Burt Humburg posted Entry 1751 on December 8, 2005 10:50 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1746

A week or so ago, I was interviewed by Sarah Smarsh, a writer for a Lawrence, KS-based alternative newspaper. She was looking for people who could comment on the interactions between science and religion, or more specifically how one could be a Christian and also understand evolution.

You can read the article
on the web now and I think she did a pretty good job.*

BCH

*For the record, the churches I grew up in did not teach that the world was flat. True flat-earth creationists are vanishingly rare these days, creationists having found a way to overcome the flat earth beliefs that a true literalism would demand.

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Comment #62059

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 8, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

After Mirecki’s beating, do you have any second thoughts about consenting to have your photo run with this article?

Comment #62062

Posted by BWE on December 8, 2005 11:43 AM (e)

The main point that it is a political movement is prescient. Dembski is going to debate a rabbi or two and they, well, here’s the article and some excerpts: http://www.beaconnewspaper.com/media/paper540/news/2005/12/08/News/Controversy.Expected.At.Intelligent.Design.Debate-1123702.shtml?norewrite&sourcedomain=www.beaconnewspaper.com" rel="external nofollow">Controversy expected at intelligent design debate

William A. Dembski, a professor of science and theology at Southern Theological Seminary and considered the most eloquent advocate of intelligent design, along with Orthodox Jewish thinkers including Rabbi Moshe D. Tendler, a noted ethicist and biology professor at Yeshiva University in New York, Herman Branover of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar of The Shul in Surfside and Eduardo Zeigler, professor of biology at UCLA will discuss, “How Should We Teach the Origin and Diversity of Species?”

Some students, like Frank Gomez, said that intelligent design and religions are two separate spheres.

“Intelligent design, in my opinion, is inclusive of pretty much all religions, meaning that it does not promote the establishment of a religion, which is what the Constitution defines as separation of the church and state,” said Gomez, who is majoring in broadcast journalism. “There are no constitutional or scientific grounds to keep intelligent design out of schools.”

Also, for a little fun type “Dembski” and run the spell checker.

Comment #62066

Posted by B. Spitzer on December 8, 2005 12:05 PM (e)

That is a good article. It seems as though, while the press first comes out reporting only the shouting extremists on both sides, eventually the dust settles a bit and more moderate views get reported.

By the way, Burt: thanks for the good work you’re doing. Keep it up!

–B

Comment #62071

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 8, 2005 12:21 PM (e)

Here’s some fixed links for the Dembski-rabbit debate:
Controversy expected at intelligent design debate
Science and Torah: Conflict or Complement?

William A. Dembski … considered the most eloquent advocate of intelligent design

Laugh, or cry?

Comment #62086

Posted by RBH on December 8, 2005 1:03 PM (e)

For people posting long URLs, please consider two alternatives:

1. Use KwickXML. The syntax is:
[url href=”URL HERE”]your short text here[/url], replacing the square brackets with angle brackets.

For example, place your cursor over the following and look down at the bottom of your browser: this thread.

2. Use http://tinyurl.com/

Thanks!
RBH

Comment #62092

Posted by BWE on December 8, 2005 1:46 PM (e)

Sorry. That did some wierd stuff. I won’t do it again.

Laugh. If he’s the best they got…

Comment #62109

Posted by Michael Hopkins on December 8, 2005 3:01 PM (e)

“These major religions today that are very popular in the U.S. are based on an ancient, pre-scientific worldview where people express their ideas using impressionistic images, parables, poetic language,” says Mirecki, who likens the current hoopla over evolution to 17th-century Catholic resistance of Galileo’s findings. The church refused to accept his theory that the Earth was round and not the center of the universe.

The Catholic church accepted that the Earth was a sphere for about a thousand years before Galileo though they did think it was in the center of the universe. Indeed, educated people in Galileo’s time know that the Earth was a sphere. The premise that prior to Columbus that people (excepting the uneducated) thought the Earth was flat is an invention of 19th Century textbooks. I might also point out that first trip around the world (by Ferdinand Magellan’s crew) was before Galileo was even born. And even before Magellan’s journey, the pope divided the sphere of the Earth between Spain and Portugal.

Comment #62111

Posted by WatchfulBabbler on December 8, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

After Mirecki’s beating, do you have any second thoughts about consenting to have your photo run with this article?

Hell, I think that photo would discourage any yahoos from coming around. Bullies aren’t going to be too quick to take on a former All-American.

Comment #62116

Posted by AC on December 8, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

Frank Gomez, broadcast journalism major:

“Intelligent design, in my opinion, is inclusive of pretty much all religions, meaning that it does not promote the establishment of a religion, which is what the Constitution defines as separation of the church and state. There are no constitutional or scientific grounds to keep intelligent design out of schools.”

The Constitution of the United States of America:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I need say no more. Pitiful.

Comment #62120

Posted by fearless leader on December 8, 2005 3:53 PM (e)

Yeah, not to beat around the point, but the troubles Galileo had with the church revolved more around being an outspoken critic on a lot of matters, rather than around what the earth revolved around….which is entirely more clear in my head than what I just wrote. The church has published a few things on the matter in recent years which are kinda interesting to read. If you’ll allow: the documents basically serve to apologize for losing their temper with him, but also pretty much say, “he was so obnoxious, we didn’t really have any choice.” It kinda reminds me of something along the lines of what a big brother might say when forced to tell his parent how the little brother ended up being stuffed into one of the trash cans outside.

PS, the article WAS very nicely done, seemed fair and balanced and reasonable and all of that.

Which is precisely why I doubt it will persuade a single fundamentalist.

I do think more needs to be written on why fundamentalists reject certain aspects of modernism the way that they do, and on why some science and technology (but not really fancy computer controlled audiovisual systems in their megachurchs, complete with satellite broadcast) is among their targets.

Comment #62126

Posted by Corkscrew on December 8, 2005 4:20 PM (e)

A lot of people think science is the bee’s knees, but only if it can be harnessed to their chariot. You see the same thing all over. The point at which they realise that they can’t control the path of progress is generally the point at which they start whining like a baby that’s dropped its candy. I’m mostly aware of this in a more technological context, but I imagine it’s equally true in science. Normally step 3 is to try to litigate said technology out of existence, the difference being that Science makes enough money for US corporations to be able to fight back and win.

Comment #62130

Posted by Mark Perakh on December 8, 2005 4:39 PM (e)

The primary mover behind the conference in Miami, where Dembski will debate several rabbis and Jewish professors on intelligent design, is the organization named Shamir whose head is professor Herman Branover. I know him personally for over 30 years. He is a Lubawitcher Hassid, that is a follower of Lubawitcher Rebbe. I overheard him once saying that the late seventh Lubawitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneersohn was a great scientist, an authority on all branches of science. Perhaps one example can illustrate what kind of a scientist the Rebbe was. Branover co-edited a collection of the Rebbe’s pronouncements on all kinds of topics. Once the Rebbe was told that a certain rabbi was suffering from toothache. The Rebbe provided an advice as to how to cure it. According to the great scientist, the rabbi in question should simply check if the “tzitzit” on his undershirt met the prescription of the Halakha (“tzitzit” is kind of fringes the orthodox Jews are required to have at the bottoms of their undershirts. Halakha is the set of rules prescribing how orthodox Jews must behave). If “tzitzit” meet the prescription, the toothache will be gone. (See pages 364-365 in “Mind over Matter,” published by Shamir, 2003, edited by H. Branover and Joseph Ginsburg). It is easy to foresee the level of debate at the conference in Miami where Dembski will certainly fit in very well with other great scientists of the same caliber as the late Rebbe. (Some of them are in favor of ID, some against it). At least Dembski can be confident that if he will suffer from a toothache in Miami, the cure will be readily available.

Comment #62132

Posted by Dean Morrison on December 8, 2005 4:56 PM (e)

Actually I think that at the time of Gallileo the everyone, or even all ‘educated people’ accepted that the world was a sphere, is just as much of a factoid, as the idea that Columbus proved that it wasn’t flat.
The people who pull this one out often seem to be American fundies, who want to re-write history to cover up an embarresing mistake. The Greeks of course, had worked out not only that it was a sphere, but it’s approximate dimensions. Christians opposed the idea that the earth was a sphere because it didn’t agree with the bible and it wasn’t until the Arabs re-introduced the Greek Science to Europe that the idea of a spherical earth was re-considered.
For a more detailed analysis go to wikipedia:

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

Comment #62135

Posted by Mike Walker on December 8, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

Just came across this T-shirt design for sale:

http://www.demockratees.com/kansas.htm

Seemed appropriate for the issue under discussion…

Comment #62136

Posted by Norman Doering on December 8, 2005 5:25 PM (e)

The people who pull this one out often seem to be American fundies, who want to re-write history to cover up an embarresing mistake.

