In the State of Tennesee, teaching creation is mandatory, and evolution is outlawed, and the State will pay to resettle families outside the State where there are real education systems.”

  116. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 5:29 pm

    @mufi:

    “More to the point, if any force were to draw me back to religion, my guess is that it would be more emotional than rational in character – not that there’s anything wrong with that (!)”

    My own faith has been emotional as much as rational, as it is I think for most people. I became a Christian about 7 years ago; before that I was an atheist, or perhaps an agnostic, depending on my mood. I have worked in science all of my life, and took it to be the most reliable source of truth.

    I had always found a deep attraction to Christ, but I had always believed that I would have to leave my brain at the church door if I went in. I was (and still am) repulsed by televangelists, and I thought that Christianity was for gullible people. (Of course, I knew a lot of Christians, and they didn’t seem gullible at all- in fact, I rather admired many of them).

    For a variety of reasons (an illness in the family, a sense of emptiness, a sense that there was something important about life that I was missing), I began going to churches. I had a rather profound religious experience during prayer one night, and entered the Catholic Church and was baptized.

    Part of my decision to take God more seriously was my awareness through much reading that many of the tropes that I had been taught and believed– that Darwin had explained life without God, that cosmology and quantum mechanics had explained that the universe came from nothing, etc– were utter nonsense. I came see that atheism was rank bullshit– a pitiful intellectual construct that was the antithesis of genuine thoughtful inquiry.

    The real rigor and insight was in the theist and Christian arguments– the great philosophers and theologians. For a while I was afraid to read debates between Christian theologians and atheists (the debate between JP Moreland and Kai Neilson comes to mind) because I feared that the atheist arguments would destroy my faith.

    I found the opposite. For example, Moreland (the Christian philosopher) destroyed Neilson (atheist philosopher). The only argument Neilson could make was that ‘God’ was incapable of definition. Moreland pointed out that this has been the Christian argument for 2000 years, and then Morland destroyed Nielson on every other point.

    The more I read the less respect I had for atheism. It’s central claims are sophmorish drivel that no thoughtful person would take seriously (the universe just happened, things like right and wrong, or truth, or beauty are just evolved superstitions, etc.) What crap.

    But my primary commitment to God is my love for Him. The logical arguments are permissive for me, meaning that I can bring my brain into church with me now, and it feels right at home.

  117. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 5:44 pm

    @mdcaton:

    “Why does it never occur to people to confront these legislators with the awesome science education statistics from East Asia where (correct me if I’m wrong) there’s never been an atom of creationism taught?”

    The most ‘creationist’ Western country is the United States, by far.

    The United States is also the world’s leader in science, by far.

    The rise of modern science and excellence in science correlates very closely with Judeo-Christian culture. Science education is quite good in many Asian countries. But it’s science from our ‘creationist’ country that their kids are learning. Other cultures borrow our science.

    And, hey, since we’re talking about religion and science, let’s look at the scientific output from atheist countries, like North Korea, or Cuba, or Vietnam. Lots of great science coming out of atheist culture, like new ways to dispose of human corpses, concentration camp construction, nuclear weapon physics, etc.

    It’s amusing to hear atheists whine about the damage that ‘creationism’ does to science, when the most creationist county in the Western world is the world’s unparalleled leader in science.

    You’re an asshole, mdcaton.

  118. PhysiPhileon 04 Jun 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Mike12,

    “cosmology and quantum mechanics had explained that the universe came from nothing, etc– were utter nonsense.”

    Let us assume the universe did not come from nothing. How do you go from not knowing were the universe comes from to knowing where the universe comes from and that is a God. The only way I can rationalize that deduction is if you define God as anything unknown – but I don’t think that’s how you define God.

    “The logical arguments are permissive for me, meaning that I can bring my brain into church with me now, and it feels right at home.”

    Can you please use those logical arguments to show me how you started from the above premise and reached the conclusion of a God created universe and likewise with my previous post regarding teleology implying God.

  119. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Mike

    Ever thought that whichever culture develops and utilizes the scientific method will be the one to correlate with science, basically up until the 1400′s science and technology correlated with non-christians, and between 1400 and 1940 scientific progress correlated with Britain, France, and Germany, all of which got blown up between 1939 and 1945, followed by the cold war where science correlated with both christianity and atheism, communisim and capitalism, and totalitarianism and freedom. Not to mention atheist china has maglev trains and the worlds most powerful super computer.

    scientific benefit goes to those who practice science the most, yet another tautology that must be pointed out to you. your assertion seems to be based on cherry picking, but hey thats where blind faith gets you. I admire the fact you think science is so self evidently good that you try to shoehorn it into your religion that ask you to take everything it says on faith.

  120. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Mike: I’m sorry to hear that hold such a negative view of atheism, but thanks for sharing your story.

    I’ve long entertained the view (which I think is loosely attributable to Bertrand Russel) that, technically speaking, we’re all agnostics on the God question – it’s just that some of us (for whatever reason) are more uncomfortable with that condition than others, which leads them to take a more confident (or “gnostic”) stance.

    Dawkins has mocked this view as “Tooth-Fairy Agnosticism”: in other words, even he (despite his usually strong-atheist stance) admits that he is an agnostic on the God question, but only in the same sense that he is agnostic on the Tooth Fairy question. Of course, the joke derives from the common understanding that the Tooth Fairy is a human invention and we would not take seriously any group or individual who argues otherwise.

    Sorry to say: I believe the analogy to theism holds merit. It’s just that theism is old and entrenched enough in our culture that it garners more respect in civic life than toothfairyism likely would, were it to suddenly emerge on the scene.

  121. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 6:27 pm

    @PhysiPhile:

    “I enjoy the controversy you bring the the forum…”

    Thanks. It does liven things up a bit.

    “Can you explain how they start with the (self-evident) premise that the universe is changing (or a better word would be ‘rearranging’) and deduce a God.”

    The best argument from natural change to God is Aristotle’s Prime Mover argument, which Aquinas developed as his First Way. The argument has a long genealogy of pagan, Christian, Jewish, and Islamic philosophers, and it has much purchase today with theist philosophers.

    The Prime Mover/First Way argument is this, succinctly:

    Nature is always undergoing change, with things changing from one state to another. Acorns become oak trees, green leaves turn brown, rocks crumble, etc. Each thing has potential for change (its potencies) and each thing has that which it actually is (its act).

    A potency of a thing is something that it does not have (an acorn does not have a real oak tree in it), but that it can have, under the proper conditions. Everything in nature is a composite of potencies (what it might be) and act (what it is).

    When a potency is actualized, it must (by definition) be actualized by something other than itself. Potency is non-existence; only act exists, and therefore potencies are actualized by other things (acorns need sunlight, water, nutritive soil, etc to grow into oak trees).

    The classical adage is ‘everything that is moved (changed) is moved (changed) by another.’

    In nature, causes typically come in a series: one thing causes another, which causes another, which causes another, etc. In a causal series, a potency in each cause is raised to act by the raising to act of a potency in the preceding cause, which is raised to act by a potency that is raised to act in the preceding cause, etc. The series is like dominoes: in each cause, potency is raised to act, which causes a potency in the next thing in the series to be raised to act, and so on.

    There are two different types of causal natural series- accidental and essential. Accidental causal series don’t require the continuing existence of each preceding cause to be effective. The causal series of a father begetting a son who begets a son who begets a son etc is a classical accidental series. The grandfather could die, and the chain still goes on.

    Some causal series in nature are essential, which means that the components of the causal series all must continue to exist for the casual chain to work. Hitting a nail with a hammer is an essential series of causes: hitting the nail requires the impact of the hammer, which requires the movement of the hand holding the hammer, which requires the contraction of the muscles in the arm, which requires an action potential in the nerve in the arm, which requires the activation of the neurons in the brain, which requires ATP, etc. In an essential series, all components of the causal chain must be active together for the series to work. If the nerve is cut, or the hand slips, the nail is not hit.

    Aristotle asked this question: can an essential series of causes that raise potency to act in nature be infinite backwards, without origin? He observed that it can’t, because if all of the preceding causes are in potency, they could never get started. There must be a beginning in an essential causal series that is itself in pure act, and is not raised to potency.

    Aristotle called this pure act at the origin of natural change (essential series of natural changes) the Prime Mover.

    Aquinas adapted Aristotle’s logic, and observed that this Prime Mover-Pure Act at the ground of nature “is what all men call God.”

    “If this deduction if free of logical errors, I am curious what such a deduction could say about the nature of God.”

    Aquinas spent a lot of time on this (a couple of hundred pages of Summa), and developed the concept of the inter-convertibility of transcendentials. He observed that we can only speak of God by analogy. We cannot understand that which is outside of nature as He really is, but merely by comparing His attributes to things with which we are familiar. Aquinas showed that a close look at what we mean by Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Power, Love really seems to boil down to one and the same thing in God (Pure Act), and that our sense that these things are distinct is an artifact of our natural limitations. Aquinas asserted that God was simple, not composite, and that His Truth is His Beauty is His Goodness is His Power is His Love.

    More to follow.

  122. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 6:38 pm

    The notion that change is not a default and necessary part of nature has been refuted by scientific discoveries going back to Newton.

    Long argument destroyed.

  123. Jeremiahon 04 Jun 2011 at 6:54 pm

    “There are two different types of causal natural series- accidental and essential. Accidental causal series don’t require the continuing existence of each preceding cause to be effective. The causal series of a father begetting a son who begets a son who begets a son etc is a classical accidental series. The grandfather could die, and the chain still goes on.”

    Mike, I can’t help but interrupt and suggest that your reconsider this notion of the difference between what would appear accidental to an observer, and what would be an accident from the point of view of nature (if it had one) or the point of view of the God that would have existed (in your view) while at the same time having some affect on those events.

    In any case there are no causal series that are sequentially accidental, either from the view of any credible philosopher or creditable scientist.

  124. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 6:59 pm

    @mufi:

    “I’ve long entertained the view (which I think is loosely attributable to Bertrand Russel) that, technically speaking, we’re all agnostics on the God question – it’s just that some of us (for whatever reason) are more uncomfortable with that condition than others”

    I agree. We as creatures of nature cannot be ‘gnostic’ about ultimate reality in this life. Absolute certainty about anything is probably not in our grasp (except perhaps the Cartesian “I Exist”).

    So we’re all agnostics, in the sense that we all live with uncertainty. Yet we must act in many aspects of our lives as if we had at least modest certainty: we love our spouse and kids, we work to earn a living, we don’t step in front of speeding trucks, we try to take care of our health, etc. We all have near-certainties that ground us. Heck, for all any of our know, we could be brains in a vat, the only existing thing, etc. Who can really be certain that we don’t live in the Matrix?

    But we plug on, because not to seems crazy. And we do so because of faith. Faith that the world is real, faith the we really love our families, faith that speeding cars will hurt us if we step in front of them. Scientists live with faith that atomic theory is true, that relativity is true, faith that physiology is true.

    Atheists profoundly misunderstand faith. None of us has absolute certainty about anything. We could just be a brain in a vat. We have to take some things for granted just to live life.

    Faith is not belief without warrant. Faith is not credulity. Faith is fidelity to a worldview that we have decided, for a host of reasons, makes sense.

    Some people have faith (fidelity to a worldview) that nature is all there is; others have faith in God. All views about the truth of existence are faith, atheists no less than theists, scientists no less than priests. And the argument that scientists don’t use faith because they have evidence is nonsense. They have no evidence that they aren’t brains in vats, and that all ‘science’ isn’t just the way our Overlords are tweaking the wires in our cortices.

    We’re all agnostics. We all have and need faith. We reach different decisions as to what to believe, but it’s all faith, at the bottom.

    “Dawkins has mocked this view as “Tooth-Fairy Agnosticism”: in other words, even he (despite his usually strong-atheist stance) admits that he is an agnostic on the God question, but only in the same sense that he is agnostic on the Tooth Fairy question.”

    Toothfairy faith doesn’t appeal to me, because Toothfairyism has no explanatory power. Theism in general, and Christianity in particular, has a lot of explanatory power (c.f. most of Western philosophy, logic, science, etc).

    Atheism, which is the view that ‘shit just happened’, is on the level of Toothfairyism. Makes me chuckle.

    Of course, the joke derives from the common understanding that the Tooth Fairy is a human invention and we would not take seriously any group or individual who argues otherwise.
    Sorry to say: I believe the analogy to theism holds merit. It’s just that theism is old and entrenched enough in our culture that it garners more respect in civic life than toothfairyism likely would, were it to suddenly emerge on the scene.

  125. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 7:01 pm

    @robm:

    “The notion that change is not a default and necessary part of nature has been refuted by scientific discoveries going back to Newton. Long argument destroyed.”

    Someone is going to have to inform Aristotle. He’s going to take it hard.

  126. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Please ignore the last two paragraphs in my next to last post above. I had copied mufi’s comment, and forgot to delete the end.

    @robm:

    Aristotle will want to know how you refuted his argument (he’ll be so upset!).

    Name one natural substance immune from change.

  127. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 7:19 pm

    @Jeremiah

    “Mike, I can’t help but interrupt and suggest that your reconsider this notion of the difference between what would appear accidental to an observer, and what would be an accident from the point of view of nature (if it had one) or the point of view of the God that would have existed (in your view) while at the same time having some affect on those events…In any case there are no causal series that are sequentially accidental, either from the view of any credible philosopher or creditable scientist.”

    I’ve never grasped the providence of the terms “accidental” and “essential” to describe the two kinds of casual series. All “accidental” means is that the continued existence of causes prior in the series is not necessary for the perpetuation of the series. “Essential” means that all prior causes must continue to exist and act for the perpetuation of the series. A chain letter is an accidental series. A biochemical pathway consisting of enzymes is (generally) an essential series. If you throw away an old chain letter, the current chain can still continue. If you remove an enzyme from the Krebs cycle, the cycle stops.

    The scholastic “accident” doesn’t mean “oops”.

  128. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Mike said: “Toothfairy faith doesn’t appeal to me, because Toothfairyism has no explanatory power. Theism in general, and Christianity in particular, has a lot of explanatory power (c.f. most of Western philosophy, logic, science, etc).”

    Well, therein lies the debate, doesn’t it? Atheists (or, more technically, non-theistic agnostics) would dispute that theism (and Christianity, in particular) lacks sufficient or satisfactory explanatory power.

    I tend to agree (which is not to suggest that any alternative is necessarily stronger, just because it’s non-theistic in character).

  129. sonicon 04 Jun 2011 at 7:35 pm

    mufi-
    It seems you would object if a teacher presented a reason for your child to question current orthodoxy.
    This is why the law is needed.

    robm-
    “Attribute” (brand name) corn is absolute certain disproof of your statement about how all life on Earth evolved (selection on random variation).
    How about that? ;-)

    Mike12-
    I think you have good points to make.
    I’m sorry if this next is off base, but it seems you have some anger associated with this subject and it clouds your arguments.
    If you make the same arguments without the anger, I think they would be more clear.
    I hope you continue to bring your points.

  130. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Mike

    I never made a claim that things are immune from change, I did say point out aristotle has a premise that (whether he stated it or not) that things don’t change without external cause. over the past 500 years scientific discoveries like gravity, bodies in constant motion remain so, electromagnetism, chemistry, strong and weak nuclear forces, general relativity, quantum mechanics, show that space time mater and energy are in constant change that is explained their properties.

    The forces and potential energy within objects do work and that produces change, to say it all needs a source from beyond is both unproven and extraneous. If you wish to believe that it all requires a prime mover and that this prime mover is god feel free, but also recognize a simpler satisfactory answer exists.

  131. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 7:56 pm

    @robm:

    “I never made a claim that things are immune from change, I did say point out aristotle has a premise that (whether he stated it or not) that things don’t change without external cause. over the past 500 years scientific discoveries like gravity, bodies in constant motion remain so, electromagnetism, chemistry, strong and weak nuclear forces, general relativity, quantum mechanics, show that space time mater and energy are in constant change that is explained their properties.
    The forces and potential energy within objects do work and that produces change, to say it all needs a source from beyond is both unproven and extraneous. If you wish to believe that it all requires a prime mover and that this prime mover is god feel free, but also recognize a simpler satisfactory answer exists.”

    Aristotle made a simple observation: change in things in nature involves the actualization of potentiality in those things. He observed that actualization of potentialities must come from something that is actual, because potentialities by definition aren’t actual.

    The Prime Mover argument merely points out that there must be something that is actual, not itself in need of actuation of potency, to start certain kinds of causal sequences in nature.

    It’s a fairly simple argument, and it is a logical deductive argument, and modern science has strengthened it, not weakened it. Potential quantum states are nice examples of Aristotle’s potencies, and collapse of the quantum waveform is a nice example of Aristotelian act.

    Aristotle’s doctrine of potency and act in natural change has been remarkably validated by quantum theory, and this strengthens his Prime Mover argument by validating the Aristotelian understanding of natural change on which the Prime Mover argument is based.

  132. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Sonic,

    thats because corn was developed through selective breeding, creating profound change, unless you also want to make that argument about bananas (domestic varieties lost the ability to sexually reproduce) in which case I’ll do my best to prevent hilarity from ensuing.

  133. nybgruson 04 Jun 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Someone is going to have to inform Aristotle. He’s going to take it hard.

    Mike’s entire argumentation hinges on a few things.

    1) quoting and using old philosophers as if their ideas were still valid. The older, the better. Since Aristotle is the oldest in his repertoire he is also the most infallible.

    2) Using lines of “evidence” like “people have seen ghosts” and other argumentum ad popularum

    3) Gish-gallop and goal post shift, bob, doge, and weave.

    4) straw-man argumentation

    5) ad hominem

    6) re-hashed bulls*** arguments from William Lane Craig

    Every single piece of garbage that comes forth from him falls into one of those logical fallacies. The funniest line for me ever was

    I doubt that you will accept any of these lines of evidence, but there are lines of evidence, of debatable quality.

    Of course we won’t accept them mike, because they aren’t lines of evidence! – you even know how garbage your “evidence” is which is why you even state they are “of debatable quality.”

    Ken Ham, WLC, and Kent Hovind would be proud of you. Lying through your teeth for Jesus. Hallelujah!

    Oh, and mike, no I would NOT be opposed to teaching ID and creation in science class as an example of total BS that is disproven. The same way I learned about Lamarckian inheritance, Haeckel’s embryos, the Piltdown man, and Aristotilean physics. Using examples of BAD SCIENCE is a great way to teach about good science. And that has been perfectly acceptable since I was a wee lad. What this bill does is allows for teachers to teach that stuff AS SCIENCE. BIG BIG BIG difference.

    Evolution is “just at theory.” I want to vomit every time I hear that. Gravity is “just a theory” as well. The notion that bacteria and viruses cause illness is “just a theory.” You claim this high and mighty “I know so much philosophy and you are intellectually bankrupt” stance and yet you don’t even know what a “theory” actually is. And no, just because common descent is settled doesn’t mean we stop doing research in evolution. It means we stop debating whether common descent is valid. It is. It is done. Move on. And that is what evolutionary theory has done. The likes of you are left behind trying to decide what has already been decided. You claim you know the scientific method – please. You can’t even realize that a THEORY builds on its past successes and becomes more refined. ALL of evolutionary biology (and medicine) are based in the already proven assumption of common descent. But of course, you are so dense and so gleeful to lie for your religion none of that matters.

    robm – I remember when I first got really fired up in the skeptic arguments. I was truly astonished that the likes of mike actually existed. It was like reading fairytales about monsters and trolls and suddenly realizing they really do exist! It truly boggles my mind that mike could actually believe one single word rattling around amongst the rocks in his head. But what I have come to learn is that he probably does – through such cognitive dissonance that it might actually rip a hole in the fabric of the cosmos, but he does.

    I’m glad you realize you won’t educate the likes of mike. It took me a couple months of frustration to realize it myself, and then I realized it was a great opportunity to learn the arguments, learn the science, and help out fence sitters and the uneducated. I learned more about evolutionary biology debating these people in a year and a half than I did in most of my undergrad and that was an amazing experience. I elegance and nuance of evolutionary theory is so beatiful that I still get fired up when idiots like mike spout off gibberish about it. Much anything else these days doesn’t get me quite as riled up and so I leave it to aspiring young skeptics like you. Keep up the strong work!

  134. nybgruson 04 Jun 2011 at 8:02 pm

    It’s a fairly simple argument, and it is a logical deductive argument, and modern science has strengthened it, not weakened it.

    “It’s a fairly simple argument, because it was made by an ancient thinker who didn’t know any better at the time, and modern science has destroyed that line of thinking, but I use it anyway since nothing modern can actually support the drivel I am claiming.”

    There, fixed that for you. No need to thank me.

  135. sonicon 04 Jun 2011 at 8:06 pm

    robm-
    No, that’s because “Attribute” was genetically engineered.
    Just google it next time.

  136. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 8:10 pm

    @sonic:

    “Mike12-I think you have good points to make.
    I’m sorry if this next is off base, but it seems you have some anger associated with this subject and it clouds your arguments.
    If you make the same arguments without the anger, I think they would be more clear. I hope you continue to bring your points.”

    Thank you. I’ve thought a bit about how to engage these issues, and I believe that snark is appropriate in some circumstances. The notion that Christians must be milquetoast isn’t true.

    The things that get my ire are:

    1) Insults and arrogance directed against decent people. Mdcaton’s insulting assertions that the ‘creationists’ in Tennessee are ruining science education is offensive. Most of the good people are ‘creationists’, and a fair number of them are more decent and well-informed than anyone on this thread. If you’re going to call Christians anti-science or stupid, I’m going to call you out, and rudely. It’s what you deserve.

    2) I hate censorship. Dover really pisses me off. A bunch of atheist brownshirts blackmailed a small school district for $2,000,000 and got an asshole federal judge to silence criticism of atheism’s creation myth based on… the first amendment (ya know, the one that guarantees freedom of speech).

    If atheists don’t want their kids (the few they have) to question Darwin, I don’t give a shit. But when atheists tell me that my kids can’t question Darwin in my school funded with my taxes, it’s time for a fight.

    I’m not the only one angry about this. If you look at the legislative votes on these academic freedom bills, it’s nearly unanimous in every state, Democrats and Republicans. There is a big backlash building.

    If you are polite and ask sane questions, I’m the nicest guy you’ll meet. Insult my fellow Christians, or use force to censor me, and I fight.

  137. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 8:10 pm

    sonic: If by “orthodoxy” you mean “the dominant views of the fields”, then, yes. My impression is that science teachers at the primary and secondary school levels are challenged enough just by trying to teach those to the kids.

    But ID is not even a minority view in biology – it’s just a religious belief dressed up as biology, which would raise constitutional flags even if it weren’t a waste of valuable science classroom time.

  138. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 8:12 pm

    A correction to myself: I meant to say that “Atheists (or, more technically, non-theistic agnostics) would dispute that theism (and Christianity, in particular) has sufficient or satisfactory explanatory power. “

  139. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 8:13 pm

    “Aristotle made a simple observation: change in things in nature involves the actualization of potentiality in those things. He observed that actualization of potentialities must come from something that is actual, because potentialities by definition aren’t actual.”

    Actualizing potential is a tautology, since a thing does what it can do, its looking at the present state of things and declaring it to be the reason for the past states, ie back asswards. This is completely different from potential energy since a force must already be acting on the object in question. Again you go on saying aristotle is a quantum physicist, particle wave duality is not about “actualizing potential” its about a particle being and acting like a wave, and vice versa.

  140. Jeremiahon 04 Jun 2011 at 8:14 pm

    >“Essential” means that all prior causes must continue to exist and act for the perpetuation of the series. A chain letter is an accidental series. A biochemical pathway consisting of enzymes is (generally) an essential series. If you throw away an old chain letter, the current chain can still continue. If you remove an enzyme from the Krebs cycle, the cycle stops. <

    Mike, essential means essential to attain a purpose, so you've simply made an assumption that there must have been a first purpose and rationalizing what that would mean to us now from the prospect of that purpose having been (so you've assumed) achieved, success thus due to a linear series of directed and unbroken events from the time that first purpose was somehow enabled to proceed on its inevitable way.

    No wonder you despise Hume.

  141. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 8:19 pm

    “The things that get my ire are:
    1) Insults and arrogance directed against decent people.”

    Oh I agree..

    “If atheists tell me that my kids can’t question Darwin in my school…”

    have you become a solopsist, its not your school only there to raise your kids in the exact manner you specify, its there for everybody’s kids.

    “Insult my fellow Christians, or use force to censor me, and I fight.”

    Surprizing as it may be athiests, agnostics, skeptics, and others who believe in evolution feel the same about their respective groups.

  142. SkeptimusPrimeon 04 Jun 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Mike, you say you used to be an atheist, but you seem to have a profound misunderstanding about atheism.

    I have rarely, if ever, met an atheist who has suggested they are absolutely certain there is no god. Most are well aware that all knowledge is provisional. So your suggestion that atheists do misunderstand faith is somewhat of a strawman.

    For one, this is a bit of a semantic argument, you rely on the inherent vagueness of the definitions of belief/faith. Yes faith can be defined as you define it, but you seem to depend on this vagueness to construct a rather post-modernest argument in which you seem to suggest that all beliefs are equally valid because none can be held with 100% certainty.

    I am an atheist, and interestingly enough I had the opposite experience to you. I was a Christian for years and became dissatisfied with the lack of logic and lack of answers to be found in my religion. I was also dissatisfied at its tendency to assume certainty on topics one could never be certain of.

    I am well aware that all beliefs are provisional, one of the things I appreciate about atheism is that by and large atheists admit this, and are comfortable admitting we do not have all the answers. I can name quite a few atheists who have spoken about this if you require evidence of such.

    However, while we may not be 100% certain of much, aside from logical tautologies perhaps, to suggest that all beliefs are inherently equal because of this is rather silly. As an atheist I merely reject a claim that has not been proven by those who make the claim.

    The claim that if I step in front of a bus I will get injured is empirically verifiable, and to suggest that the belief of such is logically equivalent to the belief that a magic man created the universe has all the stink of post-modernest drivel.

    I would openly admit that I cannot prove that a magic man did not create the universe, but that alone is not a sufficient reason to believe it happened.

    P.S. the Aristotelian prime mover argument has a major logical problem you should already be aware of, but even without that problem the major issue is how does one go from this deist god of Aristotle to the god of the bible, that is a big gap I have never seen anyone cross. Care to elaborate on how you got from “something created the universe” to “Jesus is god?”

  143. sonicon 04 Jun 2011 at 8:24 pm

    It seems there are real questions here (as I hoped my earlier examples made clear), but we get lost in discussions of religion and so forth.
    I don’t care about your religion.
    If you want to argue that something in science should not be questioned, then please don’t talk to me- I have nothing but questions.
    Anyone left?

    Earlier I mentioned what I see as the failure of the ring species examples of evolution theory.
    This is bothersome to me, as these examples are often touted as the best, most complete and inarguable examples. Karl- who is usually spot on with his references- used them, for example.
    I agree that if the salamanders (for example) in the Washington to S. Cal. ring species could not mate when they came together in S. Cal, this would be proof beyond question.
    But the salamanders in S. Cal. can and do mate.
    What am I missing?

  144. Mlemaon 04 Jun 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Mike12,
    you do little to promote the Christian faith by calling people bastards, assholes, etc.

    also, I would encourage you not to rely on the”permissiveness” of a logical argument to assuage the ongoing conflict between the heart of the mind and the mind of the world.
    “in the world, but not of the world”.
    Although theological and philosophical discussions are important, they never rise to justifying disdain for anyone, including atheists. Aren’t atheists to be loved and prayed for? That they too might experience that “profound religious experience?” that you were so fortunate to have?

    What an admirable man was Thomas Aquinas.
    but:
    “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

    We can’t legislate belief in the divine. And we absolutely MUST use worldly reason and evidence in our science classrooms. The implications of scientific knowledge can be debated in the social sciences and philosophy classrooms. Just as our constitution is built on reason for the rights of man and the peace of our society, and is made to change and develop by righteous and faithful men like Martin Luther King, Jr..

    I feel as though your original complaint had to do with the omission of ID from the evolution curriculum. I personally think that certain tenets of ID should be discussed as they were raised as qualifiers of natural selection – BUT – it is my understanding that irreducible complexity and specified complexity (the most credible tenets IMHO) must by definition become philosophical arguments. (how do you define complexity? It becomes a matter of qualification itself, and outside the natural evidence – moving it to another classroom, or to a special chapter inside the evolution discussion – which I personally think is a good place for it: to help set human context for evolution)

    You support an unadulterated quest for truth and knowledge. You’re irritated because it seems that many atheists simply stop seeking once they have something that allows them to kill God, even if there are still unanswered questions. I submit that “never the twain shall meet.” Argue the scientific facts – which are treasured by reasonable men, atheist and worshipper alike. And argue the law, as it’s written (I say this for the benefit of atheists who may read this as well – don’t read INTO the law – the law “is” only as it is enforced and adjudicated by the courts) There can be no refutation in anything of this world for the ultimate works of God. Christians should not, by bringing God into science, themselves kill the expansion of material knowledge (which they can see as learning about God, after all, if he is its “creator”)
    Evolution doesn’t do away with God any more than ID brings God “back”.

    For atheists and Mike12: even though ID may be a ruse for creationism, there are religious scholars, like Rabbi Natan Slifkin and Kenneth miller, who do not support ID taught in the classroom because “[T]he struggles of the Intelligent Design movement are best understood as clamorous and disappointing double failures—rejected by science because they do not fit the facts, and having failed religion because they think too little of God.[138]”

    It’s unfortunate that lots of taxpayer money was awarded to the victorious plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. Pro- and anti-evolution citizens alike are punished in that way.

    i think it’s legitimate to continue to try to define “intelligence”, and look for a way to decide whether or how much of it exists in the universe (something about this strikes me as funny), but unless and until we can have some sort of measurable evidence – intelligence is only a theory! :-)

    PS – Mike12, I don’t understand the examples of accidental vs. essential cause. Isn’t grandpa essential for grandkid in the same way that brain enzyme is essential for nail strike? neither one happens without the pre-existence (but not necessarily continuing) existence of the other. They are both seperated by time, although one is a longer amount of time. Are there some other examples of “accidental” to help me understand? thanks

  145. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 8:58 pm

    sonic, by all means, raise questions about evolution. You don’t need a law in order to do so.

    Besides, as far as I know, neither of us are experts in the relevant field(s) of biology, so our having questions is unsurprising.

    What’s more, the science teachers in the public schools aren’t experts, either (although I hope that they are better informed of the subject than the average lay person). We can allow politicians to dictate to them that they teach the “scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught”, but then that only begs the question of who is qualified to determine what those weaknesses are. If the answer is (as I believe it ought to be): the experts in the relevant field(s) of biology, then we’re back to Steve’s objection that evolution (via natural selection) “is not controversial within the scientific community, the overwhelming majority of whom accept evolution as a scientific fact”, so any “weaknesses” that are actually taught are bound to strike the bill’s creationist proponents as, well, weak.

    That said, perhaps a victory for them would be little more than symbolic.

  146. robmon 04 Jun 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Sonic

    whats missing is the nuance that species is a rather tricky concept to create a concrete and clearly defined definition for infact there are multiptle species concepts , the wikipedia ring species article links to the species problem article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_concept#Definitions_of_species

    If your unconvinced feel free to try to learn more and ask lots of questions, scientists have probably asked most of them and have good anwers to most of those.

  147. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Mlema: Well said.

    I just want to add that Rabbi Natan Slifkin books have been banned within his own community (i.e. by haredi Jews, of which I am a former member, btw).

    I’ll also add that, while I’ve not read Slifkin’s books in particular, I’m familiar with Orthodox Jewish views to evolution, and what normally happens in these attempts to harmonize Torah with science (a.k.a. Torah u’Madda), the more the writer embraces modern science, the more he has to read messages into the Torah that defy its plain meaning.

    In other words, they face the choice of offending modern biblical scholars (like Richard Elliot Friedman) or offending modern biologists and cosmologists.

  148. mufion 04 Jun 2011 at 9:17 pm

    PS: and geologists (let’s not forget the Flood myth).

  149. sonicon 04 Jun 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Mike12-
    I’m afraid how Christians are supposed to act is way beyond my purview.
    Make your case as best you can.

    Mlema-
    People don’t come from monkeys. They don’t come from storks either. Anyone who tells you that is probably just unwilling to talk to you about sex. ;-)

  150. Mlemaon 04 Jun 2011 at 9:26 pm

    sonic-
    you are a wise man :-)

  151. sonicon 04 Jun 2011 at 9:40 pm

    robm-
    Thank-you.
    Yes, I am well aware of the species problem. I guess I would consider that problem indicative of a weakness in a theory that purports to explain the ‘origin of species’, but that is not my main point.
    Clearly it is true that if two life forms can’t mate (a horse and a horseradish, for example) these are different species.
    When Mayr discussed looking for ways to demonstrate evolution he purposed the ring species as a means of doing so.
    He felt this phenomena would be ubiquitous- as the theory more or less demands it should be- and that the creatures at the ends of the rings would not be able to mate.
    He found 19 such examples- the salamanders I mentioned earlier being the best known and most explicit example.
    But in no case is it true that the creatures can’t mate upon reconnecting. The salamanders do mate–
    But this is contrary to what the theory predicts.
    When a theory predicts a phenomena and upon inspection that phenomena can’t be found, that is generally considered a weakness in the theory- no?

  152. nybgruson 04 Jun 2011 at 10:12 pm

    sonic: the salamanders example is not contrary to the theory. It is simply an example of how complex the issue of evolution is and exactly why creationists can’t grapple with it. Take a look at the Asiatic Warblers:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v409/n6818/full/409299a0.html

    From the introductory paragraph:

    “‘Ring species’ occur when one species grades into two at the overlap of a circular population distribution. Good examples are rare, but one case has now passed some rigorous tests.”

