Nick Matzke posted Entry 2743 on November 22, 2006 06:46 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2734

Ask and yea shall receive. A kindly tech wizard did stop by and post Neil deGrasse Tyson’s lecture on YouTube (part 1, part 2), so now you can watch it without any tedious downloading. Virtually all of the lecture is there, the last few seconds seem to have been cut off.

The original thread has become yet another holy war thread (my fault, I acknowledge), so I will focus here simply on why Tyson’s lecture turned me into a fawning Tyson fanboy. Highlights:

* The potential importance of the humanities to a scientist (spaces between the pumpkins).
* The similarities between a religious pilgrimage to a mountaintop, and an astrophysicist’s similar pilgrimage.
* The real problem isn’t the feeling of one’s size in the universe, it’s the prior size of one’s ego.
* “I don’t so much care whether they abandon previous [religious] feelings. I’ve got an offering [science], that keeps going, that keeps getting more majestic.”

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Comment #146047

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on November 22, 2006 7:09 PM (e)

Fixed a code error.

Comment #146055

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 22, 2006 8:15 PM (e)

I see what you’re seeing, Nick. Tyson is a very effective “science evangelist.”

Heh heh.

Comment #146108

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 23, 2006 1:11 PM (e)

but, Nick, you stated in the previous thread that Tyson has “an approach”…

I think it would be worthwhile if you detailed that, and how you view it’s potential from a pragmatic standpoint.

I will focus here simply on why Tyson’s lecture turned me into a fawning Tyson fanboy.

so get to it!

We’ve seen the “highlights”??

let’s see the details.

Comment #146160

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on November 23, 2006 10:02 PM (e)

so get to it!

We’ve seen the “highlights”??

let’s see the details.

Surely you can watch it as well as I. Tyson’s approach is

(a) positive and upbeat,
(b) doesn’t focus on hunting down and killing every whiff of religion that dares to exist in the general vicinity of science, as if doing this were both possible and would solve the major problems this world faces if it were achieved,
(c} appeals to everybody, not just in-your-face atheists, and
(d) shows that science and nature are amazing and inspirational, not some kind of program to drain life of meaning.

There are other points one could analyze, but basically I would like people to just sit back and enjoy.

Comment #146185

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 24, 2006 12:24 AM (e)

Surely you can watch it as well as I. Tyson’s approach is

(a) positive and upbeat,
(b) doesn’t focus on hunting down and killing every whiff of religion that dares to exist in the general vicinity of science, as if doing this were both possible and would solve the major problems this world faces if it were achieved,
(c} appeals to everybody, not just in-your-face atheists, and
(d) shows that science and nature are amazing and inspirational, not some kind of program to drain life of meaning.

There are other points one could analyze, but basically I would like people to just sit back and enjoy.

I already had watched it, which is why i was puzzled you call simply discovering a personal ability to utilize one’s “right brain” to apply abstract concepts to observation an “approach”

you and i must have seen different videos. what I saw was Tyson detailing his discovery of the value of abstract concepts. Whee! same thing happened to me in high school english class, when I was forced to read a ton of poetry for an AP english class.

I really think you are reading far too much into what you heard Tyson say. This is why I’m puzzled as to how you see an “approach” here. he didn’t even address any of the specific issues, rather he simply related the value of abstract conceptualization to our understanding and enjoyment of science.

that’s all very nice, but it doesn’t relate to resolving any of the issues addressed by the impacts of creationism on education in the US.

Comment #146199

Posted by Anton Mates on November 24, 2006 4:14 AM (e)

Nick (Matzke) wrote:

(a) positive and upbeat,

It is that, certainly, although it’s a trifle repetitive for my taste. He has a very engaging presence.

(b) doesn’t focus on hunting down and killing every whiff of religion that dares to exist in the general vicinity of science, as if doing this were both possible and would solve the major problems this world faces if it were achieved,

It didn’t really address the issue of science and religion at all. Which is fine, of course, but it’s not as if Tyson invented the idea of talking about science without mentioning religion. Heck, even Dawkins has been known to discuss things like evolution and genetics for extended periods.

(c} appeals to everybody, not just in-your-face atheists, and

Inasmuch as Richard Dawkins has sold millions of books and is possibly the best-known science writer alive (maybe Stephen Hawking? but he hasn’t been that high-profile in a while), it’s fairly obvious that he doesn’t just appeal to in-your-face atheists. He doesn’t much appeal to me, and I think I am an in-your-face atheist, but I have to acknowledge his popularity.

Now maybe Tyson’s appeal is even wider, and in five or ten years he’ll be the reigning kind of pop science. If so, terrific. The more science educators using more approaches to reach more people, the better. And if you want to prove Dawkins’ approach deficient, don’t try to hold him back–just do the science outreach job better than he does! To his credit, that’s what Tyson seems to be aiming for here. He’s providing an alternate approach without attacking other ones.

(d) shows that science and nature are amazing and inspirational, not some kind of program to drain life of meaning.

My goodness…what was the last scientist you heard who said that science and nature did drain life of meaning in a talk? Bouncing up and down and gushing about how incredibly cool and fascinating and awe-inspiring the natural world is and how rewarding it is to study it is pretty standard behavior for scientists at public talks, so far as I’ve seen.

Comment #146236

Posted by Satori on November 24, 2006 8:29 AM (e)

Maybe I saw a different Tyson video, but how did you get more out of that that just a few interesting personal anecdotes? What did anything he had to say have anything to do with religion and science? The whole “we are star stuff” routine, much better articulated by Carl Sagan, was actually a little corny in that video. Based on the fawning in the previous threads, I expected a truly impressive speaker. Are scientists’ public speaking standards really that low that he stood out so much?

Comment #146257

Posted by PvM on November 24, 2006 12:05 PM (e)

Tyson certainly stands out way above some of the evangelical atheists/creationists. Moran recently called for flunking those who ‘do not believe in evolution’, PZ seems to be on a war path and then we have someone like Allen McNeill who is patiently educating those on UcD. What a difference…

Comment #146271

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 24, 2006 2:01 PM (e)

evangelical atheists

this is getting idiotic.

you guys need to take a DEEP breath, step back and refocus.

Comment #146273

Posted by Registered User on November 24, 2006 2:26 PM (e)

then we have someone like Allen McNeill who is patiently educating those on UcD

Is that what’s happening? More likely the one-eyed midget is handing somebody a bone.

Tyson is not terribly interesting. A hot blonde atheist female Ph.D. with a Southern accent and a wicked sense of humor would be interesting.

Tyson is not that. I’ll wait patiently.

Comment #146274

Posted by PvM on November 24, 2006 2:46 PM (e)

I believe that as a site dedicated to science, we should be vigilant against any evangelical abuse of science and reason. Especially since I see few differences between both evangelical extremes. At best they are uninteresting philosophical positions.

Comment #146275

Posted by Anton Mates on November 24, 2006 2:50 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Tyson certainly stands out way above some of the evangelical atheists/creationists. Moran recently called for flunking those who ‘do not believe in evolution’,

Uh, flunking evolution-deniers is neither evangelical nor atheist. Don’t you start telling us evolution is inherently atheistic, Pim.

Comment #146279

Posted by Registered User on November 24, 2006 3:10 PM (e)

Especially since I see few differences between both evangelical extremes. At best they are uninteresting philosophical positions.

You see few differences between “Adopt my made up religious garbage or you will personally suffer in hell for infinity” and “America would be a better country with fewer religious idiots”?

I can see two possible explanations for this apparent blindness.

Comment #146289

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 24, 2006 5:29 PM (e)

Especially since I see few differences between both evangelical extremes.

deeeeeep breath, Pim.

your dissonance is showing.

I swear the constant attempts to mischaracterize people in the name of “balance” is getting out of hand.

Comment #146292

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on November 24, 2006 5:55 PM (e)

“appeals to everybody, not just in-your-face atheists”

As I recall, the discussion of Tyson’s merits started because The Science Network held a meeting discussing science and religion. So I don’t recall any in-your-face behavior. Except from a PT poster who pushed his ‘criticizing religion is evangelical atheism’ position in our faces.

When free discussion and critique is attacked, a society becomes polarized. Is that what we want here?

It is obvious that a secular state and secular science brings freedom for religion. And personal religion should be free and personal. Not every person is a christian, and science should indeed appeal to everybody.

Comment #146306

Posted by PvM on November 24, 2006 7:22 PM (e)

When free discussion and critique is attacked, a society becomes polarized. Is that what we want here?

Of course not. I am all in favor of free discussion and critique. It’s when evangelists are starting to call for flunking students for not believing in evolution that’s when I start to worry.

As I said, I do not see much difference between the evangelists from either side.

Comment #146310

Posted by brightmoon on November 24, 2006 8:11 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'i'

Comment #146311

Posted by brightmoon on November 24, 2006 8:17 PM (e)

i agree with nick about tyson …but im a bit errrr “right-brained” to begin with and i had no trouble with organic chem BECAUSE im a quilter and a dancer (my degree is biology)…. it’s all about movement/rotation in space

Comment #146312

Posted by brightmoon on November 24, 2006 8:36 PM (e)

i agree with nick about tyson btw

im a bit “right-brained” and i passed organic chem BECAUSE im a quilter and dancer (my degree is in biology )….it’s all rotations/movement thru space

i know about that overwhelming sense of awe he describes ….in biology -every organisms a, a, a… RELATIVE ……makes me go hug my dog

the universe is too large and scary for people who
can’t see past an ignorant, usually, fundie worldview

Comment #146313

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on November 24, 2006 8:40 PM (e)

“It’s when evangelists are starting to call for flunking students for not believing in evolution that’s when I start to worry.”
Then you should not worry, since no one is discussing beliefs. For example, Moran said “If students entering university have already made up their minds that evolution should be rejected, then that’s a serious problem. It’s not a question of ignorance.” He wants to flunk those who actively reject science. I would want that too, if I was a science teacher.

“As I said, I do not see much difference between the evangelists from either side.”
Technically, evangelists exists only on the religious side. :-) More seriously, few atheists are advocating atheism, most are rejecting religion. Science is, and should remain, a secular domain. Religion is, and should remain, a personal domain.

Comment #146314

Posted by brightmoon on November 24, 2006 9:01 PM (e)

“It’s when ‘[atheist]evangelists’ are starting to call for flunking students for not believing in evolution that’s when I start to worry.”

i don’t worry too much …frankly, those students fully deserve to flunk

the alternative for not understanding evolution isn’t atheism…the real alternative is DEATH for billions ….…..the entire history of modern medicine is based on evolution /common descent ..starting with jenners 18th century smallpox vaccination ….that only worked because cowpox is a non-lethal, close relative of smallpox ……the common descent of those 2 viruses directly saved billions of lives

ask your neighborhood cardiologist about why they use dogs to test stents
or an orthopedist about surgical techniques perfected on other mammals

evolution/common descent isnt, merely, ivory-tower knowledge …we really do USE it

Comment #146315

Posted by Publius Smith on November 24, 2006 9:06 PM (e)

Been reading here for awhile, first time I’ve commented. For reference, I’m an atheist.
I come here to learn fascinating new tidbits and be entertained by the endless debate.
For almost the entire duration of this lecture I was confused. I’m not sure I understand.
After skipping back through on youtube, I feel a major problem is that much of the lecture seems to be composed of extremely subjective statements.

Some are mundane though somewhat out of place- those first minutes describing his childhood seem unnecessary, a sentence or two detailing his tendencies towards rationality would seem to suffice.

The description of his inability to comprehend inarticulate instructions regarding ‘drawing the energy in the music’ seems strange to me. The goal is poorly stated but seems obvious- interpretation of a work of art using a different medium. I recall being required to decode such confusing and irrational instructions in art class during the 6th grade.

His frustration with drawing pumpkins resulting in a life-changing epiphany (apparently dealing with the basic artistic concept of the interpretation of form?) reminds me strongly of religious fervor. The description of his emotional state seems out of proportion to the subject at hand. Either the repeated drawing of pumpkins heightens one’s grasp of spacial relations, or there is an emotional component I fail to see.

His statements about ego I take issue with. Some may well feel belittled or insignificant when presented with the realities of the universe. This may be due to a mismatch with their previous beliefs- a conflict with their ego. Conversely, a feeling of reduced size or significance may be a rational result of observation of the scale of the universe as compared to all reasonable frames of reference.

The commonality of physical origin on a cosmic scale is an obvious fact. Personally I feel this fact is fascinating but of no grand significance. He mentions commonality with new-age belief systems, but does not elaborate. Personally his viewpoint reminds me very strongly of a ‘new-age’ belief system based on the interconnected nature of earthly life, modified slightly to encompass a larger scale.

His claim of commonality between one’s neural activity when pondering the interconnected nature of the universe as compared to religious enlightenment may well be true. While any such commonality between neural responses to two distinct stimuli is interesting, I see no significance to it.

Near the end I managed to extract some meaning- he seems to be requesting someone establish a study involving electroencephalography in order to test the above claim of commonality.

Equating spiritual pilgrimage with astronomical observation based on a few points of commonality strikes me as very odd.

In short, I found his lecture extremely hard to follow for what was apparently a vast introduction to a brief and poorly explained description of a desired EEG experiment.

Comment #146316

Posted by Publius Smith on November 24, 2006 9:26 PM (e)

Been reading here for awhile, first time I’ve commented. For reference, I’m an atheist.
I come here to learn fascinating new tidbits and be entertained by the endless debate.
For almost the entire duration of this lecture I was confused. I’m still not sure I understand.
After skipping back through on youtube, I feel a major problem is that much of the lecture seems to be composed of extremely subjective statements.

Some are mundane though somewhat out of place- those first minutes describing his childhood seem unnecessary, a sentence or two detailing his tendencies towards rationality would seem to suffice.

The description of his inability to comprehend inarticulate instructions regarding ‘drawing the energy in the music’ seems strange to me. The goal is poorly stated but seems obvious- interpretation of a work of art using a different medium. I recall being required to decode such confusing and irrational instructions in art class during the 6th grade.

His frustration with drawing pumpkins resulting in a life-changing epiphany (apparently dealing with the basic artistic concept of the interpretation of form?) reminds me strongly of religious fervor. The description of his emotional state seems out of proportion to the subject at hand. Either the repeated drawing of pumpkins heightens one’s grasp of spacial relations, or there is an emotional component I fail to see.

His statements about ego I take issue with. Some may well feel belittled or insignificant when presented with the realities of the universe. This may be due to a mismatch with their previous beliefs- a conflict with their ego. Conversely, a feeling of reduced size or significance may be a rational result of observation of the scale of the universe as compared to all reasonable frames of reference.

