Gary Hurd posted Entry 639 on December 3, 2004 07:22 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/637

The recent posting about the advisability of directly debating creationists by my colleague Matt Young has produced a very large number of secondary comments.  He concluded that it is wiser to follow the example of Deborah Lipstadt in her refusal to share the public stage with Holocaust deniers.  He then mildly criticized Michael Ruse for his frequent collaborations with evolution deniers.

The timeliness of this comparison of evolution deniers and Holocaust deniers was made even more clear in a small item from the Reuters News Service  carried the 3 Dec. ‘04 morning edition of the Los Angles Times.  The headline was “Auschwitz Unknown to Many Britons, Poll Says” and reported the results of a national poll that found that 45% of Britons had not heard of Auschwitz.  Creationists’ goal to eliminate scientific and academic freedom is immediate and real.  The stakes should be clear from the beginning.  We are never more than a single generation away from total savagery.

When I read Prof. Young’s piece, I was immediately taken with the social and intellectual parallels between Holocaust deniers and evolution deniers.  I recalled reading “Lying About Hitler” by Richard J. Evans (2001) which relates the court battle that followed when Holocaust denier and pseudohistorian David Irving sued Deborah Lipstadt over her accurate portrayal of Irving in her book “Denying the Holocaust” (1994, Plume Books).  Both Lipstadt and Evans give details of how the Holocaust deniers operate that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has invested much time studying evolution deniers such as the Intelligent Design Creationists (IDC) of the Discovery Institute, or Young Earth Creationists (YEC) such as Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind, or the Institute for Creation Research (which was recently characterized in the San Francisco Chronicle as “the world leader in creation science”).  Lipstadt has written that Holocaust deniers, “… misstate, misquote, falsify statistics, and falsely attribute conclusions to reliable sources.  They rely on books that directly contradict their arguments, quoting in a manner that completly distorts the authors’ objectives.”  It would be hard to write a more apt description of creationist “scholarship” as attested in the Talk.Origins Archive article “Quotations and Misquotations” by Mike Hopkins, or in “The Quote Mine Project” edited by John Pieret. 

But there are more points of close comparison.  The most significant organization of Holocaust deniers in the United States was (and as far as I know- still is) the Institute for Historical Review which operated not far to the west from my hometown.  At their founding convention there was passed a resolution that asserted that historical accounts of Nazi gas chambers were based on facts “demonstrably false”, the Holocaust was merely a “theory” created by a “political Zionist” conspiracy, and demanding that Congress intervene and investigate the “alleged extermination of 6 million Jews…” (Evans 2001:140). 

One need only examine the various “Statements of Faith” demanded of the several creationist organizations to find parallels.  For the first example, what to do with inconvenient facts?  Deny them as we are instructed by the Answers in Genesis Ministry from their “Articles of Faith, D.6”

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”

Compare this with language taken from the Institute for Historical Review resolution which stated that,

” .. the facts surrounding the allegations that gas chambers existed in occupied Europe during World War II are demonstrably false.” (Evans 2001:140)

Next, the recent attempt to replace or reduce the teaching of biology in Georgia and elsewhere hinges on the differences in the popular and technical meanings of the word “theory.”  In perfect parallel with the evolution deniers, Nazi extermination camps are merely theories to the neoNazi deniers - just as evolution is “merely a theory” to the antiscience promotors of creationism.  From the Institute for Historical Review resolution,

“… the whole theory of ‘the Holocaust’ has been created by and promulgated by political Zionism …

  And any reader of Ken Ham, Phillip Johnson, or Jonathan Wells, to name a few prominent evolution deniers, will “learn” that scientists are in an active conspiracy to delude the public and each other in the unholy support of “Darwinism.” 

And on the congressional front, the Discovery Institute’s greatest success to date has to be the so-called Santorum Amendment, “Santorum Language on Evolution Revised Amendment, Congressional Statements By: Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman Thomas Petri /107th Congress” that the DI has (falsely) promoted as the federal mandate to teach their version of creationism in public schools.  On the political and legal fronts the creationists are well ahead of the Holocaust deniers.  The reader wishing to become better informed of the Discovery Institute’s political program should consult Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design by Barbara Carroll Forrest, Paul R. Gross 2004, Oxford University Press.

And what should we make of all these “Institutes,” and “Centers for Study,” et cetera?  Evans notes that,

“The Institute for Historical Review purported from the outset to be a respectable academic body.  In 1980, it began publishing a quarterly magazine, The Journal of Historical Review.  Leafing through its pages in the Wiener Library, I noticed its classic academic format: plain covers, no color pictures, and lengthy articles with an elaborate apparatus of footnotes and bibliographies.”  and, “Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s the Institute organized regular conferences and actively propagated its academic image, …”(2001:140-142)

  This is the perfect model of the Intelligent Design Creationist focal point, the Discovery Institute, even down to their founding financial backing by ultra-far-right millionaires. 

And last, the sort of language used by creationists to describe their endeavor and colleagues is nearly identical to the puffery common to Holocaust deniers. For example, David Irving is quoted as praising the members of The Institute for Historical Review as “staunch and unflinching soldiers in what our brave comrade Robert Faurisson has called ‘this great adventure’.” (Evans 2001:142-143).  Here we see the notion of the select few with “TRUTH” oppressed by the evil establishment.  Compare this with William Dembski’s account of how he views his fight against the agents of “Darwinian materialism,” 

“We now face a Darwinian thought police that, save for employing physical violence, is as insidious as any secret police at ensuring conformity and rooting out dissent. To question Darwinism is dangerous for all professional scholars but especially biologists. As Michael Behe pointed out in an interview with the Harvard Political Review (www.hpronline.org/news/251835.html ), “There’s good reason to be afraid. Even if you’re not fired from your job, you will easily be passed over for promotions. I would strongly advise graduate students who are skeptical of Darwinian theory not to make their views known.” (Dembski, THE MYTHS OF DARWINISM

I find that my years as a medical researcher and professor in psychiatry come forward at this point.  Paranoid patients are notoriously difficult to treat, in fact many of my clinical colleagues considered it impossible.  The professional creationists’ denial of data from every science and ability to distort what facts they are forced to admit far outshine any paranoiac I have encountered.  It is futile looking to professional creationists for either the intellectual honesty or mental health necessary to change their opinion. 

Where might Michael Ruse fit into this scheme?  We are told by Evans in his first chapter of how Holocaust denier David Irving built a considerable reputation as a historian both by being prolific, and by the generous tolerance of academic reviewers who lacked personal research experience in the relevant field.  Thus, Sir Martin Gilbert, the distinguished expert on Jewish history, could say of Irving’s “Hitler’s War” (1977), “… a scholarly book based on decades of wide researches,” which I satirically translate as “There are lots of footnotes that I didn’t look up and some were to my books too!”  And more telling, Gordon Craig would write of Irving in a New York Review of Books  review of Irving’s “Goebbels,”

“It is always difficult for the non-historian to remember that there is nothing absolute about historical truth.  What we consider as such is only an estimation, based on what the best available evidence tells us.  It must constantly be tested against new information and new interpretations that appear, however implausible they may be, or it will lose its vitality and degenerate into dogma or shibboleth. Such people as David Irving, then, have an indispensable part in the historical enterprise, and we dare not disregard their views.” (Emphasis added, all quotes from Evans 2001:9)

  Ruse clearly shares the same academic bubble with Craig- a pretend world without consequences.  But Ruse goes well beyond Craig by actively seeking, creating, and promoting venues where creationists publicize their denial of science and reality. 

But even worse to my mind than the fact that Ruse is simply impotent in modifying the arguments of creationists, such as his “good friend” Johnson, is that he seems to be oblivious that his collaborations are not only futile but enhance the position of his stated opponents.  William Dembski, one of the self acknowledged geniuses of intelligent design creationism, clearly understood Johnson better than Ruse when he wrote,

“All sides now realize that Johnson was, from the start, deadly earnest, not content merely to tweak Darwin’s nose but intent, rather, on knocking him down for the ten-count. Johnson is, after all, a lawyer, and lawyers think contests are not simply to be enjoyed but also to be won.”  And Dembski goes on to explain in the clearest language why collaborators such as Ruse are so helpful, “In line with our there-might-be-something-to-it-after-all policy, it’s usually enough to indicate that there’s more to the story than the other side lets on. John Angus Campbell puts it this way:  A draw is a win! The other side wants to obliterate intelligent design. Yet to persuade the undecided middle, we just have to show that intelligent design has something going for it.”  (William A. Dembski 2004 “DEALING WITH THE BACKLASH AGAINST INTELLIGENT DESIGN” version 1.1, April 14, )

It seems by being willfully ignorant of the political nature of this conflict, Ruse has earned the accolades he receives from the creationist press, such as “Ruse Gives Away the Store”

Ham, Ken
2001 The Lie: Evolution. Green Forest: Master Books

Johnson, Phillip E.
1993 Darwin on Trial, 2nd Edition.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

Wells, Jonathan
2000 Icons of Evolution.  Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc.

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Comment #11218

Posted by william burns on December 4, 2004 9:40 PM (e)

As a humanist working in the early modern period, I have often been struck by the parallels between evolution deniers, holocaust deniers, and Shakespeare deniers. The movement espousing the theory that Shakespeare’s plays were really written by the earl of Oxford has the same traits of paranoia, assertions of an academic conspiracy, overemphasis on debates, and heavy overrepresentation of lawyers as opposed to qualified scholars. Fortunately, they’re not trying to take over the educational system!

Comment #11222

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on December 5, 2004 12:49 AM (e)

I think that Ruse’s position is that creationism/intelligent design have got so many flaws that they will wither in the light of academic debate with well-informed philosophers/scientists. Which is an eminently reasonable position. And ID certainly does not fare well in the Cambridge volume “Debating Design.”

MHO is that there are two basic audiences that are potentially influenced by something like a Cambridge University Press volume. First, there is the very large portion of the public that isn’t paying close attention. The Discovery Institute folks may well get some tiny bit of “bump” out of being able to name-drop “Hey, we wrote essays for this Cambridge University Press” volume. Basically, the opinion of these folks isn’t going to change over the short-term unless something truly drastic happens (on the level of the Civil Rights movement).

But there is a second audience, people who are paying fairly close attention. This group is much smaller, but I think much more fluid and critical-thinking. It is basically people who are interested in the controversy for some reason – e.g., a school board battle, a court case, a journalist covering one of the former, or someone with academic interest in science/religion. These groups will, I think, by-and-large see right through the DI ploy claiming that an anthology of opposing views represents academic acceptance of ID. And furthermore if they read the book they will learn the problems with ID (since there are some very capable scientific and philosophical critiques of ID in Debating Design, such as “The Flagellum Unspun” by Ken Miller; this is much less true of the “Rhetoric and Public Affairs” anthology Darwin, Design, and Public Education edited completely by DI folks). I think that it’s at least arguable that the cumulative negative impact on ID within this secondary group (which then goes and writes its own essays, articles, school board decisions, etc., which the public at large will read) outweighs the superficial PR tricks the DI plays at. It’s not accidental that ID has repeatedly lost popular support when the issue is pushed e.g. on a school board, such as in Darby, MT or Roseville, CA. Once the media, the science teachers, the local religious and scientific community, etc. take a good close look at ID, they figure out what’s up pretty quick. To borrow a sports analogy, the fundamentals are much more important in the long run than the superficial stuff.

To sum up, on this question I don’t think we should Ruse to conclusions.
;-)

Comment #11223

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on December 5, 2004 12:55 AM (e)

And, I’d like to express my gratitude to Reed or whoever installed the much-needed spamblocker for PT. It did mean that I had to change the word “t e e n s y” to “tiny,” because apparently PT now doesn’t like the word “t e e n s”, but this is a t e e n s y price to pay for destroying the dastardly demons of spam.

Comment #11224

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 5, 2004 2:23 AM (e)

Nick

Your point is well-taken (and well presented). Unfortunately, my optimism about how the minds of most Americans work was destroyed sometime between January and November of 2000 and nothing since then has happened to restore it.

I don’t know what will happen in the “long run” but I do know that there are a bunch of things that I would rather not live to see.

Comment #11226

Posted by Pericles on December 5, 2004 5:32 AM (e)

I am surprised the the number of British subjects knowing about Auschwitz is as high as 45%. The teaching of History in the UK is very poor. For the past 30 years we have subjected children to touchy-feely new age methods with the result the employers have to run remedial classes for significant numbers of employees. Even fewer people in th UK will be aware of the millions and millions of Soviet citizens who were done to death in the name of Marxist theories of equality. Probably twice as many as the victims of Nazi policies.

The killing of millions of Chinese by their own Government in the name of Communism is conveniently ignored by apologists. Pol Pot ordered the killing of 33% of the population of Cambodia. Remind me!! Wasn’t he a Communist?

July 2004: Rwanda holds ceremonies to honour the 800,000 people butchered in 1994, amid criticism of the West’s stance. The number of British who even know where to find Rwanda on an atlas? You tell me—5% perhaps?

Pericles

Comment #11227

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 5, 2004 5:42 AM (e)

Living in a community of Christian evolution deniers, and having been good friends with Muslims as well, I feel that the influence of anti-evolutionism runs deeper than other historical conspiracy theories, at least in Christian and Muslim circiles. I know many thoughtful, perfectly sane, and well-meaning Christians who got caught because it has been touted to them that evolution is wrong from childhood, from the people they most respected, their pastors, parents, and in some private schools, their teachers. (And now apparently, in public schools as well!)

There is a difference when a child grows up with anti-evolution, as opposed to a mentally disturbed person (or group of persons) deciding to take up a historical event and distort it for whatever reason.

Christians tend to band together and trust each other. They believe in following a leader. So they won’t investigate that closely what DI says, on principle.

As for the leading people for ID, they are the paranoid, twisted people who take advantage of good folks who trust them. (Yes Pericles and Greg, I am determined to stick with a positive view of Christians. Or would you rather scare them all away from this informative site?)

In my view, the best way to deal with them is to expose their lack of integrity on a popular TV news show, which their followers will be likely to watch. TV is the way to reach them, and once they start having doubts about Dembski, Johnson, Wells, etc., the ball will be rolling and they’ll be willing to listen a little closer, i.e., read a book.

The PBS series did OK, but I think they were too kind, politically. A popular investigative journalist would be better.

Comment #11228

Posted by PZ Myers on December 5, 2004 8:40 AM (e)

I think Nick’s point is a fair one to Ruse: Intelligent Design is making no headway at all among people who know biology, and Ruse is ably playing to the informed scientific audience. However, this is something else that is making the creationists happy: it is widening the divide between the scientific ‘elite’ and the average guy on the street. There’s nothing like being able to point to those smug eggheads in their ivory tower and tell the lay people, “They’re laughing at you, Joe. They think they’re better than you.”