Well, I heard Martin Luther believed in a flat Earth based on buy-bull passages. But I don’t think the Catholics who debated Galileo did. There is always a vast mix of beliefs inside any one individual and you can’t easily characterize all beliefs of a group, much less an individual, based on one example of a belief.

Comment #62138

Posted by steve s on December 8, 2005 5:41 PM (e)

So you methodolegistical naturists think the earth is round, eh, with your fancy “science”?

Think again.

http://www.fixedearth.com/

Comment #62139

Posted by yellow fatty bean on December 8, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

steve s wrote:

So you methodolegistical naturists think the earth is round, eh, with your fancy “science”?

Think again.

http://www.fixedearth.com/

Number of legit results from “fixed earth” cranks = number of legit results from ID cranks.

Teach the Controversy.

Comment #62140

Posted by H. Humbert on December 8, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

One error in the article.

She writes: “Yet two-thirds of respondents to a recent Lawrence Journal-World poll reported believing in evolution theory and God.”

Yet that isn’t what the poll asked. It asked “In your opinion, is it possible to believe in both God and Evolution?” [bolded mine]

A slight but important distinction. There may be a number of respondents who believe it is possible to believe in both, yet don’t personally believe in either one or the other or either.

For instance, while I would have answered that poll question in the affirmative, I myself am an atheist.

Comment #62141

Posted by Mike Walker on December 8, 2005 6:01 PM (e)

eteve s wrote:

So you methodolegistical naturists think the earth is round, eh, with your fancy “science”?

Think again.

http://www.fixedearth.com/

That’s what happens when you decide to use a big tent. You end up letting all sorts of riffraff in.

Comment #62143

Posted by Nat Whilk on December 8, 2005 6:24 PM (e)

Dean Morrison writes: “Actually I think that at the time of Gallileo the everyone, or even all ‘educated people’ accepted that the world was a sphere, is … a factoid… For a more detailed analysis go to wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_earth

Okay, I went there for a more detailed analysis and read: “From a European perspective, Portuguese exploration of Africa and Asia in the 15th century removed any serious doubts, and Ferdinand Magellan and Francis Drake’s circumnavigations any remaining ones.” Magellan’s fleet’s circumnavigation was completed in 1522; Drake’s in 1580. Galileo entered the University of Pisa as a teenager in 1581 to study medicine. So, why again is it only a factoid?

Comment #62153

Posted by snaxalotl on December 8, 2005 7:26 PM (e)

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/ce/2/

Comment #62154

Posted by carol clouser on December 8, 2005 7:27 PM (e)

Mark,

You didn’t finish the story. Did the toothache go away?

The late rebbes followers not only thought of him as a great scientist (he was educated as an engineer at the universities of Moscow, Berlin and the Sorbonne) they also believed he performed miracles. Did it work in this case?

Comment #62155

Posted by Dean Morrison on December 8, 2005 7:37 PM (e)

You are quite right Nat Whilk. I made the mistake of relying on my confused memory, and conflated the voyages of discovery with Gallieo for reasons known only to workings of my subconscious.
I should have made the point without dragging poor Gallileo into it.
The substantive point is the same - the Christian Fundies of the time were the ones who were prevented from using the same evidence and intelligence that was available to the Greeks from coming to the correct conclusion about the world: and this because of their literalist interpretation of the Bible.
If nothing else this shows that there is more than one, in fact there are many, ‘literal’ interpretations of the bible. Every time a new one is ‘created’ a new Christian sect springs up. The more successful of these make lots of money, and spread, until, in turn new varients of these arise. Some die out of course, especially through competition with other ‘kinds’.
Remind you of anything?

Comment #62156

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 8, 2005 7:39 PM (e)

Oh, Carol, don’t let him steal your heart away!

Um, by the way, didn’t you leave several unanswered questions and evaded points on another thread here?

(You know how us knitters hate to see a stitch get dropped.)

I’m reminding you because I’m sure you’ve just overlooked these, not because I think you’re an intellectual chicken. (Hey, you’d be surprised, there’s some pretty brainy chickens in the world…) I’m sure that, now that the matter’s been brought to your attention, you’ll hustle right back over there and deal!

Comment #62159

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on December 8, 2005 7:52 PM (e)

After Mirecki’s beating, do you have any second thoughts about consenting to have your photo run with this article?

I have a 38oz Louiville Slugger on the back seat for that purpose.

I can loan it out for a short time.

Comment #62161

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 8, 2005 8:01 PM (e)

So you methodolegistical naturists think the earth is round, eh, with your fancy “science”?

Think again.

http://www.fixedearth.com/

That’s what happens when you decide to use a big tent. You end up letting all sorts of riffraff in.

About six years ago, I joined, using a fake name, a creationist-only email list run by a guy named Stephen Jones, and pretended to be an ultra-Biblical-literalist geocentrist who thought creationists were compromising with Satan by accepting Copernicism (Copernicus was, after all, the first guy who tried to use satanic “science” to show the Bible was wrong about something). In addition to Bible verses, I also cut-and-pasted bits and pieces from the fixedearth website, as well as from geocentricity.com and the Catholic International Apologetics website (complete with reward offer to anyone who can demonstrate that the earth revolves around the sun – see: http://www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/articles/science/geochallenge.htm).

I found it crashingly amusing (and extremely illuminating) that NONE of the creationist list members could offer any valid scientific explanation as to why any of my regurgiquoted geocentric arguments were wrong — but EVERY ONE OF THEM wanted to argue with me endlessly over “what the Biblical verses really meant”.

Comment #62172

Posted by k.e. on December 8, 2005 11:25 PM (e)

Lenny that wasn’t that lost (biblical) tribe they kept talking about on (I’m showing my age here) on the old TV show F Troop.

Comment #62173

Posted by k.e. on December 8, 2005 11:35 PM (e)

I seem to recall they were called the “lost post modern objectivists led by nihilistic literal obscurantists”.
The WHERE THE F*** ARE WE Tribe.

Comment #62174

Posted by Jim Harrison on December 8, 2005 11:38 PM (e)

You have to look very, very hard to find any educated person who didn’t know that the world was round long before Columbus. Greek astronomy is based on a spherical earth and that’s what they taught you at school. Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, tne Neoplatonics, Augustine, Aquinas, and the rest of the theologians and philosophers from Socrates onward argued for a round earth and poets like Dante described the world that way, too. The flat earth business really is a canard.

Comment #62175

Posted by DJ on December 8, 2005 11:42 PM (e)

Mark Perakh wrote:

“If “tzitzit” meet the prescription, the toothache will be gone.”

That’s hilarious.

I think whoever drinks the most Kaballah water at the debate will have the strongest argument.

Comment #62176

Posted by John M on December 9, 2005 12:28 AM (e)

A round earth was known in the medieval Arab world as well

Comment #62183

Posted by Mike Walker on December 9, 2005 2:26 AM (e)

I know we’re all having a good laugh at the goofy things these creationists keep thinking up, but the underlying reason of all this kookiness is something that’s increasingly concerning to me and, no doubt to all of you.

The bedrock upon which these idiocies is based is one thing… biblical literalism.

While it’s a good giggle to read about geocenterism, fossilized hammers, human and dinosaur footprints, inflationary Earth theories (I have a fundie expert in that one living just down the street from me!), and so on, it’s alarming to me that all these plainly idiotic ideas have become so popular simply because these people can’t get past the idea that the bible is inerrant.

Without support from the biblical fundamentalists, intelligent design would be no more than a fringe pseudoscience about as popular and believed as the artificial Moon theory that, sadly, a pair of fellow Brits were peddling on the radio last night. I fear that defeating ID will simply be lopping off one head of the multi-headed fundamentalist hydra.

But then what can we do? It’s not easy to have a rational argument with someone who always ends up saying “well, the Bible says…”, or at the very best “I don’t know but I trust that God does”. And these beliefs are deeply deeply engrained. They’ve been told for years that if you start to doubt the Bible then you will no longer know if anything is true. They have come to fear and mistrust anything that might possibly undermine their faith and threaten all they thought they knew.

I suppose the only way to get through to such people is to persuade them that their faith need not be held captive by the shackles of biblical literalism, that in some way their faith will only benefit if they accept that the bible doesn’t literally have all the answers about everything. Perhaps some can also be convinced that lying for Jesus is plain wrong, no matter what type of Christianity they subscribe to.

