PvM posted Entry 2018 on February 15, 2006 09:25 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2013

On UncommonDescent, DougMoran is upset with the ACLU calling it “America’s Intellectual Terrorists” for failing to “protect our children from being told that they are unplanned and have no purpose”. The irony of it all is that the term unguided was added by the ID minority in Kansas. Read on for the rest of the story.

Dougmoran wrote:

“… public schools should not be used by people to teach their personal religious beliefs to other people’s children…”

I agree. So when is the ACLU going to protect our children from being told they are unplanned and have no purpose and must believe the religion of Dawkin’s god?

First prizes in the worldwide competition for most hypocritical religious zealots and most vile intellectual terrorists go to the ACLU.

ACLU of Ohio Demands Schools Stop Teaching Intelligent Design as Science

The irony of this all is that the term unguided was added to the text by the ID minority in Kansas… If DougMoran considers that ACLU ‘intellectual terrorists’ for supposedly not opposing teaching that evolution is unguided, I wonder what words he has reserved for those in Kansas who insisted on including this into the science curriculum.

On UncommonDescent thread various people have responded

First Jack Krebs:

Jack Krebs wrote:

I don’t believe that students in schools are being taught that they are unplanned and there is no God. Dawkins et al may say that, but Dawkin’s metaphysics is not being taught as science. In fact, I recently heard an ACLU lawyer tell an audience that if there were a science teacher teaching that students were purposeless accidents and that science showed there were no God, the ACLU would be first in line to take them to court.

then DaveScot

Davescot wrote:

If that’s true then what is the meaning of this in the Kansas Science Standards: “Biological evolution postulates an unguided natural process that has no discernable direction or goal.” (G8-12,S3,B3,I1)”. -ds

DaveScot’s unfamiliarity with the history of the Kansas Science Standards is quickly explored by Egbooth

Egbooth wrote:

DS, you may want to point out in your response to Jack Krebs that the only reason the word “unguided” is in the new Kansas Science Standards is because of the pro-ID community, specifically committee member Kathy Martin, who explicity added it. In fact, if you read through the Kansas science hearings held last May, you would have found scientists such as Steve Case arguing against the use of the word unguided in the standards.

In other words, the term unguided came from the ID minority and the majority and scientists argued against the inclusion of this term.

Egbooth wrote:

Even though many Dawkins-esque scientists try to insert the word “unguided” in their discussions about evolution, it is abundantly clear that in this case the only reason they are in the science standards is to create a false duality between science and religion. This is how you pro-ID folks love to add fire to the “Darwin=religion” fire.

So the term unguided was added by the ID minority in Kansas and now ID activists are complaining that the ACLU does not stand up to protect out children? I am sure that the ACLU would be more than happy to join them in a lawsuit against the Kansas Board of Education.

Egbooth wrote:

You have to remember DS, this is the one thing that I, Jack Krebs, a vast majority of the scientific community, and you all agree on: Any mention of “unguided” (in the supernatural sense) within any science lesson is completely meaningless and should not be used. That’s good isn’t it? Agreement. How ’bout a big group hug for that one?
You’ve mentioned before in this blog that this is ID’s primary purpose (to remove any mention of “unguided” in science class) so why don’t you just take the troops off the line and call it a victory for everyone? We finally agre

Egbooth is correct, science cannot address the final issue of whether or not something is unguided. What science can do is show how natural processes can explain a particular phenomenon.

Confronted with the facts, DaveScot ‘responds’

DaveScot wrote:

Now if you’re quite through demonstrating to us how uninformed anti-ID knee-jerkers describe the “controversy” you can crawl back under whatever rock it was you came from. Or you can apologize and all will be forgiven. Your choice. -ds

Ouch, Egbooth must have touched a nerve here.

Jack Krebs, in a followup. addressed the comments made by Egbooth.

Jack Krebs wrote:

“We, the majority on the science committee, did not write that line - in fact we rejected it in committee by a 2:1 margin

Egbooth is right. The phrase about “unguided” was added by the ID Minority on the writing committee and adopted by the Board. It is an unwarranted metaphysical addition made by the ID Minority. The majority of the writing committee (of which I am a member) believe that evolutionary theory, or science in general, can only study the
physical world in a limited way, and that judging whether there is or isn’t divine guidance (as the word is meant to imply in the standards) is outside the scope of science.

And yes I know about the letter from the Nobel 38, and about Dawkins, etc. If the Nobel 38 meant to make a statement about metaphysical or divine guidance, then, despite what ever well-meaning intentions they had, they were not talking about science and not talking for science. More importantly, they are not teaching Kansas school
children.

So, going back to the topic of the thread: if a teacher were to actually explicitly teach the position stated in the line added by the ID Minority (that evolution was a unguided process from a theological view, and that therefore students were accidents with no intrinsic purpose because there is no God), the ACLU would be first in line to support a suit against them, and Kansas Citizens for Science would support them.”

This topic probably deserves a blog - not the Uncommon Descent thread, but the issue of the inclusion of the word “unguided” by the ID Minority.

And there we are. On the one hand ID activists lament the use of terms like unguided or unplanned when discussing evolutionary science, on the other hand ID activists are adding the term to state standards. I wonder if those ID activists at Uncommon Descent who have spoken out so strongly against evolution being ‘unguided’ will join the ACLU in a legal challenge? Would that not be ironic…

Enough day dreaming, a more likely response will be to blame those darn Darwinists of insisting on the term ‘unguided’ and ‘unplanned’.

When asked the following question

“I would like to know why the ID minority insisted upon the language. Can anyone answer that without getting to overheated?”

Davescot wrote:

Evolution IS understood by the academy to be an unguided process. The academy after all is dominated by atheists. -ds

So the ID minority insists on changing the language to read unguided because the academy is dominated by atheists? Come on Davescot, how hard is it to admit that once again you may have been to hasty in expressing your opinions?

On the ASA reflector Keith Miller commented on the situation in Kansas and how creationists continue what he considers a misrepresentation of evolutionary science:

Keith Miller wrote:

The most frustrating aspect of this for me has been the rejection of TEs (evolutionary creationists, continuous creationists) by most in the ID community. The ID supporters state that the object of their critique is materialistic philosophy and the denial of design, purpose, and meaning. Yet they reject the arguments of those like myself who have consistently argued against just such a misrepresentation of evolutionary science. It is the ID proponents who insist on labelling evolutionary theory as “Darwinism” and on defining it as implying a purposeless and meaningless process that denies God. They did this precise redefinition in Kansas against the objections of the standards revision committee, and virtually every scientific and educational organization in the state. Ironically it is the ID supporters who are fighting for an atheistic definition of evolution against the science and educational community. The only reason for this that I can see is that it gives them political leverage to include ID in the science
curriculum as the counter to this atheistic science (which they themselves have inserted into the standards).

For a good overview of the issues surrounding the Ohio Standards see PandasThumb.or Ohio Citizens for Science

So, let’s look at the ACLU’s press release of a letter sent to the Toledo Public Schools which caused DougMoran so much ‘pain’:

TOLEDO, OH – The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today sent a letter to the Toledo Public Schools demanding that they cease allowing staff to teach intelligent design in science classrooms throughout the district.

“Intelligent design has been proven to be nothing more than a thin cover for those who wish to teach creationism, a faith-based idea of human origins endorsed by certain Christian denominations, in science classes,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso. “While people have a right to teach their religious beliefs to others in churches, mosques, synagogues and private schools, public schools should not be used by people to teach their personal religious beliefs to other people’s children.”

So far nothing too shocking, merely repeating the findings of so many, including Judge Jones.

Gamso added, “Proponents of intelligent design have been unable to provide any credible scientific evidence to support their theories. The scientific community has, time and again, largely refuted purported evidence supporting intelligent design. By continuing to allow teachers to implement intelligent design into the science curriculum, educators are misinforming Ohio’s children on the fundamental principles of science.”

Still no real problems. ID’s scientific vacuity makes it very ‘vulnerable’ as it is inherently unable to provide any credible evidence to support their theories. Evidence typically involves arguments that evolutionary theory, or Darwinism cannot explain ‘X’ and that ID can explain it much better. The latter statement is invariably made without any supporting evidence or calculations and when asked for specifics or details, the critic is often rebutted with an angry response the ID is not in the business of providing pathetic details.

Recently, a news article in the Toledo Blade featured teachers in the Toledo Public School system who admitted teaching intelligent design in science classrooms. In the article, teachers acknowledged they taught lessons on various pieces of evidence that seemed to refute evolutionary theory, despite the fact that all were proven to be hoaxes by the scientific community.

In other words, the teachers were teaching something which lacked a valid secular purpose, Combine this with the abuse by such examples by creationists and one has a likely establishment clause violation.

The battle over intelligent design in Ohio schools began in 2002 when the State Board of Education endorsed teaching “critical analysis of evolution,” which is no more than a way of slipping intelligent design, and therefore creationism, into the public schools through the back door, according to the ACLU.

And Judge Jones’s opinion was not much better

Judge Joes wrote:

… , we find that ID is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community. ID, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents’, as well as Defendants’ argument that to introduce ID to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum. Moreover, ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.

Following a court ruling in Dover, Pennsylvania in late 2005 that the local school board’s decision to teach intelligent design was unconstitutional, many in Ohio called for the State Board of Education to reexamine its science standards.

And the recent developments have shown that the Ohion State Board of Education has finally listened.

“As Ohio students compete with people from other states and nations for jobs in science and technology, allowing the teaching of intelligent design as a science standard will diminish their ability to compete in the economy,” Gamso said.

So what about these Toledo teachers? The following article provides us with some insight

Michael Maveal wants his eighth-grade students at Jones Junior High to know the truth - as he sees it. So, the Toledo Public Schools science teacher tells them that evolution is an unproven theory, as is creation. He teaches them about Nebraska man, a creature rejected by science long ago, to demonstrate the fallibility of evolution. He teaches them that Pluto has never been seen. [It has.] He teaches them that humans are not animals. [We are.] He teaches them about the famous scientific hoax, Piltdown man, once purported to be an early human ancestor. “I’m not afraid of dealing with all the fakery that’s going on in all the science community,” Mr. Maveal said. “We have to present information to the kids so they can make an intelligent decision for themselves. “I tell them what the scientists won’t admit.”

Toledo Blade

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Comment #80285

Posted by Jeremy on February 16, 2006 12:46 AM (e)

Please tell me that Michael Maveal is now out of a job. Please?

Comment #80286

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 16, 2006 12:58 AM (e)

there seems to be a total knee-jerk hatred of the ACLU by the religious right.

IMO, all other disparaging of the ACLU seems to stem from the ACLU’s position on the abortion issue…

once you come down against the religious right on this issue, it doesn’t matter what you say after that.

They are “the enemy”, and even negative connotations that have absolutely nothing to do with what the ACLU actually does will be attached to them.

Moreover, there is of course pressure from those in politics who would prefer the ACLU simply go away, rather than bring up issues like torture and illegal surveillance. So you get those same politicos contacting their religious right base to inform them how “evil” the ACLU is, which trickles down to the rest of the sheep.

*sigh*

It never ceases to amaze me that these idiots would shoot the very organization that would preserve their rights.

Comment #80296

Posted by Jason Ware on February 16, 2006 4:07 AM (e)

Pluto hasn’t been seen?! How the hell does he think Clyde Tombaugh found it? Damn that makes me mad.

Comment #80298

Posted by Richard Wein on February 16, 2006 5:31 AM (e)

I must say I have a problem with these objections to the use of the word “unguided”. If science teachers cannot teach that natural evolution is unguided (apparently because some theistic evolutionists believe that even purely natural processes can be supernaturally guided), then can they teach that any process is unguided? Perhaps it is even wrong for teachers to refer to unguided missiles (as opposed to guided missiles), since even those missiles I must say I have a problem with these objections to the use of the word “unguided”. If science teachers cannot teach that natural evolution is unguided (apparently because some theistic evolutionists believe that even purely natural processes can be supernaturally guided), then can they teach that any process is unguided? Perhaps it is even wrong for teachers to refer to unguided missiles (as opposed to guided missiles), since even those missiles which we normally call “unguided” may in fact be guided by a supernatural being.

Comment #80299

Posted by Richard Wein on February 16, 2006 5:33 AM (e)

Oops, I made a mess of that last post. Please ignore the repeated bit.

Comment #80302

Posted by Jeffery Keown on February 16, 2006 6:53 AM (e)

This email was blocked by tps.org’s spam filter (I guess sbcglobal.net is a bad address to send from) It was sent to Maveal’s boss, Pamela King (pamela.king@tps.org):

From science.enotes.com:

Michael Maveal wants his eighth-grade students at Jones Junior High to know the truth - as he sees it. So, the Toledo Public Schools science teacher tells them that evolution is an unproven theory, as is creation. He teaches them about Nebraska man, a creature rejected by science long ago, to demonstrate the fallibility of evolution. He teaches them that Pluto has never been seen. He teaches them that humans are not animals. He teaches them about the famous scientific hoax, Piltdown man, once purported to be an early human ancestor. “I’m not afraid of dealing with all the fakery that’s going on in all the science community,” Mr. Maveal said. “We have to present information to the kids so they can make an intelligent decision for themselves. “I tell them what the scientists won’t admit.”

Teaching scientific hoaxes should demonstrate that science itself is self-correcting. How do you uncover a hoax? With science. Does he teach the children the good side of junk science such as Piltdown Man, the recent stem cell scam or Intellegent Design? When such nonsense comes along, it is viewed as an opprotunity to excel by exposing the fraud thus bettering science.

But I am really writing about the phrase “He teaches them that Pluto has never been seen.” How, exactly, does he think we know it is there? I’ve seen the pictures myself. If Mr Maveal would like, I can direct him to the photos.

“I tell them what the scientists won’t admit.”

This sounds like a man with a vendetta against science. Such a person should not be teaching the youth of our nation. We have a hard enough task ahead of us, given that India, China and Europe are racing ahead of the United States in every technological field. Left with teachers such as Mr Maveal, this is no mystery.

Comment #80303

Posted by Peter Henderson on February 16, 2006 6:53 AM (e)

A good source to find out about what the religious right thinks of the ACLU is to have a listen to the Coral Ridge Hour (it airs on TBN here in the UK 3.00pm on Saturdays).

Some of the recent rantings by D.James Kennedy about the ACLU are, in my opinion, approaching paranoia. He usually covers stories on such subjects as abortion, posting the 10 commandments in courthouses, reading the bible in schools and creationism etc. When things don’t go right for them in the courts he blames the ACLU for turning America into a secularist, immoral, and humanistic country !

Comment #80306

Posted by Jeffery Keown on February 16, 2006 7:40 AM (e)

Yahoo.com is also a bad address. Methinks they are filtering for that poor fellow’s name.

Cowards.

Comment #80307

Posted by J Dawson on February 16, 2006 8:05 AM (e)

you know, I used to think americans were weird, because they shot the doctors performing abortions, and bashed gays. Now I realise that we australians are exactly the same: it’s just we’ve taken longer for these people to be exposed.
We had a vote today in our federal parliament about a pill that enables abortion without surgery. It passed both houses with a clear majority, but the arguments for it were so reminiscent of the arguments for ID that my partner had to tell me to stop yelling at the tv.. The same tactics of saying that it’s not about issue A, it’s about issues B and C, but when you look at those issues, the only reason why they’re a problem is if you have religius beliefs that conflict with them.
I (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this) am sick of this obfuscation by religious people to disguise their ideals. Can’t we throw them in a river to see if they float, to know they are lying? That’s how they conducted business..
We have a catholic health minister saying that the fact that it’s an abortion pill is not the issue, it’s about parliament being responsible for decisions on these kinds of drugs. I see it as the same as people saying they are not teaching about ID (because that would be wrong), they’re teaching about the ‘conflicting theories’ or some such BS..
Seriously, am I the only one that has had enough of this? It makes me want to convert to Islam, so I can declare a jihad.. Seriously pissed off.
How can we expose these people for the shallow bible-bashers that they are? I need some tools..

Comment #80308

Posted by improvius on February 16, 2006 8:25 AM (e)

I’ll bet Michael Maveal spends his spare time searching for fairy godparents.

Comment #80314

Posted by steve s on February 16, 2006 8:45 AM (e)

http://www.pensitoreview.com/images/photo-get-a-brain-morans.jpg

Comment #80320

Posted by hehe on February 16, 2006 9:28 AM (e)

So, DaveyScotty, still pissed off from his recent common descent fiasco, is showing his frustration and ignorance again. What else is new? ;-)

Comment #80322

Posted by Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro on February 16, 2006 9:34 AM (e)

When we had our first child I did an informal survey of the other parents in the maternity ward and I think it’s quite correct to refer to a large majority of children as “unplanned”…

Comment #80325

Posted by A. L. R. on February 16, 2006 9:43 AM (e)

I’m going to have to second Richard Wein’s comment. You don’t have to be a “religion is child abuse!” atheist to insist that evolution be taught as “unguided”. In fact, I would go a step further and say that pedagogy requires that it be so taught.

Surely almost all of the contributors and pro-science commenters on PT at one time or another have had a conversation with someone unfamiliar with evolution and sincerely making an effort to understand it, and encountered a question such as the following:

“If X evolved, how did evolution know that the organism was going to need X, and how did it know to provide all the supporting structures for X?”

I submit that the only appropriate, honest response to this very understandable and commonplace misconception must be “evolution doesn’t ‘know’ anything, because evolution is not ‘trying’ to achieve anything in particular.”

Let me state it even more strongly: any student who does not understand that evolution is unguided does not understand evolution.

Richard Wein was also perceptive enough to preempt the natural response of NOMAists, to wit, that “unguided” is a “metaphysical claim” that “goes beyond the science”. If that were the case, then all of science (including history and the social sciences) would be forbidden from ever claiming that any phenomena of any kind are “unguided”.

Comment #80326

Posted by AD on February 16, 2006 9:45 AM (e)

I must say I have a problem with these objections to the use of the word “unguided”. If science teachers cannot teach that natural evolution is unguided (apparently because some theistic evolutionists believe that even purely natural processes can be supernaturally guided), then can they teach that any process is unguided?

