Nick Matzke posted Entry 3128 on May 18, 2007 01:24 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3118

Cover of Science, behavioral science issue, May 18After you have been in the habit of creationism-watching for a few years you become extremely familiar with all of the usual creationist arguments, half-baked talking points, unchecked assertions taken as obviously true, etc. If you really get into it you learn the creationist movement’s long and specific history, and you learn that whatever form of creationism you are studying at the moment inevitably traces back basically to American protestant fundamentalism, and before that to something sometimes called “naive Biblicism.”*

But there comes a point when you don’t think you can learn anything much new about the creationists. You might stumble on a new mutation of a creationist urban legend or quote mine, or a new bit of creationist history like Dean Kenyon actually being a young-earther despite this fact being carefully hidden by the ID movement for 15+ years. But basically, you don’t expect to find out much that is new.

Well, if you thought you were at this point, you would be wrong. A review article in this week’s Science magazine (with a special focus on behavioral science) shows that scholars can ring out yet another twist in creationism studies.

Historians and creationism watchers have long noted several strong and quite reliable psychological generalizations that can be made about creationists – e.g., how creationists jump to conclusions based on what naively seems like “common sense” to them, an almost instinctual dualism- and design-based thinking, a place of pride for “childlike faith”, an old-fashioned Baconian attitude to science (Facts good! Theories bad!!), a severe difficulty with probabilities and other abstract topics, a severe case of typological thinking and an inability to even correctly conceptualize a particular proposed “transitional” organism, an amazingly uncritical acceptance and blind repetition of anything their own authorities say, etc… These generalizations apply to young-earthers right through to old-earth creationists (and therefore IDers, which are a mix of the two).

In the new Science paper (Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg, 2007, “Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science,” Science, 316(5827), 996-997, 18 May 2007, DOI: 10.1126/science.1133398) Bloom and Weisberg independently identify many of these psychological generalizations and point out that they can all be traced to biases regularly found in studies of childhood cognition and childrens’ intuitions and conclusions about scientific topics. They hypothesize that American resistance to evolution, in particular, can be traced to these factors:

[From the conclusion]

These developmental data suggest that resistance to science will arise in children when scientific claims clash with early emerging, intuitive expectations. This resistance will persist through adulthood if the scientific claims are contested within a society, and it will be especially strong if there is a nonscientific alternative that is rooted in common sense and championed by people who are thought of as reliable and trustworthy. This is the current situation in the United States, with regard to the central tenets of neuroscience and evolutionary biology. These concepts clash with intuitive beliefs about the immaterial nature of the soul and the purposeful design of humans and other animals, and (in the United States) these beliefs are particularly likely to be endorsed and transmitted by trusted religious and political authorities (24). Hence, these fields are among the domains where Americans’ resistance to science is the strongest.

It is one thing to vaguely note, as many creationism observers have, that there is a peculiar childlike quality to many creationists and their methods of rhetoric and reasoning (e.g., AiG director Ken Ham’s main message to the kiddies: “Were you there?”) It is quite another thing to have this all tied directly to the scientific literature on childhood psychology. As far as I know this is the first time someone has made the connection explicitly (although inevitably someone can probably turn up precursors).

Footnotes

* This is a rather crude description, but basically “naive Biblicism” describes the following sentiment: the Bible says it, I believe it, “it” being whatever I perceive to be the “common sense” reading according to an English reading with 1800s American “common sense” assumptions. This sort of thing was ubiquitous in early-1800s America where there was suddenly no established state church and where the only remaining authority was the Bible, interpreted by every man for himself – kind of like the European Protestant Reformation redone on steroids. This produced the wild proliferation of American denominations and sects, and of course it persists strongly in 20th-century fundamentalism/conservative evangelicalism. Read Arthur McCalla’s (2006) The Creationist Debate and Mark Noll’s (2002) America’s God for serious treatments.

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Comment #176429

Posted by Joshua Zelinsky on May 18, 2007 3:13 AM (e)

The DOI link seems to be not functioning.

Comment #176430

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 18, 2007 3:18 AM (e)

Nick,

Thanks for this heads-up on the Science article (the link produces an error, however).

I and some of my colleagues had come to these conclusions back in the 1980s after watching the creation scientists for a few years. I’m a physicist, not a psychologist, but back then the whole area of Physics Education Research was getting off the ground in a much more formal manner.

There has always been anecdotal evidence of persistent misconceptions that were traceable to the experiences and preconceptions students bring with them into a physics course. Now, with over 40 years of formal research into these misconceptions, the Physics Education Research community has produced an extensive catalog of these problems in nearly every area of physics.

When observing the creation science people back in the 1970s, and since then, the intelligent design proponents, it was obvious to us that the same fundamental misconceptions permeated the thinking of both groups. These were exacerbated by the tactics of Duane Gish who developed and polished the technique of deliberately provoking scientists in debates with seemingly stupid cartoons of impossible creatures that were supposed to convince his audience of the stupidity of evolution. He already understood and exploited naive misconceptions about evolution that had been planted by irresponsible preachers among the fundamentalists. Add to this the deliberate efforts of their political activists, and you get an unusually resistant set of misconceptions that propagate among members of these sectarian groups. These sectarian groups have constructed a particularly strong echo chamber of fear and logic to reinforce their misconceptions. The recent emphasis on Hitler and the evil fruits of “Darwinism” is a reassertion of the fear factor in enforcing adherence to sectarian dogma.

Persistent misconceptions can carry all the way through a PhD program, and the ID/creationists who complete PhD programs all appear to have cobbled together a “logical” set of misconceptions that allows them to hold onto their prior religious indoctrinations. In fact, it is psychologically crucial that they do this given that their doctrines are “absolutely true” and doubting them places them in terror of the fires of Hell.

This also seems to explain the consternation they exhibit when they are “excluded by a closed-minded scientific cabal.” I suspect that most of them really don’t know what is wrong with their own understanding of science and consequently can only conclude they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Many of the recent ID/creationist letters-to-the-editor in our local newspaper reflect these fears and hatreds among the fundamentalists in our community. It is quite clear that the preachers in these churches are still using the same tactics.

Comment #176432

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 18, 2007 3:27 AM (e)

Fixed the link I think. Thanks for that interesting comment Mike.

Comment #176461

Posted by lmf3b on May 18, 2007 5:52 AM (e)

The challenge will come in convincing Biblical literalists that child-like thinking is in any way undesirable. Matthew 18: 1-3. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Combine this with the ability to claim “persecution” when challenged (Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”.) and you are liable to make them giddy with pride.

Comment #176462

Posted by lmf3b on May 18, 2007 5:54 AM (e)

The challenge will come in convincing Biblical literalists that child-like thinking is in any way undesirable. Matthew 18: 1-3. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Combine this with the ability to claim “persecution” when challenged (Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”.) and you are liable to make them giddy with pride.

Comment #176469

Posted by PC on May 18, 2007 6:43 AM (e)

you are liable to make them giddy with pride.

Uh-oh. Isn’t pride one of the seven deadlies?

Comment #176473

Posted by Darth Robo on May 18, 2007 7:05 AM (e)

“Uh-oh. Isn’t pride one of the seven deadlies?”

Doesn’t matter, since all creationists think they’ve got a ‘get out of jail free’ card.

Comment #176477

Posted by Frank J on May 18, 2007 7:43 AM (e)

Mike Elzinga wrote:

[Gish] already understood and exploited naive misconceptions about evolution that had been planted by irresponsible preachers among the fundamentalists. Add to this the deliberate efforts of their political activists, and you get an unusually resistant set of misconceptions that propagate among members of these sectarian groups. These sectarian groups have constructed a particularly strong echo chamber of fear and logic to reinforce their misconceptions. The recent emphasis on Hitler and the evil fruits of “Darwinism” is a reassertion of the fear factor in enforcing adherence to sectarian dogma.

I haven’t read the article yet, so I don’t know if it addresses the point - and my fellow critics of ID/creationism certainly don’t do make enough to suit me - but this clearly looks like a case of “childern believing fairy tales” (rank & file creationists and parroters of ID sound bites) and “parents” (anti-evolution activists) telling fairy tales to children. With respect to anti-evolution movements, the Gish example shows that the process was well in place before YEC and OEC “evolved” into ID. I guess that “parents” who tell the story enough can delude themselves into believing it, but with ID there is no story to tell, but just one big cover-up of the fact that there is not just one story, but several with irreconcilable differences.

I don’t doubt that ID leaders believe that life is designed, or that something other than “natural processes” may be operating in abiogenesis and speciation. Nor do I doubt that they truly believe that the masses need to take fairy tales literally to behave properly. But there are enough hints - from Behe’s early admission of common descent (which he must regret even though he apparently still accepts it) to Dembski’s admission that ID can accommodate all the results of “Darwinism” (Dembski appears to be incapable of regretting anything) - that most or all ID leaders, including “YECs” like Kenyon, must know that they are telling fairy tales. Why else would they keep the design language, at least until the recent designer-free replacement scam, and say less and less about what the designer did and when? IOW, why have they been steadily omitting the only parts that have a shot at being allowed in public school science class (aside from finding an activist judge)? Could it be that they know that mainstream science is right?

Once again I want to make clear that (1) we don’t know what people believe in private, and (2) ID certainly promotes YEC indirectly, perhaps even better than classic YEC itself. I don’t object to the speculation that most/all IDers are closet YECs (in terms of private belief), but I do object to how it’s usually suggested as the only possibility. Especially since the typical reaction to that is “what’s the harm in believing.”

Comment #176479

Posted by Wayne McCoy on May 18, 2007 8:04 AM (e)

It’s worth noting that old-time Creationists, who were examining the tale of Noah;’s Ark nearly 300 years ago, came to the “common sense” but logical conclusion that the story was an impossible situation, which led more or less directly to proposals of an old earth and evolution of biological species.

Comment #176480

Posted by Wayne McCoy on May 18, 2007 8:09 AM (e)

It’s worth noting that old-time Creationists, who were examining the tale of Noah;’s Ark nearly 300 years ago, came to the “common sense” but logical conclusion that the story was an impossible situation, which led more or less directly to proposals of an old earth and evolution of biological species.

Comment #176481

Posted by Wayne McCoy on May 18, 2007 8:15 AM (e)

It’s worth noting that old-time Creationists, who were examining the tale of Noah;’s Ark nearly 300 years ago, came to the “common sense” but logical conclusion that the story was an impossible situation, which led more or less directly to proposals of an old earth and evolution of biological species.

Comment #176485

Posted by Wayne McCoy on May 18, 2007 8:25 AM (e)

It’s worth noting that old-time Creationists, who were examining the tale of Noah;’s Ark nearly 300 years ago, came to the “common sense” but logical conclusion that the story was an impossible situation, which led more or less directly to proposals of an old earth and evolution of biological species.

Comment #176487

Posted by Neale Farley on May 18, 2007 8:27 AM (e)

Interesting. Michael Shermer in his book “ Why People Believe Weird Things” makes the point that smart people use the “adult” tools of logic and reasoning to defend conclusions, arrived at earlier in their lives, from un-smart reasons.

Comment #176497

Posted by Dan Gaston on May 18, 2007 8:57 AM (e)

Thanks for the link, very interesting reading.

Comment #176507

Posted by Roger Albin on May 18, 2007 9:32 AM (e)

I haven’t yet read the Science paper but I’d be careful about the inference that Creationism is somehow just child-like attitudes uncorrected by proper education. For example, the “common sense” epistemology and naive “Baconian attitude” you correctly attribute owes a great deal to late 18th century Scottish Common Sense Enlightenment figures like Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart. These are mainly figures of interest to intellectual historians now but they were tremendously influential in their own time and had tremendous impact on the early 19th century evangelicals who are the founders of modern American religion. Noll does a particularly nice job of discussing the importance of these thinkers in America’s God and there is a nice essay by George Marsden on Creationism’s infatuation with 18th century science.

Comment #176512

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 18, 2007 9:36 AM (e)

It is easy to construct a psychological account of why just about anyone does just about anything. If you don’t like someone’s beliefs, or you take them to be false, you can always come up with some account of a non-rational process that is the REAL reason why they believe it. But being able to come up with a seemingly plausible “psychoanalytic” speculation about people’s beliefs is quite a different thing from actually proving that they believe what they believe for those reasons. (This is probably one of the reasons Freud has become so discredited.) I could construct just as plausible an account of why people believe in naturalism and Darwinism. Such storytelling should not function as a replacement for the real question (with regard to creationists, Darwinists, or anyone else): Are these beliefs true? Do they match the evidence or not?

Comment #176513

Posted by raven on May 18, 2007 9:40 AM (e)

My recent introduction to ID and young earther creos, came about from interacting with people beyond my normal circle (science-medicine). This was a byproduct of participating in online forums having nothing to do with science, e.g. politics, social, financial, hobbies, etc.. If they claimed to be Martians, it wouldn’t have been more surprising or jarring.

One guy (with a botany degree) claimed that humans could not be descended from apes because:
1. Apes do not have color vision.
2. Apes have a three chambered heart!!!
3. Apes have muscles in their feet whereas humans do not. (He was unable to explain how one wiggles their toes.)
All of these assertions are false as 2 minutes with a search engine would show.

My brief study of Homo creationist has yielded the following findings.
1. They tend not to be very well educated.
2. They don’t seem to be highly intelligent (being polite here).
3. They were far more interested in reinforcing their pseudoscience then in questioning it.

This was not a publication quality study, of course. But I’ve seen enough to be concerned about the latest attack on science. The dark ages are history and should stay that way.

Comment #176517

Posted by raven on May 18, 2007 10:01 AM (e)

For the brighter and more self aware YECs, IMO, it is willing suspension of disbelief.

We all do this often to read a fiction book or watch TV or a movie. The author’s task and skill is to make it easy so the work is entertaining.