But the indoctrination and fear run deep. Simplistic absolutist ideas of right and wrong, truth and lies, good and evil are very attractive to many people, and that’s what the fundamentalists are selling. I suspect that deep down many of them know that the world doesn’t really work that way, but it’s still easier to stick your hands in your ears, go la-la-la and hope those disturbing thoughts and doubts will go away.

Comment #62184

Posted by Mike Walker on December 9, 2005 2:32 AM (e)

BTW: I recently came across a weblog community that’s been keeping an eye on the rise of right-wing religious fundamentism in this country, with special focus on the dominionist crowd - you know, the ones who would make Old Testament law, federal law (no joke). Obviously the issue of ID crops up from time to time:

http://www.talk2action.org/

Comment #62185

Posted by k.e. on December 9, 2005 2:56 AM (e)

Mike take a look at this
Discussion about orallity and literacy.

How’s this
Do a Christmas TV Fundy Tribute.
Get Moragn Freeman to read Yeats “The second coming” from “A Vision” while images are flashed up on the screen of every war since Yeats wrote that in 1919. And then flash through a re-enacted Dover trial with just the Fundy liars doing the lying bits.

Click on “The second coming” link a little way down
http://www.yeatsvision.com/

Then look up

Social Construction of Reality

Comment #62186

Posted by k.e. on December 9, 2005 3:07 AM (e)

Objectivist thinkers may find this useful
a part recent historical tour of post modern humanities which have gone *way* off the rails.

That is to say the pomo Humanities Bubble where.

no knowledge claims of the objectivist kind can be found, there is no true knowledge and rival knowledge claims are incommensurable”

Social Construction of Reality.

Comment #62188

Posted by Dean Morrison on December 9, 2005 5:20 AM (e)

Jim Harrison and John M,

do you understand the difference between ‘round’ and ‘spherical’
Terry Pratchetts Discworld is ‘Round’, but not ‘Spherical’

Jim Harrison wrote:

You have to look very, very hard to find any educated person who didn’t know that the world was round long before Columbus. Greek astronomy is based on a spherical earth and that’s what they taught you at school. Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, tne Neoplatonics, Augustine, Aquinas, and the rest of the theologians and philosophers from Socrates onward argued for a round earth and poets like Dante described the world that way, too. The flat earth business really is a canard.

Lumping Greek philosophers with ‘theologians’ to show that everyone shared the same world view is an interesting way over covering tracks. The Greeks may have ‘taught that the earth was spherical’. Unless you can unearth a very early edition of ‘Pandas and People’ that says that the earth was spherical I don’t think that your assertion that the medievil church will stand up - incidentally if you do, please send a copy to Barbara Forrest, Im sure she’d be interested. If you equate ‘educated’ with ‘right about the shape of the earth’, then one thing that you have that is circular is your argument. The fact that for a long period of time the Christian church was busy ‘educating’ people in the other direction seems to have escaped you. It took Islam to re-discover Greek Science and learning to rescue the situation. The fact that these had practical application in the field of navigation was introduced to Europe at the time of the Islamic conquest of Spain: this contributed to the ‘Voyages of Discovery’.
Unfortunately perhaps Spain was re-conquered by the Christians, which led to the unfortunate consequence that the Americas were colonised by a new breed of genocidal fundamentalists.
As for poor old Dante - he his most famous work included nine circles of hell under Jerusalem - I don’t think his cosmology has been entirely substantiated - and he was hardly a typical thinker of his time - he had his own run-ins with the pope and was exiled and condemded to death.

Comment #62192

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 9, 2005 8:03 AM (e)

BTW: I recently came across a weblog community that’s been keeping an eye on the rise of right-wing religious fundamentism in this country, with special focus on the dominionist crowd - you know, the ones who would make Old Testament law, federal law (no joke). Obviously the issue of ID crops up from time to time:

It should crop up more often than “time to time”, since the Reconstructionist/Dominionists have always been involved with ID/creationists and vice versa:

The most militant of the Ayatollah-wanna-be’s are the members of the “Reconstructionist” movement. The Reconstructionists were founded by Rouas J. Rushdoony, a militant fundamentalist who was instrumental in getting Henry Morris’s book The Genesis Flood published in 1961. According to Rushdoony’s view, the United States should be directly transformed into a theocracy in which the fundamentalists would rule directly according to the will of God. “There can be no separation of Church and State,” Rushdoony declares. (cited in Marty and Appleby 1991, p. 51) “Christians,” a Reconstructionist pamphlet declares, “are called upon by God to exercise dominion.” (cited in Marty and Appleby 1991, p. 50) The Reconstructionists propose doing away with the US Constitution and laws, and instead ruling directly according to the laws of God as set out in the Bible—they advocate a return to judicial punishment for religious crimes such as blasphemy or violating the Sabbath, as well as a return to such Biblically-approved punishments as stoning.

According to Rushdoony, the Second Coming of Christ can only happen after the “Godly” have taken over the earth and constructed the Kingdom of Heaven here: “The dominion that Adam first received and then lost by his Fall will be restored to redeemed Man. God’s People will then have a long reign over the entire earth, after which, when all enemies have been put under Christ’s feet, the end shall come.” (cited in Diamond, 1989, p. 139) “Christian Reconstructionism,” another pamphlet says, “is a call to the Church to awaken to its Biblical responsibility to subdue the earth for the glory of God … Christian Reconstructionism therefore looks for and works for the rebuilding of the institutions of society according to a Biblical blueprint.” (cited in Diamond 1989, p. 136) In the Reconstructionist view, evolution is one of the “enemies” which must be “put under Christ’s feet” if the godly are to subdue the earth for the glory of God.

In effect, the Reconstructionists are the “Christian” equivilent of the Taliban.

While some members of both the fundamentalist and creationist movements view the Reconstructionists as somewhat kooky, many of them have had nice things to say about Rushdoony and his followers. ICR has had close ties with Reconstructionists. Rushdoony was one of the financial backers for Henry Morris’s first book, “The Genesis Flood”, and Morris’s son John was a co-signer of several documents produced by the Coalition On Revival, a reconstructionist coalition founded in 1984. ICR star debater Duane Gish was a member of COR’s Steering Committee, as was Richard Bliss, who served as ICR’s “curriculum director” until his death. Gish and Bliss were both co-signers of the COR documents “A Manifesto for the Christian Church” (COR, July 1986), and the “Forty-Two Articles of the Essentials of a Christian Worldview” (COR,1989), which declares, “We affirm that the laws of man must be based upon the laws of God. We deny that the laws of man have any inherent authority of their own or that their ultimate authority is rightly derived from or created by man.” (“Forty-Two Essentials, 1989, p. 8).

The Discovery Institute, the chief cheerleader for “intelligent design theory”, is particularly cozy with the Reconstructionists. The single biggest source of money for the Discovery Institute is Howard Ahmanson, a California savings-and-loan bigwig. Ahmanson’s gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting “intelligent design theory” (other branches of Discovery Institute are focused on areas like urban transportation, Social Security “reform”, and (anti) environmentalist organizing).

Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist who was long associated with Rushdooney, and who sat with him on the board of directors of the Chalcedon Foundation – a major Reconstructionist think-tank – for over 20 years, and donated over $700,000 to the Reconstructionists. Just as Rushdooney was a prime moving force behind Morris’s first book, “The Genesis Flood”, intelligent design “theorist” Phillip Johnson dedicated his book “Defeating Darwinism” to “Howard and Roberta” – Ahmanson and his wife. Ahmanson was quoted in newspaper accounts as saying, “My purpose is total integration of Biblical law into our lives.”

Ahmanson has given several million dollars over the past few years to anti-evolution groups (including Discovery Institute), as well as anti-gay groups, “Christian” political candidates, and funding efforts to split the Episcopalian Church over its willingness to ordain gay ministers and to other groups which oppose the minimum wage. He was also a major funder of the recent “recall” effort in California which led to the election of Terminator Arnie. Ahmanson is also a major funder of the effort for computerized voting, and he and several other prominent Reconstructionists have close ties with Diebold, the company that manufactures the computerized voting machines used. There has been some criticism of Diebold because it refuses to make the source code of its voting machine software available for scrutiny, and its software does not allow anyone to track voting after it is done (no way to confirm accuracy of the machine).

Some of Ahmanson’s donations are channeled through the Fieldstead Foundation, which is a subspecies of the Ahmanson foundation “Fieldstead” is Ahmanson’s middle name). The Fieldstead Foundation funds many of the travelling and speaking expenses of the DI’s shining stars.