    But that is not the point. The point is that a theory encompasses many lines of evidence converging on a testable, verifiable, and falsifiable hypothesis – not a “guess” as the likes of mike would try and claim. There is no one “silver bullet” that succinctly, completely, and adequately “proves” evolutionary theory. You must integrate things like molecular biology, genetics, ecology, paleontology, and real life examples like ring species to be able to say that common descent is de facto the only legitimate explanation for the diversity of species on this planet. The fact that it is hard to find a “perfect” example of a ring species does not weaken evolutionary theory – it strengthens it because the very nature of speciation and the definitions thereof are a requirement of the theory.

    If you want to argue that something in science should not be questioned, then please don’t talk to me- I have nothing but questions.

    Science should always be questioned. That is how it works. The very nature of faith and religion is not to question, not to update, and to ignore contradictory evidence. Hence why certain idealogues here keep pushing millennia old ideas as valid “evidence” for back asswards ideas.

    But another tenet of scientific progress is to utilize established empirical knowledge – not to willy nilly question something but to question it intelligently. Something plainly lacking in mike’s discourse. Metaphysical BS to try and claim that evolution is “just a theory” is complete and utter nonsense.

    but then that only begs the question of who is qualified to determine what those weaknesses are. If the answer is (as I believe it ought to be): the experts in the relevant field(s) of biology, then we’re back to Steve’s objection that evolution (via natural selection) “is not controversial within the scientific community, the overwhelming majority of whom accept evolution as a scientific fact”, so any “weaknesses” that are actually taught are bound to strike the bill’s creationist proponents as, well, weak.

    Exactly the point. There doesn’t need to be a law protecting doing something that is already inherently done. You aren’t taught evolution as “Darwinism” or by dogma. You are taught that Darwin started the notion of common descent, you are taught how to contrast that with Lamarckian theory, you are taught how Mendelian genetics were added to Darwinian theory to make it more robust and complete. Teaching creationism as anything but another failed attempt at describing the diversity of life is the antithesis of science. Period.

    And no, mike. If I thought Christians were milquetoast I wouldn’t care at all. The fact is that you are a loud, large, and stupid group that can actually get your inane anti-scientific ideas passed as laws and indoctrinated into children who can’t know better. That is why I will fight dogmatists like you tooth and nail every day.

    Insults and arrogance directed against decent people. Mdcaton’s insulting assertions that the ‘creationists’ in Tennessee are ruining science education is offensive. Most of the good people are ‘creationists’, and a fair number of them are more decent and well-informed than anyone on this thread. If you’re going to call Christians anti-science or stupid, I’m going to call you out, and rudely. It’s what you deserve.

    Ah yes. That old canard. “Newton was a christian and he contributed mightily to scientific understanding. So was Maxwell. And so was…”

    “Most good people are creationists…” NO. Most people are indoctrinated in religion and thus are creationists and also happen to be good. And just because someone is “good” in one aspect of their lives does NOT make them right or “good” in another. I may become the best doctor in the world but I would never be so arrogant as to say that I would also be the best lawyer. A christian may be a great parent, a good member of their community, a caring individual, and the best CPA in their town. That in now way, shape, or manner informs their outlook on creationism vs evolution. Yet another one of the logical fallacies rife in religious ideology.

    And I will call Christians anti-science and stupid. As a collective, that is the basis of the political and legal tack they take. On an individual basis there are many exceptions and I have many good Christian friends. But the obvious ethos of any religion, not just Christianity, is intentionally anti-scientific and pandering to the stupidest and least informed members of society.

    So go ahead and bring it mike. Because you and your ilk are nothing more than a loud, blustering, crowd of loons with metaphysical legs of BS to stand on. Which is why you can’t argue the science and instead invoke the “persecuted christian” mentality, use metaphysical nonsense, and ancient arguments that have been repeated and destroyed so many times it makes zombies look like milquetoast in comparison.

    But as a group, you are most certainly not milquetoast. The problem is that your ilk starts with “majority rule” and leaves out the “minority rights” and adds a heaping helping of “teach my doctrine in lieu of science.”

    Keep rambling. I’ll let robm handle the science and I’ll gladly keep calling you out as a sickening liar and purveyor of scum and ideology.

  153. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 11:22 pm

    @nybgrus:

    It is so infuriating to be asked questions by people who don’t agree with you.

    But just one question, before you toss me in the gulag.

    Could you give me an example or two of the genuine evidence against evolution?

  154. Mike12on 04 Jun 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Here’s a synopsis of the similarities and differences between nybgrus and I:

    Similarity: we both get angry.

    Differences:

    I get angry when free exchange of ideas is not permitted.

    Nybgrus gets angry when free exchange of ideas is permitted.

  155. sonicon 05 Jun 2011 at 12:07 am

    nybgrus-
    Thank-you for the reply.
    I have read about the warblers. While it is true they have not been observed mating at the ends, the researchers didn’t spend much time looking (I read the original report sometime ago– your link is to 2001, I haven’t seen anything newer). I would agree that this is a possible example, but given the history I remain skeptical until a longer observation is made. Given where these things live and how long it took to notice the salamanders doing the deed, I’m not holding my breath. Further, I’m think that just because the songs are different, if it was the last bird on Earth…
    (I don’t blame the researchers for not wanting to spend numerous years in the part of the world where these warblers live- I can’t imagine living in horrible conditions watching to see if two birds ever engage in sexual activity–my tendency to voyeurism apparently does have some bounds– but I’m not a biology researcher, either.) :-)

    Re- common descent–
    Read this article–

    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/10/2266.full.pdf+html

    I can’t help but think they are trying to fit a square peg (tree of life- common descent) into a round hole (the actual DNA evidence.)
    Clearly the TOL is not evident from the actual evidence. Perhaps that’s because the TOL isn’t really a truth.
    Perhaps Woese and Ventor are correct– life has had many beginnings.

    Being as I have no idea how life could come from non-life, I would happily admit my ignorance is profound on this issue.

    Anyway- I hope teachers are allowed to speak freely.

  156. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 12:18 am

    @nybgrus:

    Here’s a few more questions:

    Should public school teachers be permitted to discuss the weaknesses as well as the strengths of the theory of common descent?

    Is it unconstitutional to critically evaluate the theory of common descent in a public school classroom?

    Would it be unconstitutional to critically evaluate the theory of common descent in a public school classroom if the teacher is a Christian and might have Christian motives?

    Would a Christian teacher who critically evaluates the theory of common descent in a public school classroom be “a sickening liar and purveyor of scum and ideology.”?

  157. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 12:21 am

    Nah, Mike it’s just that you’re all cheek and there’s no turning you.

  158. SkeptimusPrimeon 05 Jun 2011 at 12:21 am

    @Mike 12

    “1) Insults and arrogance directed against decent people. Mdcaton’s insulting assertions that the ‘creationists’ in Tennessee are ruining science education is offensive. Most of the good people are ‘creationists’, and a fair number of them are more decent and well-informed than anyone on this thread. If you’re going to call Christians anti-science or stupid, I’m going to call you out, and rudely. It’s what you deserve.”

    I don’t personally care what you think I do or do not deserve, but if someone says that the earth is only 6,000 years old then I don’t know how one can say they are not Luddite in some way, I don’t care what religion they subscribe to. Sure, plenty of Christians are decent people, plenty of Atheists are too, none of that has any relevance to evolutionary theory or whether or not a god exists.

    I am confused why someone who claims to be rational on this topic is bringing up such a non-sequitur.

    “2) I hate censorship. Dover really pisses me off. A bunch of atheist brownshirts blackmailed a small school district for $2,000,000 and got an asshole federal judge to silence criticism of atheism’s creation myth based on… the first amendment (ya know, the one that guarantees freedom of speech).”

    I ridiculous characterization of the Dover trial. Have you actually read ANYTHING about the trial? I have. Did you know that “asshole federal judge” was a bush appointed conservative?

    The ID science books had just pasted over the word “creationism” with the phrase “intelligent design” from a 10 year old creationist science book?

    Secondly, evolution is not a creation myth for atheism, that is such a stupid assertion that my brain hurts just reading it, even if evolution was proven wrong tomorrow I wouldn’t automatically become a Christian or join any other religion for that mater, and I seriously doubt that anyone has ever became an atheist based merely upon a study of evolution.

    What about the large number of Christians out there who believe in evolution? Kenneth R. Miller the biologist comes to mind. You set up a false dichotomy trying to make it sound like there is some shadowy conspiracy of scientists propping up a clearly false theory to undermine your religion.

    It stinks of rank conspiracy theory. Why don’t you tell us about area 51 and how aliens built the pyramids too? How you manage to feel persecuted as a Christian in a country full of Christians is beyond me. Tell us again how hard you have it now that You only have most of the power instead of all of it.

    “If atheists don’t want their kids (the few they have) to question Darwin, I don’t give a shit. But when atheists tell me that my kids can’t question Darwin in my school funded with my taxes, it’s time for a fight.”

    wow, are you really suggesting that atheists have fewer kids or something? I’m not really sure, but I personally don’t care who questions Darwin, he was actually wrong about a few things, unsurprising since they hadn’t even discovered DNA yet.

    You’re kids can ask any questions they want, no one at the Dover trial ever said otherwise, they simply said that the TEACHERS could not teach religion in the science classroom. I am really doubting you know anything about the Dover trial, or how church state separation works?

    “I’m not the only one angry about this. If you look at the legislative votes on these academic freedom bills, it’s nearly unanimous in every state, Democrats and Republicans. There is a big backlash building.”

    So there is a big backlash building because some of us have the gall to suggest the constitution be defended? Because we refuse to let you use the legal system to shove your religion on everyone else? Politicians, both, Democrats and Republicans both have a tendency to be morons when it comes to science so no surprise there.

    “If you are polite and ask sane questions, I’m the nicest guy you’ll meet. Insult my fellow Christians, or use force to censor me, and I fight.”

    Really, you are nice guy? You don’t seem like it here, you seem insulting, judgmental and kinda jerky. Also when have has ANY atheist group ever used force to silence Christians? When did we even have that kind of power? You came here looking for a fight and found it.

    Also “polite and sane questions” seems to translate to “I will grudging allow all you evil atheists to exist in my society as long as you shut up and let Christians walk all over you.”
    I personally invite you to get bent, demanding that Christians stop treating non-believers as 2nd class citizens is NOT censoring you.

  159. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 12:34 am

    Should public school teachers speculate about panspermia?

  160. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 12:35 am

    @Jeremiah:

    I’m just trying to understand the totalitarian mind. Bear with me.

  161. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 12:42 am

    Should public school teachers be able to teach creation mathematically?

  162. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 12:53 am

    Could you give me an example or two of the genuine evidence against evolution?

    Can you give me an example or two of genuine evidence against the theory of gravity?

    Your question is completely meaningless. There exists no evidence against the central thrust of evolutionary theory. If we find a modern rabbit fossil in pre-cambrian rock that would be evidence against evolutionary theory. If we found an example of a dog giving birth to a crow that would be evidence against evolutionary theory.

    However, if you want to discuss the finer points of evolution like the debate about punctuated equilibrium or the role of “junk” DNA in shaping the fitness of genes, then that is a different story altogether. Those are regions of the theory where the science is not quite settled yet – but that is nuance and refinement, not an issue of the theory itself.

    So how about it? Any evidence against the theory of gravity?

    I get angry when free exchange of ideas is not permitted.
    Nybgrus gets angry when free exchange of ideas is permitted.

    Wrong again, bucko. You get angry when your stupid, incorrect, and religiously motivated ideas aren’t given the same status as intelligent and empirically proven theories.

    I get angry when religious zealots and metaphysical snake oil salesmen try and put their moronic ideas and straw men attacks of science on the same level as expert consensus on the field.

    Exchange of ideas freely is something I will fight tooth and nail for. But I will also feel free to call your ideas stupid – because they are. And your arrogance to try and discuss evolutionary theory like an expert is another thing I cannot stand. You know so little about it and yet claim to have some insight into it. That truly sickens me. Because you take your pretend knowledge and try and claim “atheist science” is an “ideology” pushing evolution. Well that same “atheist science” devised the technology you use to make your asinine claims. So if you want to reject the expert consensus on evolution just because you can’t (or more likely won’t) understand it, then please do the world a favor and reject the technology that allows you to hop in the internet and make cell phone calls. Because it is one and the same. The only difference is that cellular technology doesn’t butt heads with your religious ideology.

    sonic:

    Thank you for the reasoned questions about evolutionary theory. I agree, that the concept of a ring species is much more touted than it should be. It is but one tiny bit of empirical observation in a giant mountain of data confirmed evolutionary theory. The reality is that the difficulties associated with ring species is a reflection of how messy the notion of “species” actually is. As I said above, it is most certainly not the “slam dunk” that many make it out to be. But once again, evolutionary theory actually expects this to be the case – we don’t have a quantized and absolute sense of exactly how much difference needs to exist to actually create a molecularly incompatible species. And that is something that would be extremely difficult to characterize. There are so many considerations for such things that it would vary from species to species – things like epigenetic factors (paternal vs maternal methylation factors), allelic hetero/homogeneity, allelic redundancy are just some of the factors weighing in on a purely molecular level.

    But the article that you cite is not about fitting a square peg into a round hole. The article refers specifically to human descent, not the general concept of common descent. The DNA is showing us that the current population of humans on the earth may have arisen from multiple disparate ancestors instead of one single ancestral race that came to dominate the earth. This does not in any way contradict the notion that off all the disparate ancestors we may have arisen from there did, at some point, exist an ancestor common to us all.

    In fact the DNA evidence shows us quite clearly that is the case. There are numerous examples of nested hierarchies of genetic polymorphisms, RNA viruses, and random mutations that are shared and perfectly nested across genomes as disparate as sponges to rabbits to humans. In fact, there is a defunct sequence of DNA in our “junk” DNA that is part of the code for a protein that synthesizes vitamin C – the vitamin C pseudogene. Humans do not synthesize vitamin C, but they need it. This gene is found buried in the junk DNA and when compared to the same gene sequence of various other primates it is found that the exact same single nucleotide deletion that renders the gene defunct occurs in each instance. The odds of this happening across all the species – by chance alone – are so astronomically small that the only reasonable conclusion is that we, chimpanzees, macaques, and orangutans all shared a common ancestor which acquired the deleterious mutation and passed it on to us. I think you would agree that we are a different species and would not be able to mate with them.

    But once again, that is a small piece of corroboratory data. In and of itself it does not prove or wholly support evolution. But it is one of those converging lines of evidence.

    Don’t confuse “life” having multiple beginnings with “human life” having multiple beginnings. It is indeed possible that all life could have had multiple beginnings – evolutionary theory wouldn’t even change if that were the case. It would simply be used to describe multiple lines of lineage the exact same way it has described one. However, all the data so far lead us to one single origin of life.

    Also, do not confuse the origin of life with the evolution of life. Evolutionary theory does NOT speak to abiogenesis. I personally think it can and it does. However, that is an example of where there is actually debate and controversy amongst the scientific community – that is hardly settled. But the basic concept of what happened to life after it started is consistently, accurately, and adequately described by evolutionary theory. It simply gets more accurate and refined over time.

    And I think teachers should be allowed to speak freely as well. But if they start teaching that the sky is red, plants are heterotrophs, humans can photosynthesize, and the world is flat and the sun moves around it as fact then they need to be stopped. Teaching creation as a “fact” or as a possible “alternative” to evolutionary theory is exactly like teaching that the earth is flat and the sun rotates around it.

  163. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 1:05 am

    Should public school teachers be permitted to discuss the weaknesses as well as the strengths of the theory of common descent?

    Yes. They can and they do. I was taught both. But do not conflate the limits of a theory with the theory itself being incorrect. The reality is that the theory is so settled that discussions of its strengths and weakness is something attained no earlier than university level and more aptly at a postgraduate level.

    Would you like to discuss the “weaknesses and strengths” of gravitational theory with high schoolers? Or do you think perhaps the notion of special relativity and gravitational theory being irreconcilable might be above their heads? And yet, we all agree on the basic kinematics of gravity and how to describe it. And that is what you teach to high schoolers.

    Same thing with evolutionary theory. You wouldn’t debate whether gravity exists or not in high school. You wouldn’t debate whether evolution exists or not either. But you can go on to discuss the finer details of BOTH theories if you choose to advance your knowledge in uni and grad school.

    Is it unconstitutional to critically evaluate the theory of common descent in a public school classroom?

    No. As long as it is a critique of evolution – not a plug for creationism or ID. The former happens all the time and is excellent. The latter is what happened in Dover vs Kitzmiller and the school district paid dearly for ideological bullshit in the guise of science.

    But I’ll refer you to the answer above. The basics and bulk of evolutionary theory is settled to the point that there is nothing to critique at a high school level. There is no question, whatsoever about common descent in the same way there is no question that there is gravity. Anything beyond that is beyond high school discussion.

    Would it be unconstitutional to critically evaluate the theory of common descent in a public school classroom if the teacher is a Christian and might have Christian motives?

    If the motives are to indoctrinate religious ideology as science, then yes. That is blatantly unconstitutional. Since the theory of evolution is settled on the notion of common descent, then any such “critical evaluation” can be nothing more than ignorance, religious ideology, or both. Neither of which belong in a science classroom.

    <Would a Christian teacher who critically evaluates the theory of common descent in a public school classroom be “a sickening liar and purveyor of scum and ideology.”?

    Once again, asked and answered. And yes, as in the prior answer, if someone like you “critically evaluates” common descent then it would be sickening lies and purveying of scum and ideology. Because you don’t have a clue what “theory” even means to begin with, let alone how to “critically evaluate” one.

  164. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 1:09 am

    Should public school teachers speculate about panspermia?

    I like that. Should public teachers be allowed to speculate that the earth may in fact be a disc on the back of a turtle flying through the universe? Or is that not a “critical evaluation” of cosmological theory?

    Because for lying christians like you, proposing creationism from genesis is considered “critically evaluating” evolutionary theory. By your standards we should allow physics teachers to “critically evaluate” astronomy by suggesting that we could all be flying on the back of a giant turtle right now.

  165. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 1:47 am

    From http://www.panspermia-theory.com/

    “Panspermia theory: the origin of life on Earth and the transfer of life throughout the Universe. Three popular variations of the hypothesis are directed panspermia – the intentional transfer of life to other planets by intelligent life; lithopanspermia – extremophile bacteria traveling through space within a meteorite, asteroid or comet from a planet in one solar system to a planet in another solar system; and ballistic panspermia – extremophile microbes traveling through space within meteorites, asteroids or comets between planets within the same solar system, such as from Mars to Earth. Panspermia has been explored by the astrobiology community and endorsed by astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and Nobel prize winner Professor Francis Crick.”

    I personally think that we don’t need that theory to account for the distinct possibility that what’s clearly seen by us as life can have gradually transitioned from what’s just as clearly seen as non-life.

    But if Hawking and Crick have done more than speculate about panspermia, there’s no good reason why it should be banished to the realm of the mythological.

  166. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 2:52 am

    You are correct. It was erroneous to lump turtle-earth mythology with panspermia. Turtle-earth is equivalent to creationism/ID.

    Panspermia, however, is almost entirely speculative with little empirical data to support it – yet. As such, it should be mentioned in science class as something considered by prominent scientists and nothing more.

    The same way creationism should be mentioned as thoroughly disproven and denounced by prominent scientists and nothing more.

  167. Steven Novellaon 05 Jun 2011 at 8:15 am

    Mike- your position is a giant strawman. This is not about limiting free scientific discussion in classrooms. No one is for that. That is a false issue meant to disguise what is really going on.

    Science teachers can and should discuss the weaknesses and evidence against any theory, including evolution, big bang, etc. This included legitimate dissenting opinions.

    However – the arguments that creationists use against evolution are not legitimate. They have been debunked by scientists long ago, numerous times.

    The purpose of this bill and bills like it is not to promote free discussion – but to provide a shield so that teachers can teach a pseudoscience born of religious faith, in violation of the constitution. They will not be promoting science or critical thinking, but a specific religious belief.

  168. mufion 05 Jun 2011 at 10:52 am

    nybgrus: The only parts of your comments that I disagree with are the insults (i.e. the references to “stupid” and “lying christians”). Otherwise, spot on.

  169. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 11:00 am

    @Steven Novella:

    “This is not about limiting free scientific discussion in classrooms. No one is for that.”

    Judge Jones explicitly prohibited the Dover School Board from requiring teachers to “denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution”. The Judge explicitly barred curriculum that discussed the weaknesses of the scientific theory of evolution.

    “Science teachers can and should discuss the weaknesses and evidence against any theory, including evolution, big bang, etc. This included legitimate dissenting opinions.
    However – the arguments that creationists use against evolution are not legitimate. They have been debunked by scientists long ago, numerous times.”

    Oh, I see. Freedom of speech is guaranteed, but you (or scientists or experts) get to decide what is “speech”.

    “The purpose of this bill and bills like it is not to promote free discussion – but to provide a shield so that teachers can teach a pseudoscience born of religious faith, in violation of the constitution. They will not be promoting science or critical thinking, but a specific religious belief.”

    Where in the bill is that permitted? If religion is discussed, you can still drag the school district into federal court and financially ruin it, like you’ve done repeatedly in the past.

    The Louisiana Academic Freedom bill, which is nearly identical to the Tennessee bill, has been law since 2008. How many specific instances of inserting religion into the classroom in Louisiana can you cite?

    How about this: why don’t we all support academic freedom, and talk about these issues, without threats, litigation, financial ruin, etc?

    What are you afraid of?

  170. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 11:15 am

    @nybgrus:

    You said:

    “Suffice it to say, there is no controversy or question on the concept of common decent. PERIOD Anything said otherwise is the product of uniformed, unintelligent, religiously driven piffle.”

    Then you said:

    “Yes. [Public school teachers] can and they do [discuss the weaknesses as well as the strengths of the theory of common descent]. I was taught both. But do not conflate the limits of a theory with the theory itself being incorrect. The reality is that the theory is so settled that discussions of its strengths and weakness is something attained no earlier than university level and more aptly at a postgraduate level.”

    So you do support the teaching of “uniformed, unintelligent, religiously driven piffle” in public schools, although you feel that from a pedantic standpoint it would be better to wait until the university level to include anti-common descent piffle in the curriculum.

    hmmm…

  171. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 11:24 am

    “Oh, I see. Freedom of speech is guaranteed, but you (or scientists or experts) get to decide what is “speech”.”

    Actually they get to decide what is science, in the same way engineers decide which airplane stand a chance of flying, because of facts not ideology.

    What you want is an exemption to be made so facts can be unfairly discredited in order to promote your religion. And guess what you might get your wish since there may not be the mountain of evidence linking this bill to creationist like there was in the dover school board case.

  172. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 11:28 am

    @nybgrus:

    “creationism should be mentioned [in public school classrooms] as thoroughly disproven and denounced by prominent scientists and nothing more.”

    Wow. You assert the constitutionality of denouncing a religious viewpoint in a classroom, but you prohibit the affirmation of a religious viewpoint in a classroom.

    You believe that it is ethical and legal to deny religion in class, but not to support it. And you say that “nothing more” should be said– that is, you would present a truncated version of a religious viewpoint merely for the purpose of denouncing it.

    You must have been very sad to see the Soviet Union disintegrate.

  173. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 11:31 am

    @nybgrus:

    You said:

    “Since the theory of evolution is settled on the notion of common descent, then any such “critical evaluation” can be nothing more than ignorance, religious ideology, or both. Neither of which belong in a science classroom.”

    You said:

    “Yes. [Public school teachers] can and they do [discuss the weaknesses as well as the strengths of the theory of common descent]. I was taught both. But do not conflate the limits of a theory with the theory itself being incorrect. The reality is that the theory is so settled that discussions of its strengths and weakness is something attained no earlier than university level and more aptly at a postgraduate level.”

    Are you more than one person?

  174. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 11:41 am

    Here’s my view, to state it clearly:

    There are two issues here: 1) What is legal to teach? 2) What is wise to teach?

    1) It is legal (constitutional) to teach anything that does not establish a religion. A reasonable definition of an ‘establishment of religion’ in a public school would be to teach explicit religious doctrine (‘God created the universe’) and to require students to assent (it is on the final exam).

    Teaching viewpoints that have religious implications, but are not religious doctrine, is constitutional, because practically any theory about nature could be construed to have religious implications.

    The purpose of the First Amendment is to foster freedom, with a few explicit exceptions.

    2) Whether it is wise to teach ID, etc is another matter entirely.

    If I were on a school board, I would not vote to teach ID, because it is not sufficiently developed as a science.

    But curricular decisions should be made as locally as possible, without litigation, threats of financial ruin, threats of imprisonment, etc.

  175. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 11:42 am

    “The “separation of church and state” only applies to me, not the thee.”

    “There is no constitutional doctrine of ‘separation of church and state’.”

    “All theories of biological origins are religious, in the sense that all such theories presume either the teleological (theist) or non-teleological (atheist) nature of evolution. ”

    ” it is not true that everything is “religion”.”

    “Teleology merely means directedness in natural change. Whether the directedness presupposes God is a matter of debate that goes back 2300 years”

    Mike,

    How many people are you, multiple individuals, or one disingenous sophist troll?

  176. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 11:47 am

    Nybgrus said:

    “… if someone like you “critically evaluates” common descent then it would be sickening lies and purveying of scum and ideology. Because you don’t have a clue what “theory” even means to begin with, let alone how to “critically evaluate” one.”

    This is the atheist ‘scientific method’– censorship, personal and professional destruction, and the use of force to silence inquiry.

  177. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 11:51 am

    “Teaching viewpoints that have religious implications, but are not religious doctrine, is constitutional,”

    sure, but special fact free exemption for theories cooked up to imply religion is bad policy not to mention disingenous.

    ” because practically any theory about nature could be construed to have religious implications.”

    That’s because religion tries to explain everything, manufacturing theories (like ID, read the wedge document, try not to jump for joy when you do) is a blatant attempt to circumvent the law.

    “But curricular decisions should be made as locally as possible, without litigation, threats of financial ruin, threats of imprisonment, etc.”

    And schools should not be designing curriculum to shelter a specific world view, if a parent wants their child exempted from an activity forbidden by their religion they can inform the school.

  178. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 11:53 am

    @robm:

    “Mike,
    How many people are you, multiple individuals, or one disingenous sophist troll?”

    I believe in unfettered discussion, in schools and everywhere. The only legal exception I would make would be the teaching of explicit religious (or irreligious) doctrine that requires assent from the students.

    You may not agree with my viewpoint, but I have been very consistent. Succinctly, I believe that the kind of discussion that we’ve been having on this blog should be legal, everywhere.

  179. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 11:55 am

    “This is the atheist ‘scientific method’– censorship, personal and professional destruction, and the use of force to silence inquiry.”

    “The rise of modern science and excellence in science correlates very closely with Judeo-Christian culture. ”

    Damn that science! It’s with you until its against you…

  180. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 12:01 pm

    @robm:

    “… special fact free exemption for theories cooked up to imply religion is bad policy not to mention disingenous.”

    So, if you’re on a school board, don’t vote for it. I wouldn’t vote for it either. But if others do, that’s their right. Let the decision be made through the ordinary curricular process. Don’t call the police if the decision doesn’t go your way.

    ” because practically any theory about nature could be construed to have religious implications.”
    That’s because religion tries to explain everything, manufacturing theories (like ID, read the wedge document, try not to jump for joy when you do) is a blatant attempt to circumvent the law.”

    Every theory of origins has religious implications- theist, atheist, whatever. Dawkins, Myers, Coyne, etc write incessantly about the athiest implications of evolutionary biology, and Hawking just wrote a whole book about the atheist implications of cosmology.

    Does that preclude teaching evolutionary biology and cosmology in schools, or do religious implications of theories only apply to religions you dislike?

    “… if a parent wants their child exempted from an activity forbidden by their religion they can inform the school.”

    So why don’t atheist parents homeschool their kids when ID is mentioned in class?

  181. SkeptimusPrimeon 05 Jun 2011 at 12:15 pm

    @Mike12

    This is an absolutely ridiculous argument. By your logic airlines are totalitarian by requiring pilot licences to fly passenger planes, Hospitals are totalitarian for requiring doctors to go to medical school.

    Of course SCIENTISTS decide what counts as good science, no one else is qualified to do so. If you want an elite pilot flying your plane why would you not want an elite scientist doing science.

    Its not censorship to point out that people who are not qualified scientists have nothing of value to say on a subject as nuanced and complicated and evolutionary biology.

  182. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 12:17 pm

    @robm:

    “Actually [scientists] get to decide what is science, in the same way engineers decide which airplane stand a chance of flying, because of facts not ideology.”

    Not really. Manufacture of airplanes is regulated by the FAA, who are managers appointed by elected officials. The opinion of scientists and engineers is obviously important and taken very much into account, but sovereignty in the United States is vested in the people, not in a self-appointed scientific oligarchy.

    What is ‘science’, for public purposes, is decided by the public. Isn’t democracy a bitch?

    “And guess what you might get your wish since there may not be the mountain of evidence linking this bill to creationist like there was in the dover school board case.”

    Yeah. The people of Tennessee may get to decide what is taught in their own schools, despite your instructions.

    Democracy is so frustrating…

  183. mufion 05 Jun 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Damn that science! It’s with you until its against you…

    That’s just it: acting under the methodological assumptions of science often leads to unexpected places.

    But there is no “atheist science”, any more than there is a “theist science” (despite the efforts of creationists to establish one), because neither atheism nor theism factors among those same methodological assumptions. That’s why both atheist and theist scientists generally agree on the theory of evolution (again, despite the efforts of creationists to advertise a non-existent controversy).

    As an atheist, I leave it to the theologians to find harmony between their faith(s) and the theory of evolution, and many have already done so (at least among the more liberal denominations). Of course, I would still object if I knew that my tax dollars were funding that effort, but not so loudly as if I knew that my own kids were being served creationist propaganda at (public) school.

  184. Steven Novellaon 05 Jun 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Mike – “denigrate and disparage” (which was established in Dover to be for an explicit religious motivation) is not the same thing as discussing legitimate scientific dissent. This is not a subtlety.

    The scientific community gets to decide what is legitimate science – not what is speech (a nice attempt at diversion on your part).

    Can you cite an instance where, without such “freedom” laws, a teacher was fired, jailed, censored, or whatever for teaching legitimate scientific criticism of evolution? (I suspect our definition of “legitimate” will differ.)

    Surveys shows that 40% of teachers do not teach evolution much or at all because they are intimidated. Meanwhile, many teachers teach creationism, even when it is illegal.

    I think you are profoundly confused as to who is intimidating whom.

    Also, keep in mind, the current creationists are culturally continuous with those creationists in the past who attempted to ban the teaching of evolution (so much for academic freedom) – and many if not most would do so today if they could. They only don’t because they already lost that legal battle. Now they cry for academic freedom – it’s complete hypocrisy.

    Bottom line – you confuse academic quality with censorship. There is a difference.

  185. mufion 05 Jun 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Mike: Regulation of airplane manufacturing is probably not what most of us have in mind as a good example of “science”, but I will agree with you insofar as the public provides direction to science (especially in the area of basis research, which is largely funded publicly).

  186. mufion 05 Jun 2011 at 12:33 pm

    typo correction: “basic research”

  187. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 12:39 pm

    “So why don’t atheist parents homeschool their kids when ID is mentioned in class?”

    If ID gets into the schools I predict some children of a variety of faiths (including christians) will ask that their child be excused from class in the same way several of my highschool classmates left during the evolution portion of biology and the sex ed portion health class. I believe they sent home permission slips for both sections. Their motives will range from their personal worldview to dislike of pseudoscience.

    “Dawkins, Myers, Coyne, etc write incessantly about the athiest implications of evolutionary biology, and Hawking just wrote a whole book about the atheist implications of cosmology.

    Does that preclude teaching evolutionary biology and cosmology in schools, or do religious implications of theories only apply to religions you dislike?”

    I don’t think Francis Collins shares that world view. This I think is what I think it all boils down to, what inferences someone makes about “the big questions” based on empirical observations and facts. I do not see teleology in an acorn becoming a tree, though I admit this is not based on science, neither is the view that it is teleological. In either case you end up with a tree.

    The religious implications only come from the fact the religion made claims about the origin of life and the age of the earth and universe that come nowhere close to fitting with the evidence. In the same way a variety of religious claims regarding the sun stopping with out a sudden jolt in the sky felt by those on earth, or solar eclipses on days where they could not have happened don’t square with the model of the solar system that has stood for centuries.

    This too must be making religious claims, and is either atheistic or theistic and other solar system models must be taught along side or at least debated, despite the fact that newton and galileo where christians.

  188. mufion 05 Jun 2011 at 1:01 pm

    As an outsider, Mike may not be so aware that Dawkins, Myers, Coyne, etc. have critics among their fellows (i.e. atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, etc.). Of those, the critic that I read most regularly is philosopher of science, Massimo Pigliucci (e.g. search his Rationally Speaking blog).

  189. mufion 05 Jun 2011 at 1:03 pm

    PS: It boils down to the philosophical distinction between methodological and metaphysical naturalism.

  190. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 1:04 pm

    @Steven Novella:

    “Mike – “denigrate and disparage” (which was established in Dover to be for an explicit religious motivation) is not the same thing as discussing legitimate scientific dissent. This is not a subtlety.”

    Actually, the central thrust of the atheist argument is that “critical discussion” in science class is really thinly disguised creationist denigration and disparagement of evolutionary theory. You can’t argue that it’s a conspiracy to denigrate and disparage and at the same time assert that it isn’t really denigration and disparagement. One or the other is a coherent argument, not both.

    “The scientific community gets to decide what is legitimate science –”

    Depends on what you mean by “legitimate science”. If it means what is publicly funded and lawfully taught, the public decides that, as it should. If you mean what scientists personally and collectively think is science, that is trivially true, but not relevant to public policy, which is what we’re discussing.

    “Can you cite an instance where, without such “freedom” laws, a teacher was fired, jailed, censored, or whatever for teaching legitimate scientific criticism of evolution? (I suspect our definition of “legitimate” will differ.)”

    Our definitions differ, so we’ll not make much headway here.

    There have been many teachers sanctioned for criticizing evolutionary theory– Richard Sternberg, Caroline Crocker, Bill Dembski, and the entire teaching staffs in several school districts come to mind.