The commonality of physical origin on a cosmic scale is an obvious fact. Personally I feel this fact is fascinating but of no grand significance. He mentions commonality with new-age belief systems, but does not elaborate. Personally his viewpoint reminds me very strongly of a ‘new-age’ belief system based on the interconnected nature of earthly life, modified slightly to encompass a larger scale.

His claim of commonality between one’s neural activity when pondering the interconnected nature of the universe as compared to religious enlightenment may well be true. While any such commonality between neural responses to two distinct stimuli is interesting, I see no significance to it.

Near the end I managed to extract some meaning- he seems to be requesting someone establish a study involving electroencephalography in order to test the above claim of commonality.

Equating spiritual pilgrimage with astronomical observation based on a few points of commonality strikes me as very odd.

In short, I found his lecture extremely hard to follow for what was apparently a vast introduction to a brief and poorly explained description of a desired EEG experiment.

If as some suggest this is scientific evangelism, I find it distasteful and irresponsible.

If it isn’t, I find it a confusing and overall unproductive exercise.

Comment #146317

Posted by Publius Smith on November 24, 2006 9:58 PM (e)

Been reading here for awhile, first time I’ve commented. For reference, I’m an atheist.
I come here to learn fascinating new tidbits and be entertained by the endless debate.
For almost the entire duration of this lecture I was confused. I’m still not sure I understand.
I feel a major problem is that much of the lecture seems to be composed of extremely subjective statements.
Some are mundane though somewhat out of place- those first minutes describing his childhood seem unnecessary, a sentence or two detailing his tendencies towards rationality would seem to suffice.

His frustration with drawing pumpkins resulting in a life-changing epiphany (apparently dealing with the basic artistic concept of the interpretation of form?) reminds me strongly of religious fervor. The description of his emotional state seems out of proportion to the subject at hand. Either the repeated drawing of pumpkins heightens one’s grasp of spacial relations, or there is an emotional component I fail to see.

His statements about ego I take issue with. Some may well feel insignificant when presented with the realities of the universe. This may be due to a mismatch with their previous beliefs- a conflict with their ego. Conversely, a perception of reduced significance may be a rational result of observation of the scale of the universe as compared to all reasonable frames of reference.

The commonality of physical origin on a cosmic scale is an obvious fact. Personally I feel this fact is fascinating and potentially useful to interest young children in astronomy, but otherwise of little significance. He mentions commonality with new-age belief systems, but does not elaborate. Personally his viewpoint reminds me very strongly of a ‘new-age’ belief system based on the interconnected nature of earthly life, modified slightly to encompass a larger scale.

His claim of commonality between one’s neural activity when pondering the interconnected nature of the universe as compared to religious enlightenment may well be true. While any such commonality between neural responses to two distinct stimuli is interesting, I see no significance to it.
Near the end I managed to extract some meaning- he seems to be requesting someone establish a study involving electroencephalography in order to test the above claim of commonality.

In short, I found his lecture extremely hard to follow for what was apparently a vast introduction to a brief and poorly explained description of a desired EEG experiment.
If as some suggest this is scientific evangelism, I find it distasteful and irresponsible.
If it isn’t, I find it a confusing and overall unproductive exercise.

Comment #146319

Posted by Publius Smith on November 24, 2006 10:27 PM (e)

I keep trying to post my thoughts on the lecture, and the page consistently times out.
Therefore, a test post.

Comment #146320

Posted by drsteveb on November 24, 2006 10:41 PM (e)

and yes it is nice that he is a black guy.
since nobody else mentioned it… it does matter especially for a public figure involved in educating public about science. Imagine how much more effective he is for reaching out to NYC public school kids. great cross cutting secondary (after the science) message for both african-americans and everybody else too.

Comment #146321

Posted by Anton Mates on November 24, 2006 10:45 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

It’s when evangelists are starting to call for flunking students for not believing in evolution that’s when I start to worry.

Pim. Listen to yourself. You are saying, again, that excessive zeal for defending evolution equals atheist evangelism. You are saying that evolution equals atheism.

I’m an atheist, and I don’t believe that. How can you believe it as a Christian supporter of science?

And if you don’t, why do you keep saying that Larry Moran’s “flunk creationists” crack is in any way promoting atheism? Attack it as a very poor approach to science education if you want–I think it was pretty stupid the way he phrased it the first time, which tends to make me think he was later telling the truth about having been joking. But it had absolutely nothing to do with atheism, and your insistence on making it something to do with atheism is shedding very little light on Larry and rather more on yourself.

Comment #146322

Posted by Publius Smith on November 24, 2006 10:49 PM (e)

For the briefest moment after I submitted the test post I saw I’d managed to post all three previous times, despite the timeout error.
As before, when I go back to the main page and view comments I see nothing of my posts.
Assuming my ethereal vision is accurate, I apologize profusely for the multiple posts. If someone could kindly kill the duplicates I would be most grateful.
Again, apologies.

Comment #146326

Posted by PvM on November 24, 2006 11:10 PM (e)

“It’s when evangelists are starting to call for flunking students for not believing in evolution that’s when I start to worry.”

Then you should not worry, since no one is discussing beliefs. For example, Moran said “If students entering university have already made up their minds that evolution should be rejected, then that’s a serious problem. It’s not a question of ignorance.” He wants to flunk those who actively reject science. I would want that too, if I was a science teacher.

People who reject evolutionary science based on their faith can still be good scientists and even apply that which they believe is flawed.
and what did Moran say

I agree with the Dembski sycophants that UCSD should not have required their uneducated students to attend remedial classes. Instead, they should never have admitted them in the first place. Having made that mistake, it’s hopeless to expect that a single lecture—even one by a distinguished scholar like Robert Pennock—will have any effect. The University should just flunk the lot of them and make room for smart students who have a chance of benefiting from a high quality education.

And the students did not reject evolution but rather Darwinism…

Just read Moran’s ‘scientific opinions’

Ed Brayton has declared himself one of the leading members of the Neville Chamberlain School. And now, John Lynch and Pat Hayes have joined the Ed Brayton team.

Me and PZ are on the side of science and rationalism.

Evangelical fundamentalism at its best… Not to mention the pathetic strawmen… This is not about science anymore…

Comment #146333

Posted by Anton Mates on November 25, 2006 12:21 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

People who reject evolutionary science based on their faith can still be good scientists and even apply that which they believe is flawed.

Holy…you’re repeating Larry Fafarman’s arguments now?! Is this Bizarro Pim?

And the students did not reject evolution but rather Darwinism…

Ah, and the famous “I believe in evolution but not Darwinism” line of the ID crowd.

Ed Brayton has declared himself one of the leading members of the Neville Chamberlain School. And now, John Lynch and Pat Hayes have joined the Ed Brayton team.

Me and PZ are on the side of science and rationalism.

Evangelical fundamentalism at its best…

Uh, Pim, this was in response to Ed declaring that there were “two groups,” and John and Pat both declaring that they’re on Ed’s team. Or did you miss that?

Ed Brayton wrote:

To be honest, I’m rapidly becoming convinced that there are two very different groups involved in fighting against the ID public relations campaign to distort science education. The distinction between the two groups is that one is fighting to prevent ID creationism from weakening science education while the other is fighting, at least in their minds, to eliminate all religious belief of any kind, even those perspectives that have no quarrel with evolution specifically or science in general, from society.

If you think that dividing the pro-science forces into the Good Guys and the Bad Guys is “evangelical fundamentalism,” then please–take it up with Ed.

Comment #146334

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on November 25, 2006 12:23 AM (e)

The right place to argue with Larry Moran, I think, is over on his blog the Sandwalk.

However …
Larry is aware that people don’t get his sarcasm in that misfired post and besides he had seemingly not understood the circumstances of the lecture. But now, it’s a day or so too late to debate the above mishap with him. Nor is there a lot of point in informing him that he does not prefer theism. But if there is still a bone to pick with Larry, bravely do it on his blog. No one needs to re-run that whole mess here. Let’s keep this discussion for people who don’t get Tyson.

Comment #146340

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 25, 2006 1:08 AM (e)

making it something to do with atheism is shedding very little light on Larry and rather more on yourself.

Indeed.

What is up with you, Pim? this weird attitude of yours seems to have been growing of late, and I seriously doubt it has much to do with Moran.

are you still upset none of us found Alen’s “approach” all that stimulating?

is it really just sour grapes, or is there something else going on?

you are sounding completely irrational of late.

“bizarro Pim”… seems that way to me too.

Comment #146342

Posted by anomalous4 on November 25, 2006 1:26 AM (e)

Tyson’s lecture turned me into a fawning Tyson fanboy.

Sign me up for the fan club too!

In a way he reminds me of Carl Sagan, in that you can see the “spiritual high” when he gets going on his subject. (I once saw Sagan debate a Bible-Banging Creationist on TV. As expected, Sagan ran rings around the “B-B C” on science, but he also beat the “B-B C” to crap and back in the spirituality department. He communicated a real sense of awe and wonder at the amazing universe, while the “B-B C” showed all the personality, enthusiasm, and spirituality of a brick.)

But whereas Sagan was always earnestly serious, Tyson has a terrific sense of humor and isn’t afraid to use it. Check out his Stupid Design talk. It’s an absolute screaming riot!

Comment #146343

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 1:56 AM (e)

Why the personal attacks? Is it that pointing out the irrational responses of some evangelical atheist who is now trying to claim that it was all an unfortunate mistake since it was all meant as sarcasm?
If anything this whole episode and especially the responses by Myers and Moran have shown how evangelical or should we say fundamental atheists are not much different from evangelical or fundamentalists religious people.

Anton Mates

Me and PZ are on the side of science and rationalism.

PvM: Evangelical fundamentalism at its best…

Mates: Uh, Pim, this was in response to Ed declaring that there were “two groups,” and John and Pat both declaring that they’re on Ed’s team. Or did you miss that?

Me and PZ are on the side of science and rationalism… Sure… And ID is all about positive scientific arguments… Please…. I am glad to see that John and Pat are on Ed’s side… Count me in as well.

Comment #146344

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 1:58 AM (e)

If you think that dividing the pro-science forces into the Good Guys and the Bad Guys is “evangelical fundamentalism,” then please–take it up with Ed.

Nope it’s the comment about science and rationality.

Comment #146376

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on November 25, 2006 11:30 AM (e)

“saying that evolution equals atheism.”
Um, yes. I can’t believe I missed the reverse of that confusion! Thanks for bringing out the bleeding obvious conflation done here.

“People who reject evolutionary science based on their faith can still be good scientists and even apply that which they believe is flawed…. And the students did not reject evolution but rather Darwinism…”
I don’t believe you said that! Those arguments could be used to define “ID(iotic) claims on evolutionary science”.

I have already pointed out that Moran doesn’t flunk their faith but their active rejection of science. As Mates points out, this is a serious confusion which leads to conflating science and atheism.

“Evangelical fundamentalism at its best… Not to mention the pathetic strawmen… This is not about science anymore…”
Not to mention the pathetic strawmen… - Moran’s flunking proposal isn’t about advocating atheism nor is this ‘scientific opinions’ but an answer to Brayton’s grouping.

Repeating from another PT thread that which is more appropriate here where Pim wants to argue (I will try to bring any answers over here):
Over on the Pharyngula thread the post-analysis is starting to converge onto the problems of Brayton’s action. It is clear something must be done with education.

“educational efforts on a much larger and more fundamental scale over a much longer time period rather than Dover-type court battles- including the very efforts the “moderates” are so eager to denounce- are the only route to bringing about real change. To put it bluntly, Ed Brayton is part of the problem and Richard Dawkins is part is the solution.” (Steve LaBonne)

It seems clear this case does harm. A case where Brayton’s selfprofessed group keep blurring the borders between religion and science (by projecting an attack on beliefs instead of an insistence on not rejecting knowledge). It is a double failure since they are confirming what they attack - that science must be a secular practice. As Moran says, this is about science and rationalism.

Comment #146384

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on November 25, 2006 12:01 PM (e)

Ehrm, what is it about discussions that brings out pontification and pompousness in me? Well, at least I’m not the only blogger who reacts so. :-) All part of a healthy confidence, I guess.

Comment #146385

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 12:05 PM (e)

It’s when evangelists are starting to call for flunking students for not believing in evolution that’s when I start to worry.

You should have started worrying when the education evangelist called for flunking physics students for not believing that the earth rotates around the sun, or math students for not believing that problems with fractions were solvable.

Comment #146387

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 12:40 PM (e)

It’s when evangelists are starting to call for flunking students for not believing in evolution that’s when I start to worry.

You should have started worrying when the education evangelist called for flunking physics students for not believing that the earth rotates around the sun, or math students for not believing that problems with fractions were solvable.

Ah, but there is a major difference here. The question was ‘Darwinism’ and as such the question is quite a loaded one. As is the case with so many creationist analogies, this one also fails to be a relevant argument.
In addition, why flunk incoming freshmen for holding opinions about these matters? Is it not universities which should help educate, especially when lower education has failed to do so?
Flunking them is only going to perpetuate the problem.

Comment #146388

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 12:47 PM (e)

Moran did not really say that this is about science and rationalism, he said that there were two groups and he and PZ were on the side of science and rationalism.

Sure calling for the flunking of incoming freshmen for holding a belief about Darwinian evolution… And given the climate in the US, this often does equate with flunking for religious faith. Are we now going to flunk physics students for doubting string theory for instance?
It’s not as if the issue of Darwinian theory has plenty of pitfalls and hazards to overcome, especially the level of ignorance amongst students and the general public as to what Darwinian theory really is all about.

What about students who doubt global warming? Flunk? What about students who doubt Reaganomics? Flunk…

Comment #146391

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 25, 2006 1:04 PM (e)

Moran did not really say that this is about science and rationalism, he said that there were two groups and he and PZ were on the side of science and rationalism.

Oh? it seems to me that Brayton was the one who was dicating sides based on Moran’s post, and PZ reacted to that.

Comment #146392

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 25, 2006 1:08 PM (e)

Why the personal attacks?

because over the last few months, your arguments have been bizarre.

that’s why.

It’s not really meant as a personal attack, so much as a probe into what has changed to cause you to be posting such tripe to begin with.

It’s YOURSELF that is attempting to divide the community with constructed terms like “evangelical atheist” that make no sense, and simply parott the irrational cries of the creobots.

get off it already.

Comment #146396

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on November 25, 2006 1:30 PM (e)

From comments at Sandwalk:

larry Moran said…

orac says,
I saw your original comments, and, quite frankly, they didn’t sound like a joke to me.

Did you think I would seriously advocate that UCSD flunk 40% of their students just because they didn’t believe in evolution?