Ahmanson’s gift of $1.5 million was the original seed money to organize the Center for Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute which focuses on promoting “intelligent design theory”. By his own reckoning, Ahmanson gives more of his money to the DI than to any other poilitically active group – only a museum trust in his wife’s hometown in Iowa and a Bible college in New Jersey get more. In 2004, he reportedly gave the Center another $2.8 million. He sits on the Board Directors of Discovery Institute.

Since then, as his views have become more widely known, Ahmanson has tried to backpeddle and present a kinder, gentler image of himself. However, his views are still so extremist that politicians have returned campaign contributions from Ahmanson once they learned who he was.

So it’s no wonder that the Discovery Institute is reluctant to talk about the funding source for its Intelligent Design campaign. Apparently, they are not very anxious to have the public know that most of its money comes from just one whacko billionnaire who has long advocated a political program that is very similar to that of the Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

Comment #62206

Posted by John Farrell on December 9, 2005 9:50 AM (e)

Rev, this is great stuff. Are there articles out there on the Web you can reference about this funding source for Discovery? Everyone should know about this.

Comment #62207

Posted by yellow fatty bean on December 9, 2005 10:00 AM (e)

If the reconstructionist kooks take over, are they going to outlaw
shellfish ?

Comment #62211

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 9, 2005 11:01 AM (e)

Slightly off-topic, David Heddle has predictably jumped on the Mirecki-faked-it bandwagon:

http://helives.blogspot.com/

Comment #62212

Posted by Mark Perakh on December 9, 2005 11:09 AM (e)

In comment 62154 Carol Clouser wrote (in a reference to my comment 62130):

Mark,

You didn’t finish the story. Did the toothache go away?

Unfortunately they did not say.

Btw, the bios of the Rebbe both in the Challenge anthology (edited by Domb and Carmell)and in the Mind Over Matter collection of Rebbe’s utterances mention that he “studied” in Berlin and in France, but do not mention Moscow, and are silent regarding whether or not he completed the studies. (My detailed review of the Rebbe’s own article about science can be seen at Talk Reason).

Comment #62218

Posted by steve s on December 9, 2005 11:41 AM (e)

Comment #62211

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 9, 2005 11:01 AM (e) (s)

Slightly off-topic, David Heddle has predictably jumped on the Mirecki-faked-it bandwagon:

http://helives.blogspot.com/

Not quite faked, but exaggerated. In any case, it’s just another religious person trying to spin a story of indefensible religious violence. Akin to muslims who say, “bin Laden was wrong, but America never should have…”

Comment #62220

Posted by k.e. on December 9, 2005 11:43 AM (e)

Hmmmmmm AC

Heddle one of the band of Impostures Intellectuelles

What further proof do we need that the Religious Fundamenatlist’s /Identity Politics “one true social reality” Ayatollahs/ Nazi’s/North Korean Leaders/Stalin were and are complete crackpots

And further proof that fairness to them and their saints is the Devils work.

If Heddle does have the hide to come back here this should be a reminder that the Post Modernists claim to a fair hearing and context removed relativism may require evolution
Read the last line of this for our own survival.

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/nagel.html

Comment #62221

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 9, 2005 11:49 AM (e)

Not quite faked, but exaggerated. In any case, it’s just another religious person trying to spin a story of indefensible religious violence. Akin to muslims who say, “bin Laden was wrong, but America never should have…”

It reminds me a lot of those Antisemites who deny the Holocaust, but who follow this with statements about how even tho the holocaust never happened, the Jews would have thoroughly deserved it if they did.

Plus it’s interesting that it only seems to be right wing christian websites that are making this claim about Mirecki. Hopefully the matter will be cleared up in not too long.

Comment #62225

Posted by BWE on December 9, 2005 12:07 PM (e)

Here are the questions for carol:

Carol,
So, my questions are,
1. What is your background?
2. How are ID experiments designed?
3. Do you think that ID is valid science with evidence that seems to hold up under scrutiny?

I am perfectly willing to be wrong if that is what you are telling me. I do not have a phD, nor am I an expert on anything other than various rockfish above 40 fathoms off the pacific Northwest. (Well, I know quite a bit about trawling).

So, I am unclear on where we stand and whether this is a debate, an argument or whether we both think roughly the same things and I am too dense to understand. (My wife would no doubt opt for the third category)

ANd Lenny, Wow. Where did you get that stuff? Sounds like a character worth knowing more about.
I found this:
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/01/06/ahmanson/
and a bunch of other stuff too but you have a well somewhere that taps more water than I could find.

Comment #62235

Posted by KeithB on December 9, 2005 12:30 PM (e)

I don’t know whether Mirecki faked it or not, but there was a California professor who trashed her own car and claimed anti-semites did it. Too bad for her, some folks saw her doing it..

I think we should just sit back a bit for the dust to clear.

Comment #62244

Posted by carol clouser on December 9, 2005 1:26 PM (e)

Well, BWE, if you are really losing sleep over it, and now that you rephrased things in a more respectful tone, here are your answers:

(1) BA, Physics, Hunter College, 1973

MA, Physics, Hunter College, 1975

PhD, Physics, NYU, 1981

EdD, Science Education, NYU, 1983

MA, Philosophy, BC, 1985

(2) My understanding of ID is that it is not based on any new experiments but on probability considerations pertaining to phenomena labeled “irreducibly complex” and such, that purportedly reveal the handiwork of an intelligent designer.

(3) I think ID makes some intriguing arguments that are not based on the scientific method. That per se does not, in my view, mean that said arguments have no merit. I personally am not persuaded by the arguments, but I do think a solid case can be rationally made that the entire universe, including biological phenomena, must have been purposefully created, designed and set in motion by an agent or “first cause” that is not subject to the rules of the universe.

Comment #62250

Posted by carol clouser on December 9, 2005 1:49 PM (e)

Mark,

Thanks for the info.

I had met and corresponded with the “rebbe” many times over the years, and have two long letters from him pertaining to his advocacy of YEC. He was adament that science provides no real “proof” as to the multibillion year age of the earth, and considering that his standard of “proof” was sufficiently high to make the statement correct, I could not get him to budge on that issue. But I found him to be incredibly knowledgeable and a true genius. His Torah talks speak volumes about his sheer brain power and imagination, his fluency in 7 langauages (that I know about) attest to his incredible memory, and he had a solid base of knowledge in many branches of science and mathematics. And his works on behalf of his people all over the world are well known. I wonder what he could have achieved had he not been so occupied with religious affairs. In my humble opinion he had the mind of a Newton or Einstein.

Comment #62256

Posted by Mike Walker on December 9, 2005 2:19 PM (e)

Thanks for the links k.e. They look pretty technical so I’m going to have to be in the right frame of mind before reading them thoroughly.

For those who are interested, there is a lot of stuff on Rushdooney and other Reconstructionalists/Dominionists on that Talk 2 Action website I linked earlier (http://www.talk2action.org/). There was a series of posts on the history of the movement a week or two ago. One word of warning for the more strident of people here - they’re not quite as relaxed about the language appearing in posts or comments over there :-)

From what I understand there are two types of Reco/Doms. There are those that say that a reconstructed America will only come about after the vast majority of people willingly accept the premise of a Biblical worldview. But there are those who argue that it will only come about if they actively fight for the reins of power and impose their will on the people. Obviously it’s this second bunch which is most politically active and most dangerous, and it appears they are not above getting down and dirty with the rest of the politicians in the process.

As others have said, they really are the Taliban of the Christian faith, differing perhaps only in the number of crimes/sins that are punishable by death.

Here are a couple of those posts:

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2005/11/25/161632/98

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2005/11/26/01436/229

From the second post, here is the blueprint for a Dominionist America:

1) Make the ten commandments the law of the land, 2) Strengthen patriarchically ordered families, 3) Close public schools - make parents totally responsible for the education of their children, 4) Reduce the role of government to the defense of property rights, 5) Require “tithes” to ecclesiastical agencies to provide welfare services, 6) Close prisons - re-institute slavery as a form of punishment and require capital punishment for all of ancient Israel’s capital offenses - including apostasy, blasphemy, incorrigibility in children, murder, rape, Sabbath breaking, sodomy, and witchcraft.

Yes, incorrigible children can be put to death. (But only if the parents agree, of course, so that makes it acceptable… right?)

