Oct 08 2013

Kansas Citizens Sue to Reject Science

There’s some good news and some bad news. The good news is that 7 states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), including Kansas. These science standards were developed by The National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve, and are a comprehensive and coordinated k-12 science curriculum.

This is an excellent attempt to provide a consistent high standard across the 50 states. The states each adopt their own science standards, with most not doing a great job. This is one area where it is probably not necessary to reinvent the wheel 50 times – science is generally a consensus-building exercise, and at the k-12 level students should be learning basic science that is all well-established. I think it is a great idea to have a consortium of scientific organizations create standards that states can then adopt, without having to duplicate the work themselves.

It is also heartening that Kansas is one of the first seven states to adopt the standards. Frankly, they can use it.

Now for the bad news – a group of Kansas parents have sued the board of education for adopting these standards. Here is the complaint:

The Plaintiffs, consisting of students, parents and Kansas resident taxpayers, and a representative organization, complain that the adoption by the Defendant State Board of Education on June 11, 2013 of Next Generation Science Standards, dated April 2013 (the Standards; http://www.nextgenscience.org/) and the related Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas, (2012;
(http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165#), incorporated therein by reference (the Framework” with the Framework and Standards referred to herein as the “F&S”) will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview (the “Worldview”) in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment.

This is an old gambit on the part of creationists. On the one hand, creationists collectively have been very creative in coming up with new ways to twist logic and reality, to deny the science of evolution, and, when necessary, science in general. This is why deconstructing creationist arguments is an excellent exercise in critical thinking.

On the other hand, creationists then use their arguments over and over again, no matter how many times they have been demolished (even by legal precedent). Of course, if they abandoned rejected arguments, they would have nothing to say.

The notion that science is a religion because it promotes a non-theistic world view is absurd. Worse, this argument has already been picked clean by philosophers. There is no meat left on these bones.

Science does not require non-theism. It does not even require naturalism. Science merely proceeds as if the world is naturalistic, that there is cause and effect and nothing magical that violates cause and effect. This is called methodological naturalism – science is a set of methods that work within a naturalistic framework of cause and effect.

Science is officially agnostic, however, toward any deeper philosophical conclusions about whether or not anything supernatural actual exists. It simply relegates such questions outside the sphere of science.

This does not mean that philosophers cannot rely on empirical evidence and scientific notions to argue for a naturalistic universe. That is my personal belief – the simplest explanation for why we cannot know about anything supernatural, and why science works within the assumption of naturalism, is because naturalism is actually true. But science does not require that belief.

Science only requires that its methods follow the assumption of naturalism. This is not an arbitrary choice. It is an absolute necessity. The methods of science simply do not work without the “as if” naturalistic assumption.

What I have just outlined is also not philosophically controversial. It is long settled. You can’t have supernaturalism in your science.

None of this, however, has stopped creationists from bringing up the argument, over and over again, that science (or evolution, or whatever science they don’t like) is a non-theistic religion. They will try this gambit any chance they get, and it will always be rejected. Religion is a set of beliefs. Science is a set of methods that does not require any specific belief, only a necessary starting point that you don’t have to actually believe in.

I predict the federal district court where the complaint was filed will quickly see through the nonsense and reject the claim.

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119 responses so far

119 Responses to “Kansas Citizens Sue to Reject Science”

  1. John Piereton 08 Oct 2013 at 9:38 am

    Tim Sandefur has a good post at The Panda’s Thumb about why this is likely to fail in the courts:

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2013/10/a-right-not-to.html

    Another reason that science is not a religion is that its rules are created by and its methods are engaged in by people of many different beliefs, including theists and non-theists and every other theology/philosophy. Not only is that a damper on the misuse of science to address religious questions, but what religion allows non-believers to participate in formulating its tenets?

  2. oldmanjenkinson 08 Oct 2013 at 9:46 am

    The litmus test is the Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District. This case will fail the litmus test. It is sad that states/school districts/the courts have to keep revisiting this “dead horse” issue. What a waste of tax payer dollars. Creationists just do not see that they (creationists) cannot separate their beliefs from their “science.” And they (creationists) also want to push their religion on others with this bollocks. That’s why I donate regularly to the NCSE and Americans United.