I believe the issue is the clarification of what we mean by “unguided”. If the statement is essentially equivalent to saying “no discernable goal that is detectable with empirical testing” and conforms to methodological naturalism, I don’t see a problem. That’s basically just saying we can’t find a purpose yet, not that it doesn’t have one. Unguided in that sense is fine.

But if you mean “unguided”, as in there can be no possible guidance because there is no God, then that’s kind of nuts. It’s something you cannot prove any more easily than ID. So, basically, saying unguided is almost irrelevant if you understand how science functions in the first place. One would realize, already, there is no attribution of final cause to evolution by science.

I do laugh about the ID folks inserting the “unguided” into the curriculum, though. I wonder how that will play in court.

Comment #80327

Posted by B. Spitzer on February 16, 2006 10:04 AM (e)

From Richard Wein:

I must say I have a problem with these objections to the use of the word “unguided”. If science teachers cannot teach that natural evolution is unguided (apparently because some theistic evolutionists believe that even purely natural processes can be supernaturally guided), then can they teach that any process is unguided?

This is a good point, but I would still argue that calling evolution “unguided” makes a metaphysical claim that can’t be backed up with scientific evidence. So making that claim in a scientific setting isn’t appropriate.

Technically, the best way of describing evolution is probably to say that “as far as we can tell, it is not ‘guided’ any more than any of the other natural events that we see around us every day”. That’s accurate, without going beyond our evidence, but it’s a real mouthful. Maybe a better compromise, as a teacher, is to emphasize that organisms don’t direct their own evolution and that the natural forces which drive evolution are the same natural forces that students are familiar with– no more, no less. That addresses a couple of common student misconceptions: first, that organisms evolve because they “want” or “need” to, and second that evolution involves some special, mystical force that isn’t in other processes. But it leaves them free to decide for themselves whether or not God is present in the everyday, natural universe.

Of course, maybe explaining all of this isn’t an awkward nuisance; maybe it’s a great opportunity to emphasize to students how science works and where its limits are.

DaveScot’s insistence that the Nobel 38 are right in their definition of evolution as “unguided” and “unplanned” prompted me to jot this in my journal the other night:

There is a great deal of irony in this. When a scientist makes a statement about a topic on which he has no training– for which he can marshal no scientific tests or evidence– about which there is no consensus among biologists– that scientist is taken to be an unquestionable authority whose words are perfectly correct. But when that same man makes a statement about the evidence supporting the theory of evolution– a topic on which he is profoundly well-informed, for which there is an immense amount of hard fact, and on which there is no serious doubt within the scientific community– then, in the creationist’s eyes, his authority crumbles into dust and his knowledge is puffery, hardly worthy to be shrugged aside.

Comment #80332

Posted by Gorbe on February 16, 2006 10:27 AM (e)

Joseph Goebbels would be proud and George Orwell would be shocked by this clever use of rhetoric and newspeak. As absurd as the claim may be, it will accomplish what it is intended to do – to keep fundamentalists engaged in the martyr complex so that they are plenty rejuvenated to return America to Christ … ala election 2006/8.

Comment #80337

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on February 16, 2006 10:50 AM (e)

By the way, if I’m not mistaken the opposite of a “guided” missile is a “balistic” missile, wherein all the “guiding” happens at launch. I don’t believe there are any “unguided” missiles, at least not by design. I’d hate to think that any weapon’s targeting was left to an unknown and unspecified force.

Comment #80338

Posted by Flint on February 16, 2006 11:01 AM (e)

In one right-wing forum, I posted a long list of cases where the ACLU was explicitly defending the rights of Christians to BE Christians and express their faith without unconstitutional resistance. There are quite a few of these.

The reactions to this post were straight out of DaveScot: The consensus was that the only conceivable reason the ACLU might do this was because they are simply too stupid to realize what they’re doing, and defended Christians out of sheer ignorant accident. What ELSE could explain it?

Yes, of course the ID proponents are inserting “unguided” in a deliberate attempt to misrepresent what evolutionary theory says, to make the result easier to attack. If you can’t attack what it says, MAKE it say something it does not and then attack THAT. The religious mentality never changes - in their world, things become true because they SAY they’re true. It’s ‘poof’ all the way down.

Comment #80339

Posted by Ebonmuse on February 16, 2006 11:05 AM (e)

I also agree with Richard Wein; the real issue here is whether “unguided” is being used in an empirical or a metaphysical sense. As usual, creationists are equivocating between the two meanings of the word, which have very different implications, to cause confusion. Perhaps a good way to put it would be to say that evolution is unguided at the level of the organism, i.e., individual organisms cannot evolve based on what they “know” they need. On the other hand, whether evolution as a process in general is unguided is not a question that science can answer. In that sense, the IDers’ adding it to the curriculum is an attempt at straw-man creation.

Comment #80340

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 16, 2006 11:06 AM (e)

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on February 16, 2006 10:50 AM (e)

By the way, if I’m not mistaken the opposite of a “guided” missile is a “balistic” missile, wherein all the “guiding” happens at launch. I don’t believe there are any “unguided” missiles, at least not by design. I’d hate to think that any weapon’s targeting was left to an unknown and unspecified force.

AFAIK. A guided missile has the ability to be controled/directed during flight. As opposed to an aimed missile that has no corective in-flight control.

Balistic refers to the nature of flight. Balistic objects fly just with power to weight ratio. IE they dont rely on wings for flight.

Comment #80341

Posted by AC on February 16, 2006 11:12 AM (e)

AD wrote:

I believe the issue is the clarification of what we mean by “unguided”. If the statement is essentially equivalent to saying “no discernable goal that is detectable with empirical testing” and conforms to methodological naturalism, I don’t see a problem. That’s basically just saying we can’t find a purpose yet, not that it doesn’t have one. Unguided in that sense is fine.

But it really isn’t just saying that “we can’t find a purpose yet”. It’s not a metaphysical statement at all. It merely seeks to encapsulate the fact that the process itself is unconscious. I suppose one could imagine all manner of additional, metaphysical layers - such as that random mutations only seem random to us, but some god is really orchestrating them - but that’s not science.

I think such an explanation would clear things up for genuinely confused people. Of course, the scoundrels using “unguided” as a codeword for “atheistic” (even “antitheistic”) for political purposes are a different story.

Comment #80342

Posted by Ebonmuse on February 16, 2006 11:13 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

The religious mentality never changes - in their world, things become true because they SAY they’re true.

An excellent point, Flint. One can see other examples of this, such as the Calvary Chapel Christian School suing the University of California system for not granting transfer credit for creationist science courses (1). In the creationists’ minds, if they say something is true (i.e., creationism is valid science), then it is a violation of their right of free speech for anyone to say otherwise.

Comment #80343

Posted by AD on February 16, 2006 11:24 AM (e)

AC,

I meant that in a scientific sense we can’t find a purpose yet, or perhaps ever. It also clearly abdicates any statement about a supernatural purpose, which science isn’t going to speak to. The point is to make clear we aren’t saying it has no purpose, just that it has no discernable purpose from the perspective of an individual organism (they don’t evolve because they “want” to, or have a “plan”). There’s very obviously no statement about whether a God-being could be guiding the process from behind the scenes or not (because you can’t test that).

Judging from all the responses, though, I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that “unguided” in the scientific sense is not “OMFG NO GOD”, no matter how badly the ID folks want it to be that.

Comment #80345

Posted by Glen Davidson on February 16, 2006 11:32 AM (e)

The idea that evolution is unguided is a reasonable induction, based on the observations of the random events that affect evolution, plus the selective–but by all appearances unguided–pressures that together make up the “evolutionary mechanisms”. We do not have to resort to any sort of metaphysics to make the sensible judgment that unguided processes are responsible, we’re simply using the positive evidence in hand to make a reasonable, but not absolute, judgment that evolution is as unguided as chemical reactions are.

This is what we’re fighting for, in fact, the freedom to infer and to teach what appears to be the case in the observable world. We are not denying that God could have anything to do with chemical reactions, ecology, or evolution, but we are denying that we see God’s guidance in these areas. And although it is likely that children need to be more clearly taught that scientific conclusions are indeed limited and that they do not rule out unobserved influences, I cannot think that we have any business suggesting that “guidance” is any more likely, according to the available evidence, in evolution than it is in the test tubes used in chemistry class.

That said, the fact that the pro-ID forces put in the word “unguided” is telling, both because of the typical ignorant lashing out at the “other” that we get from the ID camp, and because most of us wouldn’t go to the bother of saying that evolution is “unguided”. When one may do so, one simply leaves out the question of “guidance” and merely treats evolution like chemistry, as something where we look to the evidence to make our scientific models. There’s no more point to emphasizing the lack of guidance in evolution that we infer from what we observe, than there is in suggesting that evolution may be guided, as a kind of sop to the religionists.

So that I have no problem with saying that evolution is unguided, in the typical contingent and scientific sense that I would claim the behavior of wild albatrosses is unguided. But in most cases it doesn’t need to be said, nor should we make a point of stating that evolution is “unguided” (except in special cases). The known unguided mechanisms of evolution ought to be presented in the same manner that the known unguided mechanisms of chemistry are presented–as the best inference that we have at present. If anyone wants to mix up either chemistry or evolution with, say, Hegelian or religious mysticism, that is not really our concern, just so long as they understand what the evidence shows and they have some recognition of how we arrive at such scientific conclusions.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #80349

Posted by A. L. R. on February 16, 2006 11:54 AM (e)

Ebonmuse wrote:

On the other hand, whether evolution as a process in general is unguided is not a question that science can answer. In that sense, the IDers’ adding it to the curriculum is an attempt at straw-man creation.

I think even this language is still too vague to enforce the relevant distinction. “Guided as a process in general” is still an empirical claim, not a metaphysical one; furthermore, it’s a proposition that has been demonstrated by science to be false, as clearly as science has demonstrated geocentrism to be false.

There are AFAICT only two senses in which the claim that evolution is unguided is a “metaphysical claim” that “goes beyond what science can tell us.”

The first sense is the intellectually sterile response of the Pyrrhonic Sceptic where we might all be brains in vats or victims of an evil demon, in which case any claim about anything at all is “uncertain” and “goes beyond the evidence”. I don’t think anyone at the DI means it in this sense.

The other sense is a generally theistic one where “designed” and “guided” are conceptual honorifics – they’re anthropomorphic shorthand and loose analogies with the design activity of normal naturalistic human designers and guiders, employed because our finite minds cannot generate an adequate linguistic description of the process. This sense is essentially one of theological noncognitivism; to say “evolution is guided” is not even to state a choate truth-functional description of the world per se, but to express the speaker’s awe and wonder at the grandeur of the unfolding universe.

To the extent, however, that “evolution is unguided” expresses a meaningful cognitive claim about the world, then it has been proved as certainly true as anything can be proved. I’m deeply troubled by the implication that science ought to walk on eggshells to avoid giving offense to anyone whose religious beliefs employ euphemistic language involving designers or guiders. ISTM that if science can challenge the empirical claims of YECism, then it ought to be allowed to challenge the empirical claims of Intelligent Design, and ignore the protestations of people who want to coopt designist language into their own emotive expressions of spiritual experience. If your religion says Yahweh made the world 6,000 years ago, your religion is false. If your religion says Yahweh empirically-guided evolution, your religion is false. If your religion says Yahweh guided-evolution-in-an-undefined-euphemistic-sense, then your religion isn’t even in the business of making statements that can be true or false, and so you have nothing to fear from scientists calling evolution unguided.

Comment #80350

Posted by KL on February 16, 2006 12:11 PM (e)

I have a question that is probably quite a bit off-topic (unless you have a really good imagination that can find connections where they barely exist)

If a math teacher assigned a book for a class to read, and someone wanted to know if the book has been reviewed for its math content validity or value, where would that person look? I teach science, and if a teacher in my school decided to use “Pandas” in a class, I know where to get detailed reviews on the science presented in the book.

I ask this because a math teacher has included Darwin’s Black Box by Behe in a reading list (students may choose from this list; it’s not assigned). I can read scientific critiques of this book, and in fact as a department we raised the question of the book’s value because of its faulty science content, but I am curious why a math class would be interested in the book. I am not a mathematician, so I would have to depend heavily on experts for their take on this matter.

Thanks in advance for any help on this matter.

Comment #80354

Posted by B. Spitzer on February 16, 2006 12:23 PM (e)

Hi KL,

As far as I can recall– it’s been a few years since I read it– “Darwin’s Black Box” contains no math whatsoever.

I’m having trouble coming up with any legitimate pedagogical reason why a math teacher would want students to read it. I can’t see how it would help them understand mathematics.

As you might imagine, this raises a warning flag in my mind. I’d be concerned that this math teacher has motives that aren’t pedagogical, but of course you’d have to check that out to be sure.

Comment #80355

Posted by Keanus on February 16, 2006 12:29 PM (e)

The ACLU has been the far right’s favorite whipping boy since the ‘20’s when the right decreed it to be an agent of the international communist conspiracy. The view held well into the ‘60’s during which period right wing politicians frequently tried to link it, in the style of Joe McCarthy, to the Soviet Union. Through it all the ACLU defended anyone who’s rights were in jeopardy, Christian or non-Christian, left-wing or right-wing, black or white. One of their clients back in the ‘60’s was even that grand Pooh Bah of the right, William F. Buckley, when he was being harrassed for his political views. The far right, Christian and otherwise, always needs an enemy (it’s needed for the martyr/persecution complex), preferably one with superhuman malice and cunning. “Evolutionists” and the ACLU currently serve that purpose for many. When god is on your side, your opponents must be in thrall to the devil. The far right’s current sway in the White House and Washington, given their proclivity to demonize anyone who disagrees, is why the current atmosphere there is so poisonous.

Comment #80356

Posted by JONBOY on February 16, 2006 12:41 PM (e)

When IDists denounce Dawkins and Sagan for calling evolution a proven fact, they are actually attacking all physical scientists, because no scientist can prove any physical law or theory will be eternally true.IDists want absolutes, which science will never generate. Science does not provide the kind of eternal verities IDists seek. Every law or theory in science is a temporary truth, a relative truth. It works for now; it is true for now. But that is not to say it will never be enhanced. Scientists gather data and formulate theories based on what they have. As new information is collected, the theory is modified and improved, to take account of new facts. IDists, on the other hand, formulated theories based on personal beliefs, gathered data to corroborate them, and discarded all information to the contrary. Facts were made to fit beliefs, rather than vice verse. Secondly, there are always going to be questions in the physical sciences for which current theories or laws have no provable explanation. That is inherent to the nature of science. And because scientists don’t know all, creationists and others of an anti-science propensity will always have a void to exploit. And, of course, historically they have done just that. Quick to provide supernatural explanations for unknown causes or phenomena,(God Of The Gaps) they have specialized in focusing on the weakness of science and asking questions for which scientists had no conclusive proof. The struggle between scientists and supernaturalists has been, and will continue to be, a perpetual process in which supernaturalists are retreating, while naturalists are advancing. Every time naturalists have found answers to the questions of supernaturalists, the latter have moved to new questions. And until naturalists can provide satisfactory explanations for everything, supernaturalists will always have an opening for divine intervention
If one seeks absolutes, statements which are true at all times, under all conditions, then he should stay with supernaturalists such as the creationists. They, alone, provide absolutes: absolutes which are absolutely wrong

Comment #80358

Posted by J. G. Cox on February 16, 2006 12:52 PM (e)

My experience, as a member of the ACLU, is that most right-wingers don’t know about the cases in which the ACLU has defended Christians or right-wingers. There as two reasons I see for this. The first is that the media popular in heavily right-wing/Christian areas never talk about these cases; e.g., Rush Limbaugh will rant to millions when the ACLU sues a school for required prayer, but not say a word when the ACLU sues a school for trying to prevent private prayer among Christian students.
The second reason is that the ACLU does challange Christians more than people of other faiths. That is because Christians form a political majority in this country, and like every other group in the history of our species, they try to use (abuse?) that power to mold society around them. Thus, Christians as a group possess and use the power to inflict unconstitutional resolutions/laws/etc. on the populace more than any other political group, and so get sued more. Therefore we get the perception of the ACLU as being anti-Christian.

Comment #80360

Posted by steve s on February 16, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

Exactly.

Comment #80363

Posted by Bynocerus on February 16, 2006 1:00 PM (e)

The term “unguided” is the key to the entire debate between cretinism/ID and Science. From everything we know about evolution, there is no reason at all why one species thrives while another perishes. Certainly, there is a cause, but to say that there is a “reason” why a meteorite smashed into earth millions of years ago and wiped out most of the life on this planet is disingenuous at best.

If evolution teaches us nothing else, it is that for 4 Billion years, life on this planet has been firmly out of the anyone’s (or thing’s) control. In fact, random destruction is what allows so many types of life to exist.

Clearly, an “unguided “ history of evolution provides its own set of problems. Unfortunately, even a “guided” history of life on earth should give pause to those who believe that God had anything to do with the history of life on earth. After all, what kind of God would kill off (or allow to be killed off) 99.99% of its creation to arrive at anything, including humans. Is such a God “knowable”? Even more importantly, is such a God worth worshipping?

Guided, unguided; it’s all the same to Bible-beaters. If we are here by evolutionary processes, the God of the Bible is dead any way you slice it. Those who hold that one can both believe the Bible is the word of God and believe in the truth of evolution only deceive themselves. Oddly, it is the cretinists who understand this so clearly, as opposed to the biologists, geologists, astronomers, chemists and anthropologists who see no “false dichotomy.”

Comment #80364

Posted by gwangung on February 16, 2006 1:00 PM (e)

Huh. ACLU Derangement Syndrome, all over again.

Comment #80367

Posted by bjm on February 16, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

So the IDots planted the word ‘unguided’ Is that what Behe meant by ‘purposeful arrangement….’?

Comment #80368

Posted by KL on February 16, 2006 1:16 PM (e)

Dear B. Spitzer:

Thanks for your input. I was curious and I have no copy of the book near at hand. I teach in a private school, and would never interfere in another teacher’s curriculum, but our science department has a problem with a book containing discredited scientific claims being used without any statement or preface regarding its validity.