The creos have just decided to check out from reality permanently. So they have a giant supercontinent breaking up 4,000 years ago and herds of mammoths, synapsids, and dinosaurs wandering through North America up until recently.

By itself this would be harmless. It is not harmless when they insist the rest of us do the same thing and try to sneak their stories into our children’s science classes.

Comment #176528

Posted by Wayne McCoy on May 18, 2007 11:02 AM (e)

It’s worth noting that old-time Creationists, who were examining the tale of Noah;’s Ark nearly 300 years ago, came to the “common sense” but logical conclusion that the story was an impossible situation, which led more or less directly to proposals of an old earth and evolution of biological species.

Comment #176530

Posted by Science Avenger on May 18, 2007 11:15 AM (e)

It is one thing to vaguely note, as many creationism observers have, that there is a peculiar childlike quality to many creationists and their methods of rhetoric and reasoning (e.g., AiG director Ken Ham’s main message to the kiddies: “Were you there?”)

I was thinking the very same thing after viewing Cameron and Comfort’s idiocy. They sound like their target audience is 5-year-olds. There is an almost Mr. Rogers’ quality to their delivery. Ditto for the guy trying to prove creationism with peanut butter.

Comment #176532

Posted by snex on May 18, 2007 11:21 AM (e)

how does this apply to people like lee strobel who claim to be former atheists?

personally, i think the guy is lying, but i dont have any direct evidence of this. what do you think?

Comment #176538

Posted by CJO on May 18, 2007 11:48 AM (e)

I could construct just as plausible an account of why people believe in naturalism and Darwinism. Such storytelling should not function as a replacement for the real question (with regard to creationists, Darwinists, or anyone else): Are these beliefs true? Do they match the evidence or not?

Right. And “beliefs” that do match the evidence don’t need such an account, do they? In trying to explain creationism’s appeal, you have to construct some kind of account, because the belief is demonstrably untrue.
What you call “the real question” has been answered, and it tells us only that people persist in believing what is demonstrably untrue. Why is that?

Well, there’s always a meme’s eye view…
Creationism thrives in an environment where critical thinking is discouraged in favor of revelation. It is reinforced by us-them thinking, and paranoid visions of persecution (They only say we’re wrong because they hate the baby Jesus)–so it goes well with religions of martyrdom. And, I’m convinced there’s a strong streak of class envy and what might be called “naive anti-authoritarianism.” People who are already susceptible to creationism just love the idea that a reg’lar guy like Gish can really stick it to them egg-head perfessers with their cock-eyed theories (and their perceived wealth and prestige), when any fool can see…

All pretty childish, you ask me.

Comment #176540

Posted by minimalist on May 18, 2007 11:55 AM (e)

snex,

I’ve sometimes thought that “former atheists” like Strobel, or Josh McDowell, or any number of others, could have gone through turbulent adolescences where they became “mad at God” for one reason or another. Many Christians are brought up in the belief that atheists are “mad at god”; so the charitable explanation is that they think that phase really was atheism, when in fact they never really gave up their theistic beliefs, and all their arguments are born out of that same set of assumptions that they were raised with. Hence the poor quality of their argumentation – they will never convince a genuine atheist, but maybe that’s the point. The target audience is more likely to be believers who are vacillating in their faith, and are much more likely to be swayed by arguments that essentially start with the assumption that god exists. After all, “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” will never convince someone open to the possibility of “Misquoted, Misunderstood, or Made-Up”.

Which brings me to the other possibility, that they are liars. Certainly there’s a sizable market for pious frauds in American fundamantalist community. Some people have made a comfortable living speaking at fundie schools and churches about their fanciful experiences in “Satanic cults” – for which there is no independent evidence, of course, but it keeps the faithful afraid and in line.

Of course I have no hard evidence either, just my thoughts.

Comment #176549

Posted by Jim Wynne on May 18, 2007 12:36 PM (e)

snex wrote:

how does this apply to people like lee strobel who claim to be former atheists?

personally, i think the guy is lying, but i dont have any direct evidence of this. what do you think?

I think that adults who are “born again” and adopt the creationist “world view” are in a bit of a different category, and there seems to be a common thread amongst them. In Strobel’s case, he says that his wife got religion and was attending church, so he was forced to use his legal and investigative powers to examine the “case for Christ,” and in so doing he was converted. It seems, though that what happened was that his wife got converted, and he had a decision to make, and the only way that he could do so was to claim that the evidence was sound.

You will also hear about adult born-agains who came to the church as a result of some other type of personal crisis–drug addiction, the death of a family member, etc. They find a community that accepts them and offers some form of camaraderie and a shoulder to cry on, and they wind up buying the bill of goods in order to remain a part of the community.

Comment #176550

Posted by harold on May 18, 2007 12:36 PM (e)

Frank J.

“I don’t doubt that ID leaders believe that life is designed”

It depends on what you mean by “believe”. I doubt this very much, in many cases. But it depends on whether you think that a self-interested, sadistic Soviet bureaucrat could necessarily be said to “believe in Marxism”. In some ways, yes, in some ways, no, I suppose.

I see what we call the “religious right” - and the non-Catholic “religious right” is almost individual for individual identical with ID/creationism - as more of a cult-like authoritarian socio-political movement. The only exception is among people who are so education-deprived that they don’t know any better. There may be a few liberal religious figures who deny science, but I haven’t seen any. Even evangelical Southern Protestants like Jimmy Carter tend to be pro-science if their theology and/or politics are liberal.

The real obsessions and goals of the religious right, as far as I can tell, revolve around sex, enforced displays of submission by non-leadership, and corporal punishment.

Since their demands are unpopular and difficult to live up to, even for themselves, they exploit the Bible. The idea is simple - justify intrusive, unreasonable, and inhumane policies, they turn to the only authority whose absolute power commands obedience without question - God.

Creationism and ID are effectively part of an authoritarian political system.

If it were a sincere, childish belief system, it might be associated with some particular political belief, but a 100% association with the political right wouldn’t make sense.

Another obvious piece of evidence to support my conjecture - they constantly rail about what they imagine must be an authoritarian “political agenda” behind the straightforward acceptance of scientific reality. In their minds, you choose an authoritarian agenda for reasons of emotional disturbance, and then you find a “belief system” that justifies enforcing it.

Yes, I’m sure they “believe” in it at some level, and yes, I realize there are people on “the right” who don’t like sharing their tent with creationists (but for now it seems that they have to).

It’s true I keep bringing this up, but it’s because the question keeps coming up -“Why are these people so ‘dense’, what is misleading them, why won’t they acknowlege the facts?”

It’s the agenda, stupid.

This message does not discuss elements of the right wing unrelated to, or in rare cases opposed to, creationism. I realize that there are Ayn Rand types out there who don’t really like sharing the tent with creationists. I don’t agree with you, either, but this message is not about the progressive income tax.

Comment #176552

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 18, 2007 12:41 PM (e)

Especially the sense that things exist “for a purpose” when they have function has been mentioned previously in the literature as a “childish” view that often lasts into adulthood.

But I wonder just how much traction is to be had in identifying creationism/vitalism etc. with childhood psychology. For one thing, are ancient myths really “childish” or some such thing? And would being “childish” or “adult” be ipso facto a good or a bad thing?

It wasn’t just Jesus who said “become as little children”, Nietzsche also wrote things like, “The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement…. “ Indeed, the child is thought to be “teachable”, to be able to grasp new ideas (vs. many tired old minds), to be hope and renewal. The scientist, it is said, continues the child’s experiments with the world, being curious, unprejudiced, and open-minded.

Of course that’s the idealistic view, and yes, the severe typological thinking, difficulties with abstraction, and a not-uncommon stubbornness and refusal to consider new ideas is the downside of childhood.

The trouble is that we tend to alternate between depictions of childhood as hopelessly naive, uncomprehending, and one might even say “stupid”, and the sense that children have a plasticity, openness, and lack of prejudice too rarely found in adults.

The truth is that adults are continuations of the children who gave rise to them, and many of the faults in children become faults in adults, while many of the virtues in children become virtues in the adults. It’s getting childhood psychology and cognition down right that makes a good “adult mind”.

Yes, of course the adult mind is different from the child mind. However, this would be true of both the good adult mind and the one that fails to deal well with the “modern world.” I doubt that we’re so much more adult than creationists, we just learned how to hone the bewildering varieties of openness and stubbornness in the child’s mind into a kind of openness without loss of rigor in our present minds.

I could look at creationists/IDists either way, as children who look openly and naively at a world and take it “on its own terms” (so to speak—in fact interpretation is imposed on all of us to some degree), intuitively. Or I could look at them as people who in fact ceased to be children too soon, without having learned to think, merely ridifying from childish naivete into stubborn stupidity. Both are simply interpretations, however, of a more complicated pattern of reinforcement which has maintained some childish intuitions as adult dogmas, or alternatively, has let intuition go where possible (obviously, in the social sphere there often is no substitute for intuition).

People like Behe and Dembski try to come up with adult and progressive rationalizations for maintaining the beliefs of childhood, or one might say, of earlier human eras. To be sure, this looks a whole lot like childish rationalization, something which, however, is hardly unknown among adults. Yet in a way, much that drives the adult rationalizations of childish beliefs is the sense that there is something special and “true” about earlier forms of thought, and the belief in magic. Surely, we can just look at animals and decide that some magical being designed them? Why complicate everything, indeed? Those who do complicate it all just don’t want to believe in baby Jesus, eternal life, and magic minds, and, having lost the innocence of the child (or a certain sort of Xian—according to them) to become bitter atheists (or some such thing), they just want to be mean and take it away from the rest of us.

Of course I’m back to their “childishness” in the last sentence, but my point is that either the fall from “childish innocence” is into something better or into a sad continuation of the prejudices and reactions of the child. They’re both adult, unless we go for the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, it’s that we fall into knowledge, or we just fall. Behe and Dembski fell from the innocence of the child, without getting the (relative) innocence and openness that a competent adult wields.

None of us has exactly moved from childhood psychology into something completely different, we just grew up intellectually in better or worse ways. Rationalizing childhood beliefs is not something rare in adults, but it is far from being admirable, or a good use of the enhanced abilities that adults have.

A common psychological aspect of both adults and children, that of reaction, seems to have a lot to do with whether or not the fall from innocence is into knowledge or into rationalizations of childhood belief. The individual and collective reactions against growing up into a harder, and crueller—yet more interesting and open (in its way)—world, are what matter. And it is the collective reactions, above all, which maintain the (relatively) poor intellection of the child into so many adults, regardless of if they are of the creationist sort, or of the more magical-believing New Agers and those who long for the state of the “noble savage”.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #176555

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 18, 2007 12:47 PM (e)

CJO makes a good point. The psychological scenarios (as well as the suspicions of lack of intelligence, dishonesty, etc.) are the sorts of attempts to explain behavior that come when it seems that people are continuing to believe something that has been obviously proven to be false. If something is obviously false, then we have to account for the people who for some reason can’t or won’t see it. If there was nothing wrong with such people, it might call into question the “obviousness” of our evidence. It seems unlikely to us that normal, honest, intelligent, psychologically-functioning people can be on both sides of a dispute where the evidence clearly favors one side. I don’t think this feeling is entirely warranted. Even good and intelligent people can be legitimately confused about things at times, especially when we take into account the depth of entanglement people have with a whole host of different assumptions about the universe, etc. However, I think I agree that there does seem to come a point where the evidence is so clear that we have to start asking deeper questions about why people will not or cannot see what is obvious. Both Darwinists and creationists generally see the creation-evolution controversy in this light. Creationists (and many theists in general) often argue that a fundamental pride and rebellious attitude towards the true God is what motivates people to be naturalists and Darwinists. Pride and rebellion cause them to suppress the truth, thus distorting their processes of reasoning so that they miss the obvious and end up endorsing nonsense, despite the intelligence of many naturalists which, if not subjected to their rebellious spirit, would lead them in a totally different direction. Paul, in Romans 1:18-32 in the Bible, provides a good example of typical theistic reasoning about why naturalists really believe what they believe despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

By the way, in case anyone hasn’t detected it by now, I am a Christian and a creationist. I don’t particularly enjoy getting into motives too much, but I have to agree with CJO that sometimes it is necessary to do so. However, thoughts about motives should not take away from what in my last post I called “the real question,” which is the state of the evidence. Sometimes discussions about motives can degenerate into ad hominem arguments and simply name-calling, which, of course, should never replace serious evaluation and argumentation.

Comment #176558

Posted by Criz on May 18, 2007 12:52 PM (e)

A remember children, the next time that nice politician says they’re going to take the “common sense” approach, what they really means is: “NO EXPERTS”.

Comment #176571

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 18, 2007 1:14 PM (e)

I should have written the following less ambiguously:

or alternatively, has let intuition go where possible (obviously, in the social sphere there often is no substitute for intuition).

as:

or alternatively, has let go of intuition as the deciding factor where possible (obviously, in the social sphere there often is no substitute for intuition).

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #176572

Posted by CJO on May 18, 2007 1:14 PM (e)

Paul, in Romans 1:18-32 in the Bible, provides a good example of typical theistic reasoning about why naturalists really believe what they believe despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

Well, kudos for thoughtful engagement, Mark. We don’t see a lot of that from “the other side” around here. Very adult of you. ;-)

It would be a side-track to ask you to unpack this “obvious evidence to the contrary” of “naturalism,” but let me just inquire: are you equating science as it is practiced with a philosophical system? Because surely you are aware that practicing scientists come from all philosophical and religious traditions. Further methodological naturalism is, by definition, a method, and methods are not subject to contradiction by fact.