    ‘Surveys shows that 40% of teachers do not teach evolution much or at all because they are intimidated. Meanwhile, many teachers teach creationism, even when it is illegal. I think you are profoundly confused as to who is intimidating whom.’

    I oppose intimidation, period. Curricular design should be done locally, without litigation, judicial sanctions, etc.

    When atheists/Darwinists support academic freedom bills, I’ll take your claim that intimidation is a two-way street seriously.

    “Also, keep in mind, the current creationists are culturally continuous with those creationists in the past who attempted to ban the teaching of evolution (so much for academic freedom) – and many if not most would do so today if they could.”

    And I would oppose them. The teaching of evolution should be expanded, and critical discussion should be included. Join me in insisting on academic freedom.

    “Now they cry for academic freedom – it’s complete hypocrisy.”

    Let’s expose the hypocrites, by establishing freedom of inquiry. Why don’t you support a bill that explicitly does just that?

    “Bottom line – you confuse academic quality with censorship.” There is a difference.”

    Censors always justify censorship by recourse to “quality”. ‘Some things just can’t be said- it’s too dangerous, disingenuous, subversive, etc.’

    Censorship is censorship, and that doesn’t change just because you think that your viewpoint is the only truth.

  191. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 1:10 pm

    @mufi:

    “As an outsider, Mike may not be so aware that Dawkins, Myers, Coyne, etc. have critics among their fellows (i.e. atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, etc.). Of those, the critic that I read most regularly is philosopher of science, Massimo Pigliucci (e.g. search his Rationally Speaking blog).”

    Im not an outsider, and I’m well acquainted with Pigliucci’s (and Ruse’s and Rosenau’s and Mooney’s) arguments. They are obviously more respectful of critical inquiry than the run-of-the-mill atheists (like you).

    Why not drive the Stalinists out of your clique?

  192. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Mike,

    I’m all for driving stalinists out, stalin was anti-evolution he forbade the teaching of the theory and its practice in selective breeding considering both “bourgeoisie”. His denial was one of the causes of the decline of soviet agriculture. Had he not been able to impose his opinion by force I think he would have considered “academic freedom” the perfect fifth column strategy.

  193. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 1:21 pm

    @Steven Novella:

    If you really support academic freedom, why don’t you explicitly come out on your blog in support of the Tennessee and Louisiana Academic Bills. Both bills explicitly prohibit the teaching of religious doctrine. You could of course endorse close surveillance to root out devious creationists, etc.

    If you really support academic freedom, why don’t you support legislation that explicitly guarantees just that?

    Unless, of course, because the ‘conspiracy’ makes it too dangerous to allow free speech…

  194. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Mike

    Having looked around I don’t see any stalinists in the freethought community, they all seem to be in the communist community and are unwelcome in freethought and skepticism because they believe everything an unquestionable book tells them, and judge the truth all facts accordingly.

    I further challenge you to purge all muslim radicals from the theist communty, all muslim radicals are theists, why did you let them in?

  195. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 1:33 pm

    # robm

    “Mike, I’m all for driving stalinists out, stalin was anti-evolution he forbade the teaching of the theory and its practice in selective breeding considering both “bourgeoisie”.”

    Stalin was a Lamarckian, which was in opposition to Mendelism, not to Darwin’s theory, which was developed before the Lamarck-Mendel debate concluded. Marx and Engels were deep admirers of Darwin.

    Engels, in letters to Marx:

    “Darwin, by the way, whom I’m reading just now, is
    absolutely splendid. There was one aspect of teleol-
    ogy that had yet to be demolished, and that has now
    been done. Never before has so grandiose an attempt
    been made to demonstrate historical evolution in Na-
    ture, and certainly never to such good effect.”

    and in a letter to the German socialist Fer-
    dinand Lasalle, Engels wrote:

    “Darwin’s work is most important and suits my pur-
    pose in that it provides a basis in natural science for
    the historical class struggle. … Despite all shortcom-
    ings, it is here that, for the first time, ‘teleology’ in
    natural science is not only dealt a mortal blow but its
    rational meaning is empirically explained.”

    (http://readingfromtheleft.com/PDF/Marx-Engels-Darwin.pdf)

    “His denial was one of the causes of the decline of soviet agriculture. Had he not been able to impose his opinion by force I think he would have considered “academic freedom” the perfect fifth column strategy.”

    Lysenkoism destroyed Soviet agriculture. Lysenko was a Lamarckian, and opposed Mendel, not Darwin.

    The essence of Lysenkoism is that only one view of evolution could be taught in Soviet schools– the official view. Critical discussion of evolution was prohibited, with serious legal sanctions.

    Sound familiar?

  196. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 1:39 pm

    @robm:

    “I further challenge you to purge all muslim radicals from the theist communty, all muslim radicals are theists, why did you let them in?”

    We Christians have been purging them, for 1300 years– at Tours, at Lepanto, at Vienna, and (unsuccessfully) at Constantinople. We even had a few crusades about it.

    The primary opposition to Muslim brutality today is the Christian (and Jewish-Israeli) world.

    The atheist left is pretty complacent about it all.

    Historically, can you name the atheists who fought against Islamic barbarism?

  197. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 1:44 pm

    @robm:

    “Mike-Having looked around I don’t see any stalinists in the freethought community”

    Keep looking. A mirror might help.

  198. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 1:53 pm

    “Sound familiar?”

    Yeah, wasn’t there some guy called Galileo? And I remember hearing something about a teacher called John Scopes.

    Lamarckism was a pseudoscience or at best a protoscience (http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2011/04/evolution-as-pseudoscience.html) that continued into the 20th century due to ideology, just like creationism.

    Again why someone is a fan of something has no bearing on whether it is true. Produce scientific evidence of creation (cambrian rabbits, fossilized fruit from the tree of knowledge) or intelligent design (the designers parts list or blue prints or captains log) and students can be taught and debate freely two equally valid scientific opinions on the same set of facts. Otherwise teachers will spend all their time debating conspiracy theories in history class, misspellings in English that have historical precedent, and dubious health claims in health class.

    What makes this issue special where facts are optional?

  199. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Mike

    If you want to fight imaginary stalinsts play Command and Conquer: Red Alert, if you want to fight real totalitarians fight yourself.

  200. sonicon 05 Jun 2011 at 1:59 pm

    nybrus-
    Thank-you for the reply–

    Theory of gravity (which one?) may be refuted by ‘dark energy’- that is to explain what is observed, we must ‘make up’ a substance that nobody has ever actually seen or contacted. The current theory rests on the existence of a so far unfound substance.
    Should I have confidence that this substance will be found? Or should I conclude that the theory is wrong?
    I don’t think I have to conclude either- but I live with doubt.

    There are fossils that are found out of place regularly-
    see ‘ghost lineages’.
    This is to say that the fossil record is in place if we assume the existence of numerous creatures that have never been found.
    Should I conclude that any creature that is needed can be assumed into existence?
    Umm, maybe a bit more questioning attitude would be appropriate–

    You claim that there are numerous examples of DNA evidence and so forth that make the case.
    But it is the failure of examples that is important in testing a theory.
    Ptolemy’s system of predicting the motion of the planets was very accurate. Newton’s theory of gravity made accurate predictions as well (not as accurate BTW). It was the fails that brought the questions and eventually the better theory (general relativity).

    When it comes to the tree of life-

    http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2011/02/jumping-gene/

    In the case of chimp- human I find that 23% of human DNA has nothing to do with chimps. And- like so many other cases- depending on which gene you start with, you get a different tree.
    So there is no Tree of Life that can be produced from the physical evidence.
    The tree is made up out of ad hoc reasons that the evidence is what it is (as in the article I linked to).
    Should I have any confidence in such procedures? Should students be taught something that doesn’t exist (a TOL) does exist?

    When a theory predicts large amounts of junk DNA and that prediction turns out to be the ‘worst in the history of molecular biology’, then perhaps it is time to question the underlying hypothesis and assumptions. Perhaps not.

    It seems you refuse to question the authority of consensus. I guess that gives comfort. But if “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” then questioning the consensus must be part of the deal.
    Questions can come from anywhere and often come from everywhere.
    Darned things.

  201. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 2:01 pm

    “We Christians have been purging them, for 1300 years– at Tours, at Lepanto, at Vienna, and (unsuccessfully) at Constantinople. We even had a few crusades about it.”

    Well at least your up front about the barbarism in the christian community since all those purges and pogroms and crusades were about pushing a single vision on society. Read Hitchens an Harris if you wish to see atheists standing up to religious barbarism and promoting a society tolerant of other views because all you have is which burnings and the thrity years war.

  202. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 2:15 pm

    @robm:

    “Well at least your up front about the barbarism in the christian community since all those purges and pogroms and crusades were about pushing a single vision on society.”

    You are the progeny of the culture defended by the Christians. If the Christians hadn’t fought and died in large numbers at Tours, Lepanto, Vienna, etc, you’d be speaking arabic and praising allah five times a day.

    Defensive actions against brutally expansionist Islam aren’t “purges and pograms”.

    And who is an atheist to lecture about ideological violence? The atheist political systems of the 20th century have been the most violent totalitarian hellholes mankind has ever known.

    The atheist death toll in the 20th century is 100 million souls. (http://www.amazon.com/Black-Book-Communism-Crimes-Repression/dp/0674076087 )

    Totalitarianism is the consequence of atheist assumption of political power, so far without exception.

    Academic freedom, or any freedom for opposing views, isn’t an atheist ‘thing’.

  203. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 2:40 pm

    The 20th Century had the most deaths because it had the most people, the so called atheist hell holes weren’t much worse than the totalitarian christians of previous european centuries condisder the hundreds of thousands of inca worked to death in gold mines because the emperor didn’t hear gods words when he put the bible to his ear. The reason europeans got nicer was due to secularism, where is all this violence in western europe today, gone. During those good old religious days true christians took up the sword against jews, pagans, muslims, albigensians, catholics and protesants. That declined after 1600 AD, what took so long? Where are all these totalitarian in present day Scandinavia?

    Your argument is crap communism -> atheism does not mean atheism-> communism, the converse doesn’t hold, so why does such an “educated” aristotle admirer not know these basics.? I take it as evidence your just throwing these arguments up as a smoke screen, or because atheists just make you mad on account that they are atheists.

  204. mufion 05 Jun 2011 at 2:49 pm

    sonic, putting aside whether or not a tree (as opposed to a bush, mosaic, or something else) is the most apt metaphor for the hereditary patterns of life, how does that article on horizontal gene transfer among fungi support your doubts about common descent? I don’t see it.

    And what is the basis for your claim that “23% of human DNA has nothing to do with chimps”? When last I checked, humans and chimps share 96% of their DNA (e.g. see here) – a bit less than some estimates (e.g. 98%), but still a lot more than the 77% implied by your statement.

    That said, no one is refusing to “question the authority of consensus.” However: (a) a challenge from a relevant expert (or peer) carries a lot more weight than that of a lay person like you or me; and (b), if we’re still discussing how the subject should be taught in public schools, then the question is more complex, concerning theories of education and child development, as well as biology. A simple, albeit imperfect, metaphor may very well be the best choice.

  205. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 3:20 pm

    @robm:

    “The 20th Century had the most deaths because it had the most people, the so called atheist hell holes weren’t much worse than the totalitarian christians of previous european centuries condisder the hundreds of thousands of inca worked to death in gold mines because the emperor didn’t hear gods words when he put the bible to his ear.”

    I see. Atheist butchery in the 20th century was just a statistical fluke- more folks to kill, you see.

    So let’s do it by proportion of population: the atheist Khmer Rouge killed a third of Cambodians over a five year period. Name the Christian civilizations that killed a third of their own people in a half-decade.

    All ideologies have committed barbaric acts. Atheists are the only barbarians who killed their own people in the tens of millions.

    Conquerers have always exploited/killed the vanquished. The Christian record on that matter is much better than that of any other belief system.

    Stalin killed more people in one week than the Spanish Inquisition killed in three centuries. He intentionally starved at least 5 million Ukranians in the Holodomor from 1932-33 so he could take their farms. Provide me with the Christian parallel.

    Nietzsche lamented the ‘weakness’ of Christianity.

    “The reason europeans got nicer was due to secularism, where is all this violence in western europe today, gone.’

    The most secular decade in European history was the 20th century, which was a bloodbath unprecedented in human history.

    “During those good old religious days true christians took up the sword against jews, pagans, muslims, albigensians, catholics and protesants. That declined after 1600 AD, what took so long?”

    The First and Second World Wars were a decline in violence?

    Where are all these totalitarian in present day Scandinavia?

    They’re living in Malmo and the Muslim quarters of Swedish cities. The Muslim totalitarians will ultimately control major regions of Europe. Atheist societies are, and always have been, unsustainable.

    “Your argument is crap communism -> atheism does not mean atheism-> communism, the converse doesn’t hold, so why does such an “educated” aristotle admirer not know these basics.? I take it as evidence your just throwing these arguments up as a smoke screen, or because atheists just make you mad on account that they are atheists.”

    Communism is the only political manifestation of atheism as a governing ideology. When atheism produces a different system of government, let me know.

  206. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 4:05 pm

    @mike12

    “Where are all these totalitarian in present day Scandinavia?

    They’re living in Malmo and the Muslim quarters of Swedish cities. The Muslim totalitarians will ultimately control major regions of Europe”

    So your saying musilims don’t believe in any god?

    “The First and Second World Wars were a decline in violence?”

    these were religious wars against infidels? Ok, we’ll chaulk up the world war I body count and add the firebombing of German and Japanese cities to the Christian 20th century body count.

    It had nothing to do with the size of the population, the broad areas controled by the parties involved, the ability to mobilize more of the population not necessary to grow food, or the fact machine guns artillery and bombs are better killers than swords

    Atheism is a belief that gods aren’t real, how your mind ties that with an ideology that promotes a ownership all property by the state and abolishment of religion when atheism existed for 2300 prior to the communist manifest is a question of just how silly your explanation gets. Is it the teleology of atheism to grow into communism a few millenia later? The work of the devil?

    “All ideologies have committed barbaric acts. ”

    That’s kind of the point don’t take such a holier than thou attitude and paint with broad brush, when it happens your side looks no better. You have for the time being run out of “academic freedom” arguments that lead either to ID arguments like irreducable complexity being debunked as bad science or as the promotion of religion. Your attempts to disprove evolution don’t work given premises about change and the impossiblity of infinite regression can’t be taken as true. So now you just insult atheism by taking work of communist who oppose religion based on class struggle and equating it with people who doubt based on empircism. Are not smart enough to understand the distinction, are you just a troll or do standards apply to me and not to thee?

  207. mufion 05 Jun 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Mike said: All ideologies have committed barbaric acts. Atheists are the only barbarians who killed their own people in the tens of millions.

    In order to make an apples-to-apples comparison, we need to look at the historical trend in proportional terms (e.g. homicides per 100,000 people).

    That said, from what I’ve read, homicide rates in Western Europe have dropped significantly since the Middle Ages (e.g. see this graph).

    And, while I would not presume any simple causal relationship, I think you’ll find that this trend correlates with an increase in atheism and agnosticism (away from Christian theistic belief) in those same countries (e.g. see here).

  208. Draalon 05 Jun 2011 at 6:24 pm

    @Mike12

    Do you have any websites or books that you yourself have written or use for reference? I’d like to learn more.

  209. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 6:38 pm

    So Mike, is this at bottom more about evolution as a contest between good and evil than about, say, cooperation versus competition? If so, are atheists (including I suppose agnostics) somehow stand-ins for some products of the devilish aspects of nature? Your catechismic views as to the source and/or the forces that have fashioned our designs don’t seem to make that much sense otherwise.

  210. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Wow. I go to sleep for the night and this explodes once again into mike’s utter drivel. You finally get a response (two!) from Dr. Novella and you just brush it aside, continuing the same nonsensical idiocy you have said over and over and over again. Saying the same disproven garbage enough times doesn’t make it true.

    I also call you a “liar” quite aptly. You write as if you don’t know the definition of “theory” but now you write as if you don’t know the definition of “disparage” and “denigrate” either, but you do. You simply change the meaning to mean whatever makes your argument sound good.

    den·i·grate/ˈdeniˌgrāt/
    Verb: Criticize unfairly; disparage

    You call for a thoughtful critique – and then you complain when the law says you cannot unthoughtfully critique.

    dis·par·age/diˈsparij/
    Verb: Regard or represent as being of little worth.

    Exactly. Because the theory of evolution is worth a lot. Without it, you would have died some many years ago from a bacterial infection. But nevermind that. Go ahead and keep using all that science that doesn’t directly disagree with your goat herder mythology and just focus on the pesky bit that does.

    And I love that “we Christians have been fighting the Muslims for….” after you just admitted you only became a Christian some 7 years ago, IIRC. Such fervent tribalism!

    Wow. You assert the constitutionality of denouncing a religious viewpoint in a classroom, but you prohibit the affirmation of a religious viewpoint in a classroom

    Well, lets see. When you have two things – one a disproven mythology and the other a scientific fact, then yes – you can denounce the mythology. But you cannot affirm that mythology.

    No one is stifling your freedom of speech mike. Go right ahead and speak all you want. But realize that when you do, people like me who are VASTLY more educated than you on the topic will also have the freedom of speech to call your ideas and arguments stupid. Free speech cuts both ways. And in a science class, you don’t get to say stupid made up things. You get to say scientific things. That is the difference. If the fact that your goat herder mythology’s creation story is scientifically disproven weakens your religion – well, that just sucks for you don’t it?

    A reasonable definition of an ‘establishment of religion’ in a public school would be to teach explicit religious doctrine

    What you are in denial/lying about is that Kitzmiller vs Dover established that intelligent design IS and EXPLICIT RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE! The fact that you can’t/won’t see that is because you yourself are driven by that same asinine religious doctrine. Hence, creationism AND intelligent design cannot be taught in schools. Period.

    If I were on a school board, I would not vote to teach ID, because it is not sufficiently developed as a science.

    Ha! So lets see how many English words mike doesn’t know the meaning of.

    1)Theory
    2)Denigrate
    3)Disparage
    4)Science

    By HIS OWN ADMISSION Michael Behe said that for intelligent design to be a “science” then astrology would also have to be considered a science. Do you consider astrology a science Mike? Should we teach students in high school how to understand, test, and apply the knowledge of which house the sun was in when Mars was in apogee relative to their birth? Really??

    First, defense expert Professor Fuller agreed that ID aspires to “change the ground rules” of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology. (28:26 (Fuller); 21:37-42 (Behe)). Moreover, defense expert Professor Minnich acknowledged that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened to allow consideration of supernatural forces

    Please mike. At least realize for a change that your arguments are intellectually dishonest, completely unintelligent, constantly changing the goal posts, and purely driven by religious ideology. But you know what? I bet you do. That’s why you are a liar for jesus.

    Censorship is censorship, and that doesn’t change just because you think that your viewpoint is the only truth.

    Manufacture of airplanes is regulated by the FAA, who are managers appointed by elected officials. The opinion of scientists and engineers is obviously important and taken very much into account, but sovereignty in the United States is vested in the people, not in a self-appointed scientific oligarchy.

    Perhaps we should vote on which plane designs can be used. After all we wouldn’t want to censor the opinion of plumbers, lawyers, doctors, and televangelists on the issue. They should all be given equal weight as the engineers and physicists. Because there is obviously “more than one truth” that means that if we proposed an airplane that would fly on prayer and fairy dust that should be voted on by the FAA. Nevermind those stupid scientists who only play a “trivial” role in the design.

    And I thought I had heard all the stupid arguments out there.

    Yeah. The people of Tennessee may get to decide what is taught in their own schools, despite your instructions.

    Damn shame there are things called “standards” in public schools. If you want to teach your children unscientific bullshit, then take them to a private religious school. I have no problem with that whatsoever. But the moment any of MY tax dollars are going towards that education it damn well better be held to a STANDARD. Because if the people of Tennessee decide to vote in teaching that the earth is flat, I would want the ability to “censor” that as well. If you really want to teach your children the earth is flat or that evolution isn’t true, go to your own private school. I would feel very sorry for your children though.

    I could go on, of course. Mike gives us plenty of drivel to go through. But suffice it to say everything he spews out of the cesspool of a brain of his is intentionally misleading one way or another.

    @mufi: I agree – I have been pretty harsh with mike. I have no reservation about it. He has been quite harsh in denouncing the “atheist mindset” (whatever the hell that may be) and has no problem lashing out himself. He has absolutely no substance behind his claims and I am quite happy to call him a flaming idiot and lying ideologue for it. Quite simply because that is what he is. Sonic is misguided in his interpretation of evolution just as mike is. The difference is that sonic has kept things pretty civil, asked questions, offered up responses, and at least seems to attempt intellectual honesty. I cannot fault someone for simply not knowing the science well and thinking evolution is flawed and I am quite happy to engage in a civil discussion of the relevant science with such an individual. I tried the same when I first encountered mike on a different thread. He quickly proved himself to be exactly as I described him and for that he doesn’t deserve anything less than to be called out as a liar promulgating intellectually bankrupt ideas for expressly religious purposes.

    Deny it all you want mike. It is plain to see for everyone.

    @sonic:

    In re: gravity – that is exactly my point. The basics of gravity is there – we do not deny it exists, we use the equations to fly our planes. You would never teach a student that there is a “controversy” as to the truth of gravity. What you describe is the limits of gravitational theory – where it breaks down and where the science needs to find answers. It is entirely analogous to evolution. Would you teach a middle or highs school student that gravity may not actually be a valid theory because general relativity and dark matter cause problems for quantum gravity? Be honest here. Of course you wouldn’t. There is so much empirical evidence and description of gravity that would be insane. At best, for an advanced class you would have a discussion of gravitational theory and the limits of it in describing quantum gravity. But you would never use that to teach some “controversy” about gravitational theory – because there is none. Exactly the same with evolution.

    In re: ghost lineages – I am not sure what you mean by that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a theory predicting something that hasn’t been found. In fact, that is the entire purpose of a theory. The absence of that bit of information doesn’t weaken a theory. As I said before, finding a rabbit in the pre-cambrian would. Every fossil that has been found (and vetted as authentic) has fallen neatly in line with evolutionary theory. And hundreds of thousand of transition fossils have been found to further bolster the theory. That is why a prediction of ghost lineages is perfectly in line and reasonable. Now, if such a prediction is empirically tested and found false then that means something. But unlike religious dogma, theories can and must be adapted to accomodate the new evidence. If the contradictory evidence is of such a profound nature (rabbit in cambrian) then the entire theory may be on shaky ground. If it is something smaller (a fossil showing a transition from amphibian to bird) then the theory may have to be modified to account of that new (and surprising!) evidence.

    As of yet, such evidence has not emerged.

    It seems you refuse to question the authority of consensus.

    That is not correct. However, I do not question the authority of consensus when I have not studied in depth what the consensus is. My background is in evolutionary biology and I have studied and read in depth about it. I have spent years understanding the different lines of evidence and what the theory actually says – that is why I agree with the consensus. I do not bow to authority. But I am not as arrogant as the likes of mike. I am not a climatologist and I do not know enough about the relevant sciences. So when the body of climate scientists says that there is evidence for anthropogenic global warming I am not arrogant enough to think I know better than they do – I must accept the scientific consensus. I have done some research to see if my critiques and questions have answers and if the critiques of the denialists are valid. Every time I find scientific answers. So I must agree with the consensus and bow to the authority in that regard. But when people who know nothing about evolution (like mike) try and disparage and denigrate the theory, that is arrogance and intellectual dishonesty.

    If you are truly interested in learning, there is much to learn. I’d suggest you start with ERVs and nested hierarchy – the gene similarities and differences creating perfectly nested hierarchies being the single most compelling evidence for evolution. I would suggest looking through ALL of CDK007′s videos on it. Other lines of nested hierarchy are compelling as well. In short, if you take a specific DNA sequence and look at the changes in it across species you will find that the changes create a nested hierarchy. If you then take a different DNA sequence and do the same thing the same nested hierarchy exists. Keep doing this over and over again for different genes, pseudogenes, and “junk” DNA and you get the same nested hierarchies! This is for species from sponges to humans and everything in between.

    I often get the “I don’t have the time to watch hours of videos on it.” Well, I also don’t have time to spend hours and hours typing out to your specific questions. I try as best I can, but if you are truly interested in learning and understanding evolution you would find it worth your while to watch the videos.

    When a theory predicts large amounts of junk DNA and that prediction turns out to be the ‘worst in the history of molecular biology’, then perhaps it is time to question the underlying hypothesis and assumptions. Perhaps not.

    That is actually a very correct statement. It may indeed by a time to question the underlying hypothesis. In regards to junk DNA it does make us re-evaluate the finer points of molecular genetics in evolution. But since the basics of common descent do not rely on junk DNA then the overarching theory is still fine. That is the point about theories – they adapt and grow and sometimes parts of them are discarded. But once again, unlike religious dogma, you can eschew parts of it without tossing the whole thing out the window.

    Lastly, because you have been genuinely civil and questioning about evolution, I’ll touch on the article you linked.

    In brief, gene jumping also does not confound the core of evolutionary theory. All it does is add another layer of complexity to the understanding of it. It is not a paradigm shifting discovery – gene jumping and horizontal gene transfer have been known about for ages. The fact that so many genes can be transferred at once is the new and surprising data. But once again, that merely refines our understanding and adds a layer of complexity – the basic notion and the incorporation of jumping genes in the theory has been there for a long time. The nested hierarchies I described above are not affected by it – we are simply more accurately able to describe things with this new knowledge. Remember, this research does not add a new variable – it has merely changed the value of that variable.

    And even if it were a new variable it would once again be used to refine the theory. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  211. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Oh yes, and I love how it has come to the old trope that atheist regimes kill more than religious regimes because atheists are so teh evils!!

    Saying atheists kill more people is like saying people with mustaches kill more people.

    ATHEISM IS NOT A SET OF DOCTRINES AND BELIEFS. IT IS A LACK OF BELIEFS. YOU CANNOT DESCRIBE THE NATURE OF A GROUP BY CALLING THEM “ATHEIST” ANY MORE THAN YOU CAN DESCRIBE A GROUP BY SAYING THEY ARE “WHITE” OR “BLACK” OR “WEAR HATS” OR “HAVE MUSTACHES” OR “SPEAK ENGLISH”

    Never mind the fact that Hitler was a Catholic and killed 6 million Jews because he felt himself a warrior for Christ and wanted to complete his noble work. But then the likes of mike and Bill O’Reilly would say he wasn’t a “true” christian. My how liars for jesus love logical fallacies. That one is called the “not a true scotsman” fallacy, btw.

    Never mind the death and chaos in the only theistic regimes in the world right now. No, lets discuss atheist regimes. Oh wait. You mean all those middle eastern theocracies are in disarray and killing each other? Well, that doesn’t count cuz it isn’t MY religion. But don’t look over there, keep focusing on the atheist regimes. And the ones that weren’t atheist

    All people do bad things. Only religion can make good people do bad things.

    Science builds planes. Religions flies them into buildings.

    But hey, when Mike can’t win on the actual science he changes the meaning of words and changes the topics to try and say how great his religion is. Same old lyin’ for jesus tactics.

  212. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 7:25 pm

    sorry that should read:

    “…and the ones that weren’t atheist but we say they are to try and lie some more about our religion.”

  213. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 7:32 pm

    And now back to the question of whether Mike, instead of a scientific theory of evolution, has an ethical philosophy of evolution that in his view trumps science.
    Which raises an auxiliary question about the evolution of our educational system, which has correctly barred the teaching of Christian mythology as science, but incorrectly barred the study of our most predominant cultural mythologies as philosophy.

  214. robmon 05 Jun 2011 at 7:43 pm

    @nybgrus

    “Same old lyin’ for jesus tactics.”

    I know, its like MysticalForrest is trying to impersonate william lane craig. ;)

  215. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Mike’s references to Aquinas as the ultimate authority in these matters was somewhat of a tipoff.
    Aquinas and the Necessity of Natural Evils
    http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/probevil.html

  216. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Oh there is no question at all. Mike DOES ” [have] an ethical philosophy of evolution that in his view trumps science.” And that is entirely the problem.

    @robm: Yeah, it took me 3 comments of his to spot word for word the same garbage that WLC says coming out of mike. I’ve called him out on it numerous times. The funniest thing is he won’t admit that he is just ignorantly and unintelligently parrotting WLC and doesn’t have an original thought in his head. I reckon he thinks that if we think the ideas are his own they would somehow hold more weight. Probably because WLC has been so utterly destroyed in his idiotic arguments that it would be guilt by association. Or perhaps it is because WLC has recently come out saying that the murder of children is an acceptable – something an atheist humanist could never consider ethical, no matter what.

  217. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 8:23 pm

    “But you would never use that to teach some “controversy” about gravitational theory – because there is none. Exactly the same with evolution.”

    There’s a ton of controversy about gravitational theory. Exactly the same with evolution. It should be freely discussed.

    “My background is in evolutionary biology and I have studied and read in depth about it. I have spent years understanding the different lines of evidence and what the theory actually says – that is why I agree with the consensus. I do not bow to authority. But I am not as arrogant as the likes of mike.”

    No arrogance that I can see. Just polite confidence.

    “But when people who know nothing about evolution (like mike) try and disparage and denigrate the theory, that is arrogance and intellectual dishonesty.”

    So let’s talk about it. Your vast fund of knowledge should make you a sure winner in any debate, in a classroom as well as anywhere. You don’t need to call the police.

    “But since the basics of common descent do not rely on junk DNA then the overarching theory is still fine. That is the point about theories – they adapt and grow and sometimes parts of them are discarded.”

    That’s always been a strength of evolutionary theory. “Random heritable variation” is quite vague with respect to the rigorous meaning of “random”, and “natural selection” is a tautology.

    There’s a theory that adapts quite easily.

    “Saying atheists kill more people is like saying people with mustaches kill more people.”

    A lot of atheists do have mustaches.

    “ATHEISM IS NOT A SET OF DOCTRINES AND BELIEFS. IT IS A LACK OF BELIEFS. YOU CANNOT DESCRIBE THE NATURE OF A GROUP BY CALLING THEM “ATHEIST” ANY MORE THAN YOU CAN DESCRIBE A GROUP BY SAYING THEY ARE “WHITE” OR “BLACK” OR “WEAR HATS” OR “HAVE MUSTACHES” OR “SPEAK ENGLISH””

    I can identify atheists because they write in all caps.

    The denial of a proposition is itself a proposition. To deny that God exists is every bit as much a proposition as to assert that God exists.

    But if I were you, I’d also be trying to dissociate myself from the real history of atheism in political power.

  218. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 8:47 pm

    But as I was saying when —

    All of our “own” ideas will have to be in some sense derivative. And I expect that the following example from Mike is one that he’s adopted as his own, derivative of what I have no clue, since if from Aquinas, it’s more to have been desired (by Mike) than inspired.

    >“Essential” means that all prior causes must continue to exist and act for the perpetuation of the series. A chain letter is an accidental series. A biochemical pathway consisting of enzymes is (generally) an essential series. If you throw away an old chain letter, the current chain can still continue. If you remove an enzyme from the Krebs cycle, the cycle stops. <

    It's rationalization to the max, but I wouldn't call it lying if Mike consciously believes its true.

  219. Mike12on 05 Jun 2011 at 9:11 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    Why would you invoke the question of my “lying” in my example of an essential series? I’m neither “rationalizing” or “lying”. I’m just explaining the difference between an accidental and essential series of causes. It’s an old concept in philosophy.

    I’ve repeatedly encountered these untethered allegations of “lying’. It’s bizarre.

    You obviously have difficulty understanding the concept I’m describing, but why would that lead you to accuse me of dishonesty?

  220. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Mike, I didn’t accuse you of dishonesty, unless rationalization is a form of dishonesty – which sometimes it is, but all indications are that yours isn’t – not consciously in any case. And I have no difficulty in understanding old concepts in philosophy (well no more than other old philosophers), but I suspect it’s you that’s got the concept wrong.

    As I said before, essential in this context means essential to attain a purpose, so you’ve simply made an assumption that there must have been a first purpose and rationalizing what that would mean to us now from the prospect of that purpose having been (so you’ve assumed) achieved, success thus due to a linear series of directed and unbroken events from the time that first purpose was somehow enabled to proceed on its inevitable way.

    As that old philosopher Hume might say, you’ve made a speculative move from ought to is and called it truth.

  221. Jeremiahon 05 Jun 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Here is the essential purpose from Aquinas that you’ve assumed has been to some extent fulfilled:

    “Nevertheless, if we look at the matter rightly, it will appear sufficiently probable that, divine providence having fitted each perfection to that which is to be perfected, God has united a higher to a lower nature in order that the former might dominate the latter, and, should any obstacle to this dominion arise through a defect of nature, God by a special and supernatural act of kindness would remove it. Wherefore, since the rational soul is of a higher nature than the body, we believe that it was united to the body under such conditions, that there can be nothing in the body to oppose the soul whereby the body lives…. Hence, according to the teaching of faith, we affirm that man was, from the beginning, so fashioned that as long as his reason was subject to God, not only would his lower powers serve him without hindrance; but there would be nothing in his body to lessen its subjection; since whatever was lacking in nature to bring this about God by His grace would supply.”

  222. Mlemaon 05 Jun 2011 at 10:37 pm

    God forgive me for commenting on the sabbath, but, as the band Jethro Tull sang: “he’s not the kind you have to wind up on Sunday”
    nygbrus says:
    “ATHEISM IS NOT A SET OF DOCTRINES AND BELIEFS. IT IS A LACK OF BELIEFS. YOU CANNOT DESCRIBE THE NATURE OF A GROUP BY CALLING THEM “ATHEIST” ANY MORE THAN YOU CAN DESCRIBE A GROUP BY SAYING THEY ARE “WHITE” OR “BLACK” OR “WEAR HATS” OR “HAVE MUSTACHES” OR “SPEAK ENGLISH””

    the term “atheist” is, by definition, descriptive of the nature of a group of people. It describes them as not believing in a god. It’s not appropriate to ascribe OTHER kinds of characteristics to atheists. But then again, it’s not appropriate to ascribe characteristics other than: “follower of Christ” to “Christians”. Christians can also be any color, wear hats, be rational or irrational, support the theory of evolution or that of creationism, etc.