  3. Steven Novellaon 08 Oct 2013 at 10:10 am

    It’s my understanding (not a lawyer) that when a point is settled law, with clear precedence, a lawyer can file for immediate judgement on that basis. In other words, a judge can throw out the case on the basis that a legal precedent has already answered this question and it does not need to be tried again.

    Any law experts feel free to correct me. Plus, we’ll see what happens in this case.

  4. ConspicuousCarlon 08 Oct 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Well at least they are back to admitting that creationism is religion and not just an opposing scientific point of view.

  5. steve12on 08 Oct 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I’m also not lawyer, but I think if it’s in state court the precedent has to have been set in that state for immediate judgement.

    I’m sure that I’m missing something….

    I would like to see these people put their $ where their yaps are. Live w/o the fruits of science. No medicine, no cars, no smart phones, no meth etc. If science is a religion – don’t practice it.

  6. Steven Novellaon 08 Oct 2013 at 1:47 pm

    This case is brought to a federal district court, not state, so any federal precedent should be good (like Kitzmiller)

  7. BillyJoe7on 08 Oct 2013 at 5:03 pm

    “Science is officially agnostic, however, toward any deeper philosophical conclusions about whether or not anything supernatural actual exists. It simply relegates such questions outside the sphere of science”

    To be clear, only supernatural claims that have no natural consequences are outside the sphere of science. In other words, the deistic god is outside the sphere of science and that’s about it.

  8. Steven Novellaon 08 Oct 2013 at 5:16 pm

    BillJoe7 – correct, but this requires more explanation also. I would add non-falsifiable claims are also outside the realm of science. You could say, God caused evolution to unfold the way it did. That has naturalistic consequences in a way, but is completely non-falsifiable, therefore outside of science. Or – God made the universe 5 minutes ago to appear as if it were 13.4 billion years old.

    The supernatural aspect of any idea cannot be falsified by science, and simply does not work with scientific methods.

  9. svetbekon 08 Oct 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Years ago I worked as a clerk to a federal trial court judge. Ahh, to be the clerk who pens this opinion! Here’s my proposed draft: “The plaintiffs’ counts 1 through 4 boil down to a claim that the teaching of science in public schools violates their constitutional rights. This Court disagrees. As held repeatedly by the US Supreme Court (see __________, __________, and _________), and the Appellate Courts (see _____, _____, and _____), the teaching of science in public schools is consistent with the US Constitution and its various laws. Case is dismissed.” Freedom From Religion Foundation legal staff should offer assistance to the Kansas Board of Education free of charge. Normally you see creationist government officials defending pseudoscience thereby wasting taxpayer money. Here, the government is doing the right thing yet is forced to squander taxpayer money to fight a frivolous lawsuit.

  10. Nitpickingon 09 Oct 2013 at 7:19 am

    Federal precedents only bind courts “below” the ruling court. Kitzmiller was not appealed, so it only binds the district in which it was issued.

    However, it’s so lucid, well-argued, and well-written a decision that it will influence other courts.

  11. evhantheinfidelon 09 Oct 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I live in Kansas and this bums me out. I must say, though, that I live in a small town, and the science education is actually pretty good, even compared to other states. I think a major contributor is the fact that we have good teachers-none of them water down evolution, and all are willing to either answer questions about how we know something or admit when they don’t know. We also learned about theories, models and hypotheses. We’re still kind of stuck in a Popperian way of inductive reasoning, but that’s a lot better than what I’ve heard about from other places in the state. I wonder if it’s because my town is close to Lawrence, a liberal haven and university town. Ah, well, we shall see about this state…

  12. PharmD28on 09 Oct 2013 at 12:25 pm

    “Science is officially agnostic, however, toward any deeper philosophical conclusions”

    I know this is semantics and what not….but when I read this, I thought about how people *could* read into this…

    So there is science, and then there are pursuits that look “deeper”…..

    Perhaps these other speculations about matters that are unfalsifiable are not “deep”….perhaps they are so flimsy and speculative that they are non-sense….

    Could we think of a way of saying this to not given these sorts of speculations the appearance of such greater importance or depth than science?

    Regarding the case of mention…I would think this will very quickly get shot down….or at least I would hope it will.

    “Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position”

  13. The Other John Mcon 09 Oct 2013 at 12:26 pm

    “Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position”

    ha!