Comment #176573

Posted by harold on May 18, 2007 1:15 PM (e)

Mark Haussam -

Thank you for your civil tone. On this particular forum, I try to strike a balance between expressing strong convictions, yet permitting instructive dialogue to unfold.

As you may see, I conjecture that what might be termed a sociopolitical agenda drives creationism (and not the other way around).

Can you please tell me how you feel that the law of the land (human law) should deal with the following issues? For each please state whether 1) the law should be determined by a majority of voters, or a law should be in place which cannot be overturned by democratic process, 2) whether the activity in question should be legal or illegal, 3) how the law should be enforced, and 4) how offendors should be punished - please be specific. 5) Also, if you feel that God will punish third parties in the same geographic vicinity if any of these activities occur, please specify that.

a) private homosexual acts between consenting adults
b) private heterosexual sex between unmarried consenting adults
c) gay marriage or unions
d) abortion, where a woman is pregnant due to a rape
e) abortion, where the future fertility of the woman is threatened by the pregnancy
f) use of images showing nudity or consensual sexuality, between adults, by adults.
g) mandatory Christian prayer in public schools
h) open practice of Islam, Wiccan, or other non-Christian religions, by otherwise law-abiding people.
i) corporal punishment by a Christian male to his “disobedient” wife.
j) a woman suing a man for divorce (any grounds)
k) a Christian male using severe corporal punishment to enforce religious behavior among his children.

Please answer.

Comment #176580

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 18, 2007 1:32 PM (e)

Both Darwinists and creationists generally see the creation-evolution controversy in this light. Creationists (and many theists in general) often argue that a fundamental pride and rebellious attitude towards the true God is what motivates people to be naturalists and Darwinists.

I’d guess that the total lack of evidence for this ad hominem attack is the reason why most reject it without considering it too closely.

Pride and rebellion cause them to suppress the truth, thus distorting their processes of reasoning so that they miss the obvious and end up endorsing nonsense, despite the intelligence of many naturalists which, if not subjected to their rebellious spirit, would lead them in a totally different direction.

Yes, that’s also the Mormon position on those who reject Joseph Smith, and the Seventh-day Adventist position on those who reject their prophet, Ellen White. On the face of it, such “explanations” are simply reactive protections of certain belief systems which cannot hold up to examination.

Paul, in Romans 1:18-32 in the Bible, provides a good example of typical theistic reasoning about why naturalists really believe what they believe despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

Paul was not responding to a modern theory based upon and explaining masses of evidence, nor could anybody at that time. That anyone would even use the reasoning of Paul, when he couldn’t even hope to respond to evolutionary theory as it stands in the year 2007, indicates a far from reasoning attitude and a resort to mere authority in the face of questioning of a position.

By the way, in case anyone hasn’t detected it by now, I am a Christian and a creationist. I don’t particularly enjoy getting into motives too much, but I have to agree with CJO that sometimes it is necessary to do so.

More like, it is usually necessary to do so, at least for a full accounting. The motivations of scientists and of science in general are not greatly different from those of other people, including creationists, at least not with respect to their personal and psychological aspects. It is the system of science (checks and balances) that typically prevents motivations and prejudices from compromising the collective processes of science.

However, thoughts about motives should not take away from what in my last post I called “the real question,” which is the state of the evidence.

That isn’t in question, as has been demonstrated exhaustively on this forum. However I do recognize that your side has little in their arsenal except the constant drumbeat of charges that there are “questions”, no matter how many times these have been adequately answered.

Sometimes discussions about motives can degenerate into ad hominem arguments and simply name-calling, which, of course, should never replace serious evaluation and argumentation.

Yes, or they can turn into special pleading and unreasonable objections when the side that can’t present meaningful arguments reacts to sound judgments of same.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #176581

Posted by Nathan Parker on May 18, 2007 1:34 PM (e)

Mike Elzinga wrote:

There has always been anecdotal evidence of persistent misconceptions that were traceable to the experiences and preconceptions students bring with them into a physics course. Now, with over 40 years of formal research into these misconceptions, the Physics Education Research community has produced an extensive catalog of these problems in nearly every area of physics.

Does this catalog exist in print anywhere?

Comment #176582

Posted by New Commentor on May 18, 2007 1:38 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

Paul, in Romans 1:18-32 in the Bible, provides a good example of typical theistic reasoning about why naturalists really believe what they believe despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

By the way, in case anyone hasn’t detected it by now, I am a Christian and a creationist. I don’t particularly enjoy getting into motives too much, but I have to agree with CJO that sometimes it is necessary to do so. However, thoughts about motives should not take away from what in my last post I called “the real question,” which is the state of the evidence. Sometimes discussions about motives can degenerate into ad hominem arguments and simply name-calling, which, of course, should never replace serious evaluation and argumentation.

I looked up Paul 1:18-32 at http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=52&…. Here are some of the highlights:

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another….

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion….

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

I guess Mark believes he is not engaging in ad hominem attacks if he simply refers us to the Bible, where he is content to let God do the ad hominem attacking for him. Good thing Mark doesn’t think ad hominem attacks should replace serious argument.

Comment #176584

Posted by New Commentor on May 18, 2007 1:41 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

Paul, in Romans 1:18-32 in the Bible, provides a good example of typical theistic reasoning about why naturalists really believe what they believe despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

By the way, in case anyone hasn’t detected it by now, I am a Christian and a creationist. I don’t particularly enjoy getting into motives too much, but I have to agree with CJO that sometimes it is necessary to do so. However, thoughts about motives should not take away from what in my last post I called “the real question,” which is the state of the evidence. Sometimes discussions about motives can degenerate into ad hominem arguments and simply name-calling, which, of course, should never replace serious evaluation and argumentation.

I looked up Paul 1:18-32 at http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=52&…. Here are some of the highlights:

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another….

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion….

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

I guess Mark believes he is not engaging in ad hominem attacks if he simply refers us to the Bible, where he is content to let God do the ad hominem attacking for him. Good thing Mark doesn’t think ad hominem attacks should replace serious argument.

Comment #176589

Posted by Larry Gilman on May 18, 2007 1:56 PM (e)

I have sent the following note to the authors of the Science article.

Mr. Bloom and Ms. Weisberg,

As an example of resistance to “certain scientific findings” (“Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science,” Science, 18 May 2007), you mention that “debates about the moral status of embryos, fetuses, stem cells, and nonhuman animals are sometimes framed in terms of whether or not these entities possess immaterial souls.” However, you cite no scientific work on the existence of souls and also refer to the nonexistence of souls, somewhat confusingly, as a “hypothesis.” Is it a finding or a hypothesis? If the former, to what experiments do you refer? If the latter, how can disbelief in a hypothesis be characterized a form of resistance to “findings”?

Possibly the findings you have in mind are the numerous studies correlating neural events with mental events. Since “soul” is not, in the discursive context you cite, synonymous with mental events—believers seem to aver that soul persists during unconsciousness—these studies neither confirm nor disconfirm the existence of “soul.” It may be difficult to say what believers do in fact mean by “soul”; if so, all the more reason not to characterize their belief as science-resistant.

You seem to equate the holding of untestable religious beliefs with “resistance to science.” However congenial you may find such an equation, it is not a scientific one.

Sincerely,

Larry Gilman

Comment #176590

Posted by raven on May 18, 2007 2:05 PM (e)

Paul in Romans:
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another….

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion….

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Well there you have it from Mark the creo dude. Scientists accept evolution because they are evil depraved fags. Or course, like all creos he has no evidence about anything because they just make things up and lie a lot. BTW, Mark, evolution is not a religion. But people who accept the real world are of many religions as well as none, including mainstream protestants, catholics, hindus, moslems, mormons etc..After you have finished insulting the majority of people on this planet, what are you going to do for an encore?

Comment #176591

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 18, 2007 2:05 PM (e)

It is easy to construct a psychological account of why just about anyone does just about anything.

It is not necessarily easy to construct a sound psychological account.

If you don’t like someone’s beliefs, or you take them to be false, you can always come up with some account of a non-rational process that is the REAL reason why they believe it.

Do you believe that ideas lacking in evidence are believed by many people? Would it make sense to ignore the reasons that such ideas gain currency, when it is not the evidence which leads them to so believe?

But being able to come up with a seemingly plausible “psychoanalytic” speculation about people’s beliefs is quite a different thing from actually proving that they believe what they believe for those reasons.

Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with the bases for psychological explanation. Indeed, correlation is frequently followed to putative causation in the case of many scientific hypotheses, and especially in the psychological realm.

When it is social psychology we have better reasons to accept correlation as causation, when purported “cause” and “effect” are properly tested via the use of statistical means.

If you were interested in doing more than simply protecting your belief system, you might have noticed that the paper’s conclusions weren’t “creationism=childhood misconceptions held into adulthood”, it was “two belief systems which rely on ‘intuition’=childhood misconceptions held into adulthood” (I base this on what Nick wrote).

If creationism were unique among beliefs as having no basis in the evidence, it might be difficult to pin down the cause of its being held by many minds. But we see patterns among essentially evidence-free beliefs, such as wishful thinking, a privileging of “intuition” over rigorous considerations of evidence (or the conflation of the two), and pre-emptive ad hominem attacks on the scientific viewpoint and those who accept the latter.

These are all considered to be “childish” or “aspects of childhood psychology”, even if my first post on this thread questioned such designations (but not their conclusions based upon those designations). So while I have my doubts about it being the best way of interpreting the cognitive and psychological aspects of creationism/New Age/nihilistic forms of postmodernism, etc., I cannot disagree that they’re on the right track.

(This is probably one of the reasons Freud has become so discredited.)

Freud is not “so discredited”. Perhaps more to the point, depth psychology is considered by, probably, most who have studied it to have good explanatory powers, if it is rather difficult to actually subject to falsification tests. Freud is often discredited for a rather simplistic view of the psyche, its forces, and its evolution, and ramming his “explanations” along the simple lines he mapped out near the beginning of his psychoanalytical method. But Nietzsche, Jung, Freud, and other “depth psychologists” are thought by many to deal with crucial aspects of the brain which cannot be readily dealt with by any other approach at this time.

I could construct just as plausible an account of why people believe in naturalism and Darwinism.

Here’s a hint about doing so: It needs to be based on actual evidence, and not on the imaginings of biased religious folk. And as such, you are very unlikely to come up with a plausible generalization of why people “believe in naturalism and Darwinism,” for there is so much variety among “Darwinists” (your pathetic little ad hominem attack on us), from strongly religious folk to stark atheists, that the commonalities (other than an honest approach to matters like the “natural world”) are rather less obvious than the differences.

I’d like to see you try to honestly explain why strongly anti-religious folk like PZ Myers and committed religious folk like the Dalai Lama and the last pope (this one looks shaky) accepted the virtually the same explanation (at within the biological realm) for the patterns in biology. That the evidence is seen to be in favor of the theory appears to be the only realistic explanation.

Such storytelling should not function as a replacement for the real question (with regard to creationists, Darwinists, or anyone else): Are these beliefs true? Do they match the evidence or not?

Since most people really can’t handle the evidence in that manner, the fact that those who accept evolution constitute a pluralistic bunch of theists and non-theists, Westerners and non-Westerners, and the vast majority of biologists, becomes an important indication to “most people”. As far as whether or not they match the evidence, it’s more than a little bizarre that you would come onto a forum in which this is discussed regularly and imply that we have neglected this question.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #176593

Posted by Moses on May 18, 2007 2:08 PM (e)

Comment #176512

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 18, 2007 9:36 AM (e)

It is easy to construct a psychological account of why just about anyone does just about anything. If you don’t like someone’s beliefs, or you take them to be false, you can always come up with some account of a non-rational process that is the REAL reason why they believe it. But being able to come up with a seemingly plausible “psychoanalytic” speculation about people’s beliefs is quite a different thing from actually proving that they believe what they believe for those reasons. (This is probably one of the reasons Freud has become so discredited.)

The highlighted is pretty funny. With advances in neuropsychology, much of Freud’s previously “discredited” work as been “re-credited.” And, of course, much of his work was not “discredited” in any case and has proved to be a fecund breeding ground for advances. OTOH, Freud was a pioneer. And while pioneers may be giants, they’re going into uncharted territory and they will simply not get everything right.

I could construct just as plausible an account of why people believe in naturalism and Darwinism. Such storytelling should not function as a replacement for the real question (with regard to creationists, Darwinists, or anyone else): Are these beliefs true? Do they match the evidence or not?

It’s one thing to make grandiose claims, another to actually follow through and prove it. And, really, rather than worry about this, I’d just like a testable theory of ID. You don’t even have to do it. Just find one instead of worrying about whether or not this scientific paper passes scrutiny.

Comment #176596

Posted by raven on May 18, 2007 2:27 PM (e)

Mark the creo guy:
I could construct just as plausible an account of why people believe in naturalism and Darwinism.

Probably not. People accept naturalism and evolution because they explain the real world. They are also useful, having brought us from the dark ages to the 21st century. We’ve rehashed evolution a lot on this thread and some of us have even added to the mountain of evidence.

However, the law of gravity is still open. So is the germ theory of disease and quantum mechanics. So construct your “plausible an account” of those. If you get stuck, goddidit is a useful phrase.

Comment #176599

Posted by Frank J on May 18, 2007 2:36 PM (e)

Harold wrote:

Creationism and ID are effectively part of an authoritarian political system.

Exactly. And in such a system there are leaders and followers, though sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who. But clearly some leaders must know that they are peddling nonsense, especially when they invoke the “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy.

When I say that I think that they honestly believe that life is designed, I only mean in the same sense that theistic evolutionists do. My personal suspicion is that most or all professional anti-evolutionists are privately TEs, but despise the public promotion of TE arguments more than anything. In fact they occasionally admit that they despise the TE approach even more than “atheistic” defenses of evolution. Of course they only admit that when they know that they can’t get away with the false dichotomy. Similarly, they almost always try the “we’re science too” first, then fall back on the “evolution is religion too” tactic when their bluff is called.

