PZ Myers posted Entry 1852 on December 27, 2005 03:08 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1847

You can read the reactions of Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins at Butterflies and Wheels.

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Comment #65159

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 3:51 PM (e)

Daniel Dennett had a problem with Judge Jones saying: “…and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator…”

Dennett, and me too, have a bit of a problem with 4 words in there: “in no way conflicts.” There are some conflicts caused by evolution that it seems Christians can only resolve by grasping at straws or by clinging to some inner experience they can’t share and then reading the Bible as a huge metaphor.

There are some conflicts when one gets down to specific religions, or specific interpretations. The only religion evolution doesn’t seem in conflict with is front loading Deism. But as Thomas Paine noted before evolution existed, in his book “The Age of Reason,” the Bible was in deep trouble before Darwin came along.

Comment #65160

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 4:09 PM (e)

Norman,
I can see no conflict between evolution and Christianity. Please point out to me why I would need to “grasp at straws” to accept both.

Comment #65161

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 4:15 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Please point out to me why I would need to “grasp at straws” to accept both.

Answer this question: What is original sin and what exactly is Jesus saving you from?

Comment #65163

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 4:22 PM (e)

Norman,
I do not believe in original sin. But to answer your question; some people believe original sin was Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge. That is not a view that I accept.

As far as I can see, Jesus was an example of how to live and treat people and therefore a way of saving myself from my worst tendencies.

Comment #65165

Posted by Greg Peterson on December 27, 2005 4:29 PM (e)

Christianity cannot really be ENDLESSLY plastic, can it? There must be, at some point, a shape that it just can’t be bent into. Do you people ever draw a line, anywhere, regarding what you believe? If you’re just going to follow scientific evidence anyway, what exactly is the point of your “revelation”? Your “faith”? Why not just be honest, admit that the revealed religions are obsolete in light of actual evidence, and give up this shabby pretense of believing something so bereft of any content as to be able to accommodate absolutely anything that comes down the pike.

Comment #65166

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 4:36 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott said:

As far as I can see, Jesus was an example of how to live and treat people and therefore a way of saving myself from my worst tendencies.

An example? If you want examples of that there is better art to turn to. I don’t think going around walking on water and getting yourself killed are good examples for human beings.

Have you ever bothered to read the Bible you claim to believe in?

Have you ever bothered to read Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason”?

http://libertyonline.hypermall.com/Paine/AOR-Fra…

Comment #65171

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 27, 2005 4:44 PM (e)

Stephen (whose patience and openmindedness have been well-displayed here, most recently on the Larry FarOut thread), I think that all that’s being said is that some specific factual claims of some specific subspecies of religion cannot easily be squared with the well-evidenced findings of science. Stated that way, it’s pretty hard to deny that science does call some specific religious claims into question.

Beyond that, we’re just back to the same old-same old. Some folks here see no reason to appeal to religion in order to make their way through reality in a satsifactory manner. Other folks here still find comfort, guidance, and the answers to deep non-scientific concerns in religion. And other folks here remain deeply religious, but see nothing contradictory between the specific claims made by their religion (usually not the highly-intolerant, literal, fundamentalist variety) and the reality-based methods and statements of science.

Comment #65174

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 5:03 PM (e)

Norman,
Yes I have read the “bible”, but have not read “age of reason”.

Are you claiming that science disproves God?

That is as invalid as the fundies claiming “the bible disproves science”.

IMO. Science and Religion are two completely different subjects. Just like comparing oranges and apples.

Science: Evidence based explanation of the universe we inhabit.

Religion: Personal view of everything.

Are you trying to claim that to believe and respect scientific findings I need to stop believing in God first?

Comment #65175

Posted by jonboy on December 27, 2005 5:03 PM (e)

How can Jesus be an example on how to live? his performance,(if he ever existed) was that of a con artist.Jesus gave wrong information,lied, called people unsavory names,orders killings and threatens to kill children.Gave bad advice about marriage income and future plans, then ended his life in suicidal death,some role model.

Comment #65177

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 5:09 PM (e)

Posted by jonboy on December 27, 2005 05:03 PM (e) (s)

How can Jesus be an example on how to live? his performance,(if he ever existed) was that of a con artist.Jesus gave wrong information,lied, called people unsavory names,orders killings and threatens to kill children.Gave bad advice about marriage income and future plans, then ended his life in suicidal death,some role model.

Please give links or examples.

That is not the way I read it.

Comment #65179

Posted by H. Humbert on December 27, 2005 5:21 PM (e)

Science and religion are only “apples and oranges” if one doesn’t consider both to be “true.” The instance any religious proposition which runs counter to known scientific laws is believed to be factual, then the conflict between science and religion is very real.

Jesus was just a cool guy: no conflict.

Jesus was a god who rose from the dead: conflict.

Science doesn’t have to be able to disprove god before the conflict arises. It arises as soon as someone makes the claim that god is real and is operating in this Universe.

Comment #65182

Posted by dogscratcher on December 27, 2005 5:37 PM (e)

Personally, I agree with Dennett. Their are certain conceptions of “God” that are excluded if you accept evolution and more generally, science.

Science won’t accept a “god of the gaps,” because it is an instant show stopper: it precludes any further discussion and exploration without adding any substance to a subject. Any conception of god based on a literalist interpretation of revealed scriptures will also be in conflict with science. However this is a conflict more with empirical reality itself, rather than science and evolution.

Fortunately for the faithful, these are both very weak conceptions of god, and there are many more coherent and moderate ways of believing if you feel the need.

Comment #65184

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 5:41 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Are you claiming that science disproves God?

That depends on what you mean by “God.”

What I said was: “The only religion evolution doesn’t seem in conflict with is front loading Deism.” The Bible doesn’t seem to stand up in light of modern science (or even the logic and science of Thomas Paine’s days before Darwin). I think it was not the intention of the Bible’s writers to have their work be interpreted as a huge metaphor for Deism. I think the Bible writers were mostly taking themselves literally and were just dead wrong.

Religion: Personal view of everything.

Schizophrenics have a personal view of everything too – that doesn’t make them right.

Are you trying to claim that to believe and respect scientific findings I need to stop believing in God first?

It depends on what you mean by “God” and how you interpret the Bible. My guess is that your interpretation of the Bible doesn’t hold water when considering what its writers most probably meant.

Comment #65185

Posted by Steve S on December 27, 2005 5:44 PM (e)

Jesus might have been a good guy in some respects, if Revelation is not true. In Revalation he is a mass murderer far beyond Stalin or Mao.

Comment #65186

Posted by jonboy on December 27, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

Family values,try Matt 10:35/36,Luke 14:26 Luke 12:51/53
Peace on Earth,try Matt 10:34 Luke 22:36 Matt 5:17/18
There are hundreds of examples that they fail to teach in Sunday schools ,go to Dennis McKinseys Biblical Errancy webb site and take a open minded look for your self

Comment #65187

Posted by Michael Roberts on December 27, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

Dawkins and Dennett are much like Bethell, equally stupid and prejudiced

Comment #65189

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Michael Roberts wrote:

Dawkins and Dennett are much like Bethell, equally stupid and prejudiced

Spoken like a true Christian.

Comment #65190

Posted by Registered User on December 27, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

If Judge Jones had truly been an activist judge, he would have addressed the following question:

Are religious people permitted to mandate the teaching of lies or gross misrepresentations about reality in public schools for the purpose of shielding their children from all consensus views of professional scientists and/or historians that conflict with their religious mythology?

Or do such actions lead to the excessive entanglement of government and religion?

From my perspective the answer to the two questions is NO and YES, respectively. One has only to consider the results of holdings to the contrary, where public schools and the students who attend them are beholden to the bizarre theories – racist, misogynist, anti-gay or just plain wacko – of whatever “religious” cult happens to set up camp nearby.

What is so remarkable about Judge Jones’ opinion is that he recognized that the “intelligent design” and “teach the contoversy” sham is a Christian invention. The hypocricy of the self-identifying “religious” people on the school board in Dover was breathtaking, as is the hypocricy of the allegedly “religious” people employed by the Discovery Institute.

Judge Jones also recognized what is patently obvious to most of us who have been paying attention to this garbage for years and that is there is no credible “scientific” purpose to the sham. The only way to make sense of the evidence is to simply accept documents like the Wedge document and the statements of Phil Johnson and Howard Ahmonsen for the truth of what is plainly written on them: Jesus is Lord is the One True God and until that fact is broadcast continually by all channels the fight must go on.

Politically the only groups that are likely to have a profound effect on reducing toxic fanatical fundamentalist religious garbage are non-fanatical non-fundamentalist religious groups who recognize the disgusting way that the fundamentalists trivialize personal spiritual beliefs by using their religion as a blunt weapon to attack scientists, gays, divorcees, women, recreational drug users, blacks on welfare, rock musicians, sexually active people who use birth control, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, Jews, and every other group they find some political advantage in castigating.

Comment #65192

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 6:02 PM (e)

Norman,
I still see no links to prove or dissprove God.

I am not claiming that my religious beliefs are scientific. Do you seriously believe that ANY religious opinion can be proven or disproven by the scientific method?

I do not particularly want to have an argument here.

I think that the scientific method is the best way to find out how things work. I consider evolution to be the best description of how complex life came to exist on this planet.

Why do you object to my belief in God?

Jonboy, (after looking at the verses you quoted)you sound like a creationist quote miner (obviously for the other side, but same technique).

Comment #65194

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 6:12 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Do you seriously believe that ANY religious opinion can be proven or disproven by the scientific method?

Yes, if you’re a rational person who arrives at “beliefs” through consideration of the evidence. For example, the church had a problem with Galileo because of a “religious opinion” about Earth being the center of the universe. Most people today consider their opinion wrong and we can thank scientific proof for that.

As far as I can tell, the Bible writers thought the Earth was flat and the center of the universe.

Comment #65195

Posted by Gav on December 27, 2005 6:13 PM (e)

What wonderful 18th century sounding arguments! We must be about due for another religious war on the forum.

Greg Peterson commented “Christianity cannot really be ENDLESSLY plastic, can it?”, sounding suspiciously like an echo of the bible literalists’ complaints about the ToE.

It’s pretty plastic, if you consider all the different versions over the years.

Comment #65196

Posted by RBH on December 27, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

Stephen asked

I am not claiming that my religious beliefs are scientific. Do you seriously believe that ANY religious opinion can be proven or disproven by the scientific method?

Fact claims made by religionists – claims about the physical material world – are testable by scientific means and can be shown to be false. Trivial cases in point: the age of the earth and common descent. Religious beliefs that entail the false claims of fact that the earth is less than, say, 50,000 years old and that all the “kinds” (whatever they are) were independently created de novo, are in serious trouble. And to the extent that a religious belief either entails with necessity or depends upon the truth of those fact claims, that religious belief is in deep trouble.

RBH

Comment #65197

Posted by PZ Myers on December 27, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

I still see no links to prove or dissprove God.

Quite right. Since neither Norman nor I are asserting the existence of a supernatural superman, though, it is not our obligation to provide them.

Comment #65199

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 6:18 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Why do you object to my belief in God?

It’s not so much that I “object,” I’m just calling things as I see them and what I see in your belief is an irrationality that goes beyond any god of the gaps to an active re-interpretation of the Bible beyond what evidence says its writers intended.

Deism might be “arational,” something arrived at beyond what evidence says, but Christianity is irrational and actively distorts the evidence.

Comment #65202

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 6:23 PM (e)

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 06:12 PM (e) (s)

Stephen Elliott asked:

Do you seriously believe that ANY religious opinion can be proven or disproved by the scientific method?

Yes, if you’re a rational person who arrives at “beliefs” through consideration of the evidence. For example, the church had a problem with Galileo because of a “religious opinion” about Earth being the center of the universe. Most people today consider their opinion wrong and we can thank scientific proof for that.

As far as I can tell, the Bible writers thought the Earth was flat and the center of the universe.

But that church opinion was irrational. The church leaders fundamentalist.

I am neither (I hope).

As far as I see the church was wrong, but it was opinionating about nothing that was to do with Christs teaching.

Comment #65203

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 6:28 PM (e)

Gav wrote:

It’s pretty plastic, if you consider all the different versions over the years.

So is schizophrenia if you consider all the different things schizophrenics have believed over the years.

Comment #65204

Posted by H. Humbert on December 27, 2005 6:29 PM (e)

I have no objection to a hope in a god or an afterlife or whatever. I just geta little miffed when people walk around acting as if any of the above were true. As soon as someone assigns the god hypothesis a value of “true,” I want evidence or I want the claim retracted.

I also wish people had higher standards of evidence for their own beliefs, but gullibility is an individual’s right I suppose.

Comment #65205

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 6:36 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

But that church opinion was irrational. The church leaders fundamentalist.

I am neither (I hope).

As far as I see the church was wrong, but it was opinionating about nothing that was to do with Christs teaching.

Yes, the church was wrong and so are you wrong in the way you are interpreting the Bible. It’s not just “Christ’s” teachings (which to me seem to be about heaven and hell and saving people from “sin” something you won’t really be judged for). It’s the old testament too. Christ’s teachings have no credibility in light of evidence.

Comment #65206

Posted by PZ Myers on December 27, 2005 6:37 PM (e)

The problem isn’t so much that people shouldn’t be allowed to believe as they choose, but that the religious seem to believe that their personal belief in a meddling sky fairy privileges them to opine on science, law, medicine, philosophy, education, carpentry, mudwrestling, or whatever other occupation flits past their eyeballs. It doesn’t.

If someone were to say, “My passion for philately informs my belief in evolution,” we’d laugh the pompous twit out of the room. Unfortunately, if someone says, “My deep abiding faith in Jesus has led me to my conclusions about evolution,” he gets a spot as a talking head on CNN.

Comment #65207

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 6:37 PM (e)

Dudes, are we gonna have ANOTHER pointless religious war?

Didn’t we learn anything from the LAST one?

Shoot people who are NOT on our side. Shooting people who ARE on our side is … well . . kinda stupid.

Comment #65211

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 6:40 PM (e)

Norman,
How am I wrong? How am I interpreting the bible wrong? Why is your interpretation right?

Comment #65216

Posted by H. Humbert on December 27, 2005 6:49 PM (e)

Well, I don’t think these little “religious wars” are pointless so much as fruitless. I think the issues under discussion are extremely important, but alas also divisive and counter-productive to the PT’s mission.

Sometimes it can be good for people on all sides of the question of religion to vent a little, so long as we can shake hands at the end of the day and refocus our efforts toward defending good science.

Comment #65217

Posted by PZ Myers on December 27, 2005 7:00 PM (e)

“Defending good science” does not mean defending the conclusions of science – it entails supporting the process of science. I think it is a good idea to remind everyone now and then that religion is not on our side in that activity.

It’s easy to forget.

While I can appreciate having the religious on our side in certain aspects of the creation-evolution argument, in the long run, we are in conflict. We only get their support as long as the conclusions of science do not contradict their received truths…and I’m afraid it’s cruel, harsh, godless universe, with cherished fables in retreat everywhere. Your favorite religious myth, whatever it may be, is becoming irrelevant and endangered as we type.

Comment #65221

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 7:08 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott asked:

How am I wrong?

You wrote this: “As far as I can see, Jesus was an example of how to live and treat people and therefore a way of saving myself from my worst tendencies.”

According to direct statements from the New Testament Jesus wasn’t even all human (he was part God and rose from the dead and did miracles - not an example I can follow – can you?) and he had a lot of doctrine about sin, heaven, hell and such that has no evidence to support it.

That’s how you are wrong.

Besides, much of what Jesus taught doesn’t even make rational sense.

How am I interpreting the bible wrong?

If you think Jesus is just an example in some artistic expression then you’re not really a Christian and you’ve got the intention of the Bible writers wrong. Forrest Gump is an example, Scrooge is an example, Hamlet is an example, etc. Jesus was not an example, but a preacher with a supernatural claim that has no credibility.

Jesus’s story can be interpreted as art, but that was not the intention of the Bible writers – certainly not Paul who set up churches. In order to call yourself a Christian you have to take Jesus’s supernatural claims as beliefs. You didn’t even mention them.

Why is your interpretation right?

It’s not necessarily right (I’m no Bible scholar) – but yours (as demonstrated by that one sentence I quoted) is so obviously irrational and absurd I don’t have to be all that right.

Comment #65224

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 27, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

Perzackly. The Greatest Guys in the foxholes in WWII could *fight* all they wanted about who was gonna win the World Series, but they were all fighting on an entirely different level when the bullets started zipping.

As Lenny is fond of reminding us, we’re in the midst of a political fight–one, that if it went the worst way it could, and the most extreme elements in the “culture war” succeeded in dragging the rest of us into Their World, could then involve many of us in a real war–but this site also plays host to many different sorts of discussions: to the reports on the latest evolutionary science and to other more-or-less related news and views.

At least some of the time, we’re free to take a breather from the culture wars, and kick things around in a more down-home ah, dem bums ain’t gotta chance of even gettin’ to the Series, much less winnin’ the whole thing kinda friendly debate: more rigorous when such as ts and morbius drop by, more freeform when it’s mainly us chickens doing the key-peckin’…

That kind of more-or-less friendly debate-and-discussion among ourselves may be a *fight* in one less strict sense of the word, but it ain’t a Real Fight of the kind it becomes when we go after the Crea-IDiots, the liars, and the anti-science, anti-reality Taliban.

It’s just sword-sharpening, not sword-slicing.

Not to worry: as soon as the slime come oozing back out of the bog, we’ll be all primed for the real thing.

If, in the meantime, folks want to kick around what science can and can’t prove or disprove about this or that aspect of opinion, belief, or religion, eh, kick on…

Comment #65228

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 7:27 PM (e)

Norman,
I believe I am a Christian.
I believe in God.

Why do you think that your religious interpretations better than mine?

I am no fan of organised religion. I reckon you have to think for yourself. Why do believe it is OK to force certain religious viewpoints onto me?

In reference to an earlier post of yours: I do not believe Jesus=God.
IMO God>Jesus.

Comment #65232

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 7:38 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

I believe I am a Christian.
I believe in God.

Do you believe in the things the Bible claims? Do you believe there is a heaven, a hell, a judgement, that Jesus performed miracles and rose from the dead?

Why do you think that your religious interpretations better than mine?

Because I reject the supernatural claims of the Bible. This is something I believe a rational person must do in order to be rational. Maybe being rational isn’t better?

I am no fan of organised religion. I reckon you have to think for yourself.

Define thinking for yourself in the context of believing in the supernatural claims of the Bible.

Why do believe it is OK to force certain religious viewpoints onto me?

Excuse me? Did I threaten to shove a red hot poker in your eye if you didn’t renounce your religion? Did I advocate some law barring you from participation in government?

How have I forced anything on you?

I’m telling you what I think it is rational to believe and not believe. I don’t think it’s rational to be a Christian. I think Christians are at heart irrational.

If you don’t like my opinion, tough shit.

If you want to change my opinion you’ll have to provide evidence that there is a rational basis for your beliefs.

Comment #65235

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 7:43 PM (e)

That kind of more-or-less friendly debate-and-discussion among ourselves may be a *fight* in one less strict sense of the word, but it ain’t a Real Fight of the kind it becomes when we go after the Crea-IDiots, the liars, and the anti-science, anti-reality Taliban.

I’ve seen otherwise.

I’ll simply say it again —- shoot the people on the OTHER side. Shooting the people on OUR side is, well, awfully stupid.

Comment #65236

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 7:46 PM (e)

If you don’t like my opinion, tough shit.

I rest my case.

Comment #65238

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 7:50 PM (e)

shoot the people on the OTHER side.

Unless it’s basic training and you’re playing war games with paint balls.

I think Stephen Elliott is in need of basic training in rationality – our main weapon.

Comment #65242

Posted by H. Humbert on December 27, 2005 7:57 PM (e)

PZ Myers wrote:

“Defending good science” does not mean defending the conclusions of science — it entails supporting the process of science. I think it is a good idea to remind everyone now and then that religion is not on our side in that activity.

It’s easy to forget.

Well said. I completely agree.

On another site, this question was posed: “Can you be a good scientist and believe in god?” Opinions were mixed, but most said yes. I said no. It isn’t so much that one can’t believe in certain conclusions of both without conflict, but that science and religion are fundamentally opposite methods of arriving at “truth.”

Is “personal revelation” a legitimate method of determining truth? Religion says yes. Science says no, you must observe, hypothesize, and test. Which “method” has proven itself to be more accurate over the centuries? Which is fundamentally flawed? In my opinion, a good scientist should know better than to allow his biases or personal preferences to inform his conclusions on any topic, religion included, since it is his job to weed bias out of his work on a daily basis. How can a man who dedicates his life for the searth for Truth suddenly chuck his principles out the window when it comes his faith? It just seems a scientist should know better.

Comment #65244

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:02 PM (e)

I think Stephen Elliott is in need of basic training in rationality — our main weapon.

And I think you are fighting a different fight — one that doesn’t help us. Indeed, as Mirecki was kind enough to demonstrate, it hurts us. In a political fight, pissing off 90% of the population is, uh, an awfully damn stupid thing to do.

I’m here to fight fundies and IDers, not to wage war on religion. And if your fight starts to get in the way of my fight, I will get in your face very very quickly.

Comment #65247

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:05 PM (e)

Is “personal revelation” a legitimate method of determining truth? Religion says yes. Science says no, you must observe, hypothesize, and test. Which “method” has proven itself to be more accurate over the centuries? Which is fundamentally flawed? In my opinion, a good scientist should know better than to allow his biases or personal preferences to inform his conclusions on any topic, religion included, since it is his job to weed bias out of his work on a daily basis. How can a man who dedicates his life for the searth for Truth suddenly chuck his principles out the window when it comes his faith? It just seems a scientist should know better.

Well, you let me know when you’re able to use the scientific method to determine whether or not murder is wrong, okay?

Science is a method. It is not a philosophy, not a way of life, not a worldview. Those who try to make it one, are mis-using and abusing science every bit as much as the fundie IDers are.

Comment #65248

Posted by Gav on December 27, 2005 8:10 PM (e)

H. Humbert asked “How can a man who dedicates his life for the searth for Truth suddenly chuck his principles out the window when it comes his faith?”

Rationality is much overrated. How do you decide rationally whether a ham sandwich is nicer than beetroot, say? Do you starve to death, like the donkey in the fable, while you’re trying to figure it out? Rationality is fine for science, pretty hopeless for just about everything else.

Comment #65250

Posted by H. Humbert on December 27, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

I’m not saying science or rationality is useful for [i]everything[/i], but it is useful in some clearly defined instances. One of those is determining the reality of something.

Science can’t tell you whether beetroot is “good,” but it should be able to tell you whether or not there is such a thing as beetroot.

I agree that science can’t tell you whether or not god is “good” or whether or not you should follow him, but we haven’t gotten that far yet. We first need to determine whether or not this god person even exists. It is the people who want to leap over this first step that are in conflict with science and reason.

Comment #65251

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

H. Humbert noted this question:

On another site, this question was posed: “Can you be a good scientist and believe in god?”

That depends on what you mean by God.

Albert Einstein talked about believing in the God of Spinoza so it seems likely that he believed in a God who was identical to the universe. He wasn’t Christian or Jewish, but a pantheist. That is a very different concept of god, it’s not personal, God doesn’t necessarily have human attributes that get him so pissed off at sin he creates hell. Doesn’t want dead animals burnt on an alter… It’s not the God of traditional religions like Christianity.

I’m an atheist, not a pantheist, but one has to grant some religions more rational foundations for hope than others. Pantheism can be rational, Christianity can’t. Some forms of Buddhism have a grounding in learned experience and experiment with meditation that could be rational.

Rational doesn’t mean you’re right.

There are a lot of things rational people can disagree about – but Christianity and Islam and Hinduism do not appear to be those kind of things – those religions are obviously irrational.

…science and religion are fundamentally opposite methods of arriving at “truth.”

That doesn’t always mean they are opposed. Religion does address some profound questions and those questions are real. But that doesn’t mean the answers offered by some religions (the big religions) are rational.

Is “personal revelation” a legitimate method of determining truth?

What would you believe about a six-foot tall rabbit called Harvey if you experienced him like Jimmy Stewart did in that movie?

Comment #65252

Posted by SteveF on December 27, 2005 8:23 PM (e)

What, precisely, is the point of this discussion?

Comment #65254

Posted by jeffw on December 27, 2005 8:25 PM (e)

and I’m afraid it’s cruel, harsh, godless universe, with cherished fables in retreat everywhere. Your favorite religious myth, whatever it may be, is becoming irrelevant and endangered as we type.

Quite true. But an interesting question for the evolutionist is: does perfect knowledge of the truth always have survival value? Does a psyche wired for religion have a better or worse chance of being fruitful and multiplying? Religion has been with us since prehistory. Has it been an aid or a mental parasite? Time will tell…

Comment #65256

Posted by H. Humbert on December 27, 2005 8:27 PM (e)

And when I say “real” I mean existing in external reality, like rocks, trees, or sand. Concepts which are products of a human consciousness, like “love” or “justice,” are not real in the sense I mean. There is no argument that god is “real” in the sense of an abstract concept. The issue is whether god exists in reality.

Comment #65257

Posted by H. Humbert on December 27, 2005 8:31 PM (e)

jeffw said:

But an interesting question for the evolutionist is: does perfect knowledge of the truth always have survival value? Does a psyche wired for religion have a better or worse chance of being fruitful and multiplying? Religion has been with us since prehistory. Has it been an aid or a mental parasite?

Now that would be an interesting discussion.

Comment #65259

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 8:32 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

In a political fight, pissing off 90% of the population is, uh, an awfully damn stupid thing to do.

Why would someone get pissed off because I call them irrational? All they have to do is demonstrate the rational foundations of their belief.

Comment #65261

Posted by SteveF on December 27, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

“Why would someone get pissed off because I call them irrational?”

Er, let me think. PR not your strongest suit is it Norman.

Comment #65262

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:44 PM (e)

Why would someone get pissed off because I call them irrational?

Don’t be a dick, Norman.

Comment #65263

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

… you let me know when you’re able to use the scientific method to determine whether or not murder is wrong, okay?

And you let me know when sacrificing goats or kneeling in front of a Catholic priest with your mouth open waiting for him to put something into it can determine whether whether or not murder is wrong, okay?

It does seem that Christians lived with dueling and slavery before someone decided those things were wrong – so we do have methods for determining those things in a somewhat more rational way.

Is dueling murder in your opinion? I think a case could be made that allowing for it has a negative impact on society – and if dueling does, certainly allowing murder would be worse.

Such questions do come down to “values” and what kind of society you want to live in. The problem is – we don’t all share the same values and it’s hard to predict the results of allowing or punishing various behaviors.

Are we right to make certain addictive drugs illegal? Is it wrong to even take a taste of heroin because you’ll lose control…? Should we punish those who would offer it to you? Should we limit destructive desires and appetites?

Comment #65264

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

What, precisely, is the point of this discussion?

Just another pointless holy war between the atheists and the theists.

Comment #65265

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 8:48 PM (e)

SteveF wrote:

PR not your strongest suit is it Norman.

Not when PR demands denying obvious realities.

Comment #65266

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:52 PM (e)

you let me know when you’re able to use the scientific method to determine whether or not murder is wrong, okay?

And you let me know when sacrificing goats or kneeling in front of a Catholic priest with your mouth open waiting for him to put something into it can determine whether whether or not murder is wrong, okay?

Um, hey Norman, I don’t assert the existence of any god, gods or goddesses. Nor do I give a flying fig what any priest or priestess says. (shrug)

Now, would you mind explaining to me how to objectively tell whether or not murder is wrong, by using the scientific method?

Is dueling murder in your opinion?

Um, I thought you were all about “rationality” and such. If so, then what does “my opinion” or “your opinion” matter? Is your “rationality” all just a subjective matter of opinion, after all? If so, what are you bitching about? If not, then please by all means go ahead and show me how to use “scientific objectivity” to answer the question ‘is murder wrong’.

You sound like Carol, Norman — your opinion is objectively rationally better thann everyone else’s because … well . . because you say so.

Sorry, Norman, but I don’t think your opinions are any more “objective” or “rational” than anyone else’s. (shrug)

Comment #65267

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 8:53 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Just another pointless holy war between the atheists and the theists.

It’s only pointless because we all know the irrational cannot face the irrationality of their beliefs. They have to get pissed off and can’t offer anything but bogus arguments.

Sorry, but all you Christians out there – I have every right to measure your beliefs as irrational in light of modern evidence.

Comment #65268

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:54 PM (e)

Well, I’ve seen this movie before, and I know how it ends, so I’m gonna just cross the street and avoid it.

Have a nice religious war, everyone.

Comment #65269

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:56 PM (e)

That kind of more-or-less friendly debate-and-discussion among ourselves may be a *fight* in one less strict sense of the word, but it ain’t a Real Fight of the kind it becomes when we go after the Crea-IDiots, the liars, and the anti-science, anti-reality Taliban.

It’s just sword-sharpening, not sword-slicing.

You were saying ……?

Comment #65272

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 27, 2005 9:13 PM (e)

Lenny:

I’m gonna just cross the street

You were saying … …?

Ahem, I don’t believe I ever claimed that the sound of swords being sharpened couldn’t grate shrilly at times, did I? Just that it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as being poked with one!

But, assuming that there’s a good pizza place across that street, I’m with you: outta here!

Comment #65273

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 9:16 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Now, would you mind explaining to me how to objectively tell whether or not murder is wrong, …

The wrongness of murder is not about objectivity it’s about inborn values. Most of us human beings value life – for whatever reason, we like it, must of us don’t commit suicide – it’s pure value judgement and so we protect our own life and we additionally protect our lives by protecting the lives of others who will return the favor. That’s rational part, seeing the results – valuing life – may not be a purely rational thing. But we can acknowledge that most of us do and then get rational about it.

…by using the scientific method?

Reason goes beyond the scientific method. The costs of experimenting with society and laws is too costly, we have to make some rational assumptions.

… then what does “my opinion” or “your opinion” matter?

It reveals your values and reasons should you provide them.

Is your “rationality” all just a subjective matter of opinion, after all?

Nope. Why are you making pomo arguments? Are you really a post modernist?

If so, what are you bitching about?

I’m bitching about you bithching about me when I call Christians irrational. You’re being a phoney because you don’t think they’re rational either.

… show me how to use “scientific objectivity” to answer the question ‘is murder wrong’.

It depends on if you value life. If you value your life then the probability of living longer goes up in a society that doesn’t allow people to shoot at random from rooftops. How’s that?

Are you going to argue that it makes no difference. Or are you going to argue that valuing life is wrong?

I have no rational reason to value my life. I just do and I don’t have to be rational about that. I just have to like it.

Sorry, Norman, but I don’t think your opinions are any more “objective” or “rational” than anyone else’s. (shrug)

I think you’re wrong - like it or not.

Comment #65288

Posted by Kevin from NYC on December 27, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

I believe in the FSM. Any data you collect is instantaneously and undetectably modifed by his noodly appendage into the answer that he wants you to see.

no conflict with science, because science only measures the truth according to the FSM

Comment #65297

Posted by Karen on December 27, 2005 10:38 PM (e)

In a universe that can have beryllium atoms in a “cat state”, why CAN’T I be both rational and irrational at the same time?

Comment #65299

Posted by stefan on December 27, 2005 10:52 PM (e)

Some of the exchanges here reminds me of a prior experience reading a series of comments.

Others might remember the person’s name (sorry) - he’s a former fundementalist who “lost his faith” after studying and working in geology (I apologize for forgetting the name, site or any other connection to him. I’ll be happy to be corrected).

He had been on a fundementalist site, and one of the site owners (?) made a snide comment about the moon’s orbit if “the darwinists” were right. The geologist called him on it and asked for a clarification. The fundy, backed into a corner, made further snide comments and the geologist got on his soapbox and demanded a retraction, and it went down hill from there.

The reason I know all this is that ‘the geologist’ saved the entire exchange into a post as a way - I think - to clarify some scientific points and - I also think - to continue the argument.

Here’s my point: I think the geologist was in the wrong. Yes, the fundementalist was completely ignorant about science - downright wrong actually. But my point is more about manners than about correctness. When visiting a fundementalist site, I believe it’s inappropriate to pounce on every scientifically incorrect word and turn it into a fundementalism vs science debate. Likewise, when a fundy visits a science-oriented site like this, it’s polite to “allow” the willing members of that site their say. It’s like visiting the in-laws: you don’t have to like them, but you don’t need to start arguments at every word. And, in turn, if they came to your church, you would expect them to sit politely and not argue out loud with every word of the sermon.

To get to the point of all this, I think there are ways to argue and discuss that are more productive than others. One of the UNproductive ways is to pick at every word someone says, as I think has been happening above.

Maybe it’s a personal tendancy of mine to always look for a point of agreement, but I do believe one gets so much futher by simply having the conversation, than by turning every word into a cause for argument. This is harder when the ‘other side’ doesn’t ‘play fair’, but it’s good to resist the urge to play the same game, since once it’s engaged, the conversation is already over.

Comment #65300

Posted by Registered User on December 27, 2005 10:55 PM (e)

Rational is okay.

But so is the finest Afghani hashish.

Comment #65301

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 27, 2005 11:02 PM (e)

Yum, that was a good pizza.

While I was busy chowing down with our resident Rev. Dr., stefan weighed in with some interesting thoughts about civility, including this one:

One of the UNproductive ways is to pick at every word someone says, as I think has been happening above.

I agree with some of what stefan had to say (not that that’s either here or there) but, if he seriously thinks that what has happened above has been “pick[ing] at every word someone says,” then I can’t wait to see what he thinks once ts and morbius join the party.

Urp! Oops! Sorry about that. Danged garlic gets me every time.

Comment #65302

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 27, 2005 11:07 PM (e)

Norman wrote:

Sorry, but all you Christians out there — I have every right to measure your beliefs as irrational in light of modern evidence.

“irrational”. to coin a phrase, i do not think it means what you think it means.

The truth (I note you used that word long before any on the religious side did) is that you have no idea what our beliefs are. And you never will.

You simply assume that we have to have to have an irrational belief in a literal interpretation of the events in the bible (mistake #1) and that if we don’t have a literal interpretation of the bible we’re not really Christians (mistake #2) simply because you decided based on 200-year old writings that the authors of the bible meant for a literalist interpretation (mistake #3).

Religion is not irrational in and of itself. Reason plays a major part of most religious dogma. Reason, however, requires a starting point. In mathematics, there are axioms that are considered “pure” & untouchable.

In religion, the best religious students take aspects of the bible or other starting texts that are worth study and analyze them, deriving truths from the axioms given to see where they lead. The bible is (to me, as a christian) full of myths, but to say that a myth is blatantly “false”, “a lie”, or “irrational” is to ignore the power that mythology brings in learning to rationalize. A myth is a story that points to a deeper truth. Whether you accept the deeper truth as such or not is your own damn lookout; many “truths” in the bible i think are garbage (the book of revelation is my most hated book; job comes 2nd).

Myths teach causality and consequence (even if the consequence doesn’t always follow “logically” – it reminds us that people are inherently illogical and always will be. Myths also teach the power of the metaphore, which in explaining science to the less educated, is absolutely vital.

To rule out the value of a work simply because 1) it has blatant falsehoods in it from a scientific/educational standpoint, and 2) those that support the work to extreme have done downright stupid things, is to lose before beginning. Are Wagner’s operas inherently bad and pointless simply because their stories are myths and they were inspirational to German nationalism and the wars that followed? Or is there a deeper value that transcends the surface action of a few idiots willing to manipulate people for their own power-plays?

(sorry if any of you feel Godwin’s Law was invoked there; i disagree but you’re inclined to your opinion)

It also shows that you have decided that “Truth” and “Fact” are indistinguishable. This is also a mistake as any philosopher will tell you. Fact is that which we all can agree upon because the evidence supports it. Truth is subjective, and is in the end far less useful than fact is for sharing concepts, which is why the finding of facts in a trial like Dover’s (or, say, the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit) is far more important then the actual judgement or any punishments given, or anybody else’s interpretations of those judgements.

But then again, as science has shown repeatedly, even fact is a maleable term and a fact a maleable object. In the picky details, Darwin was wrong more often than he was right.

Religion may be irrational in one sense (basing some, though not all, of its “truths” on myths with no evidential support), but so is the idea of being absolutely positive that everything you know is wrong, which is whan a philosophy driven solely by science requires. Science repeatedly tells us that a certain amount of knowledge is “enough” and then goes on to say we simply don’t know enough about anything. Is that really any way to live?

I would also note that the American Standard Dictionary has the following 4th definition for Rational: Based on scientific knowledge or theory rather than practical observation. There is something to be said for “practical observation” – irrational or not, its still one of the main means by which humans (and all animals) survive.

Its not the best approach in exclusivity, but neither is a solely rational one which if analyzed too deeply can lead one to levels of paranoia and fear that would keep one from getting up in the morning…except that they’d fear what’s still in their bed with them, too…

the bible is not all or nothing, literally or figuratively. even jesus was a quote-miner.

suit yourself if you want to spend your life criticising the actions of others, even those trying to help you. i personally plan on spending at least some of my time here LIVING, and the bible gives me a number of examples to do so in ways that help others around me. and i refuse to see living a life helping others as being in any way “irrational” simply because its inspiration can be seen as a fiction by those who feel their incredulity should be seen as a virtue.

by whose judgement is it a virtue? is it a judgement all can share? is “incredulity is a virtue” a fact? or just a truth…

Comment #65303

Posted by stefan on December 27, 2005 11:09 PM (e)

Ah, I know it’s pretty mild. Maybe because it wasn’t the usual swords & daggers but just some tame nit-picking. When it gets rougher I usually just wade in with blunderbi blazing rather than wave a crumpet as above.

Comment #65305

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 27, 2005 11:19 PM (e)

To get to the point of all this, I think there are ways to argue and discuss that are more productive than others. One of the UNproductive ways is to pick at every word someone says, as I think has been happening above.

What was happening above is that someone decided that all Christians are the same Christian, and that by virtue of calling ourselves “Christian” we must therefore (because of his interpretation of some 18th century essays that we simply don’t agree with) be the same class of biblical literalists that he feels science should be stamping out. And he continues to state and believe this even as Stephen Elliot was repeatedly trying to show him otherwise.

Right there was the exception to his rule, which to the truly scientifically minded should have been the clue that his rule, his generalization, didn’t hold up to the evidence we all saw right there.

And yet he called us “irrational”.