What we really need is more outreach and education. Knowledge is the enemy of ignorance, after all. We need a new Sagan or Bronowski, someone who enlightens Joe by telling him about the great stuff in science.

Comment #11232

Posted by FL on December 5, 2004 10:41 AM (e)

Some of you actually sound like you’re serious about trying to establish a parallel between macro/prebiotic evolution critics and Holocaust deniers.

No wonder some of you are scared to do public debates.
You ~need~ to be scared, imo, if you’re going to insist on bizarro comparisons like this.

But hey, please don’t take my word for it. The next one of you gets signed up to a PBS, NPR, or University matchup with Dembski, Behe, Meyer, or one of the other top names, just introduce this new line of argument during the debate. Maybe read a few paragraphs of GH’s post out loud just to see what happens next. Then report back on the (doubtless interesting) results….

FL

Comment #11237

Posted by Matt Young on December 5, 2004 11:59 AM (e)

My original essay merely pointed out the danger of debating or collaborating with evolution deniers. I did not mean to draw an explicit parallel between evolution and Holocaust deniers. But I daresay that Dr. GH is correct and that they are like peas in a pod - cranks who deny known fact for one irrational reason or another.

I am leery, however, of calling those who disagree with me nuts. Here I side with Ms. Aram. While I have no religious belief, I am active in a religious organization and have mild sympathy for people who hypothesize a God because they cannot accept that they are here reasonlessly. Their religious belief is nonrational, but that does not necessarily mean irrational.

Knowledgeable people who deny known scientific or historical fact to support their religious or other beliefs are another matter. The key word is knowledgeable. The people Ms. Aram describes are not at fault. They have, however, been taken in by people who know better or ought to know better.

Comment #11238

Posted by Joe McFaul on December 5, 2004 12:10 PM (e)

Actually, FL, I’ve gotten a lot of milage by directing ID apologists to Johnson’s HIV denial theories, and noting how, in an entirely different forum, he makes exactly the same conspiracy therorist arguments in HIV denial as he does in denying evolution. I then ask ID apologists if they want to be part of that.

Their typical response is a slow silence folowed by a disclaimer of Johnson’s HIV views, and arguing that his HIV vieew doesn’t impact whether or not ID is correct. That is true but there is a silent recognition that his method of argument is deeply flawed and does in fact bear a lot of resemblance to holocaust denial and other kook theories. Once they see the flawed methods used by Johnson, they become a little more critical of the flawed methods of Dembski and the others as well. DI press releases are no longer cited as evidence, for example.

I’d personally be delighted to discuss this on any PBS special linking the *method* of attack against evolution with the *method* employed in HIV denial, holocaust denial, ESP and alien abduction, because, in fact, they are all the same.

Comment #11239

Posted by Lurker on December 5, 2004 12:22 PM (e)

Actually the “fear” that FL is describing seems to me to be a pragmatic rule-of-thumb for scientists. Perhaps FL would like to explain why he thinks evolution-deniers are any more meritorious than Holocaust-deniers to monopolize the attention of scientists. After all, it is people like FL who have given scientists billions of dollars in government funds. I would be surprised to learn that the citizens of this country expects that money to be spent so that scientists can take time to entertain cranks at their every whim?

Comment #11240

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 5, 2004 12:46 PM (e)

My main focus of this little piece was not Ruse, however he was a good example of the creationist parallel of well meaning and eminent academics who facilitated and even promoted the views of Holocaust deniers. Nick’s comments are well taken, and of course “Ruse’s position is that creationism/intelligent design have got so many flaws that they will wither in the light of academic debate with well-informed philosophers/scientists.” Indeed, Ruse sees himself as quite heroic as he revealed in his response to Matt Young,

“If I am to criticize anyone it would be the eminent evolutionists who were asked to contribute but who were too damn busy doing their research while Rome burns around them – when their kids or grandkids are taught Creationism in the classroom (and with Bush stacking the Supreme Court, don’t think it won’t happen) don’t blame me – although come to me for help, because these issues are bigger than my frustration or their selfishness.” M. Ruse

However, it is not “…an eminently reasonable position,” it is a false perception. It fails because the creationist movement is not one based on rational discourse, it is entirely political and emotional. I gave just one example of how Ruse’s collaboration is used by creationists to bolster their position. Just one out of many available.

I actually think that Ruse’s goal is closely revealed in his closing comment to his review of S. J. Gould’s book Rocks of Ages where he wrote,

“I am sure that this new work will inform and stimulate many people. Even when they disagree, as I sometimes I do, the book will help to further the cause of future progress and reconciliation.”

Contrast this with William Dembski’s insightful assessment of Phillip Johnson’s ambition that I cited above,

“All sides now realize that Johnson was, from the start, deadly
earnest, not content merely to tweak Darwin’s nose but intent, rather, on knocking him down for the ten-count. Johnson is, after all, a lawyer, and lawyers think contests are not simply to be enjoyed but also to be won.” And Dembski goes on to explain in the clearest language why collaborators such as Ruse are so helpful, “In line with our there-might-be-something-to-it-after-all policy, it’s usually enough to indicate that there’s more to the story than the other side lets on. John Angus Campbell puts it this way: A draw is a win! The other side wants to obliterate intelligent design. Yet to persuade the undecided middle, we just have to show that intelligent design has something going for it.” (William A. Dembski 2004 “DEALING WITH THE BACKLASH AGAINST INTELLIGENT DESIGN” version 1.1, April 14, )

Ruse hopes for “future progress and reconciliation” while his friend Johnson is in “deadly earnest” and knows “contests are not simply to be enjoyed but also to be won.” Ruse is a one legged man at an a*s kicking.

There is only one argument I can see that could justify participating with creationists in a public debate. And that is the notion that they already “own” the entire audience. In that case, the one-in-a-hundred, or even one-in-a-thousand who can overcome their religious zeal enough to appreciate the scientific position is all to the plus. A weaker form of the argument would be that merely creating a slight doubt in the creationist audience’s certainty of their position will moderate their political actions. However, this makes a shaky assumption that “you” are such a polished public speaker that your ability to sway the audience is assured. Having watched the likes of Gish, and Hovind demolish academics, I would not ever get on that particular horse.

Comment #11244

Posted by FL on December 5, 2004 2:11 PM (e)

Well, Joe, I strongly suspect that if you substitute the phrase “Holocaust denial” instead of the phrase “HIV denial” and then did some more field-testing, you’d find yourself getting far less mileage. Perhaps even winding up with a stalled engine or something. At least that much seems clear right off the bat.

But ss far as this HIV denial topic goes, I dunno, that is a different animal (although I submit to you that your ID friends are absolutely correct to begin their response by noting that this topic in fact does not impact the question of whether ID is correct, nor even whether Johnson’s critiques of evolutionist logic/semantics, such as seen in Darwin On Trial are correct or not.

That’s not a small point. On one thread, I was recently asked about what I thought of the group called the Unification Church (Rev. Sun Young Moon) and its claims, seeing as Jonathan Wells belongs to that group. The fact is, however, that his church preference, though I personally strongly disagree with it, did not impact his book Icons of Evolution in the slightest.

Whenever I re-read Darwin On Trial or any of Johnson’s other books, I get that exact same impression of complete separation. Johnson is free to believe other beliefs and I am free to accept or reject those same claims.
But he did stick to the business at hand–critical and logical analysis of evo-logic and evo-semantics (and occasional evo-actions), in his books. That’s the important thing. And I don’t think they are “deeply flawed” at all–he certainly scored a number of direct hits or evolutionists wouldn’t have fought him so hard afterwards.

You said,

I’d personally be delighted to discuss this on any PBS special linking the *method* of attack against evolution with the *method* employed in HIV denial, holocaust denial, ESP and alien abduction, because, in fact, they are all the same.

Well, that calls for a comparison of what Johnson has said regarding HIV denial with what he said in Darwin on Trial and subsequent books.
I’ve read those books, re-read them and re-read them in fact, and I never saw any “conspiracy theory” talk nor any Johnson statements even remotely reminiscent or parallel of “holocaust denial”, “ESP”, “Alien Abduction”, (c’mon, please, let us keep it real okay?), but I’d be happy to compare/contrast Johnson’s remarks on both issues…either at home or on PBS as well.

********************

Speaking of this HIV thing, one site says that “Although the scientific evidence is overwhelming and compelling that HIV is the cause of AIDS, the disease process is not yet completely understood” That does leave the door open for dissension, even thought the majority view has good arguments and time (esp. the 90’s) hav only sharpened them.

But two of the main HIV dissenters, Duesberg and Rasnick, have written a book called “The chemical bases of the various AIDS epidemics: recreational drugs, anti-viral chemotherapy and malnutrition” (2003), with Claus Koehnlein. I haven’t read the book yet, nor Duesberg’s journal-published stuff.

So I will say this: It’s easy to just go with “the mainstream” and not even bother to check out scientific dissent on an issue. Way too easy.

Not saying that D and R (or even Phillip Johnson) are correct on this issue. To me, HIV still causes AIDS. But that was and is the official line, and I never bothered reading or listening to alternative scientific voices. My mistake.

But now, I would think there’s room for a reasonable layperson to at least read what the scientific dissenters are saying, what the majority view has responded and is responding, and again what the minority has recently rejoindered. Clearly there is a scientific dissenting view there to at least consider, even if it never pans out.

What’s also clear is that there are quite a few PhD’s in biochem, cell biology, and also M.D’s who are at mninimum calling for reappraisal. Johnson is with some serious scientific company there. They are calling for:

It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

http://www.stophiv.com/facts_myths/questions/05-peoplesayhivisntaids.html

TalkOrigins, btw, casually (way too much) dismisses them all with the usual stale label “pseudoscientists” but it don’t look like their credentials and current posts are anything to sneeze at. Further, their requests there are not self-evidently unreasonable, since in fact we still do not scientifically understand the disease process.

So what am I saying? I think this HIV denial debate, which Johnson has sided with the dissenters, is a genuine scientific debate, one which the NIH and other “establishment” groups are in little danger of losing.
However, the work of D and R obviously isn’t going away and there is still room for scientific dissent on this HIV issue.

FL

Comment #11246

Posted by Sean Foley on December 5, 2004 2:49 PM (e)

I’m not sure that a lack of British knowledge of the specific atrocities of Auschwitz is necessarily symptomatic of an overall ignorance of the general atrocities of the Holocaust. I’ve always understood that, in the British mind, the camp most synonymous with the Holocaust was Bergen-Belsen, which was liberated by the British Army on April 15, 1945. Auschwitz, by contrast, was liberated by the Red Army nearly two weeks after Bergen-Belsen.

Comment #11248

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 5, 2004 4:11 PM (e)

FL still hasn’t reached the bottom of his manure pile! He has an endless supply!

The fact is, however, that [Wells’] church preference, though I personally strongly disagree with it, did not impact his book Icons of Evolution in the slightest.

Horse hockey. Wells church wallows in bogus bigotry-fueled rhetoric like a pig in a sty. Where are all the anti-science books written by Episcopalians, FL?

It’s easy to understand why you, FL, would fail to see how Wells’ sick religious beliefs inform his equally warped views about science. I’ll leave it at that.

I would think there’s room for a reasonable layperson to at least read what the scientific dissenters are saying, what the majority view has responded and is responding, and again what the minority has recently rejoindered. Clearly there is a scientific dissenting view there to at least consider, even if it never pans out.

You’re about ten years behind the times. Do “reasonable laypeople” include lying fakes like you who would believe just about anything if an evangelical put enough fake scientific sugar on top? I hope not.

I never saw any “conspiracy theory” talk nor any Johnson statements even remotely reminiscent or parallel of “holocaust denial”, “ESP”, “Alien Abduction”,

Is it easy to write and drink kool-aid at the same time?

Although the scientific evidence is overwhelming and compelling that HIV is the cause of AIDS, the disease process is not yet completely understood” That does leave the door open for dissension

Dissension as to what exactly?
Here’s a question for you, FL: Has the means of death of every Jew killed in the holocaust been proven beyond a reasonable doubt? Doesn’t that leave room for dissension, FL?

C’mon my prepubescent friend. It’s time for you to become an adult. Put down your script and step away from your computer for a few years. Come back when you’re an adult, FL, when you know the difference between telling the truth and lying.

Well, Joe, I strongly suspect that if you substitute the phrase “Holocaust denial” instead of the phrase “HIV denial” and then did some more field-testing, you’d find yourself getting far less mileage.

No mileage is necessary, FL, which you’d understand if you weren’t so utterly deluded. There is no genuine “controversy” as to the scientific bankruptcy of “intelligent design theory,” just as there is no genuine “controversy” as to the fact that millions of jews were systematically killed by Nazis during the holocaust.

Your answer to my question about the holocaust above, FL, will show that you are a dissembling rube. And whether creationists apologists are a pack of dissembling evangelical Christian rubes trying to do an end-around the First Amendment is all that remains to be “proven” to “reasonable laypeople” in this country. All the other garbage about “science” is just a smokescreen that is easily blown away once the fan is plugged in. Remember what your mommy told you, FL: don’t get your finger caught in the blades.

Comment #11251

Posted by mark on December 5, 2004 5:23 PM (e)

I’m reminded of one of my earliest meetings with a creationist–I thought they, like water witches, had long passed from the scene (wrong on both counts). Back in 1974, a fellow worker in the automobile factory started talking to me after learning that I studied geology. Not only was he a creationist, but he was also the leader of the local branch of the John Birch Society. It seemed like his wacky ideas in one area were quite harmonious with his wacky ideas in the other area. Underlying both was a religious fundamentalism that prevented any philosophical or cognitive evolution on his part.

Comment #11254

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 5, 2004 5:43 PM (e)

For the issue of Holcaust denial, one needs to know and remember the story of Mel Mermelstein.

Here’s the sequence of events regarding Mermelstein, a Los Angeles businessman and survivor of Auschwitz, and Willis Carto’s wacky “Institute for Historical Revision,” which wishes to deny the Holocaust (from the Shamash website): Here is a short history of the court proceedings … :

1) Mr. Mermelstein wrote a letter to the Jerusalem Post;
2) the IHR wrote him a letter offering him $50,000 for proof “that Jews were gassed in gas-chambers at Auschwitz”;
3) he provided proof;
4) the IHR refused to pay;
5) he sued them;
6) the court said that he had provided proof;
7) the IHR et al paid him $90,000 and apologized.

Actually, IHR had offered the prize to anyone who could prove the Holocaust. Typically someone would show up with documents, photos, or whatever constitutes solid evidence, and the IHR folks would feign laughter and claim it wasn’t good enough evidence. Then they’d claim yet another hoaxer was debunked.