It’s all a scam, and the more we try to make excuses for it as an honest, but misguided belief, the harder our job will be.

Comment #176600

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 18, 2007 2:38 PM (e)

I have sent the following note to the authors of the Science article.

Mr. Bloom and Ms. Weisberg,

As an example of resistance to “certain scientific findings” (“Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science,” Science, 18 May 2007), you mention that “debates about the moral status of embryos, fetuses, stem cells, and nonhuman animals are sometimes framed in terms of whether or not these entities possess immaterial souls.”

I would agree that this is not a very good argument where morality and ethics are concerned, for morality and ethics are based upon constructs which in turn are based in human senses of worth, value, and societally-given beliefs about what a human “is”. Or in other words, our society is sensibly founded upon a (Judeo-)Xian world view, and saying that one is wrong to look at fetuses and nonhuman animals in terms of “soul” constructs is about as sensible as saying that justice is impossible to attain because our judicial system is predicated on the fiction (it’s a fiction in the traditional sense, at least) of “free will”.

Nonetheless, in the matter of science, scientific explanations supplant non-scientific ones, they often do not experimentally void them. Otherwise we’d have to give ID some credence, as we can’t possibly demonstrate that “natural means” of evolution can account for absolutely everything, or that the Designer didn’t step in at some point (whether or not “natural means” were shown to be sufficient at these points).

However, you cite no scientific work on the existence of souls and also refer to the nonexistence of souls, somewhat confusingly, as a “hypothesis.”

You got them there. It’s not a hypothesis, it’s a (scientifically) useless holdover from mythic accounts in any scientific framework.

Is it a finding or a hypothesis? If the former, to what experiments do you refer? If the latter, how can disbelief in a hypothesis be characterized a form of resistance to “findings”?

The findings are that biology and physics are sufficient to explain everything that has been adequately investigated, plus anything else would tend to imply violations of the laws of thermodynamics. The soul does not fit into science, though I reiterate that neither do any number of assumptions which are considered to be reasonable fictions in moral and legal debates.

Possibly the findings you have in mind are the numerous studies correlating neural events with mental events. Since “soul” is not, in the discursive context you cite, synonymous with mental events—believers seem to aver that soul persists during unconsciousness—these studies neither confirm nor disconfirm the existence of “soul.” It may be difficult to say what believers do in fact mean by “soul”; if so, all the more reason not to characterize their belief as science-resistant.

Another way of looking at this is that adding on, or assuming, the soul does not automatically disqualify one from science. But it has no place in the discussion of scientific matters, and it is not a “rival explanation” for anything in the usual sense of “explanation.”

What is laughable is that Bloom and Weisberg think that debates about life and its valuation at stages and across species ought to boil down to scientific facts. That is an egregious scientism which fails to recognize its own place in society.

You seem to equate the holding of untestable religious beliefs with “resistance to science.” However congenial you may find such an equation, it is not a scientific one.

It depends on the religious belief—whether it is considered to be an untestable belief not in competition with scientific explanations, or if it really wants to void science in favor of “soul” and other beliefs. I take it that you, Larry Gilman, are not disagreeing with Bloom and Weisberg’s presumed opposition to, say, Paul Nelson’s privileging of “agency” (obviously something like “soul”) over neurological and physical explanations. I’m responding to you because we do run into people like Paul Nelson (indeed, virtually all of the prominent IDists seem to have a view of mind which is magical and not unlike Paul’s view of mind), never mind that I agree with you (at least as I interpret your view) that their scientism is an illegitimate attempt to muscle those with views which differ from their own out of moral and ethical disputes.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #176603

Posted by harold on May 18, 2007 2:44 PM (e)

Mark Hausam -

No answer to my questions, I see.

Obviously I expected you not to answer.

I take it for granted that your failure to answer indicates that you hold the predictable authoritarian views on all the issues I cited. But you won’t answer, because it would “sound bad” to admit (on this forum) what you actually wish you could impose.

Prove me wrong.

To repeat…

Can you please tell me how you feel that the law of the land (human law) should deal with the following issues? For each please state whether 1) the law should be determined by a majority of voters, or a law should be in place which cannot be overturned by democratic process, 2) whether the activity in question should be legal or illegal, 3) how the law should be enforced, and 4) how offendors should be punished - please be specific. 5) Also, if you feel that God will punish third parties in the same geographic vicinity if any of these activities occur, please specify that.

a) private homosexual acts between consenting adults
b) private heterosexual sex between unmarried consenting adults
c) gay marriage or unions
d) abortion, where a woman is pregnant due to a rape
e) abortion, where the future fertility of the woman is threatened by the pregnancy
f) use of images showing nudity or consensual sexuality, between adults, by adults.
g) mandatory Christian prayer in public schools
h) open practice of Islam, Wiccan, or other non-Christian religions, by otherwise law-abiding people.
i) corporal punishment by a Christian male to his “disobedient” wife.
j) a woman suing a man for divorce (any grounds)
k) a Christian male using severe corporal punishment to enforce religious behavior among his children.

Please answer.

Comment #176605

Posted by Stephen on May 18, 2007 2:51 PM (e)

When i was a kid, we had Santa. Santa gave out lots of presents at Christmas. Santa was very generous. Santa also wrapped packages using the same wrapping paper and labels that Mom and Dad used. It was all with a wink of the eye.

My son, at maybe seven, asked me point blank: “Does Santa exist?” And i answered, “Are you likely to get more presents if he doesn’t?”

This faith-shattering custom is healthy. But with Global Warming, Santa’s North Pole hideout is in danger. And soon, very likely in my life time, we’ll have an ice-free Arctic Ocean. It will be the death of Santa.

And unlike for Falwell, i’ll hold a euolgy for Santa, praising his great deeds.

This idea that the Creationists hold a get-out-of-jail ticket is absurd. If they’d read the Bible, they’d know that “The road to salvation is narrow - like the razor’s edge.” And “Many are called, but few are chosen”. And so on. Spouting lies is not on the path. It says so in Exodus, in no uncertain terms.

Comment #176606

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 18, 2007 2:53 PM (e)

Nathan Parker asks in Comment #176581 if there exists a catalog in print of the misconceptions students bring with them into physics courses.

I wasn’t using the word “catalog” in the same way you are apparently using it (a single book with a list of these), however there is a whole literature of this material distributed in journals and books. There is something close to what you are asking about in one of the more recent (within the last two years) issues of the American Journal of Physics that is in the form of a review article.

Here are a few places to pick up the thread.

The American Journal of Physics now contains a section on Physics Education Research (PER). At fairly regular intervals, AJP contains a section of review articles summarizing a field. There was one on PER within the last couple of years, as I mentioned above.

Physical Review ST PER is also a source of articles.

The American Physical Society Forum on Education now has articles (many are summaries or condensations of other articles published in AJP of PR ST PER).

A book of interest is A Guide to Introductory Physics Teaching by Arnold B. Arons, Wiley, 1990. Arons was one of the prime movers to formalize the area of Physics Education Research. This particular book covers only a few introductory areas of physics, but the bibliography points to a lot of other research that had taken place up to the time of the publication of that book.

The original center, and one of the main sources of this kind of research, is the University of Washington’s Physics Education Group (http://www.phys.washington.edu/groups/peg/peginf… )

I am not familiar with any similar kinds of research in biology, but some of the fundamental technical concepts related to biology and evolution (statistics, randomness, chaos, attractors, the laws of thermodynamics, and other ideas that overlap physics) are dealt with in some of the PER literature.

This should give you a good start.

To any biologist out there: Are there any similar activities dealing with the study of misconceptions in biology?

Comment #176608

Posted by Peter on May 18, 2007 2:54 PM (e)

One of the other assumptions that seems to be going into this is that kids don’t figure out for themselves that these ideas are transparently stupid.

Comment #176613

Posted by Peter on May 18, 2007 3:31 PM (e)

Regarding the issue of authoritarianism:
Bruce E. Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer, authors of Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study of America’s Nonbelievers (ISBN: 1591024137) found that fundamentalist Christians and Muslims both had considerably higher levels of authoritarian political beliefs than atheists and generally higher than the rest of the population. Their sample was rather small but it has been consistent over several years. I believe these ideas are further fleshed out in Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism by Altemeyer.

Comment #176614

Posted by Bunjo on May 18, 2007 3:32 PM (e)

Very interesting debate. I think a good long look at cultural history might explain some of the things we see today.

For two, three, or four thousand years many religions have existed in fairly static cultures. What change occurred was mediated by the religious leaders (and often revolved around matters of religious interpretation). The members of those religions were led to believe that only their leaders could interpret the will of their god(s) (i.e. how the world worked). Successful religions put in place rituals, rules, threats of Hell, expulsion etc., which like any successful meme weeded out the non-believers.

Come the Enlightenment, or similar outburst of non-religious thought in other cultures, huge amounts of new information about how the world works comes to light (no pun!). It is not ‘revealed wisdom’ but science and new political thought. Religious hierarchies, in an attempt to defend their ‘meme’ can either:
a) incorporate the new information into their religious framework
b) deny that the information exists

The facts of evolution, the long age of the earth, and that there are many other religions and cultures, are a massive challenge to those religions which base their worldview on a few old ‘divinely inspired’ documents or oral traditions.

Some religions/sects/philosophies are trying to incorporate the new information into their world view (e.g. mainstream Christianity and the Theory of Evolution). Some more recent religions/sects/philosophies (e.g. the naive Biblicists, Marxism?) are still struggling unconsciously to secure their meme and see no option but to deny contrary evidence. If the evidence “does not exist” as a matter of “common sense” or dogma, you don’t have to look at it, you don’t have to think about it, you can call it rubbish or a conspiracy.

When contrary evidence is presented to a creationist I believe that they see it as a ‘ploy’ to get him/her to change their cultural allegiance. This is a huge world shaking step for them, particularly if their culture is an authoritarian naive biblical one. Rather than take that huge step they prefer to deny the rational need to change. I can see why, even if I think that they end up betraying their intellectual birthright.

Comment #176620

Posted by David Stanton on May 18, 2007 3:55 PM (e)

In my opinion there are two main factors that help the process of intellectual development from the stage of intuitive understanding to a more critical scientific examination of the universe. First, one must learn the scientific method. It must be applied to questions where the intuitive answer is not correct. It must be learned to be superior to intuition. It must be learned to be trusted as a more reliable, although not always perfect, way to answer questions about the nature of the real world. The value of empiricism is something that must also be learned from experience. Second, the scientific method must be used to examine one’s most deeply held beliefs. Those beliefs must be held up to the same scrutiny as any other beliefs. Those beliefs should not be allowed to remain unchallenged simply because it is threatening to do so. Indeed, just the opposite is true. Evidence pertaining to such beliefs must be examined and critically evaluated. If this does not occur, then those beliefs are of no value. A wise man once said that what you believe is not as important as why you believe it, and I was right.

Those trained in the sciences usually have such experiences. Those not trained in science often do not. Those trained in Biology are almost certainly exposed to the evidence for evolution. It is the rare biologist who is not persuaded by this evidence that evolution actually occurred.

Mike,

Good question. Yes, there is a rather extensive literature on the effect of misconceptions and prior biases on learning in Biology. Much of this literature can be found in the journal The American Biology Teacher (which is incidentally the journal that Dobzhansky made his famous quote in). Here are a few references. Others should feel free to add to the list.

McKeachie, Lin and Stryer (2002) Creationist vs Evolutionary Beliefs: Effects on Learning Biology. American Biology Teacher 64(3):189-192.

Cooper (2002) Scientific Knowledge of the Past is Possible: Confronting Myths about Evolution and Scientific Methods. American Biology Teacher 64(6):427-423.

Rutledge and Mitchell (2002) High School Biology Teachers’ Knowledge Structure, Acceptance and Teaching of Evolution. American Biology Teacher 64(1):21-28.

Comment #176626

Posted by David Stanton on May 18, 2007 4:38 PM (e)

Forgot this one:

Verhey (2005) The Effect of Engaging Prior Learning on Student Attitudes Toward Creationism and Evolution. Bioscience 55(1):996-1003.

Comment #176633

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 18, 2007 5:04 PM (e)

Verhey (2005) The Effect of Engaging Prior Learning on Student Attitudes
Toward Creationism and Evolution. Bioscience 55(1):996-1003.

Verhey’s paper, although I liked it for making use of my Icons of Evolution critique, got some statistical criticisms on PT: http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/12/teac…

Comment #176634

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 18, 2007 5:09 PM (e)

CJO, thank you for your civil tone as well. It is appreciated, especially when the atmosphere of these sorts of conversations is so often so negatively charged with vitriol.

I do feel that the strong commitment to Darwinism and strong antipathy to creationism in the mainstream scientific community stems greatly from a methodological commitment to naturalism. I recognize that there are many worldviews represented in the scientific community, but the imposition of methodological naturalism does unite science with a particular philosophical worldview; and I think that the main reason methodological naturalism is so generally accepted as a good methodology in science when it comes to origins or the history of life is that many scientists are either naturalists or have thinking that consistently or inconsistently leans towards naturalism or at least puts more trust in naturalism in some areas (particularly science) than, say, information coming from the Bible. As a Christian, I don’t like methodological naturalism as an assumption because it seems counter-productive to assume something you don’t believe to be true in order to find truth. Why should I assume naturalism when I am doing science if naturalism isn’t correct? For me to assume naturalism in science would be like an atheist assuming, purely for the sake of method, that the Bible is literally true when doing science. That would, of course, be ridiculous. Why is it any less ridiculous for a Christian to assume naturalism? Your starting assumptions influence your conclusions. One of the main creationist claims is that the evidence for Darwinism is only greatly compelling when one assumes naturalism. If you assume naturalism, something like Darwinism has got to be the way life arose (what other plausible naturalistic possibilities are there?), and so a commitment to naturalism makes the evidence for Darwinism seem incredibly compelling. But if you start with the assumption of Christian theism and the infallibility of the Bible, the evidence for Darwinism is at least far less impressive. Creationism of some sort seems the more rational alternative.