Is there anything on my blog that would make you think I’m that stupid?

11:13 PM

Comment #146399

Posted by David B. Benson on November 25, 2006 1:40 PM (e)

Flunking students for not believing X is a terrible idea. A near-by solution is: All students at the university are required to sit at least one semester of biology. Students are not required to ‘believe’ in the theory of evolution, however they must understand it well enough to pass the course.

This scheme works well enough. It has been years since young YECers have complained about the theory of evolution. But the near-by psycologists interested in belief formation find that after sitting, and passing, this course, the young YECers are still YECers. It just they are ones who learned the theory of evolution well enough to pass the required course (and then presumably promptly forgot all about it).

Comment #146400

Posted by Anton Mates on November 25, 2006 1:55 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Why the personal attacks?

One sentence later, PvM wrote:

Is it that pointing out the irrational responses of some evangelical atheist who is now trying to claim that it was all an unfortunate mistake since it was all meant as sarcasm?
If anything this whole episode and especially the responses by Myers and Moran have shown how evangelical or should we say fundamental atheists are not much different from evangelical or fundamentalists religious people.

*irony meter explodes*

Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any personal attacks on you yet in this thread. Lots of people have pointed out that your arguments and positions lack foundation, and that they seem very different from what you’ve espoused in the past. But no one’s actually insulted you by calling you, for instance, an “evangelical fundamentalist Christian.” Because–aside from the fact that clearly you aren’t one–that’s just not helpful to a discussion, don’t you think? It’s best not to confuse the sinner with the sin.

Ah, but there is a major difference here. The question was ‘Darwinism’ and as such the question is quite a loaded one.

This gets worse and worse. If you look at the the original Sandwalk post, Larry says “Darwinism” only when he’s reporting on what Sal Cordova said. Follow the link back to Uncommon Descent, follow Sal’s links back to the original news article describing the survey result, and you know what? “Darwinism” isn’t even mentioned. According to that article, the question was–as you might expect–about “evolution.”

“Two years ago, a UCSD survey found that 40 percent of incoming freshmen to the university’s Sixth College – geared toward educating students for a high-tech 21st century – do not believe in evolution, said the college’s provost, Gabriele Wienhausen.”

You’re not just repeating CreationID arguments now, you’re using false factual information put into play by Sal Cordova. Is that really where you want to be coming from, Pim?

Moran did not really say that this is about science and rationalism, he said that there were two groups and he and PZ were on the side of science and rationalism.

In response to Ed & friends first saying there were two groups and Larry and PZ were on the side of global atheist domination. How would you expect the latter to respond at that point? “Yessir, thankyousir, may I have another?”

Comment #146409

Posted by Jerry Schwarz on November 25, 2006 3:33 PM (e)

Neil deGrasse Tyson may be the most effective advocate for science active today and some people will find what he says in the video under discussion here inspiring. But I strongly suspect that it will appeal primarily to those who are already scientifically inclined. On the other hand I found his
formal presentation at the same conference more valuable.

In particular I think his 15% question (check it out) is the crux of the issue. We aren’t talking about a cognitive issue but a psychological one and I wish he had explored that more thouroughly.

Comment #146411

Posted by Tom Moore on November 25, 2006 3:50 PM (e)

Thanks so much for these links. We really do need a new Carl Sagan, and Tyson certainly has many of the makings. I enjoyed many of the others as well, especially Steven Weinberg’s “crazy old aunt!”

Best wishes,
Tom Moore

Comment #146422

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 6:00 PM (e)

In addition, why flunk incoming freshmen for holding opinions about these matters?

Holding opinions about these matters? What the f….???!

If that’s your attitude, then why flunk students for being ignorant about ANYTHING, Pim?

As Sir TJ has alluded to, you increasingly seem to be adopting the baseline position of the fundie ignorance peddlers: the “truth” depends on one’s “worldview” and everybody is “entitled” to “draw their own conclusions.” Even while attending school!

First you tell us that we must deal with the “scientific” aspects of intelligent design in order to label it as crap. Now you tell us that simply because somebody is too stupid to understand that life on earth evolved with a lot of help from natural selection, they shouldn’t be given an F in biology.

What’s next, Pim?

Comment #146423

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 6:11 PM (e)

You’re not just repeating CreationID arguments now, you’re using false factual information put into play by Sal Cordova. Is that really where you want to be coming from, Pim?

So I was wrong and I stand corrected? Is it so hard to point out someone’s error?

Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any personal attacks on you yet in this thread. Lots of people have pointed out that your arguments and positions lack foundation, and that they seem very different from what you’ve espoused in the past. But no one’s actually insulted you by calling you, for instance, an “evangelical fundamentalist Christian.” Because–aside from the fact that clearly you aren’t one–that’s just not helpful to a discussion, don’t you think? It’s best not to confuse the sinner with the sin.

So a few people have claimed that my arguments and positions lack foundation. So what… Is such not to be expected when one argues issues which are at the boundaries of science and religion? As a scientist and a Christian I am looking how the two are hardly contradictory. If that makes me a fundamental Christian then I take that label with pride.

Similarly to calling ID scientifically vacuous, I believe that the label of evangelical or fundamental atheist appropriately describes the similarities between evangelical or fundamentalists of any religion. And yes, some have raised atheism to the status of a religious concept despite claims that atheism should not be treated as such.

Am I not helping along the discussion? What discussion are you referring to? The name calling by PZ Myers? The flunk the evolution doubters “arguments” by Moran? Why should we be limited to discussing those with whom we have little common ground? In fact, I believe that such discussions serve to self correct.

Sure, we may share a common goal of good science and differ about how to achieve improvements in science education but that hardly means that one should sit back when ‘arguments’ are proposed which are counterproductive to say the least. I am more than willing to point out the fallacious arguments of Christians and atheists alike, in fact, fallacious arguments should be exposed if possible, no matter who is making them.

as such PZ Myers’ namecalling and Moran’s ‘flunk the disbelievers’ should be discussed and should be denounced.

When creationists and atheists are calling for the destruction of beliefs that run counter to theirs, or show behavior that indicates little considerance for the opinions and beliefs of others, then we should speak out.
It’s not surprising that both sides get fueled by the arguments of the other side. ID seems strongly motivated by the atheist influence on science and religion and atheists seem to be on a war path to do exactly that which IDers seem to fear most. The result is not dissimilar from religiously motivated wars, struggles etc we see around the world. There must be room for common ground or we all lose.

Comment #146428

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 6:39 PM (e)

When … atheists are calling for the destruction of beliefs that run counter to theirs

You can’t destroy beliefs, PvM. You can, however, hope to destroy institutions which promote ignorance. Are you opposed to the destruction of institutions which promote ignorance, Pim? Or should we keep them around so you can “discuss” “these matters” with their agents? Seriously. What do you want?

or show behavior that indicates little considerance for the opinions and beliefs of others, then we should speak out.

So when are you going to speak out on behalf of those of us who campaign against homophobia and racism, Pim? Because I have little consideration for the opinions and beliefs of homophobes and racists. When are you going to speak out on behalf of homophobes and racists, Pim?

Or do you just have a soft spot for creationists for some reason?

Comment #146430

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

First you tell us that we must deal with the “scientific” aspects of intelligent design in order to label it as crap. Now you tell us that simply because somebody is too stupid to understand that life on earth evolved with a lot of help from natural selection, they shouldn’t be given an F in biology.

No that is definitely NOT what I am saying. while your strawman is interesting it fails to appreciate the context in which Moran did make the assertion. Let’s say for instance that I state that I do not believe that Darwinian theory is sufficient in explaining the complexity of life or even if I doubt that Darwinian theory has much of any relevance and I state this in a survey, should I be flunked for this?

Moran wrote:

I agree with the Dembski sycophants that UCSD should not have required their uneducated students to attend remedial classes. Instead, they should never have admitted them in the first place.

And what if I, despite my disbelief in evolution/darwinism, I still manage to pass the classes? Should I still be flunked for my disbelief in evolution?
What if i do not believe in global warming? Should I be flunked?

Comment #146431

Posted by JamesR on November 25, 2006 6:48 PM (e)

I am a fan of Tyson as well. I got it. It was not hard to understand his points. Tyson reflects the best that scientists have to offer in a way that is understandable to more than just academics. I have downloaded most of the talks at Beyond Belief and as I review them I find it amazing that this hasn’t been happening more often and more regularly.

There is not any specific need for one spokesman for all of science though. That is by itself absurd. We need more scientists to speak up and be counted. We need less just sitting around waiting for something to happen.

Comment #146432

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 25, 2006 6:50 PM (e)

ID seems strongly motivated by the atheist influence on science and religion and atheists seem to be on a war path to do exactly that which IDers seem to fear most.

Indeed. Both the evangelical fundamentalists and the evangelical atheists hold the opinion that science and religion are incompatible (and seem to forget that it is, indeed, just an opinion – one not held by most people, by the way, who simply see no such incompatibility). Nevertheless, one side thinks, based on that opinion, that it’s *science* (all of it) that should therefore be rejected, and the other side, based on that same opinion, thinks it’s *religion* (all of it) that should be rejected. Both sides, of course, are extremists. And both sides are far far more alike than either one would like to admit. Different feathers, same bird.

As I have always noted, if the theists and the atheists want to wage jihad on each other, I couldn’t care less — they can have at it and enjoy themselves. It’s a useless sterile pointless unwinnable argument that has been raging for centuries and will continue to rage for more centuries. (shrug)

My gripe, though, arises when both of them attempt to drag SCIENCE into their holy war, by claiming that their particular philosophical/religious opinions (and once again they all are, at root, just opinions) are actually “science”. They’re, uh, not. By claiming the mantle of “science” for their philosophical/religious opinions, both the evangelical theists AND the evangelical atheists are abusing and mis-using science, to exactly the same degree. And for exactly the same reasons.

Science has already been politicized and ideologicized wayyyyyy too much. It, uh, hasn’t helped anyone, and there’s no need for more of it. From anybody.

There simply is no such thing as “atheist science” or “theist science”. There is only “science”. And “science” doesn’t give a flying fig about anyone’s religious opinions. Not mine, not yours, not anybody’s.

Comment #146436

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on November 25, 2006 7:05 PM (e)

What is going on here?

Do not keep going on as that famous jest from Larry were in earnest. Do not…. which pretty much dissolves the artificial argument found here.

Comment #146437

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 7:06 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #146440

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 7:13 PM (e)

Darn, so much for my response to RU. Suffices to say that RU is making an illogical claim that I should also be speaking out against homophobes and racists (although he seems to also suggest the contrary so I am somewhat confused as to what his argument is). There are so many that deserve to be exposed and I certainly have no patience with homophobes and racists who take their message to the streets, our educational system or our public policies. But this is not about them or the many other groups that deserve us speaking out. This is about science and religion and those speaking out against either side, trying to silence their faith based beliefs or to surpress their faith.

I hope that RU understand how silly his argument is…

As to destroying beliefs, that indeed is possible. As to institutions that promote ignorance, that depends on how one defines ignorance. Atheists may consider any form of religious expression to be a promotion of ignorance, and yet I believe that people are free to chose what some others may perceive to be ignorance. If your question is: Do I support ignorance to be taught in public schools, or forced upon public policy then the answer is of course a resounding no.

Comment #146443

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on November 25, 2006 7:14 PM (e)

Here’s another Tyson talk from the meeting:

Neil deGrasse Tyson - on Incompetent Design

Comment #146445

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 7:17 PM (e)

Anton Mates also seems to think that my use of the term evangelical atheist if a personal insult. On the contrary, it is an expression of my interpretation of their behavior. It’s not meant as an insult and merely indicates that I believe that their position is not different from evangelical religious people. Or should we now consider calling someone an evangelical christian to be an insult as well?

As to me not being personally insulted, I fail to see how this is relevant. I call it how I see it and if it includes personal insults towards others, it is still personal insults. Does it matter to whom the insults are directed?

Comment #146446

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 7:31 PM (e)

Lenny Frank wrote:

Indeed. Both the evangelical fundamentalists and the evangelical atheists hold the opinion that science and religion are incompatible (and seem to forget that it is, indeed, just an opinion – one not held by most people, by the way, who simply see no such incompatibility). Nevertheless, one side thinks, based on that opinion, that it’s *science* (all of it) that should therefore be rejected, and the other side, based on that same opinion, thinks it’s *religion* (all of it) that should be rejected. Both sides, of course, are extremists. And both sides are far far more alike than either one would like to admit. Different feathers, same bird.

Well said Lenny.

Now let’s assume for argument’s sake that religiosity is due to evolution? There is some research which suggests that this may indeed be the case. Would one still insist on rejecting religion at all cost? How does this compare to for instance the discussion about nature versus nurture of homosexuals? Just because we may not understand the choices made or the genetic components, we should still show respect, even if we personally disagree. It’s one thing to hold personal opinions about ones own belief and the beliefs of others, it’s a whole other thing when one takes such beliefs to the public in order to undermine the freedom of and from religion.

In this context, I would like to revisit a comment made by Larson

Larson wrote:

It is obvious that a secular state and secular science brings freedom for religion. And personal religion should be free and personal. Not every person is a christian, and science should indeed appeal to everybody.

Certainly science should be ‘secular’ or ‘agnostic’. Things become more complicated when discussing the concept of a secular state. As such a secular state is hardly sufficient for religious freedom. In fact, rather than avoiding religions, perhaps the state should ‘embrace them all’.Then again, the term secular is a loaded term that can lead to much confusion.

Wikipedia wrote:

A secular state is a state or country that officially is neutral in matters of religion, neither supporting nor opposing any particular religious beliefs or practices, and has no state religion or equivalent.

I could live with such a definition. Although the concept may force the state to avoid any interaction with religious groups or practices. I can see various areas where such may not be the best solution. For instance in the Netherlands public schools can be secular, catholic, christian, jewish etc.

Comment #146447

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 7:38 PM (e)

I believe that people are free to chose what some others may perceive to be ignorance.

So do I. I also believe that people who willfully recite butt-ignorant claptrap should suffer consequences, even if those consequences are as trivial as getting an F in a class when those beliefs are “freely expressed”, say, on an entrance exam or final exam.

And what if I, despite my disbelief in evolution/darwinism, I still manage to pass the classes? Should I still be flunked for my disbelief in evolution?

You mean flunked for lying on your exam? Of course not.

What if i do not believe in global warming? Should I be flunked?

If you were taught that global temperatures have, on average, increased from 1900 to the present and you were asked, “True or False: global temperatures have increased from 1900 to present” and you answered “False,” on your ecology exam then, yeah, I see problem with flunking you. It boggles the mind that anyone – except an apologist for religious beliefs as knowledge – would find this proposition remotely controversial.