Comment #65307

Posted by Karen on December 27, 2005 11:24 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #65309

Posted by Norman Doering on December 27, 2005 11:30 PM (e)

stefan wrote:

… I think the geologist was in the wrong. Yes, the fundamentalist was completely ignorant about science - downright wrong actually. But my point is more about manners than about correctness.

Do you think it’s polite to lie via omission about the real problems sciences like biology and astronomy present to standard Christian belief?

… I think there are ways to argue and discuss that are more productive than others.

Ones that don’t involve lying about what I believe?

Remember how this argument started, go to the first comment where I agreed with Daniel Dennett having a problem with Judge Jones saying: “…and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator…”

I had a problem with the phrase “in no way conflicts.” There are some conflicts caused by evolution that it seems Christians can only resolve by grasping at straws or by clinging to some inner experience they can’t share and then reading the Bible as a huge metaphor.

Then Stephen Elliott said it even worse, not in terms of Judge Jones “divine creator” but as “I can see no conflict between evolution and Christianity. Please point out to me why I would need to “grasp at straws” to accept both.”

He asked and I made a few quick stabs at delivering my reasons… If evolution is true there is no original sin no matter how you interpret Genesis etc..

I’m not turning every word into a cause for argument. I was answering the questions directed at me.

Then comes Lenny who left saying:

Well, I’ve seen this movie before, and I know how it ends,….

Really, Lenny? I don’t think your prediction is justified in light of what has happened so far. Stephen Elliott left and you became a phony jerk.

Did you know it would end tonight with no more religious war, just a
satirist pretending to promote FSM, stefan talking manners and me here calling you a phony and a jerk, Lenny?

If you say “yes,” I won’t believe you because you also said this:

Have a nice religious war, everyone.

What religious war? There is none so far. Apparently none of the Christians who might have read my posts care to demonstrate why I shouldn’t consider them irrational. It might end tonight with me pointing out how phony Lenny is to argue against rationality itself by saying no ones opinions are more rational than anther’s.

But it does raise a question Lenny doesn’t dare ask directly but only beats around the bush about by asking loaded diversion questions about murder being wrong and that question is: “What does it mean to be rational?”

That might be a more productive line of argument.

How do my ideas about rationality lead to me claiming Christians are irrational in a blanket statement?

Apparently Lenny doesn’t know or he is a phony. So, that means Lenny is either stupid or a liar. He certainly doesn’t ask the right questions.

Being rational means being skeptical about claims people make, weighing evidence when you can, and doing some critical thinking about the best evidence we all have available to us.

It doesn’t mean that what is a rational answer for me is going to be the rational answer for you. We all are different people with different backgrounds and experience. There is no way for me to expect that you should believe the all the same things I do. One of us might have better evidence. In theory it is possible for a rational person to believe in the God of the Bible based on his experience, or his context. No two people are the same or have the same experiences to base their their beliefs on.

However, that theory is shot to hell by my past experience with Christians who can’t make a rational case for their beliefs. I just point to Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason” to demonstrate the irrationality of Bible believing for now since no one is really arguing against me on that point. Everyone so far now just argues manners (including Lenny in his most phony, tactless and mannerless way).

It seems to me if you’re going to call yourself rational you have to think critically like Thomas Paine and all Paine’s evidence is still here for us plus much more. Paine was no atheist. He was a Deist. So this isn’t as Lenny misrepresents it about theism versus atheism – this is rationality versus believing in something which has a whole lot of evidence against it: Bible believing, the first requirement of being a “Christian.”

The weight of evidence against the Bible itself is overwhelming and if you believe the Bible you have got to be in denial about all that evidence.

That is my case for calling Christians irrational.

Comment #65310

Posted by Karen on December 27, 2005 11:31 PM (e)

well poop. Such a germaine comment: kwickxml….

:)

Joe, loved the PB reference. Love that movie. Like your observations. Just goes to show that fundamentalist black/white, either/or mentality is not confined to religionists, nor are all Christians to be lumped together. It’s good for me to see that in action, living as I do right in the middle of the buckle of the Bible Belt. We don’t see many like you trust me.

Comment #65313

Posted by Matt on December 28, 2005 12:00 AM (e)

The quickest way to lose this “war” we are fighting against fundamentalists for the integrity of science is to use science to attack the Religion/Faith of Americans. Something like 80-90% of Americans believe in a God. You do not need to be an aetheist to accept evolution. I only see a conflict between evolution and fundamentalism, otherwise evolution and Christianity can coexist. Evolution is on a strong science footing, but less so when you want to turn it into a philosophy. Faith and methodological naturalism are two distinct entities. Teach people evolution and let them have whatever Faith they want to have. If they find a conflict, let them pray, meditate, read, get high, whatever it is they need to do to figure it out. But those that argue that Faith and evolution are mutually exclusive do our cause great harm. Don’t make your average American choose between science and their God. Science will lose.

Comment #65315

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 12:17 AM (e)

Joe Shelby wrote:

“irrational”. to coin a phrase, i do not think it means what you think it means.

Well, here is what I think it means: It means being skeptical about all truth claims and weighing the best evidence you can get your hands on and then thinking critically about it with logic and the fewest apriori assumptions necessary.

… you have no idea what our beliefs are.

To the extent that I don’t even know you, that’s true up to a point. But I know the works of other Christians, like C.S. Lewis, etc.. And they don’t have good arguments and so far neither have you presented one. You’ve not only said I don’t know, you claimed this:

And you never will.

And why is that?

You simply assume that we have to have to have an irrational belief in a literal interpretation of the events in the bible (mistake #1)…

Nope, your mistake – I acknowledge you can take the Bible as metaphor, my argument is that much of the key conflict is caused by passages obviously not taken to be metaphor.

… and that if we don’t have a literal interpretation of the bible we’re not really Christians (mistake #2)…

You can call yourself whatever you want, but if you think the Bible is no more truthful than any other Holy book the human race has produced then you’re not being entirely honest in calling yourself a Christian. You might be a theist, but you do have to believe some things to be a Christian it seems: You have to believe in “sin” (all those things that are ancestors used to dominate the planet before civilization took hold), in miracles obviously not meant to be metaphor, and other such things. The word carries an implied definition.

… simply because you decided based on 200-year old writings that the authors of the bible meant for a literalist interpretation (mistake #3).

Not all of the Bible is meant to be literal, but obviously some key points are. Do you deny that?

The bible is (to me, as a christian) full of myths, but to say that a myth is blatantly “false”, “a lie”, or “irrational” is to ignore the power that mythology brings in learning to rationalize.

But that goes for all myths, not just Christian ones. And I don’t argue that you’re learning to “rationalize,” but that’s not the same as reason.

A myth is a story that points to a deeper truth.

That’s what good art does. That applies to “Hamlet” and “Crime and Punishment” too but no one takes those works as the final truth on a subject.

… many “truths” in the bible i think are garbage (the book of revelation is my most hated book; job comes 2nd).

This is where your irrationality starts kicking in. You have presented as evidence nothing more than the Bible as literature and possibly pointing to deeper truths, ones you like are feel for, but then you get something you don’t like and selectively edited it out.

I would accept the fact that a Christian could reject revelations, but I do not think a person can call themselves a Christian and reject Jesus’ claims regarding his divinity and rising from the dead. If you reject those you have no right to call yourself a Christian and expect that to communicate anything. On that level Christianity becomes irrational because there is no credible evidence that Jesus was divine or rose from the dead.

Any evidence of that would have to come from some inner experience at best and I don’t think a subjective experience can validate those kind of claims.

Myths teach ….

Myth as good art or myth as a truth claim. Your dancing around the facts and avoiding them.

To rule out the value of a work simply because 1) it has blatant falsehoods in it from a scientific/educational standpoint, and 2) those that support the work to extreme have done downright stupid things, is to lose before beginning. Are Wagner’s operas inherently bad and pointless simply because their stories are myths and they were inspirational to German nationalism and the wars that followed?

This is the dance of irrationality before my very eyes. I don’t call myself a Wagnerian and start a religion.

… you have decided that “Truth” and “Fact” are indistinguishable.

And now he dances his way into post modernism where facts and truth have no relationship.

This is also a mistake as any philosopher will tell you.

And now demonstrating your deep ignorance of philosophy. No, not any philosopher would tell you that, not Daniel Dennett for example. You let yourself get lied too.

Fact is that which we all can agree upon because the evidence supports it.

Not really.

Truth is subjective,…

Not really.

… as science has shown repeatedly, even fact is a maleable term and a fact a maleable object.

Nope. But I’m going to let others explain that. This post is getting too long.

… Darwin was wrong more often than he was right.

Ohhh, that should start an argument. I’ll sit back for that one.

Religion may be irrational in one sense (basing some, though not all, of its “truths” on myths with no evidential support),…

And that’s a rather important sense by my reasoning.

… the idea of being absolutely positive that everything you know is wrong, which is when a philosophy driven solely by science requires.

Good lord! Do I need to say more? Can’t you see why I think Christians are irrational everybody?

Comment #65316

Posted by Karen on December 28, 2005 12:23 AM (e)

Amen Matt. Neither side of this disagreement is served by us/them fundamentalist mentality - and as I’m seeing here it can exist on either side of the fence. Anyone who thinks that attempting to mentally bludgeon someone whose self-image has been highly invested since birth in a particular world view, out of that world view is TRULY being irrational to the point of tilting at windmills. It should be enough that ID won’t be masquerading as science and that many Christians have no problem with evolution.

Comment #65317

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 12:35 AM (e)

Matt wrote:

…those that argue that Faith and evolution are mutually exclusive do our cause great harm. Don’t make your average American choose between science and their God. Science will lose.

Will it? All I said was that Christianity is irrational. No one has really argued against that. Look at Joe Shelby’s post. That’s not an argument for Christians being rational, that’s an argument for the virtue of irrationality:

Truth is subjective,… as science has shown repeatedly, even fact is a maleable term and a fact a maleable object.

Comment #65318

Posted by Registered User on December 28, 2005 12:48 AM (e)

Anyone who thinks that attempting to mentally bludgeon someone whose self-image has been highly invested since birth in a particular world view, out of that world view is TRULY being irrational to the point of tilting at windmills.

Now you’ve pissed off all the psychotherapists, too.

A word of advice to my religious friends: Norman is correct, to the extent he does not claim that a 100% rational approach to “truth claims” is the only way to fly while living on this planet.

A person can choose to believe in something that doesn’t exist for rational reasons. It makes sense that people want to leave “reality” now and then. Everyone does it.

Does anyone here think that Norman never fantasizes about having sex with a hot young atheist? Is he being “rational” when he permits his thoughts to wonder in that way?

So it goes with religion, from my perspective.

Comment #65322

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 1:19 AM (e)

Registered User wrote:

Norman is correct, to the extent he does not claim that a 100% rational approach to “truth claims” is the only way to fly while living on this planet.

I didn’t actually say that. But I should probably say something along those lines… but not about “truth claims,” at least not objective truth claims. What is true is that none of us live our lives as strictly rational beings, we all do plug into a lot of non-rational tools, gut feelings, emotions, desires, etc. to get through life and make it worth living. Those are indeed things it’s pointless to argue about. Reason and rationality apply to those things you can argue about.

To not acknowledge that the Darwinian evolution adds yet another further erosion of the measurable objective truth claims of Christianity is to lie. That’s what Daniel Dennett was saying and he is still dead on target.

It only matters if you want to make the measurable objective truth claims of Christianity part of your argument. (Something I guess missionaries try to do.) No one here has done that yet. ID promoters want to make those kind of claims and they are getting harder and harder to make as science progresses.

Are we supposed to lie about that?

Comment #65323

Posted by KiwiInOz on December 28, 2005 1:27 AM (e)

Norman - how about taking your discussion to another site (something to do with atheists and theists perhaps). I happen to agree with many of your points, but you are clogging the bandwidth with a no-win argument.

As for rationality, well, I know that I am onto a loser when I am trying to argue rationaly with my wife and she is coming from an emotional/feelings perspective. Her feelings are very real to her, no matter how irrationally I believe she is being. That being said, relationships with thinking - feeling people based on rationality are doomed to utter boredom.

And as for the good Judge’s comments, I believe that he was right. Science and religion need not be in conflict, if religion doesn’t seek to deny that which is demonstrably true. Trimmed to its essence, IMHO, religion is about one’s relationship (= spirituality = something beyond rationalism) with people/the world/the universe, not about a dogmatic belief in an ineffible plan of a Grand Old Designer.

But as the good Rev Dr would remind me, my opinion on this matter is no more or less valid than anyone elses.

The scientific method must be applied rigorously, rationally, and logically, and must continually be turned on itself to determine whether its starting premises are correct (otherwise you may have rationally and logically reached the wrong conclusion).

Thus endeth the sermon.

Comment #65325

Posted by Registered User on December 28, 2005 1:38 AM (e)

KiwiInOZ

Trimmed to its essence, IMHO, religion is about one’s relationship (= spirituality = something beyond rationalism) with people/the world/the universe, not about a dogmatic belief in an ineffible plan of a Grand Old Designer.

Well here we are again. We all agree that this is your humble opinion.

So what do we do when it is the “humble opinion” of 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 or 10,000,000 people that the essence of their religion REALLY IS about “a dogmatic belief in an ineffible plan of a Grand Old Designer” (with a little bit gay-bashing on the side)?

In my humble opinion, this gets us back to my question upthread, which is the question for our trustworthy Supreme’s to address:

Are religious people permitted to mandate the teaching of lies or gross misrepresentations about reality in public schools for the purpose of shielding their children from all consensus views of professional scientists and/or historians that conflict with their religious mythology?

Or do such actions lead to the excessive entanglement of government and religion?

Comment #65326

Posted by Registered User on December 28, 2005 1:41 AM (e)

Norman wrote

I didn’t actually say that.

I didn’t imply otherwise. Step away from the raw egg smoothie, Rocky.

Comment #65327

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 1:48 AM (e)

KiwiInOz wrote:

Norman - how about taking your discussion to another site (something to do with atheists and theists perhaps).

Only when you guys stop saying things that are dead wrong:

And as for the good Judge’s comments, I believe that he was right. Science and religion need not be in conflict,…

That depends on the religion (and even on what you mean by religion). If you’ve got a religion that rests on cartain measurable objective truth claims and those claims are proven false then you’ve got a conflict. Are you going to claim fundamentalists don’t have a religion?

… if religion doesn’t seek to deny that which is demonstrably true.

But some do, otherwise this problem wouldn’t exist.

… religion is about one’s relationship (= spirituality = something beyond rationalism) with people/the world/the universe, not about a dogmatic belief in an ineffible plan of a Grand Old Designer.

If the Bible is about “an ineffible plan of a Grand Old Designer,” then the Bible’s claim’s have problems - depending on how you interpret said book.

… my opinion on this matter is no more or less valid than anyone elses.

Only because you dance around making any kind of measurable objective truth claims. You dance around the very thing that distiguishes one religion from another and thus avoid all conflict. Yet real human beings have fought wars and set up inquisitions over those aspects of religion. Are they nothing?

The scientific method must be applied rigorously, rationally, and logically, and must continually be turned on itself to determine whether its starting premises are correct (otherwise you may have rationally and logically reached the wrong conclusion).

But not in regards to the subject you all avoid, the objective truth claims of a religion?

It seems to me if there is a God that is an objective fact, therefore a claim about objective reality not just personal feelings, if Jesus was divine and died and rose again, that is an objective truth claim. If God hates sin, that is an objective truth claim. Like it or not, those claims have measurable evidence we can evaluate.

Comment #65329

Posted by Pepeloco on December 28, 2005 1:57 AM (e)

To Norman:

I agree with your position, but not so much with your manner of argumentation. For instance, the answer to Lenny’s question “would you mind explaining to me how to objectively tell whether or not murder is wrong” is simple: define “murder” and define “wrong.” If someone expects a rational answer, he must ask a rational question. If he defines “murder” as “killing someone for the wrong reasons” then you ask him to define “wrong reasons.”

However, technicalities aside, if Lenny was asking if it’s possible to use the scientific method to determine whether killing others is detrimental to the survival of the species, then the answer is obviously yes. The term “killing” can indeed be defined objectively, and “detrimental to the survival of the species” is a measurable quality (at least to the degree required by the scientific method).

(Yes, I know you guys got over this part of the argument 3 hours ago, but I just got here.)

Comment #65330

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 2:04 AM (e)

Pepeloco wrote:

I agree with your position, but not so much with your manner of argumentation. For instance, the answer to Lenny’s question “would you mind explaining to me how to objectively tell whether or not murder is wrong” is simple: define “murder” and define “wrong.” If someone expects a rational answer, he must ask a rational question.

That’s a good point and I just didn’t have the presence of mind to give him such a good answer. Thank you.

… if Lenny was asking if it’s possible to use the scientific method to determine whether killing others is detrimental to the survival of the species, then the answer is obviously yes. The term “killing” can indeed be defined objectively, and “detrimental to the survival of the species” is a measurable quality (at least to the degree required by the scientific method).

The only thing I disagree with you about there is the “if Lenny.” It should be “If Lenny actually wanted to have a rational discussion about the subject our just score points in his own private put down game.”

You’re giving Lenny too much credit. So, you argue with him and learn what I mean.

Comment #65332

Posted by Pepeloco on December 28, 2005 2:21 AM (e)

Norman Doering wrote:

You’re giving Lenny too much credit. So, you argue with him and learn what I mean.

I haven’t been lurking around here long enough to know who’s who, but it’s unlikely I’ll even enter into a real argument. I just don’t have the time required to do so, and I visit the internet at odd hours in the morning (it’s 3:24 AM here). So I’m reduced to occasionally dropping opinions and then waiting for the next day to see if anyone made a meaningful reply to them.

Comment #65333

Posted by H. Humbert on December 28, 2005 2:24 AM (e)

So, what have we all learned? Religion doesn’t conflict with science except when it does, which has historically turned out badly for religion. Christianity (or any religion really) is irrational, which would be perfectly fine so long as its adherents didn’t mistakenly believe their religion to be rational, which they almost all do. And religious claims cannot be given the same truth value as a scientific claim, except don’t tell the general public that or they might turn against science.

That about cover it?

Comment #65334

Posted by k.e. on December 28, 2005 2:30 AM (e)

Norman You asked
Are we supposed to lie about that? NO
Develop context.
You are saying all Christianity ultimately is unsatisfying to YOU.

Norman if it makes you feel better I agreed with almost everything you say 30 years ago. I haven’t changed my mind but I have had a LOT of experience since then, passion is a wonderful thing, vision only comes with time and perhaps a little mental hygiene helps at your age …RU gives a clue. Remember Christ died at the peak of his good looks…. his golden age,from then on in life …mans journey, everything changes…the missing message that you and Nietzsche identify requires further travel. Look to the East to see where he *may* have gone. If you are going to step off the wheel of Dogma and develop your own metaphysical scaffolding be prepared for a tough and dangerous ride …..remember truth is called explosive for a reason…..whatever you do, on or off….. do it with both feet. The world will keep turning no matter what you think. To many Christ IS the redeemer they can remain safely moving their tokens around that game wheel of life, knowing without challenge, like a good soldier. All the players in the game of life just need to gently steer the runaway minds by revealing to them what they know based on objective fact *and* received wisdom, personal Revelation, Ah Ha moments with Black Afghani, mountain climbing, visits to the loony bin, great sex or Art…. whatever but one thing is for sure science without the others AND the others without science leaves a poorer man.

Comment #65335

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 2:38 AM (e)

H. Humbert asked:

That about cover it?

That sums it up pretty well.

We might as well close this thread – I got stuck almost all day here checking in every fifteen or so minutes while waiting for a real debate that never happened.

Comment #65336

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 2:42 AM (e)

k.e., I don’t have a clue to what you just try to say.

Comment #65337

Posted by Gary on December 28, 2005 2:50 AM (e)

Just wanted to let you guy’s know that this sight is greatly appreciated, the information is fantastic and topics great. However, I would have to agree with Lenny, this does more harm than good. Personally, I’m an ex-christian, atheist, and the rest of my family (my wife included) are Christians, some fundies, some more liberal. When discussing beliefs, I make sure that my acceptance of evolution and my disbelief in the bible and bible god remain separate arguments. You may be able to prove that God is not necessary real in a physical sense, but why do it? This is something they choose to be live, something that gives them hope and purpose. As long as they don’t try to place it in schools or government, it has no effect on me. When they start trying to mix their belief in the bible or God with science, then there is a problem. They are two different subjects, one deals in observation the other in faith. Using evolution to persuade people to reject God is why they want to put creation in schools, a threat to their belief system. Don’t help them out, if you feel it necessary to bring people to your way of thinking, do what they do, use the Bible. Plenty of ammunition there.

Comment #65340

Posted by Pepeloco on December 28, 2005 3:30 AM (e)

Gary wrote:

Using evolution to persuade people to reject God is why they want to put creation in schools, a threat to their belief system.

As anyone who has spent more than 10 seconds arguing with another human being knows, there’s a huge difference between proving someone that he’s wrong and convincing him that he’s wrong. The former requires demonstrating that his beliefs contradict reality, while the latter requires demonstrating that his internal logic is self-contradictory. You can spend two weeks demonstrating beyond the shadow of any rational doubt that reindeers can’t fly but that would do nothing to convince an 8-year-old child that there’s no Santa Claus.

So using science in general and/or evolution in particular to argue against religion is completely pointless. No self-respecting theist would ever let anything as trivial as reality to get in the way of his beliefs.

Comment #65347

Posted by KiwiInOz on December 28, 2005 6:10 AM (e)

Norman - “Only when you guys stop saying things that are dead wrong”? I’m a rational atheist (and hopefully a rational scientist). I see no compelling reason to believe in a G.O.D., gods, goddess’s etc. I suspect that, on the evidence that I have seen, JC was a politically radical religious Jew, no more divine than the Christmas pudding I ate a few days ago. He may even have had a claim by blood to the kingship of Judea(?) with a band of supporters to that effect, and a band of opposers. His political religious movement has gathered strength over the millenia, branching out into all sorts of ‘species’.

I digress, but only because you have put me into a category that I don’t belong in.

I am totally opposed to the pushing of religious “truth” on anyone, particlarly when the methods are less than honest (e.g. the IDers).

I made a statement the other day on another PT thread that IDers don’t want to use the scientific method (i.e. particularly the last 2 of Lenny’s 5 points) to test their claims because the answer will ALWAYS point to the irrelevancy of God as the explanatory factor.

My point about rationality and irrationality is that rationality gives us geometry whereas irrationality gives us Dali and Picasso.

Registered User - I think that the Judge was spot on. I hope that it is the thin edge of the wedge (yes, pun intended) of a movement in the US away from the dangerous neo con/right wing politics that currently hold it in thrall (yes, my opinion). I will always fight against extremists, gay bashers, racists, misogonists …. for individual and collective human rights. On that, no I don’t believe that a religious movement should force its beliefs on school children through the government system.

I am always wary of fundamentalists - religious and atheist alike.

The human condition is inherently irrational, and it is a worry when those holding irrational beliefs believe that they are rational, and try and force them on others. A further difficulty is knowing when one’s beliefs are rational or irrational. I think, therefore I am.

Comment #65359

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 28, 2005 8:48 AM (e)

Norman,
Since my last post I started reading Thomas Paine’s “the Age of Reason” that you gave a link to. I have not finished it yet and due to family commitments I probably will not be able to do so for a week or two. Initially I think he is making very good points and so far I agree with nearly all of them.

I still do not see that belief in God in general, or Christianity specifically, requires clutching at straws to accept evolution though.

Am I irrational (I am assuming you are using rational in it’s colloquial sense)? Well I am irrational at times, but believe that I am rational at others. As a smoker I am certainly irrational, but I desire and keep attempting to quit, which I consider rational.

Comment #65360

Posted by Osmo on December 28, 2005 8:54 AM (e)

I think I can answer Dr. Dennett’s question about what is wrong with is trial analogy.

When we say someone died of “natural causes” in a murder trial, we are implying they did not die as the result of the intentional action of another person. The term “natural causes” is loaded in a way that it isn’t when we talk about “natural causes” in the more generic scientific sense.

All evolutionary biology’s natural causes do is exclude the neccessity of God, not the possiblity. There isn’t a parallel implication that biodiversity is not the result of intentional action.

We can fix his analogy. If the defense points out the alleged victim died of a heart attack, that does not prove he was not murdered per se. While heart attacks can occur independent from intention (and in the case of this example, often do), heart attacks can be intentionally caused by people too.

It is true that evolutionary biology can conflict with claims about God, or reasons why people believe in God, but there is no logical conflict between the simple proposition that life is the result of divine creation and evolutioanry theory. Contrary to what Dennett says, that is still a job description God can have. What evolutionary theory is able to show is that intent isn’t required to produce what we observe.

Comment #65361

Posted by Karen on December 28, 2005 9:02 AM (e)

Well, this has been interesting now that I’ve read the latest updates.

Before I go I will suggest 2 books that would probably appeal to many here. First, “The Science of Good and Evil” by Michael Shermer, and “The End of Faith”, by Sam Harris (www.samharris.org for reviews and excerpts)
The first one I “borrowed” so long my friend had to buy himself a new copy. The second I only read - he didn’t let me keep it that long: he’d gotten wise. :)
Anyway, both fascinating books with much to say.

Thanks for the good thread guys.

Comment #65362

Posted by Paul Flocken on December 28, 2005 9:03 AM (e)

I hate getting to the end of a thread and discovering that it has pretty much withered away.

Rather than try to quote a dozen people several times and establish how I think this discussion has progressed, weeding out the cogent from the non sequitor, I’ve already wasted the too much time getting through the thread, let me just throw my phosphorus and napalm on the fire with my point.

I’ve never personally succeeded in figuring out a good definition of religion for my own satisfaction. Who has. But I think I know the purpose of religion. I establish this by breaking religion into the two parts, personal and organized. The purpose of personal religion is to provide comfort to men who know they are going to die by letting them have the delusion that they are not. The purpose of organized religion is to line the pockets of the organizers by manipulating the personal religion of everyone else. Whether a scientist can be a good scientist and believe in god depends on this.

Science is in the business of discovering reality, and explaining how it works, as it is. The purpose of the religious delusion is to hide from reality. To this degree they are in conflict. A scientist can believe in god so long as he is not willing to allow his delusion to inform his science. It was asked if there might not be survival value in the delusion. Once man evolved the intelligence to recognize death the delusion would make life bearable for those who need it; the survival value might very well be there and is certainly worthy of investigation.

As for, “Are religious people permitted to mandate the teaching of lies or gross misrepresentations about reality in public schools for the purpose of shielding their children from all consensus views of professional scientists and/or historians that conflict with their religious mythology?”

That depends on whether you accept the collectivist notion that the nation’s needs are more important than the parent’s desires. A counter question. Is the government permitted to force the children to learn things counter to the parents beliefs? I don’t think so. I’m perfectly willing to allow these people to exist in ignorance and repeal all science requirements in all schools such that their children don’t even have to take a science class for their entire education. Then people and their children who really want to learn good science can do so without interference. Does that threaten our nation’s technical preeminence? Certainly, but the burnt hand teaches best. It also creates a lure of forbidden knowledge that would be hard to resist.

But trying to separate mankind from his delusions is dangerous work, and science will lose if it tries. Only, it isn’t necessary to, as noted by all the scientists like Ken Miller who don’t allow their delusion to inform their science. It is only necessary to get mainstream Christian America to recognize the danger of the fundies who DO allow their delusion to inform their science.

Sincerely,
Paul

Comment #65366

Posted by jonboy on December 28, 2005 9:21 AM (e)

A very interesting insight on science and religion can be found on Spiegel Interviews,Spiegel talks with evolution philosopher Daniel Dennett The topic seems to echo many of the points raised here,the topic is “Darwinism refutes ID”

Comment #65367

Posted by Caledonian on December 28, 2005 9:39 AM (e)

Rev. Frank wrote:

In a political fight, pissing off 90% of the population is, uh, an awfully damn stupid thing to do.

Good thing this is a scientific fight, isn’t it? Rationality does not care about what’s popular, or what will be generally accepted, or what we want to be true. All it can do is produce logical conclusions from the available data. Its inability to utilize whatever methods will be most effective at reaching a desired conclusion is its greatest assest, which unfortunately makes it unsuitable for dealing with the perception-and-belief-ruled world of human politics.

Take care that you do not become that which you fight.

Comment #65368

Posted by improvius on December 28, 2005 9:51 AM (e)

Norman wrote:

It’s only pointless because we all know the irrational cannot face the irrationality of their beliefs.

That’s why we refer to them as “beliefs”. There’s really no such thing as a “rational belief”. Faith takes you where logic cannot. Blind faith simply comes from ignorance. True faith comes from recognizing the limits of rational knowledge, and choosing to believe something beyond those limits.

Comment #65370

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 28, 2005 9:53 AM (e)

Posted by Caledonian on December 28, 2005 09:39 AM (e) (s)

Rev. Frank wrote:

In a political fight, pissing off 90% of the population is, uh, an awfully damn stupid thing to do.

Good thing this is a scientific fight, isn’t it? Rationality does not care about what’s popular, or what will be generally accepted, or what we want to be true. All it can do is produce logical conclusions from the available data. Its inability to utilize whatever methods will be most effective at reaching a desired conclusion is its greatest assest, which unfortunately makes it unsuitable for dealing with the perception-and-belief-ruled world of human politics.

Take care that you do not become that which you fight.

I do not see how you can describe the ID fight as scientific.

From what I have seen, ID proponents want their views taught in a science class. But they do not do science to provide a basis for their views. Instead they employ PR and legal teams to argue for them.
When their ideas are shown to be vacuous scientifically they ignore the evidence.

Sure looks like polico/religious fight to me.

Comment #65372

Posted by inkadu on December 28, 2005 10:11 AM (e)

This is all so tiresome.

If God did not create mankind, then why did he take such an interest in him, enough to send his son to die on the cross? And how does that even begin to make sense?

I agree with the difficult politics of the situation, but i find religious people keeping their faith in “god” do so in a fundementally dishonest way – they bait and switch.

1. Evolution does not disprove a deist-type creator god who existed before the big bang and lives outside the universe.
2. Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
3. Therefore, evolution does not disprove the divinity of Jesus.

They completely fail to appreciate how high a wall science puts around their “God” concept. And once they are sure they have a God-concept that can co-exist with science, they completely ignore the walls science has put in place and now their God can do everything it could do before being banished from the universe for the past 15 billion years by science.

Put yet another long-winded way, scientists say, “God can exist.” and theists run with that and say, “I just had tea with God this afternoon. Science can’t disprove it.”

But to Shelby (I think) – dude, you are so not a Christian. You are someone who grew up a Christian, loved the philosophy and life message, love the mythology of a man who served the least among us and died, mel-gibson style, as a dramatic show of love. But if you’re not into the divinity, then you’re a small c christian, the way some people are shakespeareans. That’s not religion, that’s consciously distilling a mythology to give meaning to your life, which is totally cool and rational, but it’s a step removed from what makes religion religion. But, for what it’s worth, I have a lot of respect for your approach and I think it’s the only responsible end-point of religious education – and it’s also probably the way the historical jesus would have wanted it.

Comment #65374

Posted by Moses on December 28, 2005 10:22 AM (e)

Comment #65315

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 12:17 AM (e) (s)

Not all of the Bible is meant to be literal, but obviously some key points are. Do you deny that?

As various parts have been shown to be co-opted myths from other cultures, physically impossible or just plain wrong, they’ve been turned into “metaphors” and “allegories” by their more sophisticated and educated descendants. But when the stories were started/co-opted, they were meant to be truthful, factual accounts.

As for the rest of it, I’m not going to get into it. It’s really unproductive and I don’t care if you want to believe, as long as you’re not trying to force your beliefs on me and my descendants, it’s your life to live and you can live it watching TV, going to church or compulsively masturbating for all I care.

Comment #65375

Posted by jonboy on December 28, 2005 10:22 AM (e)

Stephen Im sorry you felt that I am a ‘quote miner” that was not my intention.I was just tying to point out the down side of the image of Jesus.On a personal level I have sought for many years to adapt my religious convictions with my understanding of science,but never could successfully marry the two.I have often wondered how people such as yourself manage to do this.

Comment #65379

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 28, 2005 11:00 AM (e)

Posted by jonboy on December 28, 2005 10:22 AM (e) (s)

Stephen Im sorry you felt that I am a ‘quote miner” that was not my intention.I was just tying to point out the down side of the image of Jesus.On a personal level I have sought for many years to adapt my religious convictions with my understanding of science,but never could successfully marry the two.I have often wondered how people such as yourself manage to do this.

Maybe it is because I am irrational ;)

TBH I do not know how, myself. I just believe that there is a God out there somewhere. However I sure do not take the bible literally and much of it I dislike.

Who knows, maybe I am just deluding myself. I certainly can’t rule that out as a possibility. Without a doubt though, something in me wants to believe.

Comment #65405

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 28, 2005 1:19 PM (e)

inkadu: I never said which parts of the bible i believe are myths verses which are “true”, and even then how could i take any particular story as an absolute when there are (in some cases) 4 different versions of that same story: which is “true”?

Norman’s use of “rational” exclusively to mean that which is scientifically based upon evidence is not, to me, the best definition of the word, and that’s part of what i was arguing (granted i was extremely tired at 10-something at night after a long day’s morris dancing). there’s more to being rational than simply only believing that which science has learned.

are my beliefs irrational in his sense? yes they are.

i have no problem with that.

mostly because i know ALL people are irrational.

Norman himself obviously is if he thinks he can spout out generalizations without exceptions, lump all [C|c]hristians together as collectively irrational people who deserve no respect, and then think that anybody really wants to listen to him anymore.

I think that his attempts to only hold that which science can support as being “true” denegrates the human experience. the ability to believe that which can not be seen or proven is actually a fairly powerful one, and not one to be dismissed out of hand simply because one has decided that “rationality” is a virtue to be praised.

Comment #65419

Posted by Joel The Bowerbird on December 28, 2005 2:24 PM (e)

Stephen Elliot, I think that the something in you that wants to beleive is your self-preservation instinct or desire. The hope that something bigger or better exists beyond you or awaits you is highly alluring, if not poetic. Also, it must be said that I’d take thousands of people like you over one fundamentalist. You show intelligence and courage that many religious people do not in that you embrace much of the reality that science has laid out for us.

I was briefly in line with your train of thought, but moved on after realizing that there was absolutely nothing historically to support Christianity. I think that you would do well to read books centered around the history of Christianity such as those by Elaine Pagels or even the Jesus Puzzle which takes an even harsher view.

Comment #65425

Posted by inkadu on December 28, 2005 2:59 PM (e)

Joe Shelby –

I understand both your position and Norman’s, and I strangely agree with both of you.

I appreciate a religious (aka mythologically) informed approach to life. And I also see how Norman might not share that appreciation. I’m an atheist, and while I find people basing science on religion completely unacceptable, I have no problem (okay LESS of a problem) with people living their lives around mythologically-distilled ideals and meaning.

I mean we all live our lives according to some mythology. Science can not give shape to our lives. Even atheists like myself like to take up Sagan’s mythology of brave explorers – the idea that we are the universe’s way to know itself. That is our holy mission, our sense of the sacred. It doesn’t come from science, it comes from our imagination.

The difference, of course, is that this Sagan-esque world view is flexible and non-dogmatic. It can accomodate (and even encourages) new discoveries and invites the toppling of old ideas. We don’t have to convert the world to it, and nobody burns in hell forever for not believing it. It’s not weighted down with 4k+ years of bigotry, bloodshed, etc… but, you know, it’s not my decision where people get their inspiration, and it seems like you have a super-human ability to find some nice opals among the mountain of manure that is the bible, so you are welcome to cherish your carefully mined treasure.

Comment #65427

Posted by Paul Flocken on December 28, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

inkadu,

The difference, of course, is that this Sagan-esque world view is flexible and non-dogmatic. It can accomodate (and even encourages) new discoveries and invites the toppling of old ideas. We don’t have to convert the world to it, and nobody burns in hell forever for not believing it. It’s not weighted down with 4k+ years of bigotry, bloodshed, etc… but, you know, it’s not my decision where people get their inspiration, and it seems like you have a super-human ability to find some nice opals among the mountain of manure that is the bible, so you are welcome to cherish your carefully mined treasure.

nicely said

Comment #65462

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 5:34 PM (e)

KiwiInOz wrote:

Norman - “Only when you guys stop saying things that are dead wrong”?

What I think is dead wrong is this:

I think that the Judge was spot on.

That’s what I used to think until I read Daniel Dennett’s take on Judge Jones saying: “…and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator…”

The 4 words in there: “in no way conflicts” are dead wrong because Dennett pointed out a conflict and that, by all that is logical, ends the accuracy of those 4 words and also points to what was wrong with this tiny part of an otherwise excellent judicial decision.

If there are some conflicts when one gets down to specific religious views of a “divine creator,” then Judge Jones could only have meant either his own concept of a “divine creator” or all possible views of a “divine creator” did not come into conflict with what he heard (and he didn’t hear everything in his crash course on evolution. The Thomas Moore Law center didn’t put Dawkins and Dennett on the stand.)

What if the science did conflict with Judge Jones’ view or all possible views of a divine creator? There’s that meaning buried in the Judge’s wording: religion mattered. Why should it?

Why does science have to be “religion safe” in our culture? Why should that even be part of the Judge’s decision? Whose religion do we have to be safe for? How do we avoid stepping on religous toes when religion is so broad and ill-defined?

I’m a rational atheist (and hopefully a rational scientist). I see no compelling reason to believe in a G.O.D., gods, goddess’s etc. I suspect that, on the evidence that I have seen, JC was a politically radical religious Jew, no more divine than the Christmas pudding I ate a few days ago. He may even have had a claim by blood to the kingship of Judea(?) with a band of supporters to that effect, and a band of opposers. His political religious movement has gathered strength over the millenia, branching out into all sorts of ‘species’.

Then isn’t it rather arrogant of you to define religion for religious people this way: “… religion is about one’s relationship (= spirituality = something beyond rationalism) with people/the world/the universe, not about a dogmatic belief in an ineffible plan of a Grand Old Designer.”

I digress, but only because you have put me into a category that I don’t belong in.

You are correct, I did. Sorry. I assumed anyone who would define religion for people as you did would actually be religious.

I am totally opposed to the pushing of religious “truth” on anyone, particlarly when the methods are less than honest (e.g. the IDers).