Comment #80369

Posted by AD on February 16, 2006 1:24 PM (e)

I ask this because a math teacher has included Darwin’s Black Box by Behe in a reading list (students may choose from this list; it’s not assigned).

What math class is this, and have you asked the teacher about the relevance to the course?

Just get those answers and let me know. I actually do have a degree or two in mathematics and would be happy to comment, as when I read the book, I could not see any relevance to a mathematics course.

Unless he’s teaching a mechanical logic course or something similar and intends to pull it apart; in that case, it might be appropriate.

Comment #80371

Posted by JONBOY on February 16, 2006 1:32 PM (e)

One would think that creationists and other supernaturalists would learn from history and admit they are fighting a losing battle. They may be correct in feeling they can never be eradicated, because science will never explain all, it will never become God; but they must realize their losses will grow with every scientific advance.
As Dawkins said “Indeed, increasing numbers of biblicists are wisely abandoning the ramparts and leaving fundamentalists to cover the retreat”.

Comment #80373

Posted by Unsympathetic reader on February 16, 2006 1:41 PM (e)

I guess it’s time I become a card-carrying member of the ACLU (I’m embarassed that I’m not currently a member…)

Comment #80374

Posted by KL on February 16, 2006 1:43 PM (e)

AD,

This is a Calculus course. This book is the only one, I believe, that touches on biological topics. The rest concern physics or mathematics. The teacher is deeply religious, which is okay especially since we are an Episcopal school. I am not sure what his goals are, but we are certainly asking. The seniors in the school are required to take a year-long course in Religion, which is a survey of world religions and in some ways a philosophical and historical exploration of religion as a human experience. We would have the same concerns if this book was used in that course, not because of its religious implications, but because of its scientific claims.

Comment #80376

Posted by Tony on February 16, 2006 1:50 PM (e)

Rush Limbaugh will rant to millions when the ACLU sues a school for required prayer, but not say a word when the ACLU sues a school for trying to prevent private prayer among Christian students.

Interesting to note that the ACLU has been supportive of Rush Limbaugh as he is fighting to keep his medical records private in his prescription drug case. If the ACLU really was the enemy of the political right, why would they be supporting him?

I’ve learned a long time ago that getting the “truth” in anything is about learning both sides of an issue. Many news outlets no longer seem to do this anymore (i.e. Fox News to the Right and MSNBC to the Left). Every time I hear about some reported outrageous stance taken by either the ACLU or Americans United, I find it helpful to read the details of the court briefs, if available. It is interesting what items and details are often left unreported.

Comment #80377

Posted by B. Spitzer on February 16, 2006 2:01 PM (e)

Bynoceros:

If we are here by evolutionary processes, the God of the Bible is dead any way you slice it. Those who hold that one can both believe the Bible is the word of God and believe in the truth of evolution only deceive themselves.

IF you have studied the interface between science and religion in detail, and IF you are familiar with the ways in which Christian thinkers have understood the relationship between the God of the Bible and the natural world over the past two thousand years, and IF you’re aware of how a remarkably large number of scientists today reconcile the two, THEN you might be qualified to make that claim.

Otherwise, you have no business telling me what my faith is and why it’s wrong, just as an uninformed creationist has no business telling me what evolution is and why it’s wrong.

If it’s not acceptable to pass judgement on evolutionary biology without understanding it, neither is it acceptable to pass judgement on someone’s faith without understanding it. Kindly recognize that you’re straying into territory where you don’t know enough to back up your claims. Otherwise, the difference between you and a creationist becomes uncomfortably slim.

Comment #80378

Posted by steve s (ACLU member since 2001) on February 16, 2006 2:09 PM (e)

Interesting to note that the ACLU has been supportive of Rush Limbaugh as he is fighting to keep his medical records private in his prescription drug case. If the ACLU really was the enemy of the political right, why would they be supporting him?

They’re just trying to fake you out! LOL. What J. G. Cox said above was exactly right.

Comment #80380

Posted by PvM on February 16, 2006 2:14 PM (e)

I believe the issue is the clarification of what we mean by “unguided”. If the statement is essentially equivalent to saying “no discernable goal that is detectable with empirical testing” and conforms to methodological naturalism, I don’t see a problem. That’s basically just saying we can’t find a purpose yet, not that it doesn’t have one. Unguided in that sense is fine.

But if you mean “unguided”, as in there can be no possible guidance because there is no God, then that’s kind of nuts. It’s something you cannot prove any more easily than ID. So, basically, saying unguided

Good point. Design, purposeful arrangement, specified complexity, all are based on concepts which can easily lead to conflation. As you correctly point out, unguided has nothing to say about God but all about what science finds when it by nature of being science, ‘limits’ itself to natural explanations and scientific methodology.

Calling something ‘designed’ hardly resolves the issue of how one distinguishes between a natural designer (such as the processes of variaton and selection) and a supernatural designer. Calling something purposeful or specified because it has a function similar does not help to resolve this issue either.

Science has testable explanations for the appearance of design in nature, ID has NO scientifically relevant explanations for their position, other than by arguing against science.

Comment #80382

Posted by Wislu Plethora, FCD on February 16, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

JonBoy wrote:

As Dawkins said “Indeed, increasing numbers of biblicists are wisely abandoning the ramparts and leaving fundamentalists to cover the retreat”.

And as Lenny Bruce said, “Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.”

Comment #80383

Posted by BWE on February 16, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

Michael Maveal wants his eighth-grade students at Jones Junior High to know the truth - as he sees it. So, the Toledo Public Schools science teacher tells them that evolution is an unproven theory, as is creation. He teaches them about Nebraska man, a creature rejected by science long ago, to demonstrate the fallibility of evolution. He teaches them that Pluto has never been seen. [It has.] He teaches them that humans are not animals. [We are.] He teaches them about the famous scientific hoax, Piltdown man, once purported to be an early human ancestor. “I’m not afraid of dealing with all the fakery that’s going on in all the science community,” Mr. Maveal said. “We have to present information to the kids so they can make an intelligent decision for themselves.

Hmmm. And people wonder why I make all these jokes about religious types.

Comment #80386

Posted by AD on February 16, 2006 2:30 PM (e)

KL,

I cannot think of any specific mathematical relevance that Behe’s book would have to a calculus course. I have taught lab classes for introductory level calculus at the college level and have a mathematics degree, so you can consider it at least a half-assed professional opinion.

If you are concerned about it, I would suggest two potential avenues for further investigation:

- Ask the teacher in question, in a very neutral and non-biased manner, why he included the book. He might well have a good reason, and you don’t know until you ask, I suppose.

- Having done that, if he doesn’t have one, I’d express concern based on the false scientific claims and lack of relevance to the class. From my understanding, most private catholic and non-fundamental christian schools I have dealt with in the past have possessed very strong scientific integrity and knowledge. Hopefully this is the case where you are as well.

PvM,

Even more complicated is the fact that many theistic scientists would use the apparent “unguided” nature of evolution on a natural level as evidence of the “guided” nature of evolution on a theistic/supernatural level.

Speaking philosophically, I have heard the argument that the incredible number of chances that would be required for humanity to evolve (and likewise, similar arguments about the universe as a whole in light of its complexity) as dictated by scientific principles is evidence that there must be a supernatural designer working behind the curtain. In other words, instead of evolution contradicting God, evolution is, in fact, evidence for God. Most of them would point out, though, that they are not concluding that using scientific methods. Yet, these people say evolution is an unguided process!

The point is to be careful what we mean about guidance, which is to say “We observe no natural evidence that evolution is guided to any purpose other than survival”. That’s all - no mention of a guiding/creator being who could very well be working in non-natural ways. There’s just no way to observe/test that.

Kind of makes the argument about contradicting God ridiculous once you understand what “unguided” really means. Likewise, EVERYTHING in science is unguided in that regard - there is no scientific theory that ascribes a supernatural final cause to anything.

Comment #80390

Posted by Ebonmuse on February 16, 2006 2:40 PM (e)

A.L.R. wrote:

There are AFAICT only two senses in which the claim that evolution is unguided is a “metaphysical claim” that “goes beyond what science can tell us.”

….The other sense is a generally theistic one where “designed” and “guided” are conceptual honorifics — they’re anthropomorphic shorthand and loose analogies with the design activity of normal naturalistic human designers and guiders, employed because our finite minds cannot generate an adequate linguistic description of the process. This sense is essentially one of theological noncognitivism; to say “evolution is guided” is not even to state a choate truth-functional description of the world per se, but to express the speaker’s awe and wonder at the grandeur of the unfolding universe.

I disagree. I don’t see why the claim of design has to be a “conceptual honorific”, or something else too vague for us to define - I think it can be extended in a fairly direct and truth-functional sense to explain one imaginable process by which life might have come into being and diversified. I do not think such a thing has actually happened, but I can certainly conceive of what that proposition would mean.

A.L.R. wrote:

I’m deeply troubled by the implication that science ought to walk on eggshells to avoid giving offense to anyone whose religious beliefs employ euphemistic language involving designers or guiders.

I would never advocate walking on eggshells to avoid offending religious sensibilities (and if you doubt that, click on my name above and visit my website). When religious beliefs lead people to make claims that extend into the domain of science, those claims should be scientifically tested. If they pass the tests, great - we’ve learned something new about how the world works. If they don’t pass the tests, then so much the worse for those beliefs. For example, the cosmos is older than 6,000 years, human beings did not all descend from one original pair of people, and there was no recent worldwide flood. All these statements are true, and we should say so unequivocally in science class. However, there are also religious claims that cannot be scientifically tested. For example, one could believe that, although science has discovered no causal force influencing which mutations arise, there nevertheless is an intelligent being that has intervened in ways undetectable to us to cause certain mutations to appear over the ages, thereby guiding the course which evolution would take. This claim is not testable and therefore not part of science. If that is what people choose to believe, I can show no evidence that they are wrong, and so we should not discuss this claim as if it were something scientifically disproved. That’s not tiptoeing around religious sensibilities, it’s just a simple fact about the kinds of claims science can and cannot investigate.

For the record, I do think it is perfectly appropriate to say that evolution is unguided, as far as science can determine. That last clause should not have to be there at all - that should be something that is implicit in every statement taught in science classes - but as I said, creationists are prone to stir up confusion by switching between two different senses of the word, and so scientists should ward off that misuse by being explicit about what they mean.

A.L.R. wrote:

ISTM that if science can challenge the empirical claims of YECism, then it ought to be allowed to challenge the empirical claims of Intelligent Design…

I agree - science should challenge, and has effectively challenged, the empirical claims of intelligent design. Insofar as creationists make statements about what evolution could not have produced without a designer’s intervention, it is absolutely legitimate to show why those statements are wrong. But not all religious beliefs are empirical claims.

Comment #80392

Posted by Mike on February 16, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

Using the word “unguided” is simply inviting confusion. Its a bad idea in a grade school class.

1. As has already been pointed out at length, it suggests metaphysical speculations that have no place in a science class.

2. It suggests that evolution is random, which is simply not the case.

Please, lets agree to have a firewall between what is actually science, and speculations about belief systems that individuals like Richard Dawkins might want to draw from it. I don’t think the public is totally to blame for thinking that evolution teaches atheism. I think the scientific community is to blame for not being clear and consistent with our language.

Comment #80393

Posted by Bynocerus on February 16, 2006 2:56 PM (e)

B. Spitz,

No offense intended. My wife is of the same persuasion as you, and I tell the same thing to her (much to her chagrin).

However, I have yet to read a reconciliation of the Bible and modern science that is anything other than sophistry. From before Augustine on, apologists have hemmed and hawed their way around mutually exclusive propositions; From earths on the backs of turtles to angels pushing around planets to God refraining from craps to Overlapping Magesteria.

Either the world was created in six days or it wasn’t. Either there was a Global Flood or there wasn’t. The walls of Jericho really did fall because Israelites marched around them seven times blowing horns or the city of Jericho had already been destroyed when the tribes of Judah came upon them fifty years after the fact.

My point is that when we begin deciding what’s true about the Bible and what’s allegory, where do we stop? The one thing cretinist have going for them is that they are consistent in their belief concerning the infallibility of the Bible. If the Bible is fallible (or, I’m sorry, “allegorical”), then why should we believe any of it? It’s one thing for Solomon to only rule a pfiefdom of mesopatamia instead of being the richest man on earth. It’s quite another for the Creation story to be a complete fabrication, and even worse for Jesus to speak of Global Floods that never happened. Jesus IS GOD; if he talks about a Global Flood, and there was no Global Flood, then what?

At any rate, my main point is that most world religions have us at the center of the universe. As we learn that there is no center of the universe, or that we are not the finished product of a Creator (but rather a transitory species on the path to some other species which itself will not be the final product), the truth these religions becomes more and more suspect, which is why this wording is so important to the ID folks.

Comment #80396

Posted by sonofblast on February 16, 2006 3:11 PM (e)

38 Nobel prize winning scientists wrote a letter to the Kanas BoE stating that evolution was understood to be an unguided, unplanned process. The ID minority included what 38 of the world’s greatest living scientists said was how evolution was understood.

Maybe you and Jack and egbert should argue with them about how evolution is understood by “science” instead of with the ID minority or with DaveScot.

Comment #80401

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 16, 2006 3:35 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #80402

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 16, 2006 3:36 PM (e)

I’d hate to think that any weapon’s targeting was left to an unknown and unspecified force.

ya know, I’ve often looked at the whole ID movement as a dangerous weapon, left to be guided by an unknown and unspecified force…

the collateral damage of that weapon is likely to be immense.

Comment #80403

Posted by sonofblast on February 16, 2006 3:37 PM (e)

spitzer

There is a great deal of irony in this. When a scientist makes a statement about a topic on which he has no training— for which he can marshal no scientific tests or evidence— about which there is no consensus among biologists— that scientist is taken to be an unquestionable authority whose words are perfectly correct. But when that same man makes a statement about the evidence supporting the theory of evolution— a topic on which he is profoundly well-informed, for which there is an immense amount of hard fact, and on which there is no serious doubt within the scientific community— then, in the creationist’s eyes, his authority crumbles into dust and his knowledge is puffery, hardly worthy to be shrugged aside.

There’s no irony in it once you understand there’s a religious agenda influencing how evolution is understood. Atheism is of course a religion for this purpose, the conviction (based upon faith, not science) that God does not exist. 72% of NAS scientists are positive atheists and although I couldn’t find the percentage of the Wiesel 38 that are positive atheists I’d bet at least 72% of them are. There are people on BOTH sides of this debate that are letting their religious beliefs pollute their scientific knowledge. If you think it’s only bible bangers that have an agenda you’re wrong. Science is agnostic. Unfortunately the majority of the worlds top scientists are not agnostic. It’s become a little club for atheists at the top and while they let in doubters (22% of NAS scientists are agnostic) only 7% believe in God. So if you want into the club you better keep your God tucked out of sight like a good little sheep.

Comment #80404

Posted by AD on February 16, 2006 3:38 PM (e)

38 Nobel prize winning scientists wrote a letter to the Kanas BoE stating that evolution was understood to be an unguided, unplanned process.

Please define “unguided” and “unplanned”.

Thank you.

Comment #80405

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 16, 2006 3:39 PM (e)

Richard Wein wrote:

Perhaps it is even wrong for teachers to refer to unguided missiles (as opposed to guided missiles), since even those missiles which we normally call “unguided” may in fact be guided by a supernatural being.

Ironically though, even an unguided missile has a purpose, in that some person intended it to hit some target. In that sense it is “guided”.

While not a perfect analogy, I think this highlights the difference between “guided” in the physical sense and “guided” in the metaphysical, ultimate purpose type sense. As several people have pointed out, evolution is unguided in the first sense (from what we know), but it’s impossible to say, scientifically, if it’s unguided in the second sense.

I think a lot of this gets away though from Pim’s main point, which is a very important one: The people who claim most forcefully that evolution is “unguided”, or that it implies that life is purposeless or without ultimate meaning, or that it’s incompatible with theism, are the [i]creationists[/i]. They are the ones who insist that evolution and faith cannot be reconciled. Some evolutionists also believe this, to be sure, but this is not the view of the majority, and certainly not the view of the large fraction who are religious. (And certainly no one, besides the creationists, thinks this idea should be taught in schools.) So when the creationists complain that their children are being force-fed “materialism” or whatnot, they are complaining about a philosophy that is mostly their creation, which exists as a simplistic polar opposite to whatever they believe. Then they bitterly attack us for adhering to this philosophy which we don’t adhere to, and expect us to remedy a false dilemma that they created.

Comment #80407

Posted by sonofblase on February 16, 2006 3:54 PM (e)

AD

Please define “unguided” and “unplanned”.

What’s the problem, is english not your native language or did you forget how to use a dictionary?

Comment #80408

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 16, 2006 3:54 PM (e)

sonofblast wrote:

If you think it’s only bible bangers that have an agenda you’re wrong. Science is agnostic. Unfortunately the majority of the worlds top scientists are not agnostic.

How is this relevant? Is it written somewhere that all scientists must be agnostic? The fact that top scientists are more likely to be atheist says nothing one way or the other about having an “agenda”. No one argues that the mere fact of being a Christian means that one has an agenda.

It’s become a little club for atheists at the top and while they let in doubters (22% of NAS scientists are agnostic) only 7% believe in God. So if you want into the club you better keep your God tucked out of sight like a good little sheep.

I can promise you, scientists for the most part don’t care about other people’s religious beliefs, until of course they start to interfere with their work. You people have a bad habit of projecting your own preoccupation with religion onto the rest of us.

Comment #80409

Posted by Raging Bee on February 16, 2006 3:55 PM (e)

Bynocerous wrote:

Either the world was created in six days or it wasn’t. Either there was a Global Flood or there wasn’t. The walls of Jericho really did fall because Israelites marched around them seven times blowing horns or the city of Jericho had already been destroyed when the tribes of Judah came upon them fifty years after the fact.

My point is that when we begin deciding what’s true about the Bible and what’s allegory, where do we stop?