It’s interesting that you would pick global warming, though. Why not the sun-centered solar system “controversy”, Pim? Is there something special about the evolution and global warming “controversies” Pim?

Comment #146448

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 7:48 PM (e)

I see problem with flunking you.

Should be “I see no problem with flunking you.”

Comment #146449

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 7:59 PM (e)

I believe that people are free to chose what some others may perceive to be ignorance.

RU: So do I. I also believe that people who willfully recite butt-ignorant claptrap should suffer consequences, even if those consequences are as trivial as getting an F in a class when those beliefs are “freely expressed”, say, on an entrance exam or final exam.

But this was not about exams or getting an F in a class. This was about rejecting freshmen who had stated their disbelief in evolution.

And what if I, despite my disbelief in evolution/darwinism, I still manage to pass the classes? Should I still be flunked for my disbelief in evolution?

RU: You mean flunked for lying on your exam? Of course not.

Who said anything about lying? Please try again.

What if i do not believe in global warming? Should I be flunked?

RU: If you were taught that global temperatures have, on average, increased from 1900 to the present and you were asked, “True or False: global temperatures have increased from 1900 to present” and you answered “False,” on your ecology exam then, yeah, I see problem with flunking you. It boggles the mind that anyone – except an apologist for religious beliefs as knowledge – would find this proposition remotely controversial.

So you have shown that global warming like evolution can be formulated in a non-threatening manner but also it loses much of its relevance. So let’s not create strawmen here. I am sure that you understand what I am trying to say here. Let’s define evolution as the change in frequency of alleles and suddenly most people would have no problem with such a concept.

RU: It’s interesting that you would pick global warming, though. Why not the sun-centered solar system “controversy”, Pim? Is there something special about the evolution and global warming “controversies” Pim?

Yes, they are both hotly disputed and depend on how the topics are defined for them to become ‘controversial’. I am not too familiar with the hot topic of sun centered solar system but perhaps you can fill me in on this controversy.

But the question is simple: If people should be flunked for not believing in evolution, should they be flunked for not believing in global warming? Should they be flunked for not believing in other controversial topics? I hope that you understand that these topics have a lot of baggage, due to poorly formulated definitions as starters.

Surely flunking people for poorly phrased questions or ambiguous questions seems hard to support. And yet, it seems that that’s exactly what Moran had in mind.

Do you believe in evolution: the concept that the frequencies of alleles change over time?

Do you believe in global warming: the concept that the temperature of the earth has on average been increasing?

Do you believe in evolution: the concept that variation and selection are sufficient to explain the origin and variation in life we presently see?

Do you believe in global warming: the concept that human contributions is the main or significant contributor to the observed rise in temperatures?

Comment #146450

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 8:01 PM (e)

Speaking of excellent speakers see Schermer, the director of the Skeptics Society, in action at the Ted Talks

Wow…

Michael Shermer

Skeptic Magazine founder Michael Shermer takes us on a hilarious romp through the strange claims we humans put forth as truth - from alien encounters to Virgin Mary sightings on pizza pies, to hidden messages revealed while playing “Stairway to Heaven” backwards - and explains the evolutionary and cognitive basis for these lapses in reason. Don’t miss the one-minute challenge testing your own observational skills… Shermer is the founder/publisher of Skeptic Magazine, and author of several books, including Why People Believe Weird Things. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 17:29)

Comment #146451

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 8:02 PM (e)

Now let’s assume for argument’s sake that religiosity is due to evolution? There is some research which suggests that this may indeed be the case.

LOL! there is research which suggests that Bigfoot exists, too. Better research, I might add. How many times are you going to insist on peddling this latest incarnation of religion apologetics, Pim? Because that’s all it is.

Would one still insist on rejecting religion at all cost?

Wow. Yeah, Pim, it may come as a surprise to you but I am not more inclined to embrace idiocy simply because some moron perfesser claims that “we evolved to be idiots.”

Comment #146452

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 8:05 PM (e)

If people should be flunked for not believing in evolution, should they be flunked for not believing in global warming? Should they be flunked for not believing in other controversial topics?

Evolution is not controversial, Pim.

Maybe your problem is that you watch too much TV.

Comment #146453

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 8:11 PM (e)

Now let’s assume for argument’s sake that religiosity is due to evolution? There is some research which suggests that this may indeed be the case.

RU: LOL! there is research which suggests that Bigfoot exists, too. Better research, I might add. How many times are you going to insist on peddling this latest incarnation of religion apologetics, Pim? Because that’s all it is.

On the contrary, this is quite the opposite of religion apologetics and is based on research that shows how religiosity may indeed have a genetic component. Just like the findings that there exists a moral grammar.

In other words, these data would help understand why religion evolved.

Would one still insist on rejecting religion at all cost?

RU: Wow. Yeah, Pim, it may come as a surprise to you but I am not more inclined to embrace idiocy simply because some moron perfesser claims that “we evolved to be idiots.”

Are you that afraid to confront these questions? Should we reject these scientific findings just because it offends your sensibilities?

See for instance

Koenig LB, McGue M, Krueger RF, Bouchard TJ Jr. Genetic and environmental influences on religiousness: findings for retrospective and current religiousness ratings. J Pers. 2005 Apr;73(2):471-88.

And of course the work by Hauser on moral grammars :-)

Comment #146454

Posted by Anton Mates on November 25, 2006 8:15 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

When creationists and atheists are calling for the destruction of beliefs that run counter to theirs, or show behavior that indicates little considerance for the opinions and beliefs of others, then we should speak out.

Terrific. Now, since Larry Moran’s original post was about flunking students who reject evolution, and referred to God/theism/atheism/religion a grand total of zero times, could you please explain why this amounts to “atheists calling for the destruction of beliefs that run counter to theirs?”

Anton Mates also seems to think that my use of the term evangelical atheist if a personal insult. On the contrary, it is an expression of my interpretation of their behavior. It’s not meant as an insult and merely indicates that I believe that their position is not different from evangelical religious people.

Ah, I see. So if I call you “a racist and fascist who advocates the eventual execution all those who don’t belong to the master race,” you shouldn’t consider that a personal attack or anything…after all, that’s just my interpretation of your behavior and an analysis of your position.

Sheesh, at least Lenny admits it’s an insult when he calls someone a “fundie.”

Or should we now consider calling someone an evangelical christian to be an insult as well?

Evangelical Christians call themselves “evangelical Christians.” That’s the only reason we use the term at all, since in a more general sense pretty much all Christians are evangelical by the nature of the faith. If I called a liberal Methodist or Anglican a “fundamentalist evangelical Christian,” he would be insulted. And rightly so, because I’m implying that he accepts certain religious and political beliefs which in fact he has openly rejected.

Now if you can show that PZ Myers or Larry Moran do accept the religious and political beliefs associated with fundamentalism and evangelicalism, or some atheist mirror image of same, I look forward to it. It should be very interesting to learn which scripture they consider inerrant, what eternal punishment they envision for those who don’t believe as they believe, and so forth.

Then we can move on to your statement that “I do not see much difference between the evangelists from either side,” which of course would require PZ and Larry to assert that God should be officially denied in public school, and a big “There Are No Divine Commandments” monument erected outside the courthouse. Should be fun.

As to me not being personally insulted, I fail to see how this is relevant. I call it how I see it and if it includes personal insults towards others, it is still personal insults. Does it matter to whom the insults are directed?

I must have misunderstood. I assumed that when you said, “Why the personal attacks?” you meant attacks on this thread. If you just meant, “Why are people in the Scienceblogosphere being mean to each other over this issue now?” you should probably start with Ed Brayton. He being the first one, after all, to define the “Bad Guys” and then accuse them of a plan of global ideological domination.

Comment #146455

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 8:16 PM (e)

If people should be flunked for not believing in evolution, should they be flunked for not believing in global warming? Should they be flunked for not believing in other controversial topics?

Evolution is not controversial, Pim.

Maybe your problem is that you watch too much TV.

Again, that depends on the definition of evolution. There is indeed a lot of controversy as to the relative importance of the many mechanisms of evolution. As I have shown, depending on how people interpret the question, there may indeed be reasons to ‘not believe in evolution’. And even if people do not believe in evolution for whatever reason and for whatever definition of evolution, should this be a reason to flunk them?

In fact evolution is very controversial at many levels and thus it is hard to interpret the response to poorly phrased polls and yet it seems that just ‘not believing in evolution’ is sufficient that some call for flunking such people. Not only a poorly defensible position as well as an anti-scientific position but also a position which unnecessarily fuels the debate in an unproductive manner.

Comment #146456

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 8:16 PM (e)

So you have shown that global warming like evolution can be formulated in a non-threatening manner but also it loses much of its relevance.

Huh? No, Pim, facts are facts. Whether religious people are “threatened” by facts (you certainly are) or not does not change the facts, much as religious people wish otherwise.

That is why when someone says “life on earth did not evolve” we know they are ignorant about the subject. People who are ignorant about certain subjects are punished for that ignorance in school – sooner or later – unless they learn to lie about it.

This is why religious people are some of the world’s best liars. They lie to themselves all the time because it makes them feel good to do so. Do I have a problem with religious people lying to themselves to make themselves feel good? Nope. More power to them!

Do I have a problem with religious people repeating those lies to others?

Yeah. Big time.

Apparently, Pim, you don’t share my feelings about liars. Perhaps you think there is no such thing as a liar. Maybe lying about scientific facts is just another product of “natural selection” like religion itself (according to your perfesser friends) or like my occasional desire for orange juice.

If so, perhaps I shouldn’t reject liars about scientific facts so quickly. Maybe it’s important to lie about scientific facts for some evolutionary reason. What does the literature say about this, Pim? It’s really fascinating all of a sudden.

Comment #146457

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 8:19 PM (e)

Are you that afraid to confront these questions?

LOL! Nothing remotely “evangelical” about that sort of rhetoric …

Comment #146458

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 8:25 PM (e)

Anton

Evangelical Christians call themselves “evangelical Christians.”

But they’ll stop doing so as soon as “evangelical Christianity” becomes synonymous with “reality-denying morons and political suckers.”

I predict this will occur within a generation or two. Remember: they called themselves “fundamentalists” at one point until that term became equated with “freak idiot.”

Unless one values ignorance, one shouldn’t feel bad about this at all. It’s a good thing. This is how the Ku Klux Klan was driven underground.

Comment #146459

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 8:27 PM (e)

And even if people do not believe in evolution for whatever reason and for whatever definition of evolution, should this be a reason to flunk them?

Guess what, Pim: I already answered this question. Do you have any new interesting questions to ask about college admission standards and grading of exams?

Comment #146460

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 8:28 PM (e)

I must have misunderstood. I assumed that when you said, “Why the personal attacks?” you meant attacks on this thread. If you just meant, “Why are people in the Scienceblogosphere being mean to each other over this issue now?” you should probably start with Ed Brayton. He being the first one, after all, to define the “Bad Guys” and then accuse them of a plan of global ideological domination.

That’s an interesting revisionism of history as well as again missing the point. Brayton did not resort to name calling or personal attacks but rather described his description of two sides in the debate. Can you tell me how PZ Myers started his article to which Brayton responded?

Brayton and several others have shown the vacuity in the position of Meyers and Moran and I applaud them for that. Of course you may disagree with me but I believe that the issue of who started the name calling and did Brayton initiate name calling clearly do not support your position.

Brayton:

I have been very careful in my posts about the various disputes among the anti-ID folks not to make the issue a personal one. These are disagreements, clearly, and they’re not going to go away. But I have kept my focus exclusively on the validity and wisdom of our respective positions, not on the personalities involved. Sadly, PZ Myers cannot seem to do the same. In his post on the subject he sees fit to throw in several gratuitous insults, calling me “that sad panjandrum of the self-satisfied mean, medium, middle, moderate, and mediocre” as well as a “clueless non-academic” and various other things.

Brayton explains his position

at Hayes at Red State Rabble put up a post agreeing with me on the whole “two teams” controversy, which brought a response from PZ Myers, which Pat then put up top on his blog in its own post and answered. That brought an additional response from Myers that points up the need for a couple of clarifications on my position. First, Myers seems to be particularly bothered by my statement that he and others set out not only to protect science education but to “attack and destroy religion by any means necessary”, which he calls an “outrageous distortion” of his position.

Let me say that I did choose my words badly and the little rhetorical flourish of “by any means necessary” was a poor choice on my part. I certainly don’t believe that he or anyone else of the same mindset is in favor of killing religious people or rounding them up into reeducation camps or anything like that. But clearly they do favor more authoritarian tactics than I am comfortable with. Myers is on record as supporting the denial of tenure to anyone advocating ID, while Moran is on record in favor of applying ideological litmus tests of orthodox belief prior to allowing someone into college.

Clarification of the original posting by Brayton on Moran

Comment #146461

Posted by Anton Mates on November 25, 2006 8:43 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Now let’s assume for argument’s sake that religiosity is due to evolution? There is some research which suggests that this may indeed be the case. Would one still insist on rejecting religion at all cost?

I don’t really understand what the former has to do with the latter. We have evolution-honed traits that in a modern society are positive (love for our family), neutral (an apparent preference, on average, for partners of the opposite sex), and negative (hostility toward strangers, cravings for sugar, salt and fat). The mere fact that a trait’s the product of natural selection doesn’t really confer on it any particular social or moral value, good or bad.

How does this compare to for instance the discussion about nature versus nurture of homosexuals?

I’d say the same thing there. Homosexuality should be acceptable because it’s an activity between consenting adults which doesn’t affect anyone else. It doesn’t much matter whether it’s biologically programmed or a matter of choice, selection-honed or a quirk of genetic drift or something.

Just because we may not understand the choices made or the genetic components, we should still show respect, even if we personally disagree.

Of course. But respect does not rule out vocal disagreement–it just constrains the time and the place and the idiom. And of course most religions, unlike homosexuality, involve actual descriptive statements that can be challenged or criticized.

It’s one thing to hold personal opinions about ones own belief and the beliefs of others, it’s a whole other thing when one takes such beliefs to the public in order to undermine the freedom of and from religion.

If you can’t take your beliefs to the public, you don’t have freedom of and from religion.

The whole point of a religiously free society is that Pat Robertson, Richard Dawkins, Bishop Spong and Louis Farrakhan can stand on adjacent street corners and each shout about how the other three are wrong and deluded. None of them are guilty of undermining religious freedom simply because they choose to exercise their own. It’s when any of them try to sneak their beliefs into the government or the classroom that we have a problem.