Mermelstein recognized that what the IHR had offered was a sweepstakes; and he understood that such an offer is enforceable in contract, if it is bona fide. So he provided his evidence, IHR laughed, and Mermelstein sued.

The California courts determined that the evidence for the Holocaust was so powerful that the judge could take “judicial notice” that the holocaust occurred. That means that the holocaust is a fact that doesn’t need to be proven any longer, because it’s so well proven already. “The cognizance of certain facts which judges and jurors may properly take and act upon without proof, because they already know them,” as the Federal Rules of Civil Evidence used to say.

It’s important that you know that, legally, there is no doubt of the Holocaust. Legally, the Holocaust deniers have no leg to stand on.

Someone could sue Kent Hovind to make him pay, similarly, were his offer not so nutty that any sane person would immediately see it’s not bona fide.

Phillip Johnson probably read the Mermelstein case and saw the writing on the wall. He hopes to create doubt in evolution while keeping the issue out of court. In a fair tribunal, evolution is the sort of evidence that courts take on judicial notice.

Comment #11255

Posted by Bob Maurus on December 5, 2004 6:02 PM (e)

FL,

You said, “On one thread, I was recently asked about what I thought of the group called the Unification Church (Rev. Sun Young Moon) and its claims, seeing as Jonathan Wells belongs to that group.”

A clarification - I believe you’re referring to me, and whatI asked you for was your assesment of Wells’ motivation, and I subsequently pointed out that Wells had gotten his PhD at the direction of “Father” Moon, for the express purpose of destroying Darwinism.

As to HIV and Aids, I have been told that 1 in 100 white Europeans have a mutation that renders them immune to HIV/AIDS.

Comment #11256

Posted by Joe McFaul on December 5, 2004 6:48 PM (e)

FL, you’re missing the point about Johnson. The reason why I get so much mileage is because intellectually honest people see the problem with Johnson, once it’s demonstrated.

Here’s Johnson’s basic “argument”—his M.O.:

1. The scientific/medical establishment has made a fundamental error about (insert issue here).
2. The vast majority of scientists have all independently made this same error and “confirmed” each other’s research so that a prevailing dogma is the paradigm.
3. It is necessary to continue the prevailing dogma at the expense of truth, usually for financial or political reasons.
4. There is a small band of truthseekers (Johnson is one of them) seeking to tell the American public the truth about (insert issue here).
5. The evidence in support of the prevailing dogma is incomplete, inaccurate or forged. Sine it’s dogma, no contrary evidence will be received.
6. The establishment controls the means of communicating the truth to the American public including peer reviewed journals, the mass media and education system and will publish nothing that contradicts the prevailing dogma.
7. The battle against this conspiracy continues as the truthseekers fight the good fight against overwhelming odds.

Of course it could be that just possibly thousands of scientists, engineers, healthcare professionals and educators all with their own interests, might not be able to keep a secret and someone would eventually spill the beans. It also seems more than likely that not that the prevailing dogma is actually the truth. But neither of these occurs to Johnson. He makes the same argument about evolution that he makes about HIV—essentially a grand conspiracy is concealing the truth. That’s the conspiracy theory.

It is exactly the same conspiracy theory used by alien abduction apologists, ESP advocates, holocaust deniers, and obviously both ID advocates and HIV conspiracy theorists. People of good will run from conspiracy theorists. People who sincerely believe that ID has potential begin to re-evaluate the evidence when they realize Johnson’s M.O.

Now I don’t know whether you misunderstood what I meant by this, but you cannot possibly make a statement like “I’ve read those books, re-read them and re-read them in fact, and I never saw any “conspiracy theory” talk” with a straight face. Most poeple here have actaully read Johnson. Your statement is means only one of three things: (1) you didn’t know what I meant by conspiracy theory; (2) you can’t read; or (3) you are a liar.

I randomly opened my paperback version of Defeating Darwinism to page 35 (as it turns out) and found two references to “ dogmatic Darwinian” and the “official story” on that page alone. I could repeat the test some more but there’s no need. Now, Dembski would infer that it was not chance that there are two conspiracy theory references on one random page. It’s there by design. And he would be right, for once. So take this opportunity to retract that statement. It’s wrong.

It appears you agree in any event that Johnson is using this M.O. but even if he is, he might be right, not once, but twice (Darwinism and HIV). You might as well tell us how you distinguish his logic from that of the holocaust deniers and alien abductees because I for one would like to know.

Comment #11260

Posted by MI on December 5, 2004 9:15 PM (e)

One of my concerns is the failure of evolution deniers to rightly understand evolution and evolutionists. I would not call the misconceptions glaring nor, of course, am I making a blanket criticism of all evolution deniers. But the misconceptions can be important. There is no doubt it has weakened their criticism of evolution.

What was surprising to me was the extent to which evolutionists return the favor. In fact, what is surprising is the gross magnitude of misconceptions evolutionists have of creationists. They are far greater than their counterparts in the creationist camp.

And they don’t merely weaken your criticism of creationists – they render it absurd. This thread is a prime example. The sentiment expressed here reads more like a caricature. If I showed this to a creationist (one not intimate with the evolution – creation debate, and forums like this) I think they would wonder if I was joking.

I am by no means suggesting evolution deniers are without fault. There certainly are problems to which one can point. But, frankly, I could not have written a better parody of the evolution position vis a vis creationism. Unfortunately, the sentiment here was written in all seriousness.

Below is a sampling of quotes from this thread.

———————-
Creationists’ goal to eliminate scientific and academic freedom is immediate and real. The stakes should be clear from the beginning. We are never more than a single generation away from total savagery.

When I read Prof. Young’s piece, I was immediately taken with the social and intellectual parallels between Holocaust deniers and evolution deniers.

The professional creationists’ denial of data from every science and ability to distort what facts they are forced to admit far outshine any paranoiac I have encountered. It is futile looking to professional creationists for either the intellectual honesty or mental health necessary to change their opinion.

I have often been struck by the parallels between evolution deniers, holocaust deniers, and Shakespeare deniers.

the DI ploy

ID has repeatedly lost popular support when the issue is pushed e.g. on a school board, such as in Darby, MT or Roseville, CA.

the influence of anti-evolutionism runs deeper than other historical conspiracy theories, at least in Christian and Muslim circiles.

There is a difference when a child grows up with anti-evolution, as opposed to a mentally disturbed person (or group of persons) deciding to take up a historical event and distort it for whatever reason.

As for the leading people for ID, they are the paranoid, twisted people who take advantage of good folks who trust them.

Dr. GH is correct and that they are like peas in a pod - cranks who deny known fact for one irrational reason or another.

Knowledgeable people who deny known scientific or historical fact to support their religious or other beliefs are another matter.

the creationist movement is not one based on rational discourse, it is entirely political and emotional.

Not only was he a creationist, but he was also the leader of the local branch of the John Birch Society.
———————-

Comment #11264

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 5, 2004 10:17 PM (e)

MI,

Well done. Point taken.

Comment #11267

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 5, 2004 10:34 PM (e)

Nice try, MI.

I disagree entirely with Katarina. You post is not “well done”. Rather, it’s half-baked.

A lot of those quotes are reasonable personal opinions based on widely available facts. Hyperbole? Maybe some. In any event, they are all taken out of context. I don’t have the time to defend each of them, but I could do so soberly if I was so inclined.

Please acknowledge, MI, that the “teach creationism” movement is a political movement funded and driven, for the msot part, by conservative evangelical religio-political think tanks and related evangelical organizations. To the extent some poor saps (like William Buckingham) are merely inspired by what the claptrap produced by the Discovery Institute and its peons, there may be some “independent” thought. But for the most part it’s the same script.

If you can’t acknowledge this fact, MI, then show us the evidence to the contrary. Go ahead and rebut Joe McFaul’s post.

I agree that the world isn’t going to end if creationism is taught in public schools, MI, and it is a mistake to argue that it will. I haven’t seen anyone seriously make that argument, have you?

On the other hand, the world won’t end if we teach kids that there is as much scientific proof for God as there is for the Easter Bunny. But try proposing teaching that fact to your local school board. After you read your hate mail, you’ll know why you’re dead wrong when you claim that we “sound just like the creationists” in this thread.

Comment #11269

Posted by MI on December 5, 2004 11:21 PM (e)

Great White writes.: Please acknowledge, MI, that the “teach creationism” movement is a political movement funded and driven, for the msot part, by conservative evangelical religio-political think tanks and related evangelical organizations. To the extent some poor saps (like William Buckingham) are merely inspired by what the claptrap produced by the Discovery Institute and its peons, there may be some “independent” thought. But for the most part it’s the same script. If you can’t acknowledge this fact, MI, then show us the evidence to the contrary.

Me: You are continuing to make my case. The “teach creationism” movement is not a unified, monolithic, well funded, political movement that you make it out to be. Many of these recent stories we hear about are grass roots movements (I don’t know the details of all of them, so I won’t make a sweepting statement, but all the cases that I have knowledge of are grass roots movements). Drop your conspiracy theory, they are not feeding off some secret “evangelical” funding source. In fact, the ones I am most familiar with were not interested in teaching creationism or design in our public schools. What they wanted is biology taught not from an evolution-is-true perspective, but from a neutral perspective.

Comment #11270

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 5, 2004 11:43 PM (e)

You are continuing to make my case.

Not really. You’re continuing to deny reality and I find it interesting that you offer no facts to support your position.

The “teach creationism” movement is not a unified, monolithic, well funded, political movement that you make it out to be.

Let’s see. What did I say exactly to inspire the creation of your strawman? Oh yes, there it is. You quoted what I wrote, in English. Why don’t you read the text you quoted before arguing with a strawman, MI? Arguing with a strawman makes you look silly.

Many of these recent stories we hear about are grass roots movements (I don’t know the details of all of them, so I won’t make a sweepting statement, but all the cases that I have knowledge of are grass roots movements).

Hard to respond to something as vague as this. Could you describe some trivial detail relating to say, TWO of these “many” “recent stories” about a creationism controversy in a public school? Like the name of a town in which a disclaimer was proposed or the teaching of ID was mandated? Thanks in advance, MI!

Drop your conspiracy theory, they are not feeding off some secret “evangelical” funding source.”

Another strawman. No one is alleging a secret funding source. For the most part, the funding is right out in the open, as are the conservative pro-evangelical legal groups that offer their services.

In fact, the ones I am most familiar with were not interested in teaching creationism or design in our public schools. What they wanted is biology taught not from an evolution-is-true perspective, but from a neutral perspective.

Oh, is that all? They just want all of the most useful and universally accepted scientific theories to be taught from a “neutral” perspective. Do I have that right? And I assume, then, that these evangelicals also have no problem with the Bible being taught from a “neutral” perspective in public school, right?

Let me know if I misunderstand you, MI.

Btw, you are driving on bald tires. Are you one of those folks that can admit being wrong or do you just keep dissembling when people take time out of their day to discuss your errors with you?

Comment #11271

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on December 5, 2004 11:45 PM (e)

Yes MI, you do score some points with some of those quotes from this thread. GWW in particular seems to have a tendency to get, um, riled up. Comparisons to clinical paranoiacs and such are over the top.

On the other hand, it’s hard to see anything overwrought in some of those statements, e.g.:

ID has repeatedly lost popular support when the issue is pushed e.g. on a school board, such as in Darby, MT or Roseville, CA.

Knowledgeable people who deny known scientific or historical fact to support their religious or other beliefs are another matter.

the creationist movement is not one based on rational discourse, it is entirely political and emotional.

In general I think that the HIV deniers are a much better comparison to ID than the Holocaust Deniers. First, Holocaust denial is associated with a repugnant form of antisemitism that is unfair and insulting to associate with IDists. No such allusion was made in the openning post and I’m sure it was not intended, but I suspect that most IDist readers would take it that way. Second, at least two of the most prominent IDists (Phillip Johnson and, IIRC, Jonathan Wells) are HIV-AIDS deniers.

The parallels continue. Both ID and HIV-AIDS deniers rely heavily on lists of people signing on to a vaguely worded, somewhat misleading statement that almost anyone could agree with, and using that to support a very radical agenda that is quite a bit beyond what the signatories signed up for. This was clearly part of the situation with the DI 100.

FL even did us a favor by posting the HIV deniers statement:

It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

And the Discovery Institute 100 statement:

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

It’s almost like Phil Johnson wrote both statements.

PS: A collection of Phillip Johnson links on HIV/AIDS denial is here, and the the “Rethinking AIDS-Phillip Johnson page is here.”

PPS: One really bizarre feature of the HIV-AIDS deniers is that they seem to fall into two groups: first, some of their writings (like Phil Johnson) have a strong social conservative vibe. But the second group is basically a radical wing of gay activists from San Francisco – and they’ve taken over the group ACT-UP, which as you will recall was the most vocal supporter of AIDS research in the 1980’s. This strange situation was reviewed in the press a few years ago, here is one good article, an editorial in a Biomedical Journal, and Law Weekly.

PPPS: I don’t know anything about Shakespeare denial. My vague impression was that we don’t know that much about Shakespeare’s life, and that while most plays are confidently by him, a few might not be. Care to post some links someone?

Comment #11272

Posted by Sean Foley on December 6, 2004 12:10 AM (e)

Nick -

This is a reasonably rundown on the Shakespeare authorship “controversy”. There’s no real compelling evidence to suggest that anyone other than William Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him.

Though the theory that Francis Bacon not only wrote all of Shakesepeare’s works but supervised the construction of an enormously elaborate hiding place for the manuscripts is at least kind of funny.

Comment #11273

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 1:11 AM (e)

First, Holocaust denial is associated with a repugnant form of antisemitism that is unfair and insulting to associate with IDists.

Hmm. The conservative evangelical creationist types love to bring up the Nazis (or their partners in crime, the commies) and do so at every opportunity. ID peddlers throw out references to the Nazis because, we are told, Nazism is based partly on Darwin’s theories. In fact, conservative evangelicals often compare anyone or any country that doesn’t share their fundamentlists views re morality to Nazis or communists.

The “implications” of the ID peddlers position with respect to the ethics of scientists are obvious. Indeed, they are explicit. It’s standard procedure to bring up the Nazis. Does anyone believe that William Buckingham didn’t bring up the Nazis at one of his school board meetings?

I think by showing the similarities between Holocaust deniers with IDists, we show that IDers are inclined to engage in the most self-serving forms of selective ignorance. That is, they are not afraid to debase themselves in their pursuit of the “truth” as they would like to see it believed by sheep everywhere.