To Harold: I don’t want to go into detail here on all of the issues you raised. I’m not worried about “sounding bad,” (haven’t I already blown that one by admitting that I am a creationist?) but I don’t think it would be appropriate to describe my views on this subject in too much depth on this forum. I can give you some answer, though. I do believe that the law of the land should be based on the law of God (Romans 13:1-7). Obviously, this belief of mine has roots in other, deeper beliefs that I cannot exhaustively explain or defend in this forum. I don’t think that view is against the idea of the sort of democracy we have in America. Most people think that there should be some things recognized in the law (such as adult human beings having a right to life, treating all races equally) that are incapable of being overturned by majority vote, while other things should be left to the majority. I think that the authority of government is instituted by God and owes allegiance to him and to his law as that law is revealed both in nature and in the Bible. I believe that the moral law of the Old Testament and some of the judicial laws of the Old Testament are binding on modern societies.

Now, lest anyone think I want to take over the government and enforce biblical morality, let me reassure you (at least a little). I don’t believe the Bible authorizes a forceful (meaning violent) imposition of the biblical worldview and morality on a non-Christian society. I do think the government and our public society should be thoroughly Christian and based on the Bible, but I think that has to be accomplished by converting individual people to Christianity and influencing the culture and government in non-violent ways. In other words, I believe in doing what naturalists typically believe in doing to influence the government and society in naturalistic directions–call me CFI in reverse (sort of). : )

To all those who have accused me of making ad hominem arguments–I wasn’t describing Christian accounts of naturalistic motives in order to argue against naturalism; I was just pointing out how some Christians and creationists see things. You missed my main point: We should NOT rely on ad hominem arguments but deal with the evidence. And, of course, I know that this forum has dealt extensively with arguments relating to evolution; I wasn’t attempting to deny that. I was just warning against something we all are tempted to do, and against something that I think is very common in naturalist responses to theism and Darwinist responses to creationism.

Anyway, if anyone wishes to talk with me about any of these things further, please don’t hesitate to email me ([Enable javascript to see this email address.]). I would love to continue the conversation–but not on this forum, since that is not its purpose. Unless you are responding to something related to the purpose of this forum.

Comment #176645

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on May 18, 2007 5:37 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

For me to assume naturalism in science would be like an atheist assuming, purely for the sake of method, that the Bible is literally true when doing science. That would, of course, be ridiculous. Why is it any less ridiculous for a Christian to assume naturalism?

Because when “doing science”, naturalism works (that is, it produces results that anyone else can duplicate regardless of what they believe, and it is logically consistent with results from other scientific endeavors), and Biblical literalism doesn’t (that is, it produces apologetics and little else).

Comment #176648

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 18, 2007 5:40 PM (e)

I do feel that the strong commitment to Darwinism and strong antipathy to creationism in the mainstream scientific community stems greatly from a methodological commitment to naturalism.

however, unlike your accusation of the writers of the science article, you are indeed “spinning stories”, as you have absolutely no independent evidence other than your own intuitions to support this charge.

you REALLY should read that paper closely, as much of it applies directly to you.

who knows? you might actually learn something.

Comment #176649

Posted by David Stanton on May 18, 2007 5:40 PM (e)

Mark, wrote:

“I recognize that there are many worldviews represented in the scientific community, but the imposition of methodological naturalism does unite science with a particular philosophical worldview;”

I don’t believe that the method you choose to investigate nature, because it has proven to be a successful method, constrains you to any world view. Indeed this comment seems to disprove itself.

If I choose to use a ruler to measure length, does that mean I am philosophicallly opposed to using calipers? Especially if I choose a ruler because it has consistently given more accurate results when measuring certain types of things?

Likewise, doing science doesn’t mean you can’t be spiritual, religious or whatever. Methodological naturalism is distinct from philosophical naturalism. The two need not be inexorably linked together.

As for the relevance of this to the topic at hand, some begin life having been brought up in a religious tradition. If they cannot incorporate methodological naturalism into their world view at least long enough to try doing some science, then they might never gain an appreciation for the power of this approach.

Comment #176652

Posted by Carl Rennie on May 18, 2007 5:59 PM (e)

Creationist Mark wrote:

For me to assume naturalism in science would be like an atheist assuming, purely for the sake of method, that the Bible is literally true when doing science. That would, of course, be ridiculous. Why is it any less ridiculous for a Christian to assume naturalism? Your starting assumptions influence your conclusions.

Naturalism is a good framework for science because it works. If scriptural literalism (any set of scriptures) or supernaturalism turned out better results than naturalism on a consistent basis, then that’s what scientists would be using. The fact is that the amazing technological advances of the last few centuries haven’t come from people seeking direct intercession of the gods.

This also seems to conflict with your next point, that:

We should NOT rely on ad hominem arguments but deal with the evidence.

Science which relies on naturalism is evidentiary at its core. Scientists don’t come up with neat explanations for things that make other learned men nod sagely and say, “yeah, that makes sense.” They come up with explanations that have, as part of their structure, predictions about other evidence to look for which would confirm or deny the hypothesis.

Scriptural learning, on the other hand, suggests a baseline of unquestionable fact and demands that all evidence be interpreted or discarded based on how well it fits with that revealed wisdom.

Comment #176660

Posted by Science Avenger on May 18, 2007 6:48 PM (e)

One of the other assumptions that seems to be going into this is that kids don’t figure out for themselves that these ideas are transparently stupid.

I am surrounded by people who can’t see the transparent stupidity of a god becoming a person to die (but not really) to pay, for the sake of all people, a debt to himself created because of something done by the ancestors of those people, which of course was part of his divine plan all along, but he loves us and would have sent us to eternal torment otherwise. Why should I expect them to see the transparent stupidity of creationism?

Comment #176665

Posted by Frank J on May 18, 2007 7:07 PM (e)

Mark Hausam:

If you are still checking replies and prefer a different forum, may I suggest talk.origins? An email debate misses the point. No one is trying to change your mind (if you even believe what most infer from your posts), and you won’t change the mind of us “Darwinists.” But there are many lurkers who might learn something from the exchange. I can’t vouch for all us “Darwinists” (OK, actually I’m a “Kauffmaniac” but that’s another story) but I for one will be polite and respectful.

Comment #176672

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 18, 2007 7:31 PM (e)

Mark Hausam,

So how old do you think the Earth is? (And if you have a bit of time, why?)

Comment #176674

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 18, 2007 7:38 PM (e)

Mark Hausam’s misconception about the processes of scientific research and validation of evidence is one of the persistent misconceptions I was referring to in my earlier comments. I think it was Philip E. Johnson (the lawyer) who turned this misconception into a “philosophical” argument about the foundations of scientific discovery, conflating methodological naturalism with philosophical naturalism in the process.

The misconception is tied to the concept of “higher authority”. In the minds of the ID/creationists, the higher the perception of the source of authority, the more valid are its pronouncements. Therefore, a statement by a PhD carries more weight than that of an MS which, in turn, carries more weigh than a BS or a high school diploma. This seems to be related to the trend of ID/Creationists seeking not only advanced degrees, but multiple advanced degrees.

In the type of venues preferred by ID/Creationists (choreographed debates, kangaroo courts, bully pulpits, etc.), these kinds of “credentials” are more impressive and therefore are closer representations of “Truth”. Of course, the perception that the Christian bible is the word of the highest authority in the universe, namely the Christian god, means that any pronouncements made there are above anything else that can be pronounced.

What the philosophical arguments of the ID/Creationist proponents seem to miss is that there are things in this universe that can be independently investigated and verified by others who don’t necessarily have to hold the same philosophical views. The venues in which science takes place are not those that the ID/Creationists choose. Instead, scientific arguments require independently verifiable evidence (not a surprise to those of us who have practice science all our lives). Scientific understanding and advancement no longer take place in choreographed debates by people sporting “impressive credentials” as emblems of their authority. As the title of a famous handbook states “A PhD is not enough”. Evidence is what counts, and the evidence needs to be robust in the sense that science has come to understand it. It has taken a few hundred years for science to free itself from the pronouncements of “authoritative theists” of the past. Citing them simply confirms the misconceptions held by the individual who choose to do this.

The PhD is supposed to indicate only that one has learned how to formulate questions and carry out research that others can also verify and validate. The PhD is not a title that gives one’s opinions or philosophical views equal weight to other PhD’s.

However, as the evidence over the years has shown, fundamental misconceptions can propagate all the way through a PhD’s training without necessarily being evident to the mentors. What then occurs is a PhD who has the illusion of authority yet is incapable of grasping the relevant issues in science, formulating answerable questions, or carrying out any research that adds anything significant to our understanding.

Comment #176677

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 18, 2007 7:43 PM (e)

Mark Hausam’s misconception about the processes of scientific research and validation of evidence is one of the persistent misconceptions I was referring to in my earlier comments. I think it was Philip E. Johnson (the lawyer) who turned this misconception into a “philosophical” argument about the foundations of scientific discovery, conflating methodological naturalism with philosophical naturalism in the process.

The misconception is tied to the concept of “higher authority”. In the minds of the ID/creationists, the higher the perception of the source of authority, the more valid are its pronouncements. Therefore, a statement by a PhD carries more weight than that of an MS which, in turn, carries more weigh than a BS or a high school diploma. This seems to be related to the trend of ID/Creationists seeking not only advanced degrees, but multiple advanced degrees.

In the type of venues preferred by ID/Creationists (choreographed debates, kangaroo courts, bully pulpits, etc.), these kinds of “credentials” are more impressive and therefore are closer representations of “Truth”. Of course, the perception that the Christian bible is the word of the highest authority in the universe, namely the Christian god, means that any pronouncements made there are above anything else that can be pronounced.

What the philosophical arguments of the ID/Creationist proponents seem to miss is that there are things in this universe that can be independently investigated and verified by others who don’t necessarily have to hold the same philosophical views. The venues in which science takes place are not those that the ID/Creationists choose. Instead, scientific arguments require independently verifiable evidence (not a surprise to those of us who have practice science all our lives). Scientific understanding and advancement no longer take place in choreographed debates by people sporting “impressive credentials” as emblems of their authority. As the title of a famous handbook states “A PhD is not enough”. Evidence is what counts, and the evidence needs to be robust in the sense that science has come to understand it. It has taken a few hundred years for science to free itself from the pronouncements of “authoritative theists” of the past. Citing them simply confirms the misconceptions held by the individual who choose to do this.

The PhD is supposed to indicate only that one has learned how to formulate questions and carry out research that others can also verify and validate. The PhD is not a title that gives one’s opinions or philosophical views equal weight to other PhD’s.

However, as the evidence over the years has shown, fundamental misconceptions can propagate all the way through a PhD’s training without necessarily being evident to the mentors. What then occurs is a PhD who has the illusion of authority yet is incapable of grasping the relevant issues in science, formulating answerable questions, or carrying out any research that adds anything significant to our understanding.

(If this appears twice, it is because I didn’t see it posted the first time I tried)

Comment #176695

Posted by raven on May 18, 2007 7:58 PM (e)

There is nothing in methodological naturalism that will necessarily conflict with religious beliefs. Naturalism simply says there is a real world and we will study it any way we can. It is neutral on the supernatural because it cannot be studied by humans with available tools.

Some of the findings of science conflict with some belief systems but so what. That is not science’s problem.

There are countless belief systems. Just about any one of them has a creation myth. One common one is that the universe is timeless and people have always existed. Some of the more unusual ones in the US are the moonies who believe Moon is a god and the Heaven Gaters who died to rejoin the mothership beyond the comet. By itself these belief systems are relatively harmless although a few like the HG’s were hard on the members. The harm is when one belief system seeks to impose itself on others such as by sneaking it into children’s science classes.

The other harm is that if the DI wedgies by some miracle do destroy science as they have publicly stated is their goal, a new dark ages is the likely result. The scientific worldview has produced results whereas the theological worldview has produced among other things crusades, masacres everywhere from Bosnia to Iraq, and witchhunts. It won’t happen right away but the USA will just fall behind the rest of the world who find committing technological suicide dumb. One day the USA will be a third world country and our children will be making cheap manufactured goods for Chinese owned companies.

Comment #176705

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 18, 2007 8:21 PM (e)

Mark Hausam’s misconception about the processes of scientific research and validation of evidence is one of the persistent misconceptions I was referring to in my earlier comments. I think it was Philip E. Johnson (the lawyer) who turned this misconception into a “philosophical” argument about the foundations of scientific discovery, conflating methodological naturalism with philosophical naturalism in the process.

The misconception is tied to the concept of “higher authority”. In the minds of the ID/creationists, the higher the perception of the source of authority, the more valid are its pronouncements. Therefore, a statement by a PhD carries more weight than that of an MS which, in turn, carries more weigh than a BS or a high school diploma. This seems to be related to the trend of ID/Creationists seeking not only advanced degrees, but multiple advanced degrees.

I think there is another factor in why ID/creationists make noise complaining about “methodological naturalism”: naturalism serves an excuse for the ID creationists. “The scientific community is against us because of this arbitrary philosophical rule!” is a very easy, sweeping argument to make, and once the creationists move the argument onto this ground they are distracting the debate away from the endless egregious empirical flaws in their claims. This isn’t a new tactic, Henry Morris et al. did exactly the same thing by railing against “uniformitarianism” as The Big Nasty Philosophical Rule Explaining Why The Scientists Are Against Us.