    Atheism is a philosophical viewpoint. But this web site makes me feel like it is just another religion: people grouping together based on their beliefs, trying to define “their” history as opposed to the history of “another”, and, most tellingly, trying to assert an identity in opposition to other “religious” groups. The vehemence is understandable in light of the ostracism suffered in the past by atheists in a pre-dominantly theistic society, and today in the face of Christian “zealots” (who are likewise intolerant of other Christians whose views don’t line up with theirs). But no group has a right to claim science as their exclusive purview.

    Of course, if we all operate in tolerance, seeking to learn and teach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (so help up God? :-) ) where would the fun be?

  223. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 10:57 pm

    There’s a ton of controversy about gravitational theory. Exactly the same with evolution. It should be freely discussed.

    And it is. But the controversy in each is something you are keenly inept to discuss.

    No arrogance that I can see. Just polite confidence.

    That’s the problem. You can’t see the arrogance. You think your 10 minutes of Google U and listening to the ignorant drivel of other creationists somehow makes your confidence justified.

    So let’s talk about it. Your vast fund of knowledge should make you a sure winner in any debate, in a classroom as well as anywhere. You don’t need to call the police.

    I have. With sonic – because (s)he seems to actually want to discuss it. But the problem with anti-evolutionists like you is that you think the discussion can hinge on one or two topics and can be settled in a post or two. The bigger problem is that the likes of you keep making the same disproven arguments over and over. And no matter how many times they are disproven you keep saying “so lets talk about it.” Just because you repeat the same creationist nonsense over and over doesn’t make it true. And the place to have “the conversation” is not in the classroom. That is clearly evinced by the court rulings and the scientific consensus. There is a reason why it is illegal to teach creationism and ID as valid theories of any kind. They are religious mythology and nothing more.

    So please, don’t be such a snide schmuck and claim you are “politely confident” and we should “talk about it” but don’t “call the police.” Every time a creationist trope is brought up, it is destroyed by evidence. The fact that you choose to ignore the evidence is exactly why the police need to be called. It’s like when Richard Dawkins talked to Wendy Wright. She said, “Show me the evidence of transitional fossils.” He said, “They are right there in the museum, take a look at them.” “No, not drawing and fake plaster casts,” she retorts. “Indeed, the real actual fossils they are there, in the Smithsonian….” “I’ve been there, I haven’t seen any such fossils.”

    Well, the fact that you (like Wright) can choose to look at this evidence and say it simply isn’t there… well, what can we do about that? For all I care you can go on believing that all you want. But when you want to teach that to children in a public school, yes it is time to call the police. Because you are lying. Intentionally or not, you are. And then you whine about how unfair Dover vs Kitzmiller was. No, my dear creationist ideologue. That was an example of reasoned and educated people hearing the evidence and deciding that intelligent design, just like creationism, is not a science but is patently religious doctrine. And furthermore deciding that evolution is the best theory to describe the diversity of life on earth. Oh, and did you know? The judge on the case was a believer himself. But I’m sure you’ll find some way to blame that decision on “atheist ideology.”

    So the talks have been had. The evidence has been weighed. And every single time, from Darwin to Scopes to Kitzmiller, the decision has been the same. You choose to ignore the evidence, so we are forced to have the police ensure you can’t poison the minds of children.

    The denial of a proposition is itself a proposition. To deny that God exists is every bit as much a proposition as to assert that God exists.

    And some more metaphysical bullshit. I wonder when I will be ceased to be amazed when theists try and shift the burden of proof to someone else. No, dear religious zealot. The burden of proof is on you. Just as you do not have to prove that there isn’t an invisible dragon in my garage, I don’t have to prove that there isn’t an invisible tyrant in the sky. By your back asswards “logic” you would have to prove to me that Allah doesn’t exist, that Vishnu doesn’t exist, that leprechauns and unicorns don’t exist, that fairies don’t exist. Because by your denial of the proposition that they do exist you are making a proposition that they do. If I proposed that your father was in fact a donkey because you are so much of an ass, would you then have to show me the genetic evidence that half your genome isn’t equine?

    But if I were you, I’d also be trying to dissociate myself from the real history of atheism in political power.

    I have no need. But if I were you I would try and distance myself from all of the rape, pillage, torture, and slavery that was in my religious history. Oh yeah, and the rampant and disgusting pederasty that is still ongoing in the Catholic church you ascribe to.

    And while Jeremiah has certainly not accused you of dishonesty I have. And I will. Because you are clearly smart enough to know better. But you choose to be a liar for jesus and a “cdesign propensitist.”

  224. nybgruson 05 Jun 2011 at 11:16 pm

    It describes them as not believing in a god. It’s not appropriate to ascribe OTHER kinds of characteristics to atheists.

    Exactly my point. Therein lies some common ground but beyond that you cannot comment. Hence why I made the analogy to black, white, hat wearing, etc.

    However, the difference is that a christian is much more than just someone who believes in a 2000 year old zombie carpenter who was his own father and killed himself to resurrect himself and enslave humanity. I actually had this exact same conversation with someone on Reddit (an atheist/agnostic none the less) who held the same stance. After some back and forth he admitted that I had convinced him that indeed the label of “christian” actually means something much more and comments much more on a person than the label of “atheist.” Read the comments if you are interested. I won’t rehash them here.

    Atheism is a philosophical viewpoint.

    Atheism is not a philosophical viewpoint. It is the default stance of every single human being prior to being indoctrinated into a religion. You would not refer to someone as an “a-Zeusist” or an “a-fairyist” and expect that to mean anything. Secular humanism is a philosophical viewpoint – one I happen to ascribe to. But please, do not conflate a default stance on something with an actually cogent philosophical viewpoint.

    But no group has a right to claim science as their exclusive purview.

    The only one here claiming a different science is Mike. I have long said there is no such thing as “atheist science” just as there is no such thing as “christian science.” And in fact, you can be quite a devout believer and still be an amazing scientist. As long as your scientific work does not conflict with your religious worldview. Then you get travesties like the creation museum, where it is explicitly stated that if the experimental outcome does not agree with the bible then the experiment must be wrong. This is how the denounce radiometric dating of the earth and still claim it is only 6,000 years old. That could feasibly called “christian science” except for that fact that is simply isn’t science anymore. Mike likes to think that somehow atheism is a worldview that informs science and neglects the very real fact that places like the Discovery Institute and the Creation Museum exist. That, mike, is what it is like when a worldview inform a science. And don’t think for a second that I or anyone else would accept bad science just because it came from an atheist. I would just as quickly call that person an idiot as well. The difference is that people like you would accept the “science” from a place like the DI or CM because it is a christian think tank.

    But that isn’t science.

    Of course, if we all operate in tolerance, seeking to learn and teach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (so help up God? ) where would the fun be?

    This is fun I would gladly do without. If places like the DI or CM or people like mike were genuinely interested in seeking out the evidence no matter where it lead them I would be on cloud 9. But documents like the Wedge document, intelligent design seeking to sneak into schools as “cdesign propensitists,” and laws like the one in Tennessee (and the comments made about it by politicians) are clear demonstrations that there is no low the religious worldview won’t sink to in order to disseminate their worldview, no matter what the evidence. The scary part is they are a majority and it is hard to combat that, so we as intellectually honest scientists and humans must be quite vociferous and quite serious with our laws and rulings on such matters. Which is why I am quite happy to remove the teaching credentials of a science teacher preaching creationism.

  225. Mlemaon 05 Jun 2011 at 11:49 pm

    nygbrus: I admire your passion to defend scientific truth.

    but when you say:
    “The scary part is they (Christians) are a majority and it is hard to combat that, so we as intellectually honest scientists and humans must be quite vociferous and quite serious with our laws and rulings on such matters.”

    I want to offer you the comfort that atheists are NOT “going it alone”. And when you say “OUR laws and rulings on such matters” you are actually referring to laws and rulings handed down by at least as many Christians as atheists (they are the majority after all. Do you think we would have laws prohibiting creationism being taught in the classroom if there weren’t plenty of Christians promoting those laws?).

    And i still really don’t think it’s fair to force further definition onto “Christian” beyond it’s defining tenet. Is it fair for me to define atheists as people who are angry at Christians?

  226. sonicon 05 Jun 2011 at 11:50 pm

    nybgrus-
    Thank-you for the reply…
    Yes, I would teach children that everything in science- including the theory of gravity- is incomplete. I would want my child to know that the most successful biologist of our times questions a basic premise/ hypothesis of our current theory. I would want them to know this is part of how science works and that even the most knowledgeable don’t always agree.

    Thank-you for mentioning ERVs. This does seem to be at the crux of the matter in molecular biology today.
    First- have you seen this-

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210111148.htm

    It seems that the fact that there are hot-spots, that the DNA is often actually functional, and that in at least one case (actual experimental observation as opposed to induction) the reason for the ERV’s placement was not common descent, other factors– this should be enough to admit difficulties.

    Notice I’m not saying the theory is wrong. I am saying I have reasons to doubt. I don’t have a problem with you coming to a different conclusion. Being told that there are no reasons to doubt does not give me any confidence that the subject is being treated as science however.
    You are right that there are numerous means of mutation- jumping gens, SOS response… I don’t think people should be told that evolution goes forward by random mutation– do you? I mean those examples are really random- are they?

    In fact, if the theory weren’t so important to atheists, I would think there would be no issue with a teacher mentioning that nobody really knows how everything got here–

    I’m not big on fossils, but…
    Try this–

    http://www.biology-direct.com/content/2/1/21

    Why would such a theory be needed if existing theory predicted the actual record?

  227. sonicon 05 Jun 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Mlema-
    If I’m so wise, then why do I like what you write so much? :-)

  228. steve12on 05 Jun 2011 at 11:59 pm

    “Politicians, as Faison nicely demonstrated, are ideologues – not scientists.”

    I was originally a bit annoyed with some folks early on hair-splitting about this statement being too general, but not annoyed enough to comment.

    After returning to see how the thread exploded, can there be any more proof that this statement is right-on than the posts of Mike12? He may not be a politician, but he’s certainly a politico ideologue – and even more clearly not a scientist.

    Politicos have an a priori agenda and generally don’t understand what science even is. The exceptions are too insignificant to even matter.

  229. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 12:10 am

    I want to offer you the comfort that atheists are NOT “going it alone”. And when you say “OUR laws and rulings on such matters” you are actually referring to laws and rulings handed down by at least as many Christians as atheists

    You are correct. I recognize that there are many reasonable theists out there, even though that is often lost in my passionate rhetoric. However, I still stand by the fact that groups like the tea and republican parties still act by in large in a dishonest fashion motivated by religious zeal. Look at Sen. John Kyl claiming that 97% of planned parenthood is abortion. Look at Michelle Bachmann completely rewriting history for her own purposes. Look at Fox News trying to claim that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and that our forefathers were Christian and wanted Christian laws. All of these are blatant lies for ideology. So whilst I would readily recognize that these do not constitute a majority, they are significant and they do have significant impact on laws in our country. The Kitzmiller judge was a believer and he did the right thing, and I laud him for that. The proponents of this Tennessee bill are intentionally being deceptive and that must be combatted.

    But to say that a Christian is just someone who believes in Jesus is a pointless statement. Because at a minimum they are also a group that tacitly or not endorses such politics. If truly the only belief someone has is that Jesus existed then they cannot be called a Christian – there is more to it than that. Otherwise there is no sense in calling yourself a Christian and lending power to the vocal ones that are much more than your isolated claim to identity. I’ll copy and paste one section from my discussion on Reddit for your consideration:

    Those “normal” non-nutjob Christians out there still believe the same crackpot shit. They just aren’t expressing it as vehemently. And if they really don’t believe that shit (and I only used that as an example there are many more things) then why are they still calling themselves Christian? That gives power to the crazy ones because they have silent support.

    I mean, that would be like me calling myself a KKK member but the only thing we all have in common is I like to dress in white and those other KKK guys are the crazy ones giving people like me a bad name. Would you then say, “I am more horrified by the fact that [KKK member] said ‘niggers should be lynched’ than the fact that he calls himself a KKK member?” And would me calling myself a KKK member based solely on the fact that I like white robes not give them extra credence and power solely by my silent assent at the “meaningless” label?

    So I think there truly is much more to saying “I am Christian” than just a belief in Jesus. If there isn’t, then you have no place calling yourself a Christian.

    And i still really don’t think it’s fair to force further definition onto “Christian” beyond it’s defining tenet.

    The problem is, as I described above, that is not the one and only defining tenet and when you look at the whole of Christian political ideology you find that it is not the entirety of how they act either. So in theory and in practice, limiting the definition of Christian as you do is quite fallacious.

    But it is fair to say that some atheists are angry at Christians. I am one of them.

  230. Mlemaon 06 Jun 2011 at 12:13 am

    sonic: I will NOT say that you are unwise…so I will just say it is a paradox :-)

  231. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 12:29 am

    nybgrus,

    Chris Mooney wrote a really good article recently entitled “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science”, which concluded:

    Given the power of our prior beliefs to skew how we respond to new information, one thing is becoming clear: If you want someone to accept new evidence, make sure to present it to them in a context that doesn’t trigger a defensive, emotional reaction.

    and

    …paradoxically, you don’t lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance.

    If I were to try to apply this advice (which is itself science-based) in a discussion like this one (assuming that my goal is to persuade, rather than to berate), then I would, firstly, try to maintain a respectful tone (which is admittedly difficult in some cases). I would, secondly, try to bear in mind that the chances of my changing someone’s mind on a particular issue varies according to how central his/her stance on that issue is to his/her identity.

    That said, I wish I had your grasp of evolutionary biology (and physics, as I recall)!

  232. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 12:45 am

    sonic: I can see you are genuinely interested and I sincerely laud you for that. Unfortunately I simply do not have the time to give a detailed one-on-one and point-by-point explanation of the entirety of evolutionary theory. As I had said to Mike above, it is simply to vast and complex a field – there is a reason it has taken me years to learn what I have. And if I did not have a background in basic and organic chemistry, physics, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, and specifically evolutionary biology I would not be able to comment on the articles you linked me to.

    Please do not interpret this as my attempt at saying I am smarter than you. Merely that my expertise lays in these fields. There is a reason why we train and recognize experts – because it literally takes years of specific training and study to be one. I wouldn’t have the foggiest clue if you were to ask me such in depth questions about economics or engineering or computer science for example. There are many times in those fields that I look at something, like the articles you linked, and am confused – it seems to me contradictory. Thankfully, my girlfriend is a hypersonics engineer, her brother is a computer science guru, and I used to play poker with PhD’s in economics, so I know who to ask.

    If you are genuinely interested, I would suggest learning how the theory works before attempting to pick it apart. If you want, I can even send you the 60-70 pages or so I wrote about it last year when debating a creationist. He asked me the same questions and made very intelligent points. But it took immense effort on my part to get everything asked answered. But at the end he actually said that my evidence and patience lead to him re-evaluating his stance and realizing that there may indeed be something to this evolution thing.

    Here is a snippet from his last email to me:

    Hello
    First off, I’d like to offer an apology for neglecting your last riposte. Suffice to say, it had unfortunately slipped to the back of my mind and went forgotten. However, you may be interested to know that it comprised one event of many in my life that inspired me to dig a little deeper into finding God in my life. Based on the numerous lines of proof you offered concerning evolution, I decided to further my research into the whole matter…. Instead of coming to rely on intelligent design, I found faith that was not blind but allowed me to see how God could work in my life and the lives of those who need His presence. For now, I am reading up on the arguments of noted Christian scientists (not advocates of intelligent design) who do offer rather compelling arguments that combine both logic and emotion.

    He still has and wants his faith and that is fine – but he was forced to realize that intelligent design creationism is not an intellectually satisfying solution in the light of evolutionary theory.

    That took me 7 months and 70ish pages (single spaced) to reach. I just simply do not have the time or stamina to do it again, but I implore you to do as he did and try and understand the way in which evolution works and what the theory actually states before attempting to nitpick out how it may not work. That is the way one should always approach any theory or idea.

    But out of respect for your reasoned and civil questions, I will give a brief response to the last two items you linked.

    In the first, they are discussing introns which are unexpressed portions of DNA – part of that “junk” DNA you have heard so much about. The question in evolution is “Why would there be so much “junk” DNA if all it does is cost the cell energy and time to replicate?” One of the long standing answers (and likely a very large contributor) is that it allows for the absorption of mutation. All DNA will randomly mutate through a variety of means (mismatch repair, base excision repair errors, ionizing radiation, ROS, etc). If you have every single nucleotide code for something meaningful then you are more likely to harm something meaningful. In “junk” DNA you thus have a buffer that can absorb these mutations with no overall effect on the organism.

    Also, junk DNA can arise because of genes that become defunct but the organism survives and adapts to the new loss of function. Or because genomic copying is commonplace and leads to new gain of function. Or because of virus DNA being incorporated. Etc.

    The article discusses how these events can be deleterious and thus have been assumed to be rare events. But there is evidence that they are not. But an intron insertion event is not the same a random mutation. It is a subset of a random mutation event. Or at least, they think it is. It may not be as random as we once thought and that is what they are trying to investigate.

    Nowhere in the article does is mention that this calls into question evolutionary theory since it does not. This is once again an example of the fringes of the theory that is being constantly refined.

    As for the second article that is a perfect example of what I had discussed earlier – a question of the rate and exact properties of evolution not a question of whether evolution is happening or not. The BBB (as they call it) is essentially a refined concept of punctuated equilibrium as a model for evolution.

    They question arises about the complexity and unlikelihood of unique protein folds occurring. Because truly, to get a functional protein is a very complicated thing. But that is why you only see a small handful of protein superfamilies that utilize a small number of effective protein folds. That is why the proteins that exist in you are so similar to ones that exist in rabbits and insects and fish. It is hard to come across a good protein folding domain and once it happens, it takes off like wildfire spreading across the phyla. This article proposes a model of how those folds come about and get disseminated once they are successful (we call them “fitness peaks”). The author’s theory is that there were multiple unique origins of life (and their associated protein fitness peaks) and that they shared these folds in specific ways.

    It is an interesting hypothesis that calls into question the precise shape and size of the tree of life, but not the process that led to its development and branches.

    At this point I must say that I won’t have the time to devote to answering in detail and other questions you may have on the topic – I honestly find it too interesting and would spend an inordinate amount of time on it (as I already have) and I simply cannot afford to do so. I hope you understand.

    But I have given you some ideas and some resources to begin looking at it. I would further recommend “The Greatest Show on Earth,” “Climbing Mount Improbable,” and “The Selfish Gene” as books to help with that endeavor. I hope that you take the time to actually familiarize yourself with evolutionary theory on your own time. Try and understand it and as much detail as you can muster and then try and pick it apart. I can guarantee you won’t be able to. It is very easy to ridicule and pick apart something you know nothing about. But then you just come across like Mike and his ilk and based on the conversation we’ve had so far you don’t strike me as that type.

  233. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 12:54 am

    @mufi:

    First off, thank you very much for the compliment. As I have said, it is my field of expertise. Physics is just my hobby (though it does tie into medicine and biology to a pretty good extent) and I am much less well versed in that. I am a squishy scientist, after all :-)

    I have also read Mooney’s article – and thought it was spot on. But I have no illusion that I would be able to change Mike’s mind and I had no desire to do so going into it. I was much more keen to berate his sort of ignorant ideology. I hope that has come across in the different tone I have taken with Sonic. Please read my last comment to sonic which I wrote before reading your most recent one as an example.

    But the reality is that just as Mike has decided to get mad because he thinks atheists are pushing an agenda, I have decided to get mad because I know theists are trying to push one. The difference is I actually have science and empirical data on my side, so I am happy to go toe-to-toe. And when he comes off as “politely confident” I am quite happy to tell him he is “impolitely ignorant and stupid.” Besides, it is fun to watch him squirm and change the meanings of words to suit his own desires – and it never ceases to amaze me the kinds of straw men that theists can construct. He is not a stupid person and he is not ignorant. It is clear he is actually pretty intelligent and that he has done much research on the topic. But the garbage that spews forth and the arrogance with which he says it is stupid and belies his true ideology and motivations – which is why I further call him a liar. And I do so knowing that if we had enough time and a courtroom I could handily demonstrate so, exactly as was demonstrated and ruled in Dover vs Kitzmiller.

  234. norrisLon 06 Jun 2011 at 2:27 am

    227 replies! Make that 228.
    What else can I add that has not been said already. Sheer stupidity! Deceitful christians (no, they’re not ALL deceitful). Such amazing arrogance in sticking to their beliefs which are based on……….their beliefs.

  235. sonicon 06 Jun 2011 at 4:13 am

    nybgrus-
    thank-you again.

    I hope this makes our future communications easier-
    I think you might have misunderstood me. I am not questioning that things change. I have very little doubt that evolution occurs. I am not saying evolution didn’t happen or doesn’t happen or that it isn’t happening. “Evolution is occurring as we speak”- I would say with utmost confidence.

    I thank-you for your explanations, but they aren’t really needed. I am ignorant of biology, but not totally. I say this because I hope to communicate more and it would save you time if you assumed I did know about the things I link to. I read too much-
    (Your list is different than mine– I go with The Blind Watchmaker over Selfish Gene– I hope we can still be friends.) I see that you know much- no doubt much more than me, but I’ll ask if I get lost- and you can link to a reference I’ll probably read.

    I thank-you the time you’ve spent.

    The real point I’m trying to make is this– I don’t think that it is unreasonable- given the current state of knowledge- for a teacher to discuss the possibility that the there are weaknesses in our current scientific theories- and that includes all the theories- even evolution.

    What say you?

    BTW- if mutations are not random (as has been observed) then all meaningful calculations that assumed they were random (any statistical analysis that includes error bars or probability estimates)
    are endanger of being voided– no?
    And that might be meaningful- no?

    Perhaps I question because I’m a worrywart.

  236. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 4:21 am

    sonic,
    Google adaptive mutation

  237. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 4:58 am

    Sonic: My sincere apologies for misreading you. In my fervor over mike I must have missed something.

    I have also read The Blind Watchmaker – so I think our reading lists would be copacetic.

    I also fully agree that positives and negatives of ALL theories should be discussed. But I disagree with your choice of words – in evolution it is not a weakness of the theory but a limitation. This is a key understanding and why I say that the basic notions of evolutionary theory – common descent, random mutation, natural selection, etc – are set and those facts should be taught as such. You may notice that I commented about what is appropriate to teach high school students. A mention of the limitations is about all you can realistically expect to get into – an in depth discussion of said limitations is simply unfeasible for that audience. It is much too advanced. That is why the basics must be taught, without being adulterated by pseudo-scientific mythology, the same way we would teach the basics of physics (kinematics, gravitational theory, etc) to high school students. The limitations of gravitational theory are much too advanced for the average high school student. That is why I say these topics are for uni and post-grad learning, whilst the basic scientific consensus must be taught in a secondary school level.

    In regards to your latest question – it is true that not all mutations are random and that has created an interesting level of complexity to evolutionary theory. The basic premise of truly random mutations guided by selective pressure is still the bedrock of the theory. It seems though, that genes themselves have developed means of further interacting with their environment, beyond merely being passed on from generation to generation. That is seen in such complex events as non-random gene cluster jumping and pleiotropic interactions. That does not call into question the bedrock – it simply adds another intriguing layer of complexity. Too be honest, in depth discussion of those sorts of events are indeed quite cutting edge and a bit outside my depth. Since leaving college I have not engaged in rigorous study of evolutionary theory and instead am pursuing medicine.

    The notion of random mutations and the rates at which they occur are extremely well studied and understood – to the point where we can actually predict how long ago lineages diverged based upon the amount of point-mutation difference in non-conserved regions of DNA.

    You see, if some bit of DNA is very critical to the survival of an organism, you can well imagine that there would be a very high pressure to keep that sequence as perfect as possible. But if it is a strand of “junk” DNA then there is no such need for fidelity. Using pseudogenes that have become defunct as a baseline (since we can identify them across species as having significant nucleotide homology) we can then calculate how long ago those two sections of DNA must have diverged (to within theoretical error, of course) based upon how many point mutation differences we find. That is how the determination was made that chimpanzees and humans diverged from our common ancestor ~6 million years ago (I honestly do not know the plus-or-minus on that but I reckon it would be somewhere in the 10′s of thousands of years range. Hence it is useful for determining longer stretches of species separation).

    I like the fact that you question – because you are actually raising intelligent questions on the topic. That is the sort of thing I truly respect for I do not expect everyone to be an expert in biological sciences. But I’d like to point out for the peanut gallery that your type of questions are quite different from the “teach the controversy” type of questions that creationists like to make.

    I hope I have given a satisfactory enough answer for now. I am happy to do my best at answering any further such questions for you.

  238. Dawson 06 Jun 2011 at 7:56 am

    Sheesh… if believing in god makes you like Mike12 I’m glad I’m an atheist. o.O

    Those were sum of the rudest posts I’ve seen in awhile. What a mean angry person… I wouldn’t attempt to debate with him until he’s calmed down.

  239. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 8:44 am

    I have no particular quarrel with ‘evolutionary theory’, to the extent that that can be defined. I am not a young earth creationist, and the fact that living things have changed over the past 5 billion years is quite obvious and not a point of contention. The evidence strongly suggests that young earth creationists are wrong about the science.

    My quarrel is with evolutionary biologists (and their groupies) who assert that evolutionary science “makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. It does no such thing.

    The fundamental questions of God’s existence aren’t to be answered in fossil records or molecular genealogies. The answers to such an important question are complex, and not particularly empirical. This is not to say that Christians (who understand the real issues– not young earth creationists) deny empirical evidence, but rather that the empirical evidence is just as consistent with Christianity as it is with atheism. God creates as He pleases.

    My beef with atheists is that they have expropriated the good science of evolutionary biology for ideological ends. As I noted earlier, the very “mechanism” of evolution– random heritable variation and natural selection– is so vague that it can’t properly be called a mechanism.

    Random heritable variation is obviously true to some extent– living things vary, heritably. Whether the variation is random is the crux of the matter, and that is a much more complex issue. The big question is: to what extent is the variation that gives rise to change in populations teleological. And that is, of course, in part a metaphysical question, which is a domain Nybgrus and his fellow atheists are poorly equipped to address.

    Natural selection is a tautology– those organisms that vary heritably who survive… survive. It’s the variation that matters.

    Now to Nybgrus’ last comment about non-random variation:

    “…it is true that not all mutations are random and that has created an interesting level of complexity to evolutionary theory. The basic premise of truly random mutations guided by selective pressure is still the bedrock of the theory. It seems though, that genes themselves have developed means of further interacting with their environment, beyond merely being passed on from generation to generation. That is seen in such complex events as non-random gene cluster jumping and pleiotropic interactions. That does not call into question the bedrock – it simply adds another intriguing layer of complexity.”

    It certainly adds an intriguing layer of complexity. But the observation that all variation is not random explodes the basic premise of evolutionary theory as claimed by atheists– that evolution is utterly non-teleological. Of course teleology, properly understood, permeates nature, but the observation that some mutations are adaptive utterly contradicts the core ‘atheist’ claim by evolutionary biologists– that evolutionary change is driven by purely random variation.

    Of course, survival is itself not random, and of course it is teleological.

    My beef with evolutionary theory is that it has been hijacked by atheists and has become their creation myth. There are no atheist implications to be drawn from the evolutionary evidence, or at least none that can be drawn logically, but atheists persist in their illogic, as all fundamentalists do.

  240. Rockheadon 06 Jun 2011 at 8:55 am

    It’s funny that “flat earth’ is mentioned so often in the comments. I’m a geologist living in Tennessee, and I am very concerned about this bill. So I wrote my state rep before the bill was voted on, and here’s the response he sent:

    “Mr. XX, Thank you for your email. I did not get too many regarding this particular bill. Sir, I chose to vote for this bill because I believe it will allow teachers to teach any and all theories of creation. We put them out there and allow students to think about them. Once upon a time we adults taught that the world was flat. David Alexander”

  241. SteveAon 06 Jun 2011 at 10:09 am

    Kudos to nygbrus, robm et al for their responses. You have more patience than I do.

    Ring Species

    Sonic. I’ve not read every word of the above so apologies if this has been covered already.

    Essentially there are two types of ring species.

    In one scenario a species colonises around a barrier relatively quickly (gulls around the arctic rim, for example). This homogenous population then settles down and sub-species start to develop as natural selection, genetic drift etc get to work on sub-populations. Sub-populations usually develop where there are barriers (physical or otherwise) that hinder the inter-breeding of individuals in adjacent areas. For example, in our gulls example it may be that temperature variation between adjacent areas means that the breeding season of one population lags behind that of neighbouring populations. Occasional interbreeding between neighbouring populations will work against speciation, but the further you travel from one population the more different the gulls will be. So in this example a population of gulls at six o’clock (on the clock face) will be able to breed with populations at seven and five, less likely to breed successfully with populations at nine and three, and be very unlikely to breed with a population at twelve o’clock. There is no beginning or end to the ring in this example.

    In the second scenario – let’s say amphibians colonising a lakeside habitat – it might be that the original population slowly expands out round both sides of the lake. Because progress is slow, speciation gets a hold before the two branches of the original population meet at the other side of the lake. The two branches eventually come together, but because each has picked up variation on the way they may find themselves incapable of interbreeding. This variation need not be huge, for example even small changes in behaviour can hinder interbreeding and contribute to speciation.

    Overly simplified I know but I hope this is of use.

  242. SteveAon 06 Jun 2011 at 10:12 am

    Sorry, forgot to mention that in the second scenario (see my previous post) the ring does have a beginning and an end; the ‘end’ being the gap between the two adjacent non-breeding populations.

  243. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 10:56 am

    nybgrus: I read your exchange with sonic and it was excellent. I learned (or re-learned) a few things from it myself. Please keep up the good work!

    But I think we may have to agree to disagree regarding how best to interact with Mike, many of whose arguments I disagree with as strongly as you do (albeit, from a slightly different angle), while carrying on a relatively calm (if not mutually respectful) dialogue.

    Call it a personal preference, if you like, but I’ve done the ridicule and watch-em-squirm thing and I’m not proud of it.

  244. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 11:27 am

    Mike said: My beef with atheists is that they have expropriated the good science of evolutionary biology for ideological ends.

    Mike, as far as I know, the public schools aren’t teaching Dawkins, Myers, and Coyne in their science classes (or, more specifically, teaching their philosophical interpretations of evolutionary biology). But, if they were, then I would agree with you that that’s problematic.

    The big question is: to what extent is the variation that gives rise to change in populations teleological.

    That is indeed a big question in philosophy. I already know where we both stand on that question, so suffice it to say that “teleonomy” seems a less controversial term in evolutionary biology and the philosophy of science, and it refers to:

    Processes that owe their goal-directedness to the operation of a program. The term teleonomic implies goal-direction. This, in turn, implies a dynamic process rather than a static condition, as represented by a system. Examples include the development of an adult organism from a fertilized zygote and the building of a dam by beavers.

    source

  245. Kensingtonon 06 Jun 2011 at 11:40 am

    Mike you have in this thread multiple times states there are ‘big questions’ and ‘fundamental questions’ that the ‘atheist view of evolution’ cannot take in to account or properly address. But you then do not attempt to answer these questions within a frame based on reality. You create these ‘questions’ so that you may then attempt to answer them with your mythological answers, rather than continue to address them within a scientific framework.

  246. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 12:21 pm

    @mufi:

    “Mike, as far as I know, the public schools aren’t teaching Dawkins, Myers, and Coyne in their science classes (or, more specifically, teaching their philosophical interpretations of evolutionary biology). But, if they were, then I would agree with you that that’s problematic.’

    We agree. I don’t want public schools teaching Dawkins or Craig in science class. It is approporate to teach some of the scientific issues they raise, but just as science, not as religion/irreligion.

    I do think that it is appropriate to teach them (athiests and theists) in social studies/philosophy classes. Our kids are appallingly uneducated on such matters.

    The big question is: to what extent is the variation that gives rise to change in populations teleological.

    “suffice it to say that “teleonomy” seems a less controversial term in evolutionary biology and the philosophy of science, and it refers to: …Processes that owe their goal-directedness to the operation of a program. The term teleonomic implies goal-direction.”

    Teleonomy is an important concept, and is a form of teleology. I agree.

  247. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 12:32 pm

    >Jeremiah on 05 Jun 2011 at 6:38 pm
    So Mike, is this at bottom more about evolution as a contest between good and evil than about, say, cooperation versus competition? If so, are atheists (including I suppose agnostics) somehow stand-ins for some products of the devilish aspects of nature? Your catechismic views as to the source and/or the forces that have fashioned our designs don’t seem to make that much sense otherwise.<

    Still ducking that and my related questions, Mike, or just thinking about how to answer honestly?

  248. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Please scratch “The big question is: to what extent is the variation that gives rise to change in populations teleological.” I mistakenly inserted it.

    @mufi:

    But I think we may have to agree to disagree regarding how best to interact with Mike, many of whose arguments I disagree with as strongly as you do (albeit, from a slightly different angle), while carrying on a relatively calm (if not mutually respectful) dialogue. Call it a personal preference, if you like, but I’ve done the ridicule and watch-em-squirm thing and I’m not proud of it.”

    Well said. Let’s discuss these issues cogently and respectfully, without ridicule. Ridicule clutters the discussion and often obscures the important points. I’m guilty of it too, but I believe that I tend to respond to it more than start it. When you’re a Christian debating evolution with an atheist, you get a lot of ridicule, regardless of the cogency of your argument.

    @nybgrus

    You said:

    “But the garbage that spews forth and the arrogance with which he says it is stupid and belies his true ideology and motivations – which is why I further call him a liar. And I do so knowing that if we had enough time and a courtroom I could handily demonstrate so, exactly as was demonstrated and ruled in Dover vs Kitzmiller.”

    What has a “courtroom” to with a discussion of science and philosophy?

    You said:

    “Michael Behe said that for intelligent design to be a “science” then astrology would also have to be considered a science. Do you consider astrology a science Mike?”