Comment #62267

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 9, 2005 2:57 PM (e)

Dr. Perakh noted:

The primary mover behind the conference in Miami, where Dembski will debate several rabbis and Jewish professors on intelligent design, is the organization named Shamir whose head is professor Herman Branover. I know him personally for over 30 years. He is a Lubawitcher Hassid, that is a follower of Lubawitcher Rebbe. I overheard him once saying that the late seventh Lubawitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneersohn was a great scientist, an authority on all branches of science. Perhaps one example can illustrate what kind of a scientist the Rebbe was. Branover co-edited a collection of the Rebbe’s pronouncements on all kinds of topics. Once the Rebbe was told that a certain rabbi was suffering from toothache. The Rebbe provided an advice as to how to cure it. According to the great scientist, the rabbi in question should simply check if the “tzitzit” on his undershirt met the prescription of the Halakha (”tzitzit” is kind of fringes the orthodox Jews are required to have at the bottoms of their undershirts. Halakha is the set of rules prescribing how orthodox Jews must behave). If “tzitzit” meet the prescription, the toothache will be gone. (See pages 364-365 in “Mind over Matter,” published by Shamir, 2003, edited by H. Branover and Joseph Ginsburg). It is easy to foresee the level of debate at the conference in Miami where Dembski will certainly fit in very well with other great scientists of the same caliber as the late Rebbe. (Some of them are in favor of ID, some against it). At least Dembski can be confident that if he will suffer from a toothache in Miami, the cure will be readily available.

So, perhaps Dr. Dembski should worry that some significant portion of the audience will have the proper tzitzit.

Or does that only work for pains above the waist?

Comment #62274

Posted by Mark Perakh on December 9, 2005 3:33 PM (e)

In comment 62250 Carol Clouser asserts that the late Lubawitcher Rebbe was a genius with the mind of Newton and Einstein. Rather than arguing against her opinion, I again may suggest to look up my article at Talk Reason where an article by the Rebbe has been quoted and discussed in detail instead of just expressing an opinion. In his article the great genius has shown a rather primitive lack of understanding of what science is and how it operates. Since Carol is a PhD in physics, she must have no difficulty in seeing the Rebbe’s real level of understanding science. Of course, it does not mean she’ll change her mind about the genius of Rebbe, but that is her problem. In any case, she knows now how to get rid of a toothache (although women do not wear tzitzit).

Comment #62280

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on December 9, 2005 4:48 PM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

Well, BWE, if you are really losing sleep over it, and now that you rephrased things in a more respectful tone, here are your answers:

(1) BA, Physics, Hunter College, 1973

MA, Physics, Hunter College, 1975

PhD, Physics, NYU, 1981

EdD, Science Education, NYU, 1983

MA, Philosophy, BC, 1985

Just as I thought, no FCD.

Comment #62284

Posted by Paul Flocken on December 9, 2005 5:26 PM (e)

Comment #62100 by KL on December 8, 2005 02:19 PM:

“While we are on the subject, I’d like to know what Carol’s teaching experience is (secondary school) since she had clear opinions on that. Just curious since the thread my interchange with her was addressing the “controversy” in high school science classes.”

Could you answer that question too, Carol?
When did you teach secondary school and for how long?
That seemed important too.

Sincerely,
Paul

Comment #62290

Posted by Corkscrew on December 9, 2005 5:52 PM (e)

Mark Walker wrote:

Yes, incorrigible children can be put to death.

So… who here would not be reading this website if this had been the case during their childhood?

AYE!

Of course, the religious folk in question would probably see that as more than sufficient reason for said policy to be implemented…

Comment #62292

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 9, 2005 6:02 PM (e)

So, according to Oh, Carol, the late Rebbe “coulda been a contender,” right up there with Einstein and Newton.

But, um, diverted, let us say, by his religious preoccupations, he instead missed his shot at being one of the great scientists of all time.

And, according to Mark Perakh, the Rebbe’s scientific “miss” wasn’t exactly a close call.

None of this tells us that the Rebbe was not an ineffable human being–that is, that his religious service was inconsequential or detrimental. Indeed, for all I know, the Rebbe’s religious service may have been outstanding and remarkable, a real benefit to the lives he touched.

If Oh, Carol‘s assesment is correct, however, humanity gained this religious “good” at a considerable cost–humanity’s loss of the third in the series of Newton, Einstein, …. Whether the religious good outweighed the scientific loss is perhaps not an issue PT can usefully address.

However, maybe we have learned something about how one who is imbued with powerful religious convictions might go about doing meaningful science. Based on the foregoing information, should such a one let one’s religious convictions strongly guide, shall we say, one’s pursuit of science? Or should one allow one’s scientific pursuits to lead where the evidence dictates, regardless of what one’s religious convictions might dictate?

And which path have the ID adherents followed?

Maybe this was, after all, a worthwhile diversion.

Comment #62296

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 9, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

ANd Lenny, Wow. Where did you get that stuff? Sounds like a character worth knowing more about.

It’s all available on the Net; most of it is reprinted newspaper articles and interviews. Right-wing-watchers have known about Howie for a long time and have been keeping a close eye on him.

Comment #62297

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 9, 2005 6:52 PM (e)

Dominionist

For those who might be confused by the distinction between “Dominionists” and “Reconstructionists”, it’s simple. Reconstructionists want the US to be reconstructed in accordance with God’s Law. Dominionists want the godly US to conquer the rest of the world and put them under God’s Law, too.

Some other Reconstructionist/Dominionists who might be familiar:

Randall Terry (Operation Rescue/Terry Shiavo loudmouth)
Gary North (Republican writer, strategist and, uh, “economist”)
Larry Pratt (head of Gun Owners of America)

While House Whip, Tom deLay helped the Reconstructionist group National Reform Association organize a “Biblical Worldview” conference in Wash DC. And Bush appointed J Robert Brame, a member of the the board of directors of the Reconstructionist group American Vision, as a member of the National Labor Relations Board from 1997 to 2000.

Comment #62298

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 9, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

Everyone should know about this.

Actually, I’ve already posted this here several dozen times (I post it every time Sal shows up, for instance).

I figured the old-timers here are already sick of seeing it. ;>

Comment #62344

Posted by k.e. on December 10, 2005 12:35 PM (e)

BWE
Interesting link at Salon
A Piano player with Tourette’s huh……
That might explain a few things

Mozart had some zany moments too

http://www.tourettes-disorder.com/mozart.html

Maybe he should start up a country music band
Title of First song
“I Thought I Had Tourette’s, But I Just Like Talkin’ Dirty To You “

Here’s one for Dembski’s take on real Science/Music

A piano player is working a very sophisticated high class restaurant. He is playing a Beethoven sonata. He’s murdering it… notes all over the floor. For his second number he plays a Mozart sonata. Once again he’s butchering it. The patrons are getting restless.

For his third piece, he launches into Rachmaninoff’s’ Second Piano Concerto. The audience starts throwing things from the table at him.

Finally he stops. He suddenly gets up and with great indignation says “What’s the matter with you people? I didn’t write this sh*t.”

You have to laugh sometimes :)

Comment #62370

Posted by sir_toejam on December 10, 2005 6:06 PM (e)

@BWE:

I do not have a phD, nor am I an expert on anything other than various rockfish above 40 fathoms off the pacific Northwest. (Well, I know quite a bit about trawling).

hmm… various sebastes, you say?? i bet we have some things in common, especially wrt to our fishy friends.

email me and we’ll talk fish…

fisheyephotos(at)hotmail(dot)com

cheers

Comment #62415

Posted by carol clouser on December 11, 2005 3:42 PM (e)

Mark Perakh,

I read your comments in the link you provided to Talk Reason above re Schneerson and I found it very disappointing.

First of all, you were analyzing a private letter as if it were a “paper” submitted at a conference for public consumption. (I refer to Schneerson’s writing not the Challenge’s insertion of that writing in their collection.) You repeatedly refer to it as an “article” when it was a private communication written to an individual who asserted to Schneerson, also in a private communication, as I and others did, that the evidence contradicts his YEC views.

Secondly, his letter was not intended as a primer on the scientific method. He was merely asserting that a gap always exists between data and the theories that are based on those data, such that the theories cannot be considered “proven” in the strict sense of the word. He is of course correct about that.

Thirdly, your argument that he provides no data to support the supremacy of the Torah is utterly meaningless, since his private letter was limited to refuting the notion that science “disproves” YEC. His usual response to those demanding evidence in support of Torah would consist of considerations based on the Jewish people having acted as witnesses thru the milennia, the miraculous survival of those people against all odds, and so on.

Fourthly, I have no information to offer regarding any scientific work he may or may not have conducted while at the universities. But I can verify that he was very aware and up to date in physics and biology (at least). I recall a conversation with him about the utility of various particle detectors available at the time (I think this was in the mid 70’s). Not only was he very informed about these, but a few minutes after our conversation he proceeded down the hall and spoke to his followers at a “farbrengen” for about ten consecutive hours without any notes.