    “Atheism is a religion like not playing football is a sport”

  14. sonicon 09 Oct 2013 at 4:12 pm

    It seems the lawsuit is an attempt to take out the religious, faith based claims from the curriculum.

    The relevant precedent includes-
    “Secular humanism is religious for first amendment purposes because it makes statements based on faith-assumptions.”
    (Smith v. Board of School Comm’ers… S.D. Ala. 1987.)

    This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals.

    I have not seen the Standards, but the complaint makes a fairly compelling case that the Standards do in fact promote faith based answers to what are called ‘religious questions’ in the law.

    From the complaint–
    “The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows:
    “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
    [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons 44 N.Y. REV. OF BOOKS 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) ...] ”

    Now all the comments here seem to agree– science begins with a prior commitment (Dr. N. seems to think this is a requirement). The students should be informed of this. Apparently the standards don’t inform the students of this important fact.

    In other words- the complaint is that these standards are an attempt to teach this religion in the schools.
    I think they have a good point–

    Section VII ‘Prayers For Relief’ lays out the remedies being requested.
    None of them involve not teaching science — rather they involve disclosing the facts regarding certain questions and attempts to remove faith based assertions about origins without labeling them as such and acknowledging other faith based explanations exist.

    Seems like it might make an interesting trial.
    I wonder if it will be heard–

  15. BillyJoe7on 09 Oct 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Steven Novella,

    “You could say, God caused evolution to unfold the way it did…Or – God made the universe 5 minutes ago to appear as if it were 13.4 billion years old”

    Perhaps, instead of “the deistic god”, I should have said “deistic gods” are outside the sphere of science. (;

  16. steve12on 09 Oct 2013 at 4:28 pm

    “This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals.”

    so long as faith and evidence are tantamount, you’re right.

    Science is not a religion because it makes assumptions or has axioms.

    Questioning the assumption of naturalism is like bring up solopcism. It seems really pithy for about 7 seconds until you realize that the discussion is now over. Science is iteratively applying logic and observation. That becomes impossible w/o naturalism because logic becomes impossible w/o naturalism.

  17. BillyJoe7on 09 Oct 2013 at 5:20 pm

    sonic,

    “This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals”

    Firstly, where in the science curriculum is “secular humanism” inserted into the course?

    Secondly, secular humanism does not deny the supernatural. Secular humanism is an approach to ethics based on evidence from the natural world about what works and what doesn’t work to improve the human condition. It ignores the supernatural because it has no evidence base. Moreover, the “morals” contained in religious texts is always dogmatic, often contradictory, and mostly serves to degrade the human condition. Some parts of religious texts are worthy of consideration and hence do find their way into secular humanism.

    Thirdly, the evidence is consistent with life arising via unguided processes, but this in no way shapes secular humanism. There is no evidence for the existence of a “supernatural guide” and hence no reason to admit it into an evidence based system of ethics.

    Also, nice quote from Richard Lewontin.
    A pity that Steven Novella’s post has already deconstructed it.
    How about replying to SN yourself, instead of simply providing an unsubstantiated opinion from someone else.

    But I guess we are back on the merry-go-round.

  18. Hosson 09 Oct 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Sonic
    “It seems the lawsuit is an attempt to take out the religious, faith based claims from the curriculum.”

    There are no religious, faith based claims in the curriculum. But if one or a few managed to get through, then an appropriate action should be taken to remove or edit the content.

    “In other words- the complaint is that these standards are an attempt to teach this religion in the schools.
    I think they have a good point–”

    “Section VII ‘Prayers For Relief’ lays out the remedies being requested.
    None of them involve not teaching science — rather they involve disclosing the facts regarding certain questions and attempts to remove faith based assertions about origins without labeling them as such and acknowledging other faith based explanations exist.”

    ‘c. In the alternative to the relief requested under the preceding paragraph b. an injunction prohibiting the implementation of those provisions of the F&S that seek to teach about the origin, nature and development of the cosmos and of life on earth’ – Section VII Prayers For Relief c

    This complaint is an attempt at using the legal system and semantic tricks to force the education system to undermine/stop teaching about the origin, nature and development of the cosmos and of life on earth.