    Sure astrology is a science. A science is a testable theory about nature. Astrology is a theory that asserts that when a certain planet is in the vicinity of a certain constellation, certain things will happen to people who were born in a certain month. For example, my horoscope might say that I will have a financial windfall when Venus is in Capricorn.

    When tested, the science of astrology has been found to make utterly false predictions. There’s not a shred of truth in it. So astrology is a scientific theory that is wrong. But it’s still science, because it’s a testable hypothesis about nature. Wrong scientific theories are still…scientific theories.

    Behe was mercilessly ridiculed for this answer, but he was completely right. Neither he nor I nor anyone in their right mind believes that astrology is true, but it’s obviously a scientific theory. It’s no more false, for example, than the steady-state model of the universe, which has been pretty well discredited as well. But both are scientific theories.

    Something that wouldn’t be a scientific theory would be the assertion that God loves us. It’s not testable using natural science. Also natural selection doesn’t qualify as science, because tautologies are only trivially testable.

    Random variation as the raw material for evolution is testable, and some of it appears to be teleological (Teleonomical) in a quite astonishing way.

  249. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 12:49 pm

    “Teleonomy is an important concept, and is a form of teleology. I agree.”

    Well, that raises another question for me, which is addressed in that same essay further on:

    This analysis leaves us with the following problem: Is the term “teleology” an umbrella term that subsumes both teleomatic and teleonomic processes, and if so, what term is most appropriate for the kinds of unambiguously goal-directed behavior exhibited by humans (and our artifacts, such as heat-seeking missiles)? My preference is to reserve the term “teleology” for the latter (i.e. clearly goal-seeking processes initiated and controlled by rational entities, such as ourselves), and apply the terms teleonomy and teleomatic the way Mayr suggests in his article.

    By “teleomatic”, the author is referring to processes which reach an end state caused by natural laws (e.g. gravity, second law of thermodynamics) but not by a program.

    That said, these distinctions sound reasonable enough to me, and it doesn’t particularly offend my non-theistic sensibilities that (as the author concludes) ID theorists can still argue that God…both “designed” and “guided” the processes by which Mayr’s “programs” bring about teleonomic goal-seeking behavior.” Such is their right.

    Whether such arguments (both for and against) belong in a public school setting is, however, is a different and more complicated matter. I tend towards the negative view on that one (i.e. take it elsewhere).

  250. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 12:50 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    “So Mike, is this at bottom more about evolution as a contest between good and evil than about, say, cooperation versus competition? If so, are atheists (including I suppose agnostics) somehow stand-ins for some products of the devilish aspects of nature? Your catechismic views as to the source and/or the forces that have fashioned our designs don’t seem to make that much sense otherwise. Still ducking that and my related questions, Mike, or just thinking about how to answer honestly?”

    All my answers are honest (although not all are right). I’m not ducking your questions. Some of them are a little hard to understand, and I’m busy (day job, family etc).

    You appear to be asking if I believe in the devil and in evil as a personal thing.

    I do. I believe that God created souls (forms) that are not embodied. These beings are angels (Aquinas– the Angelic Doctor– has a beautiful explication of this view). Some angels are good, some bad.

    Some evil in the world is demonic, some is merely human, and some is cooperation between the two, and some is merely in nature, which is fallen and imperfect.

    You believe in evil too. Everyone does, in one way or another. Christians believe that some evil is personal but non-human.

    Is evolution itself evil or demonic? Not at all, except of course that all nature is imperfect and fallen. The use of evolutionary theory to push atheism is certainly evil, because it’s a lie. Is it caused by satan? I’m sure he’s pleased with it, whether or not he can take credit for it.

  251. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 12:54 pm

    “Random variation as the raw material for evolution is testable, and some of it appears to be teleological (Teleonomical) in a quite astonishing way.”

    Vague, meaningless, and question ducking, Mike, as you know damned well (to use a sinful metaphor) that teleological and teleonomical have fundamentally different meanings.

  252. 2_wordson 06 Jun 2011 at 12:55 pm

    When Mike12 says god he means
    1) All real objects and events have a real cause,
    2) Many causes are, in turn, effects of some preceding causes.
    3) At least one effect, namely the first one, has a cause which is not an effect.
    4) The first effect is creation
    5) God is the cause of creation

    This is his proof. It is meaningless as it describes that there is thought thinking. It is only “proof” that is is.
    So when most say they are atheist, they are saying “no’ to a god of definition. Not to a concept who cannot be described meaningfully or without resort to tautology.

    Mike12 is probably just angry that the world we are is not explained with ourselves in it. An explanation can only be either consistence but not complete or complete but not consistent.

  253. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 1:05 pm

    @Jeremiah

    “Random variation as the raw material for evolution is testable, and some of it appears to be teleological (Teleonomical) in a quite astonishing way.”

    Vague, meaningless, and question ducking, Mike, as you know damned well (to use a sinful metaphor) that teleological and teleonomical have fundamentally different meanings.”

    As I understand teleonomy, it’s a type of teleology. Please explain your understanding of it, and why they are fundamentally different.

  254. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 1:13 pm

    # mufi

    “That said, these distinctions sound reasonable enough to me, and it doesn’t particularly offend my non-theistic sensibilities that (as the author concludes) ID theorists can still argue that God…both “designed” and “guided” the processes by which Mayr’s “programs” bring about teleonomic goal-seeking behavior.” Such is their right.”

    Can a program emerge without causation by a mind (or Mind)? Does goal-seeking intrinsically mean intentional, in the sense of caused by a mental state?

    Aristotle thought not. Aquinas thought yes.

    Aquinas’ argument was that the end goal didn’t exist in nature until it was reached (a praticular acorn wasn’t a particular oak tree until… it was that oak tree). But the end point must exist in some way, because otherwise there would be no “goal” for the teleological process to be directed to. Aquinas asserted that the endpoint of a teleological process must therefore exist in a mind.

    In human action, the end point is in the mind of the person doing the process (the form of the house is in the mind of the person building the house). For inanimate teleology in nature, the end point must also be in a Mind, which Aquinas identified with God (Aquinas Fifth Way).

  255. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 1:14 pm

    “You believe in evil too. Everyone does, in one way or another. Christians believe that some evil is personal but non-human.”

    No, Mike, actually I don’t believe in evil as a force, cause or inherent quality of anything. Evil is a purpose driven concept that our culture has been stuck with. There are no evil powers that are in any way essential to the evolutionary chain of life.

  256. 2_wordson 06 Jun 2011 at 1:30 pm

    “The map is not the territory”

    Our mind is that of the universe. You can call it god if you want but it still is just our mind.

  257. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Mike asked: Can a program emerge without causation by a mind (or Mind)?

    To quote once more from Allen MacNeill (a biology prof. at Cornell U.):

    …there is no observable evidence that the evolutionary processes by which such programs come into being are goal-directed (i.e. “designed” or “purposeful”). Therefore, although such purposes may exist, they are invisible to us on principle and therefore irrelevent to scientific explanations of natural phenomena

    That said, far be it from me to insist that these evolutionary processes are necessarily purposeless. But if you want to insist that they are necessarily purposeful, then my answer is: You may be right, but (with all due respect to Aquinas) we have no way of knowing, so I choose to toss my chips in with the atheists. (There’s no accounting for taste, right?)

  258. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 1:53 pm

    PS: Mike, please try to bear in mind that I am a former theist, and while my grasp of religious apologetics might never have been as advanced as yours is today (and was focused in rabbinic versions, besides), you’ve yet to relate an argument to me that I haven’t heard, read, or used myself before. And yet I turned out as I am, nonetheless.

  259. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 2:06 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    “No, Mike, actually I don’t believe in evil as a force, cause or inherent quality of anything. Evil is a purpose driven concept that our culture has been stuck with. There are no evil powers that are in any way essential to the evolutionary chain of life.”

    If evil is a purpose-driven concept, with no objective existence, then to assert that the Holocaust was evil is merely the expression of an opinion. I like Coke, you like Pepsi.

    Is that really what you believe?

  260. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 2:07 pm

    @mufi

    “PS: Mike, please try to bear in mind that I am a former theist, and while my grasp of religious apologetics might never have been as advanced as yours is today (and was focused in rabbinic versions, besides), you’ve yet to relate an argument to me that I haven’t heard, read, or used myself before. And yet I turned out as I am, nonetheless.”

    They’re pretty standard arguments, very old, but it’s surprising how many people haven’t heard of them. You’re fortunate to have had exposure to them.

    I find that they make more and more sense the longer I think about them.

  261. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 2:14 pm

    @mufi:

    “To quote once more from Allen MacNeill (a biology prof. at Cornell U.):

    …there is no observable evidence that the evolutionary processes by which such programs come into being are goal-directed (i.e. “designed” or “purposeful”). Therefore, although such purposes may exist, they are invisible to us on principle and therefore irrelevent to scientific explanations of natural phenomena

    That said, far be it from me to insist that these evolutionary processes are necessarily purposeless. But if you want to insist that they are necessarily purposeful, then my answer is: You may be right, but (with all due respect to Aquinas) we have no way of knowing, so I choose to toss my chips in with the atheists. (There’s no accounting for taste, right?)’

    The purposefulness of teleology in nature has certainly been disputed. There are thoughtful people on both sides.

    But if you cannot scientifically exclude purpose, how is it the evolution is evidence for atheism?

  262. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 3:08 pm

    @Mike,
    >If evil is a purpose-driven concept, with no objective existence, then to assert that the Holocaust was evil is merely the expression of an opinion. I like Coke, you like Pepsi.<

    Evil is our human culture's metaphor for unjust, unwarranted, unwanted, uncivilized, unethical, unmoral, irreparable, untrustworthy, and ultimately unacceptable consequences. In that sense the holocaust was the ultimate of evils. In an evolutionary sense it was a cultural phenomenon that was, as all such phenomena are, determinant of its future course.

  263. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Mike, I don’t recall having claimed that “evolution is evidence for atheism.” It’s certainly compatible with atheism, but then it’s compatible with theism, too. (Indeed, I expect that most liberal Christians would be very surprised to learn otherwise.)

    But I will say this: I don’t think creationists (like Phillip E. Johnson) are entirely wrong to sense (even fear) a kind of synergy between the two brands of naturalism: methodological (a.k.a. science) and metaphysical/ontological (which features, though is not reducible to, atheism). But synergy is not the same as equality, such that a theist can be a good practitioner of science (such as Frances Collins or Kenneth Miller) without necessarily risking religious heresy or apostasy (depending on the religion & denomination; e.g. check out this graph – as a Catholic, you appear to be on safe ground).

    In case you’re wondering, I’m sympathetic to metaphysical naturalism, as well (e.g. having read Richard Carrier’s autobiographical defense of it). Although my general skepticism (and agnosticism) towards all things metaphysical inhibits that interest, so long as such naturalists are clear that they’re going beyond what science dictates, and stepping into more speculative territory, I’m cool with it.

  264. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 3:20 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    “Evil is our human culture’s metaphor for unjust, unwarranted, unwanted, uncivilized, unethical, unmoral, irreparable, untrustworthy, and ultimately unacceptable consequences. In that sense the holocaust was the ultimate of evils.”

    The same argument applies to all of those moral concepts. If badness is merely subjective, then it’s not really badness, just an opinion. In fact, if badness isn’t objective, then it’s not clear to me how we could even talk about it with each other.

    Yet evil is perhaps the one thing that all humans agree on, more than anything else. Even people who commit evil usually try to assert that it was not really evil (“those Jews were our enemies”, “I had to rob the guy because I needed the money”., etc)

    What if I stole your car, and when you caught me, I said that it wasn’t evil, it was just a difference of opinion?

    Is raping a child evil, in any objective sense, and not merely a matter of opinion?

    “In an evolutionary sense it was a cultural phenomenon that was, as all such phenomena are, determinant of its future course.”"

    I don’t know what you mean.

  265. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 3:23 pm

    PS: Although I’m not presently affiliated with them, I’m also sympathetic towards religious naturalists, some of whom (like Ursula Goodenough) attend church or synagogue, although, if you saw them in the pews, you might not guess that they’re no more theistic in their beliefs than I am.

  266. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 3:27 pm

    @mufi:

    “Mike, I don’t recall having claimed that “evolution is evidence for atheism.” It’s certainly compatible with atheism, but then it’s compatible with theism, too.”

    I agree. But many many atheists have depicted evolution as decisive evidence for atheism. It has been said– with cause– that Darwin’s theory is the most powerful engine driving atheist belief in history.

    That’s a shame, not only because atheism is untrue (I believe), but because it perpetuates an enormous logical fallacy.

    “But I will say this: I don’t think creationists (like Phillip E. Johnson) are entirely wrong to sense (even fear) a kind of synergy between the two brands of naturalism: methodological (a.k.a. science) and metaphysical/ontological (which features, though is not reducible to, atheism). But synergy is not the same as equality, such that a theist can be a good practitioner of science (such as Frances Collins or Kenneth Miller) without necessarily risking religious heresy or apostasy (depending on the religion & denomination; e.g. check out this graph – as a Catholic, you appear to be on safe ground).’

    Sure. Methodological naturalism is not the same thing as philosphical naturalism, and the former does not necessarily imply the latter.

    In case you’re wondering, I’m sympathetic to metaphysical naturalism, as well (e.g. having read Richard Carrier’s autobiographical defense of it). Although my general skepticism (and agnosticism) towards all things metaphysical inhibits that interest, so long as such naturalists are clear that they’re going beyond what science dictates, and stepping into more speculative territory, I’m cool with it.

    But metaphysical naturalists are very often unclear about the metaphysical neutrality of natural science.

  267. 2_wordson 06 Jun 2011 at 3:43 pm

    The reason evolution drives atheism is because the common belief in god is akin to believing in magic sky daddy.

    Mike12 conflates the disbelief in sky daddy with aquinas’s “I have defined into essences something that satisfies my dissatisfaction with infinite regression.”

  268. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 4:00 pm

    # 2_words

    “The reason evolution drives atheism is because the common belief in god is akin to believing in magic sky daddy… Mike12 conflates the disbelief in sky daddy with aquinas’s “I have defined into essences something that satisfies my dissatisfaction with infinite regression.””

    I believe that the universe is caused by an Agency outside of it that is Existence Himself.

    You believe that the universe just happened.

    We both believe in magic. It’s inescapable, because none of us has all the answers, and existence exceeds human understanding.

    I’m not convinced that “shit happened” is an improvement on “In the Beginning was the Word…”

  269. sonicon 06 Jun 2011 at 4:02 pm

    nybrus-
    One of the things I dislike about this subject is that as soon as I mention I have doubts about the theory (I am a skeptical guy) it is assumed that I don’t know anything and that I am a religious nut-job.
    I hope we are beyond that.
    I’m thinking you are very intelligent, well educated and I’m happy to hear you are pursuing medicine as it seems you have a deep caring for people.

    Perhaps people could disagree about the certainty of how well the current theory of evolution explains things and do so from understanding and based on evidence- no need for metaphysics and hate.
    I think it is possible.

    My area of study was probability and statistics. I do see the how if assumptions are made about the genome (that mutations are random) one can conclude various things. I know. I could write a book on that. In fact, I have always considered the genetic evidence for common descent to be very strong.
    But once it is realized (as is currently the case) that the mutations are not all random (and in fact a number of non-random means of mutation have been discovered lately) all the conclusions based on the premise that they are all random are in doubt.
    Just the way the math works. Darn stuff.

    Add to that the notion that what was once considered junk might not be, and the two foundational assumptions upon which the common descent from DNA evidence is based are both in question.
    Surely if the assumptions upon which the argument rests are under question, then any conclusions must be under question as well.

    Further, with more genomes fully mapped, we see that the tree of life can’t be made from the evidence, but rather we get a bush of life.

    I await further evidence.

  270. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Mike, the consequences of acts that go against the shared interests of our respective cultures are, as far as those who enforce the rules, not subject to the dictates of our personal opinions.
    Your search for the existence of objective evil has come up with the usual simplistic examples. What’s seen as rape, be it of children or adults, depends on whose ox is being gored and why. The rules of a peaceful and flourishing society are one thing, but the rules of those who war against them for example will be quite another.

    >“In an evolutionary sense it was a cultural phenomenon that was, as all such phenomena are, determinant of its future course.””

    I don’t know what you mean.<

    Of course you don't, since you are unaware of the role cultures play in the evolution of all social species.
    Religiously deliberate ignorance.

  271. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Mike asked Jeremiah: Is raping a child evil, in any objective sense, and not merely a matter of opinion?

    This is an interesting turn in the discussion (and not an unsurprising one from the topic of evil-ution). Here are my 2 cents and then I’m out:

    Such an evil act is not objectively so, but it’s not arbitrarily so, either. If one were to believe that, then why is the proscription against rape one of the human universals observed by anthropologists? It seems likely to me that primatologist/ethologist Frans de Waal is on to something when he argues that we have our moral instincts to thank for social sanctions like these. (And, of course, the evolutionary origins of those moral instincts is a hot topic in biology.)

    And, btw, the view that rape is only wrong because God or the gods say so and therefore we must obey (a.k.a. divine command theory) is (at least since Plato’s Euthyphro) a form of ethical subjectivism.

  272. sonicon 06 Jun 2011 at 4:04 pm

    SteveA
    Thanks but-
    If you read what I wrote you would know that the phenomena you describe doesn’t exist in fact.
    The theory predicts it will (non-breeding at the ends and along the way- as you describe), but in each case breeding can and does occur.
    The one instance where breeding has not been observed is the Warblers nybrus and I discussed (I think there are currently 18 or 19 rings currently under investigation). In that case it is believed that because the birds songs are different, they will not breed. An interesting hypothesis.
    But, as I pointed out, the birds live in a place that is difficult for humans and the birds have not been observed for very long. It took years for the researchers to catch the salamanders of So. Cal. doing the deed (40 I think). (And how exciting that must have been). :-)
    In the case of the Warblers I would guess that if a bird couldn’t find another bird singing his song, he might just go ahead and hump the next closest thing. Seems to me how creatures (especially male ones) work.
    But I get carried away with specifics that are probably not of interest.

  273. 2_wordson 06 Jun 2011 at 4:18 pm

    The universe is happening. It is happening. It is. Is.

    It hasn’t happened yet.

    “In the begining there was the word ‘In’” this is all you can prove with this proff.

    “I believe that the universe is caused by an Agency outside of it that is Existence Himself. ”

    I believe that the universe is. Everything else describing it, is the universe talking to itself. We are doing so now.

    It is thought thinking about itself.

    What is called god by aquinas is not a thing that can be believed in or disblieved in. When it is defined as what it has been defined as.

    Mike12′s conviction of belief are the universe believing in itself. We are in the closed system of our thought. The map is not the territory, our thoughts stand only for themselves. If that isn’t meaningful enough, well that is a thought too.

  274. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 4:23 pm

    @Jeremiah

    “Of course you don’t, since you are unaware of the role cultures play in the evolution of all social species. Religiously deliberate ignorance.”

    I’m ignorant of many things, but not deliberately so. And I’m very interested in cultural anthropology. Rene Girard fascinates me.

    I take it that you believe that evil is an evolutionary/cultural artifact, and that it has no objective reality beyond that.

    I believe that evil is objective, not entirely dependent on either evolution or culture for its existence, and is in some instances personal, in the sense of demonic.

  275. Mlemaon 06 Jun 2011 at 4:54 pm

    2_words -

    what it is, man…

    why does everybody keep fighting over whether there’s a map?

  276. Mlemaon 06 Jun 2011 at 4:55 pm

    mufi-
    just wanted to thank you for the references you’ve mentioned

  277. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Mike, Girard is a Catholic who sees Christianity as a God inspired philosophy.

    For some balance in your studies, contrast his views with those of Claude Lévi-Strauss, whose theories on culture and the role it plays in evolution are significantly different.

    Otherwise we’ll have to agree to disagree as to whether there are forces in the universe that act for good, and not just for its own sake but in conflict with those forces that act in the interests of evil.

  278. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Mlema, hope you get you something out of those.

    There’s another reference that I’ve withheld, although it’s been in the back of my mind throughout this discussion. But, now that Mike & Jeremiah have broached the topic of evil (or, in theological terms, the problem thereof), I recommend Jesus Interrupted by Bart Ehrman.

    Ehrman is a New Testament scholar, and his treatment of the “problem of evil” theme is not the most philosophically rigorous. But his blend of historical-critical scholarship and spiritual autobiography hit me at a visceral level (partly because I can relate to his path – even though mine occurred as a lay person through Orthodox Judaism).

  279. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 5:54 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    Thank you for the recommendation re: Levi-Strauss. I know a little about him, but I haven’t read his work. I’ll do so.

    @Everyone:

    A very helpful synopsis of much of the Aristote/Aquinas stuff is Ed Feser’s “Aquinas”. It’s short, very readable, very clear, and a great introduction.

  280. Mlemaon 06 Jun 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Mike12,
    I would like to say that i very much admire your integrity. i don’t know how much of what you say I can support (mostly because of my ignorance), but your saying it is SO important.
    PS – my favorite Catholic is Stephen Colbert :-)

  281. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 6:45 pm

    and here is the problem with living in Australi: I go to sleep and wake up to 25 new comments. I will try and address as succinctly as I can over my morning coffee.

    @mufi:

    Call it a personal preference, if you like, but I’ve done the ridicule and watch-em-squirm thing and I’m not proud of it.

    I am fully sympathetic to your position. At heart I am often described as the nicest guy around, so taking the “watch-em” squirm tack is not.. in my nature if you will. I also have a degree in anthropology, so cultural relativism is something I am keenly aware of, and while I think my undergrad teaching took the notion much too far, I am usually quite happy to let bygones be bygones. However, the one thing that honestly scares the living bejeezus out of me is the notion if destroying the fundamental science education of our children (not that I have any, but I think of my nephews). That is something I have witnessed in the Creation Museum, in The Ark Park, in Dover vs Kitzmiller, in Republican and Tea Party politico-ideology, and in the attitudes of Mike. “Teach the Controversy” is not an appropriate mantra. I have also seen and read about the vast amount of evil perpetrated across the world in the name of religion (both today and throughout antiquity) and seen how atheists are treated by so called “good Christians.” So that is one arena where I have left my Mr. Rogers attitude behind and am full well willing to go toe-to-toe. I can appreciate that you don’t and I truly respect you for it. Atheists, by definition, are a diverse group. I happen to be the “angry at Christians for their hatred, intolerance, bigotry, and anti-scientific viewpoints” atheist.

    If one were to believe that, then why is the proscription against rape one of the human universals observed by anthropologists?

    Interestingly enough that is not a human universal. It is usually on proscribed for rape within group, but outgroup rape is historically the norm. Even the bible says rape is ok or only a minor crime:

    “If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay 50 pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.”
    -Deuteronomy 22:28

    “Lo, a day shall come for the Lord when the spoils shall be divided in your midst. And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: the city shall be taken, houses plundered, women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city.”
    -Zechariah 14:1-2

    So we see how terrible a crime of rape is, in biblical terms, by the necessity to pay the father a dowry and marry the woman you just raped. And how outgroup rape is considered to be not only acceptable but commanded by god. These are just two quotes, there are of course many more.

    And of course we still see this sort of behavior today all over the world, and very oftenly justified through religious pleading.

    Now on to mike:

    I have no particular quarrel with ‘evolutionary theory’, to the extent that that can be defined.

    My quarrel is with evolutionary biologists (and their groupies) who assert that evolutionary science “makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. It does no such thing.

    This is patently a lie. Nobody is teaching children that you must be atheist because of evolution. In fact most sensible religious folk find evolution to be compatible with religion. However, just as you decide to cite Aquinas and Aristotle as “evidence” that there is a god and that you (and your groupies) can be intellectually satisfied with such mental gymnastics to assert the presence of god, so can other individuals take evolution to them as part of the evidence that there doesn’t need to be a god. The reason is very simple – it destroys the creation myths of pretty much every religion out there. If your religion relies on the infallibility of your particular holy text, then we have shown it to be definitively fallible and thus, while even Dawkins himself says there is the possibility of a god, we can say that your specific god is impossible. At the very least your specific brand of religion is incompatible with enough science to make it intellectually bankrupt to ascribe to it.

    And moreso, if that were truly your “beef” then you should have no problem with our objection to the Tennessee bill. We want critical thinking and science taught in schools – not ideology, atheist or otherwise. The bill is obviously another ploy to try and get ideology in the classroom, so you should also be abject to it. But you aren’t. Same as Dover v Kitzmiller (but I’ll get to that a bit later).

    But once again, the burden of proof lays with you to prove god exists – not on us to prove he doesn’t. The only thing being said is that “There is no positive evidence for a god, every process as of yet discovered by science does not require a god, there is no tell-tale hint of a god, and thus the parsimonious answer is the default stance – there is no god.” Yet theists constantly insist on falsely shifting the burden of proof to us by saying “Well you can’t prove there isn’t a god.” That is childish and stupid.

    As I noted earlier, the very “mechanism” of evolution– random heritable variation and natural selection– is so vague that it can’t properly be called a mechanism.

    Whether the variation is random is the crux of the matter, and that is a much more complex issue.

    It is extremely complex to define something as “random” and in fact the best super computers and programmers in the world have yet to develop a truly random number generator. But, from everything noted empirically it at least appears random. There is no systematic force moving things in certain ways that can be described in any other way – no “hand of god” pushing the mutations in a non-random way. Grabbing on to the notion that now, after 4.5 billion years of evolution there is an epigenetic complexity that is non-random is a provincial way of trying to further your agenda. Humans have evolved to behave in non-random ways and so have genes and chromosomes on a molecular level. Moreso, since there already exists a complex framework of molecular biology to build upon one can easily see how the selection pressure works. Yet random still exists every day – trust me, I have to learn about the myriad genetic diseases that arise in people and learn about the sporadic (i.e. random) cases of it. Many are inheritable and have an inheritable portion, but many times the same exact genetic disease can arise randomly as well. For one tiny example look at cystic fibrosis. By far the most common cause is a delta-F508 deletion – it comprises ~70% of the cases of CF. But there are literally THOUSANDS of mutations that cause the disease, in different locations and to differing degrees of severity. Once again, some are heritable but there are cases of uniquely acquired CF. The same is true of cancers – the development of cancer is a product of random genetic mutation. There can be a heritable component that accelerates the process, but most cancer arise de novo from random mutations. In fact I was just asked an exam question where I had to explain how to determine if the retinoblastoma seen in a 5 year old child was due to inheriting a defunct ret gene or from random two-hit occurrence. So any claims that random mutation doesn’t occur is simply not in line with reality.

    It certainly adds an intriguing layer of complexity. But the observation that all variation is not random explodes the basic premise of evolutionary theory as claimed by atheists– that evolution is utterly non-teleological.

    Dawkins said it the best – it is an illusion of design and similarly an illusion of teleology. By your same logic you could then go on to say that since human mating is not entirely random that god must have a hand in it. Of course you can assert that, and it would be undetectable since you yourself said god cannot be tested empirically. But the problem is you are adding an assumption that need not be there and calling it teleology – the same as you are doing with evolution.

    For inanimate teleology in nature, the end point must also be in a Mind, which Aquinas identified with God

    I will be the first to admit that it is possible that god started evolution and that he is guiding it every step of the way. But if he is, he is doing so in a way that is indiscernible by human means so why bother including that in the equation? I can substitute any god I want and have the exact same outcome. And besides the fact that it is the illusion of teleology even if it were teleology as you describe, you have yet to prove why it must be a mind behind it and even moreso why it must be the mind of your specific god. I will say it till I am blue in the face – that is your burden of proof. Simply asserting it as fact using circular argumentation doesn’t count.

    But if you cannot scientifically exclude purpose, how is it the evolution is evidence for atheism?

    Because parsimony eschews it. It is not the burden of proof on science to disprove teleology – science merely describes what it sees. With no evidence of teleology, your addition of it is logically incorrect and thus can be eschewed. Your own personal desire for purpose is not a good enough reason to assume it is there.

    But many many atheists have depicted evolution as decisive evidence for atheism.

    No they don’t. Not even Dawkins does. And if they do, I would be the first to call them out on it (and I have). That is an intellectually shallow viewpoint. It is, however, a piece of evidence to further support that a god is not necessary and thus in lack of further evidence is compatible with an atheist viewpoint.

    We agree. I don’t want public schools teaching Dawkins or Craig in science class. It is approporate to teach some of the scientific issues they raise, but just as science, not as religion/irreligion

    I have said it above, but I will expressly address this point – I agree as well. I do not think that the philosophies of Dawkins or Craig should be taught to students. The science should be taught – but of course, Craig doesn’t actually do any science, so he can’t be taught at all. However, the bible can be taught as literature (that is currently legal in public schools and I am all for it) with the notion that it too can be critiqued objectively. Of course, the problem is that theists would never be willing to put their holy book in a position to possibly be negatively critiqued so there goes that idea.

    But in terms of teaching children – I will be giving my own children a bible to read, as well as a quran, a book of greek mythology (I used to LOVE greek mythology when I was a kid), and let them read each one, with my help as needed. Then, if they decide they really like the bible and want to be Christian – I will fully support that decision. But I will not tell them the bible is true and correct and all other mythologies are wrong. That is called indoctrination and is really the only way someone becomes religious. They may also disagree with me and decide that whilst the god of abraham and the greeks may not be real, there must be some force or god out there and some purpose to life. Once again, I would fully support that. In fact that is a point on which Dawkins and Krauss disagree and that is a great disagreement to have.

    So yes, I can look at the science and be intellectually satisfied. You think that is appalling, but I think it is childish to be so unsatisfied as to be an adult with an imaginary friend.

    Well said. Let’s discuss these issues cogently and respectfully, without ridicule.

    Sorry Mike – but you have no means or desire to do so and neither do I with you. From your very earliest posts you came out swing at Dr. Novella and myself saying that “atheist science” is intellectually bankrupt. You have been pushing a clear agenda from the get go. And when I civilly countered your points and explained why it is possible to be an intellectually and spiritually satisfied atheist you attacked me as well. So piss off with your double talk.

    Sure astrology is a science. When tested, the science of astrology has been found to make utterly false predictions.

    Once again you show that you don’t know the meanings of words. It was science that testing astrology and determined it false. From within itself, the “science” of astrology still claims to be valid. Unless you think that it doesn’t exist anymore? That is what it means to say that “astrology is a science” – internal validity. It claims to have internal validity, and strongly so, it took external application of actual science to show that it was indeed false. In these circles we call that “pseudoscience” since it puts on the airs of science without actually being science. When Behe admits that by his definitions of science astrology is a valid science he belies the fact that intelligent design is the same sort of pseudoscience – internally valid but externally false aka pseudoscience.

    And once again you whine about Dover v Kitzmiller. This is why I call you a liar. If your point I addressed above was valid, about not wanting ideology such as Craig taught in class, then you should also be happy about the Kitzmiller case. Because, unequivocally, Behe and his crew were trying to sneak in an ideology in the guise of science. That is what the ruling was all about. The fact that you can’t (or more likely won’t) grasp that notion belies your true agenda. You may have once been able to plead ignorance, but no more. So I will continue calling you a liar for jesus until you admit it.

    If evil is a purpose-driven concept, with no objective existence, then to assert that the Holocaust was evil is merely the expression of an opinion. I like Coke, you like Pepsi.

    Indeed a valid question. And one that my anthro professors of days gone by would say is explained by absolute cultural relativism. I don’t find that to be intellectually satisfying anymore myself. But to claim an objective morality based on your specific god whose existence you haven’t even proven yet is equally intellectually unsatisfying. The objective morality put forth by the muslims differs from yours, and since there is no testable way to discern God from Allah, your assertions are weak. Plus, claiming exclusive rights to morality whilst atheists have none is not only false, but the basis for the hateful discrimination we experience regularly. And that is in and of itself amoral. However, for a more intellectually (though admittedly not complete) satisfying option I suggest you read “The Moral Landscape” by Harris. Understanding the fact that there is no immutable objective morality and then understanding why certain things are commonly (though not universally) considered amoral is much more intellectually satisfying than a story about 10 Commandments, which themselves are pointless, childish, and have no bearing on morality themselves.

    Yet evil is perhaps the one thing that all humans agree on, more than anything else.

    You are correct if you mean that most all humans agree that evil exists but you are incorrect if you are trying to say that most humans agree on what actually is evil. I think that Christian bigotry towards atheists and homosexuals is evil. Muslims think that women wearing skirts or driving cars is evil. I think that burying a woman to her waist and stoning her to death (no matter what she did) is evil. Many Christians think that pre-marital sex is evil (and yet still do it themselves….). Most everyone agrees that murder is evil but the definition of murder changes depending on the situation (just ask WLCraig as to how he justified god’s order of killing children as morally acceptable – he called it “killing” not “murder” – people like me think all killing is murder and is never anything less than evil. Sometimes it is the lesser of two evils, but I could never spin it to be a good thing like WLC does).

    We both believe in magic. It’s inescapable, because none of us has all the answers, and existence exceeds human understanding

    We most certainly do not. Magic is when your magic sky daddy says “let there be light” and there is. Magic is when a conscious and self cognizant entity of some sort “poofs” things into existence. I do not believe in that. I believe in natural causes to explain everything we see and experience – whatever those may be. Yes, I do believe that certain things “just are.” If the science shows me that the universe just spontaneously popped into existence and “just was” then I would accept that. But it would not be magic. What you believe is magic since you think some self-aware being made the universe pop into existence and furthermore made a whole bunch of weird rules for us to follow so we could be transported to his magical kingdom after we die. So please do not confuse a naturalistic view with magic. You are the sole purveyor of magic around these parts.

  282. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 6:59 pm

    @sonic:

    One of the things I dislike about this subject is that as soon as I mention I have doubts about the theory (I am a skeptical guy) it is assumed that I don’t know anything and that I am a religious nut-job.

    Once again, I apologize. In a different context I likely would not have assumed you are a nutjob. Mike made that hard for me to discern and that was my failing. I think in general the likes of mike make it hard since most of the time when someone starts “questioning the weaknesses of evolution” they are nutjobs. It is an unfair pigeon-hole that you are in.