If you watch people like Phillip Johnson of Paul Nelson closely, you will see them drag out various quarter-baked science-y souding arguments. If their opponent is a philosopher this works well since the philosopher generally doesn’t know much about the relevant science (and in fact few scientists will be familiar enough with whatever random topic from finches to ORFans that the IDer pulls out). If the creationist gets challenged on the science, they can switch right over to thei philosophy arguments, which usually flumox and dodge a scientist critic. It’s quite clever. One of the most entertaining features of the Kitzmiller case, though, was that we had both ends very thoroughly covered, with the result that the IDers pinged back and forth, only to get bonked again, whack-a-mole style, wherever they popped up.

Comment #176706

Posted by rampancy on May 18, 2007 8:22 PM (e)

…am I the only one who thought the girl on the cover was kinda hot?

Oy. I’ve been working with my plants in the greenhouse for too long. I need to get out more…

Comment #176707

Posted by George Cauldron on May 18, 2007 8:24 PM (e)

I do feel that the strong commitment to Darwinism and strong antipathy to creationism in the mainstream scientific community stems greatly from a methodological commitment to naturalism.

When you consult an automobile mechanic, a plumber, or a heart surgeon, do you make sure he makes full use of the supernatural in his work? If he doesn’t, do you reject him for having ‘a methodological commitment to naturalism’?

Also, there are countless ways not to ‘a methodological commitment to naturalism’ – Christian ways, Muslim ways, Hindu ways, Wiccan ways. Do you have any compelling reason why your Christian supernaturalism is somehow just what science needs?

Comment #176711

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 18, 2007 8:33 PM (e)

whether or not methodological naturalism applies to the scientific method isn’t even the point here; it’s his contention that this is where the antipathy towards creationism stems from that’s the real issue.

trust us Mr. Hausam, in case you haven’t bothered to actually read this, or any other thread on PT carefullly, or bothered to examine the arguments about the vacuousness of ID carefully before now, the reason ID(creationism) is knocked has little to do with any purported supernatural features to it.

It’s because in the case of YEC, it’s based on false information and completely refuted information, and in the case of ID, there is nothing at all to it but hot air as soon as you scratch the surface.

so, are you implying we, as scientists, SHOULDN’T call out blatant misrepresentation and lies?

I would hope not.

Comment #176728

Posted by David Stanton on May 18, 2007 9:05 PM (e)

Rampancy,

You’re right. She’s definately hotter that the chicks on the cover in the next post down. Still, that epidemiologist babe is even hotter, in my humble opinion. Check out her web site.

Oh no, now everyone will know that I’m a bigot, or a racist, or a sexist, or a homophobe or something else really, really bad. Of well, I’m already an “evilutionist” so what does it matter?

Comment #176766

Posted by Moses on May 18, 2007 10:24 PM (e)

Comment #176614

Posted by Bunjo on May 18, 2007 3:32 PM (e)

Very interesting debate. I think a good long look at cultural history might explain some of the things we see today.

For two, three, or four thousand years many religions have existed in fairly static cultures. What change occurred was mediated by the religious leaders (and often revolved around matters of religious interpretation). The members of those religions were led to believe that only their leaders could interpret the will of their god(s) (i.e. how the world worked). Successful religions put in place rituals, rules, threats of Hell, expulsion etc., which like any successful meme weeded out the non-believers.

Surprisingly, they really weren’t that static. Sure, the people were technologically limited, but they did get around. As did their beliefs. For example, Judaism and Christianity are not ‘pure’ religions. You study history of religious origins long-enough (and keep away from the severely biased) and you can really learn a lot about the origins of both religions.

Judaism, for example is a combination of two semitic religions - a polytheistic religion from the area that became Israel and a monotheistic religion that came from what was Judea. However, other religions were incorporated, such as the first of the two creation stories in Genesis and the whole Noah’s Ark story.

Christianity, through the Essenes who spanned from Egypt to India, is a hybrid religion encompassing teachings and practices from the Cult of Osiris (baptism), Buddhism (much of the teachings of Jesus, plus the resurrection), Greek myths (Dionysus and turning water into wine) and (predominantly) Judaism in its core.

Really, the truth is gods were transportable religious commodities that moved from nation-to-nation and waxed and waned in influence depending on who was controlling the religion. God’s wife, Asheroth, was written in and out of Judaism until the 1400’s. And there are still traces of her, in a positive aspect, in the Bible if you know where to look. Though most references, direct and indirect, are very negative.

Anyway, that’s just some of it. And, while I’m sure some will want to argue, I don’t much think there is any point arguing with the religions. I’m more than happy you believe what ever silly, out-dated religious myth you want and I’m not interested in teaching you otherwise. If you want to learn, you have to get there on your own, and, frankly, most people can’t stand the journey.

But keep your mythology out of my science, mkay?

Comment #176767

Posted by stevaroni on May 18, 2007 10:27 PM (e)

strong and quite reliable psychological generalizations can be made about creationists…. an old-fashioned Baconian attitude to science (Facts good! Theories bad!!)…

That’s OK.

We’ve got all the facts on our side, too.

Comment #176771

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 18, 2007 10:42 PM (e)

This business that a “commitment to Darwinism” or to methodological naturalism is driven by an antipathy toward creationism, or a hatred of religion, or a love of atheism is really off-the-wall and overused. These are code words for “You are going to burn in Hell and I am going to laugh for eternity.”

When the ID/creationists argue that methodological naturalism rules out their own deeper insights into the universe, we have to wonder what those deeper insights are.

Just considering the monotheists alone, there is a history of centuries of infighting and killing each other in the name of their One True Intelligent Designer. And they haven’t hesitated to use the products of science and technology to do their killing more efficiently. Is this what the Designer intended? Why are there so many sects within monotheism today? Is this evidence that they have some superior insight into the workings of the universe that supersedes what science has discovered? Since they have so much antipathy toward each other, who are we to believe? From where do they really get their “values”?

How does one account for the 130+ quote-mine examples from their literature now posted at TalkOrigins.org that many people have checked out and found to be distortions? What are we to make of the distortions in the literature pouring out of the Discovery Institute? What are we to make of their track record of “scientific research” (exactly zero) confirming the existence and nature of an intelligent designer (the Christian god)?

If Mark Hausam (or any one else) wants us to believe that those promoting ID/Creationsim have anything to offer, or that their insights are as valid as those produced by the processes of science, he/she is going to have to come up with some verifiable evidence that they can be trusted and not expect us to agree to the “Rule of Authority” in making a decision about what to believe. Given their dismal track record, I think most rational people would reject them in favor of what science has been able to demonstrate. This is not scientism; it’s hard reality. Reality is tough sometimes, but better than spending an eternity in the company of a population of ID/Creationists (which could be a more realistic description of Hell).

There are many good religious people out there who have no trouble with science. I have had the good fortune over the years to have worked with people of nearly all nationalities, races, religions, and ethnic backgrounds. Most were good scientists and technicians, and did not have the obnoxious need to proselytize to others that their religious insights were superior enough to demand special consideration in public school science or in scientific research. The lack of humility in the ID/Creationists is just part of a long line of evidence of their complete lack of understanding.

Comment #176812

Posted by 2oldstroke on May 19, 2007 12:49 AM (e)

Just a simple question. Outside of those who teach evolution or ID, how does the belief in or not in macro evolution effect anything else outside of these studies?
Does it really matter except making a living teaching it? Oh, and yes we know that micro evolution exists.

Comment #176817

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 19, 2007 1:13 AM (e)

If you go away on vacation for a few weeks and a leaking faucet in your house runs into a stopped up sink, what is the difference between a small rise in water level in the sink after a few minutes and a flooded bathroom after a few days? Does it really matter to someone who thinks it is only a small leak?

Comment #176826

Posted by zagloba on May 19, 2007 2:16 AM (e)

Peter wrote:

Regarding the issue of authoritarianism:
Bruce E. Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer, authors of Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study of America’s Nonbelievers (ISBN: 1591024137) found that fundamentalist Christians and Muslims both had considerably higher levels of authoritarian political beliefs than atheists and generally higher than the rest of the population. Their sample was rather small but it has been consistent over several years. I believe these ideas are further fleshed out in Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism by Altemeyer.

See also Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians, available online.

Comment #176873

Posted by KL on May 19, 2007 7:01 AM (e)

“Just a simple question. Outside of those who teach evolution or ID, how does the belief in or not in macro evolution effect anything else outside of these studies?
Does it really matter except making a living teaching it? Oh, and yes we know that micro evolution exists.”

It should matter to EVERYONE what is taught in schools, not just to teachers. It’s interesting that you use micro- and macro- evolution as an example. Biologists don’t use those terms; they were constructed by those who want to distort evolutionary theory. It would be no different in other subjects. If someone were to teach in math that the square root of a negative number is a real number, that would be a problem because it is incorrect. Teaching that there is such thing as microevolution and macroevolution would be no different than teaching that prairie dogs are canines or that the quadratic formula only works on Mondays and Wednesdays. In addition, the term “belief” has no place in this. A colleague of mine who teaches 9th graders physics says to them daily “talk is cheap; show me the evidence”. He does more to set students on the path of understanding what science is by using this one statement.

Comment #176887

Posted by harold on May 19, 2007 7:42 AM (e)

Mark Hausam -

I don’t want to go into detail here on all of the issues you raised. I’m not worried about “sounding bad,” (haven’t I already blown that one by admitting that I am a creationist?) but I don’t think it would be appropriate to describe my views on this subject in too much depth on this forum. I can give you some answer, though. I do believe that the law of the land should be based on the law of God (Romans 13:1-7). Obviously, this belief of mine has roots in other, deeper beliefs that I cannot exhaustively explain or defend in this forum.

This is not a very honest answer. Obviously you know that you’ll sound a lot worse when you say that gay sex between consenting adults should be hunted down and punished, for example (even if you don’t outright say that the punishment should be execution, as I’m sure you will if really pressed). The devil is in the details. Glossing over the details is rarely the sign of complete honesty.

At any rate, you prove part of my point. Your political agenda is to completely eliminate the democratic, egalitarian system of government and replace it with your harsh interpretation of Biblical rule.

I don’t think that view is against the idea of the sort of democracy we have in America. Most people think that there should be some things recognized in the law (such as adult human beings having a right to life, treating all races equally) that are incapable of being overturned by majority vote, while other things should be left to the majority.

But you want to increase the list of laws that “can’t be overturned” to include laws regulating private religious and sexual behavior by consenting adults, among other things, and enforced public religious ritual submission, don’t you?

I think that the authority of government is instituted by God and owes allegiance to him and to his law as that law is revealed both in nature and in the Bible. I believe that the moral law of the Old Testament and some of the judicial laws of the Old Testament are binding on modern societies.

Hear that, everybody?

Now, lest anyone think I want to take over the government and enforce biblical morality, let me reassure you (at least a little). I don’t believe the Bible authorizes a forceful (meaning violent) imposition of the biblical worldview and morality on a non-Christian society. I do think the government and our public society should be thoroughly Christian and based on the Bible, but I think that has to be accomplished by converting individual people to Christianity and influencing the culture and government in non-violent ways.

What happens to people who never convert to your brand of Christianity? What happens to people who backslide, or adopt views you see as heretical?

In other words, I believe in doing what naturalists typically believe in doing to influence the government and society in naturalistic directions–call me CFI in reverse (sort of). : )

I don’t know what you mean by “naturalist”. The word is an old-fashioned one for “biologist”.

One does not have to be an atheist, nor a “materialist” (indeed, I’m neither), to adamently oppose and deplore your authoritarian fantasies.

The broader point I’m making is that although I’m sure you consciously “believe” in a so-called literal interpretation of the Bible, it’s my view that whatever pushes you toward authoritarianism and an excess interest in the private lives of others is the real motivation. Protestant-tradition fundamentalism was just the local brand of compatible post hoc justification.

Comment #176891

Posted by raven on May 19, 2007 7:56 AM (e)

2oldstroke:

Just a simple question. Outside of those who teach evolution or ID, how does the belief in or not in macro evolution effect anything else outside of these studies?
Does it really matter except making a living teaching it? Oh, and yes we know that micro evolution exists.

It only matters if you don’t want to starve or die young. Evolutionary thought has been important in agriculture and medicine for decades.

That distinction between microevolution and macroevolution is a dishonest trick that shows that……you are a creationist. Why do these so called christians lie constantly?

Lots of scientific theories don’t seem to have much impact on everyday life. Many people live their entire life without knowing about the Big Bang, protons being made of quarcks and gluons, quantum mechanics, or string theory. Part of science is just being human, curiosity and intelligence and besides, one never knows what will be useful someday.

Voluntary ignorance most likely will have little impact on your life, this is a free country, and we don’t care how ignorant you choose to be. We do care a lot when you (plural) try to force the USA back to the dark ages by sneaking your bogus stories into our children’s science classes.

Most of us would choose knowledge, education, and reason over ignorance and delusions, but maybe that is just our cultural heritage talking.

Comment #176914

Posted by David Stanton on May 19, 2007 8:39 AM (e)

2oldstroke,

One of the goals of evolutionary biology is to determine how millions of species came to be on the earth. That question is important because unless you know where something came from you can never really understand it. That is why the answer is critical to our understanding of every structure, every function, every developmental pathway, every genetic mechanism, every aspect of every lifeform on the planet. That is why the study of evolution is critical in medicine, agriculture, taxonomy, etc.

Other than that, no I guess it really doesn’t matter, unless you have some curiosity about the world around you. It doesn’t really matter unless you are ready to go beyond fairy tales, myths and “poof” thinking. Most of all, it doesn’t matter to anyone else whether it matters to you or not.