What about not being particlarly honest when explaining the implications of science for religion? There are reasons you are an atheist – why so many of us are atheists on this board and evolution is part of that reason.

Comment #65464

Posted by AC on December 28, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

Along the lines of defining “right” and “wrong” before anything meaningful can be said in their regard, it’s also vital to lay out and stick to definitions of religion.

For example, what exactly is the bare minimum requirement, in terms of beliefs held and assertions proposed, for one to be a “Christian”? These days, the word is bandied about without concrete reference to the point of meaninglessness, and we end up arguing - literally - over nothing. Meanwhile, postmodernist scoundrels profit from the ambiguity.

Is belief in the divinity of a man, Jesus, presented in the bible, including his role as redeemer of man’s sins, sufficient for one to be a Christian? His divinity alone?

Is mere adherence to the philosophy presented in the bible as that of Jesus sufficient for one to be a Christian? Does such a person even need to believe that the Jesus presented in the bible ever actually existed?

It seems that when Norman says “Christian”, he is at least assuming a belief in the divinity of Jesus on the part of his subject. From Stephen’s statements, I’m not sure if he fits this description, but he clearly accepts the label “Christian”.

So, the question is: What do Stephen and Norman each mean by “Christian”?

Comment #65465

Posted by AC on December 28, 2005 5:47 PM (e)

I would make a few other comments, but H. Humbert has beaten me to them. In particular, comment #65333 is the kind of distillation that, in its accuracy, shows man to be every bit a product of his universe: absurd in the existential sense.

Comment #65468

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 5:56 PM (e)

improvius wrote:

True faith comes from recognizing the limits of rational knowledge, and choosing to believe something beyond those limits.

What is irrational about that is thinking you can choose. If you don’t know then the rational thing to do is admit you don’t know. It becomes even more irrational when you choose to believe something that has a mountain of evidence against it and little going for it.

Comment #65474

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 6:13 PM (e)

AC wrote:

It seems that when Norman says “Christian”, he is at least assuming a belief in the divinity of Jesus on the part of his subject. From Stephen’s statements, I’m not sure if he fits this description, but he clearly accepts the label “Christian”.

So, the question is: What do Stephen and Norman each mean by “Christian”?

You pretty much nailed it. When someone tells me they are a Christian I at least expect them to have a belief in the divinity of Jesus and usually to believe “Jesus saves them from sin.”

I think evolution undermines the concept of sin and god hating sin.

So, yes, those accuse me of grouping Christians in that way are correct. I guess we have to call them “divinity Christians” or something now.

Comment #65478

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 28, 2005 6:39 PM (e)

Sintients?

Comment #65481

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 28, 2005 6:49 PM (e)

Good thing this is a scientific fight, isn’t it?

BWA HA HA HA AH AH AHA HA HA HA AH AHA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good one.

Comment #65482

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 6:49 PM (e)

Steviepinhead

Sintients?

Then what are the rest of us? non-sintients?

Comment #65489

Posted by Gav on December 28, 2005 7:03 PM (e)

Norman Doering commented “I guess we have to call them “divinity Christians” or something now.”

At the risk of prolonging a tired thread, try “Trinitarian”.

[JJ Norwich in his book on Byzantium gives an amusing account of the riots - practically a civil war - between the trinitarian believers of “homoousia” and those who preferred “homoiousia”.]

Comment #65490

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 28, 2005 7:03 PM (e)

inkadu Well, keep in mind that very few people come to see the “Truth” of religion from atheism by simply picking up the bible and reading it. Most people of faith are that way because they were raised that way. sudden conversions to faith (through surviving some catastrophy) are rare, and even when they happen, they don’t happen because someone specifically picked up the bible and read it and suddenly was “opened” to the supposed truth of it all.

i never decided to be christian (choose your capitalization) because of the book, but because of the community and church i was raised in. i have seen plenty of reasons to reject literalism and fundementalism, and even to denounce the episcopal church’s extended history as foolhardy politics driven by man rather than by the spirit (the origin via Henry’s desire for divorce, the executions during Mary and Elizabeth’s reigns, the english civil war), and the catholic church’s many errors before it.

and i can denounce them because they are not necessary nor even remotely important to the community of my church. it is part of how we got here, but we are not today what the church was 300 years ago.

community seems to be the one final piece of reason for being in a church that some would never see. as long as organized religion is “manipulating the personal beliefs of many for the sake of money”, then there can never be anything rational about being in a church. again, its lumping all churches together as if they all acted the same. i would have left a church as cynical and greedy and profit-driven as those he describes. certainly if the only thing you know about a church is that they have decided your moral values for you (mine hasn’t), or that they need $ 800,000,000 by next friday or god will kill their leaders (mine hasn’t), or that god has to be responsible for your creation because everybody has a purpose predestined upon them before they were even born (mine hasn’t) or that they have decided to tell you that you are all damned to hell because of something that happened to two people who never really existed (mine hasn’t), then you can complain about organized religion all you want.

i have never been in such a church. i’ve seen them. i don’t believe what they say.

when the episcopal church makes moral decisions (more accurately, inappropriate judgements) i disagree with, i tell ‘em to stuff it. things will change, as they always have. as like the Dover, PA school board that lied on the stand for their “god”, when members of the church do the wrong things for their supposedly right reasons (like a bishop in DC not consecrating a priest-to-be because the bishop was protesting the priest’s own dioseese’s lack of women in the priesthood), i call it political bullshit.

the community i belong to doesn’t try to tell me what to think, doesn’t try to tell me how I *should* be feeling in a situation, doesn’t try to tell me that 6 days is 6 days and that’s final, doesn’t try to tell me that bread wafers really physically become human flesh, doesn’t try to tell me that the money they need from you is going to build some giant amusement park (other than the small budget for the playground outside the sunday school).

i don’t know what dogma someone like Norman insists is a requirement for calling oneself Christian, but whatever it is, I likely will disagree with it (certainly his list of so-called “Objective Truths” aren’t anything of the sort as far as i’m concerned). And even so, I can’t possibly see what his definition of “Christian” would require “grasping at straws” in order to accept evolution as the best scientific explanation for the variety of life on this planet unless it absolutely required a literal reading of Genesis.

i sometimes wonder if its just the creationists that confuse Methodological Naturalsm with Metaphysical Naturalism. It seems that some on the athiestic side insist the two must be the same as well.

Comment #65494

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 28, 2005 7:13 PM (e)

Norman wrote:

I think evolution undermines the concept of sin and god hating sin.

Than we will never have any further basis for discussion because I see evolution and sin as being totally and entirely irrelevant to each other.

individuals breed (or divide, if asexual), mutation happens on occasion, genetic systems exist for both providing variety and limiting it (recessive genes serve both actions), things happen in the natural world which kill off some individuals before they can breed, populations can get separated, ecosystems achieve a sense of balance that can make its inhabitants seem to have been “perfectly designed” for such an environment, and over time things are different than they were.

an extremely simplified description of evolution, yes, but accurate.

so where is sin in all of that?

and what does “god hates sin” have to do with any of that?

Comment #65495

Posted by CJ O'Brien on December 28, 2005 7:22 PM (e)

I read a very good take on the conflation of the two (MN/PN) in a comment on Pharyngula, regarding what the commenter called the “closed world” and “open world” assumptions.
The commenter pointed out that the trouble begins when one yokes Methodological Naturalism to the “closed world” i.e. the assumption that that which cannot be proven demonstrably true must be considered false. The opposite assumption, “open world,” sees that which has not benn proven demonstrably false (the existence of a deity, for example) must be regarded as “possibly true.”

For what it’s worth, I am an atheist, but I view that stance as a belief, and one that is no more or less “rational” than (some forms of) theism. It just happens to be my belief, and so I consider it “true.”

Comment #65496

Posted by KiwiInOz on December 28, 2005 7:31 PM (e)

Morning Norman,

I understand your concern with the Judge’s words “in no way conflicts with” but which I reinterpreted to “need not”. I totally agree that the implications of science for established religion are pretty disturbing for those of fundamentalist faith, and am not surprised that they take the approach that the best form of defense is attack.

I wasn’t defining what religion is for all people, rather I was giving my take on what I believe is an inherent “spirituality” in humans. Now this spirituality may be an emergent property of brain evolution, but it is the part of us that goes WOW and draws inspiration when, say, looking at the night sky. It is unfortunate that humans take this spirituality (irrationality) to dogmatic conclusions, and enforce beliefs on others, particularly through hypocritical means.

(and I meant to say that rationality gives us geometry whereas irrationality gives us the paintings of Dali and Piccasso)

Now I am off to enjoy yet another stinking hot summers day. Thank god for holidays!

Comment #65498

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 28, 2005 7:39 PM (e)

Um, it’s long been my impression that the sin-believing Christians accept something along these lines:

1. God “designed” and personally placed among us at least two humans, Adam and Eve.

2. Through various plot hijinks–rather inconsistent and confusing–Eve is tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit and, for some not very well-explained reason, sin thereby enters the world and thereafter is the common lot of all of humanity.

3. Several thousand years pass (I recognize I’m skipping some important goings-on), then God sends Jesus, his only-begotten Son, down to the mortal plane to help redeem humanity from the situation prevailing since 1. and 2. above.

(Which, I guess, makes said Son number 3 among humans designed and personally placed among us by God, even if evolution and reproduction explain the rest of us.)

Now, I recognize that this is a simplistic treatment of the complex and vexing topics of original sin and redemption, but it represents my rough-n-ready attempt to reprise the gist of it, purely for the purpose of the present discussion.

Please note that I’m not arguing for or against believing in any of the above–and I don’t necessarily believe that belief in the foregoing is inconsistent with a conviction that the available evidence supports the Theory of Evolution, but I guess I can see how Norman might have arrived at his position, which, if I’ve followed along correctly, seems to be that:

If evolution adequately explains the origin of all human beings who have ever traipsed our mortal plane, and intelligent design is NOT a remotely-convincing scientific explanation for the origins of any actual physical humans, then the Theory of Sin (as traceable back, in the popular understanding, to two “designed” humans, and as redeemed by a third “designed” human) does seem to run into conflict with the current evidence-based understandings of science.

Comment #65523

Posted by Ron Okimoto on December 28, 2005 9:34 PM (e)

Lenny wrote:

Dudes, are we gonna have ANOTHER pointless religious war?

Didn’t we learn anything from the LAST one?

Shoot people who are NOT on our side. Shooting people who ARE on our side is … well . . kinda stupid

It does seems stupid. The rabid atheists must not like what they see reflected back at them from the rabid creationists. No, it can’t be the same type of denial that we see in guys like Salvador, could it? They both wish that they could demonstrate their beliefs with science. It is probably a good thing that neither type can. Could you just imagine what the world would be like if either type could demonstrate their belief and really lord it over the other?

What did Dennett say:

The theory of evolution demolishes the best reason anyone has ever suggested for believing in a divine creator. This does not demonstrate that there is no divine creator, of course, but only shows that if there is one, it (He?) needn’t have bothered to create anything, since natural selection would have taken care of all that.

I do have to put the whole sentence up about the “no divine creator” you can make up your own mind whether you should chuckle about taking Jones to task about a point and then making such a claim about natural selection. I mean, is natural selection the be all and end all of biological evolution? If you are going to nit pick you should get all your own ducks in a row. Dennett still has enough on the ball put in “does not demonstrate.”

Comment #65534

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 11:16 PM (e)

Joe Shelby

I see evolution and sin as being totally and entirely irrelevant to each other.

Look at the kinds of things that are called sins. Remember the seven deadly?

Here’s the relationship:

individuals breed …

The sin is lust. We’re talking sex out of the artificial invention of wedlock, we’re talking promiscuity and jealousy and more.

It turns out that there are more than one kind of sperm. Some are egg seeking sperm that just seek the egg, others are blocking sperm that form chains and block another man’s sperm. Then there are attacking sperm that murder other sperm from some other guy. And sperm don’t live that long. Men who are away from sex for awhile, build up blocking sperm and if they don’t masturbate or in some other way get rid of this so that fresh egg-seeking sperm can come into play, they are not the ones who leave descendents. That there even exist blocking and attack sperm is biological proof that we have inbuilt in us mechanisms made and tailored by evolution for promiscuity and not for monogamy.

Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” is here too, only the most fit of the egg seeking sperm can fertilize an egg.

… mutation happens on occasion,…

Most of which leads to random suffering and death, to cancers, to birth defects.

Think Job.

… things happen in the natural world which kill off some individuals before they can breed,…

One of those things that happen quite frequently is animals kill and eat each other. It’s called predation.

so where is sin in all of that?

God and the devil are in the details.

…and what does “god hates sin” have to do with any of that?

If God made this world (and I don’t think he did) then he made not an Eden but a world of suffering, misery and death. A world of predation, deception, lust and conflict all before humans had any concept of sin being the cause of their problems. We exist because if God exists he created that world of evolutionary sin. How can God hate it if he made so much of it?

Comment #65535

Posted by Norman Doering on December 28, 2005 11:34 PM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote:

1. God “designed” and personally placed among us at least two humans, Adam and Eve.

It goes deeper than that. Even if you’ve got God front-loading the universe so that evolution happens on this tiny speck of a planet in a vast and lifeless universe then that evolution requires death, struggle, predation, deception and many other behaviors commonly associated with sin. We wouldn’t exist without “sin,” so how can one say the creator of this universe hates sin when he made so much of it?

What we think of as “morality” arrives much later but before humanity arrives and it happens gradually as some animals stop eating their young and start to develop mothering instincts to protect and raise their children. Then they form more extended families, then larger tight nit packs that work together. So we get a touch of basic morality written into our mammalian genes and then the apes become more human.

Then comes full blown civilization and the need for new kinds of behavior that limit interprersonal and tribal conflict. From that comes new forms of religion that go beyond tribal shamanism. For example, before Moses and the ten commandments declared what some of our sins were we had the Code of the Hammurabi given to us by a supposed sun-god, we have Egyptian religion setting the rulers themselves up as gods.

So, sin, whatever it is, is also evolving at this time because these societies develop different laws and our laws are changing. Are concept of what is “sin” is changing, evolving to adapt to knew environments.

Comment #65541

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 12:58 AM (e)

What we think of as “morality” arrives much later but before humanity arrives and it happens gradually as some animals stop eating their young and start to develop mothering instincts to protect and raise their children

I hate to tell you this, but gradualism’s got nothin to do with the development of parental care.

It evolves in populations where there is a selective advantage to it, just like everything else, and doesn’t or dissappears even, when there are selective pressures against it.

while you could surely say there are more populations that exhibit parental care than canibalism currently than there were in precambrian times, I’m sure, that’s mostly just because of the increasing diversity level. Within an epoch, you will find parental care/infanticide occurring back and forth, even with a given species under different selective pressures.

we sometimes tend to anthropomorphize behavior and tend to think of our own behavior as some sort of pinnacle of evolution, but you yourself know better than to think of evolution as striving towards some ultimate goal.

Cultural evolution is a sociological phenomenon amongst humans, and one could argue that there are more than just standard selection pressures involved (though the role of selection is surely still there).

for example, cannibalism has evolved among different human populations countless times that we KNOW about. I would be hard pressed to say that non-cannibalism is the more “evolved” trait, even among humans as a general species.

Comment #65547

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 29, 2005 1:43 AM (e)

Cannabalism is actually pretty hard to document. Which isn’t to say that selection pressures don’t lead to different sorts of parenting and gustatory schemes.

Much of what the first-contact Europeans wrote up as “cannabalism” in the New World, Africa, etc. turns out upon closer inspection by more reliable observers to have been “ritual” cannabalism, i.e., the “flesh” and “blood” of Jesus that certain believers imbibe every Sunday in the form of wafers and wine.

I think that Norman and Sir T are both trying to say–albeit with important differences in emphasis–that very complex behaviors and beliefs are still subject to the exigencies of evolution. With that, I agree, though I doubt we yet have the evidence to confirm that evolution explains all of our varied myths and magics.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Comment #65549

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 1:53 AM (e)

sir_toejam wrote:

… but gradualism’s got nothin to do with the development of parental care.

I never said it did. I said morality happens gradually. I think it does start with parental care, then family units, extended family, tribe etc. and each unit needing different kinds of rules to function.

Comment #65554

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 2:03 AM (e)

Cannabalism is actually pretty hard to document.

In humans it is, but not in other life forms. I’ve seen baby spiders hatch from aggs and eat their mother. I’m saying what we think of as morality has a long genetic history that goes back even before we evolved into mammals. Many mammals seem to have an inborn sense of marality when it comes to their own species, even other species.

Comment #65555

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 2:06 AM (e)

I’m saying what we think of as morality has a long genetic history that goes back even before we evolved into mammals

right, and what I’m saying is that the development of morality isn’t necessarily gradual, nor linear.

Comment #65556

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 2:13 AM (e)

…for example, cannibalism has evolved among different human populations countless times that we KNOW about. I would be hard pressed to say that non-cannibalism is the more “evolved” trait, even among humans as a general species.

Oh, it was you who talked about cannibalism, I think I only talked about animals that eat their young.

I wasn’t meaning to talk about evolution and gradualism being some rise to some peak of good behavior. It just looks that way because we are here and we like it better than where we seem to have come from. We are adapted to our societies.

As someone once noted, the most “evolved” creatures on our planets would be things like bacteria because they go through more generations than we do and they’ve been doing it longer.

Comment #65559

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 29, 2005 2:25 AM (e)

Amazing, I agree with all the posts after my last.

Even the ones that tell me what I should have said to say what I meant to say better than I did.

Comment #65560

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 2:28 AM (e)

What’s your college student son think about all this ID hooey, Steve?

Comment #65563

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 29, 2005 2:47 AM (e)

He’s gonna graduate a quarter early from Stanford, after spending the summer at Oxford and in Dublin and Zurich on grants.

Needless to say, he far outshines his old man and, as I hope would be needless to say, he also thinks ID is hooey of the uttermost perfidiousness.

I mean, he can at least read, unlike all these funky trollsters!

(And, Sir T, just between us PTers, you kin call me “Stevie,” or you kin call me “Pinhead,” if’n you wants ta. Bbut, please, don’t mix me up with all them there plain ol’ “Steve”s. Heck, someone might get the notion that I wuz one of them, whatcha call ‘em, Darwinists…)

Comment #65564

Posted by Registered User on December 29, 2005 2:57 AM (e)

Has anyone ever eaten “bush meat”?

I’d really like to try it just to see what it’s like. I bet it’s tasty.

Some Bonobo chimp thigh or maybe some bacon off the back of a fat gorilla. Battered and fried.

I’d eat a human, too, if I was hungry enough and they weren’t terribly obnoxious while they were alive.

Remember that German dude who answered the Internet ad and let some guy cut off his wang, fry it up, and eat it right in front of him?

Classic.

Comment #65565

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 2:59 AM (e)

Hey, that’s great! I’ve always heard good things about Stanford. I did my undergrad at UCSB and my grad at Berkeley.

What’s his major?

oh, uh, to keep on topic…

do you think it’s the trollies actual lack of reading the material, or their inability to comprehend what they read that is at the heart of the problem with folks like lalalarry?

Comment #65566

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 3:01 AM (e)

I’d eat a human, too, if I was hungry enough and they weren’t terribly obnoxious while they were alive.

damn, i was kinda hoping you might be hungry for a larry burger…

Comment #65570

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 29, 2005 3:12 AM (e)

English. Joyce and all that kinda stuff…

Larry burger. And, just going with the flow, up in Seattle, the best burgers are to be had at, um, Dick’s Drive-In…

Ain’t life a hoot! For them as pays a modicum of attention, anyways!

Comment #65581

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 4:01 AM (e)

Ron Okimoto wrote:

…you can make up your own mind whether you should chuckle about taking Jones to task about a point and then making such a claim about natural selection. I mean, is natural selection the be all and end all of biological evolution? If you are going to nit pick you should get all your own ducks in a row. Dennett still has enough on the ball put in “does not demonstrate.”

Dennett’s ducks are in a row. It’s yours that aren’t. Dennett did not claim natural selection is the be all and end all of biological evolution. It is, however, the major driving force of what is the illusion of invention and design. The thing that makes it look like god did it.

It is probably a good thing that neither type can. Could you just imagine what the world would be like if either type could demonstrate their belief and really lord it over the other?

It takes a lot of bravery to admit that you prefer our current state of ignorance and muddle of the road synthesis and obfuscation of views that can’t be synthesized to potential knowledge. Congratulations on prefering the dark to the light.

Comment #65599

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 7:34 AM (e)

It takes a lot of bravery to admit that you prefer our current state of ignorance and muddle of the road synthesis and obfuscation of views that can’t be synthesized to potential knowledge. Congratulations on prefering the dark to the light.

Hey Norm, how many anti-IDers did you plan on driving away? And what is it that you hope to accomplish by doing so?

Comment #65601

Posted by Ron Okimoto on December 29, 2005 7:45 AM (e)

Does Dennett have all his ducks in a row? What is Jones stating when he makes his statement? Do you think that he got your interpretation from Miller? My guess is that Jones is a conservative Christian, why would he have your interpretation of his statement?

As far as dark to the light, my guess is that when we eventually are able to find the genetic variation responsible for fundy behavior that the militant atheists will also have a high frequency of those genetic variants. They are about two peas in the pod. Want to take that bet? Environmental variation is probably the difference in their behavior.

All you have to do to convince me that militant atheists are moving towards the light is to get the National Academy or the AAAS to put up a statement that there is no god. Even when they are atheists most scientists know the limits of science. It is one of the most bogus things to see people argue, correctly, that science has limits, but then to talk out of the other side of their face when they don’t like those limits.

What other group does that?

What do you think the genome work will tell us? Unfortunately, fundies are your cousins.

Comment #65610

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 29, 2005 8:43 AM (e)

Norman,
By your definition I am almost certainly not a christian.
I do think of myself as one though.

I still agree with Judge Jones statement “…and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator…”
I see no conflict there. I agree though that evolution goes contrary to some peoples religious beliefs and a lot of statements on the natural world made by various churches.

Comment #65617

Posted by The Ghost of Paley on December 29, 2005 9:35 AM (e)

I have to agree with the Reverend Jim here. Guys, it’s not smart to reveal your atheist wedge strategy too soon. I mean, what would the public think if they could hear you now? But from my perspective, this thread is fantastic. This is what evos are like when the mask comes off.

Rev. Jim: Check out the Panderichthys thread. And don’t forget to explain why you think the Wizard’s latest monographs don’t advance the design argument.

Comment #65618

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 29, 2005 9:48 AM (e)

Norman:

Sin is relative and personal and you are applying your knowledge of the Catholic Church’s very publically declared definitions of sin (which are NOT ones acknowledged by every church or every individual christian) as a means of judgement.

sex out of wedlock is not in and of itself a sin to me. i don’t by the catholics dogma on that topic, just as i think their efforts against birth control are downright stupid as population control is a main thing keeping europe from mass starvation (and lack of population control is a major problem in catholic-dominated south america). similarly, i never grew up in an environment telling me i would grow hair on my palms and “god watches you” and all that crap.

true adultery is different – having sex after having made a commitment to monogomy with a particular partner is a sin not because its a sin against got but against your partner. it is a violation of trust. if a couple has decided in an “open marriage” or practice polyamory, then its not adultery because it is an accepted part of the agreement to be together. i’m not in such a relationship and have no intention of it, but i don’t judge those who do nor do i feel it is anybody’s right to. they know when they’ve messed up; its between them, their partner(s), and their faith, not mine.

many societies had different means of handling this male problem you’ve described. certainly “multiple wives” was an easy solution practiced by many in the past, though less now, and according to primate anthropologists it is effectively the solution of many of our ape cousins.

conflicting norms developed in our society over time and at the present, the one partner household is the norm. if you have a problem with that, it is a problem with our entire society as a whole, but attacking any perceived (incorrectly in my opinion, but i can’t back it up right now) religious origin of monogamy is futile. it is what it is. if it has flaws in today’s society and practices, argue for removing them based on those flaws, not on your anti-religious hang-ups…and good luck to you.

oh, and we may have evolved systems that prefer promiscuity, but biology has also evolved a number of viruses and bacteria that love taking advantage of that promiscuity as a means to spread.

and no, i don’t consider STDs “god’s punishment”. STDs simply are, just like any other disease.

Job, as i stated before, is my second-most-hated book in the bible, and i don’t accept a word of it. I don’t believe in a god that would kill off an entire family simply on a bet (by the way, so much for the “patience of Job” – technically, God lost the bet).

Comment #65620

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 29, 2005 10:09 AM (e)

Posted by Joel The Bowerbird on December 28, 2005 02:24 PM (e) (s)

Stephen Elliot,1) I think that the something in you that wants to beleive is your self-preservation instinct or desire. The hope that something bigger or better exists beyond you or awaits you is highly alluring, if not poetic. Also, it must be said that 2)I’d take thousands of people like you over one fundamentalist. You show intelligence and courage that many religious people do not in that you embrace much of the reality that science has laid out for us.

I was briefly in line with your train of thought, but moved on after realizing that there was absolutely nothing historically to support Christianity. I think that you would do well to read books centered around the history of Christianity such as those by 3)Elaine Pagels or even the Jesus Puzzle which takes an even harsher view.

Joel,

1) That may be true. Another reason would be the desire to again see my father and other people I have loved and lost. I would think though that if science ever could disprove God, I would accept it rather than lie or miss-represent my religious views onto others (I hope).

2) I actually prefer the regulars who post here over charlatans at places such as creationist sites. Damn fundies repulse me. Should I post something incorrect here, people shoot it down with arguments backed up by evidence and links. That way I get to learn new things. I like that better than certain other sites that do not show such regard for evidence or truth.

3)lol more reading recommendations. I still haven’t finished “The age of reason” or the 6th edition of “biology” by Campbell & Reece. To use a (Mae West?) miss-quote, “so little time, so much literature.”

Comment #65629

Posted by Raging Bee on December 29, 2005 10:55 AM (e)

Deism might be “arational,” something arrived at beyond what evidence says, but Christianity is irrational and actively distorts the evidence.

Which “Christianity” are you talking about? Not that of my parents, I’m sure.

Christ’s teachings have no credibility in light of evidence.

Wow, I must have been on an extended drug binge, if I missed the bit where “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” was scientifically disproven.

Comment #65650

Posted by PZ Myers on December 29, 2005 1:46 PM (e)

I am always impressed with the argument that this is a political fight, and therefore the atheists should go hide in a closet and be very, very quiet while the good Christians go out and represent us. Hey, it worked for African-Americans and gays, right?

I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We’re going to be loud and aggressive, we are going to continually hammer on the deficiency of evidence and the absolute inanity of theism, and we’re going to fight for the cause of reason that others so readily abandon when confronted with tradition and ritual.

And here’s your political error, the deep mistake you make: you act as if many members at the heart of the cause of science are creatures to be ashamed of because they don’t accept the myths of the majority. The public isn’t going to be dissuaded from their belief that evolution and science and reason lead to apostasy – they’re right. It often does. Our message should be that that’s OK, atheists and agnostics are good people and productive members of society, too, but instead, what we do is cover them up, hide them away, pretend that they do not represent the scientific community in any way. When the religious kooks demonize Richard Dawkins for his atheism, we have a large team of collaborators on our side who chime in in agreement, and start babbling about “atheist fundamentalists” and other oxymorons.

Give me a break. The problem isn’t the aggressively atheist, true-to-science in their personal beliefs, loud and proud evolutionists – it’s this attitude in our own ranks that the logical conclusion of naturalism and materialism is something to be embarrassed about and shied away from. That’s a weakness, and our opponents know it. Compound that with the fact that the Christians on our side also tend to run towards an abstract deism that the creationists don’t even recognize as a real religion (and please, the Golden Rule ain’t Christian, and it pisses me off no end to see it appropriated as evidence for a god when atheists can abide by it perfectly well), and we look look like a bunch of gutless wimps with no convictions at all.

If anyone has observed American politics in the last few years, you should be aware that that doesn’t win people over in the slightest. Appeasing the wishy-washy, the timid and tepid, those who cling to tattered shreds of superstitions that are fading away as we watch…that is the loser’s way.

It’s good to see that this is a political game. It’s not so good to embrace the losing strategy.

Comment #65654

Posted by inkadu on December 29, 2005 2:09 PM (e)

PZ - Amen, brother!

Stephen Elliot - I had no idea you enjoyed hanging out with christians. Since you enjoy their company, all their beliefs must be beyond reproach. Apologies.

Comment #65656

Posted by Steve S on December 29, 2005 2:14 PM (e)

I’ve been asked before not to make any comments negative of religion here. And I understand why–the people asking are fundamentally concerned with promoting evolution. I don’t abide the request because that’s not my fundamental goal. It is one of my goals, sure, but not an overriding one. Promoting atheism/humanism is another goal of mine, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how it should be done and why we’re a minority position. Most of the atheists I know are in the closet because they don’t want to deal with the discrimination. So the loud 18-yro type atheists are overrepresented in public opinion. This type of aggressive behavior is probably not the most strategic kind, but that doesn’t argue against aggression and passion. We need aggression and passion, but I think we need other things, too, in order to get out of the ghetto. Here’s a comment to an atheist blog I recently posted:

One thing I’m going to be doing in the new year is thinking about how the “product” of atheism or secularism doesn’t compete as well as religion does, in America and many other parts of the world. I have some vague ideas about why that is. Religions are social institutions, where people get real or percieved social benefits by going to church functions. Can atheism do something like that? When I’ve gone to local meetings of atheist or intelligence groups, it’s usually a small group with an unfortunately high percentage of dysfunctional people. Is atheism a small percentage of people because we lack enticing social benefits? Is atheism too simple a philosophy to create such a social club, and we’ll have to use humanism to do it? Thinking about these questions will be the first part of my new year.

And I’ve posted the same thing at After the Bar Closes to continue if anyone wants to discuss.

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/i…

Comment #65723

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 6:24 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

Norman,
By your definition I am almost certainly not a christian.
I do think of myself as one though.

Then all we have is a semantic argument. My only problem with your semantics is that they seem to muddy the waters unnecessarily. Maybe you should find a Unitarian church and start calling yourself a Deist.

I still agree with Judge Jones statement “…and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator…”
I see no conflict there.

Whose notion of a divine creator? Your personal notion, maybe, but it’s obvious that the IDer’s notions of their “divine creator” are conflicted by the implications of evolution. A “divine creator” might exist, but Christianity as presented in the Bible isn’t rooted in just any old notion of a creator one can imagine to cover the gaps in our ignorance, the Bible has some very specific things to say about that creator and those things appear to be dead wrong.

And what does the word “divine” add to the notion of a creator?

I agree though that evolution goes contrary to some peoples religious beliefs and a lot of statements on the natural world made by various churches.

The thing is that they are picking up those notions from the book you claim to “believe” in and name your religion by - the Bible. And their notions are older than yours and, to me, seem more in tuned with the book’s various writer’s real, though conflicted, intentions.

Comment #65724

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 6:32 PM (e)

I am always impressed with the argument that this is a political fight, and therefore the atheists should go hide in a closet and be very, very quiet while the good Christians go out and represent us.

Um, PZ, I’m not a Christian. I don’t even assert the existence of any god, gods, or goddesses.

And this *is* a political fight. Furthermore, it is not a political fight over or about atheism. This is not an “atheist vs theist” fight. It’s not even a “science vs religion” fight. It’s a “fundamentalist ayatollah-wanna-be vs … well … everyone else” fight.

ID isn’t science, whether there is a god or not. ID is religion, whether there is a god or not. ID doesn’t belong in a science classroom, whether there is a god or not.

So why the hell are we wasting time on the non-issue of whether there is a god or not?

What good does it do for us to shoot people who are on our side, over the nonissue of their religious beliefs? How does that help us fight IDers? Would you refuse the legal/financial aid of People for the American Way in this fight because its founder is a Christian minister? Would you ask Wes and other leaders in the anti-ID fight to step down because they happen to be “irrational religionists”?

Dude, this *is* a political fight. In a political fight, pissing off 90% of the population (over an irrelevant side issue, no less) is very very stupid. And shooting at/driving away people who are ON OUR SIDE (again, over an irrelevant side issue) is even MORE stupid. I don’t see any use for driving away allies simply because you don’t like their religious opinions. What do we gain by that? How does it help us?

If you want to wage holy war against all the theists, then by all means go ahead, knock yourself out, and have fun. But ID isn’t that fight.

And don’t lecture me about how repressed you are. I’ve had visits from the *FBI* about *my* viewpoints, and last time I looked, my FBI file was pretty close to 75 pages. But I don’t drag those viewpoints into this fight because they do not belong here. ID isn’t that fight.

Comment #65726

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 6:39 PM (e)

Raging Bee asked:

Which “Christianity” are you talking about?

The ones I see, like yours.

Not that of my parents, I’m sure.

Don’t be.

I must have been on an extended drug binge, if I missed the bit where “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” was scientifically disproven.

That has been said, in different words, by every religious ethical philosopher before and after Jesus. It is really nothing but a trite truism about human behavior and ethics. It does not represent what is unique about the Bible’s teaching or even the whole monotheistic root of the Islam-Judaism-Christianity monolith.

The fact that you said that indicates to me that you are irrational.

Comment #65729

Posted by PZ Myers on December 29, 2005 6:50 PM (e)

It is a political fight, and it is not an irrational side issue. You don’t think the issue is science, do you? It’s that the great mass of middle America is afraid that their kids will go off to college, learn a little biology, and abandon their faith. And they’re right to worry: most of them will. Evolution erodes religion. It’s a fact.

We should face that, rather than continuing to parade our favorite biologists who have retained some smattering of deism as our representatives. That’s dishonest. They know it. The only people who are struggling to avoid facing that reality are the people on our side.

You want to continue to play the game that science is no threat to religion? That’s a doomed strategy. It’s assuming that Christians are as stupid as creationists are ignorant, and that’s just not true.

Comment #65730

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 6:57 PM (e)

I’ve gotta go – but I’ll pick up on the rest later. Don’t expect another response for a couple hours.

Comment #65731

Posted by SteveF on December 29, 2005 7:12 PM (e)

All I care about is the continued teaching/funding etc etc of evolution and other sciences as opposed to pseudoscience. It seems to me that attacking those who differ in certain philosophical respects but agree over modern science (irrespective of whether we believe that the way they resolve any potential conflicts is irrational) does not help this cause. For me its as simple as that.

Comment #65745

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 29, 2005 8:25 PM (e)

Thanks PZ, in my usual lurker mode I have watched Norman getting criticised for daring to speak only rationally. There is no way I could encapsulate my opinion as eloquently as you have done here.

Near the beginning of this thread, Greg Peterson commented that religion cannot be endlessly plastic. No one dare touch this point at all! This is VERY telling. People like Stephen Elliot (and others), well-intentioned as he is, never begin to describe what he believes in - he only said what he doesn’t believe in the bible. Let’s cut to the chase, you are christian if you believe in Yehwah, if not you are not. If you are, please explain why you don’t believe in things that are written in the bible. It is not rational to arbitrarily edit out things you don’t like, or label them irrelevent or figurative. Not unless you have evidence that it’s *meant* to be that way. Throughout history, christians have been re-interpreting bible in a “after the fact let’s patch this hole up now we are okay carry on” sort of way, honest people should not pretend otherwise.

If you believe in god, but not the one described in the bible, then sorry, it is a mighty stretch to call yourself a christian. You may as well call yourself a muslim, a FSMist, or even invent your own cult. It is meaningless to say that you believe in Christ, except the bits that you don’t believe in. It does not matter when your “christian” believe have no basis in christian teaching. Which takes me to the next point.

Religious people have a very strong tendency to attribute the existent of any human virtue to god. Don’t you understand that you cannot rationally do that AND be plastic about your religion at the same time? If god is timeless, omniscient, it makes absolutely no sense to then concede religious value evolves over time. If god is timeless and omniscient, he does not react to changing human needs, he foresees it and deals with it in his timeless fashion. God said that slavery was okay 2000 years ago and god said that slavery was not okay after the American cival war? I don’t think so. The only logical conclusion is that human value drives religious value, not the other way round.

Lenny, I love your fight against IDists (not your body movement in parenthesis though), you are great. But I don’t understand your worry that guys like Norman would drive away anti-IDists. If someone reads Norman’s post, and concludes that atheism sucks, evolution sucks, god creates, ID rocks, bye-bye evolution - then he/she is in the evolution-camp for the wrong reason to begin with.

Also, earlier you challenged Norman to use scientific method to decide whether murder is wrong. How is that relevent to Norman’s point? Norman only argues to use rational thinking, he doesn’t say that science is be all and end all. Moreover, it does not follow that if science can’t do something, then religion has value. This is the binary thinking that IDists use all the time, and you know very well how wrong it is. Finally, whether religion can decide whether murder is wrong is a much, much bigger topic that I don’t want to touch in this post. Just let me say that it is not conclusive, and you probably agree with me on this.

Is this thread relevent to PT? I think it is. When religion makes specific cliam they more oftern than not shoot themselves in the foot. Since enligtenment science and rationality have been taking up ground where religion traditionally resides, in a god of the gaps manner. This intrinsically makes the statement “in no way conflict” a false one. Religious people are free to further retreat their stance, as they have always done, to a point where their view point no longer conflict against the mountain of evidence presented by science and rationality. To a point where you can’t distinquish one religion from another. It is a problem that honest religious people need to face up, unfortunately a lot of otherwise intelligent people choose to pull wool in front of their eyes and settle for piece-meal reconciliation, and wait for the next retreat with bated breath.

Comment #65753

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 9:22 PM (e)

You want to continue to play the game that science is no threat to religion? That’s a doomed strategy.

Not according to all those Christians who are against ID and have no gripe with evolution. (shrug)

But you didn’t answer my question, so I will ask again:

ID isn’t science, whether there is a god or not. ID is religion, whether there is a god or not. ID doesn’t belong in a science classroom, whether there is a god or not.

So why the hell are we wasting time on the non-issue of whether there is a god or not?

What good does it do for us to shoot people who are on our side, over the nonissue of their religious beliefs? How does that help us fight IDers? Would you refuse the legal/financial aid of People for the American Way in this fight because its founder is a Christian minister? Would you ask Wes and other leaders in the anti-ID fight to step down because they happen to be “irrational religionists”?

Dude, this *is* a political fight. In a political fight, pissing off 90% of the population (over an irrelevant side issue, no less) is very very stupid. And shooting at/driving away people who are ON OUR SIDE (again, over an irrelevant side issue) is even MORE stupid. I don’t see any use for driving away allies simply because you don’t like their religious opinions. What do we gain by that? How does it help us?