No one believes that the majority of creationist-pushers are antisemetic. Anti-atheists probably, but then so are a whole lot of other people in this sad uninformed country.

The creationist-pushers rile me up for essentially the same reason that Holocaust deniers rile me up. I can honestly say that I’m equally revolted by both groups. And I don’t think it is outrageous to admit it (although it could seem that way to a creationist, but they’re outraged that they can’t broadcast prayers over the school PA system).

If creationist peddlers don’t want to be compared to Holocaust deniers, they should be prepared to explain why they believe that a tiny minority of big mouths is correct and all of the world’s scientists are wrong but somehow fail to be as skeptical when it comes to another “controversial” claim.

Then they can admit that the difference is that their holy book doesn’t say anything about the number of jews killed in world war II. And then they can admit that their position is not based on science, but is purely religious. And then we can all go home and focus on things like ending starvation, disease and war.

Comment #11277

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 6, 2004 8:47 AM (e)

Is the purpose of this thread to help us to better understand our opponent by comparison to another group?

MI brought up a very important point: anti-evolutionists are as diverse a group of people as we are. It is not fair to charactarize them as such and such, only for the purpose of venting our anger. If the purpose is not that, but to gain tools for defeating their propaganda, then the thread makes sense.

Let’s get to the point: will this comparison help indirectly, but helping us understand our opponent, or directly, by bringing up the point on a talk show? And if indirectly, then what are we to learn from it?

(PS. Great White: Commies fought Nazis, and very bravely at that)

Comment #11281

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 10:07 AM (e)

Katarina

anti-evolutionists are as diverse a group of people as we are.

This is absolutely not true of the people on the creationist peddling front line. They are not nearly as diverse as the group consisting of rational people who understand science and/or respect the historical record which plainly shows over a century of rigorous research confirming the essential aspects of Darwin’s theory.

As to the “everday” evolution “skeptic” – they are a more diverse group than the limelight lovers. But they are still mostly conservative Christian creationists. That fact alone should strike any objective observer as odd but of course this is the United States we’re talking about.

Moreover, it’s not the “everday” man-on-the-street evolution skeptic who resorts to the Holocaust-denial type arguments.

It is not fair to charactarize them as such and such, only for the purpose of venting our anger.

Again, depends on who “them” is. I think Dr. GH’s post was clear about who “them” is and I think most of the commenter’s posts were also clear about who “them” is.

There is nothing “unfair” about comparing the minds of people Johnson or Hovind or Wells to the minds of Holocaust deniers. I don’t know what the position of these individuals is with respect to the Holocaust but, frankly, I would be more surprised if they weren’t sympathetic to the claims of Holocaust skeptic than if they were.

Comment #11285

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 6, 2004 10:50 AM (e)

Great White.

Intelligent Design is strong politically, not scientifically. That much is obvious. Political strength means the support of the average joe, in addition to some wealthy people with agendas. If the average joe withdrew his political support, ID would have little left.

I am not sure if this means we need to target the average joe in public debates, but I don’t think it would hurt. I am not saying to leave out the science, but as things stand at the moment, It doesn’t seem we are getting through to the average joe.

I don’t pretend to know the solution. But it may be more constructive to refrain from discussions that tend to alienate the other side.

Comment #11287

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 11:11 AM (e)

But it may be more constructive to refrain from discussions that tend to alienate the other side.

Sure. You could be right. And it sounds “nice”, in theory.

On the other hand, you could look at the last two Presidential elections and make an argument that attacking the character of your opponent and belittling them is a very successful strategy for winning a political contest in this country. Likewise, responding to such attacks with nothing but reasoned intellectualisms is a proven way to lose.

That’s not to say that there aren’t lines that can’t be crossed. But given that the our opponents have already crossed the line we’re talking about – explicitly – I don’t see too much of a downside illustrating how revolting their attitude is with a pungent rejoinder.

Comment #11290

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 11:37 AM (e)

Believe it or not Nick, scoring points is not my goal. I actually was hoping we could create some light rather than heat. So what’s wrong with:

1) ID has repeatedly lost popular support when the issue is pushed e.g. on a school board, such as in Darby, MT or Roseville, CA.

2) Knowledgeable people who deny known scientific or historical fact to support their religious or other beliefs are another matter.

3) the creationist movement is not one based on rational discourse, it is entirely political and emotional.

One way to gather support, solidify your base, and generally win your case is to villify the opposition. Do not admit to any rational position within your opposition. Hitler was good at this. But the risk you run is losing credibility. You can’t paint the guy next door, who is a pretty sharp guy, as a raving lunatic and maintain credibility. This sentiment you guys are espousing can thrive only in isolated discussions where you all are talking to each other.

So, for #1 above, could it be that there are parents who think that biology teaching is inaccurate due to undue acceptance and emphasis on evolution? Could it be that they simply want the problems with evolution to be acknowledged? No, that would admit to a rational position. Better to paint them as backwater illiterates, driven by religious fundamentalism, whose goal is the teaching of creationism or ID and banishing evolution. Aside from the Dover case, I don’t know of a case that is asking for ID to be taught. #1 is simply factually wrong, but this serves to propagate the stereotype.

#2 and #3 are more obvious, and the fact that the ostensible middle position here would ask what is wrong with these, again, is telling. “Deny known scientific … fact to support their religious or other beliefs” and “the creationist movement is not one based on rational discourse, it is entirely political and emotional” ? What scientific facts are being denied? Why is creationism not rational? You see, these charges expose you. One can argue for evolution and against creation, but to paint creationists in this way is simply not credible. The only people you are going to convince are yourselves. Again, I’m not saying there are not problematic elements within the creationist movement.

GWW writes: Could you describe some trivial detail relating to say, TWO of these “many” “recent stories” about a creationism controversy in a public school?

MI: Dover is the only case I know of advocating ID. Non are advocating teaching creation. Cobb County, Kansas, Roseville were all advocating the teaching of problems with evolution as well as the positives. Actually, Cobb did not even go that far, they only wanted a “theory” disclaimer. Because evolutionists maintain evolution is a fact, they opposed the disclaimer.

GWW: Oh, is that all? They just want all of the most useful and universally accepted scientific theories to be taught from a “neutral” perspective.

GI: Yes, isn’t that terrible! Think of it, teaching the negatives of theory.

GWW: You’re continuing to deny reality … Btw, you are driving on bald tires. Are you one of those folks that can admit being wrong or do you just keep dissembling when people take time out of their day to discuss your errors with you?

GI: Unfortunately, GWW is not really an outlier. This simplistic, black/white reductionism (anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot, regardless of what they actually say) is not that unusual.

Comment #11294

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 6, 2004 11:47 AM (e)

MI wrote:

“…could it be that there are parents who think that biology teaching is inaccurate due to undue acceptance.”

The acceptance and emphasis on evolution is perfectly justified. If parents think otherwise, why is that

“Could it be that they simply want the problems with evolution to be acknowledged?”

Acknowledged where, in high school biology? First the “problems” have to be acknowledged using the peer review process, then if they pass that test, maybe a few college courses, then if it becomes really well established, finally it can trickle down into high school biology.

MI, you are no longer making sense.

Comment #11298

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 12:01 PM (e)

Katarina writes: The acceptance and emphasis on evolution is perfectly justified.

MI: Not to the extent that the science is not taught accurately. We don’t brush problems under the rug.

Katarina: Acknowledged where, in high school biology? First the “problems” have to be acknowledged using the peer review process, then if they pass that test, maybe a few college courses, then if it becomes really well established, finally it can trickle down into high school biology.

MI: Agreed (and done). The problems are well understood.

Comment #11299

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 12:02 PM (e)

Damn, MI, your last post was too short!

I was really interested in where your conversation with me was going.

Comment #11300

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 6, 2004 12:21 PM (e)

“MI: Agreed (and done). The problems are well understood.”

Do you mean problems WITH or problems WITHIN the theory?

Sorry I don’t remember who said this, but in a comment a while back someone compared the theory of evolution to Swiss cheeze: there may be holes, but it’s still Swiss cheeze.

High school is for basics, for presenting the overall picture. Not promoting a religious agenda. So far, it is the religious that find problems WITH the theory.

Comment #11304

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 6, 2004 12:26 PM (e)

Add to my last sentance, as a result of their religious beliefs.

Comment #11306

Posted by ~DS~ on December 6, 2004 12:45 PM (e)

I wrote a similar article using the holocaust deniers as an analogy to creationists. Kinda weird it keeps coming up like that.

Comment #11307

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 12:49 PM (e)

No, Karatina, I’m talking about problems WITH the theory. This has nothing to do with religious beliefs. This is the “Inherit the Wind” stereotype that is simply not credible. Let me give you a very simple example. Homologies very often arise from non homologous development processes. This is, and has been for a long time, been well known. Yet the going high school text book says the exact opposite (in an uncategorical statement).

Comment #11308

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 6, 2004 12:49 PM (e)

“MI” Fails to see his or herself in the arch opinion I have of the professional creationist. I hope theirs is a well informed opinion and they aren’t like the Carl Wielands, and Kent Hovinds, or even the William Dembskis in the world. “MI” seems to mistakenly assume that I lack direct personal experience with creationists. This is untrue. In fact I was drawn into this late in my career (some would say at its end) when I was the curator (and later Director of Education) of a small natural history museum. I had the odd experience of having apparently normal people come to the museum and declare that all the fossils were faked, and blather on with such strange assertions with such certainty, that I thought I had returned to psychotherapy. I then set out to learn what I could about creationism, attending creationist lectures, buying dozens of creationist books, and visiting creationist “museums” both in real time, and on the Internet. the rest of what I now recognize as typical creationist lies.

Further, “MI” doubts that there is any worry need about the consequences of antiscience’s distorted version of reality, and the political machinery created to promote it. In this, I congratulate them for their naiveté.

It is of course a matter of personal perspective, and in this we are informed by our own experiences. In my professional life I have needed to be able to testify in court if rectal tearing was by rape or the coyote scavenging of the victims body. I have held in my hands the bits and pieces of murdered men women, and children shot, stabbed and clubbed to death. (This includes one religiously motivated ritual murder of a child, by the way). So I lack the cheery outlook that allows “MI” to think that I presented a “parody” with mistaken earnestness. Some say that ignorance is bliss- and I say it is dangerous.

First, “MI” perhaps you are ignoring the professional creationists and attributing complete innocence to their dupes. Again, the Nazi slaughter serves as a potential model. The actual Nazi party members were few compared to the happy participants in the mass murder. Because I hope you will never learn from personal experience, I recommend two books as essential in understanding the capacity of ordinary people to become ravening mass-murders, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, 1997 Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York:Alfred A. Knoph), and Jan T. Gross, 2001 Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton University Press). The years I worked as a professor of medicine (psychiatry) taught me that people drawn to clinical professions sincerely like to help other people. They truly enjoy caring for others. A brilliant book by Robert N. Proctor, Racial Hygene: Medicine Under the Nazis (1988, Boston: Harvard University Press) will teach you how in just a small number of years the “caring professions” can become the very engine of slaughter.

And have I exaggerated the goals of the professional creationists? Not at all. I merely take them at their word. For example, do the creationists intend to cast aside scientific method for supernaturalism? Consider, “J. P. Moreland, Professor at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (the Bible Institute of Los Angeles), offers this summary of Dembski’s program:

William Dembski has reminded us that the emerging Intelligent Design movement has a four pronged approach to defeating naturalism: (1) A scientific/philosophical critique of naturalism; (2) a positive scientific research program (Intelligent Design) for investigating the effects of intelligent causes; (3) rethinking every field of inquiry infected with naturalism and reconceptualizing it in terms of design; (4) development of a theology of nature by relating the intelligence inferred by intelligent design to the God of Scripture (Moreland 1999 citing Dembski 1998).

“MI” seems also to not see the denial of academic freedom in the “Statements of Faith” that are demanded of these creationist “institutes” and even so-called “universities.” These are the identical strictures that the creationists will, if given power, enforce on all academics.

And finally, “MI” fails to acknowledge the considerable cost already being paid in blocked medical research, and blocked environmental protections that is largely fueled by the creationists’ political denial that science is valid or to be trusted. If the creationist movement accomplishes even half of their stated goals, the number of unnecessary deaths from disease alone will exceed that totals of Hitler’s Germany, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

Dembski, William
1998 “Introduction” in Mere Creation Dembski (ed). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

Moreland, J. P.
1999 “Postmodernism and the Intelligent Design Movement” Philsophia Christi Series 2, Vol. 1, No. 2: 97-101.

P.S. I have not made a “diagnosis” that creationists are paranoid. I merely pointed out a parallel that they distort and deny facts commonly accepted, and believe in massive conspiracies lead by scientists to “hide the truth” about the “supernatural origin of the life and the Universe.”

Comment #11309

Posted by Joe McFaul on December 6, 2004 1:08 PM (e)

In response to MI, I have no problem dealing with people who are casual ID adherents. These poeple are sincere, and usually have just read Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box” and not much else in depth. There is an initial appeal to ID. That’s where the educational process comes in.

And I’m more than willing to participate in the educational process, since I can always learn something, too. Generally, I find this educational process to be fruitful. Of course the educational process cannot work with Johnson, Dembski and others because I truly believe these poeple think it is OK to “lie for God.” They will lie and twist the truth becaue they are on the side of “right.” These “leading lights of ID” are not interested in a good faith discussion, which is why the debates won’t work with them.

You’re right generally that those who initially favor ID are from a wide range of philosophical backgrounds and have a wide range of concerns. Generally, they are leery of evolution not because of what it represents, but what they have been told (untruthfully) what it represents–the end of civliztion as we know it. They are understandably concerned about those kinds of issues for their children.

I try to be polite when talking with these “grass roots” people and address their concerns. Frankly, many of these people are my friends relaives and fellow churchgoers. I don’t believe these people are the equivalent of holocaust deniers or HIV deniers, but some of the leading lights of the ID moevement clearly are. Casual ID adherents begin to have a more sceptical prspective of ID when informed (truthfully) that the ID leading lights are charlatans on the level of holocaust denial.

However, even some of these people like FL above, will make an objectively false statement. When they do, I will present the truth and allow them an opportunity to retract the false statement, as I did with FL. If they don’t I consider them “liars for God” just like their leaders.

People of common sense, even if disposed towards ID, will observe these interactions and conclude that a pattern of deception would not be necessary if ID had any merit. They eventually see that ID is simply an empty promise–it’s pseudoscience, poor theology, poor philosphy.

Comment #11310

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 1:16 PM (e)

Hey MI.

I really think you are a dishonest rube but here’s a shot at redemption.

Provide proof which supports your claims that

(1) Homologies very often arise from non homologous development processes.

NOTE: please define what you mean by “very often” in this context.