    But once it is realized (as is currently the case) that the mutations are not all random (and in fact a number of non-random means of mutation have been discovered lately) all the conclusions based on the premise that they are all random are in doubt.

    As I said previously, the fact that there are non-random mutations does not negate the fact that there are random mutations. Not all phenomena is epi-genetic, as you’ve described. How big a role in evolution that actually plays is currently under investigation and it may indeed prove to be a large enough contribution to reshape and refine the theory in big ways. However, random variation and selective pressure are still observed today in bacterial populations, and since the first forms of life were even simpler than that the earliest foundations must have arisen through such a mechanism. What this epigenetic data may tell us is that random mutation may have become a less significant driving force in evolution earlier than we thought. However, there is no need to question the entirety of the theory, nor the notion of common descent. Moreso, the fact that we see non-random mutation now is a function of the system as it currently is. In other words, it is non-random relative to the systemic variables. Had random mutation early on taken us down a different evolutionary path then the non-random mutation we see today could have been quite different.

    To draw an analogy – rolling a 20 sided die comes up with “random” numbers. However, if that die happened to have a rounded surface at 17, then the number opposite it would come up less and thus be non-random. However, if that rounded surface had instead been on 10, then once again we would have a non-random outcome. But the selection of which surface became rounded was due to random variation, leading to a non-random systemic effect.

    Add to that the notion that what was once considered junk might not be, and the two foundational assumptions upon which the common descent from DNA evidence is based are both in question.

    Once again, this falls under the umbrella of systemic non-randomness. Junk DNA may indeed have a purpose we have yet to accurately and fully discern. At this point I can speak less intelligently on the topic since at the time I left my undergraduate evo-devo studies the overarching consensus at the time was that it indeed was “junk.” Since then I did post-grad pharmaceutical research, worked in an ER for 3.5 years, and am now in med school, so I am not quite as up to date on what exactly that all means.

    Surely if the assumptions upon which the argument rests are under question, then any conclusions must be under question as well.

    But one thing I do know is that the molecular and genetic basis for the basic assumption of common descent and variation through random mutation and natural selection does not rely on epigenetic factors. In fact, it doesn’t even rely on one single line of evidence, but once again on converging lines. So while this newest data may significantly alter the theory and change the shape of the tree of life, it still would not call into question the most basic principles of evolutionary theory – namely the ones that should be taught to high school students. So yes, if the hypothesis rests on assumption called into question by new data then the hypothesis itself must be questioned, but it does not in this case.

  283. sonicon 06 Jun 2011 at 8:04 pm

    nybrus-
    No need to apologize- I’m thankful for what you say.

    I guess it really is about what it takes to make one question.
    When I read this-

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210111148.htm

    “Remarkably, we have found many cases of parallel intron gains at essentially the same sites in independent genotypes,” Lynch said. “This strongly argues against the common assumption that when two species share introns at the same site, it is always due to inheritance from a common ancestor.”

    I think- oh, wow. This is a large finding. And yes, it goes straight at the heart of the evidence and the inferences made from it.

    If this piece were by itself- no big deal, but the assumption of random did give us the prediction of huge amounts of junk- a prediction that has been called – the worst hypothesis in the history of molecular biology.
    Hummm…

    I can understand that one might not want to question due to such findings.

    I hope you understand that some might want to question. Further I hope that you realize that not everyone who thinks that these issues are less than settled (and I guess Ventor and Woese would fit the category) are trying to damage education.

    I like this quote—
    “If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.” Feynman

    Thank-you for your patience–

  284. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 8:29 pm

    sonic:

    Fair enough. The science is as settled as it can be. At this point it would take some immensely profound data to upset the basic bedrock of evolutionary theory. And it should be questioned and is – by people much more versed in it than myself. But until that paradigm shifting data actually pans out, I will leave myself out of speculating what that data might say or lead to because no one knows, let alone me.

    What I can say though, is that the fundamental application of evolutionary theory and its basic assumptions continually make accurate (to within scientific error, of course) predictions and accurately (once again, to within scientific error) describe the diversity of life seen on earth.

    Just how accurately is certainly always open to question. Just like the age of the the earth was revised just last year based on more accurate understanding and revision of the assumptions regarding the initial levels of uranium and lead. However, that leads to a refinement of the technique – it doesn’t lead to a young earth being a possibility.

    The same is true of evolution – refinements, even dramatic ones, may change the theory in dramatic ways, but with the level of evidence and converging lines of empirical data, it is so unlikely to overthrow the basic premise that only homeopathy is less likely to be vindicated than creationism.

    So while the weaknesses and actual shape of the tree should be discussed it is not an invitation to teach creationism since even should the theory of evolution fail completely, it does not make ID correct. (not that I am saying you are advocating that).

    But teaching high school students the basics of evolution is still the best and most accurate way to do things. Because even if these latest discoveries do lead to profound changes in the theory, it will not change the fundamental principle of evolution. It would be like teaching them the earth is a perfect sphere and then they learn later on that in fact it is in fact more ovoid than spherical. Creationism would be teaching them the earth is flat.

    I can understand that one might not want to question due to such findings.

    Oh I think they certainly should be questioned. But I don’t have the arrogance of mike to think I can adequately comment on them vis-a-vis the impact on evolutionary theory as a whole. That is left for the experts, and I await their consensus on the matter. As of now, the vastly overwhelming consensus is that evolution is fact, common descent is fact, random mutation and natural selection are fact, and the details can be sussed out and changed as needed. Furthermore, the consensus agrees with everything I know and have studied and seen empirically (I have actually bred and evolved fly populations). That is not an appeal to authority, but a recognition of expertise beyond mine.

    So my concern in not looking at such articles and questioning, but what you are questioning. The details, the final shape of the TOL, perfectly reasonable. The basic fundamentals and existence of evolution – not so reasonable.

    And when you teach high school students, knowing that science isn’t fixed, you must teach them what is the best and most commonly understood consensus amongst the experts. If that changes some years or decades down the road – well, then such is the nature of gaining knowledge. But to just put the whole thing on hold because there may be a chance that a significant change could happen or to teach creationism as a valid alternative theory is to completely gridlock and stymie the learning process.

  285. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 8:44 pm

    @miema:

    Thank you.

    @nygbrus
    “and here is the problem with living in Australi: I go to sleep and wake up to 25 new comments. I will try and address as succinctly as I can over my morning coffee.”

    Good morning

    “There is no systematic force moving things in certain ways that can be described in any other way – no “hand of god” pushing the mutations in a non-random way.”

    Adaptive mutation? Convergent evolution? Front-loading?

    “But once again, the burden of proof lays with you to prove god exists – not on us to prove he doesn’t.”

    Christians have been explaining and refining the reasons to believe for thousands of years. Atheists quite clearly believe that they don’t have to prove anything, and that stance is evident in the quality of their arguments.

    “So any claims that random mutation doesn’t occur is simply not in line with reality.”

    I’ve have no doubt that some mutation is random– perhaps nearly all. But the problem for atheists is the mutation that is not random.

    “… even if it were teleology as you describe, you have yet to prove why it must be a mind behind it and even moreso why it must be the mind of your specific god. I will say it till I am blue in the face – that is your burden of proof. Simply asserting it as fact using circular argumentation doesn’t count.”

    That’s fine with me. I don’t expect much in the way of “proof” from atheists. My only request is that you don’t use force to silence me.

    “It is not the burden of proof on science to disprove teleology – science merely describes what it sees. With no evidence of teleology, your addition of it is logically incorrect and thus can be eschewed.”

    The mere regularity of nature is teleology. If change in nature were undirected, one could not predict the outcome of any process whatsoever.

    “I will be giving my own children a bible to read, as well as a quran, a book of greek mythology (I used to LOVE greek mythology when I was a kid), and let them read each one, with my help as needed. Then, if they decide they really like the bible and want to be Christian – I will fully support that decision.”

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall when your child tells you he’s a Christian.

    “I think it is childish to be so unsatisfied as to be an adult with an imaginary friend.”

    To a Christian, God is real, not imaginary. That’s sort of the whole point of Christianity.

    “Plus, claiming exclusive rights to morality whilst atheists have none is not only false…”

    Atheists have plenty of morality. I know many deeply moral atheists. Morality is written in all of our hearts. Christians are certainly not always moral, and sometimes considerably less moral than atheists. But Christians know were morality comes from.

    “… but the basis for the hateful discrimination we experience regularly.”

    Atheists are the least persecuted religious (irreligious) group. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans have all died in the tens of millions for their beliefs.

    Name one anti-atheist pogrom.

    “To draw an analogy [to adaptive mutation] – rolling a 20 sided die comes up with “random” numbers. However, if that die happened to have a rounded surface at 17, then the number opposite it would come up less and thus be non-random. However, if that rounded surface had instead been on 10, then once again we would have a non-random outcome. But the selection of which surface became rounded was due to random variation, leading to a non-random systemic effect.”

    You missed the most interesting question: what (or Who) rounded the surface of the die?

  286. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 9:30 pm

    at least you made the last one easy for me mike. To sum up your “arguments”:

    ‘Everything you say about science is correct. I am just going to tack on my god of choice as behind it all. QED.’

    However a couple of points bear scrutiny:

    Atheists quite clearly believe that they don’t have to prove anything, and that stance is evident in the quality of their arguments.

    No. We just don’t find your thousands of years of “evidence” to be even remotely compelling. Once again, we don’t have to prove god doesn’t exist. When you try, and fail because of your crappy arguments wrapped up in hifalutin language, don’t get mad. Of course the problem is you think you arguments are actually good – good enough that you don’t need actual evidence to back them up. Sorry bucko. But it don’t work that way.

    If change in nature were undirected, one could not predict the outcome of any process whatsoever.

    And wrong again. Following described physical laws is different from being actively directed in a certain direction. Of course, your argument is that god put those laws in place, but once again there is no evidence for that and such an assumption is only that – an assumption. Parsimony states it unnecessary. Once again, nothing compelling there.

    atheists are the least persecuted religious (irreligious) group.

    Once again atheism =/= religion. Period. And historically, atheists have been the most persecuted group – there just simply haven’t been as many of us to persecute as the other groups you describe. Or perhaps you’d like to tell the atheist soldier marching in a Veteran’s day parade he wasn’t being persecuted when he was told by a Christian that his son should be “burned in a hole in the ground” and claiming he was “dishonoring the 20,000″ theist troops out there. Right in front of children. Or perhaps all the commentary on Fox News that atheists should “just shut up.” Or when peaceful protestors at government functions get physically attacked and dragged out by police. Or perhaps you would like to tell that to atheist families literally run out of their small religious towns, or when atheist high school girls fear for their safety at school and having the principle actually physically strike the father and then say he would “drop the charges if he and his Atheist family left the state.” Or perhaps you’d like to tell Damon Fowler he isn’t experiencing any discrimination or persecution. Or perhaps you’d like to tell me – having lost friends and missed job opportunities because of it.

    Sorry Mike, but your “good Christian brothers” show their true colors when they find out you don’t believe. And I have just named a tiny handful of examples.

    My only request is that you don’t use force to silence me.

    Talk all you want. No one is silencing you. But I will do everything in my power to keep you from preaching in schools and having your religion invade our secular nation’s public offices. On your own time, pray to Cthulu for all I care.

    But Christians know were morality comes from.

    They think they know.

    You missed the most interesting question: what (or Who) rounded the surface of the die?

    Certainly not your imaginary friend.

  287. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 9:44 pm

    @nygbrus:

    “And wrong again [about teleology]. Following described physical laws is different from being actively directed in a certain direction.”

    Inanimate objects can’t ‘follow’, because they have no will or intellect. A falling rock isn’t “following” anything, in the sense of “obeying”.

    Inanimate change is directed, but not by the inanimate object.

    “Of course, your argument is that god put those laws in place, but once again there is no evidence for that and such an assumption is only that – an assumption. Parsimony states it unnecessary.”

    God created the universe, sustains it in existence, actuates the laws of nature, originated life, directs evolution, burns the moral law in our hearts, and loves us.

    Parsimony.

  288. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 10:08 pm

    @nygbrus:

    “And historically, atheists have been the most persecuted group – there just simply haven’t been as many of us to persecute as the other groups you describe.”

    “Or perhaps you’d like to tell the atheist soldier marching in a Veteran’s day parade he wasn’t being persecuted when he was told by a Christian that his son should be “burned in a hole in the ground” and claiming he was “dishonoring the 20,000″ theist troops out there. Right in front of children. Or perhaps all the commentary on Fox News that atheists should “just shut up.” Or when peaceful protestors at government functions get physically attacked and dragged out by police. Or perhaps you would like to tell that to atheist families literally run out of their small religious towns, or when atheist high school girls fear for their safety at school and having the principle actually physically strike the father and then say he would “drop the charges if he and his Atheist family left the state.” Or perhaps you’d like to tell Damon Fowler he isn’t experiencing any discrimination or persecution.”

    “Not many atheists to persecute:”The world population of atheists is 700,000,000 (10% of 7 billion).

    List of 20th century (the most ‘secular’ century) Holocausts:

    Jews killed by Nazis– 6 million
    Christians killed by communists (atheists)– tens of millions
    Christians killed by Muslims in Armenian genocide: 1 million
    Buddhists killed by (atheist) Cambodian Khmer Rouge: 2 million
    Christians killed by Muslims in Darfur: >100,000
    Atheists told by Fox News to shut up: countless

    Or perhaps you’d like to tell me – having lost friends and missed job opportunities because of it.”

  289. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Mike, I’m sure you like it when the choice seems to be between random acts of selection (essentially unintelligent) and directed acts selected by an intelligent source, which by your philosophy would have to be a God, while atheist philosophy, in your view, has come up with no intelligent mechanism for its selection.
    But a philosophy that rejects a God is not necessarily or consequently one that must then find that some equally operative and selective systems of intelligence in the universe are inconceivable.
    Especially when it’s now obvious to the philosophers of science that biological systems were intelligent long before the God of Aquinas, by giving man a soul no less, “united a higher to a lower nature in order that the former might dominate the latter.”
    Life forms are predictive systems of intelligence by necessity, and it’s more because they need to deal with what for them are random acts of nature than because somehow the randomness of nature has dealt intelligence to them.
    If nature uses intelligence for selective purposes, it’s life’s own intelligence, not God’s (or something with the eponym of mother nature).

  290. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 10:14 pm

    @nygbrus:

    continued from above:

    “Or perhaps you’d like to tell me – having lost friends and missed job opportunities because of [atheism].”

    Maybe you told them what you think of people who question atheism.

  291. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 10:19 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    “If nature uses intelligence for selective purposes, it’s life’s own intelligence…”

    Sounds sort of New Age to me. Pass me the joint.

  292. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 10:19 pm

    And now I know you don’t have a critical or original thought in your head.

    Jews killed by Nazis– 6 million

    Sorry bucko. Hitler was a Christian and proud of it. You and Bill O’ can deny that all you want, but it is an absolute fact. Spin it however you want. And you wonder why I call you a liar for jesus.

    Not many atheists to persecute:”The world population of atheists is 700,000,000 (10% of 7 billion)

    Never mind that is the current figure – you seem to think 10% somehow compares to the number of Christians, Muslims, or Hindus? And you seriously wonder why I call you a liar for jesus?

    I won’t even address the rest since it is utterly pointless.

    God created the universe, sustains it in existence, actuates the laws of nature, originated life, directs evolution, burns the moral law in our hearts, and loves us.
    Parsimony.

    Add “parsimony” to the list of word you don’t understand the meaning of. What are we at now?

    Parsimony, science, theory, disparage, denigrate… I am sure I am forgetting some. How can you expect to have an intelligent discussion when you don’t even have a grasp of what the terms of the discussion are in the first place?

  293. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 10:25 pm

    @nygbrus:

    Parsimony: economy in the use of means to an end.

    Means: God.

    End: Universe.

  294. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 10:29 pm

    @nygbrus:

    “Sorry bucko. Hitler was a Christian and proud of it. You and Bill O’ can deny that all you want, but it is an absolute fact. Spin it however you want. And you wonder why I call you a liar for jesus.”

    Can you imagine what it must have been like to be behind Hitler in the line at the confessional?

  295. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Mike, it’s from the new age that began with Whitehead and Russell, if not with Hume before them.

    By “new age” of course you were referring to the intellectually handicapped who came up with their own shortcutted methods of self-education. Caught somewhere between the deliberate ignorance of religion they hoped to escape from and the inability they shared with Christians of your ilk to comprehend with scientific rigor the self evolving mechanisms of nature.

  296. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 10:46 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    “By “new age” of course you were referring to the intellectually handicapped who came up with their own shortcutted methods of self-education. Caught somewhere between the deliberate ignorance of religion they hoped to escape from and the inability they shared with Christians of your ilk to comprehend with scientific rigor the self evolving mechanisms of nature.”

    Actually, New Age is an godless cult. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178219865054585.html

  297. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 10:47 pm

    So you know the word, you just have no idea how to apply it. Let me fix that for you:

    Means: Incredibly complex magical being simply exists
    End: Universe

    NOT parsimony

    Means: no need for something more complex than the universe to explain the universe
    End: universe

    Parsimony

    Of course, if you are simple-minded enough that “goddidit!” is parsimony for you, and the ramifications of it mean nothing, then go on with that. But don’t try and claim intellectual superiority through such childish argumentation.

    Can you imagine what it must have been like to be behind Hitler in the line at the confessional?

    I can’t. Which is why I am impressed that the Catholic church officially celebrated his birthday! But hey, at least they finally excommunicated him for not only being an atheist but all of his war crimes… oh, wait, what? They didn’t ever excommunicate him? hmmmm….

    But clearly he must have pronounced his atheism loudly and the church just didn’t realize it… oh, wait, what? He said “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” Damn, there must some atheist spin there.

    Oh wait!

    My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

    Hmm… more evil atheist spin. He clearly didn’t actually believe that!

    had excellent opportunity to intoxicate myself with the solemn splendor of the brilliant church festivals. As was only natural, the abbot seemed to me, as the village priest had once seemed to my father, the highest and most desirable ideal.

    Damn! He keeps saying all this stuff about how great the church is and how much he loves Christ. He sure is one sneaky atheist!

    Thus my faith grew that my beautiful dream for the future would become reality after all, even though this might require long years.

    He even pretended to have faith to fool everyone! Boy, you sure can’t trust those atheist Führers!

  298. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Mike,
    Wiki: >The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as “drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational psychology, holistic health, parapsychology, consciousness research and quantum physics”.[2] It aims to create “a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas” that is inclusive and pluralistic.[3] Another of its primary traits is holding to “a holistic worldview,”[4] thereby emphasising that the Mind, Body and Spirit are interrelated[1] and that there is a form of Monism and unity throughout the universe.[5] It further attempts to create “a worldview that includes both science and spirituality”[6] and thereby embraces a number of forms of science and pseudoscience.<

    Sure sounds like the intellectually handicapped who came up with their own shortcutted methods of self-education. With the inability they share with you to comprehend with scientific rigor the self evolving mechanisms of nature.

  299. Mike12on 06 Jun 2011 at 11:06 pm

    @nybgrus:

    I must admit, i don’t know what to say. The assertion that Hitler was a Christian, in any meaningful sense, is so detached from reality that I am speechless.

    I am rather accustomed to debating atheists, and there’s not much that leaves me speechless.

    But you got me here. If you really think that Hitler was a professing and practicing Christian in any way, other than using occasional Christian boilerplate as any politician would, then you lack contact with reality.

    Do you really hate Christianity that much?

  300. Jeremiahon 06 Jun 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Hitler was a new age Christian.

  301. nybgruson 06 Jun 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Occasional Christian boilerplates? Are you mad? I limited myself to those quotes from hundreds! And what political boilerplate could he have been making when writing much of this in “Mein Kampf?”

    The only people who think Hitler was anything but a Christian and didn’t use Christianity to motivate and further his goals are liars for jesus and those that parrot the inanity they spew.

    I strongly suggest you educate yourself on the religion of Hitler. You may make the argument that everything he did was simply to further his political goals – but you would have to account that he consistently did so for decades and that all his policies were rooted in that belief. For Pete’s sake the SS had to wear belts with “Gott mit uns” on it! He consistently and publicly professed his love of the church, and loved those that espoused his views. His first treaty was with the Catholic Church!

    No sir, you are the one who is completely out of touch with reality. It is simply indisputable that Hitler was a believer, and just as indisputable that he was a Christian. But just like evolution, theists can spin and deny even the most blatantly obvious facts. I really shouldn’t find it so strange that people can deny Hitler’s Christianity since many of those same people think the earth is 6000 years old and that all of humanity came from two human beings after a talking snake gave them an apple. After all, these are the same people that think their “parsimonious” god spent 8.99 billion years of the universe twiddling his thumbs before sparking life on earth and then waited another 4.2 billion years before man and THEN let man suffer and die for another 1-200 million years before deciding that the best course of action was to bodily impregnate a goat-herder woman in the least educated part of a bronze aged earth so that she may give birth to his son, which is actually him, so that he may sacrifice himself on a cross – which wasn’t even a sacrifice since he knew beforehand that he would rise from the grave and join his father (himself??) in heaven – so that he could enslave humanity to himself for all eternity on pain of eternal hell. Oh yeah, and in the meantime god mad at his creations and figured the best way to fix that problem was to drown everyone and everything and then make a rainbow afterwards to say, “My bad! I won’t be so mean and kill everyone again! I still love you! Really!”

    Yeah, parsimonious – clearly. If such a god did exist I’d never even dream of worshipping him no matter what the consequences. If he loves me so much as your whackaloon religion (that’s not really fair – all religions are whackaloon) says and he is all powerful he can step up and show me. Otherwise he is a petty tyrant with a narcissistic personality and self-esteem issues.

    So yeah, I really do hate Christianity that much – but to be fair I hate all religions. It’s just that Christianity happens to be the one that hits closest to home since I am American.

    Religion is nothing more than a way to enslave minds and control people and it stops at nothing to do so. Even lying about motives for teaching creation in schools, sneaking laws into place, changing the history of America (no, we are not founded on Christian ideals, our laws are not Judeo-Christian in origin, and the founding father were not predominantly Christian), and denying the obvious fact of Hitler’s Christianity – just to name a few. I can still remember Bill O’Reilly coming back at Dawkins saying, “Well, he wasn’t a true Christian.” How convenient. You guys get to arbitrarily pick who is a true Christian to skew the numbers and the argument however you like. Well, Pol Pot may have been an atheist, but he most certainly was not a secular humanist – which I am. So you saying “atheists killed XXX” means NOTHING – because I can say “white people killed XXX” and that ALSO MEANS NOTHING.

    But keep shifting goalposts and meaning to suit your ideology and keep vindicating your utterly found-less beliefs. That is one thing Christians (and all theists, really) have in common.

  302. mufion 06 Jun 2011 at 11:44 pm

    nybgrus:

    I had a feeling that we’re living in different time zones. Now I know that we are.

    Like I said, we’re probably going to have to agree to disagree about how best to interact with Mike. I hear what you say, but I used to be Mike (so to speak), and spankings only made me dig my heels in deeper. (That’s the last I’ll say about that.)

    Re: rape, I never said that the human-universal proscription against rape was universal in its application (i.e. covering out-group, as well as in-group, members), but your point is well taken. (And, btw, you’re quoting biblical verses that I used to study in the original language, but I appreciate your taking me back to school, nonetheless.)

    On that point, I’m sympathetic to Peter Singer’s argument re: an expanding circle of moral considerability, which Steven Pinker referred to in his fascinating TED presentation a few years ago re: the myth of violence.

  303. Niche Geekon 06 Jun 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Mike,

    While it is now clear that you accept evolution as science, but object to its philosophic implications I want to return to a point you made earlier.

    You stated that “As I understand teleonomy, it’s a type of teleology.” I wanted to make clear, that teleonomy is, by definition, not teleology. The neologism was created explicitly to avoid the implications of the older word. I suspect your confusion arises because you are using an overly broad definition of teleology that, it seems to me, would conclude that water conforming to the shore was evidence of teleology.

  304. mufion 07 Jun 2011 at 12:06 am

    PS: I forgot to mention: Both of the verses that you cited are from the Hebrew Bible (which is the source of the Old Testament), and, as a Christian, Mike probably has a stock answer to that: namely, that the authors of the New Testament perceived a more loving God than those of the Old Testament. (Rabbinic-Jewish tradition has a different but analogous approach to softening some of the harsher statements of the Hebrew Bible.) That doesn’t help to explain (let alone justify) all of the other cruelties and atrocities in life, of course, but it’s enough to dismiss those particular verses as evidence of a Judeo-Christian allowance for rape.

  305. BillyJoe7on 07 Jun 2011 at 12:14 am

    Mike,

    “I believe that the universe is caused by an Agency outside of it that is Existence Himself…You believe that the universe just happened….We both believe in magic.”

    Except that there is no evidence for your magic, whereas we have quantum fluctuation as evidence that something from nothing is possible.

  306. Jeremiahon 07 Jun 2011 at 12:27 am

    If the experimenter sets up the experiment with the sensor in his brain turned off.

  307. nybgruson 07 Jun 2011 at 12:29 am

    You consistently make fair points mufi and I certainly laud you for it. I apologize to anyone such as you perchance offended by my rhetoric with mike.

    I can assure you I know that my berating will only lead to his heals digging in deeper. I never had any design or desire to “de-convert” him. I suppose much of my writing has been very reactionary to the continued bigotry and hatred from Christians that I am seeing online and hearing from my friends. I got into medicine because I have always cared for people and when I look at religion I can see that it certainly does good – no one would question that – but moreso I see that you don’t need the religion to do good but that each religion (and each sect of each religion) has its own particular brand of systemic “bad” that it does. Of course describing all of Christianity in one fell swoop is erroneous – there are 38,000 sects interpreting the same book and claiming they are right! And that is exactly the point – mike may dismiss my verses as being old testament and that his god isn’t like that. Well, anyone can pick and choose what they want to actually believe (and they do! 38-friggin-thousand sects!) but no matter how much “logic” they claim for their decisions they are all just cafeteria Christians. Which is fine – pick the bits that make you feel good. But don’t then claim the whole is true and I must obey and listen to your mythology. The problem is, that if you truly believe this stuff, it must inform your worldview – you’d honestly be crazy if it didn’t. And then you go out and vote and makes laws that affect me based on your worldview – one I vehemently disagree with. That is why the explicit separation of church and state is the single most important tenet of our government. Everyone, even Christians should fight tooth and nail to preserve it. Because right now they are the majority and they are all just hunky dory when the laws reflect their religious world view. But what about when they aren’t the majority anymore? What if that majority becomes Muslim? Then they’d be fighting just like I am for it. And that includes little weasel laws like this Tennessee bill.

    I think we agree on how to handle this in general – in person at least. So Mike, I will honestly apologize for being quite so harsh and angry in my posts to you. I sincerely believe that you could be a very nice person and I probably wouldn’t mind having a beer with you over a pleasant conversation. But on the internet and right now, you have been the disembodied effigy of the religion you stand for and the illogic that goes with it. So everything I said stands – I do not regret or retract one word of it. But it really is an attack against what you represent – not you the person. I did call you a liar for jesus and I still think you are – unwittingly or not. That may have been a bit unfair if it is truly unwitting, but the outcome is the same.

    I know it would be immensely hard for you, but try and think about why I may have said the things I have and decide if you really think I am just some “evil atheist” pushing an “atheist agenda.” Or see if maybe I just happen to be someone a bit more plugged into reality like mufi is, albiet much more logorrheic and bombastic.

    As for the TED talk – I will look over it on my next break. I am currently doing blocks of practice medical board questions and in between sets I jump online and hack away at my keyboard. LOL

    But at this point, I really should drop it, and I think I will. I have vented enough and bashed poor mike over the head enough. Thank you for being the voice of reason.

  308. nybgruson 07 Jun 2011 at 1:56 am

    That was a good talk mufi. I have not seen it before, but for whatever reason I have been under no illusion that times before were somehow less violent. I have always said that living in the middle ages (or even the 19th century) would be pretty terrible by today’s standards.

    I would add to Pinker’s thesis by stating that I think the decline of religion is also a big part of the decrease in violence and death. While you may argue (and in my opinion unsuccessfully) that there are just as many religious people as before, you cannot argue that religion in terms of law and politics has certainly waned. Monarchies based on the divine right of kings are considered antiquated and the only theocracies we see today are still embroiled in death and bloodshed.

    I would hypothesize that this is due to the nature of religion – it was an organized set of pre-scientific beliefs used to both explain nature and to define in vs out – groups. It further allowed justification for things like slavery and murder, since outgroup killing was not considered murder and outgroup people were sub-human and thus perfectly OK to take as slaves.

    The rise in atheism/agnosticism, the decline of religious zeal in the west, and the overall decline of religion as government certainly fall in line with the decrease in violence and murder (and war), and I would stipulate is both a facet of increasing human awareness and morality and simultaneous contributor to the decreased violence we see today.

  309. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 9:44 am

    @nybgrus:

    Thanks for the apology, but it’s not necessary.

    I’m always willing to engage in brisk debate. Your assertion that Hitler was a Christian wasn’t particularly offensive to me; it was simply so wrong that I can’t see how debating it can accomplish anything.

    Christianity a profession of faith, a deliberate decision to follow Christ, share in His sacrifice, and abide by His will. One cannot be a Christian by birth, or by culture, as one can be a German, or an Englishman, or even a Jew. Christianity is not an ethnic designation or sectarian designation. Christianity is a deliberate personal relationship, and while Christians are all (very) imperfect, there are of necessity outward manifestations of Christian faith.

    I should point out that the same applies to calling Stalin a secular humanist, which is just as crazy as calling Hitler a Christian. Secular humanism and Christianity both entail doctrine and beliefs that do not characterize either of these men.

    Hitler was obviously no Christian. His metaphysical beliefs run to neo-paganism– worship of race and soil– and much of Nazi idolatry and ceremony were manifestly pagan. The philosophical foundations of Nazism are to be found most prominently in Nietzsche, who despised Christianity.

    Asking about the relationship between Christian culture and Nazism is a fair (and interesting) question, just as asking about the relationship between atheist culture and communism is a fair question.

    There are plenty of quotes from Hitler– both anti-Christian and pro-Christian– on the internet, and I can match you quote for quote. But that would be to evade the obvious: Hitler was obviously not a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.

    Regarding Hitler’s relationship to the Catholic church, Hitler was born and raised a Catholic, as would be expected in Catholic Austria. There’s no evidence that he practiced Catholicism in adulthood, and in fact his political acts (murder, exhortation to hatred and genocide) excommunicated him from the Church latae sententiae, which is the Catholic doctrine that grievous mortal sin automatically excommunicates a Catholic, by the act itself, without the need for official proclamation. Pius XII deliberated whether to formally excommunicate Hitler publicly, but he knew that Hitler still had under his control millions of Catholics and that it was likely that Hitler would have responded to the public excommunication by genocide against millions of Catholics. Pius deliberately chose not to endanger the lives of millions of innocent people by proclaiming it, when in fact Hitler was already excommunicated by his very acts.

    Pius did, however, continuously, harshly, and publicly condemn Hitler and the Nazis. His Christmas message of 1942 (http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/p12ch42.htm) was to that date one of the harshest denunciations of Nazism by a world leader. It should be remembered that Pius issued this denunciation from Mussolini’s Italy, at considerable personal risk. It should also be recalled that the flagship of atheism– the Soviet Union– had only recently ended their friendship pact with Hitler, because of Hitler’s betrayal.

    In this discussion, I don’t require courtesy or even civility. I do insist on sanity, because without it no discussion is possible. The assertion that Hitler was a Christian in any actual sense in not sane.

    @Niche Geek

    “You stated that “As I understand teleonomy, it’s a type of teleology.” I wanted to make clear, that teleonomy is, by definition, not teleology. The neologism was created explicitly to avoid the implications of the older word. I suspect your confusion arises because you are using an overly broad definition of teleology that, it seems to me, would conclude that water conforming to the shore was evidence of teleology.”

    You’re right. Teleonomy was explicitly formulated to deny teleology. I believe that Pittendrigh and Mayr misunderstood teleology and created a strawman.

    Teleology, understood classically (by the people who invented the word), does not mean purpose, in the sense of human-like purpose. It means directedness, in the sense that change in nature is generally directional in fairly predictable ways. The Greeks were obsessed with understanding change. Aristotle formulated his doctrine of four causes explicitly to make sense of natural change.

    What struck them as essential (and should strike us as well) is that change in nature is generally predictable: rocks fall down, not up or sideways, when dropped; sparks cause fire, not ice; puppies grow into dogs, not fish, etc. This directedness to change is teleology (final cause), and Aristotle saw teleology as the “cause of causes”– the most important cause– because it directed change.

    Now there’s long been a debate as to whether teleology necessarily implies purpose, understood as the intention of a mind (or Mind). The teleology of human acts obviously originates in the human mind, but the origin of inanimate teleology in nature has been the subject of much debate. Christians (and Jews and Moslems) have generally identified natural teleology with God’s purpose, but ‘purpose’ is not essential to teleology broadly understood. Teleology is directedness, with or without purpose.

    “The neologism was created explicitly to avoid the implications of the older word.”

    Yes, but the older word encompassed all directedness in nature.

    “I suspect your confusion arises because you are using an overly broad definition of teleology that, it seems to me, would conclude that water conforming to the shore was evidence of teleology.”

    Water conforming to the shore is teleological. The wind blowing is teleological. An electron orbiting a nucleus is teleological.

    Theonomy is teleology, and in as much (or as little) need of explanation.

  310. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 9:57 am

    @nygbrus:

    “The rise in atheism/agnosticism, the decline of religious zeal in the west, and the overall decline of religion as government certainly fall in line with the decrease in violence and murder (and war), and I would stipulate is both a facet of increasing human awareness and morality and simultaneous contributor to the decreased violence we see today.”

    The secularization of Europe advanced markedly in the late 19th century, and the 20th century was the century of Western secularism/atheism. It was a meat-grinder.

    Atheist political systems (the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea,…) slaughtered people on a scale unimagined in human history.