Comment #65754

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 9:25 PM (e)

If someone reads Norman’s post, and concludes that atheism sucks, evolution sucks, god creates, ID rocks, bye-bye evolution - then he/she is in the evolution-camp for the wrong reason to begin with.

Um, may I ask what the “right” reason is …. . ? Would it be “to stamp out religion”?

Comment #65755

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

Let’s cut to the chase, you are christian if you believe in Yehwah, if not you are not.

Says who?

The fundies don’t get to define who is or isn’t a True Christian™©. So why do you?

Comment #65756

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 9:31 PM (e)

All I care about is the continued teaching/funding etc etc of evolution and other sciences as opposed to pseudoscience. It seems to me that attacking those who differ in certain philosophical respects but agree over modern science (irrespective of whether we believe that the way they resolve any potential conflicts is irrational) does not help this cause. For me its as simple as that.

Me too. Those who are on our side, are on our side. Those who aren’t, aren’t.

We shoot the ones who aren’t. Not the ones who are.

To do otherwise, is really really stupid.

Comment #65759

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 29, 2005 9:38 PM (e)

The fundies don’t get to define who is or isn’t a True Christian™©. and neither do I. Does it follows that Christian can be any thing to any one, that there is no definition at all attached to the word, not even rough ones?

Yehwah is the god in old testament, and allegedly the same one that Jesus preaches in the new testament. Now if one does not even have to believe in this being called Yehwah the god to be Christian, what then? Is any deist a christian then? If not, why not?

Comment #65762

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 9:49 PM (e)

The fundies don’t get to define who is or isn’t a True Christian™©. and neither do I. Does it follows that Christian can be any thing to any one, that there is no definition at all attached to the word, not even rough ones?

Apparently not, give the enormously varied and widespread variety of denominations, orders, groups and groupuscules that refer to themselves as “Christian” (everything from the fundies who demand acceptance of every single word of the Bible, to UCCers who don’t accept either the authority of the Bible or the divinity of Christ – and those are just counting the EXISTING Christian churches, nevermind all the “heretical” ones that the Catholic Church exterminated in *its* attempt to define the True Christian™©).

Of course, I do recognize that, in addition to being an enormously diverse and un-monolithic entity, Christianity is also not the only religion in the world. Indeed, it does not even make up the majority of religious people in the world.

Comment #65764

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 9:58 PM (e)

To a point where you can’t distinquish one religion from another.

What’s wrong with that?

By the way, when you say “religion”, which do you mean, specifically. There’s more than one, ya know …… I hope it’s no surprise to you to learn that “religion” > “fundie” (despite the impression one might get from the Internet).

Comment #65765

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 29, 2005 9:59 PM (e)

Um, may I ask what the “right” reason is … . . ? Would it be “to stamp out religion”?

Are you suggesting that if an atheist supports evolution and is vocal about it, then the reason is to stamp out religion? I’ll give you benefit of the doubt, Lenny, as you are much better than that.

The right reason would be to believe in evolution because of the evidence that supports the theory, and a lack of counter evidence that supports any alternatives. This is called rational thinking. If science conflict with someone’s religion, the said religion better have a strong rational case on their side, and don’t expect science to hand them a free pass. Now there are generally three camps of relgious people -

(1) YEC, IDist, etc
(2) Nevermind my holy text, it does not mean what it says, I don’t like many part of it anyway.
(3) I don’t even think about it, they are on different “planes”

None of the about have much merit from an intellectual standpoint. Let me know if there is a fourth type.

I don’t understand why people think that option 2 is legit, it is clearly a god of the gaps approach. You are even saying that Yehwah is not essential in christianity. I am speechless when I read this. I really am. May be I’ll one day see FSMist being labelled christians.

Option 3 is a head in the sand approach. Religion invariably makes a lot of claim about the “plane” that we exist in, I would be repeating myself if I go futher on this point.

Comment #65767

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 10:06 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

What good does it do for us to shoot people who are on our side, over the nonissue of their religious beliefs?

That’s a very telling metaphor you’ve got there, Lenny. “We shoot people?”

No, we shoot down arguments, or try to. The people live and go on with better arguments. You take your arguments too personally. I am not my arguments, my arguments are a tool of reason. If someone can really shoot them down I’m better off without them.

How does that help us fight IDers?

One of the reasons the IDers are losing is because they edit their boards (and their vision of reality) and don’t allow this kind of stuff, just like the freepers.

Someone on another PT thread linked to Dembski’s “Vise Strategy” which is a series of questions to a straw man evolutionist. Dembski wound up living in his little delusional world with straw men evolutionists because he edited out the real arguments rather than get shot down.

He took his faith into the arena of delusion – profitable delusion – by not allowing the free flow of argument-reason-rationality.

Would you refuse the legal/financial aid of People for the American Way in this fight because its founder is a Christian minister?

It depends on the strings that come attached. Is it a bribe to change the honesty of our arument or does it come with no strings attached?

Would you ask Wes and other leaders in the anti-ID fight to step down because they happen to be “irrational religionists”?

If they start lying, we should. Right now they’re doing a pretty good job. Their religion isn’t a big problem yet, but it could become one.

Comment #65769

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 29, 2005 10:11 PM (e)

What’s wrong with that?

By the way, when you say “religion”, which do you mean, specifically. There’s more than one, ya know … … I hope it’s no surprise to you to learn that “religion” > “fundie” (despite the impression one might get from the Internet).

When, say, Stephen Elliot says he is a christian, he obviously is trying to convey a meaning.

When, say, Michael Behe says he is a christian, he obviously is trying to convey a meaning, too.

It is obvious they don’t mean the exact same thing, but you cannot say there is nothing in common between the two. If you truly think that, we may as well cross “christian” out from the dictionary as it is more meaningless word than “ID”.

A person knows himself whether he is religious or not, I am not pointing my finger to a religion. Everyone needs to assess how his/her religious worldview measure up to the reality the mankind learn more about everyday.

Comment #65772

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

To a point where you can’t distinquish one religion from another.

What’s wrong with that?

I won’t be able to distinquish one religion from another.

Comment #65773

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

Um, may I ask what the “right” reason is … . . ? Would it be “to stamp out religion”?

Are you suggesting that if an atheist supports evolution and is vocal about it, then the reason is to stamp out religion?

Nope, I am suggesting that if a theist is opposed to ID and is attacked by atheist anti-IDers anyway, then it probably doesn’t have a blooming thing to do with his views on ID or science.

I think that a pretty good guess is that it has something to do with that anti-IDer’s opinions on religion.

Am I right?

The right reason would be to believe in evolution because of the evidence that supports the theory, and a lack of counter evidence that supports any alternatives. This is called rational thinking.

OK. So far, I’ve seen none of the theists here who are fighting ID, having any gripe with any of this.

So what seems to be the problem?

Now there are generally three camps of relgious people -

(1) YEC, IDist, etc
(2) Nevermind my holy text, it does not mean what it says, I don’t like many part of it anyway.
(3) I don’t even think about it, they are on different “planes”

I see, so your objection to theist anti-IDers DOESN’T have anything to do with either ID or evolution. What you object to is that they have religious opinions. So, it appears, the REAL “right reason” to fight ID seems to be to “stamp out religion”, after all.

Otherwise, why are you attacking anti-IDers (who give every indication, at least to ME, of “believing in evolution because of the evidence that supports the theory, and a lack of counter evidence that supports any alternatives”) simply for having religious opinions? What exactly is your complaint about them, if it’s not “they have religious opinions”?

(I am of course ignoring all of Norman’s silly dick-waving)

Comment #65774

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 10:26 PM (e)

Everyone needs to assess how his/her religious worldview measure up to the reality the mankind learn more about everyday.

No argument from me.

Lots of Christians, though, have done so, and concluded that science simply doesn’t conflict with their religion.

What’s your gripe with that? And who are you to say otherwise?

Or have you simply decided to make that assessment *for* them, and now want them to accept your opinion on the matter whether they like it or not?

Comment #65780

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 10:33 PM (e)

So what seems to be the problem?

Semantics and logic.

You can think all swans are white until some black bird comes up to you and claims to be a swan. At which point you have to figure out if the bird is a swan and you were wrong … or the bird is wrong about being a swan.

What makes a Christian a Christian or a swan a swan? That is the question.

Comment #65783

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 10:41 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Lots of Christians, though, have done so, and concluded that science simply doesn’t conflict with their religion.

What’s your gripe with that?

It should not be logically possible to do so.

Comment #65784

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 10:46 PM (e)

(2) Nevermind my holy text, it does not mean what it says, I don’t like many part of it anyway.

What’s wrong with that? After all, a “holy text” is just a book. One can pick parts of a book that one agrees with, and ignore the parts one doesn’t agree with. (Unless of course you’re a fundie. No, scratch that — they do it too, they’re just dishonest about it.)

Why on earth do you assume that anyone has to follow every bloomin’ word of any “holy text” (or even accept that there IS any “holy text”)? The only ones I ever hear saying any such thing are the damn fundies, and most religious people I know think that the fundies are full of crap.

Comment #65785

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 10:48 PM (e)

(still ignoring Norman’s silly dick-waving)

Comment #65786

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 10:52 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

(still ignoring Norman’s silly dick-waving)

Bill Dembski acts just the same way – but he edits out my comments so others can’t see them – you can’t.

Comment #65789

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 29, 2005 11:01 PM (e)

Nope, I am suggesting that if a theist is opposed to ID and is attacked by atheist anti-IDers anyway, then it probably doesn’t have a blooming thing to do with his views on ID or science.

Attack is a pretty strong word. No one has called religious people here idiots (they are not), no one swears, the f-word isn’t used. The strongest word is that they are irrational in their religious reconciliation of science and religion. I know that religious people don’t own anyone an explanation, nonetheless it is telling that none has been provided. Do I then ask them to go join the creationist camp? No. I say, I know you are intelligent people, but we think you are stashing your religion in your blind spot.

I wouldn’t call this an attack, but I have no interest in fighting over the meaning of the word, not when christian does not have a meaning according to you.

Comment #65790

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 29, 2005 11:03 PM (e)

What’s wrong with that? After all, a “holy text” is just a book. One can pick parts of a book that one agrees with, and ignore the parts one doesn’t agree with. (Unless of course you’re a fundie. No, scratch that —- they do it too, they’re just dishonest about it.)

Why on earth do you assume that anyone has to follow every bloomin’ word of any “holy text” (or even accept that there IS any “holy text”)? The only ones I ever hear saying any such thing are the damn fundies, and most religious people I know think that the fundies are full of crap.

This goes back to Greg Peterson’s comment about endlessly plastic religion.

Comment #65791

Posted by Norman Doering on December 29, 2005 11:32 PM (e)

I wrote:

Semantics and logic.

You can think all swans are white until some black bird comes up to you and claims to be a swan. At which point you have to figure out if the bird is a swan and you were wrong … or the bird is wrong about being a swan.

What makes a Christian a Christian or a swan a swan? That is the question.

Okay, since the Christians are going to explain why they think they are swans, lets use the dictionary.

http://www.answers.com/christian&r=67

Chris·tian (krĭs’chən) pronunciation
adj.

1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus’s teachings.
3. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
4. Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
5. Showing a loving concern for others; humane.

n.

1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

Okay, either we have a very Orwellian dictionary, or some swans are black.

It’s the nouns that matter and there are only two. That last noun says nothing about believing in Jesus’ divinity or says anything about the supernatural or sin. Whatever Jesus’ teaching were I guess is open to debate.

The dictionary thus allows for Buddhist Christians, atheist Christians and even Hitlerian Christians as long as they are following something they think Jesus taught.

We do need new labels. The dictionary has betrayed me.

Comment #65798

Posted by Paul Flocken on December 30, 2005 12:10 AM (e)

Norman Doering wrote:
That’s a very telling metaphor you’ve got there, Lenny. “We shoot people?”

Norman, now you’re being just as crass as carolwholoveslanda. If you have to start nitpicking Lenny’s choice of metaphors you obviously no longer have any kind of argument. I’m just as fierce an atheist as you are(Lenny would call me a fundie atheist; there is no god, never has been, and never will be, mankind just made it all up). And while I would love to jump on a charger and follow PZ into battle, waving the atheist standard, I gave up attacking people solely for their religion long ago. I only take issue with people who want their ONE TRUE RELIGION to inform how I and others live. And how scientists do their science. And how students are to learn that science. Not one of the people who have bothered to answer you here(Stephen and Joe, most notably) fall into that category. As I said before, trying to come between mankind and his delusions is a losing proposition. Just be glad that there are people who don’t allow it to inform anything but their own comfort and leave it at that. Modern man has gotten as far as he has because of those people. Remember Laplace; “I had no need of that hypothesis.”
Sincerely,

Comment #65807

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:32 AM (e)

Paul Flocken

(Stephen and Joe, most notably)

You’re not paying attention, and neither is Lenny. Stephen and Joe won their arguments. I lost. They are the black swans I wasn’t expecting and the dictionary says they can call themselves Christians.

Comment #65808

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:34 AM (e)

Paul Flocken

(Stephen and Joe, most notably)

You’re not paying attention, and neither is Lenny. Stephen and Joe won their arguments. I lost. They are the black swans I wasn’t expecting and the dictionary says they can call themselves Christians and I can’t tell them they are wrong.

Comment #65809

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:35 AM (e)

Paul Flocken

(Stephen and Joe, most notably)

You’re not paying attention, and neither is Lenny. Stephen and Joe won their arguments. I lost. They are the black swans I wasn’t expecting and the dictionary says they can call themselves Christians and I can’t tell them they are wrong.

Comment #65815

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:46 AM (e)

Paul Flocken wrote:

Not one of the people who have bothered to answer you here(Stephen and Joe, most notably) fall into that category.

You and Lenny are not paying attention. You’re failing to grasp my metaphor I think.

Stephen Elliott eventually won part of his argument and Joe Shelby is changing his argument into a new form, it’s still open.

Stephen Elliott is the black swan I wasn’t expecting.

As for Lenny, I think he’s being a jerk for being a jerk’s sake.

Comment #65819

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:53 AM (e)

I can’t call Christians irrational, but it’s okay for you too slip this into your post, Paul:

…trying to come between mankind and his delusions is a losing proposition.

What’s the difference aside from the fact they’ll argue with me but not you?

Comment #65846

Posted by KiwiInOz on December 30, 2005 1:34 AM (e)

I’m with you on this one Paul, although I wouldn’t consider myself a “fundie” atheist. Beliefs are and should remain a personal thing, whether they are political, religious etc. Unfortunately all too often “true believers” try to impose their beliefs on others. I don’t want a nation of PZs telling me NOT to believe in something anymore than I want a nation of ….. [insert choice of Taliban here] telling me WHAT to believe. A common morality is fine.

Like Lenny, I am comfortable that the PT community who love their science, love the beauty of evolution, and want a good education for their kids, come in a range of stripes, with a suite of personal beliefs that enrich their lives. Our common cause (the first three points) unite us.

That being said, I love a good argument, as long as it sticks to reasoned debate, and doesn’t descend into name calling.

Comment #65847

Posted by KiwiInOz on December 30, 2005 1:37 AM (e)

The dictionary says they can call themselves Christians? Now if that isn’t an argument from authority, what is?

Comment #65848

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 1:37 AM (e)

Sorry about the multiple posts – I kept getting a weird error message everytime I tried to post.

Comment #65852

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 1:47 AM (e)

KiwiInOz wrote:

The dictionary says they can call themselves Christians? Now if that isn’t an argument from authority, what is?

What else is there to go on? We’re arguing about defining words in the end and that’s what dictionaries do.

Comment #65861

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 2:41 AM (e)

KiwiInOz wrote:

…Beliefs are and should remain a personal thing, whether they are political,

How can a political belief remain personal?

Comment #65883

Posted by KiwiInOz on December 30, 2005 4:44 AM (e)

Hi Norman, Sorry for the delay in responding. I was out playing with the kids, finishing mowing the lawns, and getting dinner ready.

From my perspective, my political beliefs remain personal in that I don’t try to convert anyone to my particular political philosophy. I do however partake of my democratic right to vote, and do try to live my values.

The dictionary aside was a joke. Sorry, should have included the ;-).

Comment #65888

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 6:04 AM (e)

Kiwi, you’re back.

This was going to be my last check in for the night. Sorry, I didn’t get the joke since your point is correct, a good argument can over-ride a dictionary definition. Dictionaries, like all authorities, can be wrong.

I made my claim that Christians are irrational based on a set of theological claims I thought all Christians held to and that could be demonstrated to be clearly irrational. If Stephen Elliott can reject those claims and still call himself a Christian then my argument fails and the only option is to say he’s not really a Christian. But I can’t do that without some method of determining what the definition of a Christian is. If all one has to do is follow some (not all) teachings of Jesus then there is no hope of defining Christianity in clear terms. It doesn’t matter if you reject the New Testament claims for divinity, maybe Jesus never really said that? The only person who can tell us what Jesus really taught is Jesus and he’s dead – or at least not talking – or at least not to me (guess you’ll have to ask Pat Robertson what Jesus says about that if you can believe his claims).

This doesn’t mean Stephen Elliott is rational (he’s rational enough to reject a few clearly irrational beliefs) – it just means that I can not demonstrate it. As other’s have noted, these guys haven’t really put their beliefs out there for us to examine like the IDers do.

my political beliefs remain personal

Is personal the same as private?

Not everyone keeps their politics private/personal – some write books about their political views and/or run for office – you can’t keep things private then.

Comment #65912

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 7:52 AM (e)

Attack is a pretty strong word.

Ask Mr Elliott if he feels like he is being “attacked” …

No one has called religious people here idiots (they are not)

I suggest you read through this thread again.

I have no interest in fighting over the meaning of the word, not when christian does not have a meaning according to you.

It’s not according to *me* (I, after all, am not a Christian). it’s according to *them*.

When everybody from fundie Baptists (who swear by every word in the Bible) to UCCers (who don’t even accept the divinity of the Bible or Christ) define themselves as “Christians”, I can only conclude that “Christianity” is not (as you seem to want it to be) a monolithic entity. It is indeed very plastic. You may not like that; I may not like that; my next door neighbor may not like that. But, alas, it ain’t up to any of us. (shrug)

You do seem to keep referring to “Christians” as if they were all the same (and all fundies, coincidentally). They’re not.

And you still haven;’t answered my question, so I;’ll ask again:

The right reason would be to believe in evolution because of the evidence that supports the theory, and a lack of counter evidence that supports any alternatives. This is called rational thinking.

OK. So far, I’ve seen none of the theists here who are fighting ID, having any gripe with any of this.

So what seems to be the problem?

How does attacking our own allies help us in the fight against ID? What benefit do we gain by driving away people who are already on our side? How does it help us to fight with theist anti-IDers over an issue (“does god exist”) that hasn’t a blooming thing to do with either ID or science? How does it help us win a political fight by pissing off 90% of the population?

Unless, of course, one’s real goal is simply to push one’s religious opinions (or anti-religious opinions, as hte case may be) onto tohers whether those others like it or not. Fundies seem to do that a lot. I’m wondering why you think it a good idea for us to do so, too.

Comment #65913

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:01 AM (e)

I’m just as fierce an atheist as you are(Lenny would call me a fundie atheist; there is no god, never has been, and never will be, mankind just made it all up).

But Paul, I also don’t think there is any god, never has been, and mankind just made it all up. (And BTW I don’t see anything wrong with any of that.)

That’s not what makes one a “fundie atheist”. What makes one a “fundie atheist” is the same characteristic that makes one a “fuindie Christian” or a “fundie Muslim” —— the idea that it’s one’s duty to push one’s religious opinions (or anti-religious opinions, as the case may be) onto everyone else, whether everyone else likes it or not.

Back when I was an environmental organizer, I used to get regular visits from some of the local Maoist kooks. They would sit in the back of the room, chanting “Mao Mao Mao Tse Tung”, then harangue everyone they could corner who they thought was a “capitalist running dog” (we always had a number of lawyers, businesspeople, etc at our meetings). Apparently, for the Maoists, it wasn’t enough to be on our side regarding the environmental issues we were working on – one also had to be ideologically pure, according to their version of ideological purity. So their goal was to either convert all the environmentalists to Maoism, or to drive them away so the movement would remain ideologically pure.

I always kicked them out of any meeting that I was running.

The fundie atheists here remind me a lot of them.

Comment #65914

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:03 AM (e)

You and Lenny are not paying attention

That’s right. I’m still ignoring your silly dick-waving.

Comment #65915

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:06 AM (e)

That being said, I love a good argument, as long as it sticks to reasoned debate, and doesn’t descend into name calling.

Too late.

Comment #65917

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:12 AM (e)

I only take issue with people who want their ONE TRUE RELIGION to inform how I and others live. And how scientists do their science. And how students are to learn that science.

And I would join you in that fight. Indeed, I *have*.

So has Mr Elliott and all the other theist anti-IDers here.

So again I ask, what seems to be the problem? What the hell are we fighting over?

Comment #65918

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:18 AM (e)

And while I would love to jump on a charger and follow PZ into battle, waving the atheist standard

“Custer”.

;)

Comment #65920

Posted by Alan Fox on December 30, 2005 8:19 AM (e)

I blame “Dover anticlimax syndrome”.

Comment #65921

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 8:19 AM (e)

How does attacking our own allies help us in the fight against ID?

I’ll ask you the same thing. Why is it necessary to ask atheists to hide their ideas? This argument always seems to go the same way: hush up the unbelievers because they’ll antagonize the opposition in our ‘political fight’.

Look at the reality we see right here. Many on the side of evolution are atheists and agnostics. Many others are nominally Christian, but like Mr Elliot, are so far from the dogma that they are reluctant to even say that Jesus is God. Yet our strategy is to pretend that science is religion-friendly, make sure we trot out those scientists who are Christian at every opportunity, and treat the nominally religious in our own ranks very, very gently – we privilege religion at every turn for the reasons you give, to avoid “pissing off 90% of the population”.

You must think that population is very, very stupid.

You’re wrong. They aren’t fooled. Part of the creationist leaders’ strategy is to remind their followers at every opportunity that evolution is godlessness—and they’re pretty much right. We can accommodate undogmatic Christians with deistic notions, but science rips up the book of Genesis and takes over the business of explaining how we got here. When we close our eyes to that and try, rather desperately, I think, to put up the illusion that we’re all a bunch of happy religious people over here, living in bliss with our fellow Christians, we’re lying.

If you want to win this political fight, the first step is to be honest about what we’re fighting for. Tip-toeing around the central point of contention with the creationists, the fact that the evidence belies their religious myth, means we aren’t confronting the real issue. We’re letting it continue to simmer, crippling our own side by hiding our best explanations, strengthening the other by parading a transparent fraud in front of them, and making some of our best representatives pariahs, all because some of us are ashamed of atheism. It’s not a matter of pushing our anti-religious opinions on others—it’s a matter of dispelling this damned obnoxious anti-atheist sentiment from our own side, which plays directly into the biases of the fundies.

Comment #65925

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 8:32 AM (e)

What are we fighting over? The fact that someone who claims to be on the side of reason is willing to slander a significant portion of the people on his side by calling them “fundie atheists” (an utterly idiotic juxtaposition of terms) and comparing them to Maoists.

I’ve always been willing to get along with the deists and theists who embrace Enlightenment values, even though I think their religious beliefs are silly and irrational (as they are). Unfortunately, our group is also riddled with self-loathing atheists and Christians who think their silly beliefs make them better representatives for reason than more consistent and forthright people who reject extravagant myths lacking evidentiary support. If you really believe that this fight should not involve religion, than quit making the religious beliefs of 90% of the population and nearly 100% of our opponents the deciding factor in our strategy.

Comment #65938

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 9:44 AM (e)

I’m generally staying out from now on, as Lenny’s said most of what had been brewing in my mind overnight.

PZ, I’ve love to know where your particular venom is coming from. I realize that every time Dawkins’ name is mentioned, everybody suddenly gets concerned that “science :== atheism” card is going to get trotted out and then everybody has to get all PC and defensive and blah blah blah.

Personally, I hate that myself. I disagree with some of Dawkin’s philosophical conclusions, but I still read and respect his writings.

My faith is not based on myths. It is based on personal experiences and my personal interpretation of them. To someone capable of “belief”, they can accept my interpretations; to someone who has decided that “belief” is irrational, they can consider me irrational; to someone who is truly objective yet skeptical, they can at least acknowledge that my experiences are personal and my interpretations merely anectdotal (and probably the result of a slightly active imagination tainted by a few childhood teachings). All are completely legitimate conclusions and I wouldn’t argue against any one.

In the end, it matters not because though it affects some of my personal decisions on things (as it defines part of my morals), but it is not something that affects my work, my ability to be skeptical at the claims of fundementalists, charletains, and crackpots, nor my acceptance that science is the best path to knowledge about the natural world. Nor is it something where I try to force to the skeptical or atheist that my interpretation is the “right” one.

As I once asked Norman before (and got no answer), why is being a “100% rational being” a virtue? Most emotions are inherently irrational, particularly those that have chemical associations; is he free of those emotions and those chemicals that interfere with his ability to work or live? If so, what’s his secret, because there’s a lot of money to be made in it and I have friends suffering from chemical depression that really need it.

I agree that science has remained politically correct with regards to this issue for too long. On the other hand, scientists who are atheists should not be in any hurry to go say “my science says your god doesn’t exist.” The evidence says that certain claims of certain religions can be easily disproved by scientific knowledge, and other claims will likely be disproved in the future.

But why automatically assume that anybody with a personal faith must have based it on those kinds of claims?

Comment #65939

Posted by Raging Bee on December 30, 2005 9:48 AM (e)

Wow, I’ve never seen atheists act so stupid as when they’re pretending they’re the only ones on Earth who know anything, and randomly trashing people, and faiths, of which they clearly know nothing. The negative comments I’ve seen here about religions and persons of faith simply do not reflect the reality I have observed on the ground. This statement is neither “rational” nor “irrational;” it is an observation.

Just because many persons of faith are stupid, doesn’t mean we all are. Just because some religious doctrines are clearly idiotic or destructive, doesn’t mean all religion is bad or “irrational.”

Furthermore, “irrational” is NOT a synonym for “bad,” “false,” or “ignorant.” If you atheist ninehammers can’t understand this, then you have nothing to contribute to ANY debate, and you should stop pretending you’re more enlightened than everyone else. You’re not fooling anyone.

Comment #65954

Posted by jim on December 30, 2005 10:37 AM (e)

I’ve successfully stayed out of this debate until now too.

Norman, et al; you are behaving just like the Christian Fundamentalists. Anyone that does not believe as you do must be somehow “defective” if they can’t see the “Truth” of your position. You are every bit as close minded and blinded by your “faith” as those yahoos. The main difference is that you are (in general) very much more educated than them. So they have a good excuse (ignorance), what’s yours?

Interestingly, a lot of the evidence that we trot out to show Christian Fundamentalists that things are not as they believe work equally well against you.

Check out the Clergy Letter project. Religious leaders and scholars from every mainstream religion disagree that science is in conflict with religion.

I think that those able to see the in differing religious view points are much more enlightened than Fundamentalists of any stripe whether Christian, Muslim, or Atheist.

Learning to live with and learn from our differences is a sign of maturity. I can only guess that your inability to do this must result in some sort of emotional trauma at the hands of religious types at some point in your past.

Comment #65957

Posted by jim on December 30, 2005 10:46 AM (e)

That should read:

“… must result FROM some sort …”

Also, I have no problems with atheists expressing their view points or thoughts on “religion”. I’ve toyed with “converting” to it myself.

However, ranting about the “idiocy” of people that believe something different from you, isn’t that our working definition for a Fundamentalist?

Comment #65958

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

“irrational” is NOT a synonym for “bad,” “false,” or “ignorant.”

Please point out where the term was used that way, because I don’t think it ever was.

You’re not fooling anyone.

You seem to be fooling yourself without our help.

Comment #65961

Posted by Raging Bee on December 30, 2005 11:06 AM (e)

Quit playing innocent, Norman. You’re using the word “irrational” as an all-purpose epithet throughout this thread, just as right-wingers used “commie,” Christians use “pagan” or “heretic,” and Maoists use “running dog:” the original meaning is replaced by mindless, shameless hatred. (You’re also deliberately misrepresenting my statements and arguing with points I didn’t make, but I’ll go easy here for your sake.)

Comment #65974

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 11:38 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

Norman,
How am I wrong? How am I interpreting the bible wrong? Why is your interpretation right?

That turned out to be a better question than I thought it was. My interpretation comes from my childhood upbringing and my own reading of the Bible trying to reach a conclusion about it.

I can’t say how anyone is wrong about interpreting that book until they actually put their interpretation on the line. Since Elliott hasn’t actually done that I can only make guesses and assumptions. However, my guesses and assumptions are based on the fact that the Bible seems to be a very primitive book with passages about god liking the smell of burning flesh given to him in sacrifice and Christians being able to drink poison and handle snakes.

How anyone with views as modern and sophisticated as Elliott’s seem to be can read stuff like that and not think it’s superstitious nonsense is beyond my ability to comprehend.

Comment #65976

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 11:42 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Quit playing innocent, Norman. You’re using the word “irrational” as an all-purpose epithet throughout this thread, …

No I’m not. You’re just seeing what you want to see instead of what’s really there.

You are fooling yourself.

Comment #65979

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 12:00 PM (e)

Norman wrote:

No I’m not. You’re just seeing what you want to see instead of what’s really there.

You are fooling yourself.

then you have succeeded in making quite a few people on this discussion “fool themselves”. I definitely saw your use of the word irrational as an intentional insult and denograting term and we’re not the only ones.

pretty good parlor trick. have you ever considered going into politics?

Comment #65980

Posted by Raging Bee on December 30, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

Norman: you’re kidding, right? A rabid atheist telling others that their interpretation of a religious text is wrong, and only his (which he admits comes from his childhood and hasn’t been updated since) is correct?

And check out this gem:

How anyone with views as modern and sophisticated as Elliott’s seem to be can read stuff like that and not think it’s superstitious nonsense is beyond my ability to comprehend.

Dude, did it ever occur to you that someone whom you admit is “modern and sophisticated” might understand something you don’t? Even this Pagan can tell you there’s more to the Bible than what your childhood “experience” led you to understand.

You are truly beyond parody…

Comment #65981

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:05 PM (e)

However, ranting about the “idiocy” of people that believe something different from you, isn’t that our working definition for a Fundamentalist?

Nope, it’s not the definition of fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching.

We do use it as term of derision at times because it does seem to us atheists, Deists and agnostics that literally interpreting and then believing your interpretation of the Bible is a pretty crazy thing to do.

Comment #65984

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:15 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Norman: you’re kidding, right? A rabid atheist telling others that their interpretation of a religious text is wrong,…

Not what I said. I said “irrational” which means going against reason. I don’t think you can make a case for reading about god like the smell of buring flesh as a metaphor since animals were sacrificed.

Is it rational in this day and age to think god likes the smell of buring flesh? Is it rational to interpret those passages as metaphor?

… and only his (which he admits comes from his childhood and hasn’t been updated since) is correct?

I don’t have to be correct. You have to make a case for interpreting passages about Christians being able to drink poison and handle snakes in a rational way.

Comment #65988

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:28 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Dude, did it ever occur to you that someone whom you admit is “modern and sophisticated” might understand something you don’t?

Not when they cannot demonstrate the knowledge they claim to have. Not when all they can do is make empty assertions about having said knowledge repeatedly without ever demonstrating it. I am more likely to consider such a person a pompous and pretensious twit.

Comment #65998

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 12:45 PM (e)

To finish my thought:

If “irrational” wasn’t a meant to be negative term, then why did you bring it up? if it doesn’t really matter, then why mention it?

I’m just calling things as I see them and what I see in your belief is an irrationality that goes beyond any god of the gaps to an active re-interpretation of the Bible beyond what evidence says its writers intended.

we never said we read it or even try to read it as “its writers intended”, and i personally don’t see the point in such an exercise.

It’s not necessarily right (I’m no Bible scholar)

So what gives you the ability to judge it properly, in context or not? last i read here, lawyers and mathematicians arguing about biological origins was something we were saying was a bad thing?

— but yours (as demonstrated by that one sentence I quoted) is so obviously irrational and absurd I don’t have to be all that right.

you don’t see the snideness of that remark? i sure did.

It’s only pointless because we all know the irrational cannot face the irrationality of their beliefs.

bull: both Stephen Elliot and myself admitted this prior to that statement of yours, and you acknowledged neither - you only conceeded that a dictionary’s definition of Christian fit our personal labelling which was a separate item. Again, our exceptions appearantly aren’t enough to change your stereotypical generalization.

Sorry, but all you Christians out there — I have every right to measure your beliefs as irrational in light of modern evidence.

As I said, you don’t know what our beliefs are, nor have you given us any reason to lay them out in the open for you to critique. Our beliefs aren’t scientific (or “rational”) and I for one don’t see any reason to expose them in detail to you for your amusement.

[“do unto others…”] That has been said, in different words, by every religious ethical philosopher before and after Jesus. It is really nothing but a trite truism about human behavior and ethics. It does not represent what is unique about the Bible’s teaching or even the whole monotheistic root of the Islam-Judaism-Christianity monolith.

The fact that you said that indicates to me that you are irrational.

bull - you never asked what was “unique” about the bible or monotheism - you implied that it has effectively in its entirety been proven by science to be totally wrong and such a generalization we can easily throw out by pointing out specifics. that you have decided that because a particular specific isn’t unique to the bible does NOT make it an invalid point much less the poster “irrational”. calling the person directly “irrational” was an ad hominem attack and meant to be insulting, and you know it.

you have made blanket generalizations based on interpretations you admit you made without fulling understanding what it is that you are talking about, relying on stereotypes of fundementalism and “public” definitions of catholic dogma where the vast majority of those with faith keep their faith private to themselves and their religious community, and many don’t accept the claims of fundementalists or catholics.

that is a significant logical fallacy (“Hasty Generalization”), and thus, an irrational argument.

Comment #65999

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:48 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #66002

Posted by AC on December 30, 2005 12:50 PM (e)

Spectral Paley wrote:

…atheist wedge strategy…

This seems a good lead-in for my comment. There are a lot of people who think this is the motivation and goal for the teaching of evolution in public schools. That is incorrect. Evolution - or indeed any other scientific theory - is not meant to have any effect whatsoever on anyone’s religious beliefs. It is meant to be the closest approximation possible for the workings of the world based on current evidence. It is meant to be an accurate, and therefore predictive (i.e. useful to man in his worldly endeavors), model of the world. Evolution does not say “there is no need for God in speciation, therefore there is no God.” If someone comes to this conclusion on their own, it is their own business. It is not required. It is not even encouraged. It is not a part of evolutionary science.

Moreover, conclusions people - including scientists - make outside the scientific method are not scientific, much less “science”. They dwell in the mind. The mutually observable world does not. Regardless of man’s ideas, feelings, or beliefs, rain wets those without umbrellas. I believe this is a good metaphor for the fundamental motivation of science. If we find what we fear, or fear what we find, we can choose to embrace it, ignore it, or bury it. Our behavior is up to us. But what we found remains, and we remain bound to it.

Because of this - because we are bound to the workings of the world regardless of our beliefs - we teach science. We seek to educate people about the workings of the world so that they may better navigate it, manipulate it, and contribute to it. The goal is to improve human existence in effective, widely-applicable ways. Religion need not be counter to this goal. But when it is, the conflict is psychological, not spiritual.

Eugene Lai wrote:

Near the beginning of this thread, Greg Peterson commented that religion cannot be endlessly plastic. No one dare touch this point at all!

I considered doing so, but I decided it wasn’t interesting after all. Religion can indeed be endlessly plastic, because the human mind itself is so. Witness the retreat of God plotted against the advance of science. Witness how religion has evolved over millennia to accommodate (or sidestep) scientific findings. Witness how the label “Christian” is claimed by everyone from those who literally believe in the complete biblical mythos to those who merely adhere to the teachings of Jesus as their personal guide to good living. Witness “the lion and the lamb” - one using religion as a political tool to gain and secure power over others, and the other using religion simply for personal comfort in an oft cruel world overwhelmingly beyond their control.

For my part, “irrational” is not a moral condemnation. It is merely a descriptive term for things that are “not rational”. Religion is not rational; i.e., it is based on faith rather than reason. Faith is not a character flaw, or a moral weakness, or a sin - but it can be dangerous, especially when it denies or supresses one’s reason. If you starve to death while praying for food, or allow religious guilt to destroy your self-esteem, or murder in the name of religious condemnation, you have taken faith too far. These are only a few examples. When faith isn’t dangerous, I don’t have a problem with it.

But lo, the sun looms high in the heavens, and I hunger for the taste of burned flesh. Perhaps I can convince the king of burgers that I am a god, so that he will provide me a sacrifice and defer payment ’til the afterlife. =D

Comment #66003

Posted by Raging Bee on December 30, 2005 12:55 PM (e)

No, Norman, you don’t have to be correct. Which is a very good thing for you, because you’re not.

And no, I don’t “have to make a case for interpreting passages about Christians being able to drink poison and handle snakes in a rational way.” I simply take what makes sense in my life, and leave the rest.

And you really ought to be careful complaining about “empty assertions about having…knowledge…without ever demonstrating it,” since you haven’t exactly demonstrated any real knowledge of any of the subjects of which you write here. You’ve been demonstrably wrong about religion in general, Christianity in particular, and a huge block of the people who follow such religions. Since you’ve made an ass of yourself, and flushed what little credibility you had down the toilet, perhaps you should take a breather, grow up two decades, and come back in the morning.

Comment #66006

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 12:56 PM (e)

Joe Shelby wrote:

If “irrational” wasn’t a meant to be negative term, then why did you bring it up?

To distinguish it from science and other things men can reasonably argue about.

…if it doesn’t really matter, then why mention it?

It matters because when fundies claim to interpret the Bible literally they open the Bible to rational analysis. Myth and metaphor have to be approached differently.

Jesus tells his disciples that those “who believe” can heal, handle snakes, cast demons out, speak in tongues, and drink poison.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; (Mark 16:17-18)

they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

God likes the smell of burning flesh:

(20) Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
(21) And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor… (Gen. 8:20-21)

So, is it literal or metaphor?

Is it rational or irrational myth?

Comment #66009

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

No, Norman, you don’t have to be correct. Which is a very good thing for you, because you’re not.