(2) This is, and has been for a long time, been well known.

(3) Yet the going high school text book says the exact opposite (in an uncategorical statement).

I’m especially interested in (3) but really you should provide answers to all three questions if you expect to be taken any more seriously than the typical creationist apologist (a group which includes you, as far as I’m concerned)

Comment #11311

Posted by FL on December 6, 2004 1:28 PM (e)

In general I think that the HIV deniers are a much better comparison to ID than the Holocaust Deniers.

No kiddin’. And with that acknowledgment, the original subject of this thread (“Evolution Deniers and Holocaust Deniers in Locked Step”), is pretty much kaput.

Note to Bob M: I don’t deny that Wells’ motivations to “destroy Darwinism” are based on his association with the Unif. Church and its leader Rev. Moon. On the other hand, when you pick up a copy of Icons Of Ev, you get only the icons and the analysis, and none of the UC or Moon. That’s good enough for me.

MI: Great post.

Joe: Nice of you to clarify what you mean or don’t mean by “conspiracy theory.” All the same, you’re being seriously misleading when you apply it to Johnson and his books as a way of comparing Johnson to such folks as alien abductees and holocaust deniers.

First, the point remains that Johnson’s views on the cause of HIV, just like Well’s views regarding Rev. Moon’s identity, is a ~separate~ issue that so far has not impacted or intermingled with his works. One need only read his books and articles to see that.

It’s a point that you acknowledge to be true, but then you switch gears and say things like

there is a silent recognition that his method of argument is deeply flawed and does in fact bear a lot of resemblance to holocaust denial and other kook theories

Well, as I’ve said before, actual comparisons are needed here. Particularly, when I compare your 7 point “Johnson’s M.O” list (which for you is the basis for claiming that Johnson is promoting a “grand conspiracy” theory a la alien abductees and holocaust deniers) with what Johnson’s actually written in his books, I see no need even to grant you a “silent recognition” that Johnson’s argument is flawed on this basis nor any recognition of any resemblence to what you call “kook theories.”

Second, though your 7 point “M.O.” list does remind me of the tone of Johnson’s popular-level intro book “Defeating Darwinism”, there’s a couple of important caveats that HAVE to be taken into account.

(A) Let’s face it….Johnson never actually CLAIMED that a conspiracy existed a la “X-Files” or “Oliver Stone’s JFK movie”. In fact, notice from your own examination of Defeating Darwinism that you had to take two phrases (both quite true if you’ve ever done an examination of high school and college textbooks)—-“dogmatic Darwinism” and “official story”—and try to infer that Johnson is talking “conspiracy theory.”

But there’s the rub; you’ve hardly located any smoking guns here. There IS such a thing as dogmatic Darwinism and an official story, and you don’t need an organized card-carrying cloak and dagger conspiracy to achieve that.

In fact, if you have your copy of Defeating Darwinism (I believe that’s the one, don’t have it right with me), I believe Johnson illustrates the truth of those two terms rather vividly, with his account of Denver high school student Danny Phillips, who responded to a dogmatic Darwinist “official story” spoonfeeding (a NOVA video the class had to watch) with a carefully-homeworked request for officials to drop the video. Ultimately, his request caught people’s attention because it was well-written, which ultimately necessitated no less than big-name Dr. Bruce Alberts to publicly respond to this teenager’s brave efforts in a Denver newspaper editorial.
Dogmatic Darwinism and Official Storydom in one bite.

So what I’m saying is that, unlike your garden-variety UFO abductee, Philip Johnson does a really good job of supporting his statements with documentation.

And that leads to (B): you seek to diminish Johnson’s arguments by claiming that his “M.O.” is the same as what you call “kook theorists”, but the fact is that NOTHING necessarily prevents all 7 points of your given M.O. from being true on a given topic. One has to simply check out the supporting reasonings, examples, and evidences to see if any or all points are plausible and supported.

Again, there’s not much to go on for those “kook theory” categories you mentioned. But Johnson is careful to provide serious support for his statements in his books. No book is perfect, whether written by Johnson or by Johnson’s critics, but there IS a reason why his book(s) like Darwin on Trial have scored with people, visibily challenged the dominion of dogmatic darwinism at the national level, and forced any number of university and public debates regarding doubts about evolution.

Finally, there’s even a ©: the simple fact that your 7 point MO list does NOT cover Johnson’s MO but instead fails to recognize the breadth and depth of it. In short, you’ve oversimplified Johnson’s argumentation and logic and then tried to claim that his M.O. of argumentation is just like those of holocause deniers and alien abductees.
You’re wrong and misleading when you do that, you know.

Do you have a copy of “The Wedge of Truth”? Open it up, flip thru the pages and see if you can easily cover the entirety of his arguments and rebuttals merely by overlaying the 7 point MO list on it. Show me where Johnson is even claiming an”conspiracy” or “grand conspiracy” in that book.

In other words, Johnson’s “M.O.” is bigger than those 7 points. Just reading “Darwin on Trial” should have been enough to cause a person to sense that Johnson was into more than that.
Further, if you do read Johnson’s wording in “Wedge of Truth”, you notice that Johnson is indeed careful in his wording. Doesn’t try to claim that every evolutionist is this or that. And again, I just don’t see any conspiracies running around in that book. Maybe read the book for yourself and tell me.

I’ve read many stories about ESP and Alien Abductions, and to repeat, a major difference is the way Johnson documents and gives examples of what he’s talking about. There is a visible difference between Johnson’s argumentation and what you read in a UFO magazine.
Again, if it were otherwise, you evolutionists would NEVER have felt forced to debate and write tomes about Johnson right and left at major universities and forums.
Nobody pays attention to abductees and kooks, you know.

If you read it and find “conspiracy theory” in it, then I present to you the same three negative options you presented to me, with equal sincerity.

Well, anyway, I’m gonna stop there for now. I think your ID discussion partners are best advised to counter your “conspiracy theory” angle by first bringing up the point that Johnson’s views on HIV or other issues don’t impact on his evolution-critical books, and then second, they should insist on a careful, thorough, specific comparison of the argumentation in Johnson’s books (all of them) with your overly simplified 7 point M.O list.

If they do that, they won’t have to waste time with silent recognitions or even concede what you might term “conspiracy theory” parallels with alien abductees’ or holocaust deniers’ views.

Johnson is into specifics, thoroughness and examples, and AFAIK, usually doesn’t let his wording go beyond what can be documented, quoted, or closely reasoned. A major impediment to any claimed parallels with “kook theories”, needless to say.

FL

Side note on the HIV thing: I’ve already acknowledged that people like Drs. Duesberg and Rasnick and others are on the losing side of that debate at this time, and they may be quite wrong from Day One for all I know, but I for one would still read their 2003 book mentioned above before arbritrarily classifying them with “alien abductees” like “kook theories”. Read first, then judge.

Comment #11313

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 1:38 PM (e)

I have never heard a creationist say that fossils, as a matter of course, are fake. I’m not doubting your experience, just pointing out that this is not a general position within creation. In fact, I don’t know of any creationist “thinker” who holds such a position. Again, no doubt there are problems within the creation spectrum. So too, for evolution. I have heard lay evolutionists say some pretty absurd things too. Gary, I wonder if you hold evolution to the same level of scrutiny that you do creation. Your use of the word “antiscience” as a synonym for creation suggests to me that you do not acknowledge a middle position for creation.

Gary writes: I have held in my hands the bits and pieces of murdered men women, and children shot, stabbed and clubbed to death. (This includes one religiously motivated ritual murder of a child, by the way). So I lack the cheery outlook that allows “MI” to think that I presented a “parody” with mistaken earnestness. Some say that ignorance is bliss- and I say it is dangerous.

Wow, this speaks volumes. You’ve been on the witnessing end of some religiously motivated murders, so now you know the truth about those evil religious people. Creationism must be full of lies, and liars. Yes, I agree that ignorance is dangerous. Unfortunately those evil religious folks don’t seem to have a monopoly on it.

Gary writes:
**********************
First, “MI” perhaps you are ignoring the professional creationists and attributing complete innocence to their dupes. Again, the Nazi slaughter serves as a potential model. The actual Nazi party members were few compared to the happy participants in the mass murder. Because I hope you will never learn from personal experience, I recommend two books as essential in understanding the capacity of ordinary people to become ravening mass-murders, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, 1997 Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York:Alfred A. Knoph), and Jan T. Gross, 2001 Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton University Press). The years I worked as a professor of medicine (psychiatry) taught me that people drawn to clinical professions sincerely like to help other people. They truly enjoy caring for others. A brilliant book by Robert N. Proctor, Racial Hygene: Medicine Under the Nazis (1988, Boston: Harvard University Press) will teach you how in just a small number of years the “caring professions” can become the very engine of slaughter.

And have I exaggerated the goals of the professional creationists? Not at all. I merely take them at their word. For example, do the creationists intend to cast aside scientific method for supernaturalism? Consider, “J. P. Moreland, Professor at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (the Bible Institute of Los Angeles), offers this summary of Dembski’s program:

William Dembski has reminded us that the emerging Intelligent Design movement has a four pronged approach to defeating naturalism: (1) A scientific/philosophical critique of naturalism; (2) a positive scientific research program (Intelligent Design) for investigating the effects of intelligent causes; (3) rethinking every field of inquiry infected with naturalism and reconceptualizing it in terms of design; (4) development of a theology of nature by relating the intelligence inferred by intelligent design to the God of Scripture (Moreland 1999 citing Dembski 1998).

“MI” seems also to not see the denial of academic freedom in the “Statements of Faith” that are demanded of these creationist “institutes” and even so-called “universities.” These are the identical strictures that the creationists will, if given power, enforce on all academics.
*********************

Gary, this is going from bad to worse. I included all four paragraphs above so as not to lose the effect. Yes, Gary, I know something about evil too (I have distant relatives who were prisoners in the holocaust). But I always hate it when the prosecutor dwells on the horrificness of the deed to prove the defendant guilty. Doesn’t seem right does it? Your quote from Moreland and your comment on it reveal show how far this has gone. Let’s see, Moreland (and Dembski) want to criticize naturalism using science and philosophy. How terrible, actually using science and philosophy. Next they want to develop a scientific positive research program. Again, unthinkable. Just think of those murder victims, and you can see how evil this all is.

But what about Biola’s Statement of Faith? Isn’t this a “denial of academic freedom”? I could tell you stories about denial of academic freedom. Unfortunately, they have nothing to do with Christian institutions which are up front with their presuppositions.

Comment #11314

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 6, 2004 1:47 PM (e)

Dr. Hurd,

Your narrative is disturbing. I don’t think many of us have the experience with creationists to equal yours, which has given you such dark insights.

I plead with everyone to please try and see the bigger question in all this: how to bridge the gap between ordinary folks whose mentality it is to give each point of view a fair shot, and the academia who see right through the maneuvering of leading creationists?

I can’t see myself standing up in front of a class full of students and talking about Holocoust denial equaling what their parents have told them. I am sure they would be insulted. I am sure that is not what Dr. Hurd meant to suggest.

If the purpose of the comparison is to enhance our own understanding of leading ID/creationists, then I can at least say that it adds to my motivation to oppose anti-science, and I leave it at that.

Comment #11315

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 1:49 PM (e)

GWW writes:
****************
I really think you are a dishonest rube but here’s a shot at redemption.

Provide proof which supports your claims that

(1) Homologies very often arise from non homologous development processes.

NOTE: please define what you mean by “very often” in this context.

(2) This is, and has been for a long time, been well known.

(3) Yet the going high school text book says the exact opposite (in an uncategorical statement).

I’m especially interested in (3) but really you should provide answers to all three questions if you expect to be taken any more seriously than the typical creationist apologist (a group which includes you, as far as I’m concerned)
*******************

Great White, what will you do if I’m right?

Comment #11316

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 1:50 PM (e)

the point remains that Johnson’s views on the cause of HIV, just like Well’s views regarding Rev. Moon’s identity, is a ~separate~ issue that so far has not impacted or intermingled with his works.

No. Wrong. False. And previously addressed. Too bad you can’t be bothered to reply honestly and articulately, but of course no one is expecting that from you anymore, FL.

Denver high school student Danny Phillips, who responded to a dogmatic Darwinist “official story” spoonfeeding (a NOVA video the class had to watch) with a carefully-homeworked request for officials to drop the video. Ultimately, his request caught people’s attention

….therefore proving that evolution is just another form of religious dogma??? Geezus, FL. Shameless.

there IS a reason why his book(s) like Darwin on Trial have scored with people, visibily challenged the dominion of dogmatic darwinism at the national level

Of course there’s a reason. It’s because a lot of evangelicals in this country would rather recite a pleasing script that is consistent with their evangelical beliefs than accept facts that they aren’t intelligent enough to digest and evaluate. Human nature.

There is a visible difference between Johnson’s argumentation and what you read in a UFO magazine.

Um, yeah, FL. Johnson talks about Christianity and God and tells scary stories. That’s the important difference. Just how blind does a person have to be to fail to recognize this?

Johnson is into specifics, thoroughness and examples,

False. Especially when it comes to explaining why he believes that “intelligent design theory” should be taught as “alternative” explanation for the diversity of life on earth in public school science class. Johnson is neither specific nor thorough and we all know there are no examples of “intelligent design theory” being used by any credible scientist to study biology.

I thought you’d hit rock bottom, FL. But like the Holocaust deniers, that doesn’t stop you from licking the scum off the floor and wagging your tongue at us.

Comment #11317

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 1:56 PM (e)

Great White, what will you do if I’m right?

Admit I’m wrong and apologize. I hope that’s motivating enough for you.

Comment #11320

Posted by FL on December 6, 2004 2:24 PM (e)

I thought you’d hit rock bottom, FL. But like the Holocaust deniers, that doesn’t stop you from licking the scum off the floor and wagging your tongue at us.

You ~do~ have a rather vivid way with words, GWW! Yuckypoo!

Of course I do register my disagreement with your claim, fwiw…

FL

Comment #11321

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 2:33 PM (e)

GWW writes: Admit I’m wrong and apologize.

You were supposed to say that you would admit that there are evidences against evolution. I don’t need an apology, I need people to be, as Huxley, urged, open to revising their positions based on evidence rather than dogma.