    ‘(g) That an evidence-based teleological alternative competes with the materialistic explanations provided by the Orthodoxy, which is an inference to an intelligent rather than a material cause for a pattern that exhibits (i) purpose or function, (ii) a sequence or arrangement of elements that is not due to physical or chemical necessity, and (iii) where the elements of the pattern necessary to its function are too numerous or complex to be plausibly explained by chance or stochastic processes.’ – Section VII Prayers For Relief c (2) (g)

    See, they also want to teach creationism violating constitutional protections for students.

    What this complaint is attempting to do is disgusting and extremely intellectually dishonest.

  19. locutusbrgon 09 Oct 2013 at 10:51 pm

    You cannot vote on the nature of reality.

  20. Davdoodleson 11 Oct 2013 at 2:37 am

    If they really believe that science is a “religion”, then presumably its trappings are all pagan idols, and must be similarly eschewed.

    Cars, houses, metals, textiles, buildings, farmed animals and plants, computers, medicine, numbers, toothbrushes, hygiene, clean drinking water, fire, and any activity involving sanitation.

    But there’s no hypocrite like a religious hypocrite.
    .

  21. sonicon 11 Oct 2013 at 10:55 am

    steve12-
    To the extent a conclusion depends on an assumption that must not be questioned and can not be proved– that conclusion can be said to be ‘faith based’- correct?

    BillyJoe7-
    ‘secular humanism’ doesn’t have to show up in the curriculum.
    The point is that the courts have ruled that “X is religious for first amendment purposes because it makes statements based on faith-assumptions.”
    So if the book contains statements that are based on faith assumptions– those statements can be seen as religious in nature.
    I don’t know what’s in the books.

    Hoss-
    I haven’t seen the curriculum so I can’t say if there are faith based statements in it or not.
    I agree- if there are, then it would be appropriate to take them out.
    I think the section you quote about the other remedies (basically teaching creationism or whatever) indicates the removal of the faith based material (if there is any) would be the way to go.

    Davdoodles-
    I don’t think anyone has claimed science is a religion.
    They are claiming the book(s) in question contain statements that are religious in that they are based on faith assumptions.
    I think the judge would have to determine which, if any, statements are religious according to the law, and then determine the remedy for the situation.

  22. steve12on 11 Oct 2013 at 11:06 am

    “To the extent a conclusion depends on an assumption that must not be questioned and can not be proved– that conclusion can be said to be ‘faith based’- correct?”

    This means every human endeavor, including mathematics, is faith based, and therefor a religion, because sooner or later everything rests on some axiom! It’s a sufficiently promiscuous definition of religion to render the term completely meaningless.

  23. steve12on 11 Oct 2013 at 11:07 am

    “I haven’t seen the curriculum so I can’t say if there are faith based statements in it or not.”

    What? There ARE faith based statements by your own framing of the issue.

    YOu should stop being semantically coy and engage in a good-faith discussion.

  24. Hosson 11 Oct 2013 at 11:39 am

    “8. The orthodoxy, called methodological naturalism or scientific materialism, holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that, supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid (the “Orthodoxy”).
    9. The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine…” – II. BACKGROUND

    The lawsuit is claiming the basic framework of science is a faith-based doctrine(religious). The lawsuit then goes on to make the argument that any part of science that conflicts with the plaintiffs religion shouldn’t be taught because – hey, science is based on religious assumption and shouldn’t be used to indoctrinate our children….so remove evolution or equate our religious position to that of science.

    “27. Plaintiffs Carl and Mary Angela Reimer, are residents of Meade, Kansas, are
    parents of BR, age 5, HR, age 8, BR, age 9 and NR, age 11, who are enrolled in Kansas public 9
    schools, and are Christian parents who seek to instill in their children a belief that life is a creation made for a purpose, that does not end on death and is not simply a purposeless occurrence that is the product of an unguided evolutionary process.
    28. Plaintiffs BR, HR, BR and NR seek to enforce their rights to not be indoctrinated by Kansas public schools to accept the materialistic/atheistic religious Worldview which the F&S seek to establish, which rights are being asserted herein on their behalf by their father and mother and next friend, Carl and Mary Angela Reimer.” – III. THE PARTIES (All the plaintiffs have similar complaints)

  25. sonicon 11 Oct 2013 at 3:17 pm

    steve12-
    The courts have made many rulings where religion is involved.
    And yes, it does seem that this includes many things not ordinarily thought of as religion as religion. That’s one of the interesting aspects of the complaint- as far as I can tell.