Steviepinhead,

Newton also spent a huge chunk of his life’s time, energy and effort on religious and Biblical matters.

Paul,

I served as director of science in two large school districts many years ago. That accounts for my interest in that area. And I am currently quite involved in educational issues in the school district where I live here in New Jersey, particularly as it relates to science.

Comment #62416

Posted by Ociredor on December 11, 2005 4:21 PM (e)

I hope this finally shows everyone that you can believe in God and evolution. I’m tired of those atheists that object to theistic evoultion. As long as they refuse to ankowledge it exists they are just going to drive religious people away entirely from evoultion and push them toward ID.

Comment #62418

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on December 11, 2005 4:56 PM (e)

One can certainly believe in God and acknowledge evolution, just as much as one can believe in God and deny evolution. Simmetrically, one can disbelieve in God and acknowledge, or deny, evolution.

One is a belief (or lack thereof), and pertains to the field of religious opinion; the other is knowledge (or lack thereof), and pertains to the field of science.

I’ve often heard the expression “NOMA” (Non-Overlapping MAgisteria) to describe the coexistence of the two; in my opinion, religious opinions and scientific theories are orthogonal to one other (much like the axis of bi- or multidimensional graphs for political opinions).

I think that people should stop linking those two dimensions as if one depended from the other (e.g., “I’m an atheist, therefore I support the theory of evolution!”, or “The fine-tuning of the universe proves to me that God exists!”).

Comment #62421

Posted by Ociredor on December 11, 2005 5:11 PM (e)

Please forgive the harshness of my comments. I probably shouldn’t have used the word “atheist”, in there. I certainly didn’t mean to make some generalization about some point of view. I just think that we all need to find some middle ground on this debate.

Comment #62423

Posted by jim on December 11, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

Ociredor,

I would hazard a guess that more US Christian scientists than all others combined. At the least there is a very large number of US Christian scientists.

I think that no one hear would claim that you can’t be Christian and also think that evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life.

It is the IDers that claim that you can’t support evolution and still be a Christian. Would it be wiser to share your wrath against this false dichotomy with the IDers?

Although I am not an Atheist (and I’d guess a lot of others here aren’t either), being called an Atheist isn’t an insult. It’s just incorrect.

Demonizing your opponents is a control technique. It’s hard for most people to kill other people. But convincing your side that the other side is somehow less human (or very different than you) is commonly done to ease the conscience of their own people.

Comment #62428

Posted by Ociredor on December 11, 2005 5:39 PM (e)

Jim,

I know what I said was harsh. I admit that I didn’t think out my response enough. I also was wrong in making any judgements about atheists. I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

Comment #62486

Posted by jim on December 12, 2005 10:36 AM (e)

Ociredor,

Sometimes the words here are harsh and sometimes they step beyond the bounds of good manners.

I can’t speak for anyone else here since I’m new here too. However, I think that you were wrong about the position of many of the people here. I think most pro-evolution people would agree that theistic evolution isn’t objectionable.

It is the ID crowd the touts the false dichotomy of Science vs. Religion.

Comment #62552

Posted by AC on December 12, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

Carol wrote:

…I do think a solid case can be rationally made that the entire universe, including biological phenomena, must have been purposefully created, designed and set in motion by an agent or “first cause” that is not subject to the rules of the universe.

Indeed, this (“first cause”) is the ultimate gap in which to stuff God - a purely philosophical gap that science does not address and, thus, can never close. Religions content to hunker in this bunker will perhaps always exist.

Of course, to be such an entity is close enough to nonexistence for practical purposes. I’m still waiting for my burning bush, but I suspect I’ll get my flying car far sooner.

Comment #62573

Posted by carol clouser on December 12, 2005 7:55 PM (e)

AC,

I don’t see it quite your way. The first cause issue is not a gap, but a rational argument. A gap would imply that there is some alternate solution out there that we have not yet arrived at or perhaps that we will never arrive at. My point is that there is no other solution because there cannot be a solution that would bypass the first cause issue. A universe with specifity must have been designed to be specific. The only possible alternatives are irrational and contradictory.

And your describing “such an entity” as “close to non-existence for practical purposes” is another way of saying that your “brain cannot get a grip” on such an entity. But your brain is a rather limited and defective product of evolution consisting of mere electrical impulses that cannot get a grip on ANYTHING that it did not experience sensually. So what else is new? Try imagining a new color, one that you have never seen. What you need here (I speak generically and of course include myself) is the requisite humility the subtle logic demands.

Comment #62576

Posted by CJ O'Brien on December 12, 2005 8:15 PM (e)

What you need here (I speak generically and of course include myself) is the requisite humility the subtle logic demands.

Can you restate this in such a way that doesn’t cause me to read “What you need here is to turn off your critical faculties for just a moment, so I can slide an absurdity by you real quick.”

Comment #62577

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 12, 2005 9:09 PM (e)

My point is that there is no other solution because there cannot be a solution that would bypass the first cause issue. A universe with specifity must have been designed to be specific. The only possible alternatives are irrational and contradictory.

And what, again, caused the First Cause … ?

What, again, designed the designer?

Why, again, should science care about your religious opinions?

Comment #62578

Posted by Eugene Lai on December 12, 2005 9:25 PM (e)

Don’t you know that “first cause”/”the designer”/”god” is exempted?

If you have the requisite humility the subtle logic demands, it will all become very clear!

It goes without saying we are entitled to an expanded definition to the word humility, such that admitting we don’t know everything but will keep looking is not humility, whereas invoking god as the answer to anything we don’t yet know, is.

Comment #62587

Posted by carol clouser on December 12, 2005 10:47 PM (e)

Hi Lenny,

Welcome to the discussion here.

The brief and succinct response to your first two questions is that the logic dictates that the first cause be beyond structure and design. Thus it is far more palatable for it to not be caused or designed than it is for a structured entity with specific parameters, such as the universe, with a set of particular behavioral laws to guide its evolution.

As to your last question, I would like to think that I am engaged here in a quintessentially scientific endeavor. I observe a phenomenon (such as the existence of the universe) and ask “how did this come to be this way?” Science is always asking this question, thousands of times every day around the world. Then I form various hypotheses, reject some and look favorably upon others, until more light is shed on the matter by data. The difference between me and you here is that I look at phenomena you are utterly afraid to look at. You are dreadfully frightened of what you might find there. I just don’t have this phobia of yours.

Comment #62598

Posted by Jim Harrison on December 13, 2005 12:25 AM (e)

If god really is beyond structure and design and, presumably, all the other predicates we can understand, let us admit his existence and then ignore him completely since there is absolutely nothing we can truly say about him anyhow. (Saying that he exists is already cheating, of course, since existence is a category of ours; but we’ll let that one go.)

Comment #62602

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 13, 2005 1:31 AM (e)

Jim,

You make a great point but I don’t agree with its conclusion.

Jewish theology, which formed the foundation of the world’s monotheism, has always viewed God as beyond our description and perception. Maimonides is most emphatic about this in his writings, particularly his Guide to the Perplexed. All biblical anthropomorphic attributions to God are merely there to help us relate as best we could to God’s “actions” or “thinking”. You hit the nail on the head when you said, “there is absolutely nothing we can truly say about him”.

But we arrive at his existence by considering the necessity of a first cause. He is therefore “responsible” for the appearance of the universe. From this flows a series of deductions and even speculations as to his motivations, powers, modus operandi and so on, keeping in mind that all these terms are employed only in the anthropomorphic sense to facilitate our communication with each other when discussing him. These considerations have led people to what they consider to be the very reasonable conclusion that God is not to be ignored. But discussing these issues further would take us away from science and Lenny will get annoyed. So I shall cease and desist from doing so.

Comment #62611

Posted by Jim Harrison on December 13, 2005 2:45 AM (e)

Puzzled by his metaphysics, I once asked the philosopher Paul Weiss what he thought God was good for. He replied, “Well a thing can be good for something or good for nothing. God is good for nothing.” He was being ironic, I guess. I’m not. Once you start down the negative theology road, there’s no place to stop short of the complete evaporation of the deity, which is why, come to think of, lots of Jews thought Maimonides went too far. Adjectives like “responsible,” verbs like “create,” nouns like “agent” are all zoomorphic if not anthropomorphic.

Philosophers have no business believing in God.

Comment #62621

Posted by k.e. on December 13, 2005 7:12 AM (e)

Jim good point I started making a long list of all the other ..’ist’s,…’ian’s,.. who should have no business believing in God or at least obscuring their view and had an epiphany before the epiphone broke. So I looked at what was left over.