Comment #146462

Posted by Registered User on November 25, 2006 8:50 PM (e)

None of them are guilty of undermining religious freedom simply because they choose to exercise their own. It’s when any of them try to sneak their beliefs into the government or the classroom that we have a problem.

Bad news: many of Dawkins’ beliefs have already infiltrated our children’s textbooks.

Maybe we need to put in a disclaimer or something so people don’t get the wrong idea …

Comment #146463

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 25, 2006 8:52 PM (e)

Now if you can show that PZ Myers or Larry Moran do accept the religious and political beliefs associated with fundamentalism and evangelicalism, or some atheist mirror image of same, I look forward to it.

Dude, their message shines through loud and clear. They want to stamp out religion. No one misses it. No one mistakes it.

At least lets have both sides be honest about their motives. Geez.

Comment #146464

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 25, 2006 8:54 PM (e)

If you can’t take your beliefs to the public, you don’t have freedom of and from religion.

Why, again, should “science” give a flying fig about “freedom of and from religion” …. ?

If this is just a political fight over the role (or lack thereof) of religion in society, then why on earth does everyone keep dragging “science” into this ….?

Comment #146467

Posted by MarkP on November 25, 2006 9:18 PM (e)

Am I the only one that feels like he’s in a remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”?

Comment #146468

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 25, 2006 9:20 PM (e)

Sheesh, at least Lenny admits it’s an insult when he calls someone a “fundie.”

Well, it’s more a term of ridicule than an “insult” per se … (and yes, I think there is a difference).

But Pim is, I think, right in this. Both the extremist fundies and the extremist atheists are “evangelical”, in the sense that both of them not only think their particular religious/philosophical opinions are correct, but they will not rest until everyone ELSE thinks so, too. That is not an “insult” — it is a simple observation. The two sides act very much alike because … well … they ARE very much alike. (shrug)

Their holy war with each other doesn’t concern me, though. What DOES concern me is the propensity for both sides to drag “science” into the fight, by attempting to claim that not only are their particular religious/philosophical opinions correct, but their opinions are actually SCIENCE. They’re not. Science doesn’t give a damn about anyone’s religious/philosophical opinions. Anyone’s.

As for the heated war raging over the blogosphere, while a short while ago I would have weighed in to attempt to prevent yet more damage to the anti-ID effort, at current time I don’t see any point to that. ID is dead, it won’t come back, and our current fratricide won’t change that or help them. So it simply doesn’t matter anymore. (shrug)

I do worry, though, about the continuing politicization and idealogization of science – particularly now that it is coming from “our” side, not “theirs”. But as noted earlier, the extremists on both sides are pretty much the same anyway.

Comment #146469

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 25, 2006 9:21 PM (e)

It’s when any of them try to sneak their beliefs into the government or the classroom that we have a problem.

Or when any of them try to claim that their beliefs are “science”.

Comment #146470

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 25, 2006 9:24 PM (e)

Sadly, PZ Myers cannot seem to do the same.

Speaking of which, PZ, am I still banned from all your threads … ?

Comment #146471

Posted by Jonesy on November 25, 2006 9:56 PM (e)

The problem I have with Dawkins and Sam Harris, but especially Dawkins, is that they seem, in part, politically motivated. For them its not just religion vs science, its right vs left, and theyre on the left obviously. Thats what makes them seem so strident too and what causes them to be such a turn off to many. People can sense they have a political agenda.

The argument against religion should be, first of all, that it should be kept completely seperate from the state, and also thats if its not, its a threat to freedom and progress. Thats why the middle east has stagnated and become such a hell hole. But Dawkins and Harris always seem to frame it as about violence and gays or whatever, and theyre always attacking christianity almost to the complete disregard of all the other religions. They could get alot of mileage and make alot more converts if they at least tried to seem unbiased and attacked Islam a little bit too.

Comment #146472

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 25, 2006 10:36 PM (e)

LOL! there is research which suggests that Bigfoot exists, too. Better research, I might add. How many times are you going to insist on peddling this latest incarnation of religion apologetics, Pim? Because that’s all it is.

just a point of clarification, there was in fact, a decent twin study that came out some time ago (it was discussed on PT, in fact) that did have significant data indicating that extreme religious behavior had a heritable component to it.

I can dig up the reference for you, or you should be able to find it by digging throught the PT archives (about a year and a half ago, I think).

that said, extrapoliting the idea that there might be a genetic component to the behavior that predisposes one towards support of extreme religious motifs DOES NOT in any way suggest that religion itself is anything more that a construct that appeals to that specific behavioral predisposition. It’s like saying “alchohol” is the reason for alcholism.

Pim is wrong in overrreaching the implications of the study.

Comment #146473

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 25, 2006 10:39 PM (e)

Bad news: many of Dawkins’ beliefs have already infiltrated our children’s textbooks.

oh?

perhaps you could point out in a specific textbook where Dawkin’s personal beliefs are covered?

Comment #146475

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 11:15 PM (e)

Pim is wrong in overrreaching the implications of the study.

I’d love to hear more about this. The devil is always in the details isn’t it.

that said, extrapoliting the idea that there might be a genetic component to the behavior that predisposes one towards support of extreme religious motifs DOES NOT in any way suggest that religion itself is anything more that a construct that appeals to that specific behavioral predisposition. It’s like saying “alchohol” is the reason for alcholism.

Extreme religious motifs?

What I am interested in is if religiosity is in fact governed by genetics, or in other words, if religion is an evolved feature.

Winston: why do we believe in God

This would suggest that there is a sort of “morality module” in the brain that is activated at an early age. Evidence from neuroscience would back this up, to a degree. In my last book, The Human Mind, I noted that certain brain areas become activated when we engage in cooperation with others, and that these areas are associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. It also seems that certain areas of the brain are brought into action in situations where we feel empathy and forgiveness.

So religion does not seem to be produced by a specific part of our psychological make-up. Is it more likely, then, that religious ideas are something of an accidental by-product created by other parts of our basic blueprint, by processes deep in the unconscious mind that evolved to help us survive?

Comment #146484

Posted by Anton Mates on November 25, 2006 11:24 PM (e)

Registered User wrote:

But they’ll stop doing so as soon as “evangelical Christianity” becomes synonymous with “reality-denying morons and political suckers.”

I predict this will occur within a generation or two. Remember: they called themselves “fundamentalists” at one point until that term became equated with “freak idiot.”

As I understand it, there are still plenty of fundamentalist Christians who proudly use that label for themselves; the evangelicals renamed themselves not for PR purposes but because they disagreed with the old-school fundamentalists’ tactic of separating themselves entirely from society.

And there are enough liberal, moderate evangelicals out there to keep the word from ever being synonymous with “conservative religious nutcase,” I think. Even if certain people keep using it that way.

Comment #146485

Posted by Anton Mates on November 25, 2006 11:26 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

That’s an interesting revisionism of history as well as again missing the point. Brayton did not resort to name calling or personal attacks but rather described his description of two sides in the debate. Can you tell me how PZ Myers started his article to which Brayton responded?

Well, let’s see. Brayton claimed, on the strength of a Moran post that had absolutely nothing to do with religion, that Moran and Myers and so forth were “ fighting, at least in their minds, to eliminate all religious belief of any kind, even those perspectives that have no quarrel with evolution specifically or science in general, from society,” and that they believed that “religion itself, in any form, is to be attacked and destroyed by any means necessary,” and that the policy Moran suggested was “not only wrong, but appalling and vile.” If you really think that wasn’t a personal attack simply because Brayton didn’t also call them doodyheads, well, I don’t think there’s anything else I can say.

PZ, of course, quite happily returned the favor with his “Sad panjandrum” crack and so forth, and sure, those are personal attacks too.

Concerning Brayton’s later clarification:

Let me say that I did choose my words badly and the little rhetorical flourish of “by any means necessary” was a poor choice on my part. I certainly don’t believe that he or anyone else of the same mindset is in favor of killing religious people or rounding them up into reeducation camps or anything like that. But clearly they do favor more authoritarian tactics than I am comfortable with. Myers is on record as supporting the denial of tenure to anyone advocating ID, while Moran is on record in favor of applying ideological litmus tests of orthodox belief prior to allowing someone into college.

Props for the partial correction, but it’s still rather glaring that Brayton’s evidence for M&M’s “authoritarianism” has absolutely nothing to do with atheism or religion. Heck, in PZ’s case it doesn’t even have much to do with ID in particular…he’s also on record as supporting denial of tenure to academics in any field pushing discredited pseudoscience. I fully agree that a belief test has no place in the college admissions process…and so does PZ, as he says repeatedly in his thread on all this. But even if Moran seriously does support such a thing, it’s still not about atheism! Oy. Call him an evangelical Darwinist if you want–although it still wouldn’t make much sense, since an evangelist wants to persuade unbelievers, not banish them.

Now let’s watch all those new Tyson video links, so we can say something on-topic for a change.

Comment #146487

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 25, 2006 11:36 PM (e)

What I am interested in is if religiosity is in fact governed by genetics, or in other words, if religion is an evolved feature.

gees, you’re not thinking, Pim.

“Religion” is NOT a behavior. it is a construct. “Religiosity” is a behavior. Theres a world of difference between the two concepts.

Religion as a construct could evolve as all social constructs do over time, culturally, religiosity, or a predispostion towards being religious, might have an evolutionary aspect to it.

that’s why i used the alchol/alcoholism analogy. “alcohol” is a construct, alcoholism is a behavior that has a heritable component to it.

studies of the heritability of extreme religious behavior are just that, they don’t imply that “religion” is an evolved behavior, but rather point to an underlying heritable set of behaviors that predispose one towards “religiosity”.

stop reading reviews of papers and read the damn papers yourself.

Comment #146490

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 11:47 PM (e)

Temper temper my dear friend. Let me rephrase my statement in the hope it will help reduce your bloodpressure. Yes religion is a social construct or whatever you want to call it, driven by the religiosity of people. In other words, genetics explain religiosity which explains the existence of religions/churches etc which are manifestations of the religiosity of people. The question is, is religiosity and religion an outcome of evolutionary pressures. In other words, if genetics can be shown to contribute to religiosity and if religiosity leads to stronger ties to a religion/religious community and if such ties help increase survival then this would be an interesting outcome.

Comment #146492

Posted by Anton Mates on November 25, 2006 11:49 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Now if you can show that PZ Myers or Larry Moran do accept the religious and political beliefs associated with fundamentalism and evangelicalism, or some atheist mirror image of same, I look forward to it.

Dude, their message shines through loud and clear. They want to stamp out religion. No one misses it. No one mistakes it.

You do know that “fundamentalist” and “evangelical” both mean more than “really want to convince everyone they’re right,” yes?

Why, again, should “science” give a flying fig about “freedom of and from religion” …. ?

Because a lack of religious freedom can make it very hard to do or teach science, as Galileo found out. Science is still sheltered by a policy of religious freedom–it was definitely important in the Dover win.

If this is just a political fight over the role (or lack thereof) of religion in society, then why on earth does everyone keep dragging “science” into this ….?

I dunno. Moran’s post was just about science; don’t ask me why his critics dragged religion into it.

But Pim is, I think, right in this. Both the extremist fundies and the extremist atheists are “evangelical”, in the sense that both of them not only think their particular religious/philosophical opinions are correct, but they will not rest until everyone ELSE thinks so, too. That is not an “insult” — it is a simple observation.

And simply incorrect, since the “extremist atheists” in question are explicitly opposed to just about any method of conversion other than talking about their beliefs in the public square. Unless Mao got himself a Scienceblogs space while I wasn’t looking. The Dominion Theology folks, on the other hand, want to give Mao a run for his money…and on occasion they actually say so.

Of course, you could generalize “evangelical” in this case to simply mean “interested in persuading others that you’re right.” In which case, welcome to the Big Evangelical Tent, Christians, Muslims, Marxists, and members of all political parties!

It’s when any of them try to sneak their beliefs into the government or the classroom that we have a problem.

Or when any of them try to claim that their beliefs are “science”.

Right. But when they point out that one another’s beliefs *aren’t* science, I have no problem with that.

Comment #146493

Posted by PvM on November 25, 2006 11:53 PM (e)

Wikipedia wrote:

personal attack is committed when a person substitutes abusive remarks for evidence when examining another person’s claims or comments. It is considered a personal attack when a person starts referencing a supposed flaw or weakness in an individual’s personality, beliefs, lifestyle, convictions or principles, and use it as a debate tactic or as a means of avoiding discussion of the relevance or truthfulness the person’s statement. It works on the reasoning that, by discrediting the source of a logical argument, namely the person making it, the argument itself can be weakened.

This line of “reasoning” is fallacious because the attack is directed at the person making the claim and not the claim itself. The truth value of a claim is independent of the person making the claim. No matter how morally repugnant a person might be, he or she can still make true claims.

Mates wrote:

Well, let’s see. Brayton claimed, on the strength of a Moran post that had absolutely nothing to do with religion, that Moran and Myers and so forth were “ fighting, at least in their minds, to eliminate all religious belief of any kind, even those perspectives that have no quarrel with evolution specifically or science in general, from society,” and that they believed that “religion itself, in any form, is to be attacked and destroyed by any means necessary,” and that the policy Moran suggested was “not only wrong, but appalling and vile.” If you really think that wasn’t a personal attack simply because Brayton didn’t also call them doodyheads, well, I don’t think there’s anything else I can say.

In the examples quoted Brayton attacked the policy suggested by Moran as vile, not Moran. If you consider Brayton’s comments to be personal attacks then perhaps you may not fully appreciate the difference between attacking the person “larry is a moron” and “Larry’s ideas are vile” which attacks not the person but the ideas.

Hope this clarifies.

Comment #146495

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 12:00 AM (e)

Moran’s post was just about science; don’t ask me why his critics dragged religion into it.

Right… Read Moran’s original post and see if you can still make this claim

Note the mention of Intelligent Design Creationism for instance…

Moran claimed he was joking but that argument seems significantly undermined by his next paragraph. As RSR observes:

As Brayton points out, Moran’s claim that he’s joking is seriously undermined by his also saying that,

… behind the humor is a serious point. If students entering university have already made up their minds that evolution should be rejected, then that’s a serious problem. It’s not a question of ignorance. Those students have made an active decision to choose superstition over science. Given a choice of students to admit into university science programs, I would choose the ones who show some understanding of science over those who reject one the fundamental facts of biology.

and

When Eugenie Scott and others promote a theistic version of science they seem to think they are allowing for a safe middle ground where Theistic Evolutionists like Francis Collins, Simon Conway Morris, and Ken Miller can find common cause with scientists who don’t let superstition masquerade as science.

Comment #146496

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 12:08 AM (e)

You do know that “fundamentalist” and “evangelical” both mean more than “really want to convince everyone they’re right,” yes?