For #1 and #2 you need to study embryology and development. This is utterly non controversial and your skepticism and labeling me dishonest is simply another example of the problem we’re talking about on this thread. In the 1930s Sir Gavin de Beer (later to be Director of the British Museum of National History) first began finding examples of homologous structures developing from non homologous development patterns and genes. Completely contradictory of what evolution would predict. This “research problem” has continued up to today. Pere Alberch described this (homologous structures developing from non homologous development patterns) as the “rule rather than the exception.” This what I mean by “very often.” Good enough? He concluded that ontogeny is not conserved. [Systematic Zoology, 34:46-58, 1985]

For #3, a recent addition to high school biology textbooks is Holt’s *Biology* written by Johnson and Raven. In its chapter on evolution, it has a section entitled “Evidence of Evolution.” In that section it discusses evidence from embryonic development. It gives the classic pentadactyl pattern example, and it says “The forelimbs of vertebrates contain the kinds of bones, which form in the same way during embryological development.” [p. 286]. Not only is this not right, more importantly, it is a misleading statement since it is not generally the case. In fact, the embryological development patterns are *NOT* generally the same for homologies.

Comment #11324

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 6, 2004 3:38 PM (e)

To “MI”

I have never heard a creationist say that fossils, as a matter of course, are fake. I’m not doubting your experience, just pointing out that this is not a general position within creation. In fact, I don’t know of any creationist “thinker” who holds such a position.

Where have you been hiding? Pull your head out (from under the covers, naturally) and look around. This is of course the classic “NO TRUE SCOTSMAN” defense. Denial of the entirety of geology and paleontology is the oldest and most common creationist ploys to deny the reality of the physical universe. It is simple and to the point: fossils are fakes, there is no geological column, there are no “evidences” for evilution or an ancient universe, the Bible is (in KJV English translation or other flavor of the moment) therefore literally true. Your simple denial that this is common might possibly be the result of your inexperience with creationism books and promoters. Maybe this is why you view them as so innocent and innocuous. This lack of basic awareness of the creationists’ major claims detracts greatly for your credibility.

The destructiveness of creationists in positions of power is shown in this quote,

“My responsibility is to follow the Scriptures which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus Returns.” –James Watt to the Wall Street Journal as quoted in “James Watt & the Puritan Ethic.” By Colman McCarthy. Washington Post, May 24, 1981. PAGE L5

He also said while US Secretary of the Interior that there wasn’t enough time to cut down, or burn all the forests before the “Second Coming of Christ,” so this wasn’t an important policy matter.

“MI” is making themselves a very good example of “creationist think.” For example, I quoted J. P. Moreland’s approving quotation of Dembski’s program to “defeat naturalism” and replace “every field of inquiry infected with naturalism” with a scheme attributing the universe and all its workings to “the God of Scripture.” I shouldn’t need to repeat this a third time. Anyone can read it in the earlier comments.

“MI” manages to only read this clear statement by Moreland and Dembski as,

Let’s see, Moreland (and Dembski) want to criticize naturalism using science and philosophy.

S/He has hidden their entire program behind the “fig leaf” statement of point #1, a “scientific/philosophical critique.” We have seen that this “scientific/philosophical critique” is bankrupt and has at best regurgitated some anti-evolution propaganda. There is no science as we have shown in Matt Young, Tanner Edis (Editors), 2004 Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism Rutgers University Press

S/He continues,

How terrible, actually using science and philosophy. Next they want to develop a scientific positive research program. Again, unthinkable.

Errrr, Aww? Think again, “Gawd-did-it” isn’t a “positive research program.” It is the path to the new inquisition.

Finally, s/he tries to trivialize the issue by conflating two separate points; 1) there is always the danger that quite ordinary and well meaning people will readily follow false leaders and commit horrible acts with sincere belief that they are acting in God’s will, and 2) the stated goal of the entire ID movement is the elimination of what creationists call “naturalism,” or as Johnson has put it “the Church of Darwin,” and scientists call “science.” The first point contains reflection on the 1st amendment separation of Church and State: we can avoid these ‘excesses’ of zealotry by insulating secular power from the religious passions while at the same time granting freedom to worship by sheltering believers from the coercion of government. The second point is self evident from the creationist writings quoted.

Comment #11326

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 6, 2004 4:02 PM (e)

There is a vast difference between the evolution deniers that are professionals (the focus of my great distain) and the poor souls that swallow the professionals codswallop. Here is a quite typical, unedited offering of Joe Q. Creationist,

I went to an evolution talk today actually, and have got it all fresh in my memory. I dont have the bets memory…oops. Anyway, he was talking about how ridiculous evolution is. The topiuc came up of rock formations and time…then the Grand Canyon came up. Evolutionists came to the conclution that the river next to it over a long amont of time has eroded it slowly to form the cliffs and magnificent looks of the GC. But creationists (those who beleive oin creation) have seen “little grand canyon” and that was created in 2 days becasue of a mud slide and a LOT of water, only in 2 days…or hours! And it has similar features as…you guessed it-the grand canyon. So more then likely, the grand canyon didnt take THOUSANDS of years to develop into waht they are now.

Also…you know the land reptile that can also swim..? Anyway-they saw it evolved to swim…this whale like thing with arms! And all they found of it was a few teeth, and a few bits of its jaws…none of its body-so how can they say it had arms and looked like a whale without more bones…and they weren’t there. Evolutionsists just consatntly role themselves. But God’s Word remains solid…funny huh. You find out the truth quicky! They just dont want to accept it!? Why… I want all people to be saved!

Now I am sure that this is a real good kid, loves his mother, and is good to his dog. Better than that, he is easy to lead and with a bit of training will “see the struggle through to the end.” A bitter end.

Comment #11327

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 4:15 PM (e)

MI

Well I will apologize for not understanding completely what you were getting at when you said that “homologies very often arise from non homologous development processes.”

I’m a molecular biologist by training so I thought you were referring to DNA homologies.

homologous structures developing from non homologous development patterns and genes. Completely contradictory of what evolution would predict.

Horse hockey. Where do you come up with stuff? In essence, then, you are saying that the duck-billed platypus is evidence that it didn’t evolve. Really really really naive.

I don’t need to learn about development and embryology, MI. You need to learn about evolution. I succeed learning about evolution from the vast majority of genuine biological scientists and not the tiny circle of cranks from which you get your info.

I need people to be, as Huxley, urged, open to revising their positions based on evidence rather than dogma.

You are quite obviously among the worst of all people to lead by example in this regard. Just out of curiosity, what other “controversial” stuff do you think merits a second glance? Biblical innerancy? Telepathy? Poltergeists? Sasquatch? Communication with the dead? Alien abduction?

All of these “controversies” have their rabid supporters who rail against the “dogmatic” tyranny of the majority opinion. Are you keeping up on the Sasquatch literature, MI? If not, why not? The discovery of Sasquatch would be a huge event for evolutionary biologists, especially if they are part of an underground race of advanced beings like in that Six Million Dollar Man episode. That discovery would kill a couple birds with one stone. Even Charlie Wagner might seem like a prophet.

Now then. What is the “uncategorical” “exact opposite” of the statement that “Homologies very often arise from non homologous development processes”?

It’s hard to say, really. But a reasonable person would probably say that the answer is “homologies very rarely arise from non homologous development processes,” or “homologies very often arise from homologous developmental processes.”

So, what does the textbook say?

It says, “The forelimbs of vertebrates contain the kinds of bones, which form in the same way during embryological development.”

It’s hard to address the “uncategorical” aspect of your claim because (surprise, surprise) you’ve given us a single sentence out of context. In any event, the statement you quoted isn’t even close to the “exact opposite” of “Homologies very often arise from non homologous development processes”. For starters, vertebrates constitute a tiny tiny fraction of the life forms on earth! Even if I accepted at face value your claim that the development pathways which create and pattern bones in most vertebrate limbs rely on “nonhomologous” signalling molecules (which I don’t, by the way) your claim is bogus.

So when do I get an apology from you for your error? I can’t recall one of your science-disparagers ever apologizing for making an easily disprovable false claim on a Monday. Maybe you can be the first.

Comment #11328

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 4:17 PM (e)

Gary: Where have you been hiding? Pull your head out (from under the covers, naturally) and look around. This is of course the classic “NO TRUE SCOTSMAN” defense. Denial of the entirety of geology and paleontology is the oldest and most common creationist ploys to deny the reality of the physical universe. It is simple and to the point: fossils are fakes, there is no geological column, there are no “evidences” for evilution or an ancient universe, the Bible is (in KJV English translation or other flavor of the moment) therefore literally true

Me: All this in response to my statements that I have never heard a creationist say that fossils, as a matter of course, are fake, and that I don’t know of any creationist “thinker” who holds such a position. A classic “NO TRUE SCOTSMAN” defense? Where did this come from? My point was that there is middle position that you seem to be ignoring, not that there is no extreme position. I said nothing about where the majority lies, and I agreed that there are no doubt there are problems within the creation spectrum. I hold no brief for fossil deniers, and if there is a majority in that extreme position, then that is too bad. But no amount of your shouting can prove there is not a middle position. I have not studied creationism in detail, but I do know plenty of creationists, none of whom deny the fossils.

Gary: S/He has hidden their entire program behind the “fig leaf” statement of point #1, a “scientific/philosophical critique.” We have seen that this “scientific/philosophical critique” is bankrupt and has at best regurgitated some anti-evolution propaganda. There is no science as we have shown in Matt Young, Tanner Edis (Editors), 2004 Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism Rutgers University Press.

Me: Translation – “we wrote a book criticizing ID, so from here on out no one has the right to pursue anything but naturalism.” Let’s see now, where is the “denial of academic freedom”?

Gary: Errrr, Aww? Think again, “Gawd-did-it” isn’t a “positive research program.” It is the path to the new inquisition.

Me: Oh, I see. Gary thinks that “Gawd-did-it” isn’t legitimate science, so from here on out no one has the right to pursue it (I guess Newton didn’t get Gary’s memo). Oh, and by the way, if you try you’ll be labelled as a part of the new inquisition. I feel like I’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone.

Comment #11330

Posted by Joe McFaul on December 6, 2004 4:38 PM (e)

MI, You’ve crossed the credibility line quite awhile ago. Maybe you didn’t get Gary Hurd’s “no true Scotsman” reference, which comes from the argument, “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge. Ah, but my friend Angus Campbell puts sugar on *his* porridge. Well, then no *TRUE* Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”

That’s the fallacy and you’ve committed it, when you said, “I have never heard a creationist say that fossils are fake.” MI, I’d like to introduce you to “Angus,” actually, Answers in Genesis, a creationist site posting a list of frequently used arguments that creationists use but shouldn’t becasue they are flawed.

Guess what one of those is?

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/dont_use.asp

But no TRUE creationist would make that argument.

Comment #11331

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 6, 2004 4:40 PM (e)

“MI” Take some time and try for something substantive. You now admit you have “ not studied creationism in detail” and yet you have merrily pontificated about the topic for a day or so now. You have solemnly pronounced about many topics that to even a junior student you are at best ill informed. Stop it. You are embarrassing your cause.

Comment #11332

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 4:41 PM (e)

MI writes

Gary thinks that “Gawd-did-it” isn’t legitimate science, so from here on out no one has the right to pursue it

Geezus, yet another untruth. Where did you pull that from, MI?

Don’t waste all your sins here, friend. There are more entertaining ways to be nasty, believe me.

Comment #11334

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 4:51 PM (e)

Joe, I guess you didn’t read what I wrote very carefully. I’m afraid you can’t pigeon-hole me into the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. And again, this points up the problem here. You folks, it seems, are unable to perceive the nuances of the movement you love to hate. I made no mention of “true” creationists vs imposters. I merely made the point that there is a middle position that Gary was ignoring. Your pointing to the AiG site simply makes my point. There is no “no true Scotsman” argument in my statement that “I have never heard a creationist say that fossils are fake.” In fact, I did not even imply that. You read that into my statement.

Comment #11335

Posted by MI on December 6, 2004 4:54 PM (e)

Now you know why I asked GWW what he would do if I gave the supporting evidence. Because there is no evidence that can harm evolution. Think of it, a phenomenon that is not controversial, that goes against evolution’s predictions, and what do we get out of GWW? Just more abuse and confused statements.

Here’s the story: Very similar species, have very similar designs that arise from different development pathways (different embryonic development or genes). This is the rule, not the exception. Evolution predicted that these homologies would come from homologous development pathways. Pretty straightforward. This is a problem for evolution. But the going high school textbook, in the section giving *evidences* for evolution, discusses development pathways yet gives *no* mention of this problem, and instead makes the erroneous statement that the pentadactyl pattern is an example of how development pathways are homologous. The text gives the student not so much of an inkling that there is an issue here.

Somehow, GWW decides that this really is not a prediction of evolution after all. In fact, it is me who must not understand evolution, how I am “quite obviously among the worst of all people to lead by example in this regard.” You see, this is all my fault. Gee, I must be lying about all this. I’ve obviously fabricated the whole thing because, after all, anyone who doubts evolution and naturalism, as Gary has explained, is one step away for all manner of insidious evil.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you all to your own devices. I feel like I’m stepping out of a mad-house.

Comment #11336

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 5:10 PM (e)

Because there is no evidence that can harm evolution.

Um, MI. Evolution is a natural process. How could it be “harmed” by evidence?

Also, Ernie and Bert aren’t gay. They’re puppets.

Comment #11337

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 5:20 PM (e)

Very similar species, have very similar designs that arise from different development pathways (different embryonic development or genes). This is the rule, not the exception.

“Different” or “non-homologous”, MI?

Sigh.

So we’ve heard from MI and FL. When do we get to hear from OH and TX?

Comment #11338

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 6, 2004 5:36 PM (e)

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you all to your own devices. I feel like I’m stepping out of a mad-house.

This is called a “Nixon.” Declare victory and retreat.

Bye Bye.

Comment #11341

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 6, 2004 5:53 PM (e)

Poor MI. You guys should really be more friendly.

Comment #11343

Posted by F M Ral on December 6, 2004 6:42 PM (e)

Sorry if this has been mentioned on this blog before – I’m new here, and I’m enjoying reading – but have you all seen the new Newsweek poll of Americans showing:

– 79 percent believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus

– 55 percent believe every word of the Bible is literally accurate

– 62 percent say they favor teaching creation science in addition to evolution in public schools

– 43 percent favor teaching creation science instead of evolution in public schools

I accept what my open eyes tell me, and I don’t believe much of anything in books written by those who lived when most people thought the earth was flat and the wheel was a really cool new invention. So, you needn’t convince me about the truth of evolution. But when I see figures like these, I wonder if our species has evolved intellectually very much at all. Seems we’ve regressed in many ways since the Enlightenment at least. Why are the forces of irrationality still so strong? Maybe those who deny evolution are right: maybe we’re all still just a bunch of dumb monkeys. Or at least 79 percent of us.