And earlier:

Oddly, it is the cretinists who understand this so clearly, as opposed to the biologists, geologists, astronomers, chemists and anthropologists who see no “false dichotomy.”

This is why I strongly suspect that at least a few of the “atheists” who post here are really Christian fundies pretending to be atheists, and posting nonsense in order to make atheists – and this blog – look stupid, sow discord within the pro-science camp, and reinforce the worst Christian stereotypes of atheists.

I simply can’t help noticing the similarity between the passage quoted above and the rhetoric of the fundies: the same willful ignorance of what others really believe; the same all-or-nothing interpretation of the Bible; the same refusal to consider non-literal interpretations, for the same frightened-sounding reason (“Where do we stop?”); the same insistence that evolution denies “the God of the Bible;” the same insistence that creationists understand something that scientists are trying to deny or ignore; and the same dogged insistence, ignoring readily-available evidence to the contrary, that all Christians believe and behave as he demands.

An atheist dictating how other Christians reconcile faith with fact? That’s even more ridiculous than a fundie doing the same thing!

What purpose can possibly be served by “atheists” insulting the beliefs and intelligence of people on their own side? There can be only one answer: to undermine the solid coalition of honest scientists and honest persons of all faiths, who will otherwise kick the faux-Christian con-artists out of power for good.

Comment #80410

Posted by A.C. on February 16, 2006 3:56 PM (e)

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on February 16, 2006 10:50 AM
By the way, if I’m not mistaken the opposite of a “guided” missile is a “balistic” missile, wherein all the “guiding” happens at launch.

Wrong. “ICBM” stands for “Intercontinental Ballistic Missile,” which is quite guided in flight.

Comment #80411

Posted by steve s (ACLU member since 2001) on February 16, 2006 3:59 PM (e)

about ‘sonofblast’ we know one thing–he has not spent any time in higher science education and research. Or he would know that there are no religious quizes.

Comment #80414

Posted by AD on February 16, 2006 4:17 PM (e)

What’s the problem, is english not your native language or did you forget how to use a dictionary?

Neither. These have multiple definitions, and in this case, are highly context sensitive. I had assumed it would be perfectly obvious by my question that more information was necessary to pin down what you were talking about, but apparently the fact that words can have more than one meaning is a bit too complex to leave unstated.

So, let me be more blunt:

Unguided and unplanned have many meanings based on their context and level of specificity. Please indicate what, precisely, you mean when you are using these.

Comment #80415

Posted by Raging Bee on February 16, 2006 4:21 PM (e)

So…an “atheist” alleges that faith and science can never be reconciled; and a creationist (Larry sonofblast Farfalarfalicious perhaps?) alleges that most scientists are rabid atheists who force each other to keep their true faiths hidden or face dire (unspecified) consequences.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. The creationists need a God-denying atheistic scientist to make themselves look like innocent victims of persecution, and a real one wasn’t available – so they made one up.

Comment #80416

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 16, 2006 4:26 PM (e)

Atheism is of course a religion for this purpose…

twisting perceptions again, blast?

projection and denial.

exhibited by irrational supporters of ID in spades.

I still say the standard response should be to refer these folks to their nearest mental health care professional.

Comment #80417

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on February 16, 2006 4:26 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

So…an “atheist” alleges that faith and science can never be reconciled; and a creationist (Larry sonofblast Farfalarfalicious perhaps?) alleges that most scientists are rabid atheists who force each other to keep their true faiths hidden or face dire (unspecified) consequences.

No, it’s Dave Scot. So far as I am aware, he is only one to continually bring up the “Weisel 38” in these discussions.

But as Wesley pointed out in the Bar - this upsurge of trolling indicates that we’re getting on their nerves; that’s a good thing, I suppose.

Comment #80421

Posted by Keanus on February 16, 2006 4:38 PM (e)

Too much bandwidth is being wasted on the use of the word “unguided.” Yes, from a biologist’s perspective, it’s most appropriate to call evolution “unguided,” but from the layman’s perspective, such usage is misleading. To the biologist it simply means that there is no empirical access to any guiding force; evolution simply meanders across its potential a full 360° depending on the pressures to which a given species (or as Dawkins would have it, a gene) is subject. To the promoters of ID, and anyone within hearing distance of their screeds (including impressionable children), it’s a theological statement that there is no god. Since that’s a misinterpretation of the scientist’s meaning, it’s best avoided in introductory instruction—and in state syllabi. And that’s precisely why the Kansas BOE majority and the writing committee minority wanted it in there—to mislead the flock with a false statement about evolution.

Comment #80423

Posted by David on February 16, 2006 4:57 PM (e)

To continue a marginally relevant sub-thread, I recall that in the early does of the space program the talking heads on the television used the phrase “go ballistic” to mean that a missile had consumed the fuel in its manouvering rockets or for some other reason would no longer be controlled. Its furhter flight would depend entirely on the current trajectory and any outside forces acting on it.
I guess that could be an analogy for JAD’s front-loading spiel.

Comment #80427

Posted by Bynocerus on February 16, 2006 5:10 PM (e)

RagingBee,

First off, I’m not an atheist. Second off, I believe that faith and science cannot be reconciled any more than Xtianity and Islam can be “reconciled.”

One can believe in God and believe in Science. Moreover, one can believe that God got involved with humans 6 million years ago or so. What one cannot do, in my opinion, is juxtapose the message of the Koran/Bible/Torah onto the findings of modern science. I guess that most of the Koran/Bible/Torah appears to be made up or designed to promote a specific political message, but COULD still be true in the important parts (which important parts those are varies by who you are, I guess). And there COULD be an invisible, incorporeal, heatless fire-breathing dragon in my garage.

Like Dawkins, whom I don’t think anyone considers to be a troll, I don’t understand how one can be a True Believer and accept modern science. That’s it

Comment #80428

Posted by BWE on February 16, 2006 5:52 PM (e)

http://www.madison.com/tct/news/index.php?ntid=72932&ntpid=1
Dont know where this fits but I love the wingnuts’ response:

Religious conservatives around the country are up in arms over a Wisconsin bill that would ban the teaching of intelligent design as science in the state’s public schools.

Focus on the Family, the evangelical Christian advocacy group led by founder James Dobson, panned the legislation this week on its Web site.

“If you can’t beat them, keep them from showing up for the game,” the group opined. “That’s the tack Wisconsin evolutionists and liberal lawmakers are taking in attempting to ban the study of intelligent design in public schools.”

Baptist Press, the online wire service of the Southern Baptist Convention, based in Nashville, also was critical. It called the introduction of the bill by Democratic Rep. Terese Berceau “an unprecedented political move to protect evolution.”

Comment #80430

Posted by Caledonian on February 16, 2006 5:55 PM (e)

“faith and science can never be reconciled”

Of course they can’t. Science is founded upon systematic doubt and testing. Faith is a rejection of doubt.

Christianity explicitly condemns doubt and praises faith. What kind of Christian are you, Raging Bee, to deny the words of Christ?

Comment #80431

Posted by Raging Bee on February 16, 2006 5:56 PM (e)

Bynocerus wrote:

I don’t understand how one can be a True Believer and accept modern science.

Well, if you don’t understand the subject, perhaps you should shut up about it, instead of going off-topic, insulting beliefs you admittedly don’t understand, and making an ass of yourself.

Once again, you’re sounding like a creationist: argument from ignorance and/or incredulity. We’ve seen it here before, remember?

Comment #80432

Posted by Sabri on February 16, 2006 5:57 PM (e)

However, I have yet to read a reconciliation of the Bible and modern science that is anything other than sophistry. From before Augustine on, apologists have hemmed and hawed their way around mutually exclusive propositions; From earths on the backs of turtles to angels pushing around planets to God refraining from craps to Overlapping Magesteria.
My point is that when we begin deciding what’s true about the Bible and what’s allegory, where do we stop?

Bynocerous, if the descent into allegory panics you so much, perhaps that is a psychological issue which you should attempt to remedy before posting on a public board. Allegory, symbolism, and metaphors are all common nowadays, and have been for quite some time.

I believe you are saying that because Genesis states that God created various bits of creation on specific days, all Christians who believe in the “infallibility” of the Bible must believe that all of creation was completed in exactly six twenty-four hour days. (Or perhaps less, if God paused for a snack once in a while.)

All Christians do not, in fact, believe that the earth was created in exactly 144 hours. While I will not make a blanket statement and say that NO Christians believe that, I will say that those Christians who interpret every piece of the Bible exactly literally are in the extreme minority. You might notice them by the fact that they kill anyone they see with a tattoo.

From what I can see, your argument against ID depends upon the following points:
1) Christianity is null because you, specifically, cannot accept that God exists, OR that religion can be reconciled with Science.
2) Christianity would be null anyway, because all Christians interpret the Bible exactly literally, being somehow possessed of the same, strange fear of allegory you are possessed of, and because the exact text of the Bible does not hold with what Science tells us about Creation.
3) Because ID is espoused by Christians, and Christianity is proven void in points 1 and 2, ID is wrong.

ID may, in fact, BE wrong. However, your way of proving this is roundabout, illogical, and insulting to Christians.

Comment #80433

Posted by BWE on February 16, 2006 6:04 PM (e)

Posted by Raging Bee on February 16, 2006 04:21 PM (e)

So…an “atheist” alleges that faith and science can never be reconciled; and a creationist (Larry sonofblast Farfalarfalicious perhaps?) alleges that most scientists are rabid atheists who force each other to keep their true faiths hidden or face dire (unspecified) consequences.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. The creationists need a God-denying atheistic scientist to make themselves look like innocent victims of persecution, and a real one wasn’t available — so they made one up.

Are you a honeybee or a yellowjacket? Rabid Atheists? How bout, “Not as ignorant as people who believe in divine authorship of books.”

These people are ignorant. Not stupid sometimes perhaps, but very much ignorant. Just wanting a sky daddy doesn’t make him appear. You can be all kinds of spiritual and at one with the universe and generally hunky-dory without having to subscribe to ridiculous creation myths and the sky daddy. Ignorant. Willfully ignorant. Has anybody ever used the phrase Cognitive Dissonance in conjunction with folks who hate finding out things that erode the power of the church?

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that these myths including the bible/koran/torah/all-the-others crumble upon even the most superficial inspection. THey have no authority, no factual accuracy and most of all are being employed with all of their inanities mostly by asses who want to make a world where people can be controlled.

Comment #80437

Posted by Raging Bee on February 16, 2006 6:35 PM (e)

Once again, Caledonian and BWE loudly condemn just about every religious/spiritual belief ever held by humans, and once again they prove that they are just as ignorant, intolerant, narrow-minded, and insultingly self-important as the worst of the faithful – whom they don’t even bother to single out from the best.

Every time the religion-bashers trash belefs of which they are clearly ignorant and/or uncaring, we point out that it’s not as simple as they say it is, and their only response is to keep repeating the same insulting – and observably wrong – generalizations over and over again, all the while pretending that bashing “myths” proves them more intelligent than the rest of us.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: these religion-bashers sound and act an awful lot like the “true believers” they pretend to condemn while making them look smart. Whose side are they on? Who benefits from this off-topic sniping? Is this a bit of COINTELPRO from the IDiots?

Comment #80438

Posted by BWE on February 16, 2006 6:39 PM (e)

— and observably wrong —

Raging bee, I would like to be educated. What did I say that is “observably wrong”?

I beleive my falsifiable statement was

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that these myths including the bible/koran/torah/all-the-others crumble upon even the most superficial inspection. THey have no authority, no factual accuracy and most of all are being employed with all of their inanities mostly by asses who want to make a world where people can be controlled.

in case you forgot.

Comment #80439

Posted by JONBOY on February 16, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

Sabri,If I may be permitted to join the fray? You said,” that those Christians who interpret every piece of the Bible exactly literally are in the extreme minority”.so, where does that place their faith?
If various parts of scripture are not to be taken literally,then what parts are,and who makes that decision, do we use the bible as a menu to satisfy our own religious appetites?
Any book claiming a woman turned into a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26), the sun went backward 10 degrees on the sundial (2 Kings 20:11), and quails came from the sea (Num. 11:31) is going to have great difficulty demonstrating its scientific precision to any reasonably scientific mind.
However, it is interesting to note how the struggle between science and the Bible has evolved. Originally, scientific findings were denounced as blasphemous lies. But as science has expanded and the evidence has mounted, many apologists have adopted a more realistic stance. They have increasingly rewritten the Bible by either changing literal statements to figurative meanings or alleging, “What the Bible really meant was…” For example, they assert the seven days of Creation weren’t really days; they were eras or epochs. When the Bible describes miracles it doesn’t mean to imply they exist. It is merely relating instances in which naive people were fooled by trickery and other mechanisms.
“In other words, the standard has been changed; the ancient is measured by the modern, where the literal statement in the Bible do not agree with modern discoveries, they do not change the discoveries, but give new meanings to the old account. We are not now endeavoring to reconcile science with the Bible, but to reconcile the Bible with science. How any, individual who posses a logical mind and yet also manages to entertain this ancient mythology in a similar context has all ways eluded me

Comment #80449

Posted by Caledonian on February 16, 2006 7:40 PM (e)

There’s nothing wrong with intolerance itself – what matters is what we’re intolerant of.

What does it matter how many people have accepted a class of ideas? Those ideas are still justifiable, or not, depending on the available evidence. Most of the ancients thought the world was flat. Does stating that it’s roughly spherical “insult” all of those people?

As for being ignorant…

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:20

And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Matthew 14:29-31

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples said unto him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said unto them, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

And after eight days again his disciples were within, / and Thomas with them. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in their midst
and said, “Peace be unto you.” Then said he to Thomas, “Reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said into him, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus saith unto him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet believeth.”

John 20:24-29

Although you can quote the scriptures to your own purpose, Raging Bee, it seems you’ve overlooked the above sections.

Comment #80450

Posted by Sabri on February 16, 2006 7:41 PM (e)

However, it is interesting to note how the struggle between science and the Bible has evolved. Originally, scientific findings were denounced as blasphemous lies. But as science has expanded and the evidence has mounted, many apologists have adopted a more realistic stance. They have increasingly rewritten the Bible by either changing literal statements to figurative meanings or alleging, “What the Bible really meant was…” For example, they assert the seven days of Creation weren’t really days; they were eras or epochs. When the Bible describes miracles it doesn’t mean to imply they exist. It is merely relating instances in which naive people were fooled by trickery and other mechanisms.

Yes, the Church has undergone a radical transformation. However, this is only one of several transformations since the time of, say, Galileo. The Protestant Reformation was one of these transformations. Theology is always evolving, and always changing. Just because the Vatican, at one point, decried astronomy as heresy, and now some Christians read the Bible metaphorically does not mean that every Christian will start out with hard line, literal interpretations of the Bible and gradually, over time, come to see the error of their ways.
I understand that you take issue with those who try to reconcile faith and science, but that does not mean that the task is impossible, or that those who try cannot reason scientifically.
Science, unless I misunderstand, attempts to describe the is, not the why (unless the, “why” stems from another process which is, for example: when I drop a plate, it falls on the floor because of gravity). Why is it impossible to accept science, and also have faith? Does the presence of faith denote an inherently flawed mind?

Comment #80452

Posted by Caledonian on February 16, 2006 7:52 PM (e)

Sabri wrote:

Science, unless I misunderstand, attempts to describe the is, not the why (unless the, “why” stems from another process which is, for example: when I drop a plate, it falls on the floor because of gravity). Why is it impossible to accept science, and also have faith? Does the presence of faith denote an inherently flawed mind?

You bet you misunderstand!

Science is based on systematic doubt, observation, and experimentation. It rejects dogma in favor of evidence. Faith is based on belief in spite of uncertainty and doubt (and the rejection of the two), the authority of human organizations, and the rejection of evidence and observation.

Comment #80454

Posted by A.C. on February 16, 2006 8:09 PM (e)

I view the ACLU as a litigational terrorist, which to me also makes the ACLU an intellectual terrorist.

The ACLU is entitled to its opinions on establishment clause issues. Sometimes I agree with the ACLU on those issues and sometimes not (for example, I am strongly against school prayer). What I do not agree with is the ACLU’s abuse of the legal system to intimidate and rob governments by lawsuits and threats of lawsuits over establishment clause issues. Such intimidation and robbery is enabled by a law and a Supreme Court decision ( Blum v. Stenson ) authorizing the awarding of attorney fees – which are often exorbitant – to the ACLU and other non-profits ( especially Americans United for Separation of Church and State) that provide free legal representation in civil rights cases. The ACLU and others drive up these attorney fees by having a grossly excessive number of attorneys on the case – a grand total of 9-10 plaintiffs’ attorneys of record (ACLU plus AU plus Pepper-Hamilton LLP) in the Dover case and 6 attorneys of record in the El Tejon (Lebec), Calif. case, which did not go to trial. The ACLU was even able to intimidate the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors over a small Christian cross in the Los Angeles County seal, and no local government in America has deeper pockets than Los Angeles County (the county budget in a recent year was around $15 billion). The county had a good case – the cross was just a symbol of the role of the Spanish missions in local history – but the board of supervisors voted 3-2 to remove the cross.

A bill has been introduced in Congress to end the awarding of attorney fees to winning plaintiffs in establishment clause cases. See –
http://www.legion.org/?section=pub_relations&subsection=pr_listreleases&content=pr_press_release&id=289

– and –

http://www.legion.org/includes/printable_version.php?content=aclu_magarticle

I think that the ACLU et al. may have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Comment #80458

Posted by steve s on February 16, 2006 8:22 PM (e)

Comment #80454

Posted by A.C. on February 16, 2006 08:09 PM (e)

I view the ACLU as a litigational terrorist, which to me also makes the ACLU an intellectual terrorist.

I view you as a retard.

Comment #80459

Posted by AD on February 16, 2006 8:27 PM (e)

Science is based on systematic doubt, observation, and experimentation. It rejects dogma in favor of evidence. Faith is based on belief in spite of uncertainty and doubt (and the rejection of the two), the authority of human organizations, and the rejection of evidence and observation.

Category error.

It is only viable that science contradicts faith if everything faith addressed was testable via science and everything scientific had a viable faith-based alternative.