Dude, their message shines through loud and clear. They want to stamp out religion. No one misses it. No one mistakes it.

Let’s at least be honest about their motives.

Comment #146497

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 12:09 AM (e)

And simply incorrect, since the “extremist atheists” in question are explicitly opposed to just about any method of conversion other than talking about their beliefs in the public square.

Was it not Moran who wanted to flunk those who did not believe in evolution? Was it not PZ who wanted to reject tenure to ID professors? It surely seems more than just talking about their beliefs in the public square.
If Dembski’s words can be used to show the nature of ID, then surely the words of these should count similarly to indict?

Not to mention that both evangelical sides seem to suffer from a persecution fixation.

Comment #146498

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 12:11 AM (e)

Science is still sheltered by a policy of religious freedom–it was definitely important in the Dover win.

No kidding.

What has that to do with whether or not science supports theism or atheism?

(BTW, you do understand that, in Dover, most of the plaintiffs, most of the lawyers from both sides and the judge, were all, uh, theists.

Right?)

Comment #146499

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 12:13 AM (e)

I wonder what would happen if Myers’ advice were applied consistently (Myers explaining why he would reject tenure to ID proponents such as Beckwith

It’s a matter of whether it screws up their ability to do their job. People have a right to do any crazy damn thing that doesn’t harm others outside the workplace…but when they’re advocating lunacy in their profession, then it’s bye-bye time.

Comment #146500

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 12:15 AM (e)

since the “extremist atheists” in question are explicitly opposed to just about any method of conversion other than talking about their beliefs in the public square.

That’s nice. I don’t recall seeing any fundies dragging people off to the Inquisition lately either.

But that has what, again, to do with whether or not science is theist or atheist … ?

Indeed, what does ANY “method of conversion” have to do with “science”? (Other than the propensity for extremists at both ends to make the claim that their religious opinnions are really “science” when they’re not)?

If all they are arguing about is the role of religion in society (or the lack of it), then why the hell is this even being discussed in SCIENCE blogs … ?

But of course, that’s NOT all they are arguing about. Is it.

Comment #146502

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 12:24 AM (e)

Welp, I gotta say I did like the way Tyson tried to talk Dawkins into having a softer touch in his job as chair of the public understanding of science, and Dawkins’ response was pretty juvenile. Tyson’s “Incompetent Design” talk was very engaging as well.

What struck me, though, is that Tyson really is just as hard on religion as Dawkins is. He hammered the point over and over in “Incompetent Design” that a benevolent deity doesn’t fit with what we see of the universe. And again when he’s talking about the uselessness of prayer, he says, “The bigger the universe, the less sensible a personal God seems.”

Tyson’s taking the Gould approach–religion has value, but you have to neuter it of any attempt at factual claims first. Which is great, for the liberal believers who are willing to do that, and I’d love to have a Gould-Dawkins style literary rivalry going again. Between them, Dawkins and Tyson can definitely pull more people into science than either could alone.

Comment #146503

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 12:26 AM (e)

Welp, I gotta say I did like the way Tyson tried to talk Dawkins into having a softer touch in his job as chair of the public understanding of science, and Dawkins’ response was pretty juvenile. Tyson’s “Incompetent Design” talk was very engaging as well.

What struck me, though, is that Tyson really is just as hard on religion as Dawkins is. He hammered the point over and over in “Incompetent Design” that a benevolent deity doesn’t fit with what we see of the universe. And again when he’s talking about the uselessness of prayer (also available on YouTube), he says, “The bigger the universe, the less sensible a personal God seems.”

Tyson’s taking the Gould approach–religion has value, but you have to neuter it of any attempt at factual claims first. Which is great, for the liberal believers who are willing to do that, and I’d love to have a Gould-Dawkins style literary rivalry going again. Between them, Dawkins and Tyson can definitely pull more people into science than either could alone.

Comment #146504

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 26, 2006 12:27 AM (e)

…and if such ties help increase survival then this would be an interesting outcome.

again, you are conflating the construct with the base behavior.

is alcholism the interesting thing? or is it the underlying evolution of predispostion towards addictive behavior?

alcoholism surely didn’t “evolve”, however the underlying addictive behavior that leads to it did at some point.

alcoholism surely has no selective benefits, and again, alcohol being a construct, is very unlikely to have been influenced by any realistic selective pressures. If you want to bring up that alcohol is available in the “natural environment”, I’d say you would be missing the point, but you could just as easily switch it to any specific form of addiction you wish; even computer games.

now take that back to “religion”. is it the construct that is the interesting thing, or the underlying predispostions that lead to the popularity of the construct?

whether there is a heritable characteristic that predisposes certain folk towards being “religious” is interesting, but the construct that becomes the re-inforcer is trivial. Just like with alcoholics, it isn’t the attraction to alcohol itself that is of real interest, it is the underlying behavior that causes the attraction to alcohol, or heroin, or cocaine, etc. etc.

as to the whole “ban religion issue”, my interest completely lies with the behavior that predisposes one to be attracted to religion as a construct to begin with, the religion itself is of little interest, being just an artificial construct like alcohol or heroin.

simply put, the reason I never back the strident “banning” of religion is for the same exact reasons that it was pointless to ban the sale of alcohol during prohibition. That’s not to say that I support an alcoholic’s “right” to promote his particular brand of reinforcement for his particular psychological malady, hence the strenuous objection to those who “enable” alcoholics or drug users, and I rather view the position of PZ and Dawkins as (mostly) similar. They simply want to “disable” the promotion of religion as a construct that reinforces the underlying behaviors and irrational thought processes. If you watch Dawkins’ documentary “The Root of all evil” what you really see is him concentrating on the negative behaviors of the religious, not the specifics of the religions themselves. It is far simpler to convey the message, though, that “alcohol can fuck you up” than it is to go into detail tryin to explain how the real problem is the underlying behavior that causes one to become an alcholic to begin with.

If you go back and track down the discussion we had on the heritability study I mentioned earlier, you can read the paper for yourself and see that it’s not “religion” that is the focus of the study at all.

Comment #146505

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 12:28 AM (e)

The Dominion Theology folks, on the other hand, want to give Mao a run for his money

Believe me, I would not want to live in a world run by the evangelical atheists like PZ and Norm, any more than I would like to live in a world run by Dominionists or Maoists.

And for much the same reasons.

Comment #146506

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 26, 2006 12:33 AM (e)

I wonder what would happen if Myers’ advice were applied consistently

I got news for ya:

It already is.

Just ask John Davison.

Comment #146507

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 12:33 AM (e)

the negative behaviors of the religious

Ya mean like Martin Luther King, Jr, or Mother Theresa, or Mohandas Gandhi … ?

Comment #146508

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 26, 2006 12:34 AM (e)

Lenny says:

evangelical atheists

et tu?

*sigh*

sure you not just miffed he banned you from most of his threads?

Comment #146510

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 26, 2006 12:37 AM (e)

Ya mean like Martin Luther King, Jr, or Mother Theresa, or Mohandas Gandhi … ?

no… i mean like Ted Haggerty, Pat Robertson, and Jim Bakker.

like the guy Dawkins interviewed in Israel who screamed death to all isrealis and westerners.

could you be a bit less pedantic?

Comment #146511

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 12:38 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

In the examples quoted Brayton attacked the policy suggested by Moran as vile, not Moran. If you consider Brayton’s comments to be personal attacks then perhaps you may not fully appreciate the difference between attacking the person “larry is a moron” and “Larry’s ideas are vile” which attacks not the person but the ideas.

Please reread that Wiki definition, Pim, and notice: “…is considered a personal attack when a person starts referencing a supposed flaw or weakness in an individual’s personality, beliefs, lifestyle, convictions or principles.” Yes, attacking ideas is a personal attack, especially when they’re attacked as “appalling” and “vile.”

Moran’s post was just about science; don’t ask me why his critics dragged religion into it.

Right… Read Moran’s original post and see if you can still make this claim

Note the mention of Intelligent Design Creationism for instance…

So you’re saying, yet again, that the Discovery Institute has been right all this time: you can’t criticize ID or Creationism without automatically taking a stance on religion in general. Sigh.

And simply incorrect, since the “extremist atheists” in question are explicitly opposed to just about any method of conversion other than talking about their beliefs in the public square.

Was it not Moran who wanted to flunk those who did not believe in evolution? Was it not PZ who wanted to reject tenure to ID professors? It surely seems more than just talking about their beliefs in the public square.

…okay, there’s nothing more I can say on this. You’re saying, again, that evolution = atheism, that you can’t fight for one without fighting for the other. Have fun with that.

Comment #146512

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 26, 2006 12:38 AM (e)

er, Ted Haggard. it’s late, and no I’m not watching “airplane”

Comment #146513

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 12:46 AM (e)

Between them, Dawkins and Tyson can definitely pull more people into science than either could alone.

Poor Tyson, having to counter the negative effect of Dawkins… That’s just too cruel.

Comment #146514

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 12:48 AM (e)

So you’re saying, yet again, that the Discovery Institute has been right all this time: you can’t criticize ID or Creationism without automatically taking a stance on religion in general. Sigh.

Huh?

Apparently, the university has become alarmed at the stupidity of its freshman class and has offered remedial instruction for those who believe in Intelligent Design Creationism.

How coudl this not be about religion…

Comment #146515

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 12:50 AM (e)

Tyson’s taking the Gould approach–religion has value, but you have to neuter it of any attempt at factual claims first. Which is great, for the liberal believers who are willing to do that

Hey Normie, here’s where you get to step in and wail and moan about those “liberal believers who are willing to do that”.

Here, Norm, let me help you out:

Comment 90422: Some atheists hope that the metastasizing tumor that religion is on the body of reason will become so moderate, so ultra-lite, in the face of science that one day they will wake up and realize that the whole enterprise is foolish and counter-productive. But the moderates will fail to do that because they still endorse a bad book.

Comment 91809: I was trying to explain why it is dominant and why liberal interpretation of the Bible are doomed to fail the test of textual context and history. And why liberal Christianity is ultimately an enabler of fundamentalism.

Normie doesn’t think it’s that “great”.

Indeed, to Normie, a theist is a theist is a theist. Liberal, fundie, matters not. They’re all the same, and they’re all the enemy.

That’s how extremist ideologues think. (shrug)

Comment #146516

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 12:50 AM (e)

Please reread that Wiki definition, Pim, and notice: “…is considered a personal attack when a person starts referencing a supposed flaw or weakness in an individual’s personality, beliefs, lifestyle, convictions or principles.” Yes, attacking ideas is a personal attack, especially when they’re attacked as “appalling” and “vile.”

Sigh… Attacking ideas is just the opposite of personal attacks.

Saying your ideas are vile is hardly a personal attack. Saying you are a vile person surely is a personal attack as is your idea is wrong because you are a vile person.

If one cannot attack ideas, then what is there left? Surely you see the difference.

Comment #146517

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 12:53 AM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Science is still sheltered by a policy of religious freedom–it was definitely important in the Dover win.

No kidding.

What has that to do with whether or not science supports theism or atheism?

Uh…nothing? Why’d you bring it up? You asked for a reason why science might care about religious freedom, I gave you one.

(BTW, you do understand that, in Dover, most of the plaintiffs, most of the lawyers from both sides and the judge, were all, uh, theists.

Right?)

Yep. And, shock horror, many of them talked about their beliefs, and how they had problems with a religious majority trying to impose its belief system on them. It’s good when people do that.

since the “extremist atheists” in question are explicitly opposed to just about any method of conversion other than talking about their beliefs in the public square.

That’s nice. I don’t recall seeing any fundies dragging people off to the Inquisition lately either.

Because they can’t. You know quite well that Dominionists would be quite happy to legally punish blasphemers, heretics and apostates if they could. In fact, you’ve written articles about it. You know quite well, furthermore, that the creationID movement is trying to get textbooks into schools which promote their religious beliefs. Now, if you show me a textbook Dawkins or Myers or Moran are pushing which says, “And so we see from evolutionary theory that there is no God,” I’ll be quite properly appalled.

If all they are arguing about is the role of religion in society (or the lack of it), then why the hell is this even being discussed in SCIENCE blogs … ?

It’s being discussed in SCIENTISTS’ blogs. Surprisingly enough, scientists discuss all sorts of things that are important to them but lie outside science. Like their pets, and their children, and their religious and political beliefs.

Comment #146518

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 26, 2006 12:55 AM (e)

extremist ideologues

that’s far more accurate than “evangelical atheist”, which is basically an oxymoron imo….still think you are trying too hard to create a term here.

Comment #146519

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 12:57 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

If one cannot attack ideas, then what is there left? Surely you see the difference.

Who said you can’t attack ideas? Attacking ideas is great. Just because it’s a personal attack doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.

Comment #146520

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 12:58 AM (e)

sure you not just miffed he banned you from most of his threads?

Miffed? Nope – I expected it. It’s what I’d expect any Maoist to do. (shrug)

Like I said, I would not want to live in a world run by PZ.

And he was so kind as to demonstrate for everyone, why.

Comment #146524

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 1:05 AM (e)

Ya mean like Martin Luther King, Jr, or Mother Theresa, or Mohandas Gandhi … ?

no… i mean like Ted Haggerty, Pat Robertson, and Jim Bakker.

like the guy Dawkins interviewed in Israel who screamed death to all isrealis and westerners.

Then, perhaps, instead of “religion”, you ought to be referring to “fundamentalism” or “religious extremism”…. ?

They are not the same thing, ya know ….

could you be a bit less pedantic?

Nothing “pedantic” about it. There’s a serious point to be made.

Most people can recognize that Robertson, Bakker et al are repulsive, without equating them with other theists like King and Gandhi. Most people can recognize that “fundamentalism” is a danger that needs to be fought, but that “fundamentalism” does not equal “all religion”. Most people can regognize that “fundamentalism” can be their enemy without “religion” being their enemy (and indeed that much of “religion” is out there fighting against the fundamentalists).

Well, most people except the extremist atheist ideologues like Normie and PZ, anyway …. . To them a theist is a theist is a theist.

Just ask ‘em.

Comment #146525

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 1:07 AM (e)

still think you are trying too hard to create a term here.

Yes, I am.

What would you suggest? What’s a good term for “someone who not only think their religious/philosophical opinions are right, but who will not rest until he has convinced everyone ELSE in the world that they’re right, too” … ?

“Evangelical” works pretty well, I think.

Comment #146526

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 1:10 AM (e)

Because they can’t.

And neither can the extremist evangelical atheists.

But when they DO get a little power in their hands, they are just as happy as the fundies to be heavy-handed with it.