And no, I don’t “have to make a case for interpreting passages about Christians being able to drink poison and handle snakes in a rational way.” I simply take what makes sense in my life, and leave the rest.

And you really ought to be careful complaining about “empty assertions about having…knowledge…without ever demonstrating it,” since you haven’t exactly demonstrated any real knowledge of any of the subjects of which you write here. You’ve been demonstrably wrong about religion in general, Christianity in particular, and a huge block of the people who follow such religions. Since you’ve made an ass of yourself, and flushed what little credibility you had down the toilet, perhaps you should take a breather, grow up two decades, and come back in the morning.

It’s true I don’t know everything but you have demonstrated less knowledge of the subject than I in my opinion. You have made far more assertions to knowledge than I have and backed them up less.

Comment #66012

Posted by RavenT on December 30, 2005 1:14 PM (e)

Norman Doering wrote:

You have to make a case for interpreting passages about Christians being able to drink poison and handle snakes in a rational way.

Norman, are you the same Norman Doering whose website features your writings and art on “alien worlds, futuristic cities and nightmares”?

If not, never mind; I am conflating you with someone with the same name. But if so, I would think that you of all people would understand how the purely rational and literal may not be sufficient to meet all of everyone’s psychological and aesthetic/artistic needs.

If Christians such as Stephen can derive their own meaning out of stories such as the ones you mentioned, I don’t see what harm there is in that, provided they don’t get in my face and demand that I and other non-Christians shut up about what gives us meaning, either.

Comment #66017

Posted by Raging Bee on December 30, 2005 1:17 PM (e)

I’d be perfectly happy to back up my assertions, as soon as I’m done proving that the Earth is round, the sky is blue, and the Holocaust really happened. Unfortunately, the people whose wisdom and decency disprove your bigoted allegations have more important things to do than belabor the obvious with someone who clearly doesn’t know the teachings of Christ from a hole in the ground. Besides, I don’t have all of their phone numbers, and they wouldn’t all fit in one room. I know, excuses excuses…

Comment #66018

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

fundemental interpretation of those passages is irrational. more irrational is the claim that the bible has to be 100% correct and factual, given all of the contradictions.

on the “burnt offerings” – the concept of personal sacrifice (of course, sometimes the sacrifice is not of what is one’s own, so where’s the sacrifice in that?) is ancient, but can you really say you don’t practice it today? do you give to charity to ease a guilty conscience, for the tax deduction, or because you really think it’ll help someone? the practice of personal sacrifice has changed, as has the perceived rewards, but nature of sacrifice continues even among atheists. they just don’t call it that because the term implies a religious nature.

what do you think speaking in tongues means? it could be giberish. it probably is a form of stuttering caused by the overwhelming emotional response within the individual at the feeling of being loved and believing in that love.

what do you think casting out demons means? are demons these creatures from hell as in the movies? or are personal demons things like smoking and gambling and alcohol and things that cause us to ignore our loved ones for the sake of ourselves. being in a community of love and support that helps one overcome such addictions is, last i heard, a good and necessary thing. those who do so sometimes use the name (and example of love in the form of time and energy and patience) of Jesus as part of their work. is their work invalid because of that? is their work irrational because of that?

what do you think healing is? hint: most christians don’t see healing as the same as curing.

what do you think handling snakes is? if, perhaps, a snake is meant to be a metaphore for the snake of genesis (itself a metaphore), as one who is tempting you with easy cures (“snake-oil salesmen”?) or simple explanations for complex concepts (“ID” perhaps?). if so, then handling snakes actually means being skeptical and open and aware of the abilities of some to manipulate others.

what did Patrick really do when he “drove the snakes out of Ireland”, anyways?

Jesus constantly talks in metaphore and parable. it is the nature of how people were taught back then, and it still is today.

Comment #66022

Posted by improvius on December 30, 2005 1:25 PM (e)

I’m not sure where else to post this, but it seemed pretty interesting: In Kansas, teaching biology is survival of fittest.

The article from today’s Trib has several interesting interviews in it. Among other things, it includes a teacher’s personal account of one of her students accusing her of politically motivated teaching:

Assigned to discuss five solid pieces of evidence for evolution, one 14-year-old student wrote: “Although there is more than one viewpoint on the issue of how we all got here, Mr. Bingman is forcing [us into] believing his views by teaching us one-sided education. This is much as how the liberal media is forcing the public into disowning the war and Pres. Bush’s policies. Despite my viewpoints I am forced to write about the theory of evolution.”

Comment #66028

Posted by Raging Bee on December 30, 2005 1:30 PM (e)

improvius: sounds like some kid is trying to avoid doing his homework.

Comment #66030

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 1:34 PM (e)

RavenT wrote:

Norman, are you the same Norman Doering whose website features your writings and art on “alien worlds, futuristic cities and nightmares”?

Yep, that’s me. I still haven’t finished that geocities site. And there’s more – I’ve got more screenplays on trigger street and more art on various science fiction sites.

I would think that you of all people would understand how the purely rational and literal may not be sufficient to meet all of everyone’s psychological and aesthetic/artistic needs.

I do understand. I write fiction, you’re not supposed to “believe” in it, just feel it and think about it. I don’t demand anything exclusive, I am not a jealous artist demanding you look at and feel for no one else’s work but mine. I make no commandments. Your worship would be irrelevant to me. You can take my work or leave it and you won’t go away from my work claiming to be a “Doeringist.”

Religion doesn’t strike me that way.

If Christians such as Stephen can derive their own meaning out of stories such as the ones you mentioned, I don’t see what harm there is in that, provided they don’t get in my face and demand that I and other non-Christians shut up about what gives us meaning, either.

Meaning is fine, but in a lot of art and it seems religion it is irrational, not just arational, fantasy often goes against reason. I suppose science fiction can stive towards the rational, but what other art form does?

Comment #66031

Posted by improvius on December 30, 2005 1:34 PM (e)

Er, HIS students. Sorry, Mr. Bingman.

Comment #66032

Posted by drakvl on December 30, 2005 1:36 PM (e)

“‘irrational’. to coin a phrase, i do not think it means what you think it means.”

_The Princess Bride_ beat you to that.

From what little I know of anthropology (cultural, in this case), I do not believe I will ever again be religious. (Indeed, it is the very anthropological argument I will state below which made me start questioning my religion in the first place.) From looking at how various religions interact – specifically, at how religions form from and are influenced by previous religions – I feel that the concept of deity is better explained as the by-product of human thought and interaction. Granted, it is possible that the various religions throughout history have been inspired by some sense of an underlying truth about a supernatural entity. The question is, however, which explanation has fewer hypotheses, without sacrificing explanatory power. It seems to me that the latter explanation makes an assumption about a mechanism, whereas with the former explanation, the mechanisms (or at least some of them) are already in place. (“Mechanism” describes the model, and not the actual physical process, yes?) I will concede, however, that this suggests that human ethics might be completely in error, which is a very scary thought. In this context, I can see how someone such as Dembski could call evolutionary theory evil. I will state, though, that I well understand how ridiculous a statement is, as biology (and evolution) is a separate, in some sense, from human interaction (and ethics).

On the topic of science and ethics: I have been thinking about ethics. I agree that science cannot of itself wholly produce a system of ethics. I believe that what it cannot produce is the basic set of principles about which the code of conduct of this system is based. For instance, a person can hold to a system of ethics which asserts that unnatural acts are unethical (ignoring the arrogance and logical absurdity of the claim that humans, as products of natural processes, could possibly act in an unnatural manner). Science simply cannot address this issue. However, if this person went on to claim that homosexuality is unnatural, and therefore homosexual acts, being unnatural acts, are unethical, then science, with its studies of humans and its experiments on primates, can step in and show that all the evidence points at homosexuality being natural. However, note that science has shown only that homosexuality is natural, and not that it is not unethical. (For those of you who are curious, I have so far come to the conclusion that the initial impetus of ethics is empathy. “We are good to others because we see ourselves in them,” and that sort of thing. Not original, I know, but it makes sense in light of my experience up till now.)

Comment #66039

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 1:48 PM (e)

one 14-year-old student wrote: “Although there is more than one viewpoint on the issue of how we all got here, Mr. Bingman is forcing [us into] believing his views by teaching us one-sided education. This is much as how the liberal media is forcing the public into disowning the war and Pres. Bush’s policies. Despite my viewpoints I am forced to write about the theory of evolution.”

The parents of any 14 year old who complains about “the liberal media” should be bitch-slapped.

Comment #66044

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 1:55 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

I’d be perfectly happy to back up my assertions,…

I don’t believe you. What are you expecting, faith?

I don’t think you would be happy trying to back up your assertions. You could only back up the most trivial of them.

Comment #66045

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 1:56 PM (e)

That reminds me of this poor kid Kyle Williams. Homeschooled by fundamentalist retards and somewhat precocious, he became a columnist on WingNutDaily at the age of 13 or 14 or so. Thank Zeus my parents didn’t give my hysterical teenage ramblings a national forum; poor Kyle wasn’t so lucky. So for a few years he’s held forth on how amazing Ronald Reagan was, the foolishness and immorality of atheists like myself, etc etc. The WingNuts think he’s a brilliant prodigy, when in fact he just shows how little knowledge and experience it takes to call Hillary Clinton a communist.

Comment #66046

Posted by RavenT on December 30, 2005 1:59 PM (e)

Meaning is fine, but in a lot of art and it seems religion it is irrational, not just arational, fantasy often goes against reason. I suppose science fiction can stive towards the rational, but what other art form does?

But why should it? I can experience the music of Edith Piaf, Billie Holliday and Leonard Cohen in ways that I can’t even describe in words. At the same time, I would never mistake that for how I should relate to men in the real world. That juxtaposition is not rational, and why should it be? Would you take away my Piaf, Holliday, and Cohen because their music is about destructive male-female relationships and thus not rational?

Religion seems the same way to me–as long as the practitioner isn’t actively in deeds trying to make laws to turn this country into a theocracy, and to savage science education, why on earth would I care what whether they derive meaning from in thought is rational or not?

Comment #66050

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

I do understand. I write fiction, you’re not supposed to “believe” in it, just feel it and think about it

I too realized long ago that organized religion often inhibits spiritual development, rather than encouraging its growth.

People shape their churches to fit their own personal viewpoints and make it a place that makes them feel comfortable.

It’s quite a natural thing for any regular meeting place where the same folks get together on a regular basis.

someone mentioned “scientology” convincing folks to believe in aliens.

nope. those folks were predisposed to believe anyway, and were just looking for a place to feel comfortable with those views.

I really do believe that in the US, with the freedom we have, it truly is the people that shape their own religion, rather than the other way around.

the schism in the Catholic church between the US and Rome clearly supports this.

Comment #66051

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 2:11 PM (e)

RavenT wrote:

But why should it?

When did I say it should?

Would you take away my Piaf, Holliday, and Cohen because their music is about destructive male-female relationships and thus not rational?

Nope. Why would you even think that?

Religion seems the same way to me—as long as the practitioner isn’t actively in deeds trying to make laws to turn this country into a theocracy, and to savage science education, why on earth would I care what whether they derive meaning from in thought is rational or not?

Because of the potential dangers religious irrationality implies. It is not the same as art. The Bible asks for belief and threatens you with God’s wrath, it claims exclusive truth above other religions, people don’t treat it as art even though it could, in theory, be treated that way.

Comment #66053

Posted by Alan Fox on December 30, 2005 2:17 PM (e)

Norman,

At least the Song of Solomon is worthy of consideration as art. As an erotic poem, it’s hard to beat.

Comment #66073

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

The Bible asks for belief and threatens you with God’s wrath, it claims exclusive truth above other religions, people don’t treat it as art even though it could, in theory, be treated that way.

when did “The Bible” claim exclusive truth? again, you are mixing the historical legacy of catholic dogma (grounded since the 4th century) and fudementalist assertions and reading more “about” the work as if it came from within it.

you increasingly remind me of the “index of creationist claims” – i wonder if you would like to be the author of the questions to put on the “index of atheist claims about the bible” so that real biblical scholars can finally tell you that you, like creationists talking about biology, have no idea what you’re talking about.

Comment #66089

Posted by gregonomic on December 30, 2005 3:24 PM (e)

I have actually enjoyed, and have learned a lot from, this discussion. I’m a fairly rabid atheist, so I’ve tended to agree with most of Norman’s and PZ’s comments. But I’ve also been impressed by the self-described Christians (eg. Stephen Elliott, Joe Shelby) who have managed to retain their religious faith while accepting evolution - glad to have you guys on my side.

I just want to get back to something PZ mentioned though, in comment #65921. PZ is rightly angry that every time someone (usually a fundie) complains that people who believe in evolution are anti-God, we respond by saying “No it’s not. Look, we’ve got a whole lot of Christians here who have no problem with the theory of evolution”.

It’s demeaning to the Theory of Evolution, to atheism, and to Christianity. By avoiding admitting that yeah, a lot of scientists are atheists, it looks like we think atheism is something to be ashamed of. Why can’t we just say “Well, so what? So what if some (or most) people who believe in evolution also deny the existence of (a) god(s)?”.

We don’t have to be all aggro about it (in fact, it would probably be more endearing if we weren’t), but let’s face it, atheism is at least as rational a theological position as any other.

Actually, I was watching the Barbara Walters special on “heaven” a couple of weeks ago, where she tried to understand what “heaven” meant to people of various faiths. It struck me as odd that, at the start of her (very brief) interview with an atheist, she described atheism as being “controversial”. None of the other perspectives, even that of the clearly-bonkers evangelical pastor, were labelled “controversial”. I think PZ has addressed this issue on Pharyngula, but it’s bizarre that atheism - perhaps the most rational of theological positions - is still considered by many as being freaky and weird.

Some people on Panda’s Thumb have suggested we need better PR, to improve the image of the Theory of Evolution (and science in general) in the eyes of the general public. Perhaps the same could also be said of atheism?

Comment #66092

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 3:33 PM (e)

Some people on Panda’s Thumb have suggested we need better PR, to improve the image of the Theory of Evolution (and science in general) in the eyes of the general public. Perhaps the same could also be said of atheism?

excellent points. I don’t know what happened to Morbius/TS, but I’m sure he would jump in at this point to suggest folks take a gander at this site:

http://www.naturalism.org/

so, I’f i get you correctly, a better strategy would be saying, “yeah, we have atheists in our tent, but let’s take a look at who is in your tent, shall we??”

Comment #66095

Posted by RavenT on December 30, 2005 3:38 PM (e)

When did I say it should?

When you juxtaposed “meaning is fine” and “it is irrational” with “but”, meaning a (to you) unexpected disjunction:

Meaning is fine, but in a lot of art and it seems religion it is irrational, not just arational, fantasy often goes against reason. I suppose science fiction can stive towards the rational, but what other art form does?

Unless you misspoke, that means to you that “meaning” and “irrational” are disjoint.

Would you take away my Piaf, Holliday, and Cohen because their music is about destructive male-female relationships and thus not rational?

Nope. Why would you even think that?

Because of the disjunction you perceive between “meaning” and “irrational”. My enjoyment of those artists is clearly irrational, as I have no intention of participating in similar relationships in real-life.

Because of the potential dangers religious irrationality implies. It is not the same as art. The Bible asks for belief and threatens you with God’s wrath, it claims exclusive truth above other religions, people don’t treat it as art even though it could, in theory, be treated that way.

Don’t they? I don’t see the Christians involved with PT or carrying out good solid science or working for social justice in the world threatening anyone with wrath or claiming exclusive truth. The fact that those Christians exist undercuts any proposed 1:1 and onto correlation between religion and bad behavior. What is the empirical difference between their deriving meaning from their religion, my deriving meaning from the artists I mentioned, and your deriving meaning from your writing and art?

Certainly there are Christians who do those negative things you fear, and I totally support smiting them for their actions, but tactically I don’t see the point of trying to force a confrontation with Christians who behave positively in the world, just because you don’t approve of where they draw their meaning from.

Strategically, if PZ is right that evolution erodes religion, then you will get what you want in the long run, anyway. But tactically it can be an error to force unnecessary confrontations in the short run; they may not turn out the way you want them to, and can get in the way of the long-term strategy. And the way you have been using “irrational” as a pejorative in this thread can encompass much more than just religion; for example, art and people’s sex lives, just to name a couple of important non-religious arenas that aren’t totally rational that can experience collateral damage under that criterion.

Comment #66097

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 30, 2005 3:55 PM (e)

I just want to get back to something PZ mentioned though, in comment #65921. PZ is rightly angry that every time someone (usually a fundie) complains that people who believe in evolution are anti-God, we respond by saying “No it’s not. Look, we’ve got a whole lot of Christians here who have no problem with the theory of evolution”.

It’s demeaning to the Theory of Evolution, to atheism, and to Christianity. By avoiding admitting that yeah, a lot of scientists are atheists, it looks like we think atheism is something to be ashamed of. Why can’t we just say “Well, so what? So what if some (or most) people who believe in evolution also deny the existence of (a) god(s)?”.

I disagree. I think the way things are right now is that the Fundies really are launching a full scale assault on evolution, science, and empericism in general. They’re depending heavily on creating a bogus dichotomy that says that there’s only two kinds of people in the world: 1) nice, devout Christians who treat their children well and hold jobs and believe that god created the earth one week about 6,000 years ago, and 1) atheists who believe in evolution and who probably eat babies when no one’s looking. A big part of their propaganda is the illusion that you can’t believe in evolution and still be a good person and be ‘saved’. Their position depends on there being NO ONE down the middle.

In fact, this position is a lie: of course there are religious people who accept evolution. This fact is deadly to the creationists’ position, and they know it. If word gets out that there are plenty of nice Christians who accept evolution, creationists lose their power to peer-pressure everyone into thinking the way they want them to. This is a good thing.

Alternately, if the notion that evolution = atheist = evil prevails, then evolution and science and empricism are screwed in this country. We NEED people to realize that ‘evolutionists’ are not wicked, as obvious as the fact should be.

That said, I agree that the public discourse in this country regarding atheists is pathetic. But getting the public to accept atheists as people with rights like anyone else is a separate issue. We shouldn’t tie evolution to it.

Comment #66098

Posted by gregonomic on December 30, 2005 3:55 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

so, I’f i get you correctly, a better strategy would be saying, “yeah, we have atheists in our tent, but let’s take a look at who is in your tent, shall we??”

I don’t think we need to even take a position on what other people believe. We can simply say “Yes, I’m an atheist. But atheists are people too, you know. We like to lead full and happy lives, to be in love, to have families, appreciate music/movies/art/sports, and to look in awe at this amazing world we live in, just like you do”.

Thanks for the link to www.naturalism.org, BTW.

Comment #66107

Posted by gregonomic on December 30, 2005 4:35 PM (e)

Arden Chatfield wrote:

Alternately, if the notion that evolution = atheist = evil prevails, then evolution and science and empricism are screwed in this country. We NEED people to realize that ‘evolutionists’ are not wicked, as obvious as the fact should be.

Yeah, but it’s the last part of that chain - that atheist = evil - that we REALLY need to break, not the first part (although I’m OK with breaking that too). Like PZ says, by avoiding the topic when it comes up, it looks like we’re trying to hide and/or are ashamed of the fact that a great many of us are atheists, which then makes Joe Christian suspicious.

If people start to realise that atheist doesn’t = evil, then maybe they’d be more receptive to the Theory of Evolution, because although learning about evolution might increase your chances of becoming an atheist, it won’t increase your chances of becoming evil.

Perhaps I’m dreaming though. Perhaps, for some of these people, the idea of being an atheist (even without the connotations of evil) is just as scary as the idea of being evil.

Comment #66111

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

Joe Shelby wrote:

when did “The Bible” claim exclusive truth?

Well, there is that first commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Sounds kind of exclusive to me.

You think maybe there’s a reason the fundies got the ideas they did?

Comment #66117

Posted by AC on December 30, 2005 5:00 PM (e)

Arden Chatfield wrote:

Fundies really are launching a full scale assault on evolution, science, and empericism in general. They’re depending heavily on creating a bogus dichotomy that says that there’s only two kinds of people in the world: 1) nice, devout Christians who treat their children well and hold jobs and believe that god created the earth one week about 6,000 years ago, and 1) atheists who believe in evolution and who probably eat babies when no one’s looking.

You haven’t lived until you’ve had someone praise you for not smoking, not drinking, not screwing around, excelling in school, going to college, succeeding in your career, paying your taxes, obeying the law, etc., only to take it all back thusly when they find out you don’t believe in their Sky Fairy:

“Why do you even bother with all that? You’re going to hell anyway.”

Makes ya wanna read some Sartre, dunnit?

Comment #66119

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 5:06 PM (e)

or kafka.

Comment #66121

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 30, 2005 5:14 PM (e)

Or Stan Lee.

Comment #66122

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 5:17 PM (e)

RavenT wrote:

When you juxtaposed “meaning is fine” and “it is irrational” with “but”, meaning a (to you) unexpected disjunction:

Rational arguments have one kind of meaning, irrational myth and and art have another kind of meaning.

The irrational can achieve a certain kind of emotional depth, emotional resonant, depth. Such things can never be anything but personal experiences which you can’t assume are shared by others (we’re all built a little differently). That kind of meaning can give value to your life but it can never be called an objective or verifiable truth.

Rational processes like science can actually achieve objective and verifiable truth, but they can never be enjoyed with the same depth of feeling.

Don’t they? I don’t see the Christians involved with PT or carrying out good solid science or working for social justice in the world threatening anyone with wrath or claiming exclusive truth….

They don’t stand out like wrathful fundies. I turn on the TV I’m gonna eventually see Pat Robertson on the News or Jerry Falwell or Terry Randal or Santorum or Ann Coulter…

The fact that those Christians exist undercuts any proposed 1:1 and onto correlation between religion and bad behavior.

1:1 correlations are not the only correlations.

What is the empirical difference between their deriving meaning from their religion, my deriving meaning from the artists I mentioned, and your deriving meaning from your writing and art?

The Bible writers did not claim to be creating all art. They were creating a priesthood, creating the worlds most successful beggars. The Bible was written by a priest class who meant to profit by it not in the ways of art – but in the ways of corrupt artists, like L. Ron Hubbard. There is a relationship between Hubbard’s fiction and his Scientology religion, they can both be enjoyed on that level, but his Scientology has corrupted motives. I think the Bible does too.

Comment #66123

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 5:21 PM (e)

You think maybe there’s a reason the fundies got the ideas they did?

Oh, I know they did. Just as with the Catholics from the Roman times through the counter-reformation and the Calvinists and witch-burners into the 17th century.

I’m just trying to make it clear to you that the word “Christian” should not automatically draw up that image.

And again, as interpretations go, what does “except through me” mean to you? I know what it means to the fundies and I think they’re wrong.

After having had another break from this, I’m getting the vibe on your sense of “religion” – you seem to think that even reasonable people with rational mindsets that also happen to have a few irrational faith-based beliefs may be fine now, but watch out! Any second now they’re going to have SOME thing to say about science and then they’re the enemy.

It depends on the strings that come attached. Is it a bribe to change the honesty of our arument or does it come with no strings attached?

If they start lying, we should. Right now they’re doing a pretty good job. Their religion isn’t a big problem yet, but it could become one.

Where did this (in my opinion, paranoid and irrational) fear of religion come from? Where did you get the idea that just because someone believes something on what you would consider an irrational argument do you automatically assume that eventually, they’re going to HAVE to disagree with something science says about the world and then work to put their own view ahead of the scientific one?

Comment #66124

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 5:23 PM (e)

The irrational can achieve a certain kind of emotional depth, emotional resonant, depth. Such things can never be anything but personal experiences which you can’t assume are shared by others (we’re all built a little differently). That kind of meaning can give value to your life but it can never be called an objective or verifiable truth.

hmm. this brings to mind Carl Jung’s lifelong pursuit to give meaning to archetypal imagery and collective subconscious.

There was some science there, but in the end he got lost in metaphysics.

Comment #66126

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 5:27 PM (e)

After having had another break from this, I’m getting the vibe on your sense of “religion” — you seem to think that even reasonable people with rational mindsets that also happen to have a few irrational faith-based beliefs may be fine now, but watch out! Any second now they’re going to have SOME thing to say about science and then they’re the enemy

that describes the behavior and opinion of my old major prof. at Berkeley to a proverbial “T”.

I got into several arguments with him about the same exact thing. Bottom line, I came to the conclusion that the “innocent until proven guilty” line seems to work just as well when applied to conclusions about what folks will do based on their belief structures.

Comment #66127

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 5:28 PM (e)

I’ll make you all a deal. You can keep your cherished traditions and comfortable illusions, and as long as you keep them out of public policy, education, politics, and science, I won’t give you any grief about them.

Comment #66131

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

gees, PZ, sounds like your calling all of us conspirators now?

As long as the subject has been raised, what would you do if you found out a grad student in your department was a christian?

what would you do if he wanted to have a public discussion about how to reconcile his belief in god with his beliefs in the value of the scientific method?

I think if anything, this thread has clearly demonstrated that there exist many who feel there IS a conflict inherent, along with many who don’t.

should we relegate those who identify a conflict in their own belief structures to the garbage heap?

my old major prof. would have answered in the affirmative, and often did attempt to ostracize those he found to be “publically” christian, and even those who wanted to talk about their struggle to resolve their own conflicts.

I think there needs to be room for folks to work on resolving these issues, without feeling persecuted from either direction.

I don’t think it appropriate to bring up in a secondary school science class, but these are graduate students at the university level who still retain these conflicts.

those of us who do not maintain such conflicts shouldn’t out of hand ostracize those who are attempting to resolve them.

now ostracizing the “Sternbergs”… that still works for me :)

Comment #66133

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

I’ll make you all a deal. You can keep your cherished traditions and comfortable illusions, and as long as you keep them out of public policy, education, politics, and science, I won’t give you any grief about them.

I’ve been keeping my end of such a deal for as long as I could vote. I call it supporting the 2nd amendment, and its a law even the lawmakers are supposed to follow. Would be nice if they did; I’d rather my tax dollars going to more useful things than 5-week trials resulting in a 139-page restatement of the blindingly obvious.

Comment #66135

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

I don’t think it appropriate to bring up in a secondary school science class, but these are graduate students at the university level who still retain these conflicts.

In other words, they are graduate students who haven’t grown up.

Some humans never do.

Look: either you are afraid of going to hell or are you aren’t.

I’m not afraid that I will go to hell when I die.

Are you?

If you are not, then I’m glad to hear it.

If you are, then I’m sorry to hear it. I can stand being around you as long as you don’t bring up your fear that you are going to hell, or that I’m going to hell or otherwise going to be smited by a deity.

In my opinion, such beliefs are beyond nutty. That Americans tend to engage in this nuttiness to a greater extent than other civilizations does not make it less nutty.

Far from it.

my old major prof. would have answered in the affirmative, and often did attempt to ostracize those he found to be “publically” christian, and even those who wanted to talk about their struggle to resolve their own conflicts.

Good for your professor. Ostracization can sometimes act as a big fat slap in the face to people which shows them the bogusness of their own hangups.

After all: what’s to “struggle” over?

Either you belive you are going to hell if you don’t worship a deity or deities, or you think deities are a bunch of baloney.

Make your choice and live with it already.

It’s called “growing up” or “becoming an adult” or “living with grace.”

Every second spent asking “why am I here” is a second of your life that is WASTED.

And as far as I can tell, I only have one life to live and it’s apparent that my life could end, well, pretty much any time.

So why waste one’s life asking “why am I here”? Or “what is my purpose”?

Just live. Live your life like it’s all you fxcking have and it could end tomorrow.

Comment #66136

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 6:15 PM (e)

Errm, I have had Christian grad students, and the majority of my undergrad students identify as Christian, I’m sure. No problem.

If they tried to use the Bible to justify a scientific result…problem. It’s never come up.

Comment #66138

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 6:18 PM (e)

Either you belive you are going to hell if you don’t worship a deity or deities, or you think deities are a bunch of baloney.

Are those the only two choices? Perhaps I can worship some deity and thus think i’m NOT going to hell, or I can think deities are baloney and thus still think i’m not going to hell. Either way, i’d not be going to hell, so what’s the problem?

The prevailing image of “hell”, with its Dante descriptions and its philosophical arguments over Limbo for the unbaptized (btw, now that the Catholics don’t need it anymore, you can go buy Limbo on ebay), and its devils and demons taken straight out of European folklore (and utterly out of context, too), is garbage. I don’t believe that living in fear is living. Jesus primarily preached fear only to those whom he believed (and through example descibed) as being incapable of love.

and like everything else, the fundies driven by their drive for political control and their hate-speech and their fear-mongering, all inspired by the crud that is “Revelation”, completely miss that point.

Comment #66140

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 6:24 PM (e)

Good for your professor. Ostracization can sometimes act as a big fat slap in the face to people which shows them the bogusness of their own hangups.

what makes that any different from any other kind of manipulation by fear?

do you agree with those who wrap themselves in nationalism to excuse their arrogant racism or ignorance?

The use of fear cuts both ways. It never ends up being a good tactic overall.

You KNOW there are lots of scientists who post here on PT that actually do good science (have good publication records), and also profess christian beliefs. I’d describe myself as an atheist, but I have no problems with any of these folks, and they have only encouraged folks like Stephen Elliot who DID manage to resolve his conflicts to become a valued poster here on PT.

I personally have seen careers destroyed over this issue that probably should not have been. Graduate students who otherwise might have made excellent contributions to the body of scientific literature, ostracized, rejected, and dismissed because of professing a conflict in their belief structures. Not, mind you, trying to change anybody elses’ minds about THEIR beliefs, but reaching out to try and resolve their own conflicts.

I even caught serious flak just for trying to defend them. Shocked the hell out of me, I must say, especially since I had always heard Berkeley had quite a liberal attitude. It’s what sparked my interest in the whole creationism vs. science issue to begin with, and I eventually began to understand where the strong attitudes come from. However, I also believe that they can be misplaced as well.

Why reject all these folks out of hand? sounds scarily like racial profiling to me. let their actions determine the response.

Folks that do what Sternberg did deserve derision, because he used dishonesty and obfuscation to hide his actions and performed a disservice to the institution that hired him. folks that are just trying to reach out to resolve their own conflicts don’t deserve such, tho.

If you were raised by very religious parents, you often have religious beliefs so ingrained into your behavioral repetoire that it becomes very difficult to resolve the conflicts that arise. I’ve seen many times graduate students who simply were able to “put aside” the conflicts until they reached graduate school, whereupon they could no longer do so. Was it right to ostracize and ruin these students potential careers in science, simply for attempting to resolve their own conflicts by reaching out? is it right to do similar to those who would defend their attempts at resolution?

I firmly believe that we should treat those who feel such conflicts as we would any other person dealing with resolving childhood belief systems with adult realities. We don’t kick them or ostracize them by default, that would imply their early experiences somehow deny them the opportunity to do what they want with their careers.

That’s not what freedom is about, is it? If that’s what we think, then the flag wavers in the US are right. we should just ship-out all the pinko-commie liberals because they aren’t “americans”.

Should we have ostracized Stephen Elliot when he first came to PT? Would you equate him to Lalalarry?

Comment #66144

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 6:27 PM (e)

If they tried to use the Bible to justify a scientific result…problem. It’s never come up.

lol. of course it hasn’t; that’s quite a ridiculous oversimplification.

You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Comment #66146

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 30, 2005 6:32 PM (e)

For the record, Lenny, I think you are a great debater, you love to undress opponents for avioding your pointed questions. And you are doing the same to me here. In this supposedly friendly skirmish, perhaps you are guilty of the same offense too.

I asked you if people pissed off by Norman would turn to ID. I wrote

If someone reads Norman’s post, and concludes that atheism sucks, evolution sucks, god creates, ID rocks, bye-bye evolution - then he/she is in the evolution-camp for the wrong reason to begin with.

Totally ignore the context in “right reason”, you accuse me of “stamp out religion” motive. What about you tell me what kind of people would be turning to ID because of outspoken atheists like Norman and PZ?

You then argued that

To a point where you can’t distinquish one religion from another.

What’s wrong with that?

as if religious people do not consider their own belief unique to others. You ignore the fact that every person who consider himself christian would think there are at least some common values he shares with other christians, otherwise he would call himself something else. Would any one disagree with that? You instead accuse me of trying to trademark true christianity. I consider you willfully ignoring that context in order to score a point.

You also sidestep my god-of-the-gaps argument and accuse me of equating religion to fundies. In fact, I wrote the opposite - the plasticness that religious people never acknowledges. Atheism appeals to reason; Fundies at least (pretend to) use something as reference; Plastic religionists, it is completely arbitrary. Your “Christian does not need to believe in Yehwah god, and who are you to suggest otherwise (paraphrased from #65755)” demostrate this beautifully. It is like hearing a 110 years old man saying that “I’m physically young”. You may go on arguing the definition of young endlessly, but it still go against all broadly accepted meaning of the word.

Why do I think plastic religion is not good? Because it masks the fundamental and historic irrationality of religion. When liberal christians like Stephen (no offense intended) claims that they are christian, they inadvertedly give credential to the god that lives in the bible. They don’t intend it, but for the lay reader, for your 90% of population that you are afraid to piss of, or to anyone in the street who hear “I’m christian”, the link back to Yehwah/Jesus in the bible is inescapable. Because the speaker seldom follow up with “I’m Christian, but not in the bible sense“. They only do so when pressed. This collateral benefit to dogmatic religion is one factor why dogma is still considered legitimate to many people.

In the political debate of evo-ID, this thinking sidesteps the very important issue of “when people claim evolution does not conflict with religion, what do they mean”. May be to your 90% of your precious population, that’s all they need to know and be comforted. But not all poeple are so simplistic minded. They are going to realise that, in order to reconciliate, they will need to pare back whatever religious belief that they think is contradictrary to evolution. Never the other way round. If their religious conviction is strong, they will feel cheated. And we are cheating them.

You assert that atheists have accused theists idiots (#65912). I did a word searach. I could not find use of i-word in the way you implied. May be you can tell me where it is or withdraw the accusation? People who think the word “irrational” is offensive - it only is if your belief is derived rationally, otherwise it is an apt descriptive term.

You ignore my statement that your question on ethics of murder is not an valid one against Norman or science and atheism in general.

You question my motives and use “who are you to say…” repeatedly, as if it addresses any thing. Last I checked, this is called ad hominen. I did my best to backup all arguments. Instead of addressing them, you call people who dare raise this issue in this forum stupid, compare us to maoist, fundies. That, I deem, is more venomous than anything any one else have used in this thread. Is that how you recruit more people to reject ID?

Comment #66151

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 6:41 PM (e)

I’ll make you all a deal. You can keep your cherished traditions and comfortable illusions, and as long as you keep them out of public policy, education, politics, and science, I won’t give you any grief about them.

Agreed. In return, as far as anti-ID theists who *do* keep their religious beliefs out of public policy, education, politics and science, you will not attack them simply because they have religious opinions you don’t like.

Deal?

Comment #66154

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

They are going to realise that, in order to reconciliate, they will need to pare back whatever religious belief that they think is contradictrary to evolution

and that’s damn hard work. ask anyone who has managed to do it.

Comment #66155

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 6:58 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

… brings to mind Carl Jung’s lifelong pursuit to give meaning to archetypal imagery and collective subconscious…. in the end he got lost in metaphysics.

Jung was a gnostic Christian and wore his own religious blinders.

Instead of metaphysics Jung should have been thinking as a naturalist, we’ve got a few billion years of genetic memory and a few hundred million years of evolving neural structures (which show signs of being highly evolved for in the recent past).

It’s probably the reason people have phobias about spiders and snakes, but not about electricity. Electricity is too new to register with that long term evolved memory but snakes and spiders we’ve lived with for hundreds of millions of years before we were human.

Comment #66157

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

Instead of metaphysics Jung should have been thinking as a naturalist

hmm. it would have been interesting if he had melded his “archetypal subconcious” concept with the conept of “gentic memory”, but a lot of what we know now wasn’t really available to him in his day.

I look at Jung as a classic case of how metaphysical conflicts produce psychological results.

Ever read his musings on the “Phenomenology of Self”?

fascinating stuff; very reminiscent at points of an surrealist painting.

I’ve often wondered if anyone has tried to pick up where Jung left off and tried to see if archetypal imagery and “genetic memory” are related.

Comment #66158

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 7:06 PM (e)

Joe Shelby wrote:

Where did this (in my opinion, paranoid and irrational) fear of religion come from?

Personal experience.

How reliable do you think that is?

Comment #66159

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 7:08 PM (e)

How reliable do you think that is?

depends on the sample size, and even then there would be issues with pseudo-replication if you only use reference to yourself.

Comment #66160

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

How reliable do you think that is?

I’m not sure. probably the same degree of reliability as personal experience drives some of my beliefs, as I summarized earlier this morning.

in other words, not terribly useful, objectively speaking, so i wouldn’t keep using that in an argument against religion in general, or against religions that are effectively your political allies in the war against science by the fundementalists and the greedy (to use Mooney’s term).

Comment #66163

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 7:21 PM (e)

It’s probably the reason people have phobias about spiders and snakes, but not about electricity. Electricity is too new to register with that long term evolved memory but snakes and spiders we’ve lived with for hundreds of millions of years before we were human.

would this be related to the story (not sure how true it is) of a human child and a wolf cub (that allegedly had never seen a human before) in the same room, who got along fine until the human picks up a stick and then the wolf retreats in fear?

Comment #66164

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 7:24 PM (e)

I’ll ask you the same thing. Why is it necessary to ask atheists to hide their ideas? This argument always seems to go the same way: hush up the unbelievers because they’ll antagonize the opposition in our ‘political fight’.

I will repeat once again, for PZ’s benefit, that (1) I am not a Christian, and (2) I do not accept or assert the existence of any god, gods, or goddesses of any sort whatsoever — they are all, without exception, human inventions and nothing more. I am, in PZ’s word, an “unbeliever”.

Now then;

Nobody said any such thing, PZ. You are entirely completely totally free to shout from the highest rooftop you can find, “I AM AN ATHEIST!!!!!!!!”, and I will fight to the death to defend, not only your right to that belief, but to say so out loud.

Conversely, others are entirely completely totally free to shout from the highest rooftop they can find, “I AM A CHRISTIAN (or Jew, or Buddhist, or Zoroastrian, or Rastafarian, or whatever) !!!!!!!, and I will fight equally hard to the death to defend, not only their right to that belief, but to say so out loud (and I suspect rather sadly that you would NOT be there fighting by my side for that).