Comment #11345

Posted by ~DS~ on December 6, 2004 7:11 PM (e)

Yes F M Ral, there is progress. It’s slow, at times it reverses for a bit, but the the trend over the last 500 years is very clear. We are moving away from the old cultures which relied on churches/religions for explanations of the natural world and to cultures which employ science and rationale. Present circumstances in the US excepted of course ;)

Comment #11346

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 6, 2004 8:22 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #11349

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 6, 2004 9:50 PM (e)

Mr. Cordova,

Your jabs might sting if you were not so lowly regarded.

GH

Comment #11350

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 6, 2004 9:55 PM (e)

Sal writes

The Pandas had a monopoly and led the debate early on in the first 100 posts, but the IDists now command the high ground in that discussion at post 186 after 2 weeks.

Heh.

As someone whose followed quite a few threads on all kinds of blogs, I think it is almost always the case that there is no “high ground” to be claimed beyond 100 posts.

Comment #11354

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 7, 2004 12:29 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #11355

Posted by PvM on December 7, 2004 1:29 AM (e)

Yawn, Sal, your comments become boring as they do not even show that this was the omst central definition of CSI or that ignoring this definition was inexusable
Don’t embarass yourself any further please. I know you believe you have nothing to lose in these debates but please everyone has some sense of self respect. Even those who delete threads when they become too hot for comfort :-)
Is ID that desperate I wonder? If anything ARN people have demonstrated nicely why ID is without much scientific merrit. And we have you among many to thank for that.

Comment #11366

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 7, 2004 7:53 AM (e)

Salvador,

Pursuing probabalistic evidence for the existance of an “intelligent designer” is a waste of time. Therefore, gaining a solid understanding in the methods by which to attain that goal is also nothing but a waste of time. Why should anyone be bothered with the sheer stupidity of it?

If you believe in God, then BELIEVE. It’s part of the equation.

Comment #11374

Posted by slpage on December 7, 2004 10:33 AM (e)

From the ARN thread that Salvdor is winning:

Salvador writes,
quote:
—————————————————————-
Hate to rub it in, but I have a stronger background in information theory and ID literature than all the ID critics on this thread combined with the possible exception of RBH, and they still tried to take me on.
—————————————————————-

I know it’s just a saying. but no, you don’t “hate to rub it in.” You love gloating.

You’re also delusional about the quality of your knowledge, your arguments, your ability to present those arguments clearly, and your belief that you “win” all these “debates.”

Comment #11375

Posted by PvM on December 7, 2004 10:42 AM (e)

Sal wrote:

Hate to rub it in, but I have a stronger background in information theory and ID literature than all the ID critics on this thread combined with the possible exception of RBH, and they still tried to take me on.

Why then does he show such a poor understanding of these concepts and an inability to defend them?
Either 1) he deletes or revises his own comments 2) he deletes the whole thread 3) he starts taunting with references to Shallit 4) he starts trying to divert by claiming erroneously that he has debunked Shallit & Elsberry 5) He starts talking about Turing machines

Sal makes for one of the best ID proponents an ID critic could wish for.

Comment #11378

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 7, 2004 12:41 PM (e)

Katarina,

ID is supported by physics. Quantum Mechanics strongly suggest the existence of God. That’s not a religious position, but a scientific one, a straight foward deduction as a matter fact.

If God exists, and He is intellgence, we have hope that we can detect ID artifcats which He made.

God’s existence is no longer a matter of faith, it’s written into the equations of physics.

Salvador

Comment #11380

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 7, 2004 1:24 PM (e)

Quantum Mechanics strongly suggest the existence of God.

God’s existence is no longer a matter of faith, it’s written into the equations of physics.

Which is it, ye of slippery tongue? “strongly suggest” or “inherent”? Last time I checked, those phrases meant two different things.

Funny that Salvador claims to be an evangelical Christian whose faith is based on a book. How does that work when words have no fixed meaning?

Are you ready for the spotlight yet, Salvador? Or do you want to dig your hole deeper? I think we’re nearing the point where you need a bigger microphone. Why should we alone be privileged to know so intimately your dissembling and dishonest ways?

Comment #11381

Posted by Steve on December 7, 2004 1:33 PM (e)

So THAT’s what that 5th Maxwell’s Equation is.

div E = p/epsilon
div B = 0
curl E = -dPhi/dt
curl B = mu i
Laplacian J = God/42

I wondered what that was.

Comment #11383

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 7, 2004 2:27 PM (e)

All right fellow kids, this has wandered off into the ditch. I am going to leave comments open for 8 hours to see if there is any aditional comments that are relevant.

I suppose Mr. Cordova should be allowed one freebee parting shot.

Comment #11385

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 7, 2004 3:27 PM (e)

In my opening post I quoted a well regarded historian, Gordon Craig, who could write of Irving in a New York Review of Books review of his “Gobbles,

“It is always difficult for the non-historian to remember that there is nothing absolute about historical truth. What we consider as such is only an estimation, based on what the best available evidence tells us. It must constantly be tested against new information and new interpretations that appear, however implausible they may be, or it will lose its vitality and degenerate into dogma or shibboleth. Such people as David Irving, then, have an indispensable part in the historical enterprise, and we dare not disregard their views.” (Emphasis added, all quotes from Evans 2001:9)

I wish I had thought to contrast this directly with Ruse’s dust jacket blurb for Dembski’s William Dembski’s book No Free Lunch:

“I disagree strongly with the position taken by William Dembski. But I do think that he argues strongly and that those of us who do not accept his conclusions should read his book and form our opinions and counterarguments. He should not be ignored.”

which Jason Rosenhouse used to illustrate the degree to which Michael Ruse has supported Intelligent Design Creationists, and William Dembski particularly.

Comment #11388

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 7, 2004 3:44 PM (e)

Laplacian J = God/42

Heh. Love the denominator.

Comment #11391

Posted by Erasmus on December 7, 2004 5:48 PM (e)

This is my first post, folks, so please forgive any newby technical blunders.

Johnson, as an evolution/HIV denier, and the Holocaust deniers, obviously (and objectively) have something in common. The question is whether it is valid to link these behaviours, which from a psychological perspective means, is there a common causal explanation? Johnson himself has related how he turned against evolution in the aftermath of a divorce and subsequent ‘re-birth’ into Christianity. I don’t know the details of his divorce circumstances, but it occurs to me that it is common for men, expecially those with a controlling personality, to ‘go into denial’ and then on the attack (sometimes physically) in response to rejection by their partner. In Johnson, I think we have a personality type that, when combined with a keen intellect, is set up for delusional behaviour, and if you can lie to yourself, it’s not a long step to lying to others. In adopting the ID cause, he is able to regain some of the sense of control that he lost when his marriage disintegrated.

It’s just a theory (grin).

Comment #11392

Posted by Erasmus on December 7, 2004 5:56 PM (e)

Katarina,

ID is supported by physics. Quantum Mechanics strongly suggest the existence of God. That’s not a religious position, but a scientific one, a straight foward deduction as a matter fact.

If God exists, and He is intellgence, we have hope that we can detect ID artifcats which He made.

God’s existence is no longer a matter of faith, it’s written into the equations of physics.

Salvador

So what’s the algebraic proof for “God”, Salvador? Please show all workings. Please include (if relevant) proof that your God is the same God that smoted Sodom & Gomorrah, etc.

Comment #11407

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 7, 2004 9:43 PM (e)

Hello, Erasmus.

You do shed some light on Johnson, but to be fair, those kinds of things are very personal and anything of that nature has wabbly legs in a debate setting. Using personal attacks only makes a debator seem like he/she has already lost the case so needs to resort to something else.

My mother-in-law with whom I’ve been gently discussing this for a while, actually sees Johnson’s re-birth to Christ as an excellent thing, she is aware of his problems, but because he is a Christian he is now on the “right” side and to be trusted.

This site is dedicated to ripping ID apart scientifically, that is the most important, and that has been successfully done. ID keeps regurgitating and rebutting, but it is only for the purpose of keeping reputable scientists engaged in an endless debate with them, which lends them credibility with the public. This was brought up in an earlier post, and I am beginning to see the point.

Unfortunately, to most people willing to believe Johnson, Dembski, and the rest, the science is a secondary question. I hope more Christians will do what Richard Collin has done in writing his book (on a more recent post on this site), revealing how theologically empty the search for scientific proof of God is.

What happened to faith?

Comment #11408

Posted by Bob Maurus on December 7, 2004 9:55 PM (e)

Just as an aside, could anyone explain to me exactly what divorce has to do with evolution? Inquiring minds might like some illumination here.

Salvador, where are you when we need you?

Comment #11409

Posted by Lurker on December 7, 2004 10:19 PM (e)

LOL

f(x) = 0, therefore God exists?

Comment #11410

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 7, 2004 10:59 PM (e)

Bob Maurus,

I do sympathise with religious people who resist evolutionary explanations for human relationships. May I answer your question in a not-so-serious way to demonstrate the point?

Could I hazard a guess that more mates = more offspring?

And it doesn’t hurt to diversify the gene pool, either.

On the other hand, mates sticking together ensures that the offspring are well cared for, especially if there is no longer a village to offer additional parenting. We lived as tribesmen for much longer than we have in civilized isolation in a high-density human population, as we do now.

But it must be that the beginning of matrimony lies somewhere deep in our ancestoral past when the males demonstrated dominance by having monopoly over the females. It must have been in the interest of the female too, to have some protection from an all out gang-rape.

How much better it seems to say that God created man and woman and it is sin that tears them apart. My marriage seems much more dear when I think about it in religious ways, even though I do not deny the work of anthropologists.

‘Course, some people do.

Comment #11418

Posted by johnsmith on December 8, 2004 12:28 AM (e)

Katrina said:

This site is dedicated to ripping ID apart scientifically, that is the most important, and that has been successfully done. ID keeps regurgitating and rebutting, but it is only for the purpose of keeping reputable scientists engaged in an endless debate with them, which lends them credibility with the public. This was brought up in an earlier post, and I am beginning to see the point.

…oh my…not sure you understand the full scope of the debate, or the “motives” of those who might be in favor of ID. As a scientist, I see no reason to disregard such a theory, despite the best intentions of the “reputable” scientists who run this site.

BTW, speaking of the material on this site…where’s the quality educational info on evolution?…where’s the balanced debate on ID vs. evolution that almost all the threads are devoted to - or do threads like this pass for a good overview on why one might adopt a belief system that accepts the notion of Intelligent Design?

Hi Dr GH!!!

Why do you care so much about the thoughts of IDers and what they spend their time debating about? Why do you care so much how about how they may choose to educate their children?

If you are on the side of the the minority on certain educational issues, I guess you feel your opinions trump those of 10 or 100 “ignorant” citizens who don’t subscribe to your way of thinking.

Why don’t you ship your kids off to a private school so they’ll be shielded from the masses? I’m sure they’ll be much happier as a result.

I do question your motives for contibuting to this site, and find your thread to be rather ironic. Who’s leading the debate Dr. GH? Maybe it’s you and your kind who needs the forum to give meaning to your hard earned thoughts.

Comment #11420

Posted by Jason Malloy on December 8, 2004 12:43 AM (e)

I accept your analogy, but (as long as we’re making coyly normative comparisons) it would seem to me that people who believe in “God”, the bodily resurrection/deity of Jesus, and “life after death” scenarios are certainly also a lot like Holocaust Deniers. All the parties seem to be able to latch on to some pretty wicked BS with acrobatic disregard for the scientific method and objectivity. Theists and Holocaust Deniers are also in a locked step.

Comment #11424

Posted by FL on December 8, 2004 7:36 AM (e)

Theists and Holocaust Deniers are also in a locked step.

Now that’s an interesting development. This thread started out with a mondo-beyondo claim that “evolution-deniers” and “holocaust-deniers” were “in a locked step”.

But now this rather bizarre original claim has ~evolved~, as it were, into a full-blown straight-faced claim that all theists are in lockstep with holocaust-deniers.

And to think that MI was criticized for saying “I feel like I’m stepping out of a mad-house.”
Dr. GH, are those eight hours up yet?

FL :-)

Comment #11435

Posted by Pete on December 8, 2004 1:29 PM (e)

Steve wrote:

So THAT’s what that 5th Maxwell’s Equation is.

div E = p/epsilon
div B = 0
curl E = -dPhi/dt
curl B = mu i
Laplacian J = God/42

At last I understand! Div, Grad, Curl, and All That is on the same spectral level as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Comment #11437

Posted by Bob Maurus on December 8, 2004 1:42 PM (e)

Hi Katarina,

My question was prompted by this (to me) amusing reference in Erasmus’post: “Johnson himself has related how he turned against evolution in the aftermath of a divorce and subsequent ‘re-birth’ into Christianity.”

I would agree that marriage can be seen as a form of property control and male domination. I think, as a formal institution, it’s probably a result of unfortunate appearance of patriarchal gods, and also observe that it’s not at all a necessary ingredient for well cared for children. I’ve seen studies that claim to show that humans are not a naturally monogamous species. Actually, very few species are.
More female mates would mean more offspring for a male - not the other way around though.

Johnson’s divorce must have been a doozy!

Comment #11438

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 8, 2004 1:46 PM (e)

As bizarre as it may seem, I find myself in agreement with FL. At least to the extent that Jason Malloy’s comment is unsupported, and indeed insupportable. I urge that he retract it.

By positing the existence of a deity which by supernatural powers is able to commit miracles, the believer has placed the examination of their belief outside the realm of science. Which is fine with me with the only reservation that this belief can not be thought of as a ‘science.’ This removes religion from the identification made by Jason Malloy. Twenty-five years ago I argued at an AAAS annual meeting that we can not deny the validity of supernatural belief as such, but as scientists and educators we were obligated to oppose efforts to insert supernatural accounts into science. (The resolution was amended from the floor reflecting this concern).

This is totally different, however, from those who deny that they are making a special appeal to the supernatural, and that they employ the methodology of science to recover the supernatural. This is parallel to those who have claimed to use objective means of historic and scientific examination of evidence to deny the Nazi Holocaust.

The founding principle of religious freedom in America also demands that publicly (tax) supported institutions can not use the coercive power of the government to dictate (or even favor) one religious faction over another. This is what excluded the teaching of ‘creation science’ for public schools. Intelligent Design Creationism is the current attempt to avoid the Constitution by claiming that Judeo Christian creationism can be reworked to allow it to be considered a valid “alternative” scientific hypothesis and neither religious nor favoring a particular deity/designer.

This leads directly to the purpose of Panda’s Thumb, and the TalkDesign Archive, which is to challenge that Intelligent Design Creationism can meet the claim that it is a valid hypothesis when judged on its scientific merits, and to expose the religious and political nature of IDC as opposed to its so-called science. This latter goal is a partial motivation for my original post.

The comments have come back toward the opening topic, and I would like to leave this open for at least another day.