Science, however, cannot comment on everything, as we have repeatedly discussed on this board.

I also think you are badly misrepresenting faith, but that’s another story entirely.

Comment #80460

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 16, 2006 8:37 PM (e)

The ACLU and others drive up these attorney fees by having a grossly excessive number of attorneys on the case — a grand total of 9-10 plaintiffs’ attorneys of record (ACLU plus AU plus Pepper-Hamilton LLP) in the Dover case and 6 attorneys of record in the El Tejon (Lebec), Calif. case, which did not go to trial.

Hi larry.

Steve’s right.

you are a retard.

eventually, your luck’s gonna run out here.

can’t figure out what you think you are getting away with by changing your post handle all the time.

your arguments are so transparent, vacuous, and repetitious, that it really isn’t hard to pick you out right away.

Now i AM genuinely curious:

What are you hoping to accomplish? being able to say you were banned from PT for violating the rules?

what?

Comment #80461

Posted by Savagemutt on February 16, 2006 8:38 PM (e)

A.C. wrote:

I view the ACLU as a litigational terrorist, which to me also makes the ACLU an intellectual terrorist.

Lest anyone confuse this with Mr. Chatfield, this is just Larry in yet another sock.

Although, I suspect that’s obvious to one and all.

Comment #80462

Posted by Savagemutt on February 16, 2006 8:39 PM (e)

Oops, I was right. Sorry to point out the obvious.

Comment #80466

Posted by qetzal on February 16, 2006 9:03 PM (e)

Count me with those who see no problem in calling evolution “unguided.”

The fact is, available evindence clearly indicates that evolution is unguided. There is no evidence of a guiding intelligence.

I suppose we could say evolution is “apparently” unguided, but should that really be necessary? Where do we draw the line on such qualifications?

Lightning strikes are also “apparently” unguided, even though they’re decidedly non-random. We can predict that lightning is more likely to strike in certain places (tree tops, lightning rods) or times (during thunder storms). [We can make similar statements about likely and unlikely results of evolution in specific situations.] But we can’t predict exactly where and when lightning will strike.

Should we therefore take care to say the lightning strikes are “apparently” unguided? Must we bend over backwards to acknowledge that some god might be controlling lightning strikes in a way that is beyond our ability to detect?

I don’t see why. I would certainly never claim that anything in science disproves any religion. But I also don’t see why routine scientific statements should be phrased to explicitly leave room for some religious belief.

Comment #80467

Posted by Caledonian on February 16, 2006 9:04 PM (e)

AD wrote:

Category error.

It is only viable that science contradicts faith if everything faith addressed was testable via science and everything scientific had a viable faith-based alternative.

Wrong. Deeply wrong.

Science and religion are incompatible if their methods are mutually exclusive. They are. They do not actually come into conflict unless their fields of application overlap. If religion makes any statements about the real world, it’s stepping onto science’s territory. Religions that do not are meaningless. Therefore, all meaningful religious statements come into conflict with science.

I also think you are badly misrepresenting faith, but that’s another story entirely.

Judging from your intellectual performance thus far, I look forward to your attempt to “represent” faith.

Comment #80471

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 16, 2006 9:31 PM (e)

the only problem i ever had with the use of the word “unguided” when speaking of evolutionary theory is it tends to make folks focus on the mutation mechanisms, rather than the selection mechanisms.

most creationists would prefer to focus on the ‘random mutation’ aspect, and make you forget about the other half of the equation.

Selection itself is far from a random process, and one could technically use the term “guided” in a colloquial, secular sense; but of course NOT as a metaphysical term. It’s poor terminology to use in any case, as it typically implies a goal oriented procedure in most folks’ minds.

for example, simplistically we could say that the actions of a predator on a specific population de-facto act as selective “guidance” of a trait, provided we also specify that there is no “goal” in mind. Indeed, the “guidance” of the trait in question would act to thwart the fitness of the predator in the long term, so obviously it wouldn’t be correctly termed a goal-oriented process.

In practice, I’ve never seen the term actually used to describe selection pressures in real world studies, nor have i seen the term “unguided” used either, for that matter, when speaking of any mechanism of evolution in a published article.

so, after all that, if push comes to shove, i guess i would be against the general usage of the term “unguided” because:

-it’s hard to avoid the metaphysical implications of the word in a large proportion of the audience such language is targeted to

-it tends to focus the initial argument on the “random” part of the evolutionary process.

Comment #80475

Posted by AD on February 16, 2006 9:46 PM (e)

Science and religion are incompatible if their methods are mutually exclusive. They are. They do not actually come into conflict unless their fields of application overlap. If religion makes any statements about the real world, it’s stepping onto science’s territory. Religions that do not are meaningless. Therefore, all meaningful religious statements come into conflict with science.

Very interesting. So incompatible methods automatically means mutual exclusion? So cooking and eating raw are mutually exclusive, because the method used is incompatible, even if applied to different objects? I find this to be a highly problematic definition of mutual exclusion.

Mutual exclusion, to be precise, means that if one thing occurs then the other thing cannot possibly occur. Obviously, since we have theistic scientists, I believe that you have some explaining to do about why science and religion are mutually exclusive.

Are all of them not scientists, or are all of them not actually religious and just deluding themselves into thinking they are religious? Or is it on a case by case basis?

More so, what if the meaningful religious statement correlated directly with science? What if they said the same thing? Are they still in dire conflict even, in this case, when both are correct?

I’m sorry, Caledonian, but your argument here really seems bogus to me. Either you need to clarify or I think you’ve directly contradicted yourself.

Judging from your intellectual performance thus far, I look forward to your attempt to “represent” faith.

The last person to insult me on here was Dave Scot, so you obviously have excellent company for your ad hominem attacks. As has been intimated before, such tactics tend to be those of people who have run out of other arguments. I’d suggest you refrain in the future, as it wildly undermines one’s credibility.

As to faith, I think the problem we run into is the same problem that we have been working around in this thread with regard to the word “unguided”, which is to say that it would depend upon the context in which you are speaking.

To a fundie, faith would be an unquestioning belief in something in the face of annoying things like contrary evidence, cognitive dissonance, and mass disapproval from others. However, to many theistic scientists, faith is simply a firm belief in the reality of something that you cannot prove with scientific methods (because those methods are incapable of addressing the question), yet have observed enough evidence for that you are willing to make the conclusion despite having no way to prove it.

It might be illuminating to realie that one is directly contradictory to science, yet the other is in fact entirely based upon science, and both could be called faith. Wild (and ultimately baseless) generalizations about religion and faith do only serve to make you appear as the mirror image of the ID folks, regardless of the truth of such a situation or not.

Science does not conflict with all religion/faith, nor does all religion/faith conflict with science. This is fact. My evidence for this are the theistic scientists supporting both evolution and a belief in God. Your generalizations and attacks are straw men.

Comment #80479

Posted by David B. Benson on February 16, 2006 10:49 PM (e)

guide n…. 4. Any contrivance serving to steady or direct the motion of something, to guide a tool or instrument, to mark a position, etc.

While I suppose natural selection might be thought of as a ‘contrivance’ directing the motion through fitness space, far too many people would confuse this with meaning 1. One who guides, as tourists in a strange land or hunters in a forest.

Better to call it simply ‘natural selection’ and avoid the use of either ‘guided’ or ‘unguided’ in the same way and from somewhat the same reasons ‘random’ ought to be avoided.

Comment #80487

Posted by Sabri on February 16, 2006 11:51 PM (e)

Science and religion are incompatible if their methods are mutually exclusive. They are. They do not actually come into conflict unless their fields of application overlap. If religion makes any statements about the real world, it’s stepping onto science’s territory. Religions that do not are meaningless. Therefore, all meaningful religious statements come into conflict with science.

Caledonian, you seem to want religion to fit into a neat little box so you can point at it and say, “Wrong!”

Religion does not demand that one make blanket statements about the real world without careful observation or checking and re-checking of facts. If I tell you that the sky is blue, and it is indeed blue, which I deduced by observing it, does that mean I’m stepping into science’s territory? And that, only because I am a Christian? Does anyone other than a scientist intrude upon science’s territory when making an observation? What about a scientist who is also a Christian? Or Jewish? Or Muslim?

Your definition of religion does not fit every religion, Caledonian, and thus your if-then line of reasoning does not hold.

Comment #80488

Posted by Arden Chatfield on February 16, 2006 11:53 PM (e)

A.C. wrote:

I view the ACLU as a litigational terrorist, which to me also makes the ACLU an intellectual terrorist.

Lest anyone confuse this with Mr. Chatfield, this is just Larry in yet another sock.

Yeah, Larry, get your goddamn fake names away from my name! Especially when you’re saying stuff this frigging stupid!

Comment #80489

Posted by B. Spitzer on February 17, 2006 12:15 AM (e)

Bynoceros:

Like Dawkins, whom I don’t think anyone considers to be a troll, I don’t understand how one can be a True Believer and accept modern science. That’s it

This is a much better way of putting it than the way you phrased it the first time. But please, remember that even if you don’t understand how it can be done, it doesn’t mean that others haven’t figured it out.

This is the difference between someone saying, “I don’t understand how evolution works” and someone saying, “Evolution can’t work”. The first statement is acceptable. You’d better have a lot of expertise to back up the second one.

when we begin deciding what’s true about the Bible and what’s allegory, where do we stop?

It’s my understanding that an entire field of study (Biblical criticism) is devoted to this question and questions like it. I do not know enough about it to give you a detailed answer, but I do know that Hebrew literature, like most kinds of literature, has its conventions. Poetry is written in a different way than historical accounts.

I get the sense that you (and Caledonian) have a Dawkinsian view of what religion is supposed to be– that it’s supposed to be a source of factual knowledge about this world. I think that view of religion entirely misses the point. Religious faith is not primarily belief in a set of intellectual propositions. It’s more a matter of committing to– or having confidence in– a set of meanings, priorities, and values.

When most Christians read the Bible and grant it spiritual authority, they do so not because they believe that the authors of the Bible had supernatural insights into the scientific realm, but because they believe that– despite their lack of scientific knowledge– those people had important insights into what is meaningful and important. Even for fundamentalists who believe that the Bible is factually inerrant, it’s spiritual guidance, not factual guidance, that they’re primarily looking for.

Caledonian, you in particular seem convinced that science and faith are trying to do the same job, and that they’re therefore unavoidably in conflict with one another. I would encourage you to consider a different perspective. In my experience, science and faith are working at right angles to one another.

Comment #80490

Posted by gregonomic on February 17, 2006 12:19 AM (e)

At the risk of inflaming this situation any more, I think Caledonian has a point.

Science does a much better job of explaining the material world - the aspects of the world that everyone can experience - than religion ever has.

Religion may explain other (spiritual) aspects of life that science can not, but these are aspects that each person experiences differently, or not at all.

Sure, there are people who can reconcile religion and science, but I doubt they’re ever doing religion and science at the same time (at least, not if they’re doing them well).

As for “unguided” and “unplanned”, I think they’re acceptable but unnecessary descriptions of the evolutionary process (you’ll have a hard time convincing me that mass-extinctions are part of any “plan”).

But hey, I’m just a guy who’s homozygous recessive for the god gene.

Comment #80491

Posted by sonofblast on February 17, 2006 12:45 AM (e)

Steve Reuland

I’m a very successful agnostic scientist. Is the the “you people” that you had in mind?

Comment #80492

Posted by agnostic scientist says on February 17, 2006 12:50 AM (e)

atheists and theists: a pox on both your houses

Comment #80495

Posted by sonofblast on February 17, 2006 12:59 AM (e)

AD

I didn’t use “unplanned” and “unguided”. The 38 Nobel prize winners that wrote to the Kansas BoE used those words. I was quoting them. I was quite clear about the source.

Unplanned the opposite of planned and unguided means the opposite of guided. They used both together as descriptive adjectives describing how the process of evolution was understood.

planned

adj 1: designed or carried out according to a plan; “the planned outlays for new equipment” [ant: unplanned] 2: planned in advance; “with malice aforethought” [syn: aforethought(ip), plotted]

guided

adj : subject to guidance or control especially after launching; “a guided missile” [ant: unguided]

Ergo, one may easily deduce the meaning used by the Wiesel 38 as not subjected to control or designed in advance.

Happy now?

Comment #80497

Posted by sonofblast on February 17, 2006 1:22 AM (e)

guided vs. unguided

The lightning analogy is a great one.

Science is about demonstration not arguments from ignorance. What repeatable test demonstrates that lightning strikes are unguided? [sound of crickets chirping]

It would be more accurate to say that lightning is unpredictable. But that’s not quite right because we can predict that lightning won’t come out of a clear blue sky. It is somewhat predictable.

Likewise there is no repeatable test that can demonstrate that evolution is unguided or unplanned. Similarly, there is no test that can demonstrate mutations are random. It would be better to say unpredictable mutations and that evolution is understood to be an unpredictable process. That isn’t wholly accurate as some bits of evolution are vaguely predictable (less predictable than lightning though). Given neodarwinian evolutionary theory’s inability to predict anything about future emergence of new species it begs the question of what an undemonstrable narrative of biological history that makes no predictions of the future has to offer in the way of practical value. I can’t think of any except as “intellectual fulfillment” for atheists. LOL

Comment #80499

Posted by Eugene Lai on February 17, 2006 1:25 AM (e)

B. Spitzer wrote:

Caledonian, you in particular seem convinced that science and faith are trying to do the same job, and that they’re therefore unavoidably in conflict with one another. I would encourage you to consider a different perspective.In my experience, science and faith are working at right angles to one another.

Is that why they collide so often?

Comment #80502

Posted by Eugene Lai on February 17, 2006 1:48 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Bynocerus wrote:

I don’t understand how one can be a True Believer and accept modern science.

Well, if you don’t understand the subject, perhaps you should shut up about it, instead of going off-topic, insulting beliefs you admittedly don’t understand, and making an ass of yourself.

Once again, you’re sounding like a creationist: argument from ignorance and/or incredulity. We’ve seen it here before, remember?

I feel that you must be the PT champion in using the word “insulting”. Can you for once point out which bit of someone else’ words is insulting to you? How does admitting not understanding something lead to making an ass of oneself? How is that insulting to you?

If I say that you don’t understand how the mind of an atheist works, is that an insult too?

Whenever anyone says anything you don’t like about religion, you start hurling insults at the poster while complaining at the same time. You have done this dozens of time already. Do you understand that this is hypocrisy? Is your worldview so fragile that you cannot bear any negative comment?

Comment #80504

Posted by Eugene Lai on February 17, 2006 2:10 AM (e)

B. Spitzer wrote:

Religious faith is not primarily belief in a set of intellectual propositions. It’s more a matter of committing to— or having confidence in— a set of meanings, priorities, and values.

In your religion, that is most probably true. But bear in mind that you are now making a generalisation that you accuse others of making.

In your religion, your religious view is akin to a buffet dinner - you pick what you like from the table and ignore the rest. This is a factual descriptive statement. Feel free to educate me why this is false. If anyone takes this as insulting I seriously suggest he/she to unwind.

Comment #80506

Posted by Popper's Ghost on February 17, 2006 2:36 AM (e)

there seems to be a total knee-jerk hatred of the ACLU by the religious right.

Hatred of the ACLU by the right, religious or otherwise, is not really “knee-jerk”. The very essence of the right end of the spectrum is rejection of the concept of civil liberties.

Comment #80507

Posted by Popper's Ghost on February 17, 2006 2:40 AM (e)

atheists and theists: a pox on both your houses

A pox on trolls.

Comment #80508

Posted by Popper's Ghost on February 17, 2006 2:44 AM (e)

Science does a much better job of explaining the material world - the aspects of the world that everyone can experience - than religion ever has.

Religion may explain other (spiritual) aspects of life that science can not, but these are aspects that each person experiences differently, or not at all.

This is equivocation on the word “explain”. Religions may make claims about “other aspects of life”, but they dosn’t offer explanations in the sense that the word is used in science.

Comment #80509

Posted by Popper's Ghost on February 17, 2006 2:54 AM (e)

Like Dawkins, whom I don’t think anyone considers to be a troll, I don’t understand how one can be a True Believer and accept modern science.

Please don’t insult Dawkins by insinuating that he shares your inabilities. Surely you are aware that there are True Believers who do accept modern science. Since that is an empirical fact, a claim that it is not understandable is a rejection of science – cognitive science, to be precise. I think Dawkins is quite aware of the aspects of human cognition that make it possible to both be a True Believer and accept modern science. Dawkins holds that it’s not a consistent position, but it is well known that human cognition is not a consistent system.

Comment #80518

Posted by Mike Kelly on February 17, 2006 7:41 AM (e)

Hi

I must admit I didn’t expect such an apparently clear word as guided to be a source of such controversy.

I’m uncomfortable with “unguided” because it describes the process rather than the outcome. In my view, the process is not so much guided as constrained in the sense of Dawkin’s “Mount Improbable”.

I look at natural selection as non-teleological rather than unguided.

At the risk of being the subject of Raging Bee’s ire, I would suggest that theistic evolutionists regard the evolution to be both guided (however subtly) and teleological (however vaguely). IDiots, as far as they can be said to think coherently at all, seem to believe there is some guidance (in the past? now?) and some outright interference (how? when? to what effect?) again with the ultimate aim of producing the epitome of creation (I’m pretty sure they mean me).

Comment #80525

Posted by B. Spitzer on February 17, 2006 8:14 AM (e)

From Eugene Lai:

Religious faith is not primarily belief in a set of intellectual propositions. It’s more a matter of committing to— or having confidence in— a set of meanings, priorities, and values.

In your religion, that is most probably true. But bear in mind that you are now making a generalisation that you accuse others of making.

In your religion, your religious view is akin to a buffet dinner - you pick what you like from the table and ignore the rest. This is a factual descriptive statement. Feel free to educate me why this is false. If anyone takes this as insulting I seriously suggest he/she to unwind.

Yes, I’m making a generalization about the nature of faith. But it’s one that holds up under close analysis, and it applies to faith in general, not just to my faith. Even those believers– Biblical literalists, for example– who view religious documents as 100% factually correct are not primarily interested in the factual content. The primary role of the Bible in their lives always seems to be that it sets up a framework of meaning.