    I haven’t seen the materials- so I’m not sure what the exact materials this is being applied to. I am just looking at the complaint and noticing how it’s been framed for the courts.
    They are complaining about ‘faith based statements’ not ‘science’, although there does seem to be an overlap as far as the courts previous rulings are concerned.

    Hoss-
    Exactly– except I don’t think they want to equate their religion to science.
    Perhaps ‘contrast’– but that’s nit pick.

  26. steve12on 11 Oct 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Sonic

    You said:
    “This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals.”

    Yes or no: by your definition of religion, isn’t every single aspect of human endeavor a religion?

  27. sonicon 11 Oct 2013 at 4:35 pm

    steve12-
    I was quoting a court ruling about secular humanism.

    There are numerous rulings– I don’t know what they add up to– but this case seems to be testing certain aspects of the previous rulings.
    I don’t know what would happen if the case was actually heard.

    To answer your question– yes and no.

    To clarify- I think religion serves a purpose in a person’s life. Anything that serves that purpose can be seen as that person’s religion. (I believe this is similar to what some of the courts have ruled.)

    But nothing has to be religion. There is nothing inherently religious about the bible, for example, it could be read as a story book if one wanted to.
    Is the story of Christ religious? How about the recounting of an NDE? These things could be seen as religious or not– depends on the person.

    On the other hand– I went to school at Berkeley.
    I can take you to where mathematics is a religion.

    Clear as mud?

  28. BillyJoe7on 11 Oct 2013 at 4:47 pm

    sonic,

    It seems everyone is confused by what you’re trying to say.
    I think you need to be more explicit.
    It might help to answer the following questions:

    Is science faith based?
    Is evolution faith based?
    If so, what exactly is it about science and evolution that is based in faith?

    Because most of us do not see science or evolution as faith based.
    Certainly not in the way that the world’s religions are faith based.
    Science has its underlying assumptions, but the very success of science is evidence that those assumptions are correct. Throughout the whole 400 year history of science its assumptions could have been proven wrong, but it hasn’t happened.
    On the other hand, religion can never be disproven in the eyes of its adherents. Adam and Eve could not have coexisted, yet that has made not a jot of difference to the faith of Christians all over the world.
    That’s a big difference between what you might call the “faith” basis of science and the faith basis of the world’s religions.

    As I say, we don’t call it “faith”, we all it an assumption that has been supported by 400 years of accumulated evidence and that would have been dropped by just one piece of disconfirming evidence. By contrast, the supernatural assumption has experienced 400 years of disconfirming evidence, but it remains the unshakeable basis of most of the world’s religions.

  29. steve12on 11 Oct 2013 at 5:08 pm

    This was a quote from the complaint?

    “This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals.”

    Moreover, you seemed to be equating the assumptions of religions like Christianity with the assumption of naturalism. Do you think this is the case?

  30. Davdoodleson 12 Oct 2013 at 7:19 am

    “Faith” is a fairly obvious weasel word.

    Religious folk claim to have “faith” that their favored supernatural entity conjured up the world. And, that is their final conclusion on the matter, case closed. In this sense “faith” means an inviolate, fixed, final belief, firmly held despite an absence of evidence, or indeed despite the presence of compelling counter-evidence.

    If (and I mean if) science rests on “faith”, first it is not faith that a supernatural force is/was at work. There is no special pleading involved.

    Second, science asserts only an interlocutory conclusion that some natural explanation accounts for the existence of the universe and the things in it. Religious faith is “final”.

    Third, the scientific position is held because all the available, verifiable, observable evidence points unerringly in that direction. Not because a bunch of old men, clutching an old book incanted, without evidence, that mountains of available evidence are all wrong.

    It is simply not correct to claim that these “faiths” are analogs, simply because the word “faith” is flexible enough to mean “a belief in a state of affairs”.
    .

  31. ccbowerson 12 Oct 2013 at 9:29 am

    “It is simply not correct to claim that these ‘faiths’ are analogs, simply because the word “faith” is flexible enough to mean ‘a belief in a state of affairs.’”

    It’s a very obvious use of equivocation, i.e. using 2 different meanings of the word in order to create a false equivalence. Well, maybe it’s not so obvious to everyone, since this seems to be a fairly common argument used. Equivocation is an informal logical fallacy that seems convincing when the conclusion is desirable to the person, but seems obviously flawed to those who disagree with that conclusion.