Comment #176934

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 19, 2007 9:42 AM (e)

Oh, and yes we know that micro evolution exists.

great!

do you have a mechanism that limits “micro” evolution from creating all the variability we see?

if not, then, congratulations, you’re a “darwinist”.

Comment #176936

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 19, 2007 9:44 AM (e)

Well, I was originally concerned about using this forum for off-topic conversations, but since everyone else (including Nick Matzke) is doing so, I suppose it must be OK! Besides, these issues are importantly related to the subject of the article.

The claim is made that methodological naturalism works. If it worked absolutely, that would be good evidence that philosophical naturalism is true. But does it? The examples given of it working are examples from everyday experiments, the development of technology, etc. But Christian theists (at least ones that have thought it through clearly enough) do not believe that “miraculous” occurrences are the norm. We believe that in the vast majority of circumstances, God works through ordinary, non-miraculous means. So we would also predict an orderliness and predictability to everyday life and experimentation. The fact that you don’t need to think about miracles in everyday research is no surprise to us. It is a false dichotomy to have on the one hand a complete naturalism, without allowing for the possibility of any supernatural intervention at some points, and on the other hand to have a situation where only miraculous things happen all the time. There are many more options in th middle of these two extremes. Just because everyday experiments do not involve the miraculous is no evidence that the miraculous might not need to be considered when it comes to the origin of life and species. How probable miracles would be, and whether we should look for them or not in particular cases, will depend on other factors-such as whether or not the Bible is the Word of God and contains a reliable account of creation, etc.

Christian theism does not advocate blind belief in unquestioned authorities. Like naturalists, we believe in testing claims by the evidence. It is not blind belief, but the evidence, that points me towards Christianity and belief in the Bible. Also, I think it was harold who said that my REAL motive by believing in the Bible as infallible is that I just really like authoritarianism and snooping into people’s private lives. Actually, my natural inclination is to leave people alone to do whatever they want. If I believe that certain laws should be imposed, it is because I believe God requires it, not because my personality inclines towards it. This is a good example of how easy it is to try to construct people’s REAL motives and get it totally wrong. But you probably won’t believe me. Also, one of the things I hate more than anything else is a reliance on blilnd belief. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very intolerant of claims being made without being backed up by the evidence. But I suppose you probably won’t believe that, either.

Harold says that my answer about my political views shows a lack of honesty. That is simply untrue–but again, how can I prove to you what my real motives are? I am quite happy to be as straightforward as possible about my views, even though I know I am inviting hatred and insults by doing so on a list like this. I am willing to wade through all that and pursue rational discussions with anyone who wants to talk about these important issues. You are right, though, that I didn’t go into all the detail you wanted. The reason for that is not lack of honesty or not wanting to “sound bad,” but, to be honest, it is a bit of fear. I know my views are extremely unpopular on this sort of a list. I know that they will be construed as barbaric. I am hesitant to give anyone here any details of my beliefs that they might be able to use against me personally. I have put my name on the list (on second thought, I should have chosen a pseudonym),and that makes me vulnerable. It is a shame I have to worry about that. I wish I didn’t. It hampers conversation to some degree (although not too much, fortunately). But the fact is, I do have to worry about it. I feel a little like Sam Harris, who I’ve heard will not tell people what school he is at for fear of reprisal because of his views. I do believe that the government should base itself on biblical morality, and that would mean that certain things, like same-sex-marriage, should be illegal, and I know that is exremely unpopular here. (Let me assure you, though–I don’t believe in beating up people, including wives or children–see harold’s questions for context.) Here’s a challenge, though, to those of you who think biblical morality is barbaric: On what basis do you think so? By what standard are you declaring certain things morally wrong? I hope you can give a better answer than simply “because it’s mean” or something equally unilluminating.

OK, one more thing to address now: Nick Matzke’s question about the age of the earth. Judging by my reading of the evidence at this point, I would say the earth is probably around 10,000 years old. (OK, that’s your cue everyone! Bring on the insults!) The evidence I am referring to is biblical and scientific evidence. Biblically, I think the phrase “six days” in reference to God’s creating is best understood as referring to a literal six days. These days may possible have been unusual in some ways, but I think the word “day” in that context means “day” in the normal sense of an alternating period between light and darkness, day and night. Scientifically, many creationist arguments seem to have merit, and I am not adequately convinced by the arguments of mainstream science on this point. I will admit, though, that many of the arguments on both sides are very technical, and I am not trained in technical geology, etc., so it is difficult for me to evaluate the arguments very thoroughly. I feel much more confident with the arguments directly over Darwinian evolution. It is difficult to find the time to sit down and go through these things systematically. I really want to do that more than I have up to this point. I want to study more in-depth the arguments of both sides. I have done some study, though, and what I have seen so far has not convinced me that the mainstream interprettion of the evidence is necessary or better than the creationist readings, and since the Bible seems to indicate a six-day creation, I fall onto that side of things. As I said, though, although I do accept a young-earth account of things, I am hesitant to be too dogmatic simply because I am aware that I need more time to study the issue more thoroughly. But that is my position at this point based on my best reading of the evidence. If people on this list want to mention some specific arguments in the mainstream direction, that would be helpful. I have seen, though, how an sssumption of naturalism has skewed thinking in the area of Darwinian evolution, and it does seem that the same assumption affects people’s evaluation of the evidence on the question of the age of the earth as well.

OK, that’s enough for now. I appreciate the engagement I am getting on this forum. I think this is a useful and interesting conversation. (I do wish some people could refrain from feeling like they have to find clever ways to insult me all the time, though. Can’t you reign in your anger enough to stick to more of a peaceful, rational conversation? If I didn’t know better, I would say some of you sound like fundamentalists–in the bad, stereotypical sense.)

Comment #176937

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 19, 2007 9:50 AM (e)

Well, I was originally concerned about using this forum for off-topic conversations, but since everyone else (including Nick Matzke) is doing so, I suppose it must be OK! Besides, these issues are importantly related to the subject of the article.

The claim is made that methodological naturalism works. If it worked absolutely, that would be good evidence that philosophical naturalism is true. But does it? The examples given of it working are examples from everyday experiments, the development of technology, etc. But Christian theists (at least ones that have thought it through clearly enough) do not believe that “miraculous” occurrences are the norm. We believe that in the vast majority of circumstances, God works through ordinary, non-miraculous means. So we would also predict an orderliness and predictability to everyday life and experimentation. The fact that you don’t need to think about miracles in everyday research is no surprise to us. It is a false dichotomy to have on the one hand a complete naturalism, without allowing for the possibility of any supernatural intervention at some points, and on the other hand to have a situation where only miraculous things happen all the time. There are many more options in th middle of these two extremes. Just because everyday experiments do not involve the miraculous is no evidence that the miraculous might not need to be considered when it comes to the origin of life and species. How probable miracles would be, and whether we should look for them or not in particular cases, will depend on other factors-such as whether or not the Bible is the Word of God and contains a reliable account of creation, etc.

Christian theism does not advocate blind belief in unquestioned authorities. Like naturalists, we believe in testing claims by the evidence. It is not blind belief, but the evidence, that points me towards Christianity and belief in the Bible. Also, I think it was harold who said that my REAL motive by believing in the Bible as infallible is that I just really like authoritarianism and snooping into people’s private lives. Actually, my natural inclination is to leave people alone to do whatever they want. If I believe that certain laws should be imposed, it is because I believe God requires it, not because my personality inclines towards it. This is a good example of how easy it is to try to construct people’s REAL motives and get it totally wrong. But you probably won’t believe me. Also, one of the things I hate more than anything else is a reliance on blilnd belief. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very intolerant of claims being made without being backed up by the evidence. But I suppose you probably won’t believe that, either.

Harold says that my answer about my political views shows a lack of honesty. That is simply untrue–but again, how can I prove to you what my real motives are? I am quite happy to be as straightforward as possible about my views, even though I know I am inviting hatred and insults by doing so on a list like this. I am willing to wade through all that and pursue rational discussions with anyone who wants to talk about these important issues. You are right, though, that I didn’t go into all the detail you wanted. The reason for that is not lack of honesty or not wanting to “sound bad,” but, to be honest, it is a bit of fear. I know my views are extremely unpopular on this sort of a list. I know that they will be construed as barbaric. I am hesitant to give anyone here any details of my beliefs that they might be able to use against me personally. I have put my name on the list (on second thought, I should have chosen a pseudonym),and that makes me vulnerable. It is a shame I have to worry about that. I wish I didn’t. It hampers conversation to some degree (although not too much, fortunately). But the fact is, I do have to worry about it. I feel a little like Sam Harris, who I’ve heard will not tell people what school he is at for fear of reprisal because of his views. I do believe that the government should base itself on biblical morality, and that would mean that certain things, like same-sex-marriage, should be illegal, and I know that is exremely unpopular here. (Let me assure you, though–I don’t believe in beating up people, including wives or children–see harold’s questions for context.) Here’s a challenge, though, to those of you who think biblical morality is barbaric: On what basis do you think so? By what standard are you declaring certain things morally wrong? I hope you can give a better answer than simply “because it’s mean” or something equally unilluminating.

OK, one more thing to address now: Nick Matzke’s question about the age of the earth. Judging by my reading of the evidence at this point, I would say the earth is probably around 10,000 years old. (OK, that’s your cue everyone! Bring on the insults!) The evidence I am referring to is biblical and scientific evidence. Biblically, I think the phrase “six days” in reference to God’s creating is best understood as referring to a literal six days. These days may possible have been unusual in some ways, but I think the word “day” in that context means “day” in the normal sense of an alternating period between light and darkness, day and night. Scientifically, many creationist arguments seem to have merit, and I am not adequately convinced by the arguments of mainstream science on this point. I will admit, though, that many of the arguments on both sides are very technical, and I am not trained in technical geology, etc., so it is difficult for me to evaluate the arguments very thoroughly. I feel much more confident with the arguments directly over Darwinian evolution. It is difficult to find the time to sit down and go through these things systematically. I really want to do that more than I have up to this point. I want to study more in-depth the arguments of both sides. I have done some study, though, and what I have seen so far has not convinced me that the mainstream interprettion of the evidence is necessary or better than the creationist readings, and since the Bible seems to indicate a six-day creation, I fall onto that side of things. As I said, though, although I do accept a young-earth account of things, I am hesitant to be too dogmatic simply because I am aware that I need more time to study the issue more thoroughly. But that is my position at this point based on my best reading of the evidence. If people on this list want to mention some specific arguments in the mainstream direction, that would be helpful. I have seen, though, how an sssumption of naturalism has skewed thinking in the area of Darwinian evolution, and it does seem that the same assumption affects people’s evaluation of the evidence on the question of the age of the earth as well.

OK, that’s enough for now. I appreciate the engagement I am getting on this forum. I think this is a useful and interesting conversation. (I do wish some people could refrain from feeling like they have to find clever ways to insult me all the time, though. Can’t you reign in your anger enough to stick to more of a peaceful, rational conversation? If I didn’t know better, I would say some of you sound like fundamentalists–in the bad, stereotypical sense.)

Comment #176940

Posted by Science Avenger on May 19, 2007 10:22 AM (e)

Mark Hausam said:

The claim is made that methodological naturalism works. If it worked absolutely, that would be good evidence that philosophical naturalism is true.

Nonsequitor, and bordering on meaninglessness. Absolute 100% evidence is not required to draw a conclusion with great certainty. Sure, it is still possible one could be in error, but that does not make it rational to adopt the opposite position.
Methodological naturalism works better than other epistemological methods by orders of magnitude. There are no rational alternatives.

We believe that in the vast majority of circumstances, God works through ordinary, non-miraculous means. So we would also predict an orderliness and predictability to everyday life and experimentation.

Except when it is chaotic and destructive, like Darfur, Katrina, or our appendix. Then its “God works in mysterious ways”. Bore us not with this “we Christians predict” garbage. You’ve never predicted much of anything, because your theories are always nonfalsifiable, meaning that no matter what occurs, you can claim you predicted it. ID is a good example.

It is a false dichotomy to have on the one hand a complete naturalism, without allowing for the possibility of any supernatural intervention at some points,

That’s a straw man and a word game. The bottom line is the evidence. I’ll believe in the invisible pink unicorn, the floating teapot, or Yahweh. Just SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE. All this pseudophilosphical chatter is just a dodge.

Christian theism does not advocate blind belief in unquestioned authorities. Like naturalists, we believe in testing claims by the evidence. It is not blind belief, but the evidence, that points me towards Christianity and belief in the Bible.

That’s a joke. Look, there are a lot of mysteries in the universe, and plenty of room for all sorts of ethereal, well-defined, noninterventionist godlike beings. Believe in one of them if you wish. But the only way a person can believe the Jesus story is either blind faith, willfull ignorance, or sheer stupidity. The Bible tells us, among other things, that birds are bats, rabbits are ruminents, sheep will have spotted offspring if they look at spots when they mate, and on Easter…well, the story is irreconcilably different in each of the four gospels, so pick your error. You have to apply standards of epistemology that you wouldn’t allow anywhere else, and would get you laughed out of a court, if not held in contempt.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am very intolerant of claims being made without being backed up by the evidence. But I suppose you probably won’t believe that, either.

You’re right, I don’t. Your own statements supply strong evidence to the contrary.

Comment #176951

Posted by Science Avenger on May 19, 2007 10:28 AM (e)

That should be “bats are birds”.

Comment #176962

Posted by George Cauldron on May 19, 2007 11:21 AM (e)

OK, one more thing to address now: Nick Matzke’s question about the age of the earth. Judging by my reading of the evidence at this point, I would say the earth is probably around 10,000 years old. (OK, that’s your cue everyone! Bring on the insults!) The evidence I am referring to is biblical and scientific evidence.