That isn’t the issue, PZ.

The issue is atheists attacking anti-ID theists here, simply because they don’t like their religious opinions (indeed, don’t like the fact that they HAVE religious opinions). Oddly enough, I have, in all my time here, never seen a single theistic anti-IDer attack anyone else here because they were atheist — ALL of the attacking seems to go in a particular direction. I, uh, wonder why that would be ….

There is a big difference between “I’m in this fight because my personal viewpoint is atheism”, and “Your theistic ideas are illogical, irrational and dumb, and you must be either a retard or really really stupid to hold them. Um, no offense.”

Do you understand the difference, PZ?

This is simple, dude. Atheists make up, at most, 10-15% of the US population. If you want to win a political fight about … well … ANYTHING, that means you need the support of an additional 36-41% of the US population. And guess what ————- none of those people will be atheists.

So you have a choice. You can keep your ideological purity by refusing to associate with anyone who has theistic opinions that you can’t tolerate, or you can make alliances with non-atheists who are willing to ally with you to help you get what you want.

In this political fight, PZ, pissing off 85-90% of the population is extremely stupid. Driving people away who are already on our side, simply because you can’t tolerate their opinions on matters outside of ID or science, is even MORE stupid.

I am *still* waiting for someone to tell me what, exactly, we gain by attacking our own allies. How does attacking theistic anti-IDers help us fight ID. What does it accomplish for us.

The fact that someone who claims to be on the side of reason is willing to slander a significant portion of the people on his side by calling them

By calling them “irrational and silly” …. ?

Oh, wait, that was YOU, wasn’t it ….

“fundie atheists” (an utterly idiotic juxtaposition of terms) and comparing them to Maoists.

Stung, didn’t it.

No offense, of course. Just a friendly conversation, and all that.

I’ve always been willing to get along with the deists and theists who embrace Enlightenment values, even though I think their religious beliefs are silly and irrational (as they are).

I see, so you’re perfectly willing to tolerate theists as long as they don’t mind you calling them retarded.

Remember what I said about that 36-41% of the (non-atheist) population that you need in order to win anything, PZ? I’m pretty sure that attacking them as “silly and irrational” is, uh, probably not going to help you win them over. So where, again, did you plan on getting your additional 36-41% of supporters ….? After all, in a political fight, your 15% of the population needs the other 85% a lot more than they need you. (shrug)

Of course, if you’re more concerned about ideological purity than in actually getting anything done, then you are indeed on the right track.

Christians who think their silly beliefs make them better representatives for reason than more consistent and forthright people who reject extravagant myths lacking evidentiary support.

Who, specifically, are you talking about. I am not aware of any anti-ID theist in this group who has said or done any such thing. Can you give some specific examples?

Would you like to purge all the silly irrational theists and their “wrong thinking” from your Party, PZ? I can recommend some Maoists to give you advice on that. They’re very good at it.

Comment #66165

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 7:26 PM (e)

Norman, I am continuing to ignore your silly dick-waving, since I view you as being quite silly and irrational.

No offense, of course.

Comment #66166

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 7:29 PM (e)

Eugene, you missed my point utterly.

Comment #66167

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 7:29 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam asked:

Ever read his musings on the “Phenomenology of Self”?

Nope. I’m more familiar with “The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious” and “The Undiscovered Self.”

And I’m not sure how literally we should take the “genetic” in genetic memory. A long time ago there were these experiments with flat worms where they conditioned a flat worm to react to light and then fed its RNA to another unconditioned flat worm and that worm reacted like the conditioned worm.

There was for awhile a theory about memory being encoded in DNA and RNA but it was later abandoned as we learned more about how neural nets work. But yet, if any creature we are related to in evolutionary terms can encode memory of some type in RNA/DNA then what are the odds we don’t do some of that also?

Comment #66170

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 7:38 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Norman, I am continuing to ignore your silly dick-waving, since I view you as being quite silly and irrational.

I don’t believe you are even honest about that. I think you took offense at me telling Pepeloco:

It should be “If Lenny actually wanted to have a rational discussion about the subject our just score points in his own private put down game.”

You’re giving Lenny too much credit. So, you argue with him and learn what I mean.

I think you’re proving my point.

Comment #66171

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 7:41 PM (e)

I too realized long ago that organized religion often inhibits spiritual development, rather than encouraging its growth.

That’s why I’ve always preferred individualistic traditions like Zen or Buddhism. But then, I’m just an anarchist at heart, and have always had trouble with any sort of “organized authority”.

;)

People shape their churches to fit their own personal viewpoints and make it a place that makes them feel comfortable.

Indeed.

People choose their religion. It does not choose them.

Comment #66172

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 7:41 PM (e)

There is a big difference between “I’m in this fight because my personal viewpoint is atheism”, and “Your theistic ideas are illogical, irrational and dumb, and you must be either a retard or really really stupid to hold them. Um, no offense.”

Do you understand the difference, PZ?

It seems you don’t. I haven’t said either of those things, and actually, if you look up there, you’ll see that I’m saying theists are not stupid, so putting up a religion-friendly facade on evolution is a waste of time.

So you have a choice. You can keep your ideological purity by refusing to associate with anyone who has theistic opinions that you can’t tolerate, or you can make alliances with non-atheists who are willing to ally with you to help you get what you want.

I can see this discussion is an utter waste of time, since you’re busy railing against straw men. Where have I said I refuse to associate with anyone with theistic opinions, that I can’t tolerate theism, that I won’t make alliances with non-atheists? Where have I said I want to purge theists from my “Party”?

You’re making my case for me. These are your stereotypes of “fundie atheists”, and you are imposing your ludicrous views on me – this is exactly what I was talking about, the way people who claim to be pro-evolution demonize atheists. Do you think it will help you make friends with Christians if you lie enough about us?

You should stop waving your dick around. If you want to alienate half the scientists who support evolution by making up crap about them, go ahead…but don’t expect us to come looking to you for help in representing our views to the public. And I don’t think it will help with persuading those 85-90% of the theistic public that evolution is a reasonable idea if you are going to continue to perpetuate odious lies about atheists.

Comment #66173

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 7:45 PM (e)

well, there’s the public line and the private line. I think PZ correctly expresses the private line of the majority of operating scientists (at least the hundreds that I have met - there’s that “personal experience” thing again). However I think lenny is quite correct that the public line better reflects a political reality that we don’t reject anybody who doesn’t reject evolutionary theory in general.

bottom line, then, there is little difference politically between the DI with their “large tent” and those who support good science.

that’s the reality of political debate. it becomes a sheer issue of numbers. The neocons knew this 30 years ago, which is why they hitched their wagons to the fundies to begin with. It’s been quite a successful political strategy. However, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the private line does not necessarily reflect the public one for them as well (hence the flak over Bush’s nomination of Meyers, or the more recent Santorum run-away, or perhaps even Jeb’s vacilations in the media).

I have to admit to be a bit chastized by a discussion we had a while back about the idea of testing “design” in the genome. While i still think it a ridiculous argument, I think i was overly zealous in criticizing what actually was more a “thought experiment” than a public attack on evolutionary theory.

I think the structure of PT allows for a “public line” to be presented in the form of contributors’ formal posts, while the commentary should allow us to explore more of the “private line”.

What do you think, PZ and Lenny? Is there room to air out all aspects of thought in the comments section, or is PT now such an important political tool in this fight that we shouldn’t bother discussing personal controversies, even in the comments section?

Comment #66174

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 7:45 PM (e)

Whatever, PZ.

I encourage everyone to go back, read through all the comments here, and decide for yourself.

Comment #66175

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 7:50 PM (e)

And I’m not sure how literally we should take the “genetic” in genetic memory

of course, hence why i used quotation marks around it. however, there is a large body of literature about inherent behaviors (more popularly termed “instincts”), that could be termed as “genetic memory” by those unfamiliar with ethology or behavioral ecology.

I think if Jung had been more familiar with the ethologists of the time, he probably would have spent time thinking about collective archetypes in terms of evolutionary theory.

It suggests that perhaps his lack of experience in this area is what might have got him lost in metaphysics, no?

Comment #66176

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 7:52 PM (e)

Good idea. As they’ll quickly see, your claims about my opinions are complete fabrications with no representation anywhere in this thread.

You know, Sir_Toejam, that the only ideas that anyone has proposed repressing are those of atheists – we’re too scary to the skittish general public. I’m supposed to suck up to them to win them over.

And you can guess where I think you can stick that.

Comment #66177

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 7:57 PM (e)

People choose their religion. It does not choose them.

well, in the end i think that’s true, but often as children we don’t have a choice in the matter, and early exposure most certainly affects subsequent belief structures.

the result being that once someone makes a “choice” that choice could become and endless cycle of self-sustaining belief structures.

the choice is still there, and the local church will still begin to reflect how those belief structures have developed, but it wasn’t a free choice for everyone to begin with.

so yes, people choose their religion, but in doing so commonly choose the religion for their kids and their peers as well.

It’s the reason why i think we can’t summarily ostracize those who maintain religious beliefs even into graduate school as a science major.

Comment #66178

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 8:03 PM (e)

I’m supposed to suck up to them to win them over

right. so… do you think there is no political value in doing so?

And you can guess where I think you can stick that.

guess not.

You know, Sir_Toejam, that the only ideas that anyone has proposed repressing are those of atheists

whoa! that’s so wholly the exact OPPOSITE of how this thread has developed it’s scary.

I must have missed something major, because almost every post by Norman, yourself and RU has been talking about the irrationality of religious belief structures, not atheism. Thereby repressing by ridicule.

Am I that far off base?? How could i be, just look at the posts, man!

Comment #66180

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 8:04 PM (e)

Sir TJL read what I write, not what you imagine I’m thinking. Okay? I think we’ve had this discussion before, actually.

what makes that any different from any other kind of manipulation by fear?

Fear of what? Fear of not being liked by everyone? Welcome to reality. Again: mature people should learn how to deal with that. Shrinks can help. Allegedly, some drugs can too.

If someone insists on continually vocalizing their “struggles” with the “meaning of their existence” in terms of the relationship to some imaginary (i.e., personal) “deity” then that is 100% their problem.

Shrinks. Drugs. Those may help. As for your professor and myself, I think we’ve got better things to do than hold the hands of 20-somethings who are still struggling with the bursting of the Santa Claus bubble.

Whatever sort of “fear” my attitude invokes in such people is really not my problem. It’s theirs. After all, I’m in the tiny minority of Americans who somehow managed to come to terms with this deity business back when I was 12. I don’t live in “fear” of having my atheism ostracized. On the contrary, I expect that reaction. And I ignore it.

Again: it’s called “being a grown-up.”

You KNOW there are lots of scientists who post here on PT that actually do good science (have good publication records), and also profess christian beliefs. I’d describe myself as an atheist, but I have no problems with any of these folks,

Either do I and I worked side by side with Christian scientists and Christian this and Christian that for all my life. All fine people. Just a little nuts, in my opinion. So are people who jump out of airplanes “for fun”. In my opinion. Interestingly, people who jump out of airplanes “for fun” don’t seem to mind too much when you tell them how wacky they are. But those deity-based beliefs? Look out! It’s all so very very serious … as long as your deity-based belief is one of the “usual” deity-based beliefs, anyway.

I even caught serious flak just for trying to defend them. Shocked the hell out of me, I must say, especially since I had always heard Berkeley had quite a liberal attitude.

Yeah, well you are seeing that “liberal attitude” in action, aren’t you? My experience with Berkeleyans is that your religious beliefs are as prone to a no-holds-barred attack as your beliefs about other “traditional” American obsessions such as professional sports, corporations, the right to a parking space, etc. Free speech is a mother.

Why reject all these folks out of hand?

I don’t reject any of them out of hand. I merely advise them to “grow up” and “get a grip” because, ultimately, life is disappointing and we are ALL going to DIE.

If you were raised by very religious parents, you often have religious beliefs so ingrained into your behavioral repetoire that it becomes very difficult to resolve the conflicts that arise.

Ah yes, those “parents” again. Some of the nastiest creatures on earth, no?

This gets back to the part about “growing up” and “becoming an adult.” Part of that process is realizing that, in the United States, you don’t owe ANYTHING to your parents unless you’ve borrowed money from them and signed a contract. To the extent that your parents laid some nasty trips on you when you were young and now you are “struggling” with them, I suggest acknowledging that fact. That’s a great first step towards “growing up.”

I’ve seen many times graduate students who simply were able to “put aside” the conflicts until they reached graduate school, whereupon they could no longer do so. Was it right to ostracize and ruin these students potential careers in science

I don’t know because I didn’t meet these students and I have no idea how much time they were sopping up with their “spiritual conflicts”. I did meet two people in graduate school who had some deep anti-social problems that I did not encounter in other professional environments so it may indeed have been “right” to not look the other way. I know that both of these other people failed to graduate (one ended up in mental hospital).

Should we have ostracized Stephen Elliot when he first came to PT?

If Stephen bugs me, I can just scroll on by.

But he doesn’t bug me.

Comment #66181

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:06 PM (e)

well, there’s the public line and the private line. I think PZ correctly expresses the private line of the majority of operating scientists (at least the hundreds that I have met - there’s that “personal experience” thing again). However I think lenny is quite correct that the public line better reflects a political reality that we don’t reject anybody who doesn’t reject evolutionary theory in general.

Let me correct what I think is a misconception that you might have here … :)

My “private line” and my “public line” are identical.

I have nothing against atheism or atheists. I don’t care if absolutely every single scientist in the United States of America is an atheist and says so out loud, on primetime TV. That’s not the issue.

The issue is whether or not we should drive away allies in this fight who are NOT atheists by attacking them over their religious beliefs – an issue that doesn’t have a blooming thing to do with either science or ID.

In all of this discussion, I have yet to hear anyone offer any good reason for doing this. What do we gain by attacking theists who are on our side. How does it help us fight ID. What do we accomplish through it.

Mr Elliott hasn’t posted for a long time. Our latest religious war (directed, initially, straight at him) appears to have driven him away. Can anyone explain to me why this is a GOOD thing?

bottom line, then, there is little difference politically between the DI with their “large tent” and those who support good science.

That’s right. Very very few political positions have an outright majority of the population. And that means that for nearly all of us, political strength depends upon coalition-building. The right-wing understands that, which is why they are in power. The anti-right-wing (I won’t call it the “left wing” since that would just provoke another pointless fight) alas spends most of its time fighting with *each other* (usually over inconsequential matters of ideological purity), which is why they have no power.

If we want to win a political fight, we simply MUST work with people we don’t agree with on other things. And treating them like crap in the process, doesn’t help us.

And if anyone thinks that some here (a very specific “some”) have not treated Mr Elliott like crap, I suggest you ask him.

Comment #66182

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:09 PM (e)

we are ALL going to DIE.

Unless you’re rich enough to get yourself frozen. :)

Comment #66183

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 8:09 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

… there is a large body of literature about inherent behaviors (more popularly termed “instincts”), that could be termed as “genetic memory” by those unfamiliar with ethology or behavioral ecology.

That would be me. I haven’t got any books that deal with those subjects directly on my recent reading list, the terms have cropped up in other books though.

I think if Jung had been more familiar with the ethologists of the time, he probably would have spent time thinking about collective archetypes in terms of evolutionary theory.

It suggests that perhaps his lack of experience in this area is what might have got him lost in metaphysics, no?

It sounds probable so far.

I know there have been some experiments with some type of mole where genetics could be used to influence its behavior making it either a promiscuous love ‘em and leave type or a monogamous stay at home dad.

On another tangent there is also the work of Michael Persinger who can produce a kind of “paranormal archetype” by stimulating the brain’s right temporal lobe with magnets. He can produce the feeling of the presence of god, out of body experiences, alien abduction, etc.. He thinks that region of the brain is responsible for religious experiences of deep meaningfulness, early memories, and most things paranormal/supernatural.

Comment #66184

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:10 PM (e)

I must have missed something major, because almost every post by Norman, yourself and RU has been talking about the irrationality of religious belief structures, not atheism. Thereby repressing by ridicule.

It’s illuminating to see that it’s not just the Christian fundies who have massive martyr complexes.

Comment #66185

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

Sir TJ

I must have missed something major, because almost every post by Norman, yourself and RU has been talking about the irrationality of religious belief structures, not atheism. Thereby repressing by ridicule.

Yeah, Larry Larfartman is really repressed.

Comment #66186

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:12 PM (e)

Yeah, Larry Larfartman is really repressed.

I’m sure his psychotherapist would think so. ;)

Comment #66187

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 8:16 PM (e)

let’s see..

How Lenny could have arrived at the conclusion he did about PZ:

While I can appreciate having the religious on our side in certain aspects of the creation-evolution argument, in the long run, we are in conflict. We only get their support as long as the conclusions of science do not contradict their received truths…and I’m afraid it’s cruel, harsh, godless universe, with cherished fables in retreat everywhere. Your favorite religious myth, whatever it may be, is becoming irrelevant and endangered as we type.

The problem isn’t so much that people shouldn’t be allowed to believe as they choose, but that the religious seem to believe that their personal belief in a meddling sky fairy privileges them to opine on science, law, medicine, philosophy, education, carpentry, mudwrestling, or whatever other occupation flits past their eyeballs. It doesn’t

btw, your analogy afterwards about talking heads on CNN more likely reflects the degree of popular controversy that will generate more money for TV ads than it does any specific cultural bias, don’t you think? I’m sure someone proclaiming the standard creationist line will get more press, because more folks are familiar with that side of the controversy.

I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We’re going to be loud and aggressive, we are going to continually hammer on the deficiency of evidence and the absolute inanity of theism, and we’re going to fight for the cause of reason that others so readily abandon when confronted with tradition and ritual.

shall i continue?

regardless of whether your point was about the hypocrisy of hiding atheist scientists from the public eye because of the furor of folks like Dawkins, what comes out is a decidedly anti-religious rhetoric. BTW, hiding the atheists is exactly like keeping Dembski from testifying for the ID side at trial, yes?

I’m thinking you might want to examine WHY Lenny came to the conclusions he did, and perhaps re-evaluate your own writing skills, rather than impugn the reading skills of Lenny or any of the rest of us?

or do others think i am totally unwarranted in that suggestion?

Comment #66188

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 8:17 PM (e)

right. so… do you think there is no political value in doing so?

Do you think there is political value in concealing your beliefs and pandering to a majority? What an idea…perhaps I should start voting Republican, telling everyone how wonderful GW Bush is, and at least telling everyone that I think conservative values as exemplified by the Republican party are just ducky. Yeah, that’s the ticket…that’s how I’ll advance liberal ideas. By supporting regressive ones!

whoa! that’s so wholly the exact OPPOSITE of how this thread has developed it’s scary.

Why, no it isn’t. We have Lenny rather stridently insisting that atheism is going to frighten away 90% of the public, and that we have to be nice to silly ideas to keep them as allies. I haven’t seen anyone suggest that Christians ought to shut up about their beliefs – quite the contrary, because atheists are a dispensable 10%, they don’t need us. Buh-bye, atheists.

What has everyone fuming is that atheists think theism is a pretty goofy collection of weird ideas, and aren’t afraid to say so. That we think gods are ridiculous is apparently not something that theists are willing to shrug off—yet it’s an idea implicit in being an atheist.

Comment #66189

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 8:19 PM (e)

Yeah, Larry Larfartman is really repressed.

lol. touche.

Comment #66191

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 8:22 PM (e)

Fear of what? Fear of not being liked by everyone? Welcome to reality. Again: mature people should learn how to deal with that. Shrinks can help. Allegedly, some drugs can too.

don’t accuse me of not reading your posts and then turn around and neglect to read mine.

I was most certainly referring to fear of losing one’s job, or having one’s career completely crushed.

hell, isn’t that exactly what one of the fundies said was going to happen to Jones after his ruling?

I’ve seen it before. It’s a destructive attitude found on both sides of this argument.

Comment #66192

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:23 PM (e)

odious lies about atheists.

This isn’t ABOUT “atheists”, PZ.

It’s about allies, and treating allies LIKE allies, not like enemies.

Comment #66193

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 8:26 PM (e)

? My experience with Berkeleyans is that your religious beliefs…

uh, right…. let’s not lump everyone together in one basket now, shall we?

you’re in danger of sounding much like a fundamentalist yourself, there, RU.

You’re making my points for me, so i guess i should thank you.

Comment #66194

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:29 PM (e)

We have Lenny rather stridently insisting that atheism is going to frighten away 90% of the public,

That’s not what I said, PZ.

I’ll say it again:

Nobody said any such thing, PZ. You are entirely completely totally free to shout from the highest rooftop you can find, “I AM AN ATHEIST!!!!!!!!”, and I will fight to the death to defend, not only your right to that belief, but to say so out loud.

Conversely, others are entirely completely totally free to shout from the highest rooftop they can find, “I AM A CHRISTIAN (or Jew, or Buddhist, or Zoroastrian, or Rastafarian, or whatever) !!!!!!!, and I will fight equally hard to the death to defend, not only their right to that belief, but to say so out loud (and I suspect rather sadly that you would NOT be there fighting by my side for that).

That isn’t the issue, PZ.

The issue is atheists attacking anti-ID theists here, simply because they don’t like their religious opinions (indeed, don’t like the fact that they HAVE religious opinions). Oddly enough, I have, in all my time here, never seen a single theistic anti-IDer attack anyone else here because they were atheist —- ALL of the attacking seems to go in a particular direction. I, uh, wonder why that would be ….

There is a big difference between “I’m in this fight because my personal viewpoint is atheism”, and “Your theistic ideas are illogical, irrational and dumb, and you must be either a retard or really really stupid to hold them. Um, no offense.”

Do you understand the difference, PZ?

I am *still* waiting for someone to tell me what, exactly, we gain by attacking our own allies. How does attacking theistic anti-IDers help us fight ID. What does it accomplish for us.

and that we have to be nice to silly ideas to keep them as allies.

That’s right. Unless you prefer having no allies?

I haven’t seen anyone suggest that Christians ought to shut up about their beliefs

Perhaps that is because nobody has seen any anti-ID theists here attacking any atheists here over their religious opinions (or lack of them).

Comment #66195

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:32 PM (e)

I haven’t seen anyone suggest that Christians ought to shut up about their beliefs

And you might, uh, want to ask the IDers about this….

Comment #66196

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 8:33 PM (e)

I’m thinking you might want to examine WHY Lenny came to the conclusions he did, and perhaps re-evaluate your own writing skills, rather than impugn the reading skills of Lenny or any of the rest of us?

I think my writing skills are pretty sharp there. I accurately expressed my opinion.

Religion is an inane set of beliefs. People believe them because they are indoctrinated, because the majority do not question them, because they find consolation in them. But really…read Genesis or the Gospels with an objective eye, and I’m afraid it’s all pretty damned silly stuff. This is what atheists think, and you just can’t hide it. It does not mean that atheists are intolerant, or that they can’t work with theists, or that they want to purge theists from whatever mythical “Party” we’re in.

Your response is typical. I don’t even need to use the word “inane” – all I have to do is say that I don’t believe Jesus was anything more than yet another wandering medicine man, and I can get people to squawk that I’m intolerant of Christians. I’m used to it. I see no point in trying to sugarcoat disbelief anymore.

We are going to fight to make our ideas heard. If you and Lenny think the way to do that is to pretend to be appreciative of theism, you’re quite mistaken – that’s dishonest, and entirely contrary to that goal. And it is entirely compatible with promoting good science: more compatible than lying about the consequences of thinking scientifically.

Comment #66197

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:35 PM (e)

What has everyone fuming is that atheists think theism is a pretty goofy collection of weird ideas, and aren’t afraid to say so. That we think gods are ridiculous is apparently not something that theists are willing to shrug off—yet it’s an idea implicit in being an atheist.

And that has what, again, to do with keeping ID out of science classrooms …… . ?

This isn’t ABOUT “atheism”, PZ. (shrug)

Comment #66198

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

Repeating your dishonest caricatures a second time does not make them true, Lenny. That’s a behavior I’m used to seeing from creationists.

Comment #66199

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 8:37 PM (e)

Ditto PZ’s 8:17 post.

Personally, I’d rather see the theist defenders of science more stridently and relentlessly attack the fundie Christian leaders and panderers and diminish their influence over the American population instead of preaching about how to go about “reconciling” one’s religious beliefs with a stupid scientific fact.

This approach would seem to have the added bonus of “repressing” religious fundamentalism, which is nothing more than fascism waiting for an opportunity.

I could abide both the Moderate Christian Assault on the Fundies approach and the How To Reconcile Facts with Religious Beliefs approach if both were employed.

I don’t see a downside, frankly.

Religious fundamentalism is the problem. “Repressing” these people is the ULTIMATE objective and ridicule, scorn and tirelessly reporting the damage such people are doing to the welfare of human beings around the planet is the only way to change things non-violently.

Comment #66200

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:38 PM (e)

It’s the reason why i think we can’t summarily ostracize those who maintain religious beliefs even into graduate school as a science major.

Well, there’s also that whole “freedom of religion” thingie, which SOME of us still take seriously and still think should apply to EVERYBODY – even the religious opinions we don’t like.

Comment #66201

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 8:40 PM (e)

That would be me. I haven’t got any books that deal with those subjects directly on my recent reading list, the terms have cropped up in other books though.

ahh. I can help there. that’s my area of expertise; I study behavioral ecology of fishes. (btw, be careful about asking fish questions, I’ll likely bore you to tears with responses).

I really enjoy reading Krebs and Davies Behavioral Ecology; often have used it as a textbook. It tends to cover not only the basics of ethology and behavioral ecology, but also examines the most recent work published in the literature on these topics with each new revision.

Also Alcock’s Animal Behavior is a good text.

for more historic reading, check out the ‘father’ of modern ethology, Konrad Lorenz - he was my major profs major prof, and was a wonderful writer.

I very much enjoyed King Solomon’s Ring; makes a great read for any age.

http://www.psy.pdx.edu/PsiCafe/KeyTheorists/Lore…

J.R. Krebs and Nicholas Davies, Behavioural Ecology: an evolutionary approach [ISBN 0865427313]

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

Alcock’s text:

http://www.sinauer.com/detail.php?id=0051

Comment #66202

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 8:41 PM (e)

Joe Shelby wrote:

… not terribly useful, objectively speaking, so i wouldn’t keep using that in an argument against religion in general,…

Okay, I won’t.

… or against religions that are effectively your political allies…

As long as I don’t question them or speculate on where they went wrong… I don’t like those strings.

I’m not the only one asking questions about what makes believers believe and who looks for irrational forces to explain it.

Should Michael Persinger stop doing his research because it might insult religious people?

Check here:
http://www.melvinmorse.com/e-tlp.htm

Comment #66203

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 8:44 PM (e)

I see there was an addition.

Conversely, others are entirely completely totally free to shout from the highest rooftop they can find, “I AM A CHRISTIAN (or Jew, or Buddhist, or Zoroastrian, or Rastafarian, or whatever) !!!!!!!, and I will fight equally hard to the death to defend, not only their right to that belief, but to say so out loud (and I suspect rather sadly that you would NOT be there fighting by my side for that).

I give up. Your lies are despicable: you obviously know nothing about me, but you feel free to execute that kind of slander. I certainly would support anyone’s right to believe any silly thing they want, and to speak it out loud.

Speaking of shooting your allies…that’s what you do, Lenny. You are not my ally, and I think your rather cowardly approach is damaging the cause of promoting science in the long run, all in the name of short term expediency. You obviously think otherwise, but then…I don’t have much respect for your opinion.

Comment #66204

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

Personally, I’d rather see the theist defenders of science more stridently and relentlessly attack the fundie Christian leaders and panderers and diminish their influence over the American population instead of preaching about how to go about “reconciling” one’s religious beliefs with a stupid scientific fact.

This approach would seem to have the added bonus of “repressing” religious fundamentalism, which is nothing more than fascism waiting for an opportunity.

I could abide both the Moderate Christian Assault on the Fundies approach and the How To Reconcile Facts with Religious Beliefs approach if both were employed.

I don’t see a downside, frankly.

Religious fundamentalism is the problem. “Repressing” these people is the ULTIMATE objective and ridicule, scorn and tirelessly reporting the damage such people are doing to the welfare of human beings around the planet is the only way to change things non-violently.

I couldn’t agree more.

It has long been a major mistake in the anti-ID movement that we have allowed the fundies to wrap themselves in the mantle of godhood and turn this into a “science vs religion” or “atheist vs theist” fight when it is not.

That is the job of the mainstream religious organizations, who have done a piss-poor job of communicating to people that most religious organizations (1) think the fundies are nutters, and (2) don’t have any gripe at all about science or evolution.

We need them to do that. Whether we personally like them or not, we need them to do that.

But then, since most SCIENTISTS couldn’t even bother to get off their ass and fight the IDers, I guess we can’t be all that hard on anyone else who didn’t get off their asses. Thank Odin/Zeus/Allah/whatever that a handful of lawyers in Pennsylvania were able to do the job instead.

Comment #66205

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 8:47 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Well, there’s also that whole “freedom of religion” thingie, which SOME of us still take seriously and still think should apply to EVERYBODY — even the religious opinions we don’t like.

So, criticizing people robs them of their freedom. Gee, I didn’t know that. Doesn’t that come into conflict with that freedom of speech “thingee?”

Comment #66206

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 8:50 PM (e)

But then, since most SCIENTISTS couldn’t even bother to get off their ass and fight the IDers,

Damned scientists. You know, only about 1% of the people in this country are working in the sciences–we ought to be cultivating the 99%, rather than paying any attention to those eggheads.

They probably think they’re smarter and better educated than everyone else, too, the arrogant bastards. We can win the fight for evolution without them!

Comment #66210

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 8:57 PM (e)

This is really a simple situation, I don’t see why all these words are required. Lenny’s goal is promoting evolution and keeping ID out of the classroom, and so he doesn’t see any reason for evolutionists to argue about religion. PZ has the different goal of promoting the whole Rationalist program of the Enlightenment, of which evolution is a part, so he does see a reason to argue about religion. These are two different goals, so of course they’re going to disagree about the strategy.

_____________________________________________________________

FWIW, I’m on PZ’s side, I see religion as the root problem. If I thought ID was a serious short-term threat, I might bend a little to promote evolution, but I don’t, because the IDers are clowns who don’t fool anybody.

Comment #66212

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 8:59 PM (e)

You are not my ally

You are still mine. (shrug)

But let’s add up the score … so far PT’s latest religious war has (1) driven away our recent former IDer now anti-IDer, Mr Elliott, and (2) alienated you from me.

Wow, that helped, didn’t it.

Gee, a few more holy wars like this, and we’ll have those IDers right where we want ‘em, huh.

Comment #66213

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 9:01 PM (e)

I see religion as the root problem.

Well, good luck trying to get rid of it. ;)

Comment #66215

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 9:07 PM (e)

Your response is typical. I don’t even need to use the word “inane” — all I have to do is say that I don’t believe Jesus was anything more than yet another wandering medicine man, and I can get people to squawk that I’m intolerant of Christians. I’m used to it. I see no point in trying to sugarcoat disbelief anymore.

We are going to fight to make our ideas heard. If you and Lenny think the way to do that is to pretend to be appreciative of theism, you’re quite mistaken — that’s dishonest, and entirely contrary to that goal. And it is entirely compatible with promoting good science: more compatible than lying about the consequences of thinking scientifically.

look, all I’m saying is that there is what the ideal situation should be, and being an atheist i completely agree with your point here about the promotion of rational thought and the scientific process, and then there’s the political reality we find ourselves in, where we ARE in the minority, and HAVE lost a great many political fights and resulting funds. With that in mind, i can easily see why the larger political strategy has become one of inclusion rather than exclusion.

It’s hard to do science without money, man.

on a more private note, my personal experiences of seeing someone’s career get trashed because they ONE TIME, gave a talk at an informal scientific “lunch” where he tried to outline how he was reconciling his faith in god with his scientific endeavors.

reactionism is bad, no matter which side perpetrates it.

I get your point about the hypocrisy of “hiding the atheists”, but i think you are missing my point entirely.

If you decide to start making the contributor posts on PT about the “inanity of theism”, PT will surely become less powerful as a political tool.

I have no problems discussing the issue in the comments sections, but that is what i was asking you. do you see a problem with discussing the issues in the comments section? do you see any problems with criticizing those who hold religious beliefs in the comments section?

what do you think of Stephen Elliot?

instead, i got someone calling ME inane.

look, If you want to insult me that’s fine, but i prefer we take this to an email discussion between ourselves.

I’m no idiot, man. I have the same level of education you do. I have articles published in peer reviewed journals too (heh, only one, but it’s there nonetheless), and my specialty is in behavioral ecology and evolutionary theory, so, uh, I’d prefer not to be refered to as “inane”.

rejecting arguments out of hand IS a tactic that creationists commonly employ. I’d hate to think that’s part of your pyschology as well.

Comment #66216

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 9:09 PM (e)

This thread is sort of a classic example of the Dysfunctional Family Christmas, which is probably the most entertaining feature of the holiday.

I understand perfectly well what Lenny is saying to PZ and why (though I think he overstates the problem somewhat). And I understand perfectly well what PZ is saying and why.

Here’s the thing with atheists and their beliefs about deities: we think deity worship is, well, a dumb thing to do. And if deity worship is taken too far, it leads to all kinds of really nasty stuff. You know what I’m taking about.

I don’t want to encourage it, frankly.

Now, I can keep my opinions to myself. No problem. Theoretically, so could PZ.

The problem with shutting up is that we (as in everybody) are liable to end up simply with the status quo, which is a country with a huge amount of essentially governmentally-encouraged deity worshipping people, a situation that is ripe for fundamentalism to gain a foothold and hijack everything.

And that is what has been happening in this country. And it’s pretty clear it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

So again, rather than advising atheists to keep their opinions about religion to themselves, I would focus on engaging theists who aren’t fundamentalists to join atheists in attacking fundamentalists, as if the world depended on it.

It’s not as if moderate Christians can’t get behind that activity under certain circumstances. We know they can.

Comment #66218

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 9:12 PM (e)

Lenny’s goal is promoting evolution and keeping ID out of the classroom

Not really — my goal is preventing the lunatic fundie right from establishing a theocracy in the US. I focus on evolution/ID as the most prominent part of that effort because THEY do — indeed it is, in their own words, the tip of the wedge.

Now that ID is dead (or will be, after Kansas/Ohio), the theocrat-wanna-be’s will move to something else. And I will follow.

But then, I think the theocrat-wanna-be’s are themselves limping very badly now, and haven’t much longer to live.

Comment #66219

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 9:13 PM (e)

I apologize, in re-reading the post i quoted, i see PZ doesn’t actually refer to me as “inane”.

Comment #66220

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 9:14 PM (e)

Comment #66213

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 09:01 PM (e) (s)

I see religion as the root problem.

Well, good luck trying to get rid of it. ;)

When I look at the long term view, I see lots of evidence that religion is being beaten back.

Comment #66221

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 9:14 PM (e)

But let’s add up the score … so far PT’s latest religious war has (1) driven away our recent former IDer now anti-IDer, Mr Elliott, and (2) alienated you from me.

I see. Blame the theist/atheist debate, rather than your own reprehensible tactics.

You know, I actually get along just fine with many Christians – it’s hard not to, since my mother and sisters are among them – even though I think their god is a silly construct, and they think I might be going to hell. What is alienating is not honest criticism and upfront disagreement: it’s distortions, lies, and misrepresentations.

I’d rather see my cause represented by loud and proud atheists and confident Christians than by calculating schemers who think in terms of winning political gain by pretending to be something we’re not.

Comment #66224

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 9:18 PM (e)

That is the job of the mainstream religious organizations, who have done a piss-poor job of communicating to people that most religious organizations (1) think the fundies are nutters, and (2) don’t have any gripe at all about science or evolution.

they are doing that, it just doesn’t make the news.

I just posted a link that documented one of the lutheran churches rejecting ID as not scientific, and not appropriate for teaching even in private lutheran schools.

It’s in one of the other threads.

all we need to do then, is publicize that, yes?

Comment #66226

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 9:20 PM (e)

Not really —- my goal is preventing the lunatic fundie right from establishing a theocracy in the US. I focus on evolution/ID as the most prominent part of that effort because THEY do —- indeed it is, in their own words, the tip of the wedge.

Sorry for the misrepresentation. I figured I wouldn’t nail your exact goal, but it still goes to my point that you two are arguing about tactics when you have two distinct goals. You’re not going to agree about tactics.

Comment #66227

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 9:20 PM (e)

Lenny

That is the job of the mainstream religious organizations, who have done a piss-poor job of communicating to people that most religious organizations (1) think the fundies are nutters, and (2) don’t have any gripe at all about science or evolution.

We need them to do that. Whether we personally like them or not, we need them to do that.

Maybe the Christians at PT should attend to point (1) with a bit more clarity, rigor and determination?

Perhaps the atheists wouldn’t feel as obliged to take up the slack.

Comment #66228

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 9:22 PM (e)

Akk! I posted the counterpoint to Persinger, not Persinger.

You should get both but I’m having a hard time finding the Persinger paper I remember.

Here’s a wired article:
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.11/persinge…

Comment #66229

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 9:26 PM (e)

ah,, here it is:

http://www.thelutheran.org/news/

otoh, as Bulldog pointed out later in the same thread:

Lutherans come in several varieties. The expansive view expressed above is that of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Amarica (ELCA). The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod expresses a less-expansive view (OK, young-earth creationist view) at …

http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/LCMS/w…

so then the question becomes, OK we have examples of christian church groups opposing the teaching of ID, even in their own schools, and for strictly the fact that ID is scientifically meaningless.

should we:

make a public note of that on PT?

publicize it in the larger media?

should we worry about the other lutheran chapter (Missouri synod) that has an apparently opposite view?

We’ve run into this issue before with Papal statements regarding evolution.

Has that been effective?

Comment #66231

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 9:26 PM (e)

So again, rather than advising atheists to keep their opinions about religion to themselves

Once again, that is not what I am saying.

I have no gripe at all with people expressing atheism. This is not ABOUT “atheism”.

The problem arises when we go out of our way to attack people who are on our side. The problem arises when we treat an ally not as an ally, but as an enemy.

In the ID fight (ya know, the one this blog is supposed to be about), theistic anti-IDers are not the enemy. And I see no point, purpose or utility in treating them as such – nor has anyone else been able to point one out for me.

, I would focus on engaging theists who aren’t fundamentalists to join atheists in attacking fundamentalists, as if the world depended on it.