It may be that there are a handful of people out there who are primarily interested in faith as a way of solving questions about empirical facts. But the statement that I made didn’t claim that there are no exceptions. So I think I can stand by it quite comfortably.

The “buffet dinner” analogy has always seemed strange to me. You seem to be implying that there are only two options: either you accept a religious text as 100% accurate or you “pick what you like”. The implication of “pick what you like” is that you just keep the bits which please or gratify you, in a very self-interested way.

However, we don’t typically approach non-religious historical documents in either of these ways. When we read historical documents that aren’t religious in nature, we’re aware that they may have errors in them. Some claims we can verify, and we accept those tentatively; others appear mistaken. Some we can’t bring evidence to bear on one way or the other, and perhaps we accept those claims provisionally, depending on how reasonable they seem and how well they fit into the whole picture.

My point is that we don’t accept or reject the claims of a historical document based on whether or not they’re pleasing to us. We accept or reject them based on our best assessment of their accuracy. That’s how I approach the Bible and the Christian tradition in general. I treat it seriously, and with great respect, but I’m also always trying to examine my understanding of it as impartially as I can, and some parts I have a lot more confidence in than others.

So I would say that your statement about my religious view is incorrect, because I’m not picking “what I like”. I’m trying to build a view of the world that has intellectual integrity to it. Really, I don’t see that this is all that different than how anyone else puts together their view of the world.

As for the conflict between science and religion: Yes, the two can collide. I think that their primary functions are different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t step on one another’s toes from time to time. Frankly, though, it seems as though the “conflict” has very little to do with the actual content of science or religion, and a lot more to do with the authority that they wield in popular culture. If not for the cultural turf war, I doubt there’d be much tension between the two.

Comment #80533

Posted by Caledonian on February 17, 2006 9:14 AM (e)

So there would otherwise be no tension between two modes of thought that explicitly renounce the other’s methods?!

That’s rather like saying there’s no tension between the UNCF and the KKK.

Comment #80534

Posted by BWE on February 17, 2006 9:44 AM (e)

AD wrote

Very interesting. So incompatible methods automatically means mutual exclusion? So cooking and eating raw are mutually exclusive, because the method used is incompatible, even if applied to different objects? I find this to be a highly problematic definition of mutual exclusion.

Mutual exclusion, to be precise, means that if one thing occurs then the other thing cannot possibly occur. Obviously, since we have theistic scientists, I believe that you have some explaining to do about why science and religion are mutually exclusive.

Are all of them not scientists, or are all of them not actually religious and just deluding themselves into thinking they are religious? Or is it on a case by case basis?

Except that both science and religion claim to arrive at something like “objective truth” and each method cancels each other out. I don’t have a dog in this fight really. I thing faith is the problem with religion. I have spirituality but very little faith so I don’t run across this particular dilemma. I would lean toward caledonians argument dimply because of the subject.

It’s really more like saying you cook your food with heat or with magic.

Comment #80537

Posted by Raging Bee on February 17, 2006 10:01 AM (e)

Eugene Lai: read the posts to which I had responded. Do the words “willfully ignorant” and “myth” stand out at all? Those words were clearly intended to insult a HUGE, undifferentiated mass of people and their beliefs. That is what I meant by “insulting.” You may not understand “willfully ignorant” to be an insulting phrase, but trust us on this, most people with lives and jobs do. Any further questions?

How does admitting not understanding something lead to making an ass of oneself?

It doesn’t – unless one has already pretended to understand the subject and made ignorant and ridiculous statements about it, BEFORE throwing up one’s hands and sighing “I just don’t understand it – it’s making my head hurt!” The religion-bashers also compounded their asshattery by repeating – again – the same ignorant statements AFTER admitting their cluelessness and being corrected by more than one respondent. (Thanx, AD, Sabri, Spitzer, et al, if they don’t listen it’s not your fault. Like the song says, you can gain some satisfaction thinking “Jesus, at least I tried.”)

(PS for Caledonian: which words of Jesus am I denying? And what makes you think I’m a Christian?)

In fact, the religion-bashers have pretty much proven by their dogged dogmatism that they’re really not interested in dialogue or new information, and are thus no more worthy of our time than the flat-earthers in Australia. They are either ridiculous trolls, hijacking nearly every thread with their private grudges and obsessions; or creationist provocateurs typing from a script.

I really don’t know how to explain this to the religion-bashers any more simply than this: I was there and you weren’t. I have experienced life, interacted with people not exactly like myself, listened to the experiences and insights of others, read books and newspapers; and I can say the following with absolute confidence: spirituality and spiritual power are real (even if this or that god isn’t); not all spiritual truth comes from holy books or churches (ever heard of “revelation?”); myths and legends can be “true,” and beneficial, on more than the literal level; not all people who open themselves to spirit, or rely on a “higher power,” are stupid; true spirituality can open minds to new knowledge and wisdom, not close them; not all faiths demand that we shut down our brains; science and faith can indeed be reconciled, and very often are; spiritual truth is no less real or relevant to human lives than scientific/material truth; and it is possible to experience such truth in churches (I prefer the big Gothic variety), mosques, fellowship, dreams, timely use of hallucinogens, and even in the sack.

Comment #80538

Posted by k.e. on February 17, 2006 10:10 AM (e)

Raging B
Yes and even the sack –where dreams and myth come from.
Are you just offended because (as far as I can ascertain)you think that myth in the popular vernacular means a lie ?
If that is the case why get so excited ?
Just the joy of kwowing what you know should be enough should it not ?

Comment #80539

Posted by Mike Kelly on February 17, 2006 10:12 AM (e)

Cue Lenny

Comment #80540

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 17, 2006 10:18 AM (e)

Cue Lenny

Don’t look at ME — If the theists and the atheists really want to force the rest of us to listen to their pointless Holy Wars, *I* can’t do anything to shut them up. All I can do is point out (again) that shooting people who are *on our side* is . . well . . really really stupid.

Like two fighting dogs, just let them keep barking till they’re tired, then they’ll be quiet for a while and we can go on with our business. (shrug)

Comment #80548

Posted by AD on February 17, 2006 10:46 AM (e)

I agree completely with Lenny on this. It constantly mystifies me why people would attack their allies repeatedly when they have bigger fish to fry.

It’s why I get so annoyed when atheists or theists start bashing each other. To paraphrase Lenny, none of you has any special power to interpret spirituality (or science).

However…

planned

adj 1: designed or carried out according to a plan; “the planned outlays for new equipment” [ant: unplanned] 2: planned in advance; “with malice aforethought” [syn: aforethought(ip), plotted]

guided

adj : subject to guidance or control especially after launching; “a guided missile” [ant: unguided]

Let us use those definitions. Let us also consider some evidence:

1) All 38 people on the Nobel Prize list of scientists were scientists.

2) Therefore, it seems fairly likely that they were speaking within the context of science when using their definitions. If you disagree with that, that’s fine, but it removes their explanation of evolution from the realm of methodoligically natural and into philosophy. Notice they are 38 scientists, not philosophers, so then their letter has no more validity than if I got 38 people off the street to sign a letter saying that evolution was, in fact, guided by the FSM.

3) If you do not disagree with that, it would be fair to constrain their talk of unguided and unplanned to only natural causes.

Ergo, given that they are scientists, I think it reasonable to conclude that they were speaking only from the naturalitic methodology. In this case, referring to evolution as “unguided” and having anyone interpret this as an attack on God would immediately indicate that the language needs to be clarified or removed, as that clearly cannot be what they meant at all. I see no mention of atheism or a denial of belief in God even being possible within the confines we just established.

Would you now be in favor of either removing the language from any standards, or replacing it with “unguided by natural observable causes”?

More so, do you not agree it is somewhat suspect that in at least one specific case, this language was added by ID supporters, and then subsequently attacked by those same supporters?

Comment #80553

Posted by AC on February 17, 2006 11:39 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

I really don’t know how to explain this to the religion-bashers any more simply than this: I was there and you weren’t. I have experienced life, interacted with people not exactly like myself, listened to the experiences and insights of others, read books and newspapers; and I can say the following with absolute confidence: spirituality and spiritual power are real (even if this or that god isn’t); not all spiritual truth comes from holy books or churches (ever heard of “revelation?”); myths and legends can be “true,” and beneficial, on more than the literal level; not all people who open themselves to spirit, or rely on a “higher power,” are stupid; true spirituality can open minds to new knowledge and wisdom, not close them; not all faiths demand that we shut down our brains; science and faith can indeed be reconciled, and very often are; spiritual truth is no less real or relevant to human lives than scientific/material truth; and it is possible to experience such truth in churches (I prefer the big Gothic variety), mosques, fellowship, dreams, timely use of hallucinogens, and even in the sack.

Replace “spiritual” with “psychological” and you have a whole field of science to explore. But if you wall it off with “I was there and you weren’t”, then we have reached the ultimate dead-end.

Comment #80555

Posted by BWE on February 17, 2006 11:52 AM (e)

Don’t look at ME —- If the theists and the atheists really want to force the rest of us to listen to their pointless Holy Wars, *I* can’t do anything to shut them up. All I can do is point out (again) that shooting people who are *on our side* is . . well . . really really stupid.

Like two fighting dogs, just let them keep barking till they’re tired, then they’ll be quiet for a while and we can go on with our business. (shrug)

Our business then is to find a way for folk who buy into a particular religious dogma to come to peace with science so that we can just teach our kids good science?

Hmmm.

Raging Bee wrote:
I really don’t know how to explain this to the religion-bashers any more simply than this: I was there and you weren’t. I have experienced life, interacted with people not exactly like myself, listened to the experiences and insights of others, read books and newspapers; and I can say the following with absolute confidence: spirituality and spiritual power are real (even if this or that god isn’t); not all spiritual truth comes from holy books or churches (ever heard of “revelation?”); myths and legends can be “true,” and beneficial, on more than the literal level; not all people who open themselves to spirit, or rely on a “higher power,” are stupid; true spirituality can open minds to new knowledge and wisdom, not close them; not all faiths demand that we shut down our brains; science and faith can indeed be reconciled, and very often are; spiritual truth is no less real or relevant to human lives than scientific/material truth; and it is possible to experience such truth in churches (I prefer the big Gothic variety), mosques, fellowship, dreams, timely use of hallucinogens, and even in the sack.

I am going to make some assumptions here:
1 I am a religion basher
2 Other religion bashers probably share some of my experiences.
Correct me if those are poor assumptions.

I would assume that some religion bashers may share quite a bit of your experiences. I would also assume that many religion bashers would wholeheartedly agree with your statement:

“spirituality and spiritual power are real (even if this or that god isn’t); not all spiritual truth comes from holy books or churches (ever heard of “revelation?”); myths and legends can be “true,” and beneficial, on more than the literal level; not all people who open themselves to spirit, or rely on a “higher power,” are stupid; true spirituality can open minds to new knowledge and wisdom, not close them;”

But then you throw in the humdinger

“not all faiths demand that we shut down our brains; science and faith can indeed be reconciled, and very often are;”

before you get back to the place where many “religion bashers” would agree

“spiritual truth is no less real or relevant to human lives than scientific/material truth; and it is possible to experience such truth in churches (I prefer the big Gothic variety), mosques, fellowship, dreams, timely use of hallucinogens, and even in the sack.”

I’m all with you on the spiritual part until you throw in faith. Science and faith are not necessarily reconcilable. Faith would have you believe that evolution is a “guided” process and evidence points to “unguided”. If you use science, you are contradicting faith and vice-versa. It is not shooting those on our side. It is deciding whether faith has a place in a worldview that looks to evidence to explain natural phenomena.

I’m all for the spiritual experience, whether through the pleasant chantings of a church, the safe environment of fellowship, the active participation in a dream, the unity with the universe that can be discovered through psylocobin, Mescaline, lysergic acid diethylamide, or I’m sure many other wonderful chemicals, or the ecstasy of intimacy and orgasm. Those experiences are not just real, they can be a driving force in a person’s life including my own. But nowhere in any of those is faith in a particular mythology present. You can bring it to the table but it has to wait for the scraps because it doesn’t have a seat.

So when Dougmoran writes:

So when is the ACLU going to protect our children from being told they are unplanned and have no purpose and must believe the religion of Dawkin’s god?

He is arguing for a place for faith at the table and that’s the problem

Comment #80556

Posted by steve s (ACLU member since 2001) on February 17, 2006 11:58 AM (e)

as you might have guessed, DaveScot is now deleting comments by Egbooth.

DaveScot,
If I don’t get a response from you as to why my comments are being censored, I will be forced to start spreading the word about your actions. This is absolutely inexcusable and hypocritical. I have done nothing to get myself banned!

egbooth

Well let’s run down the list. Pick any one or more of the following: trite, derivative, boring, ignorant, wrong, hysterical, hyperbolic… read the comment moderation policy on the sidebar. I’m under no obligation to provide you with a soapbox. You got a chance to speak your mind. Now take it somewhere else. -ds

Comment by egbooth — February 15, 2006 @ 10:15 pm

Why don’t you put up my original comment that I posted this morning and let your reader’s decide whether I was on a soapbox or not.

I’m an editor. My job is to make people’s words disappear before others see them.

You’re blaming Panda’s Thumb for being censors…how is this any different?

I’m up front about it. A bold-lettered statement above every comment submission box says comments are moderated. Comment moderation policy is in the sidebar on the right.

The least you can do, DS, is tell me why…

I don’t have the time.

Give me a chance. You may find out that we agree on more than you think (e.g., getting Atheism out of science).

You get a chance with every comment. I don’t stop anyone from submitting them. If I don’t think it’s constructive for any reason it gets flushed.

I will however see about putting a link to the moderation policy above the comment submission form so it’s clear what the rules are. -ds

Comment by egbooth — February 16, 2006 @ 1:05 am

Comment #80557

Posted by Arden Chatfield on February 17, 2006 12:03 PM (e)

As entertaining as that is, it more properly belongs on the ‘Uncommon Pissant’ thread at ‘After the Bar Closes’.

Comment #80559

Posted by steve s (ACLU member since 2001) on February 17, 2006 12:09 PM (e)

I will put it there too, but it’s relevant to this thread because PvM mentioned Egbooth’s correction of DaveScot in the original post, which correction no doubt led to his eradication.

off to AtBC

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=43f5bccf98b4e4d9;act=ST;f=14;t=1274;st=690

Comment #80560

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 17, 2006 12:13 PM (e)

Our business then is to find a way for folk who buy into a particular religious dogma to come to peace with science so that we can just teach our kids good science?

Nope. Our business is to uphold the Constitution.

I don’t give a flying fig what religious dogma people hold or don’t hold. And I don’t give a flying fig if they ever come to peace with science or don’t. If they want to preach that evolution is wrong, or that science is an atheistic plot, then they are entirely free to do so, in church, every Sunday until Jesus comes back. No one has (yet) repealed the First Amendment. This is still a democracy (for now). In a democracy, this or that person’s religious beliefs (or lack of them) are nobody else’s business – unless and until this or that person attempts to push his or her religious opinions onto others using state resources (particularly by lying to us and claiming those religious opinions are really “science”). At that point, it becomes everyone’s business. And once again, that business is to uphold the Constitution. Whether the particular religious opinion that’s being pushed is “correct” or not, or agrees with science or not, is utterly completely totally irrelevant. It’s illegal to teach religion in science classrooms. Period. (shrug)

Comment #80561

Posted by Raging Bee on February 17, 2006 12:14 PM (e)

Science and faith are not necessarily reconcilable.

Science and MY faith are indeed reconcilable: I believe God gave us large brains so we could perceive, record, reason, and understand the world in which we exist (the Book of Duh, 23487:67). Your faith is your problem.

Faith would have you believe that evolution is a “guided” process and evidence points to “unguided”.

Mine wouldn’t, and neither would that of any of the Christians, Jews and Pagans I’ve known. Neither would that of the Catholics and Lutherans who explicitly said that honest science was okay with their God. Who are you talking about? Telling other people what they believe is a fundie thing. Whose side are you on?

If you use science, you are contradicting faith and vice-versa. It is not shooting those on our side. It is deciding whether faith has a place in a worldview that looks to evidence to explain natural phenomena.

My faith has a place in my worldview, and I look to evidence to explain both natural phenomena and alleged human actions.

You can repeat the same obvious falsehood as many times as you like, in as many different permutations as you can think of (can’t DaveScot or Karl Rove write you a better script?), but they’re still obvious falsehoods – or, at best, meaningless overgeneralizations.

One last thing: anyone who still believes that faith and doubt are irreconcilable needs to get a life. The two are opposite, and often opposing, but it’s more of a balance or Yin/Yang thing; or, to get all Hegelian on you, Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis. Comprendez?

Comment #80562

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on February 17, 2006 12:16 PM (e)

I am a religion basher

Which one.

They’re not all the same, ya know.

Comment #80564

Posted by BWE on February 17, 2006 12:25 PM (e)

Hoo boy was I way off base. Maaaan. I wasn’t even in left field. I was over at the hot dog stand. Of course! (sound of hand slapping forehead). I was caught up in this “quality of education” thing. (My wife is a middle school teacher so I tend to think of it that way.)

Well. OK. I worry more about religious ideas at school than about religion itself. Ha Ha. I will be chuckling over that one for days to come. I humbly move to label my first statement as irrelevant to the discussion. And, for that matter, quite a bit of this thread is irrelevant too.

Ha ha.

Leave it to Lenny.

The constitution seems so weak with our current political climate that I forget that it exists sometimes.

OK, on the church/state thing.-

So when Dougmoran writes:

So when is the ACLU going to protect our children from being told they are unplanned and have no purpose and must believe the religion of Dawkin’s god?

He is arguing for a place for faith at the table and that’s the problem

And that is my relevant contribution to this debate, however weak that contribution may be.

You know, I sometimes think that we are all just posting for the entertainment of it.