The business of believing in God is best left to Theologians and Flocks.Shepards and sheep. Fishers of men and fish. Amateur psycholgists,seers,sharmans,magical thinkers, stinkers, blow hards and other lazy thinkers in other words.
The danger is when the insane and power hungry get hold of the idea and have the means to spread it.

Comment #62627

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 13, 2005 8:25 AM (e)

As to your last question, I would like to think that I am engaged here in a quintessentially scientific endeavor.

IDers would like to think that, too.

You are both wrong.

Religion is not science, Carol. No matter what words you want to use.

And you still have not told me, scientifically or otherwise, where your designer came from. Other than your religious assumption that it is “beyond structure and design” (how the heck does that differ from “does not exist – oh, and since we are created “in the image” of the designer, why is it that WE have structure and design if IT doesn’t).

Please feel free to demonstrate to me, using your, uh, quintessentially scientific endeavor, why any of your religious opinions on the matter are any better than anyone else’s. Other than your (or Judah Landa’s) say-so.

Comment #62629

Posted by Renier on December 13, 2005 8:35 AM (e)

I agree. How does one differentiate God from something that does not exist?

Comment #62631

Posted by jim on December 13, 2005 8:59 AM (e)

I’d also like to point out that Carol’s exemptions for God could just as easily be applied to the Universe. Moving the application of these exemptions to the Universe cuts God completely out, meaning he’s an entirely unnecessary addition (Occam’s razor and all).

Comment #62647

Posted by AC on December 13, 2005 11:45 AM (e)

Carol wrote:

The first cause issue is not a gap, but a rational argument….But [the] brain is a rather limited and defective product of evolution consisting of mere electrical impulses that cannot get a grip on ANYTHING that it did not experience sensually.

So which did you sensually experience? The first cause or the rational argument for it? Time to get a grip.

A gap would imply that there is some alternate solution out there that we have not yet arrived at or perhaps that we will never arrive at. My point is that there is no other solution because there cannot be a solution that would bypass the first cause issue. A universe with specifity must have been designed to be specific. The only possible alternatives are irrational and contradictory.

A gap indeed implies a valid alternative; in this case, it is that conventional notions of causality break down when time itself has yet to exist. Thus a “first cause” becomes merely an inapplicable projection of conventional causality.

But this is philosophy, not science, so it has no bearing on the world outside our minds.

And your describing “such an entity” as “close to non-existence for practical purposes” is another way of saying that your “brain cannot get a grip” on such an entity.

Actually, it’s just another way of saying “God is good for nothing”.

Comment #62658

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 13, 2005 1:09 PM (e)

Lenny,

The designer-entity is different from “does not exist” because “does not exist” cannot create a universe but the designer-entity did do so. And presumably the designer-entity can intervene in the operation of the universe at any time. A sudden alteration in the laws of nature in the form of a delta function followed by a return to normal would be a prime candidate for such intervention. You have difficulty differentiating between “beyond structure and design” and “does not exist” because it is beyond your experience. Face it, our brains are hard wired not to be able to perceive entities that are outside of our experiences.

And you cannot compare asking where the universe came from to asking where the designer-entity came from, due to the issue of specifity. The designer entity existed forever, without beginning or end. If you try that with the universe, you open up a pandoras box of questions that demand answers. Why is the universe this large and not larger or smaller? Why is its average temperature 3 K and not some other number? And so on, ad infinitum. None of these questions arise with an entity beyond structure and design.

Your question pertaining to humans being made in God’s image is pure silliness. See if you can figure it out on your own. Did you think that religious folk perceive God as appearing like a human? If you really need help with this let me know. I will see what I can do for you.

Jim,

See above, first two paragraphs.

AC,

Your “before time” argument is nothing but empty sophistry. Time does not exist independently of the universe. So it and the structured universe were created simultaneously. Therefore a cause is needed.

Comment #62660

Posted by jim on December 13, 2005 1:23 PM (e)

Right back at you Carol. If you take your two paragraphs and swap God for Universe you get:

“And you cannot compare asking where the God came from to asking where the Universe came from, due to the issue of specifity (sic). The Universe existed forever, without beginning or end. If you try that with God, you open up a pandoras (sic) box of questions that demand answers….”

After which I would substitute my own questions about God.

“Doesn’t God have better things to do? Why did he start the Universe and then apparently disappear? Why did he make so many mistakes? Why does any being with so much power require worship from us? Why does he hide the evidence of his existence? And so on, ad infinitum. None of these questions arise when you don’t invoke an entity beyond structure and design.”

I’m not saying belief in God is foolish. I’m merely asserting that it’s unnecessary and that it takes fewer steps (or leaps of faith) to rationalize him out than to keep him in.

Comment #62705

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 13, 2005 6:38 PM (e)

Jim,

All your questions directed at God are based on various premises that can easily be discarded and conradict your earlier statement that we cannot know God. That implies that we cannot know or understand his motivations, goals and purposes. If He exists, his awareness, considerations and calculations must be cosmic in scope, both as to time and space (again, speaking anthropomorphically). How does that compare to our awareness, considerations and calculations based as we are on this tiny and fragile ball of mass upon which each of us appears so fleetingly?

I am glad you concede that belief in God is not foolish. Many a poster here believes it is downright dumb and based on unmitigated ignorance. And religious folk know this and resent it and have been and will continue to come out to vote in ever increasing numbers just to spite their detractors.

I disagree with you about the the number of steps needed to ratoionalize God in or out of the picture. As I see it the God/creator hypothesis is the most efficient explanation for the mysteries associated with the existence of the universe. And scientists always seek and adopt, at least tentatively, the most efficient of all alternative theories.

Lenny,

Another point here if I may. It seems to me that science and scientists are not as monolithic a body as you seem to assume. There is a distinct difference in approach and attitude between a theoretical physicist and an experimental biologist. The latter is more down to earth, interested in the immediate practicality of his/her efforts and not prone to dabble in overarching ideas that may provide a more logical framework for incorporating diverse phenomena. This might account for the differences in attitude between you and me. I am making some assumptions here, so correct me if I am wrong about your background and approach.

Comment #62711

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 13, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

Jim,

This is somewhat off the beaten path of our discussion, but you made a statement that I cannot let slide by without comment.

You proposed that the universe existed forever, without beginning or end. The weight of the evidence seems to indicate otherwise. The universe does not appear to have the ability to “close” its expansion, which means that its present constitution will come to an end. This implies that another big bang to repeat the cycle will not ever again occur with this universe. We know of no other universes. So the big bang was a singular event, never to be repeated. That looks very much like a real beginning of sorts to me.

True, some of this is tentative and even speculative. But your proposal is way out on a limb there.

Comment #62714

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 13, 2005 7:07 PM (e)

The designer-entity is different from “does not exist” because “does not exist” cannot create a universe but the designer-entity did do so.

Says you. (shrug)

Can you demonstrate this using the scientific method, or do you just want us to accept your Holy Word on the matter.

And presumably the designer-entity can intervene in the operation of the universe at any time.

How do you know?

I assert that God is simply incapable of intervening in the operation of the universe, and that once the laws of nature are in operation, they cannot be altered or suspended.

Please demonstrate to me that your assertion is any more valid than mine. Other than your say-so.

A sudden alteration in the laws of nature in the form of a delta function followed by a return to normal would be a prime candidate for such intervention.

And where can I see such a thing.

And how, exactly, do you rule out the possibility that the observed phenomenon is due to an undiscovered and unknown law of nature.

Other than your say-so.

You have difficulty differentiating between “beyond structure and design” and “does not exist” because it is beyond your experience.

You’re human and crap the same way I do, Carol. And since you don’t know any more about god than me or anyone else alive does, it is equally outside YOUR experience, Carol.

So I will ask the same question I keep asking you (and you keep refusing to asnwer) ————- what makes your religious opinions any more authoritative than mine, my next door neighbor’s, my car mechanic’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas. Other than your say-so.

How the hell do you know any more about god than anyone else alive does, Carol. Please be as specific as possible.

Face it, our brains are hard wired not to be able to perceive entities that are outside of our experiences.

Um, then how the hell do YOU know it’s there, or know anything at all whatsoever about it, Carol.

Wait, let me guess ——- because the Holy Words say so. Right?

And you cannot compare asking where the universe came from to asking where the designer-entity came from, due to the issue of specifity. The designer entity existed forever, without beginning or end.

And you know that how, again?

Oh, that’s right —- once again you just want us to take The Holy Words for it.