    The decrease in violence in the West in later 20th century coincided with the collapse of political regimes ideologically committed to atheism.

    Violence is again rising in Europe (crime rates in many European countries are sky-rocketing). There are many reasons, but the expansion of Islam in Europe is a big part of it.

    Europe will, over the next century, become balkanized, with Christian enclaves and Muslim enclaves, much like the Balkans today. Atheist/secular cultures– even the few that are peaceful– are unsustainable, and will always collapse over several generations.

    The Muslims are waiting to move in. Without Christianity, there will be no one to stop them.

  311. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 10:21 am

    The religious are trying to justify the voice in their head. Namely their own. They do so by naming it god. If they name it something else it is mental illness.

    If they could think of something outside their own thought then maybe they’d have some evidence or proof of god. But as it is all they worship is their own abstractions as that is all that is possible to describe.

    What attribute of god means anything outside of thought?

  312. mufion 07 Jun 2011 at 10:39 am

    nybgrus: I’m in no place to lecture anyone, and if I came across that way, then your humble response was admirable.

    Re: the TED talk, I intended that more of source for the Singer reference than anything else, but I agree that it also raises questions about the role of religion, which Pinker only addressed implicitly.

    I expect that you’re right that there is a correlation between low rates of violence and secularism, as in: the policies and practices of (ir)religious freedom (and not those of state-enforced atheism of the Stalinoid kind). But secularism would never have gotten off the ground if religious folks hadn’t endorsed it, so I think we owe them some gratitude for that.

    Also, I’m fascinated by the fact that some of least religious countries in the world (e.g. the Nordic ones) still have state churches in which a majority of the citizens remain members. These same countries are also among the least violent (which supports what you’re saying), but clearly some other factors are at work here besides a church/state-separation policy, which has done only so much to lower religiosity here in the USA.

    I read an article a while back (which I wish I could find – I think it was in Free Inquiry) that correlates popular irreligiosity (e.g. atheism & agnosticism) among secular countries with social insurance policies (like those of the Nordic countries). If those policies are indeed a cause of irreligiosity, then that might help to explain why conservative Christians here in the USA are trying so hard to dismantle what little social insurance (e.g. Medicare & Social Security) that we already have.

  313. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 11:28 am

    @mufi:

    “Also, I’m fascinated by the fact that some of least religious countries in the world (e.g. the Nordic ones) still have state churches in which a majority of the citizens remain members.’

    Many of these countries maintain significant cultural traditions of Christianity.

    “These same countries are also among the least violent (which supports what you’re saying), but clearly some other factors are at work here besides a church/state-separation policy, which has done only so much to lower religiosity here in the USA.”

    Establishment of religion is very bad for religion, because tying faith to government distorts and discredits faith. The Church of England is a husk, in no small part because it is an established church.

    ‘Separation of church and state’ is a vague concept. Supression of religion by the government is bad, but a respectful distance is good for everyone.

    “I read an article a while back (which I wish I could find – I think it was in Free Inquiry) that correlates popular irreligiosity (e.g. atheism & agnosticism) among secular countries with social insurance policies (like those of the Nordic countries).”

    Atheism does seem to correlate with socialism. It’s no surprise: people depend more on government when they depend less on religious institutions. For some, government becomes a substitute religion/church (eg liberal secular Jews)

    “If those policies are indeed a cause of irreligiosity, then that might help to explain why conservative Christians here in the USA are trying so hard to dismantle what little social insurance (e.g. Medicare & Social Security) that we already have.”

    Medicare and Social Security are not “little social insurance”. They are massive spending programs — over 100 trillion dollars in unfunded liability. The young will be bankrupted by the old. Conservatives are merely insisting on fiscal sanity.

    Ask the Greeks (or the Spanish or the Irish or the Portugese) how they feel about massive deficit social spending.

  314. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 12:01 pm

    “Many of these countries maintain significant cultural traditions of Christianity.”
    Or
    Many of these countries maintain traditions of their culture. What’s the difference?

    So what amount of the cultural traditions are christian and what amount is the culture? Which christians? Catholics or Protestants or Russian Orthodox or Coptic? Define your terms please.

    Is there a optimal religiosity required to the full benefiet of these christian traditions? 50% 32% How about 3.465% ?

  315. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 12:07 pm

    @2_words:

    So what amount of the cultural traditions are christian and what amount is the culture? Which christians? Catholics or Protestants or Russian Orthodox or Coptic? Define your terms please.

    There are general Christian traditions common to all Christians, and there are traditions that are sectarian. Compare the culture of Italy (Catholic) to Sweden (Luthern) to England (Anglican) to American (primarily evangelical protestant).

    “Is there a optimal religiosity required to the full benefiet of these christian traditions? 50% 32% How about 3.465% ?”

    We’ll find out. Look closely at the Balkans, which is the future of secular Europe.

  316. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 12:09 pm

    So common to all christians there are christian traditions. Nice.

    These of course are only good and benficial. If they are not they are obviously not christian.

  317. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 12:23 pm

    @2_words:

    “These of course are only good and benficial. If they are not they are obviously not christian.”

    Christianity is the human manifestation of God’s work on earth. It is very good, but not perfect.

    I suspect that you will get answers to your implied questions about what culture will be like without Christianity. I’m not sure that you’ll like what you see.

  318. Niche Geekon 07 Jun 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Mike12,

    Your definition seems to conflict with every source available to me. Whether you have properly understood it or not I cannot say, but I can say that all major dictionaries and encyclopedia seem to define Teleology as being related explicitly with Final Cause or Purpose. That this may be a shift in modern language is effectively irrelevant as your audience is modern.

    Furthermore, if your evidence of gods includes the fact that water fills depressions then I must say it is remarkably unconvincing.

    Lastly, on the subject of culture and religion. Even if I accept your argument that crime is skyrocketing in Europe due to the influx of Muslims, this hardly makes your case. Surely this would be evidence that religion is problematic, not the reverse?

  319. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 12:49 pm

    So a culture with christian traditions creates traditions that will be without christian tradition. And this is bad. Somehow.

    So to Godwin this a little more. Hilter was brought up in a catholic culture with catholic traditions but not the right ones or not in the right way. So the secularism that arises from christian traditions is not christian tradition’s fault, cause, whatever?

    “I suspect that you will get answers to your implied questions about what culture will be like without Christianity. I’m not sure that you’ll like what you see.”

    So the part of human history without christianity? When did it begin? What were the jews doing before christ, did it start with them?

    How can it end if it is “The general Christian traditions common to all Christians.”

  320. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 1:02 pm

    @Niche Geek

    “Your definition seems to conflict with every source available to me. Whether you have properly understood it or not I cannot say, but I can say that all major dictionaries and encyclopedia seem to define Teleology as being related explicitly with Final Cause or Purpose. That this may be a shift in modern language is effectively irrelevant as your audience is modern.’”

    I’m just telling you what the Greeks meant when they coined the word teleology. The best quick reference for this is Ed Feser’s book “The Last Superstition”, in which he reviews the meanings of teleology quite nicely (look in the index under teleology/Darwin/ID). Feser, who is a Catholic, is a strong opponent of ID, because he thinks that IDers have misunderstood teleology.

    “Furthermore, if your evidence of gods includes the fact that water fills depressions then I must say it is remarkably unconvincing.”

    Sometimes the most important things seem banal, until we think about them carefully. Directedness in nature doesn’t explain itself.

    The best that atheists can do to explain the origin of directedness/regularity in nature is to assert “shit happens”. Theists don’t settle for that.

    “Lastly, on the subject of culture and religion. Even if I accept your argument that crime is skyrocketing in Europe due to the influx of Muslims, this hardly makes your case. Surely this would be evidence that religion is problematic, not the reverse?”

    Of course religion is problematic. Every damn thing human beings do is problematic, including religion, including irreligion. Th questions are these:

    1) What is true (problematic or not)?

    2) What belief system is least problematic?

    The worst belief system in human history for ‘problematicness”, without rival, is atheism. Name one nation governed by an atheist ideology that wasn’t a hellhole.

    Islam is a violent ignorant theocratic cult, and although it is not nearly as bloody or totalitarian as atheism in power, it’s still horrendous.

    Christianity is flawed for sure, but most of what we value in the West (freedom, rule of law, science, great art and literature) has deep and extensive roots in Christianity.

    Atheist/secular culture, when not murderous, is degenerate, and crumbles after several generations. It’s crumbling all over Europe (just by falling birth rates alone, European culture is going to largely disappear in a century or two).

    The Muslims are waiting, as they have been since the Christians last kicked their ass in Vienna in 1683, which is the last time they invaded the West.

    In case you think that the Muslims don’t remember and don’t intend to bring the Caliphate to the West, I remind you that the date of the Muslim defeat by the Christians at Vienna in 1683 was September 11th.

  321. robmon 07 Jun 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Mike12,

    “I should point out that the same applies to calling Stalin a secular humanist, which is just as crazy as calling Hitler a Christian.”

    That’s a very fair distinction, any assertion that atheism (which dates back at least to Diagoras of Melos) encompasses other ideas like secular humanism or objectivism under the umbrella of communism paints people with such a broad brush that if it were reversed, it could allow all theists to be equated with islamic radicals. Despite what some other atheists assert I dont think this is fair. I would like to point out that this is what people have trying to point out to you, including listing examples of christian atrocities as counter evidence.

    “Atheist political systems (the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea,…) slaughtered people on a scale unimagined in human history.”

    And there you go again.

    “Atheist/secular cultures– even the few that are peaceful– are unsustainable, and will always collapse over several generations.

    The Muslims are waiting to move in. Without Christianity, there will be no one to stop them.”

    so wait their both mass murders and spinless, how could that possibly work

    “Christianity a profession of faith, a deliberate decision to follow Christ, share in His sacrifice, and abide by His will”

    “Christianity is a deliberate personal relationship, and while Christians are all (very) imperfect, there are of necessity outward manifestations of Christian faith.”

    I see so true christians are visible saints showing their relationship with god by goodness, except when they do wrong. There must be fewer true christians than true scotsmen.

    But what could account for such a distinction applying to christians but not to others?

    “Christianity is the human manifestation of God’s work on earth.”

    Magic justifies selection bias, got it.

    And there’s the rub, in your view other religions and non-religious goods are not good because of the lack of supernatural intrisic goodness. Meanwhile other religions, and non-religious evils are true evil because of lack of connection to god, or possibly connected to satan.

    It’s no surprise to me that these are your underlying assumptions. I’m glad your finally speaking voicing them, rather than hiding them and feigning rational debate with those who lack access to “God’s work on earth” without your belief system.

  322. Jeremiahon 07 Jun 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Aristotle was/is perhaps the west’s greatest philosopher. Aquinas may be the worst in the sense of an attainment of misguided authority. The step from one to another is not up.

    Mike was warned that too little knowledge is a dangerous and evil thing and has thus attained some knowledge of a broad range of subjects, but with a very shallow understanding of any of them.

    When it comes down to insight about evolution, he comes up with this:

    “Teleology is directedness, with or without purpose.”

    Pass the joint.

  323. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 1:16 pm

    You revert to “The best that atheists can do to explain the origin of directedness/regularity in nature is to assert “shit happens”. Theists don’t settle for that. ”

    What you are saying when “shit happens” is that life happens. If you reduce this to the fewest words you get “it is” or “is.”

    What is the problem there?

    Besides by your definition, most of the world is atheistic because they do not believe or haven’t had aquinas’ proof explained to them. And if they did they would react as much as the rest of the world who has. Which is “that is it? that is the best that you have?” “That is the reason you get to wear a silly hat?”

    It is the definition of nothing.
    I prefer “it is” to “it is what i cannot think.”

    You missed my point. There are no true christians. They are the culture and the tradition. They are in the same cultural whatever we all are and act for reasons that cannot be completely described or understood. At the very least, to say that one thing “christianity/atheistic ideology” is the only cause or source or least problematic truth is primitive.

  324. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 1:27 pm

    @robm:

    “so wait [atheists and Muslims are] both mass murders and spinless, how could that possibly work”

    Atheists (and to a lesser extent Muslims) are indeed mass murderers. Atheist mass murder is simply a matter of historical record. Muslim mass murder is intrinisc to their theology, which posits a continuing war between Islam and the infidels.

    Atheists are also spineless in many circumstances, such as contemporary secular Europe.

    Muslims aren’t the least bit spineless., and that’s why they will win in many parts of Europe.

  325. robmon 07 Jun 2011 at 1:39 pm

    @Mike12

    I never said musilims are spineless, I was intending to point out its a big counter example to your assertion that atheism leads to mass murder. Further, you provided that counter example.

    I just figured you quote mine and paste “atheists are both spineless and mass murders”, I can’t help but laugh at the fact that it backfired. Quote mining is what you do when you try to have it both ways and its pointed to as a contradiction.

  326. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 1:43 pm

    ‘Muslims aren’t the least bit spineless., and that’s why they will win in many parts of Europe.”

    Basically, christianity is the only way to win. Lot of words just to say that Mike12.

  327. Niche Geekon 07 Jun 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Mike12,

    I’m afraid you really have fallen into some deep fallacies here.

    “Christianity is flawed for sure, but most of what we value in the West (freedom, rule of law, science, great art and literature) has deep and extensive roots in Christianity.”

    Except most of those predate Christianity in western culture. Both Greece and Rome were great before Christ is supposed to have existed.

    I also second the “No True Scotsman” problem you seem to have developed. While I don’t believe that the genocide in Rwanda was caused by Christianity, it cannot be denied that this was and is a Christian country (>98% Christian, >50% Catholic). For what reason must we discount them as “No True Christian”?

  328. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 1:49 pm

    @robm:

    “I just figured you quote mine and paste “atheists are both spineless and mass murders”, I can’t help but laugh at the fact that it backfired.”

    Atheists who are communists are mass murderers.

    Some atheists who are secular humanists are cowards, some not. Harris and Hitchens and Dawkins are not cowards; they have taken rather courageous stands against Islam, and I respect them for that.

    Many of the latte-sipping hotel-maid-raping Islam-accomodating eurotrash secular elite are cowards.

  329. robmon 07 Jun 2011 at 1:49 pm

    “Basically, christianity is the only way to win. Lot of words just to say that Mike12.”

    I’m just glad he’s finally out about it, apologetics, then trolling then some more apologetics, and finally an admission of what mike12 is all about, christians hating atheists for not being christians.

  330. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 1:56 pm

    @Niche Geek:

    “While I don’t believe that the genocide in Rwanda was caused by Christianity, it cannot be denied that this was and is a Christian country (>98% Christian, >50% Catholic). ”

    The Rwandan genoide should is clearly a genocide in the realm of Christianity, and although I don’t think that Chrisitianity is primarily responsible for it (the Hutu and Tutsi violence and hatred long antedates Christiantity in the country), Christianity must be held accountable for its failure to prevent/stop the violence. There were Christian churchmen who actually helped kill people.

    I make no excuses for Christians who do wrong. If only my atheist friends would candidly chastise atheism as well…

  331. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 2:00 pm

    @robm:

    “Basically, christianity is the only way to win. Lot of words just to say that Mike12.” I’m just glad he’s finally out about it, apologetics, then trolling then some more apologetics”

    How shocking. A Christian who believes in Christianity, and says so publicly.

    “and finally an admission of what mike12 is all about, christians hating atheists for not being christians.”

    I don’t hate atheists. I just pull no punches about the actual history of atheism.

  332. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 2:03 pm

    ‘If only my atheist friends would candidly chastise atheism as well…” is only a meaningful sentence as it is a sentence.

    Please define atheism as you seem to conflate it with your understanding of theism.

    I can no more type these words for “no reason” as you can believe in nothing.

  333. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 2:11 pm

    @2_words

    Atheism: the metaphysical belief of people who deny transcendent meaning to anything and who deny the documented real world consequences of putting people who share their belief in positions of power.

  334. Niche Geekon 07 Jun 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Mike12,

    So… if I don’t “deny the documented real world consequences of putting people who share their belief in positions of power” then I am not an atheist?

  335. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 2:20 pm

    So an atheist walks into a bar and tells the atheism “you are candidly chastised.” Happy?

    Transcendent: Beyond and outside the ordinary range of human experience or understanding

    So while the transcendent meaning is put to anything, does that happen within the range of a humans experience or outside of it? If I think of the god beyond thought what am I thinking of? Where am I thinking it? Am I thinking it with thought?

    This is the best you have?

  336. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 2:25 pm

    @# Niche Geek

    “So… if I don’t “deny the documented real world consequences of putting people who share their belief in positions of power” then I am not an atheist?”

    You’d have to show some ID.

    @2_words

    “Transcendent: Beyond and outside the ordinary range of human experience or understanding’”

    Why does it surprise you that the ground of existence is something beyone your ability to fully comprehend?

    “So while the transcendent meaning is put to anything, does that happen within the range of a humans experience or outside of it? If I think of the god beyond thought what am I thinking of? Where am I thinking it? Am I thinking it with thought?’”

    You’re thinking of God by analogy, because direct knowledge of him- the Beautific Vision- is not given to most of us in this life.

    “This is the best you have?’

    Yea. Beats “shit happens”.

  337. mufion 07 Jun 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Mike said: Atheism does seem to correlate with socialism.

    Except that the Nordic countries are only “socialist” inasmuch as they redistribute more wealth and well-being than some other countries (like the US & UK). Otherwise, their economies are overwhelmingly “capitalist” (as in: characterized by market exchange, private ownership of the means of production, and wage labor).

    Re: the solvency of Medicare & Social Security, I defer to the Nobel laureate Paul Krugman (e.g. here and here). But to sum up his points: With the right tweaks, we can definitely afford these progams, and even expand Medicare to cover all, like most advanced countries do – and more cheaply. The issue is a political one: that is, conservatives are ideologically opposed to social insurance.

    But now we’re way off topic and I’ve said my piece.

  338. Jeremiahon 07 Jun 2011 at 2:31 pm

    @Mike
    “I just pull no punches about the actual history of atheism.”

    So far you’ve had no punch to pull. All you’ve done is piss without a proper pot.

  339. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 2:31 pm

    It does not suprise me. It doesn’t anything. That is as much of what it is that we can say. What happens beyond thought is by definition beyond it.

    No. I do not think of god by analogy. I think thoughts. That is all.

    Life happens. It happens now. You are part of it happening. Your thought is part of it too. You can worship yourself all you like but it does not change that what you are worshiping is abstraction.

    “the Beautific Vision- is not given to most of us in this life.” What exactly do you think is happening now?

    You worship nothing and you claim it beats “shit happens.”

  340. mufion 07 Jun 2011 at 2:41 pm

    PS: Of course, not all conservatives are religious.

  341. robmon 07 Jun 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Mike12

    glad to hear you don’t hate atheists, sorry to be under that impression, my mistake. I only got it from the fact it took a while to get you to make the following distinction.

    “Atheists who are communists are mass murderers.

    Some atheists who are secular humanists are cowards, some not. Harris and Hitchens and Dawkins are not cowards; they have taken rather courageous stands against Islam, and I respect them for that.

    Many of the latte-sipping hotel-maid-raping Islam-accomodating eurotrash secular elite are cowards.”

    This would suggest atheists in power implies very little since there his a huge range of opinion on politics. You then go back on that by asserting

    “Atheism: the metaphysical belief of people who deny transcendent meaning to anything and who deny the documented real world consequences of putting people who share their belief in positions of power.”

    Again insinuating mass murder by a subset of atheists, communists, shares the beliefs that made this mass murder possible. Your statement seemingly disregards communist doctrines like class warfare, dictatorship of the proletariat, and bloody revolution, are much more likely to have been responsible for such atrocities than a lack of belief in the supernatural.

    If you have theory as to how lack of belief in the supernatural or transcendent meaning makes mass murder and atrocities more likely go ahead with it.

    “How shocking. A Christian who believes in Christianity, and says so publicly.”

    From your previous statements it seems you think all christians who have a relationship with jesus are a manifestation of god’s work on earth, and represent it, though imperfect. Those aren’t christian don’t have that benefit. This doctrine is not to my knowlege common to all christians, all put their faith in god, how he answers they disagree on. Your views make a huge difference in how you will see both christians and non-christians. For much of the time you’ve been asserting atheisms connection to atrocites you didn’t make mention of that.

  342. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 3:55 pm

    @robm:

    “If you have theory as to how lack of belief in the supernatural or transcendent meaning makes mass murder and atrocities more likely go ahead with it.’

    First, you need to recognize that that is a fact. There have been many different explicitly religious/ideological governments in human history. Some good, some not so good. All explicitly atheist governments (from the French Revolution to the Communists) have been butchers. But don’t you atheists say “religion spoils everything”? Explain.

    “From your previous statements it seems you think all christians who have a relationship with jesus are a manifestation of god’s work on earth, and represent it, though imperfect. Those aren’t christian don’t have that benefit. ”

    All people are manifestation of God’s work on earth, non-believers no less than believers. The only difference is that Christians know it, and say ‘thank you’, and try to show their gratitude in the way they live.

    “This doctrine is not to my knowlege common to all christians, all put their faith in god, how he answers they disagree on. Your views make a huge difference in how you will see both christians and non-christians. For much of the time you’ve been asserting atheisms connection to atrocites you didn’t make mention of that.”

    I’m don’t understand what you mean.

  343. Niche Geekon 07 Jun 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Mike12,

    Do you differentiate between a secular government and an atheist government? If so, where does a secular government fall in your hypothesis?

  344. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 4:06 pm

    All people are manifestations of what is, non-believers no less than believers. The only difference is some think that the “ground of existence” can be named and comprehended and worshiped. Some thank themselves for existence even though they do not understand nonexistence.

    “the Beautific Vision- is not given to most of us in this life.” This means you think there is some way to know what is and is not beatific. That is beyond reason and into the realm of mystics and insane.

    Your definition of god is as acurate as the definition of nothing. How you describe one is just as we describe the other.

  345. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 4:18 pm

    @robm:

    “If you have theory as to how lack of belief in the supernatural or transcendent meaning makes mass murder and atrocities more likely go ahead with it.’

    My theory, for what it is worth:

    We are made to worship. Our purpose on earth is to come to know God, and to love and worship him. If we don’t worship Him, we worship something else– ourselves, power, sex, false gods, ideologies (communism, Nazism), whatever.

    The evil done by atheism– and it has been profound evil– is that atheists worship the wrong things. Of course, worshiping the wrong things (idolatry) isn’ the exclusive purview of atheists– we all do it, to some extent, but atheists do it in spades. This inescapability of worship was expressed well (attributed to Chesterton):

    ‘If you don’t believe in God, it’s not that you worship nothing, it’s that you’ll worship anything’

    Worship wrongly directed is always harmful. The best anthropological discussion of this that I’ve read is that of Rene Girard, a French Catholic literary critic and philosopher, who has developed a fascinating theory of the origins of human evil. Succinctly, he proposes that the root of human evil is mimetic violence that scapegoats the innocent in order to preserve stability in society. He sees Christ’s revelation as the lesson that such violence and scapegoating is a lie, and is in some sense evil itself.

    Girard’s theory fascinates me. His best book is “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning”. I think that it is a profound insight into human nature, evil, and the way out of evil that Christianity provides.

  346. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Mostly what the religious do is make category error.

    Thinking what they think is something besides thought.

    Word is the word for word.

  347. Mike12on 07 Jun 2011 at 4:31 pm

    @Niche Geek

    “Do you differentiate between a secular government and an atheist government?”

    Secular government: government that is not a theocracy.

    Atheist government: government by a regime that is atheist by ideology (French State during Reign of Terror, all communist governments)

    All atheist governments are secular; not all secular governments are atheist (e.g. the US government is secular, but is not atheist by ideology).

    “If so, where does a secular government fall in your hypothesis?’

    Secular governments (non-atheist ones) are by far the best.

    Secular governments respect individual religious (and irreligious) rights, and maintain a healthy separation between church and state.

    My beef is with governments run by ideologies that are explicitly atheist. They are all hellholes. Governments run by religious ideologies (Christian, Jewish, Islamic theocracies) vary, from despotic to reasonable.

    If I were an atheist, I’d wonder why it is that evertime an explicitly atheist becomes a governing ideology, people die by the millions.

  348. Jeremiahon 07 Jun 2011 at 4:49 pm

    People die by the millions while praying to the imaginary good gods to use their imaginary powers against what they imagine to be the agents of the imaginary evil gods.
    Mike, how’s that been working for you so far?

  349. 2_wordson 07 Jun 2011 at 4:59 pm

    If I were a (that which is not me), I’d wonder why it is that every time an explicitly (that which is not me), becomes a governing ideology, people die by the millions.

    Do people die by the other numbers when other things happen?

    This has been fun, never before have I understood just how hollow theism is.

    At least, the buddhist and hindu acknowledge themselves.

  350. Niche Geekon 07 Jun 2011 at 5:20 pm

    So, by your argument

    1. Governments that don’t include gods are the best
    2. Governments that include gods may or may not be good
    3. Governments that explicitly reject gods are bad

    Ok… I can actually accept that. The thing is, I think you are confusing antitheism with atheism.

  351. nybgruson 07 Jun 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I think this thread takes the cake for number of comments. Wowza.

    @mike:

    There are plenty of quotes from Hitler– both anti-Christian and pro-Christian– on the internet, and I can match you quote for quote. But that would be to evade the obvious: Hitler was obviously not a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.

    Go ahead and chuck up some quotes by Hitler that explicitly denounce god, denounce religion, and denounce his faith. I’d love to read them since they don’t exist.

    I love how you theists always say he wasn’t Christian…. in any meaningful sense of the word. Same ol’ theist bullshit. It’s called the “no true Scotsman fallacy” and you all keep doing it incessantly. You somehow get to post hoc decide that even though he wrote and said all those things praising Jesus, calling himself a soldier of Christ, saying he is doing the lord’s work… he didn’t actually believe that “in any meaningful sense of the word”. Keep deluding yourself mike – it is an ability unsurpassed by any non-theist.

    I also looked at the address by Pius. It was long so I didn’t read it, but a word search revealed not one single mention of “Hitler,” “Adolf,” “Germany,” “Reich,” or even “Jew.” Only one mention of “world war” and the paragraph just talks about the general atrocities of war, nothing specific. So how on earth you decide to cite that as evidence of papal denouncement of Hitler and Nazism is beyond me. And you say I am crazy to think that Hitler was Christian. I don’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for you.

    The secularization of Europe advanced markedly in the late 19th century, and the 20th century was the century of Western secularism/atheism. It was a meat-grinder.

    Where is Alex Trebek with buzzer when you need it? I suggest you actually watch the TED talk that mufi linked to. The 20th century was by far the period with the least amount of death and the least likelihood of being killed at the hands of another human being even when you take the World Wars into account! That is deaths per 100,000 – not absolute deaths either. It also considers what the likelihood of you as a man being killed by another man are, instead of dying of disease, accident, or natural causes. And that likelihood was massively lower in the 20th century even when you factor in all the wars.

    So please, just like your fallacy that Hitler was anything but a Christian, try and scrub your mind of the fallacy that the 20th century was somehow the bloodiest that there was. That is pure right-wing propaganda and sensationalist reporting. And before you retort, try watching Pinker’s talk and actually look at the numbers.

    The decrease in violence in the West in later 20th century coincided with the collapse of political regimes ideologically committed to atheism.

    As above, wrong again. The decrease in violence and death was beginning LONG before – right around the turn of the 20th century. It happened to coincide more with decreasing religiosity than anything else.

    Yea. Beats “shit happens”.

    Yep. In our atheist churches we have that emblazoned on the walls. All of our psalms and hymns are just repeating “shit happens” over and over. Oh mike, how did you ever get so wise and not only correctly determine that atheism is indeed a cohesive identity but that our Jesus is “shit happens?” Oh right, because you are completely ignorant on the topic and making up whatever sounds good. Par for the course for theists.

    First, you need to recognize that that is a fact. There have been many different explicitly religious/ideological governments in human history. Some good, some not so good. All explicitly atheist governments (from the French Revolution to the Communists) have been butchers. But don’t you atheists say “religion spoils everything”? Explain.

    It has been explained so many times it is nauseating. Go watch some Hitchens for a while if you want a history lesson. The simple fact is that the reason you think otherwise is because of false numbers and ideas pounded into your head by religious leaders and Fox News – both excellent sources of information. Perhaps you’d like to go get pap smears at Wal-Mart?

    All people are manifestation of God’s work on earth, non-believers no less than believers. The only difference is that Christians know it, and say ‘thank you’, and try to show their gratitude in the way they live.

    Like they said “thank you” to the atheist soldiers fighting and dying for their right to be ignorant assholes? Like they say “thank you” to me when I selflessly help people and then they curse me and say they never want my help after finding out I’m an atheist?

    Yeah, you can keep your thanks. I’ll still fight for your right to be ignorant theists and pray to whatever invisible friend you want. And I’ll still help anyone who comes my way, regardless of their beliefs, color, creed, or sexual orientation. But I don’t need your thanks for it. It isn’t worth anything coming from your kind.

    If you don’t believe in God, it’s not that you worship nothing, it’s that you’ll worship anything’

    I have a theory. Since theists are so indoctrinated into think there actually is something to worship, and they are so indoctrinated in taking their orders from an ancient book without actually thinking for themselves, and since they are so indoctrinated into thinking you must have religion and worship as a result they can’t possibly imagine someone not doing it. That is why they think atheism is a religion, Darwin is our god, On the Origin of Species is our bible, and that we worship him and live by the tenets of our holy book. Newflash to all theists – that is total BULL. I do not worship anything. I do not have a holy book. I do not have a god. That is what it means to be atheist. Just because you can’t possibly imagine your day spent without wasting time thinking about your imaginary friend doesn’t mean the rest of us with free and critical thoughts in our heads can’t. So please – get that through your skull for once.

    Secular governments (non-atheist ones) are by far the best.

    Secular governments respect individual religious (and irreligious) rights, and maintain a healthy separation between church and state.

    I agree. Yet you and your “brothers” are fighting hard to make this an explicitly Christian country. You even change the history of the country for those ends. So don’t crow about how you want a secular state that respects everyone’s rights when you want a Christian country that tramples on atheist, gay, and otherwise non-Christian rights. The double talk is disgusting.

    I think Niche Greek had it right:

    The thing is, I think you are confusing antitheism with atheism.

    You are. I am an anti-theist because I see the evil that religion does and the sneaky and dastardly ways it tries to strip everyone of their right and get everyone to join their death cult for an imaginary friend. Most of us are just atheist (like my girlfriend) and sit back and laugh at your ignorance and lunacy.

    Having said that, if the government itself was anti-theist, I would stand right by your side and fight that. I would agree with the government, but it is not right to force someone to believe (or disbelieve). I would stand by you the same as I would stand by a KKK member or a Westboro Baptist Church member. The key difference is you Christians are quite happy to take away my rights and impose your mythology on a governmental level. That is why I currently fight you.

    And lastly, yes mike. If my child decided to call him/herself a christian I would support it. But there is simply no chance that would happen. I would put the bible, the quran, and greek mythology on exactly the same equal footing it deserves and teach the scientific method and critical thinking at the same time. That is what my parents did. And I could tell from a very young age that the stories of the bible made no more sense than greek mythology. Without someone forcing the bible down my throat and indoctrinating it into me by saying it was true and all else was false I could actually make up my own mind. And the choice was pretty flippin’ easy – even for a young child.

    But unlike you, I am not a hypocrite. If my progeny saw something they liked about it I would support that and try and learn with them. I actually stand by my principles.

  352. nybgruson 07 Jun 2011 at 6:35 pm

    @mufi:

    Also, I’m fascinated by the fact that some of least religious countries in the world (e.g. the Nordic ones) still have state churches in which a majority of the citizens remain members.

    My understanding from some Nordic peoples I know (mostly online but some in person as well) is that the church is a cultural remnant and no one really actively believes in a god or follows the word of the bible. Since there has been all this religion based intolerance many of them are officially leaving the church as a show of their distaste for religion.

  353. mufion 07 Jun 2011 at 7:34 pm

    nybgrus: I don’t follow social trends in Scandinavia that closely (even though half of my ancestry hails from Sweden), but this is the first I’ve heard of “religion based intolerance” there. If you have any related references that you can share, I’d appreciate it.

    But, in any case, I have read/heard before that the religious affiliation trend is downward there – and, contrary to Mike, it’s probably not because Scandinavians worship government, instead of God (although it’s plausible that economic insecurity might be a boon to religion).

    The two most irreligious states in the USA are Vermont and New Hampshire. While the states border each other, their political cultures are quite different. Vermont is known for its “big government” policies, whereas New Hampshire is known for its libertarianism (e.g. it has no general sales tax or personal state income tax and its legislature is fiscally conservative). This, of course, is a counter-example to the hypothesis of the nation-based study (published in Free Inquiry) that I referred to earlier, but them’s the facts, as I see ‘em.

  354. nybgruson 07 Jun 2011 at 8:28 pm

    mufi:

    Sorry, I didn’t meant that there is religious based intolerance in Scandinavia. What I meant to say is that my impression from the casual conversations I have had with Scandinavians is that they are no longer content being counted as casual members of a church they consider cultural more than theological because of the amount of religious strife elsewhere in the world. Perhaps it is a self-selected group, but their commentary to me was that in general there is a movement there to actively dissociate from the church so those ties (or rather lack thereof) are more clear to see. They appear to be keen and realize that even though their church means little more than a cultural tradition, that association with it can and is construed as endorsement of the theology of the church and gives power to theists – something the majority of them are against.

    I don’t really have sources, and this could be quite misrepresentative, but it is what has been told to me and what I have read in personal blog posts and discussions.

  355. nybgruson 08 Jun 2011 at 2:21 am

    After my discussion about small children being able to figure out how inane the concept of religion is I happened across this:

    http://imgur.com/INsIT

    Illustrates my point nicely.

  356. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 8:25 am

    @Nybgrus:

    “Yet you and your “brothers” are fighting hard to make this an explicitly Christian country.”

    No. There is no significant Christian movement to amend the First Amendment to allo a Christian establishment of religion.