Comment #11454

Posted by Colin on December 8, 2004 5:04 PM (e)

I may be too late to spark an interesting discussion, but if so, that’s what I get for lurking for so long.

As an attorney, this discussion calls to mind a more apt comparison that happens to resonate in legal circles: ID advocates are very similar to “tax protesters,” or individuals who maintain that the federal government does not have the power to levy income taxes.

Both groups operate in the face of overwhelming evidence against their positions. They are each comprised of somewhat diverse elements - from simply confused or ignorant cheerleaders to outrageously dishonest ringleaders - bound together by obvious ulterior motives.

The tactics employed by the groups are also similar. Each places enormous reliance on quote-mining, out of context citations, muddying the definition of key words and concepts (cf. IDists’ take on “theory” or even “evolution” with tax protesters’ myopic take on “includes,” “income,” and “person”). Both groups rely on ignorance and both active and passive dishonesty to propagate their messages.

Well, I could go on. I’m struck by how analogous the two movements are. If you’re interested, I recommend a FAQ I found recently that, like some of the resources I’ve found through this site, exhaustively summarizes and refutes the arguments of tax protesters:

http://evans-legal.com/dan/tpfaq.html

Finally, there are some obvious flaws in the analogy. The most interesting is the profound difference between scientific evidence and legal authority. I think a good argument could be made that they are similar enough in this context that the analogy stands.

I think, in the end, that this is a much better analogy than comparing creationists to Holocaust deniers. That analogy will often turn off people who don’t feel strongly about promoting honest science, and casts creationists as the victims of extreme rhetoric (whether or not that rhetoric is accurate). For the purposes of arguing against creationist tactics, especially in a legal context, this is a better comparison.

Comment #11456

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 8, 2004 5:14 PM (e)

Colin

Good point. Your analogy also has the advantage of superior evidence – as I recall, one particularly big-mouthed creationist is in fact a tax protester.

http://www.blessedquietness.com/journal/housechu/hovind.htm

I don’t know if he is a Holocaust denier as well. But it wouldn’t surprise me.

Comment #11469

Posted by Katarina Aram on December 8, 2004 7:54 PM (e)

johnsmith wrote:

“ … oh my … not sure you understand the full scope of the debate, or the “motives” of those who might be in favor of ID. As a scientist, I see no reason to disregard such a theory, despite the best intentions of the “reputable” scientists who run this site.”

I would like very much if you could enhance my understanding of this debate. Since you see no reason to disregard ID, how would you evaluate it?

Comment #11470

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 8, 2004 8:49 PM (e)

Following on the comment by Colin, I get the feeling that there is a more general observation to be made about psycho fringe social movements. The Tax Protesters, the Shakespear deniers, the Holocaust deniers, evolution deniers, and AIDS deniers all have overlaping MOs and even personel. For example, the Islamic Young Earth Creationist Harun Yahya, in a book called “Holocaust Revisionism”, gives a direct link between evolution denial and Holocaust denial (see also Harun Yahya and Holocaust Revisionism. Kent “Dr.Dino” Hovind, YEC evolution denier and Tax Protester, Phil Johnson & Jonathan Wells, IDC evolution denial and AIDS denial round out the set.

Comment #11478

Posted by Steve on December 8, 2004 9:48 PM (e)

Don’t forget Marshall Hall at fixedearth.com -> evolution denial + rotating/orbiting earth denial.

apparently he’s got a time machine too, because at the very bottom it says
“©1997-2005 Marshall Hall”

Comment #11483

Posted by Jason Malloy on December 8, 2004 11:22 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'b'

Comment #11486

Posted by Wayne Francis on December 9, 2004 12:20 AM (e)

So Jason your view is to be a good scientist you must be an Athiest?

There maybe many things that we will never be able to explain with science. Does this mean that we can not hold personal ideas and beliefs at all?

Even as an Athiest/Agnostic I find this position very offensive. You are unexcepting of others beliefs that don’t even need to conflict with science. You are creating a conflict where their doesn’t need to be one just like the creationist do.

Supernatural and Natural don’t have to intersect. Unless you can prove scientifically that there is no supernatural then why force others to release their belief in the supernatural. While we are finding out more and more about the universe it doesn’t answer the question why? where from? There will always be questions science can’t ask. That is the realm of religion.

Comment #11504

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 9, 2004 11:44 AM (e)

My earlier reply to Jason Malloy seems to have been ignored beyond the first sentences.

Theists of any type who posit that all things are miraculous are quite plainly free from the criticism that they are distorting science, or history: they are excluding science and history. I have had good friends who worshipped gods few people reading this have ever heard of, and I found them quite honest, sincere, and sane. Their particular religious tradition had in the past included human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism. This didn’t make them any particular threat, but one hopes that there is no revivalist movement on the horizon. My personal sense that evolution deniers are in fact a danger is their insistent effort to inject supernaturalism into science at a time when greater clarity than ever before is needed. Questions about the environment and new agricultural and medical technologies can not be competently answered by muddled pseudoscience.

The objections that Jason Malloy is upset by concern vices he seems to attach to particular theologies. Not only are they historically unsound (for example there has been non-religious genocide: Rwanda is a current example), but are irrelevant to the comparison we have been discussing.

The “club of science” gibes are merely childish, I have been “in the club” for 30 years, but they accidentally touched on our actual topic. That is the social and intellectual devices used by “deniers” to generate support for their endeavors.

Further comments that are relevant are welcome, but this is neither the time nor place for further atheist rants which I will simply delete.

Comment #11519

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 9, 2004 6:17 PM (e)

We can add yet another small yet bigmouthed group of obnoxious morons to the list of such groups which are “curiously similar” to (and often overlap with) creationists: the Southern slave apologists.

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1913619p-8258411c.html

Students at one of the area’s largest Christian schools are reading a controversial booklet that critics say whitewashes Southern slavery with its view that slaves lived “a life of plenty, of simple pleasures.”
Leaders at Cary Christian School say they are not condoning slavery by using “Southern Slavery, As It Was,” a booklet that attempts to provide a biblical justification for slavery and asserts that slaves weren’t treated as badly as people think.

Principal Larry Stephenson said the school is only exposing students to different ideas, such as how the South justified slavery. He said the booklet is used because it is hard to find writings that are both sympathetic to the South and explore what the Bible says about slavery.

“You can have two different sides, a Northern perspective and a Southern perspective,” he said.

‘SOUTHERN SLAVERY, AS IT WAS’
Here are some excerpts from the booklet:

* “To say the least, it is strange that the thing the Bible condemns (slave-trading) brings very little opprobrium upon the North, yet that which the Bible allows (slave-ownership) has brought down all manner of condemnation upon the South.” (page 22)

* “As we have already mentioned, the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery was not perfect or sinless, but the reality was a far cry from the horrific descriptions given to us in modern histories.” (page 22)

* “Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.” (page 24)

* “There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.” (page 24)

* “Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.” (page 25)

* “But many Southern blacks supported the South because of long established bonds of affection and trust that had been forged over generations with their white masters and friends.” (page 27)

* “Nearly every slave in the South enjoyed a higher standard of living than the poor whites of the South – and had a much easier existence.” (page 30)

Comment #11520

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 9, 2004 6:26 PM (e)

From the same article, there’s this eerily familiar chestnut:

Angela Kennedy, whose daughters have attended Cary Christian since 1996, said all the booklet does is help students learn about both sides so that they have a basis to form their own opinions. She pointed out that the students also read Abraham Lincoln’s speeches.

“They really do get both sides of the story,” Kennedy said. “In public schools, all they get is one side of the story. That’s not education. That’s indoctrination.”

Sorry, Ms. Kennedy, you pitiful white bigot. Showing children why the enslaving of other humans is wrong is not “indoctrination”. “Indoctrination” is teaching children that a book written thousands of years ago is “divinely inspired” and anyone who doubts its truth is going to suffer unbearable torment for eternity.

People who can’t maintain a distinction between these concepts shouldn’t be trusted to raise children. But according to some, everyone has an inalienable Constitutional right to fxck with the minds of children as long as they give birth to them or adopt them.

Comment #11521

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 9, 2004 6:35 PM (e)

I’ll give the Cary Christian School some credit. Whoever sits on their school board is light years ahead of the Dover boobs.

http://carychristianschool.org/NewsAndEvents/default.cfm

Dec. 9, 2004

As you may be aware, today the News and Observer published a rather negative article about Cary Christian School and our use of a small booklet supplement entitled, “Southern Slavery, As It Was”. Within the article it stated, “the booklet has received criticism from a number of historians and that it has been pulled from publication because of faulty footnotes and citation errors.”

We were unaware of these findings and as a result have already pulled this booklet from our curriculum. Let us reiterate that it is always our goal in the secondary grades to present two sides of an argument. At no time has slavery ever been condoned in our curriculum. As Mr. Stephenson stated within the article, “Slavery is wrong, that’s not debatable. The South was wrong about the slave trade.”

We apologize for this oversight and covet your prayers for our school.

How about if I just wish real hard that Cary Christian learns to appreciate that the anti-gay bigotry which they undoubtedly espouse is no better than racism?

Seriously, though, the difference between the response of Cary Christian to the “revelation” that their pamphlet had been debunked and the actions of the Dover School Board nitwits is striking. Of course, the reason for the different responses is obvious …

Comment #11530

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 9, 2004 11:45 PM (e)

I knew I gave money to SPLC for some reason.

From the School defends slavery booklet

The booklet’s other author, Steve Wilkins, is a member of the board of directors of the Alabama-based League of the South. That is classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights group.

“Doug Wilson and Steve Wilkins have essentially constructed the ruling theology of the neo-Confederate movement,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report.

Potok said people who argue that the South should secede again have latched onto the writings of Wilson and Wilkins, which portray the Confederacy as the last true Christian civilization.

Thanks for this one. Now, if the neoConfederacy could only have annual conferences, or a journal like “Slave Digest.”

Comment #11531

Posted by Jason Malloy on December 9, 2004 11:52 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'b'

Comment #11533

Posted by Steve on December 10, 2004 12:49 AM (e)

The Cary Christian thing, which is happening in my backyard, has gotten a lot of coverage in the News and Observer. Best I can tell, their intent seems to have been to show the kids what the southern whites were thinking at the time. And they appear to have quickly understood that they picked the wrong material to show that. True, some of the parents are unreconstructed assfaces who want to believe that slaves were happy assistants to benevolent plantation owners. No argument there. But the school seems to have had reasonable motives, just flubbed the execution.

Comment #11542

Posted by Flint on December 10, 2004 9:54 AM (e)

Jason Malloy:

I’m not sure I understand this exchange:

There will always be questions science can’t ask. That is the realm of religion.

Wow, what a marvelous role making absurd nonsense up and pimping it off as fact plays in the human condition. Can we please stop pretending religious lies are a noble thing. Lies are bad, Wayne.

I agree with Wayne that there are questions science can’t ask, but I don’t agree with him as to what those questions are. I certainly don’t regard this statement as nonsensical, nor do I regard religious answers to such questions as lies. Maybe we need some examples.

My usual example is that science can determine whether one person killed another, but science cannot even ask whether doing so was right or wrong. The moral decision relies on social conventions informed by religious ethical systems. Science can’t tell us whether a particular law is a good law or a bad one, whether a government policy or program is worth starting/maintaining/eliminating, etc. But religion surely informs any answer to all these questions, directly or indirectly.

Comment #11547

Posted by Great White Wonder on December 10, 2004 11:30 AM (e)

I dunno, Jason.

never should we offend those obviously blameless decent Americans and “scientists” who just want to believe in Santa Claus and teach him as fact to their children and to the poor people in their community … that would be extremist or something.

I don’t think that’s what Gary is saying. Certainly I don’t make an effort not to offend such people (frankly, it’s impossible not to). As long as you don’t use more than five scatological references in a single post, you’re generally okay. That’s my experience.

Declaring the existence of something without evidence for it is not science.

This is where you started sounding like a ranting twit, Jason. When did Gary “declare the existence of something without evidence”?

Comment #11580

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on December 10, 2004 7:14 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #11581

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on December 10, 2004 7:39 PM (e)

Sal, may I point out that you began the argumentative phase of the discussion with a number of rude, sexist remarks? You probably don’t remember them, because you edit your posts.

But my points still stand: you have not demonstrated that this simplistic rewording of the Kalaam Cosmological Argument is valid.

If you actually wish to discuss this, we could go have a mediated debate at IIDB. Or are you chicken? (Sorry, blog owners, couldn’t resist).

But this board and this topic does not appear to be the place for unsupported statements about cosmology and God.

Comment #11584

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on December 10, 2004 9:08 PM (e)

Salvador, if you would, in fact, like to discuss this “demonstration” (it appears inappropriate on this particular thread), I invite you to IIDB.

You have expressed considerable interest in the past in one on one debates untroubled by detractors; IIDB appears to offer an ideal mechanism for this, with strong moderation and no ‘trolls.’

Comment #11588

Posted by Flint on December 11, 2004 12:36 AM (e)

You probably don’t remember them, because you edit your posts.

Perhaps that’s why Salvador isn’t seen here nearly so often: the opportunity to redact his posts is denied him.

But the pattern is nonetheless clear. Salvador makes a stupid claim. The stupidity is pounded into the ground by multiple biologists. Salvador edits his post to eliminate or rewrite his stupid claim. Then he protests that he is being misrepresented. The ARN moderators say nothing. Others learn not to respond to Salvador’s (current) posts, because with the ARN moderators’ blessing they’ll be made to look like fools later..

On this forum Salvador simply vanishes, after making one or more unsupportble statements and a few gratuituous insults.

Comment #11593

Posted by Jason Malloy on December 11, 2004 8:24 AM (e)

Science can’t tell us whether a particular law is a good law or a bad one, whether a government policy or program is worth starting/maintaining/eliminating, etc. But religion surely informs any answer to all these questions, directly or indirectly

Do an Internet search for Jared Diamond’s review of David Sloan Wilson in the NYRB - religion before agricultural consolidation in fact had nothing to do with morality, which was solely determined by kinship. Religion increased its role as a source of tribal mythology into a regulatory force once populations grew to the point where the traditional moral controls of tribal society were no longer feasible. Real morality needs to come from rational considerations (cost/benefit analysis) filtered through personal predispositions, and not tied into arbitrary superstitions or revealed commandments: which actually hurt ethics, because they replace reason with rules.

Comment #11607

Posted by Gary Hurd on December 11, 2004 3:26 PM (e)

OK. It seems time to wrap this up. I waited for Salvador Cordova to make some last comment, and he did.

In the interim, there were some interesting and relevant comments from GWW regarding slavery apologists.

Thanks to all who contributed.