If you try that with the universe

No one is trying that with the universe, Carol.

Of course, statements cosmologists make about the universe are based on data and experiment. Not on my or your interpretations of The Holy Words.

But then, cosmologists aren’t trying to insist that their religious opinions be tretaed as “scientific evidence”. They leave silliness like that to fundie whackos like you, Carol.

you open up a pandoras box of questions that demand answers. Why is the universe this large and not larger or smaller? Why is its average temperature 3 K and not some other number? And so on, ad infinitum. None of these questions arise with an entity beyond structure and design.

Um, cosmology seems to have testable answers for each of these questions.

The fundies, uh, don’t.

Your question pertaining to humans being made in God’s image is pure silliness. See if you can figure it out on your own.

Translation; you can’t answer.

Did you think that religious folk perceive God as appearing like a human?

God walked in the Garden of Eden, did he not? God spoke, did he not? We are made in the image of God, are we not (so God HAS an image, does he not)?

If you really need help with this let me know. I will see what I can do for you.

I really need help with this, Carol. See what you can do. Please show me the One True Way. Share with me your perfect knowledge of God that no other mere mortal has, Carol.

Please.

Pretty please.

Oh, and I am STILL waiting for you to tell me, please, why science should give a flying fig about your religious opinions?

Comment #62716

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 13, 2005 7:13 PM (e)

It seems to me that science and scientists are not as monolithic a body as you seem to assume. There is a distinct difference in approach and attitude between a theoretical physicist and an experimental biologist.

Um, Carol, neither one of these accept religious opinions as scientific data, or accept that religion or religious studies is “science”.

Why do you suppose that is?

The latter is more down to earth, interested in the immediate practicality of his/her efforts and not prone to dabble in overarching ideas that may provide a more logical framework for incorporating diverse phenomena. This might account for the differences in attitude between you and me. I am making some assumptions here, so correct me if I am wrong about your background and approach.

No, Carol — the difference in attitude between you and me is crushingly glaringly obviously mind-numbingly simple. *You* want your authoritative religious opinions to count as “scientific evidence”. And *I* don’t think your religious opinions are any more authoritative than mine, my next door neighbor’s, my car mechanic’s, my veterinarian’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas.

In short, Carol, your religious opinions and your interpretations of The Holy Words mean everything to you – and they don’t mean dick to me. (shrug)

See how easy that is?

Comment #62719

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 13, 2005 7:21 PM (e)

As I see it the God/creator hypothesis is the most efficient explanation for the mysteries associated with the existence of the universe.

And you are of course entirely entitled to that religious opinions if you like it. Others, of course, think your religious opinion is full of crap, and offer their OWN religious opinions imnstead.

And you have given us no reason — none at all whatsoever – to conclude that your religious opinions are any better than any others. Other than your say-so.

Sorry, Carol, but I simply don’t beleive you are any holier than the rest of us, and I simply don’t think that you know any jmore about god than anyone else alive does – and therefore your religious opinions aren’t any better than mine, my next door neighbor’s, my car mechanic’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas.

Would you mind demonstrating to me why I *should* think yours are any better or more authoritative than theirs (other than your say-so)?

And scientists always seek and adopt, at least tentatively, the most efficient of all alternative theories.

All you have to do is demonstrate it using the scientific method. (shrug)

Oh, that’s right —- you don’t think your, uh, scientific theories SHOULD have to be tested. You think they should have privileged status, and just be accepted at face value on your own say-so, because The Holy Words decree it.

Right?

If I were to say to you “the mass of an electron is ten pounds, because God told me so”, would you accept my, uh, “scientific hypothesis” on my religious authority and say-so?

Why or why not?

Comment #62725

Posted by Jim Harrison on December 13, 2005 7:39 PM (e)

For the record, I think that belief in God is indeed foolish. I do, however, defend the rights of others to be fools at their leisure. There is no reason that people in general should be obligated to share my rather ascetic value system which dismisses Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Shinto, Hinduism and the rest simply because considered as systems of assertions about the world, they do not contain a particle of truth.

Meanwhile, God explains nothing. If the universe is inexplicable without God, it remains inexplicable with him.

Comment #62730

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 13, 2005 7:49 PM (e)

which dismisses Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Shinto, Hinduism and the rest simply because considered as systems of assertions about the world, they do not contain a particle of truth.

In the interests of accuracy, I point out that Buddhism (particularly in its Zen form) does not *make* any assertions about the world. Indeed, Zen does not make any assertions about … well … anything. At all. Including itself. :>

Comment #62732

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 13, 2005 7:55 PM (e)

Lenny,

You are avoiding the substance of the issues raised here. All you do is persist in repeatedly throwing the same meaningless clap-trap in all directions in an inept attempt to cover up your utter lack of ability to address that substance. Your conception of God is so utterly immature and downright silly that I needed to hold my sides as they ached from laughing. Try as hard as I did, I could not find one iota of merit in anything you wrote above. I would not know where to begin to straighten out your twisted thinking, so I will not make any attempt to do so.

Comment #62735

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 13, 2005 7:59 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #62736

Posted by Dean Morrison on December 13, 2005 8:03 PM (e)

Tell me the one about the talking donkey Carol - that one always gets my sides splitting…perhaps it’ll help me with my twisted thinking,

Comment #62738

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 13, 2005 8:09 PM (e)

You are avoiding the substance of the issues raised here.

Carol, you have not *raised* any issue of substance. (shrug)

You’ve stated your religious opinions. I’ve stated that I don’t accept your religious opinions, and I see no reason why science should give a flying fig about your religious opinions either. I’ve also asked (yet again) for you to tell me please why your religious opinions are any more authoritative than anyone else’s, and how you know more about God than anyone else alive does (other than your say-so).

And there the matter rests.

Are you going to answer those simple questions, Carol or aren’t you?

Your conception of God is so utterly immature and downright silly

Says you. (shrug) When did YOU become the Expert On God™©, Carol? How the hell do YOU know any more about God than anyone else alive does, Carol? What makes YOUR religious opinions any better or more authoritative than anyone else’s, Carol? What makes YOU so more holy and godlike and divine than any other mere mortal, Carol? Why should science give a flying fig about YOUR religious opinions any more than it should about mine, my next door neighbor’s, my car mechanic’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas, Carol? When did YOU become anyone’s Holy Judge, Carol? Who elected YOU Pope, Carol?

I think you’re a self-righteous arrogant prideful prick who has such a colossal sense of self-importance that she thinks (quite literally) that she is holier than all the rest of us mere mortals.

Sorry, Carol, but I simply don’t believe you’re any more divine or holy than any other mere mortal is. You are just a human, Carol. You crap the same way the rest of us do, and it doesn’t come out as Brier’s ice cream. (shrug)

So get over your damn self.

Comment #62850

Posted by AC on December 14, 2005 3:01 PM (e)

Carol wrote:

Time does not exist independently of the universe.

Correct.

So it and the structured universe were created simultaneously. Therefore a cause is needed.

Simultaneity without time? A cause for time itself?

Cue Inigo Montoya.

P.S. The initial state of the universe was not “structured” in the way it was even an attosecond after expansion, much less the way it is today.

Did you think that religious folk perceive God as appearing like a human?

This one’s for Lenny, but I’m already in point-out-the-obvious mode, so I can’t resist.

Indeed, the gods of a great many religions are physically anthropomorphic. When you include the qualities of non-physical gods, it becomes immediately clear that the vast majority of man’s gods are very similar, in various ways, to humans.

If man created his gods, the explanation is trivial. If gods created man, which gods, and which men? I’d prefer to let the pantheon fight over that themselves.

Comment #62859

Posted by jim on December 14, 2005 3:19 PM (e)

Carol,

I resisted the urge to respond to your post in order to let dead threads lie, however, since AC brought it up… :)

My post to you was not intended as a Cosmology primer. I merely took *your* post and substituted God with Universe (and vice versa) to get a post that sound *more* rational than yours.

As AC pointed out, any statement that uses the words “before Universe” makes no sense. Existence outside of (either in space or time) the Universe makes no sense at all.

So saying “God existed before the Universe” or “God exists outside the Universe” just doesn’t have any meaning (scientific, religious, philosophical, or otherwise) that humans can contrive.

This leads us back to Lenny’s comments: “why do you think your feelings about this are any more valuable to humanity than those of the potatoes in my garden?”

Comment #62909

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 14, 2005 7:07 PM (e)

This leads us back to Lenny’s comments: “why do you think your feelings about this are any more valuable to humanity than those of the potatoes in my garden?”

Geez, you can be snappier than THAT, can’t you? ;>