    Here is an even more obvious use of equivocation: A sign says “Fine for parking here.” Because the sign said it was fine, he parked there.

  32. sonicon 12 Oct 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t dislike religion.
    I have no hatred of god.
    The words ‘religion’ and ‘religious’ are not derogatory in anyway when I use them.
    Perhaps this is a source of misunderstanding.

    I would say that ‘a gift from god’ is as good as it gets, for example.

    Perhaps some of this is an accident of my upbringing–

    When I was a teenager I had friends who went to church and friends who didn’t (I didn’t).

    The one’s who went to church– we would play baseball and basketball and talk about what we were studying at school and how pretty some girl was– stuff like that.

    The friends who didn’t go to church were different. They liked to maim other people. They would invite me to a ‘queer bashing’ where they would get some guy on the ground and beat him to death. They would show me how to use various tools to injure or kill. They would tell me how to rob and how to get money from people who didn’t want to give it to me.
    If I mentioned a girl I thought was pretty– they would offer to hold her down while I raped her.

    The church goers would talk to me about the joy of helping others and seeing a smile come to someone’s face.

    The non-church goers would talk to me about the joy of watching someone they had beaten bleed to death in an alleyway as they pleaded and begged for mercy.

    I didn’t go to church and I didn’t go to the ‘queer bashing’ either.
    Somehow I managed to get along with everyone just fine.

    Perhaps this helps explain why if it turns out that I think something is religious, or the a subject can be thought of as a religion– I don’t mean anything bad by it.

    OK?

    steve12-
    The part about secular humanism being a religion is a quote from the supreme court ruling Torcaso v. Watkins I believe. I think I got that from the complaint.
    Perhaps I know it from somewhere else and was reminded of it. I am filled with random bits of information. :-)

    I’m not sure it applies- perhaps other courts have ruled differently– perhaps it is wrong. Perhaps that is part of what the new ruling will get into- I’m not a legal analyst. I’m pretty sure there is a lot of legal wrangling over this issue over time– I believe the courts have viewed the definition of religion rather broadly.

    I wouldn’t equate the assumptions of any two religions with each other or with naturalism (unless the assumptions were the same).

    BillyJoe7-
    I would like to discuss aspects of the questions you asked, but I’m afraid my statements will be extremely offensive.
    I have tried to explain a bit about why I don’t think the word ‘religion’ is derogatory and why it is that I might actually be saying something quite nice about someone when I say he is religious.

    If you can agree that it is possible to use these words in the manner I mean them– I would really like to get further into this.

    So is it OK if I use the word ‘religion’ to mean something that might be good?

  33. ccbowerson 12 Oct 2013 at 4:27 pm

    “They would invite me to a ‘queer bashing’ where they would get some guy on the ground and beat him to death.”

    So in your experience it was the nonreligious people who had a problem with homosexuality? You have done a good job demonstrating that extrapolating from one’s personal experiences with regards to subgroups of people is a dangerous thing. For the same reasons that anectdotes are often meaningless, using your personal experiences with small groups of people to help determine your worldview can lead to serious problems. In your example it was religious versus non religious people, and I hope you haven’t done the same type of extrapolation for people of various skin colors.

  34. Davdoodleson 13 Oct 2013 at 6:19 am

    “Somehow I managed to get along with everyone just fine.”

    Interesting. I’m sure your rapist, serial thrill-killer friends were perfectly nice fellows.
    .

  35. BillyJoe7on 13 Oct 2013 at 7:45 am

    sonic,

    “I would like to discuss aspects of the questions you asked, but I’m afraid my statements will be extremely offensive”

    I have a feeling they’re going to be more wrong than offensive. (;

    “I have tried to explain a bit about why I don’t think the word ‘religion’ is derogatory and why it is that I might actually be saying something quite nice about someone when I say he is religious”

    Oh, you mean like my father’s political friend’s devoutly religious son?
    He was a GP and now a priest and an extremely pleasant fellow. He looked at you when you spoke and listened to what you said, spoke gently and with genuine interest and tried his best to solve your problems (this is second hand. I’ve never had any medical problems myself).
    Except when you mentioned the Labor Party, abortion, or gays…though he did offer support to a priest convicted of molesting young boys in his parish.