Just ask PZ, who has twice now banned me from all his threads.

If Normie and Puppy’s Ghost had the authority to do so, they’d do it in a second.

Like I said, I would not want to live in a world run by them. I thank God (so to speak) that they have no more real political power than the Dominionists or the Maoists do. And I hope it stays that way.

Comment #146527

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 1:15 AM (e)

Now, if you show me a textbook Dawkins or Myers or Moran are pushing which says, “And so we see from evolutionary theory that there is no God,”

Dude, their message comes shining through loud and clear. No one here mistakes it.

Let’s at least be honest about their motives.

Comment #146528

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 1:21 AM (e)

Surprisingly enough, scientists discuss all sorts of things that are important to them but lie outside science. Like their pets, and their children, and their religious and political beliefs.

Indeed. But they don’t make the claim that those opinions are “science”.

Or at least they SHOULD not.

Comment #146534

Posted by demallien on November 26, 2006 3:33 AM (e)

May I humbly suggest that henceforth we stop tossing around the term “evangelical atheist”. The term is ridiculous - an atheist can’t evangelise by definition. A more apt (though still not perfect) term might be “proselytising atheist”. I think most people on this blog would have a more reasonable reaction to this term, as it is not as emotionally loaded as “evangelical”, whilst still conveying the idea of promoting one’s “religious” beliefs.

Comment #146535

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on November 26, 2006 3:47 AM (e)

an atheist can’t evangelise by definition

This is far from clear.

Comment #146537

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 26, 2006 4:27 AM (e)

Posted by demallien on November 26, 2006 3:33 AM (e)

May I humbly suggest that henceforth we stop tossing around the term “evangelical atheist”. The term is ridiculous - an atheist can’t evangelise by definition…

Don’t see why not, if this link is a reasonable deifinition of evangelical.

url href=”this”http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=94694&dict=CALD>

Comment #146544

Posted by demallien on November 26, 2006 6:00 AM (e)

Nick Matzke wrote:

This is far from clear.

Sigh. OK Nick, fine. You’re right. technically “evangelise” can be used to describe someone that preaches something other than the 4 Gospels, although of course the original deinition was in fact limited to this use. But I would have thought, after some 200-odd posts on this topic, that it was bleedingly obvious that most atheists on this site consider the term to be a slur, particularly thanks to it’s religious conotations.

I proposed another term that is perhaps less loaded. If you want to defend the use of “evangelical atheist”, one can only assume that you do so because you actively want to insult said atheists, and not simply to denote someone that defends their beliefs in public. Is that really what you want Nick? If not, I suggest - again - that we change the term to something which the the targets of that term find less-insulting.

To act otherwise, one would be obliged to conclude that your actual agenda is atheist-bashing, and not any reasoned discourse on the existance or not of proletysising atheists.

Comment #146548

Posted by Dean Morrison on November 26, 2006 7:57 AM (e)

Welp, I gotta say I did like the way Tyson tried to talk Dawkins into having a softer touch in his job as chair of the public understanding of science, and Dawkins’ response was pretty juvenile.

- yes - but very, very funny - you can’t accuse the man of going for cheap laughs as a matter of habit - and seeing him swear comes as a shock: suddenly you realise he’s human:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYBFqse7tiU

Comment #146550

Posted by k.e. on November 26, 2006 9:05 AM (e)

As an evian jellycat anti godnik I totally agree with Dawkins summing up of the totally anal American obcession with their god word manifest. (“Thankyou for that rebuke”)

Who is being upset here?

Is it when their chosen brand of godwash is being pulled from behind the curtain and asked for the record what the hell him and his followers had to do with anything prior to the arival of the Maybach or was that the Mayflower, on the shores of someone elses country?

Let’s just profile this SOB and find out where he gets his money and his airtime from, which political party does he belong to and which church he decided he would be his one and only franchise here on the ground.

Is he a tax haven?

Does he get to have the poor as long as they attend his franchise outlets, is his finger on the big red button, does he have an airforce, why did he go to Baghdad, does he have his own TV stations in fact does this guy think he IS god?
(if one were to exist, which is extremely unlikely even a pansy moderate like Dawkins says so :P )

Comment #146551

Posted by MarkP on November 26, 2006 10:47 AM (e)

And simply incorrect, since the “extremist atheists” in question are explicitly opposed to just about any method of conversion other than talking about their beliefs in the public square.

PIM:

Was it not Moran who wanted to flunk those who did not believe in evolution? Was it not PZ who wanted to reject tenure to ID professors? It surely seems more than just talking about their beliefs in the public square.

Dude, you really think “flunking someone for not believing in evolution” = “flunking someone for not being an atheist”?!?! You really think “believing in intelligent design” = “believing in God”?!?!

Because, and I shouldn’t have to state the obvious, in both cases the former are a tiny group compared to the latter, and not even a proper subset of it. And surely you (and Lenny) already know this. What on earth could your motives possibly be here to create such fiction with logical flaws the average high schooler could spot?

This is madness.

Comment #146554

Posted by MarkP on November 26, 2006 10:59 AM (e)

Now, if you show me a textbook Dawkins or Myers or Moran are pushing which says, “And so we see from evolutionary theory that there is no God,”

Dude, their message comes shining through loud and clear. No one here mistakes it.

Let’s at least be honest about their motives.

In other words, “don’t confuse me with the facts, I know the truth”. Gee, what group does that sound like?

As it is their agenda does come through loud and clear to anyone not obsessed with his boogeyman atheist agendas. They (and I) simply want religion stripped of its special place in society, where its beliefs are excempt from the critcism allowed for similarly ill-conceived notions, and it’s purveyors exempted for the criticism allowed for similarly deranged nutcases. If you didn’t learn your lessons on evolution, you’d flunk, period. Whether or not the reason you did so was based on religion would be completely irrelevant, just like it would be if you based it on the existence of leprechauns. Ditto for people being denied tenure or faculty positions on the basis of being looney at the core of the subject in question. Pardon us, that matters. Just ask those who are going to suffer at the hands of Eric Keroack.

Other than that, none of us give a flying squirrel pile what anyone believes. Believe in God or believe in leprechauns? Care factor, zero! Just sit religion next to astrology on the societal bench, and we’ll be happy.

Comment #146559

Posted by MarkP on November 26, 2006 11:20 AM (e)

Lenny said:

What’s a good term for “someone who not only think their religious/philosophical opinions are right, but who will not rest until he has convinced everyone ELSE in the world that they’re right, too”

Ah, but the problem remains that assumption of facts not in evidence. None of you guys have yet shown any behavior by any atheist that is even remotely close to what evangelical christians have done or attempted. As Anton rightly pointed out, the sole tool of the atheist is verbal persuasion. Your case is vapid, and that’s being kind.

Lenny said:

But when they DO get a little power in their hands, they are just as happy as the fundies to be heavy-handed with it.

Just ask PZ, who has twice now banned me from all his threads.

Lenny, if you came onto my blog constantly misrepresenting my position as badly as this, I’d ban you too. Difference of opinion, religious or otherwise, is fine. Misrepresentation isn’t. I’m more than happy to tell you exactly what I think, and so is PZ.

But back to the comparison, so let me see if I get this straight. Give the radical atheists control, and they are going to ban you from their blogs. Give the Evangelical Christians control, and they will ban abortion, teach creationism in schools, forbid birth control and sex education, and that’s just for starters.

Seems comparable to me. Not.

Really, fess up. Is this an early April Fools joke? Did you guys give your passwords to nutty friends?

Comment #146588

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 2:52 PM (e)

Dean Morrison wrote:

Welp, I gotta say I did like the way Tyson tried to talk Dawkins into having a softer touch in his job as chair of the public understanding of science, and Dawkins’ response was pretty juvenile.

- yes - but very, very funny - you can’t accuse the man of going for cheap laughs as a matter of habit - and seeing him swear comes as a shock: suddenly you realise he’s human:

Oh, sure. But it was the wrong time for it. Dawkins should be pulling the cheap laugh card and showing his humanity when he’s talking to the public; he should be in serious “I’m listening to your criticism and am prepared either to accept it or to rationally refute it” mode when responding to Tyson. Doing it the other way around leaves the impression that he only acts like a scientist to impress the commoners.

Comment #146589

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 2:57 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Z, who has twice now banned me from all his threads.

If Normie and Puppy’s Ghost had the authority to do so, they’d do it in a second.

Like I said, I would not want to live in a world run by them. I thank God (so to speak) that they have no more real political power than the Dominionists or the Maoists do. And I hope it stays that way.

Welp, you heard it here first. All the people who’d ban Lenny from their threads are morally and politically equivalent. PZ, Norm, Popper’s Ghost, Rousas Rushdoony, Chairman Mao…all the same. We can give no quarter to anti-Lennyists!

Comment #146592

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 3:17 PM (e)

Welp, you heard it here first. All the people who’d ban Lenny from their threads are morally and politically equivalent.

Dude, don’t be an ass. That’s not what I said, and you know it.

I am pointing out that all ideological extremists, whatever their ideology, tend to act exactly the same when they get power.

And PZ was kind enough to demonstrate that for me.

Comment #146593

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 3:18 PM (e)

I’d ban you too.

I have no doubt of that at all. (shrug)

Comment #146594

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 3:20 PM (e)

Give the radical atheists control

Oddly enough, there ARE places in history where “radical atheists” have gained political control.

The Soviet Union. China. Kampuchea.

Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

Like I said, extremist ideologues all act the same way when they get power. Underneath the feathers, they are all the same bird. (shrug)

Comment #146595

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 3:29 PM (e)

If you want to defend the use of “evangelical atheist”, one can only assume that you do so because you actively want to insult said atheists

And of course I suppose that referring to religious people as “irrational” is intended as a compliment, right?

Curious. You seem quite happy with lobbing emotionally loaded terms at the theists, and act all innocent and befuddles when they object to it, but when the shoe is on the other foot, all of a sudden you start crying about how much it hurts and how dreadfully unfair it all is ….

Goose, say hello to gander.

I think “evangelical atheist” describes the people it refers to quite accurately. Indeed, for more complete accuracy, I’d add the word “intolerant” in front of it.

And once again, before any intolerant evangelical atheist gets his anti-religious panties all ina n uproar, I will take a moment to point out that I do not assert, and do not accept, the existence of any god, gods, goddesses, or any other supernatural entity whatever, in any way, shape or form.

Comment #146596

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 3:31 PM (e)

Dude, their message comes shining through loud and clear. No one here mistakes it.

Just sit religion next to astrology on the societal bench, and we’ll be happy.

Like I was saying, their message comes shining through loud and clear ……

Comment #146600

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 3:40 PM (e)

None of you guys have yet shown any behavior by any atheist that is even remotely close to what evangelical christians have done or attempted.

Evangelical Atheist

9. While religion played an instrumental role in helping civilization past its infancy, it has done more harm than good for the last several thousand years. It is in the best interest of mankind that religion be completely eliminated.

Comment #146603

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 3:45 PM (e)

1. Of, relating to, or in accordance with the Christian gospel, especially one of the four gospel books of the New Testament. 2. Evangelical Of, relating to, or being a Protestant church that founds its teaching on the gospel. 3. Evangelical Of, relating to, or being a Christian church believing in the sole authority and inerrancy of the Bible, in salvation only through regeneration, and in a spiritually transformed personal life. 4. Evangelical a. Of or relating to the Lutheran churches in Germany and Switzerland. b. Of or relating to all Protestant churches in Germany. 5. Of or relating to the group in the Church of England that stresses personal conversion and salvation by faith. 6. Characterized by ardent or crusading enthusiasm; zealous: an evangelical liberal.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

Comment #146631

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 5:38 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Dude, don’t be an ass. That’s not what I said, and you know it.

You know, when you want to backpedal, you probably shouldn’t go on to say in the very same post:

I am pointing out that all ideological extremists, whatever their ideology, tend to act exactly the same when they get power.

And PZ was kind enough to demonstrate that for me.

Oops. That “All ideological extremists are the same and PZ is one of them” just slipped out again, eh Lenny?

Oh, and then:

Oddly enough, there ARE places in history where “radical atheists” have gained political control.

The Soviet Union. China. Kampuchea.

Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

Like I said, extremist ideologues all act the same way when they get power.

Oops again.

It’s pretty simple, Lenny. Either you really do think PZ’s equivalent to the extremist ideologues responsible for the USSR and China, or you don’t and you just threw them in to raise the anti-atheist paranoia quotient a few notches. Which is it?

Comment #146645

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 6:05 PM (e)

Oh come on Anton, try to understand what Lenny is saying and more importantly what he isn’t saying.

Comment #146649

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 6:10 PM (e)

raise the anti-atheist paranoia quotient

(sigh) At this point, it seems necessary (yet again) to repeat once more for the hard of hearing:

*ahem*

I do not accept, and I do not assert, the existence of any god, gods, goddesses, or any other supernatural entity whatsoever, in any way shape or form.

To some people, apparently, a theist is a theist is a theist is a theist. Even if they are, uh, not a theist.

Comment #146658

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 6:18 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

I do not accept, and I do not assert, the existence of any god, gods, goddesses, or any other supernatural entity whatsoever, in any way shape or form.

Yes, I know. I just don’t particularly care what your religious opinions are, and I’ll do you the courtesy of not assuming you’d enforce a policy of militant agnosticism at gunpoint if you had the power.

Comment #146661

Posted by Dean Morrison on November 26, 2006 6:23 PM (e)

Anton wrote:

Oh, sure. But it was the wrong time for it. Dawkins should be pulling the cheap laugh card and showing his humanity when he’s talking to the public; he should be in serious “I’m listening to your criticism and am prepared either to accept it or to rationally refute it” mode when responding to Tyson. Doing it the other way around leaves the impression that he only acts like a scientist to impress the commoners.,

Jeez you Americans can be so anally retentive. I reckon this is a cultural thing - we like people who are straight talkers - and one can be polite without being deferential.

Dawkins’ answer to Tyson made the point that he thinks straight talk is important, and he’s not as extreme in the matter as some people - and he managed to do it in a funny way - I doubt very much that Tyson was at all offended.

Lighten up Anton…

Comment #146666

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 26, 2006 6:39 PM (e)

Oh, come on, PvM, try to understand what PZ and Dawkins are really saying and more importantly what they aren’t saying.

Comment #146668

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 6:44 PM (e)

Dean Morrison wrote:

Jeez you Americans can be so anally retentive. I reckon this is a cultural thing - we like people who are straight talkers - and one can be polite without being deferential.

But it wasn’t really a straight response. It was a story about someone else who gave a straight response to a slightly different question. A straight response would be “You’re wrong, Neil, and here’s why.”