Comment #80571

Posted by Moses on February 17, 2006 1:15 PM (e)

Comment #80437

Posted by Raging Bee on February 16, 2006 06:35 PM (e)

Once again, Caledonian and BWE loudly condemn just about every religious/spiritual belief ever held by humans, and once again they prove that they are just as ignorant, intolerant, narrow-minded, and insultingly self-important as the worst of the faithful — whom they don’t even bother to single out from the best.

Every time the religion-bashers trash belefs of which they are clearly ignorant and/or uncaring, we point out that it’s not as simple as they say it is, and their only response is to keep repeating the same insulting — and observably wrong — generalizations over and over again, all the while pretending that bashing “myths” proves them more intelligent than the rest of us.

The only problem with your high horse is that you are apparently ignorant of the origins and evolution of your religion and how, through six major revisions of Judaism, it evolved from a Canaanite polytheistic pantheon (Israelites) and a monotheistic Deity (Judeans) where God had (depending on the variant) three or seven wives (who may or may not have been his sisters) to a polytheistic pantheon where god had one wife (Asheroth). Asheroth was later written out of the whole picture and down-graded to a false-goddess of the “apostate Israelites” as part of the revision system when Yahweh (from the monotheistic Judeans - Co-opted cult of Osiris) and El (from the polytheistic Israelites) were combined into one supreme Deity.

Anyway, I feel a rant coming on and just don’t really feel the desire to argue over the most current iterations of the Judaism, Christianity and Islam factions and the “true belief/way” stuff that comes with it; despite the fairly clear historical evidence that shows the evolution of the whole thing from religions all three sects would say were false religions with false gods…

Comment #80573

Posted by JONBOY on February 17, 2006 1:23 PM (e)

I have posed this question many times, on many posts, and never seem to get a solid response.If you are religious and have faith,on which premise do you base your faith? Family tradition,Sunday school, your parents indoctrinated you ,the bible? All you can possibly know about your beliefs, comes from it’s Scriptures, the validity of your beliefs depend upon the validity, reliability and accuracy of its Scripture.
Once conceding there are errors in your particular religious writings, you have opened a Pandora’s Box. How do you know which parts are true, if you admit some parts are false. If you are a Xtian, how do you know Jesus except as he is presented to you in the Bible? If the Bible is an,”inaccurate” depiction of God’s Word and does not present a picture of Jesus Christ that can be trusted, how do you know it is the true Christ you are following? You may just as well be worshiping a Christ of your own imagination,The flying Spaghetti Monster,or King Aurthur. Any faith must have a under pinning, a foundation on which it is built,without that foundation the system has an obvious fatal flaw. To live in an ideological cocoon with all the accompanying feelings of superiority and reassurance,seeking to prove their own convictions,may be fine for some, but in reality it is nothing more than self delusion.

Comment #80574

Posted by BWE on February 17, 2006 1:27 PM (e)

Raging Bee is a druid not a christian.

Comment #80578

Posted by Raging Bee on February 17, 2006 2:08 PM (e)

If you are religious and have faith,on which premise do you base your faith?

Common sense, common decency (including a sense of personal responsibility), bits of wisdom received from wherever/whoever, and the voice of the spirit within me.

All you can possibly know about your beliefs, comes from it’s Scriptures, the validity of your beliefs depend upon the validity, reliability and accuracy of its Scripture.

Who are you to say what someone else can “possibly know?” Who are you to say where someone else’s beliefs come from? Spiritual truth can come from just about anywhere, from my own holy writ, to someone else’s holy writ, to a tale told by some guy in a pub, to years of everyday life-experience, to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, to a Grateful Dead song, to a face seen in the bark-pattern of a tree while tripping on LSD.

Once conceding there are errors in your particular religious writings, you have opened a Pandora’s Box. How do you know which parts are true, if you admit some parts are false[?]

Again, the answer is: Common sense, common decency (including a sense of personal responsibility), and the voice of the spirit within me. Also, there’s a difference between “errors,” “differing interpretations,” “falsehoods,” “multiple meanings,” “ambiguities” and “peripheral stuff.” It’s a difference that extremists of all faiths, including atheism, refuse to acknowledge publicly.

When you first caught your parents making a mistake, did you panic and lose your ability to trust them right then and there? Or did you take it as one more step on the road to maturity?

PS: Yes, BWE, I’m a Druid. Kudos for reading what I actually said. Now here’s the trick question: which Scripture am I getting my belief from?

Comment #80579

Posted by PvM on February 17, 2006 2:10 PM (e)

BWE wrote:

Faith would have you believe that evolution is a “guided” process and evidence points to “unguided”.

And the two are easily reconcilable when realizing that the term unguided means two very different things in faith and in science. In science it means that scientist have proposed a mechanism of chance and regularity which can explain the observations. Since science cannot address whether underlying this pattern lies a guidance by a supernatural being.

Even ID activists acknowledge the possibility of front loading as a way to resolve these issues. But the scenario of ‘active intervention’ by a supernatural entitity or entities would not be addressable by science. in fact, one may argue that any such intervention would be perceived as ‘natural’ though perhaps miraculous. Remember for instance that according to quantum theory, anything is possible, just very unlikely. But we all know that the very unlikely can happen.

Comment #80580

Posted by Pvm on February 17, 2006 2:14 PM (e)

Mike Kelly wrote:

I’m uncomfortable with “unguided” because it describes the process rather than the outcome. In my view, the process is not so much guided as constrained in the sense of Dawkin’s “Mount Improbable”.

I look at natural selection as non-teleological rather than unguided.

As Ayala and Ruse have argued however, the constraints can cause natural selection to appear to be teleological because its “result” is function.

Combine this with Behe’s use of purposeful (which mean functional) and Dembski’s use of specified (with means with function) and you quickly realize that all they are saying is that there appears to be design in nature.
And scientists would agree and have identified the ‘designers’ as fully natural.

In the mean time ID activists remain empty handed in their thesis.

So guided and unguided can be easily reconciled when realizing that unguided means “apparant or internal teleology” and guided means “final teleology” or external teleology

Read Ayala’s excellent thesis on this

Comment #80583

Posted by BWE on February 17, 2006 2:35 PM (e)

If you are religious and have faith,on which premise do you base your faith?

Common sense, common decency (including a sense of personal responsibility), bits of wisdom received from wherever/whoever, and the voice of the spirit within me.

You are claiming wisdom from experience rather than faith. Your faith appears to be faith in the reality of your experience rather than faith in a “scripture” whether druid or whatever. So in that respect faith is something science shares with religion. But faith in gOD the sky daddy or some specific way as the ONLY way is quite different than faith in your own experience. Your own experience is subject to refinement and change.

And PvM,
Dave Scot and Billy Dembski and those actively trying to push the “ID sciences” ( I love typing that) can reconcile their faith with “fancy footwork” but the vast majority of IDers do not. Sure God could have done whatever but the evidence does not show that to be the case. And science is concerned with the evidence. Since the evidence actually seems to point to that not being the case, one who were following the system of proof and evidence would have to conclude that whatever god may be, god does not appear to be what anybody who tries to pin it down thinks it is. Therefore, although we can talk about god, is is roughly equivelant to talking about string theory between preschoolers or perhaps even hrndlingdon. Not that we can never answer our questions about universal cosmic consciousness or whatever but that we can’t right now at least. And, at the moment science is the best tool we have for discovering what gOd is. One thing we can observe is that the stories handed down are from a pre-rational time and are utterly, totally and completely man-made and are almot completely false.

Comment #80592

Posted by Raging Bee on February 17, 2006 3:17 PM (e)

You are claiming wisdom from experience rather than faith.

No, I’m claiming wisdom from BOTH, sometimes separately, sometimes interacting.

Your faith appears to be faith in the reality of your experience rather than faith in a “scripture” whether druid or whatever.

Actually, it’s both: the teachings of holy men & women, combined with – and augmented by – the life-experience of myself and others.

…But faith in gOD the sky daddy or some specific way as the ONLY way is quite different than faith in your own experience.

The two are different, but not mutually exclusive or incompatible. People mix the two all the time, whether they admit it or not.

And, at the moment science is the best tool we have for discovering what gOd is.

Remind us what “science” has told us about God again? “At the moment,” science has discovered NOTHING about God. That’s what the big ID debate is about, remember? As a “tool” for “discovering what God is,” science is, by its own explicit admission, totally useless.

One thing we can observe is that the stories handed down are from a pre-rational time and are utterly, totally and completely man-made and are almot completely false.

And your point is…? Why are you so obsessed with the literal truth or falsehood of these stories, when most persons of faith treat them as symbolic, informative or allegorical fiction anyway? Asatruar don’t look for historical proof that humans were ever menaced by frost-giants; Hellenic Pagans aren’t looking for fossilized remains of the Hydra; nor do most Christians seem to care exactly who the “prodigal son” was; we tell such stories to illustrate larger points.

Comment #80593

Posted by PvM on February 17, 2006 3:33 PM (e)

And PvM,
Dave Scot and Billy Dembski and those actively trying to push the “ID sciences” ( I love typing that) can reconcile their faith with “fancy footwork” but the vast majority of IDers do not. Sure God could have done whatever but the evidence does not show that to be the case.

What evidence? How does science address whether God did or did not do something? That there are Christians and atheists alike who confuse the limitations of science does not come as a surprise to me. What I am arguing is that science cannot address these issues. And as such science and religion need not be in conflict.

And science is concerned with the evidence. Since the evidence actually seems to point to that not being the case, one who were following the system of proof and evidence would have to conclude that whatever god may be, god does not appear to be what anybody who tries to pin it down thinks it is.

Hence the ‘coming to God through faith’ part which is so important to many Christians.

Therefore, although we can talk about god, is is roughly equivelant to talking about string theory between preschoolers or perhaps even hrndlingdon. Not that we can never answer our questions about universal cosmic consciousness or whatever but that we can’t right now at least. And, at the moment science is the best tool we have for discovering what gOd is. One thing we can observe is that the stories handed down are from a pre-rational time and are utterly, totally and completely man-made and are almot completely false.

That conclusion is one based on faith not on science. Don’t confuse your beliefs with what science can and cannot address.
The best tool for discovering what/who God is is through faith. Nature merely reflects what Christians and other religious people already ‘know’.

Comment #80597

Posted by Mike Kelly on February 17, 2006 3:43 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

As Ayala and Ruse have argued however, the constraints can cause natural selection to appear to be teleological because its “result” is function……So guided and unguided can be easily reconciled when realizing that unguided means “apparent or internal teleology” and guided means “final teleology” or external teleology

Thanks for the link. Ayala’s argument is well constructed. There is teleology in development but no “purpose” in the sense of an intended outcome by a directing agent. I hadn’t previously thought about it in those terms despite being a long term lurker on PZ Myers site.

Comment #80598

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 17, 2006 3:44 PM (e)

PvM:

In the mean time ID activists remain empty handed in their thesis.

]

…and empty headed.

Comment #80614

Posted by AC on February 17, 2006 5:20 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

What I am arguing is that science cannot address these issues. And as such science and religion need not be in conflict.

They need not be, but particular religions force a conflict when they make claims that are flatly contradicted by scientific findings.

If a religion only makes claims that are unaddressable by science - such as that a seemingly random event was actually caused by divine intervention - then the most we can say is that it is unscientific. On the other hand, if a religion makes a claim that is addressable by science and is contradicted by scientific findings, you will almost certainly have conflict. The only chance to avoid it is for the followers of that religion to not try to change the world to fit their beliefs.

Human nature makes that chance slim indeed.

Comment #80625

Posted by David B. Benson on February 17, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

Mike Kelley: “Thanks for the link.”

I looked back through this entire thread and could not find it. Thanks.

Comment #80638

Posted by Popper's Ghost on February 17, 2006 9:10 PM (e)

Raging Gnat wrote:

I really don’t know how to explain this to the religion-bashers any more simply than this: I was there and you weren’t. I have experienced life, interacted with people not exactly like myself, listened to the experiences and insights of others, read books and newspapers; and I can say the following with absolute confidence: spirituality and spiritual power are real (even if this or that god isn’t)

Special pleading. We’ve all been there, but some of us have reached different conclusions. And the wiser of us eschew “absolute confidence”.

Comment #80639

Posted by Popper's Ghost on February 17, 2006 9:18 PM (e)

David B. Benson wrote:

Mike Kelley: “Thanks for the link.”

I looked back through this entire thread and could not find it. Thanks.

Huh. Strange. I’m always perplexed by people’s inability to solve simple problems like this. I don’t know if it’s a perceptual problem, a conceptual problem, or something else; perhaps you can explain it to me. When I search for “Thanks for the link”, I find a comment about Ayala and Ruse. When I seach for Ayala, I find PvM’s comment #80580, the last line of which contains the link you are looking for.

Comment #80643

Posted by Corkscrew on February 17, 2006 10:06 PM (e)

AC wrote:

They need not be, but particular religions force a conflict when they make claims that are flatly contradicted by scientific findings.

Well, I’d say that the particular religions in question only force a conflict when they try to claim that their particular brand of daftness is scientific (a la Scientific Creationism). As long as they accept that beliefs are not equivalent to scientific conclusions, I don’t see how the existence of these people conflicts with science.

I personally think that faith for faith’s sake is scary, and that people who believe stuff on the basis of revelation, of one sort or another, are probably deluding themselves, but I have no problem with any of the above as long as they don’t try to wrap themselves in science’s hard-won credibility. And I will, of course, defend to the death their right to believe that stuff.

Comment #80649

Posted by Caledonian on February 17, 2006 11:18 PM (e)

Of course religion and science are in conflict, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with what they conclude. It’s how they make the conclusions that’s important. Those methods are not compatible.

My apologies, Raging Bee. Based on your previous posts, I had assumed you were a fundamentalist Christian. I had no idea that you had joined one of the few religious movements with even less intellectual rigor than the fundies.

Comment #80650

Posted by BWE on February 17, 2006 11:57 PM (e)

one of the few religious movements with even less intellectual rigor than the fundies.

No way. druids are experiencial not dogmatic. And dude, NO One has less intellectual rigor than the fundies. Not even George Bush.

Cheney hunts quail, others duck or grouse

Comment #80651

Posted by Caledonian on February 18, 2006 12:18 AM (e)

“No way. druids are experiencial not dogmatic.” Is that a dogma I see before me, a compartmentalization of the mind? Let me grasp thee…

That’s just a dogma in another form – and lacking totally in intellectual rigor. Why am I not surprised?

Comment #80652

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 18, 2006 12:39 AM (e)

to paraphrase an old bit:

I think your Karma is running over his dogma.

I also think you missed the fact that BWE was trying to lighten the mood a bit.

as a general suggestion, it always seems to work better to take these “dogma fights” to the ATBC arena.

free for all barking there.

Comment #80655

Posted by Eugene Lai on February 18, 2006 1:05 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

Eugene Lai: read the posts to which I had responded. Do the words “willfully ignorant” and “myth” stand out at all? Those words were clearly intended to insult a HUGE, undifferentiated mass of people and their beliefs. That is what I meant by “insulting.” You may not understand “willfully ignorant” to be an insulting phrase, but trust us on this, most people with lives and jobs do. Any further questions?

Read who I quoted in my post. Do you mean that BWE used “willfully ignorant” and “myth” so you are okay to call Bynocerus an ass. I don’t need to know what life and job you have, I don’t want any part of that, thanks.

As for “willfully ignorant” and “myth” being insulting… you need to unwind. You have called people you don’t agree with much worse, and that’s just a fact.

I really don’t know how to explain this to the religion-bashers any more simply than this: I was there and you weren’t.

Did your god or “spirit” tell you where I was? How do you know?

I can say the following with absolute confidence: spirituality and spiritual power are real (even if this or that god isn’t); not all spiritual truth comes from holy books or churches (ever heard of “revelation?”); myths and legends can be “true,” and beneficial, on more than the literal level; not all people who open themselves to spirit, or rely on a “higher power,” are stupid; true spirituality can open minds to new knowledge and wisdom, not close them; not all faiths demand that we shut down our brains; science and faith can indeed be reconciled, and very often are; spiritual truth is no less real or relevant to human lives than scientific/material truth; and it is possible to experience such truth in churches (I prefer the big Gothic variety), mosques, fellowship, dreams, timely use of hallucinogens, and even in the sack.

In contrast, I can say this with absolute confidence:
No one of any flavour of any religion has ever said that they believe because their religion is stupid nonsense. Everyone claims it is perfectly reasonably and justifiable (if not provable) to believe in his religion. Your rant is no different even to the fundies you hate so much.

Comment #80657

Posted by Eugene Lai on February 18, 2006 1:39 AM (e)

B. Spitzer wrote:

Yes, I’m making a generalization about the nature of faith. But it’s one that holds up under close analysis, and it applies to faith in general, not just to my faith. Even those believers— Biblical literalists, for example— who view religious documents as 100% factually correct are not primarily interested in the factual content. The primary role of the Bible in their lives always seems to be that it sets up a framework of meaning.

Even if intellectual propositions is not the primary interest, it never stops any one expressing them based on their religion belief. So whether it is primary or secondary or tertiary is not relevent.

The “buffet dinner” analogy has always seemed strange to me. You seem to be implying that there are only two options: either you accept a religious text as 100% accurate or you “pick what you like”. The implication of “pick what you like” is that you just keep the bits which please or gratify you, in a very self-interested way.

Close, but I come from the other direction. I am more interested in the bits that you reject, the bits that you ignore (those that you read once and never come back to).

I assert that there are bits you ignore because you don’t want to tackle them.

My point is that we don’t accept or reject the claims of a historical document based on whether or not they’re pleasing to us. We accept or reject them based on our best assessment of their accuracy. That’s how I approach the Bible and the Christian tradition in general. I treat it seriously, and with great respect, but I’m also always trying to examine my understanding of it as impartially as I can, and some parts I have a lot more confidence in than others.

Put it this way, do you believe in any thing in the bible that is not pleasing to you, then? And what do you do about that?

So I would say that your statement about my religious view is incorrect, because I’m not picking “what I like”. I’m trying to build a view of the world that has intellectual integrity to it. Really, I don’t see that this is all that different than how anyone else puts together their view of the world.

What may be your criteria? Is something accurate and believable because it has intellectual integrity to it? What is the definition of intellectual integrity? How’s that different “choose what I like”?