Amen, brother. But we’re not exactly going to encourage theists to help, if all the while we are haranguing them about how irrational and silly we think they are.

Comment #66232

Posted by PZ Myers on December 30, 2005 9:27 PM (e)

on a more private note, my personal experiences of seeing someone’s career get trashed because they ONE TIME, gave a talk at an informal scientific “lunch” where he tried to outline how he was reconciling his faith in god with his scientific endeavors.

For all this talk of how I want to purge Christians and prevent people from shouting their religion from the rooftops, I find that deplorable. I had a grad student do something similar once; she described how she tried to justify the Genesis chronology with the evolutionary chronology. I told her I thought it was impossible (there are two chronologies, after all, and neither fits) and that I thought it was an absurd effort…but then, I think my students know that we can disagree without risking their careers, and that any other attitude would be destructive of good science.

She did graduate with a Ph.D., with my support. I also wrote good letters of recommendation for her, for her work. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her again, and I also wouldn’t hesitate to tell her that Genesis is a pile of crap.

Comment #66233

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 9:30 PM (e)

Maybe the Christians at PT should attend to point (1) with a bit more clarity, rigor and determination?

I thought Mr Elliott did quite an admirable job of attempting to do just that.

And all he got for his trouble was jumped on by his own side.

Who wants to put out any great effort for a bunch of people who tell you at every opportunity that they think you are silly and irrational?

Comment #66234

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 9:32 PM (e)

“at every opportunity” is an unhelpful exaggeration.

Comment #66235

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 9:34 PM (e)

so then the question becomes, OK we have examples of christian church groups opposing the teaching of ID, even in their own schools, and for strictly the fact that ID is scientifically meaningless.

should we:

“We” shouldn’t (and really can’t) do anything. It’s not what we are here for. That’s one of the advantages of a coalition — each part does what it does best, and leaves the other parts to those who do it best. We don’t need to have scientists trying to explain why ID is poor theology; we don’t need lawyers trying to tell others why ID is crap science.

The religious approach is for religious people to take. We can’t help them, and wouldn’t improve things by trying.

Comment #66236

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 9:36 PM (e)

@norman:

That would be me. I haven’t got any books that deal with those subjects directly on my recent reading list, the terms have cropped up in other books though.

i tried to post a brief list of some excellent references on this topic, but i think the post was lost in the shuffle somehow.

I’ll try again:

for some good texts try

Alcock’s Animal Behavior text:

http://www.sinauer.com/detail.php?id=0051

Krebs and Davies Behavioral Ecology text:

J.R. Krebs and Nicholas Davies, Behavioural Ecology: an evolutionary approach [ISBN 0865427313]

which is my favorite, as it does a great job of being concise and at the same time covering the best in the literature regarding the topics of discussion

and for a more historic view, try checking out King Solomon’s Ring by the purported ‘father’ of ethology, Konrad Lorenz. This book makes a nice read no matter your age or background. Lorenz was my Major Prof’s, major prof.

http://www.psy.pdx.edu/PsiCafe/KeyTheorists/Lore…

and of course, here’s wiki on the subject:

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

this happens to not only be my major area of study as well, but also my favorite :) feel free to email me any time if you want more references or have questions.

Comment #66237

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 9:36 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #66239

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 9:39 PM (e)

@norman:

That would be me. I haven’t got any books that deal with those subjects directly on my recent reading list, the terms have cropped up in other books though.

i tried to post a brief list of some excellent references on this topic, but i think the post was lost in the shuffle somehow.

perhaps it had some weird links?

I’ll try again without the links, just google search on the titles:

for some good texts try

J. Alcock’s Animal Behavior

J.R. Krebs and Nicholas Davies, Behavioural Ecology: an evolutionary approach

which is my favorite, as it does a great job of being concise and at the same time covering the best in the literature regarding the topics of discussion

and for a more historic view, try checking out King Solomon’s Ring by the purported ‘father’ of ethology, Konrad Lorenz. This book makes a nice read no matter your age or background. Lorenz was my Major Prof’s, major prof.

and of course, wiki has an entry

this happens to not only be my major area of study as well, but also my favorite :) feel free to email me any time if you want more references or have questions.

Comment #66240

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 9:40 PM (e)

Syntax Error: KrapXML can suck my ‘balls’

Comment #66242

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 9:43 PM (e)

Attempt #2:

In the ID fight (ya know, the one this blog is supposed to be about),

You know, most days I think the purpose of this blog is to feed trolls.

PT is a place where people who are interested in ID/Evolution discuss things. There doesn’t (AFAICT) seem to be a more specific purpose.

Some come here to educate others. Many come here to argue with dolts. I come here to be treated to deliciously zany things creationists say.

I don’t know if this lack of an explicit goal is a blessing or a curse.

Comment #66244

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 9:49 PM (e)

Lenny

But we’re not exactly going to encourage theists to help, if all the while we are haranguing them about how irrational and silly we think they are.

If a theist is helping stamp out fundamentalism only because I’m willing to pretend that I value his deity-worshipping approach to life, I’m not sure I want his/her help.

As PZ points out: it seems a bit dishonest, no?

This is the deal: I think the moderate theists deity-worshipping tendencies are silly, the moderate theist thinks I’m risking a good time in the “afterlife” because I dismiss his/her deity, but we ignore these issues and focus on the target: fundamentalist theocrats.

I mean, perhaps it would make more sense to stop “haranguing” theists if atheists had a book that sold 100 billion copies that laid the atheist gripe with theism on the line and everyone got exposed to it at some point or another.

As it stands, the theists have these books that are, well, rather UNKIND to atheists, to put it mildly, and they are everywhere. We all know what’s in those books. It’s the books that keep the theistic wheels turning, as L. Ron and others prior to him figured out.

So to the extent one worships the deity whose exploits are written in those books and admits to it, there is sort of a de facto statement being made about the “fate” of the “soul” of the atheist, is there not?

I think this is why shutting up is not really an option for the atheist, at least not until the theists get the garbage out of their books.

Comment #66245

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 9:51 PM (e)

She did graduate with a Ph.D., with my support. I also wrote good letters of recommendation for her, for her work. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her again, and I also wouldn’t hesitate to tell her that Genesis is a pile of crap.

*whew* i was beginning to think we would talk across each other forever.

yes, what i saw disturbed me greatly, and it was done by someone who i otherwise had a great deal of respect for. the student presented something similar to yours, iirc. But the reaction to it by this professor was out of all proportion to what was presented, especially given the informal format of the gathering. Being a graduate student myself at the time, it scared the pee outta me to see that something so trivial in my mind could arouse such a heated response.

It’s the main reason i wanted to post about the “fear” aspect of this. That student wasn’t afraid to express his views, until the repurcussions of doing so became clear. I never saw him again. seriously.

that professor has now retired. and like i said, other than that specific topic, i rarely ever saw him become so heated about anything. I myself caught flak in the department when i tried to question why the reaction was so strong.

I guess what I’m saying is that i was beginning to see the same kind of reaction pattern here, and it prompted me to post what i did.

Perhaps I am mistaken about the direction the thread seems to have taken, but I think the thread can bear my musings as well as anyones.

nuff said.

Comment #66246

Posted by jim on December 30, 2005 9:54 PM (e)

Registered User wrote:

Personally, I’d rather see the theist defenders of science more stridently and relentlessly attack the fundie Christian leaders and panderers and diminish their influence over the American population instead of preaching about how to go about “reconciling” one’s religious beliefs with a stupid scientific fact.

Umm, do Dr. Ken Miller or Judge Jones count?

How about the Pope or any of the clergy that signed the Clergy Letter?

Are your feelings against religion blinding you to the efforts made by others in this culture war?

Norman, PZ, & RU your attitude towards graduate students who express a religious affiliation could be construed as discrimination on the basis of religion, which is just as unconstitutional as teaching ID in science classes. Your sort of bigotry against anyone that doesn’t hold the same beliefs as you is just as offensive as that of the fundamentalists Christians, thus the moniker “Fundamentalist Atheist.”

I’ve never seen any theistic evolutionist disparage an atheist at this site. Why do you feel it’s necessary to disparage them?

As to people that find some value in the text of the Bible… The book was written millennia ago. I don’t expect it to read like a science text. Furthermore have you ever read stories that were filled with inaccuracies and silliness (e.g. Aesop’s Fables)? I trust you find the idea of talking animals silly like I do. If a story has a lot of silliness, does that preclude it from containing valuable insights for the reader?

Comment #66247

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 9:54 PM (e)

Lenny

I thought Mr Elliott did quite an admirable job of attempting to do just that.

And all he got for his trouble was jumped on by his own side.

I must have missed this event or at least I missed it’s significance.

But if Mr. Elliott did an admirable job and he’s comfortable with this deity worship then I don’t see what the big deal is if some atheists are kvetching.

My advice to Mr. Elliott would be: “Next time kick the fundies harder. And don’t be a pussy.”

Comment #66248

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

The religious approach is for religious people to take. We can’t help them, and wouldn’t improve things by trying.

but that’s just it. they weren’t discussing ID as bad religion, but as bad science.

that’s why i found the article interesting reading.

When even religious groups find ID to be lacking in content to teach in private religious schools, and instead recomemend teaching evolutionary theory as having the best evidence…

Yet Peters agrees with Jones that the Darwinian evolutionary theory — not intelligent design theory — should be part of students’ biology curriculum. “If Lutherans want only the best science taught to our children, then Darwinian evolutionary theory is the best,” he says. “Lutheran schools should not cave in to alternative or inferior science.”

I don’t see any religious arguments there.

Comment #66249

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

This is the deal: I think the moderate theists deity-worshipping tendencies are silly, the moderate theist thinks I’m risking a good time in the “afterlife” because I dismiss his/her deity, but we ignore these issues and focus on the target: fundamentalist theocrats.

And that is nothing more nor less than what I have been saying all along.

If we’re all on the same side, we should all be shooting at the same target, not at each other. Shooting at each other, doesn’t do us any good.

I mean, perhaps it would make more sense to stop “haranguing” theists if atheists had a book that sold 100 billion copies that laid the atheist gripe with theism on the line and everyone got exposed to it at some point or another.

Well, that might happen if y’all weren’t outnumbered at least 9 to 1. ;) But that is another fight altogether – one that isn’t in the target range of THIS fight. Whether one thinks that other fight is worth fighting or not, it isn’t THIS fight, and doesn’t help it. After all, *I* would like to smash the capitalist state and imperialist world order, but whether one thinks THAT other fight is worth fighting or not, that is another fight, not THIS one, and doesn’t help it. Which is why I shut up about it. ;)

Comment #66250

Posted by jim on December 30, 2005 10:05 PM (e)

Sir Toejam,

I submit that the “theists” that have so rankled you, are not of the same stripe as the ones that hang out here.

I think you are taking your ire out against people that (probably) have never even read those (anti-atheist) books let alone done anything to harm you.

You and other militant atheists here are transferring your rage at certain sects of theists to the general audience of all theists (your generalizing/prejudging). Since we’re the ones at hand we’re the ones getting pummeled.

Kind of like the husband that gets stressed out at work who subsequently goes home and beats his wife and children to “work out the rage”.

Instead of “beating” your allies, perhaps the offended atheists here would do better to channel their rage to a more constructive pursuit (like writing the book you mentioned).

Comment #66252

Posted by Norman Doering on December 30, 2005 10:10 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam,
Thanks for the book recommendations.

I’m out till tomorrow.

Comment #66253

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 10:10 PM (e)

But then, I think the theocrat-wanna-be’s are themselves limping very badly now, and haven’t much longer to live.

never underestimate a wounded animal.

Comment #66254

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 10:11 PM (e)

You know, most days I think the purpose of this blog is to feed trolls.

Well, of course, this blog is a gathering of a bunch of very energetic and very belligerent and very activist-oriented and very opinionated people who aren’t afraid to bust chops over what they think. :)

That works well so long as they all have a common enemy to direct their attention and wrath towards. Pre-Dover, the IDiots served that role nicely. Alas, post-Dover, the IDiot population has dried up, leaving a field full of heavily-armed and well-motivated people with nothing to shoot at. =:o

Which leads them to steal a glance at the guy NEXT to him and think “ya know, I never *did* like his opinion about …. . “

Blam blam blam.

That’s the inevitable problem with coalitions. Once victory is won, the civil war usually follows shortly afterwards.

Despite all the fire and thunder here, though, you can bet pretty safely that the civil war would have been far far bloodier if the *IDers* had won instead of us.

Comment #66256

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 10:13 PM (e)

@jim

huh?

IIRC i was the one arguing against the theist bashers.

perhaps you wanted to address your comments to someon else in this thread?

Comment #66257

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 10:15 PM (e)

I think Jim just gave me a drive by, and I was wounded as an innocent bystander!

can i sue?

Comment #66258

Posted by Registered User on December 30, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

jim

Umm, do Dr. Ken Miller or Judge Jones count?

How about the Pope or any of the clergy that signed the Clergy Letter?

Nobody knows who Ken Miller is. Judge Jones is a judge.

As for the Pope he could be doing a hell of a lot more than he is to attack fundamentalism.

I didn’t say that nobody was doing anything. I said i wanted MORE. Much more.

Norman, PZ, & RU your attitude towards graduate students who express a religious affiliation could be construed as discrimination on the basis of religion, which is just as unconstitutional as teaching ID in science classes. Your sort of bigotry against anyone that doesn’t hold the same beliefs as you is just as offensive as that of the fundamentalists Christians, thus the moniker “Fundamentalist Atheist.”

This is ridiculous. Believe it or not, people do have a right to speak their opinions about the opinions of others. Sir TJ’s story of this graduate student was just plain WEIRD, as far as I can tell. I have no clue what happened. The student “never returned”? Sir TJ “never saw them again”? Was there a prior experience with the professor and that student?

I don’t know. All I know is that if someone starts spouting off their personal religious issues with an expectation that I take them seroiusly, I’m going to avoid them or I’m going to have to encourage them to get a life.

That’s not “bigotry” any more than it’s bigotry to ridicule someone who obsessively talks about Regis Philbin all the time.

Furthermore have you ever read stories that were filled with inaccuracies and silliness (e.g. Aesop’s Fables)? I trust you find the idea of talking animals silly like I do. If a story has a lot of silliness, does that preclude it from containing valuable insights for the reader?

Of course not. But comparing Aesop’s fables to the bible? C’mon.

Comment #66259

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

but that’s just it. they weren’t discussing ID as bad religion, but as bad science.

Then they have it bass-ackwards. Their job is to remove the fundies’ religious supports. That job is suited for them, not for scientists.

The scientist’s job is to remove the fundies’ scientific supports. That job is suited for scientists, not for religious figures.

Comment #66260

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #66262

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 10:24 PM (e)

Of course not. But comparing Aesop’s fables to the bible? C’mon.

Actually I think that comparison is not at all unfair. Aesop’s fables are mythical stories which illustrate moral points. A not insignificant number of Christians view the Bible in the same way (the UCC being perhaps the largest such denomination).

Comment #66265

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 10:30 PM (e)

I think Jim just gave me a drive by, and I was wounded as an innocent bystander!

can i sue?

I saw the whole thing ! I’ll testify ! :)

Jim, the Royal Foot Fungus is on *your* side. ;)

Comment #66269

Posted by jim on December 30, 2005 10:36 PM (e)

Sir Toejam,

Umm, sorry about the shrapnel wounds, buddy. My post was a little scatter brained. I started it intending to respond to your post about both the (desire for a atheist perspective) book and the grad student.

I, ah, slipped in a couple of other points that I hadn’t really intended to direct at you.

Re: a point Lenny’s been making. Everything looks like a nail when you’re carrying a hammer.

So here we are with a well-honed sense of debate aggression and all of the “good” ID supporters are hiding under rocks. So we’re left whacking each other over the head with our “hammers”.

Comment #66271

Posted by jim on December 30, 2005 10:41 PM (e)

RU,

Dr. Ken Miller - expert witness on science for the plaintiffs at Dover. Also does debates against creationists (notably one sponsored by Nova).

Comment #66272

Posted by jim on December 30, 2005 10:45 PM (e)

Ph.D. Biology, teaches at Brown University.

Comment #66273

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 10:52 PM (e)

Was there a prior experience with the professor and that student?

that’s a good question. there could have been, but since i was pretty close to that professor, and that student, i probably would have known about it.

I’m glad both you and PZ think that was an abberation. Having only gone to one graduate school, I don’t have any other direct experiences to rely on. I have heard rumors though.

I hope at least now you understand when you say things like you did about it being a proper “slap in the face”, why it disturbed me. Those words are quite similar to those i heard coming from this professor when i asked him about his reactions to that student’s presentation.

as to never saw him again. that’s just a statement of fact. i commonly had lunch with that student once or twice a week, but i really never did see him again after that episode. The rest is conjecture on my part, supported by statements by other professors that so much pressure was put on that student, that he left the department.

I saw his thesis topic, and it had nothing at all to do with any religious ideas. it was a tidy bit of science regarding some aspect of cellular biology IIRC. I still think it unfair what happened to him, and damn will try to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else if i can possibly help it.

and yes, I too caught significant flak for raising a stink about what happened to that student. Perhaps i should have just kept my head down (a lot of fellow grad students essentially suggested that to be the prudent course), but I thought it was worth it then and would do it again, regardless of personal risk.

my point is, why should there have been any personal risk at all to begin with? I always thought prior to that incident that science stands just fine on it’s own, and doesn’t need the kind of personal defense this professor brought to the fore. In studying the whole creationist fiasco since, especially wrt to the creationists at Berkeley itself, i can understand better where the anger present in that professor’s reaction came from. However, i still think it isn’t worth trashing someone’s career over.

and another reason i brought it up is the rhetoric i heard from this professor sounded very similar to the calls for Judge Jones’ resignation i hear coming from the fundies. It sounds just as ugly coming from either side.

I even have found myself guilty of similar expressions from time to time.

anywho, just so it’s clear, this is not an anecdote or fictional tale, regardless of the fact that i won’t use any names for what i hope are obvious reasons.

Comment #66274

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 30, 2005 10:52 PM (e)

In this political fight, PZ, pissing off 85-90% of the population is extremely stupid. Driving people away who are already on our side, simply because you can’t tolerate their opinions on matters outside of ID or science, is even MORE stupid.

You know, I always did wonder why Lenny never posted to Pharyngula. I think I, uh, know now.

I have to say, even tho there is a big overlap between PT & Pharyngula, the rather unfortunate compulsion to do a dogpile on top of anyone with religious beliefs is much more prevalent there. (I’m not saying PZ does this.) Even people who are completely opposed to IDC can get hassled there if they stick their necks out. I discovered this most vividly whenever the subject of Buddhism comes up there. There are a handful of people there who hate all religious beliefs, including Buddhism, and who can say some amazingly ignorant things in venting their hostility. (Again, PZ himself doesn’t do this.) Not that big a revelation that such things happen, I guess, but it was a bit of an eye opener, and it makes me a lot more sympathetic toward christians who oppose IDC.

So yes, driving such people away is bad for business, guys…

Comment #66275

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 10:56 PM (e)

So here we are with a well-honed sense of debate aggression and all of the “good” ID supporters are hiding under rocks. So we’re left whacking each other over the head with our “hammers”.

I blame Larry.

Comment #66276

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 10:58 PM (e)

after realizing they’ve all been stranded in an empty room, yelling at each other, I can just imagine Kirk screaming:

LLLLAAAAAAARRRRRRYYYY!!!!

Comment #66277

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 30, 2005 11:01 PM (e)

So here we are with a well-honed sense of debate aggression and all of the “good” ID supporters are hiding under rocks. So we’re left whacking each other over the head with our “hammers”.

Yeah, where are Salvador, Heddle, Blast, Paley’s Ghost, or Josh Bozeman when we really need them? :·)

Comment #66281

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 11:06 PM (e)

PT needs to fix how it handles bad “KwickXML” tags ‘cause i had no idea it didn’t like what i posted and my browser cache didn’t save it either. posh.

Anyways, in response to the Lutherin schools teaching evolution, its been well known that in America, the Catholic schools have been generally better and more successful at teaching evolution than the public schools have.

The Episcopal church has released a document making it very clear that the bible isn’t and was never meant to be interpreted as a source of scientific knowledge. http://www.dfms.org/19021_58398_ENG_HTM.htm

Personally, I wouldn’t trust the current pope to be anything like the relatively enlightened chap the last pope was in his younger days (before that last chap got too hung up on birth control, to the detriment of his respect among Irish catholics and to the population problems of south america where they actually took him seriously).

as for the 9:1 ratio? i think its less than that because at least 3 of the 9 probably don’t think about it at all unless someone asks them a question about it, or they’re running for office. plenty of “believers” in God spend sundays at the football games and only cry out his name when the other team scores. In “The West Wing”, Alan Alda’s character once said “Don’t require a religion test for your politicians; believe me, it’ll be the easiest lie they’ve ever told.”

I understand how one can see “belief” as being manipulated into fundementalism or fascism; not to invoke Godwin’s Law, but the 20th century history of central europe makes that quite clear.

however, the solution for that is to educate believers, through their belief system, to be vigilant at their own feelings and how people can and do manipulate them, rather than trying to attack the basis of belief simply on the grounds that its irrational.

If any of these studies on the genetic origins of belief tell me anything, its that unless you get into eugenics, you’re not getting rid of belief, AND that belief is, in the sense of being part of the programming that makes us up, rational in one degree.

So better to teach people who belief make sure that they are aware of what they believe AND of what others try to make them believe against their personal morals, factual evidence, and the words of those who really know better, like the scientists (regardless of their lack of faith (or lack thereof) which is irrelevant to the science itself).

one real problem of that same supposed 9:1 ratio and its affect on the media. advertisers won’t support true skeptical programming that makes people think critically, in spite of the relatively strong success of shows like “Mythbusters”. Of course part of its success is people love to see stuff get blown up.

The main network press won’t do exposes about how the DI exists as a supposed religious/scientific thinktank but really is just a financial front for publishing lies about science and raise allies for a political war against liberals and scientists. Why not?

TV had a program with Leonard Nimoy, “In Search Of” that was a rediculous bastion of credulous claptrap – and outside of the science channel, such programs (“the truth about atlantis”) continue to pop up on the cable informational channels. Why hasn’t there been a major effort to producing a true skeptical program that tears all that crap down and simply says “none of that exists, the evidence is utterly inconclusive and in many cases has been fabricated”. (Yes, i know the main answer is that scientists and historians have better things to do with their time and money, like science, but the lack of advertising support is also a factor; the shows would also be very short ;-) ).

Add to that the “he said, she said” crap of equal time that the press likes to give, when its utterly inappropriate to do so, and their need to fill in sentences with unnecessary disclaimers and irrelevant facts (“Dawkins, who happens to be an atheist, says that Intelligent Design is religion in disguise” – there’s the war and the press contributed to it by knowing that half their audience will ignore what he says just by making an internal ad hominem attack). we have a placated country sitting in ineptitude while the rest of the world laughs (especially europe where theists and atheists generally get along with no problem at all).

you can’t eliminate belief, and you cant have an enlightend minority rule over a credulous majority like a paragon without bigger problems getting involved. rather than attacking the nature of belief, better to teach skeptical and critical thinking and to help them learn to adjust their beliefs as they grow to that which can be maintained without questioning physical reality or resorting to lies to maintain.

Comment #66282

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 11:09 PM (e)

Sal certainly HAS been keeping a low profile since the decision. The obvious conclusion is that his extremely public religious expositions of ID are not what the DI wants to see out in the ether after the Dover decision, so they put their foot on him for the time being.

in fact, the same could be said of dembski, and that’s why he also is withdrawing a bit from public commentary (mothballing UD, for example).

Heddle’s been around, but hasn’t made an appearance in this thread oddly enough. nor has carol, come to think of it.

there’s the problem; no Carol or Heddle. It made for a different dynamic without their “input”.

well, i say a good fight leads to good makeup sex; er, um, well you know what i mean.

Comment #66283

Posted by Steve S on December 30, 2005 11:10 PM (e)

Yeah, where are Salvador, Heddle, Blast, Paley’s Ghost, or Josh Bozeman when we really need them? :·)

You know, they’ve been quieter since the decision, haven’t they?

Comment #66284

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 11:10 PM (e)

crap, i can’t type at this hour. the middle paragraph was meant to read

So better to teach people who believe to be sure that they are aware of what they believe AND of what others try to make them believe against their personal morals, factual evidence, and the words of those who really know better, like the scientists (regardless of their faith (or lack thereof) which is irrelevant to the science itself).

Comment #66285

Posted by Joe Shelby on December 30, 2005 11:13 PM (e)

Yeah, where are Salvador, Heddle, Blast, Paley’s Ghost, or Josh Bozeman when we really need them? :·)

Well, it is Christmas week so they could be doing their religious duty and taking time off to pray for the birth of their savior…or they’re just keeping on with their war against secular christmas carols and Target stores.

Comment #66286

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 30, 2005 11:14 PM (e)

sounds about right from my perspective, too Joe.

Comment #66290

Posted by drakvl on December 30, 2005 11:32 PM (e)

“TV had a program with Leonard Nimoy, “In Search Of” that was a rediculous bastion of credulous claptrap — and outside of the science channel, such programs (“the truth about atlantis”) continue to pop up on the cable informational channels. Why hasn’t there been a major effort to producing a true skeptical program that tears all that crap down and simply says “none of that exists, the evidence is utterly inconclusive and in many cases has been fabricated”.”

Yeah, I noticed how particular channels vary with their skepticism. Such as the History Channel. From critical analysis of the Turin shroud, to “Did the Book of Revelations predict the fall of modern Iraq?” Ugh. Still, ya can’t go wrong with Mythbusters on Discovery.

Comment #66303

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 31, 2005 12:05 AM (e)

well, i say a good fight leads to good makeup sex

I’m not sure PZ is my type. I prefer clean-shaven. ;)

Comment #66476

Posted by Registered User on December 31, 2005 4:55 PM (e)

Lenny

Actually I think that comparison is not at all unfair. Aesop’s fables are mythical stories which illustrate moral points. A not insignificant number of Christians view the Bible in the same way (the UCC being perhaps the largest such denomination).

Can I quote you Lenny? “Don’t bullshxt us.”

If you wanted to, you could read Mein Kampf as a big “fable” too.

I’m not buying it. The fact that “a not insignificant number of Christians” likes to pretend that the Bible is just a bunch of fairy tales says more about the type of people who feel the need to identify themselves as “Christians” than it says about the Bible.

I know what’s in the Bible. For every page of “fairy tale” there’s ten pages of “worship the deity or else” garbage that simply disgusts me.

Why these “UCC” folks are so happy to ignore this stuff escapes me. Well, actually it doesn’t. They ignore it, I’m sure, because it really doesn’t bother them too much that it’s there.

Comment #66482

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 31, 2005 5:17 PM (e)

plus, i can’t recall any religious sects forming around Aesop’s fables.

anyone else?

Comment #66496

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 31, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

Crossed copied from Cockscrew in #66403:

I consider a refusal to distinguish between criticism and denigration to be one of the most dangerous “warning signs” that someone can display in a discussion or debate. The only time since then that I’ve come across an explicit expression of this attitude was in a Scientology related story*

* Quoting from the story, which is a cry from a father to a Scientologised daughter:
It had taken me far too long to understand this phenomenon. When I had thought, during your and Ben’s Christmas visit in 1994, that I’d exposed some lies and half-truths being told by your “church,” what you had perceived was an attack. Whenever I suggested there might be a point of view other than that you expressed, about Germany, about “psychs,” about schools or whatever else, you perceived I was “making you wrong,” in Scientology terms; I was therefore guilty of a crime against you, against your “religion.”

Just stealing Cockscrew’s story, not trying to put him in the spot light.

It is curious to me no one here has a problem bagging scientology but … (everyone knows what I am going to say next so I’ll not “incriminate” myself further)

Comment #66499

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 31, 2005 6:01 PM (e)

re post above, replace “bagging” with “bashing”, no idea why I wrote that, must be new year hangover…

Comment #66507

Posted by Norman Doering on December 31, 2005 6:31 PM (e)

Registered User wrote:

I’m not buying it. The fact that “a not insignificant number of Christians” likes to pretend that the Bible is just a bunch of fairy tales says more about the type of people who feel the need to identify themselves as “Christians” than it says about the Bible.

I know what’s in the Bible. For every page of “fairy tale” there’s ten pages of “worship the deity or else” garbage that simply disgusts me.

Why these “UCC” folks are so happy to ignore this stuff escapes me. Well, actually it doesn’t. They ignore it, I’m sure, because it really doesn’t bother them too much that it’s there.

I’m with you there. I would never call myself a Christian because that stuff is there and so obviously trying to manipulate people in order to rule over them. Claim to know the unknowable and then create things to fear and hope for no one can check you on so you can motivate people to do your bidding.

I dealt with that, in part, over a decade ago in these essays:

http://www.textfiles.com/occult/notcrst1.txt
http://www.textfiles.com/occult/notcrst2.txt

On the other hand, you also get stuff like “The Song of Solomon” and “the Sermon on the Mount.”

So, criticism does have to be balanced – especially since this is a site where atheists and non-Christians mostly gather. Looking at the worst of the Bible all the time isn’t fair or balanced. There are some good reasons people are attracted to that book. But, yes, I considser it to ultimately be a very corrupt book.

Comment #66572

Posted by Wayne Francis on December 31, 2005 9:45 PM (e)

Insulting people on your side is simply that … Insulting

There is a difference between saying

“I don’t believe in ‘God’ and there is a lot of problems I see with the stories in the Christian Bible and don’t understand how some people can believe the stories are true.”

and saying

“I don’t believe in ‘God’ and you are an idiot for having any belief in your religion you must be mentally defective for having faith in any part of your religion.”

See one is attacking the religion the other is attacking the person.

As another example not to do religion say you have a friend who’s partner is over weight and you are single and you are at a the beach and your friend is trying to see what type of person you are interested in. Your friend is pointing out different people and points to an over weight person an asks you what you think. You could say something like
“Nah, I’m more into the slender type of person, they are more attractive to me.”
or you could say
“That fat cow? Man you got to be $#!tting me! How you can have sex with a beeched whale is beyond me. You must be one sick person. Have you thought of going to see a shrink about that?”

See the difference? Would you ever say the latter to the friend? I have friends that have partners that are over weight. While that isn’t my cup of tea and I don’t understand their physical attraction to their partner and there partner even knows that I like slender women I’m never insulting to my friend or their partner.

Try getting your ideas accross without insulting the actual people involved when the people involved are actually on your side.

Comment #66579

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 31, 2005 10:11 PM (e)

Wayne,

Try do a word find for “idiot”, “silly”, “stupid” (or whatever insult you’d like to use) and see which side that person is arguing for.

I repeat from the scientology story:

* Quoting from the story, which is a cry from a father to a Scientologised daughter:
It had taken me far too long to understand this phenomenon. When I had thought, during your and Ben’s Christmas visit in 1994, that I’d exposed some lies and half-truths being told by your “church,” what you had perceived was an attack. Whenever I suggested there might be a point of view other than that you expressed, about Germany, about “psychs,” about schools or whatever else, you perceived I was “making you wrong,” in Scientology terms; I was therefore guilty of a crime against you, against your “religion.”

Comment #66581

Posted by PZ Myers on December 31, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

Try looking at the first few comments in this thread. What threw people into such a huff were comments like this:

Dennett, and me too, have a bit of a problem with 4 words in there: “in no way conflicts.” There are some conflicts caused by evolution that it seems Christians can only resolve by grasping at straws or by clinging to some inner experience they can’t share and then reading the Bible as a huge metaphor.

It seems that just talking seriously about the flaws in the Christian worldview is regarded as “insulting people”. What it really is, of course, is an attempt to remove absurd ideas from criticism.

Comment #66589

Posted by Norman Doering on December 31, 2005 10:39 PM (e)

PZ Myers wrote:

It seems that just talking seriously about the flaws in the Christian worldview is regarded as “insulting people”. What it really is, of course, is an attempt to remove absurd ideas from criticism.

Just change one phrase and you’ve got it nailed:

It seems that just talking seriously about the flaws in what is typically regarded as the Christian worldview is regarded as “insulting people”. What it really is, of course, is an attempt to remove absurd ideas from criticism.

The people who called themselves Christian on this thread do not have what is typically regarded as the Christian world view.

Comment #66590

Posted by Registered User on December 31, 2005 10:41 PM (e)

“That fat cow? Man you got to be $#!tting me! How you can have sex with a beeched whale is beyond me. You must be one sick person. Have you thought of going to see a shrink about that?”

Funny story: I went out with this woman for a while who was really cool, we had a lot of things in common, she liked sex, and she was very good with her hands.

She wasn’t particularly attractive, though.

We kept our relationship discrete because we didn’t want to people to think we were a “couple” (it was one of those “open” relationship things that never last as long as they should).

A co-worker of mine (a sort of classic piece of Argentinian beefcake) figured out the deal at some point and he essentially said to me just what you put in quotes above. I laughed and said, well, “I’m not hanging with her to please YOU, my friend!”

Ultimately, I ended up with a really hot lady that gets hit on by other guys all the time.

Again, there is a norm in our society that says: religious beliefs are not be criticized. Some people actually feel the same way about politics! When it comes to my family or religious co-workers, we all simply agree: do not bring the religious crap up (politics is still okay) unless you are willing to hear someone challenge those religious beliefs.

And my dearest friends, of course, are all non-religious and we love to sit around and ridicule “devout” Christians. How could it be otherwise???

At the same time, I love gospel music, bluegrass music and “transcendental” cinema, all of which derive their power from spiritual themes.

Dig it. Never stop questioning.

Comment #66592

Posted by Norman Doering on December 31, 2005 10:47 PM (e)

Eugene Lai wrote:

…do a word find for “idiot”, “silly”, “stupid”…

And “dick waving” let’s not forget “dick waving.”

Comment #66593

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 31, 2005 10:50 PM (e)

Just change one phrase and you’ve got it nailed:

It seems that just talking seriously about the flaws in what is typically regarded as the Christian worldview is regarded as “insulting people”. What it really is, of course, is an attempt to remove absurd ideas from criticism.

The people who called themselves Christian on this thread do not have what is typically regarded as the Christian world view.

But it still is insulting to them. Therefore the word “typical” is not essential here.

Comment #66594

Posted by Norman Doering on December 31, 2005 10:59 PM (e)

Eugene Lai wrote:

… the word “typical” is not essential here.

It’s not essential but I think it helps. Those who dare call themselves Christian should know what most people regard as the Christian world view and is therefore typical of it.

Perhaps, “what most people commonly regard as,” if that’s accurate.

Comment #66595

Posted by jim on December 31, 2005 11:22 PM (e)

By my estimation, those that you state have the “typical” Christian worldview compose less than 1/3 of the Christians in the US (and probably significantly less than that worldwide).

That you equate their view as “typical” shows one (or both of two things): you are fairly ignorant of things “Christian” OR they are loud and obnoxious people and you probably would have a difficult time distinguishing between the other 2/3 of the Christians and atheists.

You are generalizing your experiences with 1/3 of the Christians in this country and assuming that the other 2/3 hold the same beliefs. Is this rational, logical, or otherwise objective behavior on your part?

Comment #66596

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 31, 2005 11:22 PM (e)

And “dick waving” let’s not forget “dick waving.”

What about “no offense”? If one is twisted enough, even that can be considered a sarcastic insult.

Comment #66597

Posted by Norman Doering on December 31, 2005 11:34 PM (e)

jim wrote:

By my estimation, those that you state have the “typical” Christian worldview compose less than 1/3 of the Christians in the US (and probably significantly less than that worldwide).

2/3rds of Christians don’t believe Jesus is devine, born of a virgin, did miracles, that Jesus can save them from sin and in heaven and hell?

I think your data is wrong. Polls taken by Gallop say otherwise.

Comment #66598

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 31, 2005 11:39 PM (e)

By my estimation, those that you state have the “typical” Christian worldview compose less than 1/3 of the Christians in the US (and probably significantly less than that worldwide).

Perhaps you are right. May be more than 2/3 of Christians worldwide:
(1) do not believe in Original Sin
(2) do not think Yehwah in Old Testament is the Christian god
(3) do not think Jesus=God
(4) consider VAST sections of Old and New Testament just metaphors, like Aesop’s fables.
(5) does not like organised religion, otherwise known as church

I always think that if you take all these stuff away, all is left is a loose set of moral value that exists in almost all ancient culture.

It is true that a man who lost both arms and a leg is still a man, but I digress…

Comment #66599

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 31, 2005 11:49 PM (e)

On the other hand, I am willing to believe that less than 1/3 of evolution believing christian are “typical” in your definition of the word. In fact, probably a lot less than 1/3.

I don’t think it is a coincidence, either. And that’s precisely why, as a usual lurker, I can’t keep my mouth shut on this one.

Comment #66608

Posted by Carol Clouser on January 1, 2006 2:53 AM (e)

So this is what happens when I am away for a few hours. Shootout at the PT Corral. Is anyone left standing here?

Funny how Lenny, who regularly drives about one person per hour away from this blog and support for science, is acting as the champion of civility in this thread.

Even funnier is the vast number of folks here who claim to be scientific and “rational”, yet feel perfectly free to offer commentary on a book they cannot even read in the original. I refer of course to the so called “old testament” (which is in my view the “only testament”).

PZ, are you sure there are two creation stories in Genesis? Do you read Hebrew? Have you read the original Genesis? Or are you mouthing the opinions of other so called “experts” who also cannot read the original? Should not a scientist like you want to examine the data for yourself before coming to a conclusion? I have some great books to recommend if your mind is open to looking at the data. Or is your atheistic mind shut like a trap door, unwilling to consider the reality of what the original document states?

The ignorance of the so called old testament displayed repeatedly in this thread is literally mind boggling.

Comment #66614

Posted by k.e. on January 1, 2006 3:19 AM (e)

Carol how many “Messiah baby in river” myths preceded Moses?

Or would you like me to point out that and a great many other of the OT stories are “remarkably similar” to much older Myths.

Carol you might want to bring yourself up to date on the Fundamentalist project I.E. to remove meaning and historical context from standard English and historical relevance in Biblical stories.