Not that it would have taken much, since Tyson basically just used his own reaction as evidence.

Dawkins’ answer to Tyson made the point that he thinks straight talk is important, and he’s not as extreme in the matter as some people - and he managed to do it in a funny way - I doubt very much that Tyson was at all offended.

Lighten up Anton…

Ha! Caught in a pincer action between pro- and anti-Dawkins forces!

No, I don’t think Tyson was offended. But I think he was probably disappointed that Dawkins basically evaded the question.

Comment #146672

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 26, 2006 6:49 PM (e)

Gosh, maybe PvM and Nick can remind me what Carl Sagan’s attitude toward religion was.

If CS was around today, he’d probably be getting the back of their hands for his “evangelical atheist” attitude.

Sheesh.

Comment #146673

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 6:54 PM (e)

Oh, come on, PvM, try to understand what PZ and Dawkins are really saying and more importantly what they aren’t saying.

Well, I’m pretty sure that I understand what PZ and Dawkins are saying and not saying.

But then, if a large number of people (including, as you say, me) consistently “misunderstand” them (and all seem to “misunderstand” them in the very same manner), then it’s pretty apparent that either (1) we see something in their words that they don’t, or (2) they’re doing a piss-poor job of explaining their thoughts to us.

In either case, it would be far more helpful if, instead of just whining “everyone misunderstands me, boo hoo hoo !!!!!”, they would take a look or ten at what they say and how they say it, and make adjustments as necessary.

But then, I don’t think there’s any misunderstanding. I think their intended message shines through loud and clear.

Comment #146676

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 6:59 PM (e)

Oh, come on, PvM, try to understand what PZ and Dawkins are really saying and more importantly what they aren’t saying.

Well, I’m pretty sure that I understand what PZ and Dawkins are saying and not saying.

But then, if a large number of people (including, as you say, me) consistently “misunderstand” them (and, oddly, all seem to “misunderstand” them in the very same manner), then it’s pretty apparent that either (1) we see something in their words that they don’t, or (2) they’re doing a piss-poor job of explaining their thoughts to us.

In either case, it would be far more helpful if, instead of just whining “everyone misunderstands me, boo hoo hoo !!!!!”, they would take a look or ten at what they say and how they say it, and make adjustments as necessary.

But then, I don’t think there’s any misunderstanding. I think their intended message shines through loud and clear.

Comment #146690

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 7:32 PM (e)

Stevie: Oh, come on, PvM, try to understand what PZ and Dawkins are really saying and more importantly what they aren’t saying.

I think that I pretty well understand what they are and are not saying. Somehow however people seem to have a hard time returning the favor when it comes to Nick or others. Somehow your name comes to mind… What was it again that you said?

Oh yes

The claim that evolution somehow leads to the evil of atheism is a pretext that the anti-science forces have seized upon.

Having good guys like Nick and confused people like Pim buy into this hoax isn’t going to boost science.

Comment #146698

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 26, 2006 8:02 PM (e)

Okay, then, Pim.

Lay it out in your own words: why is it that you are spending your time attacking Dawkins and PZ, instead of focusing all your efforts on our mutual opposition, the IDers.

About whom, of course, we should say only civil things, not indulge in personal attacks, etc.

Explain your seeming inconsistencies in these regards, and I’ll be happy to retract any inappropriate mischaracterization in which I may have pinheadedly indulged.

Comment #146702

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on November 26, 2006 8:10 PM (e)

some have raised atheism to the status of a religious concept despite claims that atheism should not be treated as such.

Perhaps you are referring to Dawkins claim that gods are improbable. I haven’t read The God Delusion, but I have also not seen anyone discuss and debunk this argument of his.

ID seems strongly motivated by the atheist influence on science and religion

If you mean the idea that science and religion should be separate, that isn’t an atheist idea but a secular idea. It is made for practical reasons (science doesn’t work with supernatural assumptions), to give freedom for religions, and pushed by several advocates such as skeptics and humanists.

As such a secular state is hardly sufficient for religious freedom.

That isn’t the claim. It is necessary, since otherwise a religion would be prefered. Possibly also secular activities like science could be damaged.

While I’m glad that you see the practicality of a secular state, I think the above confusion about the claim cuts right to your conflations of the secular and the atheist on one side, and the atheist and the religious on the other. You do excel in conflations. (Religion = religiosity, evolution = atheism.)

Science rejects the supernatural because it has to do so. Atheists reject the supernatural because they choose to do so. One support is of course that science benefits from the rejection. Be what it may, neither secular activities or groups nor atheist groups are religious, and the reasons for that can vary.

There is indeed a lot of controversy as to the relative importance of the many mechanisms of evolution.

But the fact of evolution is incontrovertible, and some mechanisms must be accepted to be a theory of evolution. You are erecting a straw man.

A more apt (though still not perfect) term might be “proselytising atheist”.

Which is fine, except that it is still mostly misused. For example, what Dawkins is doing is criticizing religion, not advocating atheism as such. He would be as glad if people chooses to be humanists or skeptics.

But when we need those labels, I suggest that “proselytizing priest” (i.e. theist) and “advocating atheist” has a certain symmetry to it. ;-)

Comment #146705

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 26, 2006 8:20 PM (e)

Usually-Reliable Lenny:

Well, I’m pretty sure that I understand what PZ and Dawkins are saying and not saying.

You keep saying this. People keep disagreeing with you. You keep repeating yourself. This works great with unthinking Creatoids, who lack the evidence to refute you. Your ceaseless repetition isn’t working so well here, where you are being asked to produce the quotes that would support your understanding, and failing to find them.

You don’t need to mischaracterize these positions to make your strategic point, that we shouldn’t unnecessarily antagonize our theistic allies. If you’d stuck with that arguably-valid point, you wouldn’t have lost me on all this over-the-top “evangelistic atheist” razzmatazz.

Comment #146707

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 8:21 PM (e)

Okay, then, Pim.

Lay it out in your own words: why is it that you are spending your time attacking Dawkins and PZ, instead of focusing all your efforts on our mutual opposition, the IDers.

Why should I be focusing all my efforts on our mutual opposition? Under the assumption that a enemy of my enemy must be my friend? Sure, I fully appreciate the scientific contributions by Myers, his postings are some of the best in the online world. So how does this relate to me speaking out against Myers when I believe he resorts to inappropriate arguments or name calling

About whom, of course, we should say only civil things, not indulge in personal attacks, etc.

On can say uncivil things without resorting to personal attacks. I thought you understood these differences?

Explain your seeming inconsistencies in these regards, and I’ll be happy to retract any inappropriate mischaracterization in which I may have pinheadedly indulged.

What inconsistencies are you referring to?

Perhaps you may want to start with your fallacious claim

The claim that evolution somehow leads to the evil of atheism is a pretext that the anti-science forces have seized upon.

Having good guys like Nick and confused people like Pim buy into this hoax isn’t going to boost science.

Comment #146710

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 8:29 PM (e)

There is indeed a lot of controversy as to the relative importance of the many mechanisms of evolution.

But the fact of evolution is incontrovertible, and some mechanisms must be accepted to be a theory of evolution. You are erecting a straw man.

The question of course is how is a the question “do you believe in evolution” interpreted since as you point out there is a difference between the fact of evolution and mechanisms of evolution. Assume that one were an ID proponent who believes that the mechanism involves some undeterminate design? Even though the same person may very well accept Darwinian theory although considers it to be insufficient if not irrelevant? When someone states that evolution is not controversial, one easily runs the risk of bait and switch. As I pointed out myself, evolution defined as a change in allelic frequencies is far less controversial than some of the other definitions that exist. One cannot presume, without further clarifications that the 40 percent were somehow speaking out against the former, instead of the latter.
To state that evolution is uncontroversial requires some context and the constraints often reduce the relevancy of the ‘unremarkable’ fact of evolution on the discussion.
Certainly, a disbelief in a vaguely defined concept of evolution as asked in a university poll hardly seems to qualify as a justification for flunking someone who has expressed such an opinion?

Comment #146717

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 26, 2006 8:41 PM (e)

You keep saying this. People keep disagreeing with you

Well, Maoists keep disagreeing with me whenever I point out that they are ideologues who can’t poop without consulting the Little Red Book first. (shrug)

Comment #146718

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 26, 2006 8:41 PM (e)

From another one of these stupid religious-war threads:

Pim: It’s hard to deny that Dawkins has been instrumental in generating much concern amongst Christians and other religious groups, motivating them to get involved in shaping public policy to defend Christianity against Atheism.

Stevie: It’s hard to deny that this is yet another evidence-free assertion from Pim.

Pim: Of course, if the question is can I back up my assertion, which seemed self evident to anyone who has read the literature by Intelligent Design proponents, then I will be more than happy to do so.

In short, Pim believes that Dawkins’ advocacy of evolution and critique of evolution are motivating “Christians” to fight against evolution. Pim’s evidence: what the ID literature says.
Explain to me again, Pim, how this is not the same as your buying into the pretextual claim of the anti-science forces that “evolution = atheism.”
Instead of taking their word for it, for goodness sake, why does it not occur to you that the Creationists’ are reacting as strongly as they do against Dawkins because he scares the pants off them?
Or, instead of joining them in their happy little campaign against Dawkins, why not work at refuting their claim, you know, the one that you deny having bought into?
You’ll do better in your response, Pim, if you’ll step back, take a breath, focus on the little technical things, like correct quoting, correct attribution of quotes, and correct handling of html.
And not contradicting yourself from one line to the next.
And finding better evidence for your propositions than Creationist propaganda.

Comment #146719

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 8:45 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Perhaps you may want to start with your fallacious claim

The claim that evolution somehow leads to the evil of atheism is a pretext that the anti-science forces have seized upon.

Having good guys like Nick and confused people like Pim buy into this hoax isn’t going to boost science.

Wait…the above is fallacious? You mean it’s not a hoax, and evolution does lead to atheism?

Certainly, a disbelief in a vaguely defined concept of evolution as asked in a university poll hardly seems to qualify as a justification for flunking someone who has expressed such an opinion?

Oh, most certainly. So, since PZ has agreed with this, and Moran says he was only joking in the first place…where’s the argument, exactly? And where’s the atheism?

Comment #146721

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 26, 2006 8:48 PM (e)

Lenny, if you were claiming over and over again that you were sure what PZ was up to, I’d just shruy too.

But you seem to be claiming–unlike your usually-unpretetntious self–that you know waht everybody else thinks about what PZ say:

Dude, their message comes shining through loud and clear. No one here mistakes it.

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. I simply pointed out that it wasn’t shared by “everyone” here.
You’re just a man, Lenny, just a man.
Maybe you just need to ask the pizza kid to whisper it in your ear a little more often…

Comment #146722

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 26, 2006 8:50 PM (e)

I do normally know how to spell “shrug” and “unpretentious.”

Must be time to step slowly away from the keyboard, pick up the phone, and dial for the pizza.

Comment #146731

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on November 26, 2006 9:35 PM (e)

Gosh, maybe PvM and Nick can remind me what Carl Sagan’s attitude toward religion was.

He was skeptical about religion and said so, but he didn’t go around accusing pro-science religious people of being allies of the creationists, and he didn’t go around calling those who are happy to work with pro-science religious people “appeasers” and “Neville Chamberlins” for not taking a sufficiently hard line on religion.

Comment #146744

Posted by PvM on November 26, 2006 10:09 PM (e)

Oh, most certainly. So, since PZ has agreed with this, and Moran says he was only joking in the first place…where’s the argument, exactly?

Larry’s ‘explanation’ that he was just joking sounds quite hollow as others have already shown.

As to your erroneous claim about Nick and me, can we expect a retraction/apology or supporting evidence?

Comment #146749

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on November 26, 2006 10:22 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #146764

Posted by Anton Mates on November 26, 2006 10:46 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Larry’s ‘explanation’ that he was just joking sounds quite hollow as others have already shown.

Well, if Larry ever advances it seriously again, we can certainly call him on it.

As to your erroneous claim about Nick and me, can we expect a retraction/apology or supporting evidence?

What? The quote you called “fallacious” was from Steviepinhead, I think.

But if you want some supporting evidence that “evolution = atheism” is a creationist hoax, I suggest starting with Charles Darwin.

Comment #146903

Posted by David B. Benson on November 27, 2006 1:38 PM (e)

Y
A
W
N

(Seen it all before, several times…)

Comment #146991

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on November 27, 2006 8:48 PM (e)

My misparsed answer again:

To state that evolution is uncontroversial requires some context and the constraints often reduce the relevancy of the ‘unremarkable’ fact of evolution on the discussion.

This doesn’t burn the straw man. There is a qualitative difference between rejecting all of evolution and accepting it for study.

But as I have said, I’m not saying that Moran’s sneer is a solution.

Certainly, a disbelief in a vaguely defined concept of evolution as asked in a university poll hardly seems to qualify as a justification for flunking someone who has expressed such an opinion?

As none of M&M suggested this, your straw man seems to have got a brother.

Comment #148360

Posted by Popper's ghost on December 5, 2006 4:59 AM (e)

Matzke wrote:

(a) positive and upbeat,
(b) doesn’t focus on hunting down and killing every whiff of religion that dares to exist in the general vicinity of science, as if doing this were both possible and would solve the major problems this world faces if it were achieved,
(c} appeals to everybody, not just in-your-face atheists, and
(d) shows that science and nature are amazing and inspirational, not some kind of program to drain life of meaning.

Same old cretinous strawmen.

PvM wrote:

Tyson certainly stands out way above some of the evangelical atheists/creationists. Moran recently called for flunking those who ‘do not believe in evolution’

What’s atheistic about that? You seem to have bought the creationist equation.

PZ seems to be on a war path

Evangelical strawman-bashers like you and Matzke need to stare into the mirror.

Comment #148366

Posted by Popper's ghost on December 5, 2006 5:08 AM (e)

Holy…you’re repeating Larry Fafarman’s arguments now?! Is this Bizarro Pim?

PvM is “Bizarro Pim”. This is the same realization that STJ came to – or rather, resisted coming to, persisting for a long time in thinking that someone had stolen PvM’s identity. It’s cognitive dissonance – he’s so critical of ID, how can he be so intellectually dishonest? Well, he can be, and he is, as are Matzke, Flank, and plenty of others on “our side”.

Comment #148368

Posted by Popper's ghost on December 5, 2006 5:40 AM (e)

If Normie and Puppy’s Ghost had the authority to do so, they’d do it in a second.

If you shat in my living room, I’d ban you from my house. That you treat that as equivalent to fundie theocracy shows what a disgustingly dishonest little turd you are, and I’m delighted that more and more people here have come to realize it.