    Many Christians (and Jews and atheists and wicccans) want to pass laws that are consistent with their moral opinions. That’s democracy. Your opinions don’t get special treatment.

    “You even change the history of the country for those ends.”

    I presume that you are referring to observations that the founders and most Americans in colonial america were Christians, which is true. In fact, the Declaration of Independence explicitly states that our rights are endowed by our Creator. They weren’t reverring to panspermia.

    What “history” contradicts that?”

    “So don’t crow about how you want a secular state that respects everyone’s rights when you want a Christian country that tramples on atheist, gay, and otherwise non-Christian rights. The double talk is disgusting.”

    What “gay rights”, “atheist rights”, etc are being trampled on? Gays and atheists have the same rights as everyone else, no more, no less.

    What is it about the correlation between atheism and liberal left-wing bullshit?

  357. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 8:45 am

    @Nybgrus:

    “I also looked at the address by Pius. It was long so I didn’t read it, but a word search revealed not one single mention of “Hitler,” “Adolf,” “Germany,” “Reich,” or even “Jew.” ‘

    If you didn’t read it, you have no credible opinion to offer. Word searches don’t count.

    “Only one mention of “world war” and the paragraph just talks about the general atrocities of war, nothing specific.”

    It was widely understood, by the allies and the axis, that Pius referred specifically to Nazi atrocities. Papal letters are always very “diplomatic”. You need to read more.

    “So how on earth you decide to cite that as evidence of papal denouncement of Hitler and Nazism is beyond me. And you say I am crazy to think that Hitler was Christian. I don’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for you.”

    I didn’t decide it. Pius denunciation of the Nazis was headline news, lauded by the allied government and denounced by the Nazis.

    They had better reading comprehension than you do. Your reading comprehension problems and historical innocence, as well as your anti-Christian bigotry, interfere with your insight.

    By the way, do you hate Jews too?

    What atheist organizations spoke out against Hitler (except for the communists (atheists all), of course, who were Hitlers’ allies until he double-crossed them?

    And again, you assertion that Hitler was a Christian is insane. He committed countless acts that individually ex-communicated him by doing the act. He was not a member of the Catholic Church. He was raised in a Christian culture, as was everyone in Europe, he was baptised, as was everyone in Europe, and he paid lip service to religion on occassion in speeches, as all politicians in countries with Christian cultural roots do.

    He was a fervent socialist, though.

  358. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 8:46 am

    @nygbrus:

    “Like they say “thank you” to me when I selflessly help people and then they curse me and say they never want my help after finding out I’m an atheist?”

    Right. No one ever gives you the respect you deserve. Perhaps they “curse” you because you call them the names you call me.

  359. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 8:49 am

    @Nygbrus:

    “Yeah, you can keep your thanks. I’ll still fight for your right to be ignorant theists and pray to whatever invisible friend you want. And I’ll still help anyone who comes my way, regardless of their beliefs, color, creed, or sexual orientation. But I don’t need your thanks for it. It isn’t worth anything coming from your kind.”

    “My kind”? How many “kinds” of religious people do you hate, besides Christians? Jews? Muslims? Buddhists?

  360. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 8:54 am

    @nygbrus:

    “I am an anti-theist because I see the evil that religion does and the sneaky and dastardly ways it tries to strip everyone of their right and get everyone to join their death cult for an imaginary friend.”

    You’re too obsessed with hate to distinguish between “religions”. Some religions do oppress people fairly regularly- Islam is quite opressive.

    Buddhists aren’t particularly repressive.

    Most democratic free societies are Christian.

    Societies that are ruled by explicit atheist ideology (North Korea, etc) are totalitarian, without exception.

    I get a sense of that totalitarian impulse in your rants.

  361. ccbowerson 08 Jun 2011 at 10:03 am

    “Most democratic free societies are Christian.
    Societies that are ruled by explicit atheist ideology (North Korea, etc) are totalitarian, without exception.”

    Nice mischaracterization. Democratic free societies flourished when Christian nations ceased being theocracies. That is the important factor, which is the opposite of what you are implying.

    Also your atheist-totalitarian connection is also misleading… it is the ruling by ideology that is the problem (check the theocracies in this world for proof of this). North Korea is not really an atheist country, the government just wants to push their own “religion.” They are aggressive towards other religions, because they have their own cult to maintain. You should see the mythology they have created for their “eternal leader,” “supreme leader,” etc, which they teach in schools and promote in their media.

  362. mufion 08 Jun 2011 at 10:07 am

    This is another way off-topic debate, but I’ll say my piece on it, as well: Whether Hitler was, in fact, a true Christian believer we’ll never know. (For that matter, I’m not even so sure that all Christian conservative politicians in the USA are such.) But we do know that he was keen on using Christianity to his political purposes and that he publicly denounced atheism; for example:

    In a speech delivered at Koblenz, August 26, 1934 Hitler states: “There may have been a time when even parties founded on the ecclesiastical basis were a necessity. At that time Liberalism was opposed to the Church, while Marxism was anti-religious. But that time is past. National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity. The Church’s interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against the Bolshevist culture, against an atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for the consciousness of a community in our national life, for the conquest of hatred and disunion between the classes, for the conquest of civil war and unrest, of strife and discord. These are not anti-Christian, these are Christian principles.”

    source

  363. Niche Geekon 08 Jun 2011 at 10:17 am

    Mike12,

    I recognize that Nybgrus has pressed a lot of your buttons, but I do think you need to revisit your position on the Nazis. Stating that they are socialist and without Christian cultural foundation is dishonest. The National Socialists were socialist in the same way the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is democratic and they, along with their fascist brethren in Italy, have their roots in the same Western European culture that gave rise to secular democracy. So far the only justification you’ve given for separating them is an argumentum ad consequentiam and a No True Scotsman.

    Finally, if you and Nybgruson are uninterested in discussing the original topic of the post I’ll bid you adieu.

  364. Niche Geekon 08 Jun 2011 at 10:20 am

    Clearly I need to learn to focus on writing my comments rather than working.

  365. Jeremiahon 08 Jun 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Mike, still shooting at the easy targets? Avoiding the oft repeated story that the best way to do evil in the world is to do it in the name of good, and since the myth of Jesus took hold in the West, more evil was done for Christ’s sake than for any other mythological being. If Marx was right about anything it was that religion was the opiate of the people, and your bizzarro and freaky Christ was the opium.

  366. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 12:49 pm

    @ccbowers:

    Nice mischaracterization. Democratic free societies flourished when Christian nations ceased being theocracies.

    Christianity is highly compatible with transition from theocracy to democracy. The British soverign is the head of the church of england, so techincally England is a theocracy. But it’s the cradle of modern democracy.

    Name the atheist country (ie marxist) that has transitioned from totalitarian to free peacefully while still under atheist rule.

    North Korea is not really an atheist country,

    Of course it is. It is explictly atheist/marxist. Get your head out of the sand.

    the [nk] government just wants to push their own “religion.”

    Of course they do. Atheists worship. Everyone worships. Atheism in power is never a bunch of aging hippies sitting around in faculty lounges smoking pot. Atheism in power always worships- stalin, mao, Kim, whatever. But it’s atheism.

    They are aggressive towards other religions, because they have their own cult to maintain.

    Spot-on description of atheists.

    You should see the mythology they have created for their “eternal leader,” “supreme leader,” etc, which they teach in schools and promote in their media.

    I’ve been to Darwin Day celebrations. I know just what you mean.

  367. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 12:56 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    Mike, still shooting at the easy targets?

    Can’t find any hard targets.

    Avoiding the oft repeated story that the best way to do evil in the world is to do it in the name of good, and since the myth of Jesus took hold in the West, more evil was done for Christ’s sake than for any other mythological being. If Marx was right about anything it was that religion was the opiate of the people, and your bizzarro and freaky Christ was the opium.

    Christ isn’t mythological, and it’s appropriate that you describe christianity from a marxist perspective. Marxism is the only coherent atheist/materialist ideology ever developed, and the only one (except briefly in the french revolution) to ever hold state power.

    It is a blessing, in a tragic way, because marxism provides thoughtful people with a clear real world example of what atheists do in power.

    It motivates me fiercely. To bad atheists had to butcher so many people to show their hand.

  368. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 1:28 pm

    It is amazing that a whole system of belief can become because of a simple category error.

    Thought is thought and what is out there beyond thought is beyond thought.

    We are understanding ourselves and calling that abstraction god is as meaningful as calling it nothing.

    But, in any case, the loudest and most certain are loudly and certainly trying to convince themselves.

    But still, “There are general Christian traditions common to all Christians” is a quite silly definition.

  369. Jeremiahon 08 Jun 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Mike, you are being intellectually dishonest for Jesus when you pretend that the communist revolution was based on the humanist philosophy of Marx, when the Soviets misused one form of humanism to destroy an intellectually bankrupt other.
    Your Christianity is an intellectual disaster, calamitous to the max.

  370. Jeremiahon 08 Jun 2011 at 1:40 pm

    @Mike
    “Christ isn’t mythological.”

    Except there is no direct or otherwise credible evidence that your Christ ever physically existed. None, zip, nada.

  371. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 1:41 pm

    @2_words

    Thought is thought and what is out there beyond thought is beyond thought. We are understanding ourselves and calling that abstraction god is as meaningful as calling it nothing.

    Solipsism is amusing philosophical foolishness:

    “the solipsist can attach no meaning to the supposition that there could be thoughts, experiences, and emotions other than his own.”

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/solipsis/

    If what is out there beyond your thought is beyond thought, with whom are you conversing in comboxes? Don’t you tire of talking to yourself?

  372. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 1:46 pm

    When you can think of something that isn’t thought. You might have something, you might be mad but you won’t know it.

    Can you believe in something that is not thought? How can you think so?

    If you can define where you end and the universe begins I’d like to hear that definition. Of course would you be thinking of this definition inside the universe or somewhere else?

  373. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 1:50 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    Mike, you are being intellectually dishonest for Jesus when you pretend that the communist revolution was based on the humanist philosophy of Marx, when the Soviets misused one form of humanism to destroy an intellectually bankrupt other.

    That’s right. Communism had nothing to do with Marxism. Marxism was humanism that was distorted by all of these bad men. Maybe the next communist dictator won’t be a totalitarian butcher. Let’s keep trying- eventually communism will bring joy and peace.

    I couldn’t think of a better example of why atheists should never be in a postion of authority in a society. Those who aren’t butchers are imbeciles.

    Your Christianity is an intellectual disaster, calamitous to the max.

    Then keep trying to refute it, publicly, with vigor. Every time you lay your ‘arguments’ out to be examined, we win.

    Atheism can only triumph by subterfuge and by force.

  374. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 1:52 pm

    @2_words

    If you can define where you end and the universe begins I’d like to hear that definition.

    Step in front of a truck, and you’ll find the junction between you and the universe.

  375. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 1:58 pm

    “You’re thinking of God by analogy, because direct knowledge of him- the Beautific Vision- is not given to most of us in this life. ”

    So this is a rigorous argument?

    Still trying to “win” something?

  376. Jeremiahon 08 Jun 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Mike, step in front of a truck and you’ll find no evidence for Jesus.

  377. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 1:58 pm

    @Jeremiah:
    @Mike

    there is no direct or otherwise credible evidence that your Christ ever physically existed. None, zip, nada.

    Jesus’ earthly existence is better attested, by historical methods, than the existence of any other human being in antiquity.

    We have no autograph documents from homer, socrates, plato, aristotle, any roman emperor, any greek/roman playright, any ancient statesman, etc. Most of what we know of ancient men is a few copies of copies of copies written centuries after them.

    The Christian corpus is documents written within a half century of Jesus life, in copies dating from the early 2nd century (the Rylands fragment of John’s gospel).

    The life of no figure in the ancient world is as well documented as that of Jesus.

  378. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 1:59 pm

    “Step in front of a truck, and you’ll find the junction between you and the universe.”

    So you believe “god is dead.” I would not have thought you thought so.

  379. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Also, telling someone “Step in front of a truck, and you’ll find the junction between you and the universe” is expressly not very christlike and rather mean.

    I hope you live a good nice life.

  380. mufion 08 Jun 2011 at 2:12 pm

    The Soviets’ hostility to religion, while derived from one of Marx’s early philosophical writings (viz. his critique of Hegel), was unnecessary to their attempt to implement communism, as outlined in the Communist Manifesto (although the same hostility might have been necessary to its failure). And, indeed, there is a good deal of overlap between the ideals of Marxian communism and those of certain left-wing religious movements that emphasize social & economic justice (e.g. Catholic Workers, Liberation theology, and Christian communism).

    PS: I say this as an advocate for religious freedom, which seeks an appropriate balance between “freedom to” and “freedom from” religion.

    PPS: I also say this as an advocate for a mixed economy, which seeks an appropriate balance between government and markets.

  381. Jeremiahon 08 Jun 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Mike, you are ducking the most telling “truth” that all pillars of the Christian faith depend on the physical existence of Jesus. The teachings of Christ cannot stand by themselves as superior in any way to such as those of Aristotle – and none of whom died to save us from our sins somehow and came back to prove it.
    Further, there are prodigious writings from those who attest to have been in the presence of the other figures of history, and none that have credibly attested to have been in Jesus’ presence.

  382. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 2:46 pm

    @2_words

    Also, telling someone “Step in front of a truck, and you’ll find the junction between you and the universe” is expressly not very christlike and rather mean. I hope you live a good nice life.

    You atheists are such sensitive folks. To assuage your sense of hurt, I must admit that I was an atheist until 7 years ago, and getting atheism (snark) out of my system is taking a while.

    When it’s finally out, I’ll flush.

  383. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 3:01 pm

    You do try so hard to convince yourself. But I not am of “such sensitive folks” to regard me as a group shows how you make category error.

    I am not the other people who ever they are that apparently hurt you. I am me. I am a person. What you said was mean.

    Please, don’t regard me as a conversation in a combox.

  384. Jeremiahon 08 Jun 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Mike, so far you’ve offered nothing in the way of logical argument except the litany of shibboleth and platitude that all idol worshipers must be reduced to using as a persuasive form of discourse.

    Christianity is the most modern form of idol worship and it was precisely on that basis that Hitler justified the retributive killing of the Jews who had supposedly tried, yet ultimately failed, to kill his idol.
    Not a Christian? Yet in his own mind he was destined to be the most effective Christian ever.

  385. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 4:14 pm

    @2_words

    You do try so hard to convince yourself.

    That was so mean of you to say.

    I am not the other people who ever they are that apparently hurt you. I am me. I am a person. What you said was mean.

    I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, if you were being sincere in your comments.

    Please, don’t regard me as a conversation in a combox.

    You’ve been flirting with solipsism, which renders coherent discussion pretty much meaningless. When you admit that you have access to reality outside of your own thoughts, we can talk.

    If you feel that I’ve been rude, would you apologize to yourself?

  386. Mlemaon 08 Jun 2011 at 4:27 pm

    when people fight, sometimes it’s because they believe they’re “right” and they want to prove it, or convince somebody else that they’re right. (whoever wins is right – “might makes right”) but sometimes they fight because they’re not sure what’s right, and they really don’t care who “wins” – they just believe that whoever wins is “right” – and then they’ll know what they SHOULD believe.

    They think the truth will out if both sides just fight hard enough, and then everyone will agree that the winner is correct.

  387. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 4:28 pm

    @Jeremiah

    Mike, so far you’ve offered nothing in the way of logical argument except the litany of shibboleth and platitude that all idol worshipers must be reduced to using as a persuasive form of discourse.

    I’ve offered extensive logical arguments.

    Christianity is the most modern form of idol worship

    “Idol worship” is a Judeo-Christian sin. Get your own sins.

    and it was precisely on that basis that Hitler justified the retributive killing of the Jews who had supposedly tried, yet ultimately failed, to kill his idol.

    The killing of the Jews was, like all scapegoating, a violent pagan catharsis intended to assuage mimetic conflict in German cuture. It’s the oldest story: attribute to outsider(s) all of the evils of a society and destroy the outsider(s) to bring peace, after which the cycle starts again. It is the essence of evil, and it has been going on since the dawn of man. It may well be what makes man man. Christianity was the repudiation of this scapegoating, and the revelation of the truth about man and God.

    You really need to bone up on Girard.

    Not a Christian? Yet in his own mind he was destined to be the most effective Christian ever.

    in his own mind he was the savior of the German race, and the founder of a thousand year Reich. He was neither, and he was not a Christian. He was a brilliant and demonic pagan in an diseased Christian culture who used a variety of tactics to gain power. Feigning the trappings of Christianity, while living the antithesis of Christian life, worked for him (for a while), just as it has worked for countless politicians in Christian nations.

    Nietzsche was the progenitor of Nazism, not Christ.

  388. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 4:36 pm

    @Mlema:

    “when people fight, sometimes it’s because they believe they’re “right” and they want to prove it, or convince somebody else that they’re right. (whoever wins is right – “might makes right”) but sometimes they fight because they’re not sure what’s right, and they really don’t care who “wins” – they just believe that whoever wins is “right” – and then they’ll know what they SHOULD believe…They think the truth will out if both sides just fight hard enough, and then everyone will agree that the winner is correct.”

    There’s a lot of truth in that. I wonder at times if such combativeness is the best way to truth. I don’t know for sure.

    My concern is that atheist shibboleths become conventional wisdom if they are not challenged. Challenge via polite discussion is often not an option with atheists, for whom venom and slander are tools of the trade (ever read the Pharyngula combox?).

    Atheism should be challenged, sharply if necessary. But your points are well taken. Perhaps I’ll see things differently in time; I’ve always admired the monastic life.

  389. Jeremiahon 08 Jun 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Mike, based on where your talent clearly lies, you should write the wise-ass guide to Christianity.

    Idol worship is a “Judeo” sin, which has since become the Christian sin in their eyes, precisely because you worship a god in human form that never was.

    I really need to bone up on Girard? You really need to bone up on Mien Kampf.

    “I’ve offered extensive logical arguments.” Arguments from authoritative idol worshipers such as Aquinas and Girard are not a priori logical.

  390. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 4:47 pm

    When is an idol not an idea? So if you worship the image that is wrong or the statue or whatever. But worship the idea of the idea and then you win?

    “When you admit that you have access to reality outside of your own thoughts, we can talk.”

    What are we doing now? This is happening outside of reality? That is the foolishness, to make a claim you know of anything outside of reality. Just don’t think of it with analogy? What is thought without analogy?

    “Nietzsche was the progenitor of Nazism, not Christ.”

    So Nietzsche being the product of catholic cultural traditions in europe… um don’t mention that what christian culture produces unless it produces christian culture.

    You did not hurt my feelings. I stated it was a mean thing to say, why would that mean that I was hurt? You named soliplisim not me and failed to define where the individual ends and the universe begins. You lashed out and said suicide was an answer to a question.

  391. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 4:57 pm

    @2_words:

    You lashed out and said suicide was an answer to a question.

    I didn’t suggest that you commit suicide.

  392. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 5:06 pm

    “Step in front of a truck, and you’ll find the junction between you and the universe”

    Oh, good cause I thought it was a rigorous compelling logical explanation of what is and isn’t real.

  393. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 5:07 pm

    @2_words:

    So Nietzsche being the product of catholic cultural traditions in europe… um don’t mention that what christian culture produces unless it produces christian culture.

    Sure I do. All sorts of awful things emerge out of Christian culture. Of course, the best things also emerge (science, reason,…), but Christian culture is astonishingly fertile.

    Nietzsche was a product of Christian culture, which he emphatically admitted. He offered very deep insight into Christianity and into the consequences of its cultural demise.

    He hated Christianity, but he understood the meaning of Christianity and of the paganism that will follow it better than any modern.

    If he had been raised in Islamic culture, he would;

    1) Have been too uneducated to gain his insights

    2) They would have beheaded him.

    Christianity breeds it’s own enemies, who owe their very insights to the culture they hate.

  394. mufion 08 Jun 2011 at 5:19 pm

    See Islamic Golden Age.

    If conservative Christians have their way, we too seem likely to decline into another dark age.

  395. 2_wordson 08 Jun 2011 at 5:20 pm

    “Christianity breeds it’s own enemies, who owe their very insights to the culture they hate. ”

    So the christian culture breeds unture? Where is the line? Where do you draw this christian/not christian culture line? Is there a christian event horizon?

    Enjoy having the last word. I am too afraid that you might tell me to “Step in front of a truck, and you’ll find the junction between you and the universe” and we are ever so sensitive.

  396. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 5:21 pm

    @Jeremiah:

    Mike, based on where your talent clearly lies, you should write the wise-ass guide to Christianity.

    We need more wise-ass Christians. Chesterton is the archetype.

    Christianity is deeply subversive. A universal acid, to steal a phrase. It drives its opponents to insanity.

  397. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 5:31 pm

    @mufi:

    See Islamic Golden Age. If conservative Christians have their way, we too seem likely to decline into another dark age.

    Re: “Islamic Golden Age”:

    After the muslim conquests of Christian (and Jewish and pagan) lands in the 7th century, most of the population remained unconverted. The Muslims preferred this: dhimmi (Christians and Jews) could be taxed. Muslims could not be taxed. Pagans were slaughtered.

    Historian/sociologist Rodney Stark has pointed out that for centuries, most of the people living in Islam were not muslims. He estimates that only 10-20% were muslims; the rest were unconverted Christians and Jews. The caliph’s tax-base, so to speak.

    This was the “Islamic” Golden Age, in which classical learning was transmitted by the Christians who had preserved it following the fall of Rome.

    As the percentage of muslims in Islam increased, the ‘Islamic” Golden Age died out. By the 14th century, when nearly all inhabitants of Islam were muslim, Islam went silent.

    Islam is a fever swamp of ignorance, bigotry and violence.

  398. Mike12on 08 Jun 2011 at 5:34 pm

    @mufi:

    If conservative Christians have their way, we too seem likely to decline into another dark age.

    Conservative Christians:

    Albert magnus
    Aquinas
    Bacon
    Copernicus
    Galileo
    Newton
    Lavossier
    Faraday
    Pasteur
    Maxwell

    Dark age?

  399. Jeremiahon 08 Jun 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Mike, Chesterton was a wiser ass than you – fortunately for him, unfortunately for you.

    But I’ll grant that you, as an admitted former opponent of Christianity, have, much like Chesterton, been driven by the voices of the occult realm to a form of insanity.

  400. Niche Geekon 08 Jun 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Mike12,

    You still haven’t addressed my earlier. If most (if not all) of the beneficial cultural attributes you ascribe to Christianity existed in European culture before the advent of Christianity (see Greece, Rome) then how can you claim they are attributes of a Christian culture?

  401. mufion 08 Jun 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Mike: When Europe was experiencing its dark age, Islam was experiencing its golden age – not only in terms of political expansion and dominance (which I don’t like any better than you do – even when Christian soldiers are doing the marching), but also art, science, and philosophy (we partly have them to thank for saving the works of Aristotle).

    I would agree that Islamic culture today is in a sort of dark age (and has been for a long time), but Christian culture appears to be trending that way, as well – far more so outside the US, but here, as well, with over 15% declaring themselves in the “without religion” category in a recent survey (source).

    Personally, I welcome this post-Christian trend – even as I pay homage to my Christian forbears. (I converted to Judaism as a young adult, but the identity didn’t stick – nor, for that matter, did my experiences of Roman Catholicism as a child.) But never mistake respect or momentary nostalgia for a desire to go backwards.

  402. robmon 08 Jun 2011 at 6:32 pm

    mufi

    your totally missing mikes point european (and hence christian) culture is currently dominant and has been for 300 years based on a rise that dates back 600 years. Because thats the case, it was always the case, even before christianity (aristotle made a good christian case don’t you know). like wise because middle eastern / north african (and hence islamic) culture stagnated into the wreck it is today it has always been so regardless of times when it wasn’t.

    you don’t get mikes argument because your thinking in whole cause and effect, evaluate evidence way when you should be thinking that a priori directedness makes mike right regardless of when he’s wrong.

  403. robmon 08 Jun 2011 at 6:45 pm

    mike

    jesus to albert magnus 1160 years (at least). dark age.

  404. mufion 08 Jun 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Thanks for the tip, robm, but I make it a general practice that, when I reject someone else’s frame, I simply go ahead and change it.

    There are limits to reason, after all, and we are not rational (so much as rationalizing) animals, besides.

  405. nybgruson 08 Jun 2011 at 7:13 pm

    woohoo! broken 400 comments.

    Good morning from Australia.

    @mike:

    I’ve offered extensive logical arguments

    Isn’t it funny how literally every single other poster on this blog, including the author himself, all from different walks of life – some theist some atheist some agnostic, some in medicine, some in web design, some in other professions not yet described have all independently agreed that your arguments are total garbage?

    Every one of us has picked apart your arguments, has openly said they are illogical, the product of mental masturbation, and completely baseless. Yet you keep repeating them, over and over. Honestly, I haven’t heard Aristotle and Aquinas mentioned this many times in my life.

    But more to the point – everyone sees your arguments as vacuous and tells you so and says you have no evidence. So your response? “I have offered extensive logical arguments.” You are the only one who thinks so and saying so doesn’t make it true.

    To use a phrase from old pro poker days – if you sit down at the table and you haven’t spotted the fish in 10 minutes, you are the fish.

    Or to put it more clearly – if you think everyone else in the room is crazy and stupid, then you are the one who is crazy and stupid.

    He was neither, and he was not a Christian. He was a brilliant and demonic pagan in an diseased Christian culture who used a variety of tactics to gain power. Feigning the trappings of Christianity, while living the antithesis of Christian life, worked for him (for a while), just as it has worked for countless politicians in Christian nations.

    Yet again absolutely proving my point. He was a Christian. You don’t get to “feign the trappings” and then have someone else post-hoc decide so. He lived a Christian life, he professed a belief in Jesus and that he was a soldier for Jesus. That is all you need to know. You do not get to decide that he wasn’t really a Christian in his heart just to make you feel better.

    If you do, then I can just as equally and validly claim that Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin were “feigning the trappings of atheism, while living the antithesis of an atheist life.” And please, don’t give me some bullshit that I can’t do that if you so vehemently claim you can do the same for Hitler. You cannot have it both ways!. Either Hitler was a Christian or Pol, Mao, and Stalin were not atheists. You claim logical argument, but I can promise you that you will demonstrate your lack of logic when you refute that.

    My concern is that atheist shibboleths become conventional wisdom if they are not challenged.

    shibboleth |ˈ sh ibəliθ; -ˌleθ|
    noun
    a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, esp. a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important

    Sorry mike – no such thing as “atheist shibboleths.” Are there hirsute shibboleths as well? How about male shibboleths?

    Yet again you fail to realize what atheism actually is. I’ll chalk that up to the long list of words you either don’t understand or change the definition of to suit your needs and confirm your a priori beliefs.

    I’ve always admired the monastic life.

    Then please, take your Christian brothers and forsake all of the science you use daily to make my life full of annoyance. The same science that shows no evidence or need for your magical sky fairy. Take it all or take it none.

    Of course, the best things also emerge (science, reason,…), but Christian culture is astonishingly fertile.

    If he had been raised in Islamic culture, he would;
    1) Have been too uneducated to gain his insights
    2) They would have beheaded him.

    Christian troll loves history, unless that history is counter to his beliefs. Of course the Christian church never stifled scientific progress! Never burned people at the stake for heresy. Never had an “inquisition” of any kind. Never led a “crusade” or something like that.

    You need to stop reading Dinesh D’Souza – that shit will rot your brain faster than a season of The Jersey Shore.

    (Oh yeah, I can spot all your lines of “evidence” and your where your arguments come from a mile away – I’ve read all the same sources you have. I just applied critical thought to them and rejected them like any sane person would).

    Christianity is deeply subversive. A universal acid, to steal a phrase. It drives its opponents to insanity.

    Dealing with raving lunatics who eat the body and blood of the zombie savior will do that to you.

    Conservative Christians:
    Albert magnus
 Aquinas 
Bacon 
Copernicus
 Galileo
 Newton
Lavossier
Faraday 
Pasteur 
Maxwell

    Once again with this stupidity. I honestly think it is because religious dogma makes it so you must accept the entirety of something or none of it. It traps your mind into completely binary thinking.

    “Maxwell was a Christian and he made amazing contributions to physics. Ergo all of Christianity must be good”

    Well, Father Seppia orders 14 year old boys from drug dealers therefore all Catholics in the world must be disgusting pedophiles.

    See how binary thinking gets you in trouble?

    No, dear Christian troll, those men made contributions to society either in spite of or alongside of their religion. Not because of.

    You know what happens when religion and science mix? The Creation Museum. The Discovery Institute. The Ark Encounter.

    Logical arguments – ha! I’ve worked with schizophrenics. They think their arguments are logical too. And they hear invisible people talking to them as well. Call the voice “bob” and you’re crazy. Call it “god” and we have to respect you. Bullshit.

  406. mufion 08 Jun 2011 at 7:25 pm

    You need to stop reading Dinesh D’Souza – that shit will rot your brain faster than a season of The Jersey Shore.

    LOL (And I admit that as an actual child of the Jersey shore.)

  407. nybgruson 08 Jun 2011 at 8:23 pm

    oh yeah! forgot to include:

    My concern is that atheist shibboleths become conventional wisdom if they are not challenged.

    MY concern is that Christian (or Muslim, or Jewish, or…) shibboleths will become conventional wisdom if they are not challenged. The scary part is that those are based in appeal to authority, personal incredulity, and circular reasoning without a shred of actual evidence or critical thought. So if there actually was an atheist shibboleth it would most certainly be more appealing than anything you have to offer.

    Of course, I don’t want anything resembling a shibboleth to be the basis for decision or law making of any kind. I’d prefer science, evidence, and critical thinking to be that basis.

  408. nybgruson 09 Jun 2011 at 1:22 am

    wow – so many comments I missed heaps until now. This has degraded into a ridiculous free for all. Of course, I am significantly to blame for that (and I actually mean that sincerely). Oh well.

    hey mikey!

    “My kind”? How many “kinds” of religious people do you hate, besides Christians? Jews? Muslims? Buddhists?

    I thought I was pretty clear. I do not hate religious people I hate religions – all of them. Bar none. Yes, some are worse than others (Islam is worse than Christianity is worse than Buddhism, IMO). But they are all equally intellectually bankrupt and do more harm than good, some just do far more harm than good.

    Name the atheist country (ie marxist) that has transitioned from totalitarian to free peacefully while still under atheist rule

    Oh! Epic fail again. Marxism = philosophical worldview. Atheism =/= philosophical worldview =/= marxism.

    Get your language right if you want to attempt an actual discussion.

    Your Christianity is an intellectual disaster, calamitous to the max.
    Then keep trying to refute it, publicly, with vigor. Every time you lay your ‘arguments’ out to be examined, we win.

    Like Dover v Kitzmiller? Like stem cells? You (and all your Christian brothers and sisters) are like the sad little kid in the corner saying, “I won. Really. I won. Yup. I won.” Say it long enough and you’ll believe it. How else could you believe in your invisible sky daddy? Doesn’t make either of them true.

    Atheism can only triumph by subterfuge and by force.

    Project much?

    Oh and by the way, I read your little blurb about how gays and atheists have the same rights as everyone else to my gay friend and he laughed his head off. Get your head out of your ass before you start making such asinine claims.

  409. nybgruson 09 Jun 2011 at 4:36 pm

    phew! it’s dead. finally.

  410. BillyJoe7on 10 Jun 2011 at 5:43 am

    Well done. :)

  411. Eternally Learningon 10 Jun 2011 at 2:27 pm

    412 comments on one blog article and Mike wonders why Steve doesn’t respond to his every point…

  412. jreon 10 Jun 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Holy cow! Never guessed the whole thing would stretch out to 400+ comments. I lost interest a while back, after about the 42nd time Mike whimpered about how horribly Christians were being persecuted in Tennessee. Low threshold for bogus self-pity, I guess.

  413. Mlemaon 10 Jun 2011 at 5:41 pm

    In my humble opinion, this argument has much more to do with fear, anger, and testosterone than it has to do with philosophy.

  414. nybgruson 10 Jun 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I wasn’t going to post anymore, but I will to freely admit that I definitely played a huge role in the long and drawn out nature of this. I was not particularly interested in trying to make gentle cogent points, as mufi accurately noticed and stated. Everything I said was correct and I still stand by it, but it was certainly tainted and framed in my personal distaste for religion in general and the lying and backhanded tactics of the religious right in America. My apologies to everyone else on this thread for completely hijacking it as such, and my thanks to all of you who actually bothered to weigh in on it as well. I can assure you I won’t be engaging mike (or anyone else) in such a manner again.

  415. Mlemaon 10 Jun 2011 at 6:15 pm

    nygbrus: :-)

  416. Happy Camperon 10 Jun 2011 at 6:54 pm

    nygbrus

    Don’t worry about it. Thought of joining in but you were doing such a fine job that I just sat back and enjoyed the take down. You did a fine job.

    HC

  417. robmon 10 Jun 2011 at 6:58 pm

    nybgrus

    “My apologies to everyone else on this thread for completely hijacking it as such,”

    you don’t have to apologize for anything, mike hijacked this thread because he’s a troll. Insulting atheists was his last resort when “academic freedom” didn’t fly, philosophy didn’t fly, and feathers and flapping didn’t fly.

  418. Mike12on 11 Jun 2011 at 7:00 am

    The morning after talk is almost as interesting as the game itself. Mlema probably has it right again. But there was quite a bit of philosophy discussed. It just wasn’t philosophy that many of the commenters were hoping to hear.

  419. Lancaster Freethoughton 11 Jun 2011 at 10:58 am

    I want to thank Mike12 for giving us such a great primer on creationist tactics. False equivalencies, misrepresentations, insults, god of the gaps, etc, etc, etc. It’s heartening to know that they are just as weak as the first time they were used. If there were any evidence for creationism it would then be scientific and discussions like this would never even take place. Let’s stop trying to shoehorn religion into education and try to reverse the slide down the ranks of the worlds educational systems.

  420. 2_wordson 11 Jun 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Whoever gets the last word wins. Will you let someone else win?

  421. BillyJoe7on 11 Jun 2011 at 7:18 pm

    two words: you win

    :D

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