There is an interesting reference to the OT world view here in Orwell’s Newspeak

What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his own worshiped ‘false gods’. He did not need to know that these gods were called Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth, and the like: probably the less he knew about them the better for his orthodoxy. He knew Jehovah and the commandments of Jehovah: he knew, therefore, that all gods with other names or other attributes were false gods. In somewhat the same way, the party member knew what constituted right conduct, and in exceedingly vague, generalized terms he knew what kinds of departure from it were possible

Be sure to read Vocabulary “C”
http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/books/1984-Appe…

Comment #66616

Posted by Eugene Lai on January 1, 2006 3:27 AM (e)

Carol,

I like the way you dismiss the “current” version of the holy text, which most christians alive today consider the holy text. Why else is that the best seller of all time?

Here we have *another* christian (are you not?) who turns the lack of the divine original on its head and uses that to mold her own version of bible in her mind.

If god exists, whatever that is in the bible today is *exactly* what he wants his creations to read today. Or god is not omniscient.

Re your books recommendataion - the million dollar question is whether they are as rigorously peer-reviewed as Darwin’s Blackbox. Or are they in *books* because they can’t get them published into scholarly journals?

Comment #66617

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 1, 2006 3:34 AM (e)

Funny how Lenny, who regularly drives about one person per hour away from this blog and support for science

hmm. seems most of Lenny’s vitriol has been directed as much at YOU as anybody else lately Carol, and yet you keep coming back.

must not be too horrible then, eh?

oh, and you should probably curtail gross overexaggerations of Lenny’s impact on who stays and who goes.

Comment #66627

Posted by Norman Doering on January 1, 2006 4:25 AM (e)

Carol Clouser asked:

Even funnier is the vast number of folks here who claim to be scientific and “rational”, yet feel perfectly free to offer commentary on a book they cannot even read in the original.

Which original do you mean? The Hebrew Torah or the Greek Septuagint or the myths the Hebrews stole their stories from?

Does any version in any language not have Moses killing the worshippers of the golden calf right right after he comes down from the mountain with his commandments, and one about not killing?

Does any version not have Moses Killing all the Midianites and keeping the virgin girls and their live stock?

Comment #66631

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 1, 2006 4:36 AM (e)

Does any version not have Moses Killing all the Midianites and keeping the virgin girls and their live stock?

hmm. go on, I’m listening.

Comment #66633

Posted by Norman Doering on January 1, 2006 4:55 AM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

hmm. go on, I’m listening.

You don’t know the story of the Midianites? It’s in the Old Testament, Numbers 31.

In Numbers 31:15-18, Moses has his soldiers kill all of the men, women and children among the Midianites, except the virgin girls for his troops. The Israelites had taken all of the animals and goods of the Midianites and then burned all of their towns. If genocide or “ethnic cleansing” is a war crime, then this act of Moses was clearly a war crime. The motivation seems to be theocide – the Hebrews and Midianites lived in peace for awhile, Moses even married a Midianite woman and had a “kind father-in-law.” But the Hebrews were starting to get interested in the Midianite religion.

Christians who know the story try to explain it away by saying the Midianites had some horrible sexually transmitted disease or something. The version in our “translated” bibles doesn’t quite support that – it’s their religion that gets named. Moses claimed that Yahweh, the God of Israel, ordered him to do this, because the Midianites worshiped a deity named Baal Peor. Besides, Moses had already married a Midianite so no sexualy transmitted disease could be localized to mere Midianites.

It’s also interesting to note that Jethro, a Midianite priest, gave refuge to Moses when he fled from Egypt in fear of his life (Ex. 2:14-23). Moses married his daughter, who had two sons by him. We are not told in the book of Numbers what happened to the relatives of the priest who had befriended Moses, but apparently Moses had felt no sense of obligation to them. There are also stories in Numbers that show that Moses did not allow anyone to criticize him or his brother Aaron. When anyone did so they suffered dire consequences, such as plagues and even death by fire that Yahweh sent forth to consume them (Num. 11:33-35; 16:31-35). Once, when Moses’ own sister criticized him, she was stricken with leprosy (Num. 12:1-10).

Comment #66636

Posted by Norman Doering on January 1, 2006 5:39 AM (e)

In the interest of balance and fairness, here’s a Christian site I found explaining the Midianite story:

http://www.rationalchristianity.net/numbers31.ht…

Here’s the passage used to rationalize the sexually transmitted disease theory:

“Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

Comment #66637

Posted by Eugene Lai on January 1, 2006 6:31 AM (e)

Mu slow mind cannot comprehend how the passage support the sexually transmitted disease theory… Why kill the boys too? This disease passes from mother to son but not to daughter?

Comment #66638

Posted by Norman Doering on January 1, 2006 6:48 AM (e)

Eugene Lai wrote:

Mu slow mind cannot comprehend how the passage support the sexually transmitted disease theory… Why kill the boys too? This disease passes from mother to son but not to daughter?

Hmmm. I had more to drink than I thought (had to show briefly at a party so some freinds wouldn’t feel dissed). I missed that obvious argument.

Apparently they think little boys were also having sex?

And even if the daughters didn’t have sex, if their mother’s had it, they’d carry it, sharing even more bodily fluids being born than doing the horizontal bebop.

And what happened to the Hebrews who’d already got struck by the plague that struck the LORD’s people?

I wonder how familiar Christians are with the story? Did it ever show up in movies like Charleton Heston in the Ten Commandments?

I suspect Moses just wanted his soldiers and priests to have some young virgins as a reward. Oh, and I forgot – the priests, not just the soldiers, got a certain share of those girls…

Comment #66639

Posted by Eugene Lai on January 1, 2006 6:59 AM (e)

I wonder how familiar Christians are with the story?

I’d bet money that majority of “typical” christians have not heard of it. I doubt they teach it in sunday school; does not make good bed time story either. And precious few read the bible front to cover on their own initiative.

Of course, I don’t think ignorance is a valid defense.

But then, they still have the god-must-have-a-reason-for-this defense which is sadly outside the realm of reasons. But who am I to think my opinion is above any else’s :)

Comment #66641

Posted by Norman Doering on January 1, 2006 7:17 AM (e)

Eugene Lai wrote:

I’d bet money that majority of “typical” christians have not heard of it.

How much you wanna bet they’ll feel attacked by pointing out it’s in there? Guess we will find out how they feel when they read this.

There are more stories like it. The story of Moses is like the darkest psychotic fantasies of a murderous tyrant… even the parts they do tell you when you’re a kid in Sunday school.

But like I said before – there are better stories.

Comment #66647

Posted by Eugene Lai on January 1, 2006 7:50 AM (e)

Before someone jumps up and complains that this is an anti-ID blog.

From the transcript of The Saladin-Gish II Debate (1988), there is this gem from Gish. Dr. Gish is a deadset creationist and fundy who had this to offer on theistic evolution (proof that every dog has its day)

The problem I have with that notion is this, one of the major problems, is the theory of evolution is totally incompatible with the attributes of God. Evolution proceeds on the basis of two processes: genetic mistakes, almost all of which are bad, and death. Death eliminating the less fit. I couldn’t think of a more wasteful, inefficient method that anyone would conceive to create. It would be inconceivable that God would use such a process, such a wastefully inefficient and cruel process, to create in billions of years, when he could have made man instantaneously. Just totally incompatible with the Bible; that is totally incompatible with the attributes of God

Gish has completely mis-represented the effect of genetic mutation, but otherwise this is food for thought for all christian, typical or not. This is why ID has such wide spread support among the religious sector. Theistic evolutionists have no counter-attack other than assert without proof. We need to beat this if we want to win the creationists at the grass root level.

If anyone has come up with a set of God’s attributes that is compatible with evolution and can be widely accepted by the christian community, he/she needs to run for presidency in your fair country.

Comment #66653

Posted by k.e. on January 1, 2006 8:24 AM (e)

Eugene Lai said:
If anyone has come up with a set of God’s attributes that is compatible with evolution and can be widely accepted by the christian community, he/she needs to run for presidency in your fair country.

Survival of the fittest Idea(World View,God(s)) is the common thread in all socio-religio-political movements. The truly successful all have one major advantage over competing world views, superior access to the media(pulpit,newspaper,TV,etc) and therefor the “end users” mind space, one major weakness is their inability to completely hide the “value of truth” which each “end user” when not being made dependent or a self made martyr in most cases is fully able to apply his/her own conscience, given the whole story,will arrive at a reasonable conclusion. And one major enemy the truth.

Comment #66654

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 8:28 AM (e)

I always think that if you take all these stuff away, all is left is a loose set of moral value that exists in almost all ancient culture.

Exactly. All the rest is just symbolism.

I don’t see anything wrong with that. Your mileage of course may vary.

The people who called themselves Christian on this thread do not have what is typically regarded as the Christian world view.

Yeah, the fundies don’t think they’re Real Christians™© either.

Maybe everyone can have a nice Inquisition or Jihad Holy War to settle the matter. (shrug)

Comment #66656

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 8:33 AM (e)

The ignorance of the so called old testament displayed repeatedly in this thread is literally mind boggling.

Ooooh, THIS should be fun ——— two sets of fundies arguing about their religious (or anti-religious) opinions……

Hey guys, ask Carol why she thinks the New Testament is full of crap …. …. …. …. .

Here we have *another* christian (are you not?)

Carol is Jewish.

And you are now about to hear the Holy Words of Judah Landa. (snicker) (giggle)

Carol is not on our side. So fire away.

Comment #66660

Posted by k.e. on January 1, 2006 8:55 AM (e)

Inquisition? hahahaha Lenny how about a Rastifarian Crusade
or
Jihad Holy War….. :( urrm do u read the news?

The whole issue I think can be summed up in 2 parts
1. Identity Politics.
“…as a mode of organizing is intimately connected to the idea that some social groups are oppressed”

If you want to get “inside the idea” look here
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-polit…

2. Political and religious Obscurantism.
“…involves a disengagement with the world of realities. It obscures the element of human responsibility and the need to respond in practical terms.

Lots of good links on religious Obscurantism :)
Here is an Indian complaint on the problem that is all too common in other religions
http://www.swamiagnivesh.com/social.htm

Comment #66664

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 9:41 AM (e)

We need to beat this if we want to win the creationists at the grass root level.

As an aside, we will never win the creationists (or win AGAINST the creationists) at the grass roots level. We will never have a majority of the population behind us. We will never have the bulk of popular support. And it’s been largely a waste of our time and effort to try. After 40 years of “science education”, the same number of Americans reject evolution today as did 20 or 40 years ago.

This is why the anti-fundie fight has been so very odd for me. In all the rest of my 20-plus years of grassroots organizing (union organizing, environmental organizing, antiwar organizing), I’ve always had public opinion and the support of lots of people on my side, but not the law. This is the first fight I’ve been in that was the opposite — we have the law on our side, but not public opinion or the support of lots of people. It forces some major changes in strategy and tactics which I’ve never been entirely comfortable with (it was, after all, a *handful of lawyers* who beat ID, not a rank-and-file movement of organized people).

To all the other grassroots organizers out there, have you had the same feeling … ?

But, I guess I’ll take our wins any way we can get them. As long as the fundies don’t get real political power, I’m happy with whatever method works to keep them out.

Comment #66666

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 9:46 AM (e)

This is why ID has such wide spread support among the religious sector.

ID does not have widespread support among the religious sector. Just among the fundie sector.

http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/clergy_projec…

Please differentiate between people who are on our side, and people who are not.

Comment #66674

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 10:24 AM (e)

The last poll I saw on this subject showed that 64% of the American population believed human beings were created by a god, not evolution. 64% of 300 million people is about 192 million people.

Yet a web poll that got 10,000 signatures now demonstrates that this belief does not have widespread support?

People who are on my side can usually do math.

Comment #66678

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 10:40 AM (e)

People who are on my side can usually do math.

People who are on my side can usually read:

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/7445_s…

Wait, let me guess ———– NCSE is a Christian front that’s bigoted against atheists. Right?

Comment #66680

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 10:54 AM (e)

The last poll I saw on this subject showed that 64% of the American population believed human beings were created by a god, not evolution.

Which poll was that? It doesn’t agree with any of the polls I’ve seen:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm

http://www.pollingreport.com/science.htm

http://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/current/creati…

It appears as if your number includes theistic evolutionists, who assert that god uses the process of evolution. I.e., it includes people who are on our side, and your conclusion that they favor god BUT NOT EVOLUTION, is simply wrong.

You could, of course, count “people who think god uses the process of evolution to create” as “supporters of ID”, but then, the IDers themselves note that theistic evolutionists are not supporters, and are in fact their deadliest enemies.

So my statement stands. ID does not have widespread religious support. The majority of Christian denominations have condemned it. Among religious people of all denominations outside the US, it has virtually no support at all.

Comment #66681

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 11:01 AM (e)

Gosh, I can find scientific societies that make clear statements in favor of evolution, too – therefore, creationism has no widespread support!

You’ve cited polls showing about 50% of the people reject evolution (for instance, that 54% do not believe humans evolved from other species). That’s about 150 million people. This, apparently, is not sufficient to conclude that creationism has widespread support.

Comment #66683

Posted by Carol Clouser on January 1, 2006 11:08 AM (e)

The Bible in its original Hebrew form was presented to the Israelites, by the Israelites and for the Israelites. Ever since Christians got their hands on it, they have proceeded to distort it, mistranslate it, then add to it. What the Christians did not get their hands on is the oral tradition that went along with the written version, including the methods whereby ideas can legitimately be derived by exegesis from the words of the written document.

So, if you don’t know Hebrew and if you don’t know the oral tradition to come with it, you are in no position to comment, period. You may think you know OF the Bible, or a thing or two ABOUT the Bible. But you do NOT know THE Bible.

All the issues/objections raised above have already been raised centuries ago and analyzed/discussed at length. There is nothing new here.

Comment #66687

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 11:26 AM (e)

Great. Since the overwhelming majority of Americans do not read Hebrew, we can dismiss their religious beliefs as ill-founded and wrong. I can go along with that.

The minority that can read Hebrew are not spared from dismissal because they rely on old books written by people who knew less about science than they did, though. Obscurantism is not an excuse for belief.

Comment #66689

Posted by k.e. on January 1, 2006 11:27 AM (e)

Carol said

All the issues/objections raised above have already been raised centuries ago and analyzed/discussed at length. There is nothing new here.

How old did you say Landa was and why is his opinion needed if the above is true ?

Comment #66690

Posted by ben on January 1, 2006 11:28 AM (e)

Carol, would you also argue that anyone who doesn’t know the original Hebrew–and so according to you is in no position to understand the bible–has no right to base their religious beliefs on the bible? If one can’t understand it, how could one legitimately use it as a basis for their beliefs? It would seem that your sect–people who both know the original Hebrew, have access to whatever you consider the true bible to be, and have thoroughly studied it, would be very very small.

Why is it that so many religious people seem to base their own beliefs on actively delegitimizing the beliefs of as many other religious people as they can?

Comment #66694

Posted by k.e. on January 1, 2006 11:42 AM (e)

And another point Carol which god are we talking about here the old Yahweh or the updated Zoroastrian model/theme which the Persians gave to the exiles or the brief flirtation with the Greek or Roman ideals not forgetting the Messiah who seems to have an uncanny resemblance to the Zoroastrian Saoshyant. And then there is Harold Bloom who has a proposition that Women wrote the OT and please enlighten me on the Hebrew Gnostics.
You might want to run them by your Hebrew expert too.

Comment #66698

Posted by Joe Shelby on January 1, 2006 12:03 PM (e)

Ever since Christians got their hands on [the Old/”only” testament”, they have proceeded to distort it, mistranslate it, then add to it.

Ok, so does this mean I’m free to ignore it instead, aside from those specific passages that Jesus thought to actually echo as being important and worth of consideration?

Good, ‘cause generally that’s pretty much what I do.

I read the old testament, I take some lessons from it, and I learned ignore the historical aspects that paint the ancient hebrews as racist bigots with a totalitarian streak who, like all civilizations, inflicted suffering upon their neighboring countries and then suffered as their empire went into decline, and then pulled the “pity us poor victims” trump card every chance they could while saying “but just you wait ’til our real leader comes, he’ll show you who’s boss around here.”

the main thing the old testament shows, if interpreted as a historically accurate document (divinely inspired or not), is that the hebrews were no different from any other civilization this planet ever saw during the first 1500 years of written records.

there are better lessons to be drawn from that work than the historical one.

Comment #66700

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 12:05 PM (e)

All the issues/objections raised above have already been raised centuries ago and analyzed/discussed at length. There is nothing new here.

Then we don’t need YOU, do we.

I expect you’ll be leaving now, huh. Your work here is done.

Before you leave, though, would you mind telling my why you think science should accept any of your religious opinions as “evidence”?

Comment #66701

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 12:07 PM (e)

So, if you don’t know Hebrew and if you don’t know the oral tradition to come with it, you are in no position to comment, period.

If I don’t know Chinese, does that mean I’m in no position to comment on Mao’s Little Red Book?

Comment #66703

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 12:13 PM (e)

This, apparently, is not sufficient to conclude that creationism has widespread support.

As I noted, the majority of Christian denominations and churches, whose membership makes up the majority of Christian practitioners both worldwide and within the United States, have already issued statements against creationism and ID, and supporting evolution as science.

I might also note that several of the plaintiffs in the Dover case are Christians, as indeed were many of the plaintiffs in the Maclean and Aguillard cases.

I suppose none of that *would* make any difference, if after all your aim is simply to stamp out religion amongst friend OR foe. But for those of us who *aren’t* on an ideological crusade, that means we have widespread support amongst religious people, and we should thank them for it.

Comment #66709

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 12:40 PM (e)

You’ve cited polls showing about 50% of the people reject evolution

Well, let’s see – that means that about 50% of the people ACCEPT evolution (for instance, those 46% who DO believe humans evolved from other species). That too is about 150 million people. That would seem to be, uh, equally widespread support.

And since atheists make up at most 15% of the US population (no more than 45 million people), that means that all the rest of those people who acept evolution, roughly 35% of the US population, also believe in a god. That’s about 105 million people —- more than twice as many as are atheists. In other words, non-atheists (people who believe in a god) make up more than two-thirds of all people who accept evolution. I think I’d call that, uh, pretty wide support.

So I’m not sure exactly what you are bitching about. Would you prefer that they those 105 million people were NOT on our side? Would you prefer that those 105 million people REJECT evolution because that’s what YOU think their religious opinion should be?

Or do you simply prefer that they accept YOUR opinions about religion whether they like it or not?

Hmmm … what OTHER group of people do I know who want everyone else to follow their opinions about religion whether they like it or not …… .

Comment #66710

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 12:40 PM (e)

As you also noted,

As an aside, we will never win the creationists (or win AGAINST the creationists) at the grass roots level. We will never have a majority of the population behind us. We will never have the bulk of popular support. And it’s been largely a waste of our time and effort to try. After 40 years of “science education”, the same number of Americans reject evolution today as did 20 or 40 years ago.

That’s an admission of failure. Have you ever considered the possibility that your (and shared by far too many in this debate) tactical decision to refuse to address the root cause of the problem and instead marginalize the large number in your own camp who reject religion is actually the cause of that failure?

The scientific community is a bastion of freethought. It could be a leader, and it could set an example, and it does represent a path away from religious ignorance. Yet what we do instead is tell everyone that you can believe whatever you want and we should respect it, we treat the freethinkers in the sciences like the ugly baby that needs to be locked away in the attic, and we pretend that the future is some magical reconciliation between gods and reality. It ain’t going to happen. Your strategy hasn’t worked in the last 20, 40, 60 years. You admit it’s never going to work.

Why should we continue to pay any attention to a failure?

Comment #66716

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 12:56 PM (e)

instead marginalize the large number in your own camp who reject religion is actually the cause of that failure?

As I’ve already pointed out, PZ, atheists make up only a small minority (less than a third) of people who are pro-evolution and anti-ID. (shrug)

That’s an admission of failure.

Yes, it is.

Just as pointing out that two-thirds of US adults still think that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9-11 is an admission of failure. Or that one-eight of US adults can’t find the US on a world map. Or that over half of US adults think flying saucers and ESP are real.

We are a nation, largely, of pig-ignorant putzes. And that is indeed a huge failure. Of all of us.

Your strategy hasn’t worked in the last 20, 40, 60 years.

Nor has yours. The percentage of people who reject evolution hasn’t changed a shred. It remains the same – through decades of atheist attacks, scientific education, economic growth, Democrats in office, Republicans in office, or whatever.

It won’t change until we have a read education system, not a low-wage-worker-producing system. Alas, we, as a society, have demonstrated time and time again that we don’t WANT a real education system. So we won’t get one, because we don’t WANT one. (shrug)

Why should we continue to pay any attention to a failure?

Note that your freethinking scientists haven’t changed a damn thing about all the people who believe in flying saucers, ghosts, ESP, pyramid power, or the lost continent of Atlantis.

So why should we continue to pay any attention to YOUR failure?

See the point?

Comment #66717

Posted by k.e. on January 1, 2006 1:00 PM (e)

PZ IMO the failure is a political failure of the liberal/enlightenment movement in the face of reactionary right wing Fundamentalism.
The only solution is a political solution.
Science can help by educating the voter.
Quiz potential candidates of all stripes about their views on science education and get the message out to through the media and local activists.
Good luck.

Comment #66718

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 1:00 PM (e)

two sets of fundies arguing about their religious (or anti-religious) opinions

what OTHER group of people do I know who want everyone else to follow their opinions about religion whether they like it or not

For the last time: atheists are not fundies. We are not out demanding that everyone follow our opinions about religion. At best, I am saying that a person’s religious affiliation does not have any bearing on their qualifications to discuss science, and we should quit pandering to an irrelevant religious base.

By your own recent calculations, us non-believers are a third of your cherished supporters of evolution. Because they’re a minority, do you think it’s OK to lie about them? By your own calculations, more religious people reject evolution than accept it. Is that a reason to think religion contributes to our cause?

Some “organizer” – following a failed strategy towards your own prediction of failure, while ignorantly lumping the people who represent the most consistent pattern of success with your despised “fundies”. We are your base. Or we would be, if it wasn’t so clear that Lenny Flank thinks we’re scum. If you want to succeed, you build on what works, you don’t try to jump ship and appropriate the demographic the other side has locked up.

Comment #66721

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:05 PM (e)

We are not out demanding that everyone follow our opinions about religion.

Riiiigggghhhhtttttttt.

That’s pretty funny, PZ.

Some “organizer” — following a failed strategy towards your own prediction of failure

Um, we won, PZ. Dover.

It was in all the newspapers.

Comment #66723

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:08 PM (e)

The scientific community is a bastion of freethought. It could be a leader, and it could set an example, and it does represent a path away from religious ignorance.

So your aim is to, uh, use science to stamp out religion …. ?

Okaaaaayyyyyyyyy.

Well, good luck with that. (shrug)

Comment #66724

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:11 PM (e)

At best, I am saying that a person’s religious affiliation does not have any bearing on their qualifications to discuss science,

Um, then why, again, do you keep attacking people for their religious affiliations …. . ?

Since theistic anti-IDers agree with you on science, and since you attack them anyway, I’m guessing that you attack them for some other reason than science.

Like, say, their religious affiliations.

Comment #66725

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

if it wasn’t so clear that Lenny Flank thinks we’re scum.

(sigh) If you say so, PZ.

I’m gratified to see that fundies aren’t the only ones with a massive martyr complex.

Comment #66726

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

Telling me that this is a nation of pig-ignorant putzes is another admission of failure, but don’t pin it on me. You’re the one advocating that we just keep on doing as we have been, fighting the symptoms of the problem in the courts and not at the root. My strategy hasn’t been tried, just yours. This is a country where the godless have been equated with communists for the past century–and attitudes like yours perpetuate the bias by treating “atheist” as a dirty word.

Take a look at Europe. There we have a thoroughly secular society, where religion is tolerated, but only held by a waning minority…and they look at our continual struggles with these dingbat creationists like we’re crazy. That’s the direction we should be taking.

Your assumption that atheists are planning to convert every Christian at gunpoint doesn’t help. It’s your failed assumptions, that an admirable minority should be disparaged because they are not the majority (no matter how wrong the majority’s opinions might be), that blocks progress.

Comment #66727

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:23 PM (e)

Telling me that this is a nation of pig-ignorant putzes is another admission of failure, but don’t pin it on me. You’re the one advocating that we just keep on doing as we have been, fighting the symptoms of the problem in the courts and not at the root. My strategy hasn’t been tried, just yours.

So we’d be a better nation if the 15% of the country who are atheists were running things, and if all the rest of us thought the same way you do (whether we like it or not), huh PZ.

How very democratic of you.

When I hear people talking like that, I reach for my gun.

Comment #66728

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:29 PM (e)

This is a country where the godless have been equated with communists for the past century—and attitudes like yours perpetuate the bias by treating “atheist” as a dirty word.

Let me repeat this for you again, PZ, and I’ll say it veeeeerrrryyyy sssslllooowwwwllllyyyy this time:

I do not assert the existence of any god, gods or goddesses.

None of them exist.

They were all, every one, without exception, invented by humans.

There are no holy texts. They were all, every one of them, without exception, written by humans.

Is that clear enough for you, or will I need to repeat it again in the near future.

(sigh)

BTW, PZ, I am a “commie”. I have an FBI file. So don’t whine to me about how repressed you are.

Comment #66729

Posted by steve s on January 1, 2006 1:37 PM (e)

Lenny, you seem to be arguing (I’m not sure, this thread is 67,000 words long) that atheists like PZ should not try to promote their beliefs. Is this correct?

Comment #66730

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:37 PM (e)

This is a country where the godless have been equated with communists for the past century—and attitudes like yours perpetuate the bias by treating “atheist” as a dirty word.

PZ, we are here fighting to keep IDers out of science classrooms. That fight isn’t about “atheism” or what people think of atheists.

Although I do recognize that you would like to turn it INTO one – just like the Maoists would have liked to turn my environmental fights into “smash the fascist state” ones.

That’s the thing about ideologues — they view EVERYTHING as, well, as an ideologue. (shrug)

Comment #66731

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 1:38 PM (e)

Um, we won, PZ. Dover.

We won a court case. That’s good. There will be more. Do you plan on just hoping we don’t lose one, ever? Let the public stew in ignorance and keep electing pols who will eventually appoint enough fundies to the bench, and then we’ll be sitting here with a legal precedent against us and public opinion against us? This is not a wise strategy.

So your aim is to, uh, use science to stamp out religion

And your aim is to continually misrepresent other people’s opinions? No, I’m not planning to stamp out religion. What I’d like to see is that people purportedly on my side stop poisoning people’s minds against freethought, and stop giving bad ideas a free ride because they bear the label of “religion”. I think reason can win in the long run and that religion can wither away to a neglected hobby if the alternatives are given free rein…by choice. No stamping necessary. Although it is useful for reactionaries to claim we’re out to do some stamping.

Um, then why, again, do you keep attacking people for their religious affiliations

This is another reactionary tool. Criticize a bogus idea, and the maintainers of the failed status quo come swarming out to make accusations of “attacks”.

If you look through the first few posts on this thread, you’ll see that the only “personal attacks” were on the status of Jesus as a moral exemplar. This was apparently enough to convince people that they were being attacked. Like I said before, what you are supporting are attempts to remove criticism of religion from the table because it alienates your preferred majority…and now to support that, you are reduced to implying that atheists are going to seek out individuals and beat ‘em up for their Christianity. As an “organizer”, I guess demagoguery is one of your favorite tools, huh?

Comment #66732

Posted by jim on January 1, 2006 1:39 PM (e)

PZ, RU, Norman, et al;

For all of your talk about supporting “Free Thought” ™ (Patent Pending) and being “marginalized”, you sure are doing a good imitation of those that you dislike.

To perhaps provide an opposite perspective, let’s turn this argument around.

Stalin was an atheist. He was a terrible person that killed, tortured, and otherwise abused millions of people. Therefore, anybody that believes in atheism must support what Stalin did. Furthermore atheists must not believe in capitalism, since Stalin was a Communist.

Do you see any logical fallacies in my statements? Can you use this analogy to find any similar fallacies in your own position?

You have found many “data points” that support your “belief” that Christianity and science are in conflict. However, as many have pointed out, this is what many fundamentalist Christians do. They never go out and try to find information contrary to their position and if they stumble upon some, they ignore it.

I have no problems with your “beliefs”. I deal with people of many faiths all the time (Pagan, Atheist, Hindu, Muslim, & Christian are the most common) and I RESPECT their faith (and do not criticize the practitioners for their faith). They obviously see something of value in it. When I deal with them and the time is appropriate I ask them questions about it so I can understand it better. This respect for different beliefs is what you lack.

Comment #66733

Posted by Registered User on January 1, 2006 1:43 PM (e)

Lenny: don’t bullshxt us.

The goal is not to have a minority of atheist elites leading the country.

The goal is to decrease the number of people who hold silly religious beliefs.

We discussed this above and you seemed to agree except you thought it an impossible goal.

The problem, as PZ points out, is that in some parts of the world the goal appears to have been achieved without resorting to fascism.

All you really need to do is keep explaining to religious people why their religious beliefs are silly and unnecessary and, indirectly, promote fundamentalism.

It’s no surprise that religious people HATE hearing people criticize their beliefs and tend to run for the cover of some “right to be free of criticism of my religious beliefs.”

But they are going to have to get used to it.

And so are you, Lenny, for the reasons I set forth upthread.

Comment #66734

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 1:47 PM (e)

So we’d be a better nation if the 15% of the country who are atheists were running things, and if all the rest of us thought the same way you do (whether we like it or not), huh PZ.

How very democratic of you.

When I hear people talking like that, I reach for my gun.

Are you, possibly, insane?

Where, in all of this long thread, have I ever advocated anything even close to that? Again, though, you demonstrate exactly what I have been saying: that you are attempting to demonize the people who disagree with you, imposing absolutely ludicrous interpretations of their words on them in order to pander to your frequently cited theistic majority.

And now you’re talking about reaching for a gun? Get help. But please, at least, stop trying to defend evolution – you’re not the kind of lunatic I want on my side.

Comment #66735

Posted by Registered User on January 1, 2006 1:48 PM (e)

jim

Do you see any logical fallacies in my statements? Can you use this analogy to find any similar fallacies in your own position?

Let me just say two words, jim: “Holy Bible.”

The issue is not whether anyone cares that some philosopher named Jesus walked around and said “Be nice to your neighbor.”

Understand?

It’s all the other crap.

Individual theists and theists are equally capable of insanity.

It’s inarguable, however, that theists are more susceptible to mass delusion.

Deal with it.

Comment #66736

Posted by Registered User on January 1, 2006 1:50 PM (e)

should be individual “atheists and theists” in my last post … sorry.

Comment #66737

Posted by jim on January 1, 2006 1:52 PM (e)

PZ,

On the education front, I haven’t studied it in detail so I can only offer guesses.

I think the actual results of any poll depend very heavily upon how the questions are worded. Even slight variations in the question might significantly alter the results. So before we decide there’s been no progress in the last 40 years, let’s decide how to best word the questions.

Furthermore, I think a very significant problem is the lack of understanding of what modern biology really says. When I was first introduced to it (I don’t even remember the grade), it made so much sense that I mentally said something like “of course, how could it be otherwise”.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a significant (but minority) percentage of people think that “evolution” means dogs turning into cats. I think the level of science education (as well as most other subjects) in this country is atrocious.

So introduce the concepts at a much younger age. For instance my 4th grader knows (and can explain) the basics already and I’ve explained it to my 1rst grader (though I’m not certain how well she understands it.

At one point we home schooled our kids (not for religious reasons, actually because of educational and social reasons). During that time, I explained several relatively advanced science and mathematical concepts 2-10 years before they’re normally introduced (set theory, evolution, etc.). My kids were able to grasp some level of these subjects quite well. When they encounter these topics in school, they find them very “easy” and often provide informal tutoring to their friends. I think that many topics (especially those that make intuitive sense) can similarly be introduced much earlier in school than they are.

Comment #66738

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:56 PM (e)

Lenny, you seem to be arguing (I’m not sure, this thread is 67,000 words long) that atheists like PZ should not try to promote their beliefs. Is this correct?

No, that is not correct. It is not even close.

What I have been arguing hasn’t changed from the very beginning. It’s very simple, and I’m happy to state it again:

This fight is about defending the science of evolution and preventing IDers from forcing their way into science classrooms.

To do that, we need allies.

Theistic anti-IDers are allies. They want to defend evolution and to prevent IDers from forcing their way into science classrooms.

That makes them “on our side”.

Treating them as if they were NOT “on our side” or as “enemies” is stupid.

Attacking them over things that haven’t a blooming thing to do with either defending science or preventing IDers from forcing their way into our classrooms (such as, say “I think your religion is silly”), is not only irrelevant, it doesn’t help us. It DOES hurt us.

If atheists want to declare their atheism to the entire world, I couldn’t care less. But when they attack theistic anti-IDers simply because they are not atheists (as happened to Mr Elliott), then they are allowing their own personal agendas to interfere with the anti-ID fight.

I have asked, repeatedly, for someone to explain to me what good we
accomplish by driving away anti-IDers who happen to be theists. What benefits do we gain from it. How does attacking people on our own side, help us. I haven’t gotten any answer yet.

If the atheists and theists would like to have their very own holy war over the matter, they are entirely welcome to do so. But the ID fight, is not that fight. And that fight doesn’t belong here.

I am not “anti-atheist”. As I have pointed out time again and again and again and again, I myself do not accept or assert the existence of any god, gods or goddesses.

My point is that this is simply not the place to fight that fight. If the anti-ID theists were to begin attacking PZ or anyone else simply because they don’t like his religious opinions, I would treat them exactly the same way as I am treating PZ. And for precisely the same reasons.

Comment #66739

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 1:58 PM (e)

This respect for different beliefs is what you lack.

EXACTLY! Very good, you’re almost there.

I tolerate other beliefs. I think it is perfectly reasonable for people to believe in Christianity, Islam, Asatru, whatever sky fairy they like. I’m not going to say Christians should be put in cages or not allowed to go to school or should be spat upon when they go out in public. I’m not even saying that only non-theists should hold public office, as a certain recent remarkably idiotic distortion asserted.

But I will not respect silly ideas.

Why should I? I reserve respect for ideas that have earned it.

This is a central problem right now, that many people believe that the only way to show toleration for certain ideas is to absolve them of all criticism – they want their religion up on a pedestal, and they want to be able to throw stones at people who dare to point out that it looks mighty damned ridiculous. They confuse the words “respect” and “tolerate”. That atheists are very good at tolerating religion (we get lots of practice) doesn’t matter – their disbelief is an intrinsic expression of disrespect.

I think theists also need lots of practice at getting along with atheists. Get used to some of us getting in your face – it’s the only way you’re ever going to learn.

Comment #66740

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 1:59 PM (e)

The goal is to decrease the number of people who hold silly religious beliefs.

Well, good luck with that. (shrug)

My goal is to prevent the theocrats from taking over. Sepcifically, my goal is to prevent them from using the power of the state to push their religious opinions onto the rest of us by lying to us and claiming those religious opinions are really “science”.

“Atheism” has nothing to do with that fight, nor does “decreasing the number of people who hold silly religious beliefs”.

You are of course entirely free to fight your fight if you like. Have at it, and enjoy yourself.

But if your fight starts getting in the way of my fight, I will get in your face very very quickly about it.

Comment #66741

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 1, 2006 2:08 PM (e)

It was interesting to hear all about the atheist agenda and how y’all plan to implement it. Good luck with that.

Alas, though, this blog isn’t here for that. It’s here to defend science against the IDers. So please don’t attempt to impose your own agenda onto the rest of us. Let’s just stick with defending science against the IDers.

Comment #66742

Posted by jim on January 1, 2006 2:09 PM (e)

RU,

I agree about the insanity bit and in fact that was my point. Religion has no monopoly on it.

I think your “inarguable” thing is wrong. After all we *are* arguing about it aren’t we?

I could even stipulate to much of your, PZ’s, and Norman’s arguments.

Do *some* religions make it easier to delude or brainwash people? Certainly.
Does the Bible contain *some* terrible stories? Certainly.
Is belief in a religion (at least partially) irrationally? Certainly.
Are *some* religions repressive? Certainly

However, a few of them I disagree with. For instance:
Are *all* religions repressive? No.
Do some terrible stories make the Bible a “bad” book? No.
Should the misbehavior of some religions/religious people condemn the rest? No.

Selecting certain (terrible) stories in the Bible and using them to condemn all of Christianity, would be like saying “because the US imprisioned Japanese American’s during WWII, all living US citizens are evil.”

I don’t think you’d make such logical errors if you were submitting a paper to a journal.

Comment #66743

Posted by Registered User on January 1, 2006 2:10 PM (e)

Well, good luck with that. (shrug)

Yeah, Lenny, I know: I’ll need it.

“Atheism” has nothing to do with that fight, nor does “decreasing the number of people who hold silly religious beliefs”.

Total bullshxt, Lenny.

But if your fight starts getting in the way of my fight, I will get in your face very very quickly about it.

If Carol Clouser can survive the onslaught, I think I can, too. ;)

For the record, Lenny, I appreciate your insights and read pretty much everything you post here.

Same with PZ.

This thread has been useful. Sort of a Panda’s Thumb “Festivus” celebration with the Airing of Grievances.

I think the next step is for Tim Sandefur to wrestle Nick Matske to the ground, or something like that.

Comment #66744

Posted by PZ Myers on January 1, 2006 2:18 PM (e)

I will get in your face very very quickly about it.

Yeah. With your gun.

That looks like a good place to end this over-long thread. If anyone wants to continue to get in my face about it, there is an open thread on Pharyngula.

Comment #66745

Posted by jim on January 1, 2006 2:20 PM (e)

PZ Myers wrote:

But I will not respect silly ideas.

And you know that their ideas are silly because you’ve studied and practiced each of these religions for decades so that you know all of their intricacies?

You’ve also read the minds of all of those people that don’t ascribe to any particular religion so that you know precisely what they think?

You are an astounding person to have mastered the knowledge of every religion currently in existence plus all of the personal private beliefs in one lifetime.

I submit that you BELIEVE that these ideas are silly.

Oh wait, isn’t this what you are condemning the religious folks of?

Don’t get me wrong, you’re welcome to believe as you wish, just make sure you acknowledge it for what it is.

Comment #66746

Posted by steve s on January 1, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

This is a book-length thread, but here’s the latest as I understand it:

Lenny says theism and ID aren’t linked, so atheists should not promote atheism in the same place they fight ID, since it would alienate some allies. PZ says theism and ID are linked, and that fighting theism is integral to the fight against ID.

I have to side with PZ on this. It’s a much bigger and harder fight, but that’s life.

I think essays about this central question would make some excellent PT posts.