    “If you can agree that it is possible to use these words in the manner I mean them– I would really like to get further into this”

    Yes, I’ll put the Labor Party, abortion, gays, and those unfortunate young boys aside for a moment and use my father’s political friend’s devoutly religious son as an example

    “So is it OK if I use the word ‘religion’ to mean something that might be good?”

    Go right ahead.
    Seriously, go ahead…

  36. sonicon 13 Oct 2013 at 10:56 pm

    ccbowers-
    No, in my experience many people have a problem with homosexuality- believers as well as non-believers- men, women, tall, short, white, black… and everything in between- all kinds of people have problems with homosexuals.

    It seems you may have put some information into what I said that wasn’t there.

    I lived in San Francisco for a while– one of my business partner’s was homosexual. Many of our clients where homosexual. Lots of people give homosexuals grief. I’ve seen it.

    Funny story– One of the employees invites me to hear her sing at some club. First time I go– It was kind of hard to find the place– turns out it was in a basement. Once inside I was surprised– there were a lot of people there waiting to here her sing. I didn’t know she had such a following. As I’m looking around I notice I’m the only guy there. And now some of the women are pointing at me– here come a couple bull dykes– they are asking me if I’m lost– they are telling me this isn’t my kind of place …perhaps I need to be escorted out… suddenly my friend comes on stage and she says–
    “He’s with me.”
    All of a sudden I’m in-
    “You know her? Oh. Who are you?” Best buddies– it’s OK I’m male all of a sudden. Whew!

    I don’t want to let my personal experiences color my judgement too much– but from what I’ve seen there is no shortage of beautiful homosexual women. And being the friend of the star of the show isn’t a bad thing, either.

    The singer- she isn’t a homosexual anymore.
    Now he’s a transgender.

    Wait—
    I am trying to explain how it is that I might use the words ‘religious’ and ‘religion’ in a manner that isn’t derogatory and you want to talk about homosexuality?

    Well, I guess I don’t mean anything derogatory when I use that word either.

    You want to talk skin color?
    My skin has quite a few colors. How about yours?

  37. sonicon 14 Oct 2013 at 9:44 am

    BillyJoe7-
    You ask– is science a religion?

    Here is a quote–
    “We take the side of the church in spite of the patent absurdity of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the religious community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to God.”

    That’s a religious commitment- isn’t it?

    Now see if you can find that in the quote from Lewontin.
    Hint- I just changed a three words– church for science, religious for scientific and God for materialism.

    I would say Lewontin’s attitude about the correctness of his premise is what is generally refered to as a ‘religious commitment’. Wouldn’t you?

    When he uses the word ‘we’– he might be using the ‘royal we’, or he might be referring to the people he has worked with over his career.
    Have you ever looked at what he’s worked on and who he’s worked with?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lewontin

    I don’t think what he said is true of all scientists, or that it is a requirement to be a scientist.
    I don’t think being a christian is a requirement for being a biblical scholar either.

    But he’s the kind of guy who is going to stick with it, no matter how bleak the current situation looks, he’s going to continue to look to solve the problems in a particular manner. Is there something wrong with that?
    I’m glad people have commitments like that to some things– I’m also glad that not everyone has that commitment to the same things.

    I believe it is the pool of variation that allows for the evolution to occur, correct?

    There is a certain emotional attachment that a person seems to get with the thing he feels solves his problems. In particular there seems to be a certain love for the thing that will ultimately answer everything.

    I’m not sure there is a difference in the love one feels for Christianity and the love one feels for Science. It’s the same love– right?

    I think it is easy to see how science isn’t a religion as well (it’s a sliding scale)–

    Science at the base is experiment and results of experiments. This is not religion.

    From that data, various logical operations are used to analyze and interpret that data. As one uses more and more logic- and leaves the evidence behind– the conclusions one comes to depend more and more on the premises of the logic being used.
    This is not a controversial concept, I don’t think.

    At some point the inferential trail can get long enough that what one concludes depends more on the premise than the data.
    Just look at the various interpretations of quantum mechanics. Which one you find appealing depends utterly on what basic premise you bring to the party. They all work according to the math and the experiments–

    So to me, science becomes more and more like a religion the further one gets from the actual experimental data.

    You say you prefer naturalism because it gets results.
    That’s an excellent reason to like it.

    But someone might ask–