I have this assertion. In a non-theocracy, even a deeply religious one like the USA, if any opinion is supported only by religious faith and nothing else then it is always wrong. Put it another way - if an opinion can be justified by a secular reason other than a religious one, the secular reason is universally used in lieu of the religious reason.

Think murder, homosexual, abortion, anti-science, any topic I can think of, my assertion is true.

I hope no one here prefers a theocracy, so I won’t attempt to address that one.

If you agree with this assertion, that tells you how much value the framework of meaning actually has.

If not for the cultural turf war, I doubt there’d be much tension between the two.

Religon is a cultural product. The turf war will always be there. Hence it is not realistic to argue as if they are seperate issues.

Comment #80704

Posted by B. Spitzer on February 18, 2006 12:38 PM (e)

PvM wrote: What I am arguing is that science cannot address these issues. And as such science and religion need not be in conflict.

AC (not Larry) replied: They need not be, but particular religions force a conflict when they make claims that are flatly contradicted by scientific findings.

I’m in wholehearted agreement with these statements. It wasn’t my intention to make this thread into Theists vs. Atheists Part MCLXXVII, and I apologize if I pushed it in that direction. My understanding is that this forum is here so we can defend good science and good science education, and, as PvM and AC’s comments suggest, part of that means policing the boundary between science and religion.

I think we all agree that, when religion tries to push into the territory of science, the results are poor. I’m not sure that everyone here agrees that trespasses in the opposite direction are as serious. In fact, I’m not sure that everyone here is convinced that religion has any territory that it can really call its own.

When science tries to play the role of religion, I would argue that the effects can be just as damaging for science education as the effects of religion trying to fill the role of science. There’s an interesting book review in today’s New York Times that eloquently discusses many of the relevant issues. (I think registration is required– I’m sorry, but I don’t recall how to work around that. Can someone help me out?)

One of my concerns is that, when writers like Daniel Dennett conflate evolution with atheism, it provides very powerful ammunition for antievolutionist extremists, because Dennett makes their claims about science and ideology appear accurate. The way I see it, extremists like Daniet Dennett and extremists like Phillip Johnson are engaged in this weird symbiosis, each validating the other. (If you want a more inflammatory metaphor, compare it to Osama bin Laden and G.H.W. Bush, who are probably one anothers’ best recruiters.)

The more we can keep ideological questions and scientific questions separate, the better off we’ll be. Creationists can’t win if we frame the debate around science: good science vs. bad science. They can only win by framing the debate as Christianity vs. atheism. We’ve let them get away with this too much.

Of course, if mere tactical reasons aren’t enough, there are always pedagogical reasons. Science has its limits and it’s good teaching to say so loudly and clearly. Even if there weren’t any tactical issues, we should resist trying to use science to answer questions it can’t address.

It’s not as though I’m saying anything new here. Of course, hardly anything new ever gets said in this debate. But I don’t see that we’re doing a great job of guarding the border of science from trespasses in both directions. I’d very much like to see a greater awareness of this issue, and a keener grasp of diplomacy, among scientists. It seems to me that the struggle against creationism consists of two parts– science (the hard part) and PR (the easy part). It’s kind of sad that, having done so well at the tough job, we’re doing so badly at the simple one.

Comment #80710

Posted by AD on February 18, 2006 1:41 PM (e)

Spitzer,

I agree completely. A large part of the issue is properly defining the process and framing the debate, and preventing those who wish to twist things on either side from doing so.

I have seen arguments between radical atheistic scientists and radical fundamentalist christians, and the result is very amusing but logically and factually laughable. When people take the time to properly define terms and processes in a way that actually conforms with reality, most of the debate falls apart before it starts. “Teach the controversy” and what not become meaningless, and science also does not speak to God.

Now, if a specific holy book makes falsifiable claims and people want to take those literally, however, the response really does become “Too bad”. If it was your religion that 1 + 1 = 4, then we should still not teach that in school.

Comment #80713

Posted by B. Spitzer on February 18, 2006 2:00 PM (e)

Even if intellectual propositions is not the primary interest, it never stops any one expressing them based on their religion belief. So whether it is primary or secondary or tertiary is not relevent.

IIRC, the context of this part of the discussion is whether or not science and religion can coexist– or, to put it somewhat differently, whether science leaves any room for a meaningful religion. A couple of different posters were expressing their bafflement as to how this is possible.

If religion is just a way of learning the same things that you can clearly learn through science, then I’d agree: there isn’t much point in having religion. Science does a better job. But I think that religion is a different sort of tool, used for a different sort of task. It’s for answering questions that science can’t address. I don’t think religion and science are totally insulated from one another; they inform one another and they have to be reconciled.

You are correct that, when religion makes claims that clearly contradict well-established scientific findings, then it’s a problem, regardless of whether those claims were the primary or the secondary “point” of religion. I was trying to make a different point: that believers don’t generally see religion as only or primarily as a sort of substitute for science.

Close, but I come from the other direction. I am more interested in the bits that you reject, the bits that you ignore (those that you read once and never come back to).

I assert that there are bits you ignore because you don’t want to tackle them.

The elements of Christianity and the Bible that are the most troubling or challenging are the ones that I usually find the most interesting, actually. (The parts I read once and never come back to are the parts like, say, the roll calls in the book of Numbers.) The point of faith (well, my faith, anyway) is not to be comfortable, but to learn.

Really, the spirit in which I approach difficult parts of the Bible isn’t that different than the spirit in which I approach unanswered scientific questions. I try to put together all of the puzzle pieces into a coherent picture. If I put together a reasonably complete picture, I look around for other pieces of evidence that might challenge that hypothesis. If there are pieces I can’t make sense of, I keep coming back to them, considering different ways of seeing them or thinking about them, different ways of understanding them.

I can try to provide a couple of examples. The problem of natural evil is one. There’s a point in the New Testament where Jesus is asked why a tragic event happened, and he uses the question to criticize the belief (which was popular at the time, I gather) that tragic accidents were God’s way of punishing immoral people. But, while Jesus says what tragic accidents aren’t, he never does say what tragic accidents are. I could respond by thinking, “Well, I guess it’s not my place to ask”, or “After all, suffering in this life doesn’t last very long compared to eternity”. Settling for such explanations might be comfortable, but those explanations don’t seem complete. I’m not satisfied with them, just as I wouldn’t be satisfied if someone tried to explain a strange and counterintuitive behavior on the part of an organism by saying, “Well, I guess natural selection must have favored that somehow.”

That’s what I mean by intellectual integrity– stepping back from yourself and asking whether or not you’ve really answered the questions, whether you’re confident in your assumptions, whether there’s anything you’re leaving out. In the same way that intellectual self-criticism helps us find the weak spots in our scientific understanding– which is, after all, the first step to scientific progress– intellectual self-criticism helps me find the weak, unexamined spots in my theology, which is the first step to spiritual struggle and growth. (If anything, intellectual integrity means focusing on the parts that I don’t like!)

Unfortunately, I can’t bring experimental evidence to bear on my theological hypotheses, but I can make observations about the world and ask myself if my understanding of God is consistent with what I see, and consistent with itself. And I can keep revisiting the questions that aren’t easy to answer. From the discussions I’ve had with others, faith is usually a work-in-progress like this. Many of the details are held tentatively, even if the core principles are not.

Put it this way, do you believe in any thing in the bible that is not pleasing to you, then? And what do you do about that?

Well, the whole idea that I do evil things and need to change and grow spiritually is a very unpleasant claim that the Bible makes all the time. Typically, I struggle with that, and avoid thinking about it, and am ultimately forced to admit that it’s right and that I do need to change.

I have this assertion. In a non-theocracy, even a deeply religious one like the USA, if any opinion is supported only by religious faith and nothing else then it is always wrong. Put it another way - if an opinion can be justified by a secular reason other than a religious one, the secular reason is universally used in lieu of the religious reason.

I would not use my own religious reasons to try to convince someone of my opinions on some issue, unless I knew that person shared much of my religious viewpoint. What’s the point of trying to convince someone by appealing to a viewpoint that they don’t agree with or perhaps don’t understand? Of course we try to justify our positions with secular reasons when we’re talking with people of different faiths. If we don’t, we just come across as raving nutters (and I’m sure that you can think of plenty of examples where religious extremists have done this). That doesn’t mean that I think my own religious reasons are incorrect, or valueless. I just don’t think they’re going to be very convincing for people who aren’t approaching the question from the same religious point of view. In a public dialogue, you have to appeal to broadly shared values and meanings.

I apologize to the other PTers if this post is going too far off topic– it’s definitely straying well into theology rather than science and science education. Maybe it belongs at AtBC instead.

I’d also like to point out, for the sake of Lenny et al., that I’m not claiming special spiritual insight. I’m also not claiming that everybody here should be interested in my point of view. I was asked about it, and I’m trying to answer. Again, if this isn’t appropriate here, I’m happy to see it moved elsewhere. If you find these thoughts and opinions useful, great; if you don’t, pitch ‘em. I’m blundering in the dark like everyone else.

Comment #80773

Posted by BWE on February 18, 2006 7:45 PM (e)

Ok. I appologize for making the blanket statements that I made above. They were innappropriate.

THere is quite a case to be made for faith and I would be on the front lines of the cause. Materialism absolutely fails to take into accound the effect of consciousness. The religious books all represent what the sagest minds among us can come up with and, in the pursuit of spiritual happiness, a great leaping point. So when Raging says she learns from “teachings of holy men & women, combined with — and augmented by — the life-experience of myself and others.” She is describing a spiritual pursuit rather than a blind devotion to dogma. Blind Faith is the nature of fundementalism and a very dangerous element in society. But there is a huge difference between blind faith and reasoned and emoted faith. Do you think John Lennon was being an atheist when he said:

Imagine there’s no heaven,
It’s easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace…

But Mr. Spitzer, you said:

When science tries to play the role of religion, I would argue that the effects can be just as damaging for science education as the effects of religion trying to fill the role of science. There’s an interesting book review in today’s New York Times that eloquently discusses many of the relevant issues. (I think registration is required— I’m sorry, but I don’t recall how to work around that. Can someone help me out?)

One of my concerns is that, when writers like Daniel Dennett conflate evolution with atheism, it provides very powerful ammunition for antievolutionist extremists, because Dennett makes their claims about science and ideology appear accurate. The way I see it, extremists like Daniet Dennett and extremists like Phillip Johnson are engaged in this weird symbiosis, each validating the other. (If you want a more inflammatory metaphor, compare it to Osama bin Laden and G.H.W. Bush, who are probably one anothers’ best recruiters.)

I read the review and it’s crap. It picks the wrong points.

The orthodoxies of evolutionary psychology are all here, its tiresome way of roaming widely but never leaving its house, its legendary curiosity that somehow always discovers the same thing. The excited materialism of American society — I refer not to the American creed of shopping, according to which a person’s qualities may be known by a person’s brands, but more ominously to the adoption by American culture of biological, economic and technological ways of describing the purposes of human existence — abounds in Dennett’s usefully uninhibited pages. And Dennett’s book is also a document of the intellectual havoc of our infamous polarization, with its widespread and deeply damaging assumption that the most extreme statement of an idea is its most genuine statement. Dennett lives in a world in which you must believe in the grossest biologism or in the grossest theism, in a purely naturalistic understanding of religion or in intelligent design, in the omniscience of a white man with a long beard in 19th-century England or in the omniscience of a white man with a long beard in the sky.

The reviewer’s problem is (IMHO rightly) with Dennet’s smugness. But he uses words to say that Denet’s thesis is poor because he can’t separate Religion and Science. I would bet that every single person here would agree that pursuing spiritual happiness is at least not a negative thing. I would also bet that Almost everyone here would say that preaching demonstrably false information to children, information that might foster blind obedience, is uniformly bad. Denet doesn’t care about God. He makes mighty stretches of the imagination. He has dozens of places where he leaves you shaking your head at the narrowness of his views, but he isn’t blasting spiritual pursuits. He is merely so smug in his belief that Religion is operating under false information and has inherent dangers that he glosses over religion without considering the role of spirituality.

I found this here

2. Fourteenth-Fifteenth centuries: the previous world view begins to fall apart.
* Improprieties on the part of the churchmen cause rebellion; Martin Luther calls for a complete break from papal Christianity.
* The men who defined reality for centuries lose their credibility.
* The clear consensus about the nature of the universe and humankind’s purpose here collapses.
* Scientific discoveries proved that the realities about our world as maintained by the Church were incorrect: the Earth is not the center of the universe, for ex.
* All ideas about the world taken for granted now need new definition, especially the nature of God and our relationship to God.
3. Modern Age: a growing democratic spirit and a mass distrust of papal and royal authority.
* Definitions of the universe based on speculation or scriptural faith are no longer automatically accepted.
* To avoid some new group stepping in to control reality as the churchmen did, a method of consensus-building (the scientific method: testing an idea about how the universe works, arriving afterward at some conclusion, and then offering this conclusion to others to see if they agree) was developed.
* Explorers were sent out to the world, armed with the scientific method, to find out how it works and what it means that we find ourselves alive here.
* We sent these explorers out to bring back a complete explanation of our existence, but because of the complexity of the universe they weren’t able to return right away.

# When the scientific method couldn’t bring back a new picture of God and of mankind’s purpose on the planet, the lack of certainty and meaning affected Western culture deeply.

1. We needed something else to do until our questions were answered.
2. We shook off our feeling of being lost by taking matters into our own hands, by focusing on conquering the Earth and using its resources to better our situation.
3. This focus became a preoccupation. We lost ourselves in creating a secular society, and economic security, to replace the spiritual one we lost.
4. The question of why we were alive, of what was going on here spiritually, was slowly pushed aside and repressed altogether.
5. We’ve forgotten that we still don’t know what we’re surviving for.

This might be a little closer to his point I think and possibly to yours. Please, I am not being hostile but the problem does lie in “Faith”. Faith that my minister knows the “right” way to worship. Faith that I can kill and die for my minister’s view of what God wants. Individual faith is a very personal thing and not the same thing at all. But the line is fuzzy and I prefer to put the wall farther into the gray area than you do I think.

Comment #80844

Posted by Richard Wein on February 19, 2006 5:50 AM (e)

A. L. R. wrote:

I’m deeply troubled by the implication that science ought to walk on eggshells to avoid giving offense to anyone whose religious beliefs employ euphemistic language involving designers or guiders.

I agree. As far as I can see, the main objection to the word “unguided” arises because some theistic evolutionists want to accept the scientific conclusion that evolution is a purely natural process while still holding on to their religious belief that it is supernaturally guided. This seems to me to be a claim that evolution is both guided and unguided at the same time. If I’ve misinterpreted the T.E. position, I hope someone will enlighten me.

Steve Reuland wrote:

Ironically though, even an unguided missile has a purpose, in that some person intended it to hit some target. In that sense it is “guided”.

“Guided” is not synonymous with having a purpose. A deistic universe would have a purpose but would not be guided.

Comment #81247

Posted by BWE on February 21, 2006 1:42 PM (e)

failing to “protect our children from being told that they are unplanned and have no purpose”.

And how again is this the ACLU’s job?

Comment #81248

Posted by AD on February 21, 2006 1:44 PM (e)

I agree. As far as I can see, the main objection to the word “unguided” arises because some theistic evolutionists want to accept the scientific conclusion that evolution is a purely natural process while still holding on to their religious belief that it is supernaturally guided. This seems to me to be a claim that evolution is both guided and unguided at the same time. If I’ve misinterpreted the T.E. position, I hope someone will enlighten me.

You have misinterpreted the position, I would think, from what I understand. The problem is that there is confusion about what “guided” means.

A TE would say:

- Evolution is unguided with respect to any observable natural phenomenon.

- Evolution is guided/purposed with respect to unobservable supernatural phenomenon (aka God).

The basic argument is that simply because there is no natural purpose that we can observe does not deny ANY purpose. It just denies a natural purpose (and perhaps implies limitations to our perceptual abilities with regard to the supernatural). Why could this seemingly naturally random process not have been put into place with a specific purpose by a divine creator? Especially if that creator happens to be all-knowing and all-powerful, unlike us. Our inability to percieve any purpose does not deny it is there in some way we cannot directly percieve.

Scientifically speaking, however, it would mean that evolution was unguided in any meaningful or testable manner (thanks to methodological naturalism). Also, when evolution is speaking to unguidedness, that also means creatures do not have an “agenda” for their evolution. It’s not like bacteria sit around in board meetings and plan to evolve into multi-celled organisms because they think it might be nice.

Comment #81249

Posted by AD on February 21, 2006 1:47 PM (e)

Edit:

Somehow my last bit didn’t show up. It was this:

As a result, I don’t think there’s an objection from any TE’s about saying evolution is naturally unguided. There would be an objection about saying evolution is supernaturally unguided (what basis does science have to judge that one way or another? is the argument…).

Thus, the objection to “unguided” alone is probably on the basis that it’s way too vague and prone to being (deliberately) misrepresented by fundamentalists as atheistic. I doubt anyone would object to something like:

“Evolution is unguided on a natural level, but supernaturally, science has no basis to determine any method or level of guidance that may or may not exist.”

Cumbersome, obviously, but would clear up any attempts to color it as atheism.

Comment #81694

Posted by Richard Wein on February 23, 2006 4:39 AM (e)

AD, if TEs believe that evolution is guided by God, then how can they accept that it is a “natural” process? How can a supernaturally guided process be “natural”?

Comment #81752

Posted by Raging Bee on February 23, 2006 11:00 AM (e)

AC wrote:

…But if you wall it off with “I was there and you weren’t”, then we have reached the ultimate dead-end.

What you mean “we,” paleface? I’m still moving on; the religion-bashers are the ones hitting dead-ends by refusing to acknowledge the experiences of others.

Eugene Lai wrote:

Did your god or “spirit” tell you where I was? How do you know?

The fact that you and other religion-bashers are making overly-broad generalizations that are observably wrong, is sufficient proof that you have not been where I’ve been. (And it’s not that I’ve been anywhere extraordinary – my experiences come from everyday life!)