As you’re probably aware, the field of geology overwhelmingly and massively disagrees with you on this. Trust me: there IS NO scientific evidence’ for a young earth. You’ve been very deliberately lied to about this. But for now, I’m curious to know how you rationalize choosing ‘biblical evidence’ over the consensus of 99.99999% of the field of geology (and archaeology, and astronomy, etc.), whether this bothers you in any way.

Also, you never did answer my question of why your Christian supernaturalism is any better than anyone else’s supernaturalism. For example, the creation legends of Hinduism at least have the earth being billions of years old, which at least has the virtue of not clashing with all of modern science. Why are they less to be trusted than your interpretation of the Hebrew creation legend? Because you haven’t demonstrated how to choose one religiously-based myth over any other, once one makes the decision to throw out empericism (what you call ‘naturalism’). (The answer “I know Christianity is true in my heart” doesn’t count.)

Comment #176971

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 19, 2007 11:58 AM (e)

This Mark Hausam uses the argument that it is not what HE wants or expects but it is what his god wants or expects.

Where is the verifiable evidence that Mark Hausam knows anything about the mind of god?

We all suspect that this type of argument is simply another form of displacement that attempts to deflect responsibility from oneself to something else.

So far he seems to be parroting lines given to him by his religious handlers rather than thinking for himself. Has anyone else noticed that the copies of the religious script, given out to these neophytes to recite, contain small idiosyncratic differences? Maybe after a sufficient number of recopies without a constant comparison against the original script, an individual might discover science. I wonder how many generations it would take.

Comment #176973

Posted by qetzal on May 19, 2007 11:59 AM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

Christian theists (at least ones that have thought it through clearly enough) do not believe that “miraculous” occurrences are the norm. We believe that in the vast majority of circumstances, God works through ordinary, non-miraculous means. So we would also predict an orderliness and predictability to everyday life and experimentation. The fact that you don’t need to think about miracles in everyday research is no surprise to us. It is a false dichotomy to have on the one hand a complete naturalism, without allowing for the possibility of any supernatural intervention at some points, and on the other hand to have a situation where only miraculous things happen all the time.

Agreed. The problem is there is no good evidence that miraculous things happen ever. In virtually all cases, supposedly miraculous events are more readily explained as natural ones. No doubt there is some small residue of events that are difficult to adequately explain, but that doesn’t prove them to be miracles. It doesn’t prove there are no miracles either, of course, but the objective evidence that miracles occur is vanishingly small.

Christian theism does not advocate blind belief in unquestioned authorities. Like naturalists, we believe in testing claims by the evidence. It is not blind belief, but the evidence, that points me towards Christianity and belief in the Bible….Judging by my reading of the evidence at this point, I would say the earth is probably around 10,000 years old. (OK, that’s your cue everyone! Bring on the insults!) The evidence I am referring to is biblical and scientific evidence. Biblically, I think the phrase “six days” in reference to God’s creating is best understood as referring to a literal six days. These days may possible have been unusual in some ways, but I think the word “day” in that context means “day” in the normal sense of an alternating period between light and darkness, day and night.

You’re demonstrating that your reason for belief in a young earth is your religious commitment. You’ve already decided the Bible is God’s word, and the Bible says “six days.” That’s your only evidence.

Scientifically, many creationist arguments seem to have merit, and I am not adequately convinced by the arguments of mainstream science on this point.

As far as I can tell, you’re arguing that the objective evidence can’t totally disprove a 10,000 year old earth. That’s not the same as saying the objective evidence supports a young earth. If you set aside religious commitments, the available evidence overwhelmingly supports an earth much, much older than that. The Bible is really the only reason to pick ~ 10,000 years as a likely age.

Once you’ve decided to believe the Bible, you can certainly come up with creationist arguments to explain away the contrary scientific evidence. But I recommend you be honest with yourself and recognize that isn’t the same as believing in a young earth because of the scientific evidence.

I feel much more confident with the arguments directly over Darwinian evolution. It is difficult to find the time to sit down and go through these things systematically. I really want to do that more than I have up to this point. I want to study more in-depth the arguments of both sides. I have done some study, though, and what I have seen so far has not convinced me that the mainstream interprettion of the evidence is necessary or better than the creationist readings, and since the Bible seems to indicate a six-day creation, I fall onto that side of things.

So again, the starting point for your opinion on this point is your religious beliefs. Then you ask whether there are compatible ways to interpret the scientific evidence. Of course there are; that’s always possible. So, you stick with your religious belief. That’s understandable, but again, you’re not being honest with yourself if you think your belief is based on scientific evidence.

As I said, though, although I do accept a young-earth account of things, I am hesitant to be too dogmatic simply because I am aware that I need more time to study the issue more thoroughly. But that is my position at this point based on my best reading of the evidence.

With all due respect, I think you’re fooling yourself on that last point. I think you want to believe the evidence favors you, but it’s clear to me that you’re not putting the evidence first.

If people on this list want to mention some specific arguments in the mainstream direction, that would be helpful. I have seen, though, how an sssumption of naturalism has skewed thinking in the area of Darwinian evolution, and it does seem that the same assumption affects people’s evaluation of the evidence on the question of the age of the earth as well.

I’m not a geologist, so I’ll leave the science on the age of the earth to others. Regarding evolution, the DNA sequence relationships between organisms are extremely compelling. They are best explained by common descent with modification (including selection, drift, horizontal transfer, etc.). Evolution, in other words.

Now, you may argue that sequence relationships can also be explained as God using similar DNA for similar organisms. And to a point, that’s true. The difference is, they’re explained much better by evolution. Evolution explains why we see the specific relationships we see, and not others. Evolution explains many of the detailed observations (chromosome number in humans versus other great apes, broken vitamin C genes, etc.). It explains how those things came to exist. The religious explanation is basically “God’s plan.” (I originally said “God’s whim” but that sounds too condescending.)

None of us can prove that it wasn’t God’s plan. But God’s plan is useless for predicting how the natural world should behave. Evolution, and science in general, is about understanding how nature works. Evolution says that new organisms come to exist only in certain ways (e.g. descent with modification). Evolution says this based (in part) on the relationships between existing organisms. As a consequence, evolution predicts (among other things) that chimeras like centaurs and mermaids can’t exist, and that fossil mammals can never predate the earliest fossil fish.

God’s plan doesn’t predict any of that. It only allows us to explain it after the fact. Why do fossil mammals never date back beyond a certain age? Because that’s the way God made things. Why are there no mermaids? Because that’s part of God’s plan. Will there ever be mermaids? God’s plan doesn’t let us predict. Science does.

Comment #176974

Posted by fnxtr on May 19, 2007 12:07 PM (e)

Mark, I find your position puzzling. You say you don’t believe in authoritarianism, but you would adopt laws and customs because the bible tells you to. Isn’t that exactly what you claim you don’t do?

How does one decide which interpretation of bronze-age nomad wisdom is correct? Not all Christians believe the entire Bible is literal truth; some believe that much of it is poetry and symbolism. Over the centuries the number of denominations has only increased, so clearly, study of scripture doesn’t lead to universal understanding. How do you know your version is the correct one?

I’m sure you’ve heard the questions before, but do you also never wear cotton/poly or cotton/wool blends? When Jesus is quoted by Matthew (7:12) as saying the golden rule “sums up the law and the prophets”, doesn’t that mean all the ritual and trappings went out the window, in the same way that there are now no unclean foods because of when he said it’s not what goes in but what comes out? Sure, there’s homophobia in the new testament too, but that was Paul, not Jesus.

Seems to me there’s a whole lot of cherry-picking going on.

Comment #176975

Posted by fnxtr on May 19, 2007 12:14 PM (e)

Lack of traditional capitals is a result of speed typing, not disrespect. I apologize if it offends you.

Comment #176984

Posted by David Stanton on May 19, 2007 12:42 PM (e)

Mark,

Thanks for returning to the thread. I know it takes a lot of courage to expess your opinions in this forum. I hope you understand that when you claim that you are not an authoritarian and then cite the Bible as evidence that some prople will have a problem with that. I hope you understand that when you claim that laws in this country should be based on the Bible that some people have a problem with that.

As for the age of the earth, it has already been pointed out that your opiinion is in sharp contrast to all the evidence. If your views are indeed based on evidence, then perhaps you are unaware of all the evidence. Below I have listed a reference which gives six different types of data sets used to estimate geologic chronology. This is of course in addition to the voluminous literature on radiometric dating. (By the way radio carbon dating has been reliable calibrated back to 50,000 years). The MINIMUM estimate for the age of the earth is given next to each example. Note that ALL estimates are considerably more thatn 10,000 years. Most types of data involve no more assumptions than simple counting. Please examine the evidence carefully. If you still choose to believe that the earth is 10,000 years old, then at least admit that this opinion is not based on evidence.

Tree rings 50,000

Ice cores 440,000

Corals deposits 130,000

Pollen stratigraphy 5 million

Marine sediments 180 million

Magnetic reversals 160 million

Science 292:658-659 (2001)

Comment #176989

Posted by harold on May 19, 2007 1:07 PM (e)

Mark Hausam -

Harold says that my answer about my political views shows a lack of honesty. That is simply untrue–but again, how can I prove to you what my real motives are?

Technically you can’t. But you could have demolished my hypothesis by refuting my prediction about your views, and you certainly didn’t do that.

Although it is technically possible that you first decided, on some rational or spiritual basis, to interpret the Bible as you do, and subsequently adopted authoritarian views as a logical consequence, I think that is unlikely. First of all, it is clear that you place a selective emphasis on certain harsh but minor parts of the Old Testament (yet almost certainly ignore equally important dietary teachings and contradictions); this is a subjective, non-literal interpretation of the Bible, which negates some of the teachings of the Jesus figure in the four major Gospels, and of some aspects of the Old Testament, too.

Second of all, serious Christian thought since the fourth century AD has nearly always concluded that the Bible cannot be interpreted in a simple-minded, literal way.

I’m by no means suggesting that you consciously lie (about creationism that is), but rather, that your emotional or psychological state compels you toward Taliban-like authoritarianism, and that you interpret “religion” in light of that bias.

I am quite happy to be as straightforward as possible about my views, even though I know I am inviting hatred and insults by doing so on a list like this. I am willing to wade through all that and pursue rational discussions with anyone who wants to talk about these important issues. You are right, though, that I didn’t go into all the detail you wanted. The reason for that is not lack of honesty or not wanting to “sound bad,” but, to be honest, it is a bit of fear. I know my views are extremely unpopular on this sort of a list. I know that they will be construed as barbaric.

If the shoe fits…

Although you have not been entirely honest, I think that at this point people get the picture.

I am hesitant to give anyone here any details of my beliefs that they might be able to use against me personally. I have put my name on the list (on second thought, I should have chosen a pseudonym),and that makes me vulnerable. It is a shame I have to worry about that.

You don’t have to worry about me, I strongly support your right to verbally express your opinion, as much as I may condemn it in the strongest possible ethical terms. Technically, it is true that this is a free country. While it is anything but “a shame” that the views you hint at are unpopular, it would be ethically wrong for someone to subject you to anything other than a verbal opinion of their own, merely for holding or expressing them.

It is interesting that, as the country is now, you can practice your religion as you wish, but you can’t impose it on others. Yet you define it in such a way that you must impose it on others. Ironically, those who hold distasteful views benefit the most from freedom, yet agitate the most to eliminate it.

Comment #176990

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 19, 2007 1:17 PM (e)

OK, one more thing to address now: Nick Matzke’s question about the age of the earth. Judging by my reading of the evidence at this point, I would say the earth is probably around 10,000 years old. (OK, that’s your cue everyone! Bring on the insults!) The evidence I am referring to is biblical and scientific evidence

Sorry Mark. There is no scientific evidence for a 10,000 year old Earth. Young Earth claims have been refuted over and over again.

How would you solve the distant starlight problem for example ? Our neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, is a naked eye object (to an observer 10,000 years ago it would appear as a faint star) and some 2.2 million light years distant. That at least makes the Universe/Earth 2.2 million years old. Determining distances to astronomical objects is very well documented (just type in the words “Standard Candles” on your search engine and you’ll see what I mean). Before you start with the changing speed of light nonsense I’ll refer you to Supernova 1987a and it’s implications for Young Earth Creationism.

Comment #176991

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 19, 2007 1:21 PM (e)

Mark Hausam said:

The claim is made that methodological naturalism works. If it worked absolutely, that would be good evidence that philosophical naturalism is true.

Nonsequitor, and bordering on meaninglessness. Absolute 100% evidence is not required to draw a conclusion with great certainty. Sure, it is still possible one could be in error, but that does not make it rational to adopt the opposite position.
Methodological naturalism works better than other epistemological methods by orders of magnitude. There are no rational alternatives.

Morever, that nonsequitor resembles a mechanism clumsily used to move the goalposts of his argument from methodological to philosophical naturalism.

common tactic amongst creobots.

he can’t disagree with the fact that methodological naturalism simply works, so he then proceeds to shift into the philosophical, where he can make shit up as he goes along.

Interestingly, it’s like a perfect case on point for the paper being discussed in this very thread!

so far, do those reading his comments agree that it fits the general patterns presented in the paper?

Comment #176992

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 19, 2007 1:24 PM (e)

hmm, nested quotes broken today?

oh well.

Comment #176993

Posted by harold on May 19, 2007 1:26 PM (e)

A Note To Everybody -

I’m sure we agree that Mark Hausam has the ability to express himself in a calm and dignified way, which is somewhat unusual for a creationist.

As for political views, he has made it clear that he supports imposing his view of Old Testament Law. When pressed on the details, he finally admits that the details are so offensive that he’d cause a firestorm by actually discussing details.

We all know that the harshest possible “literal interpretation” (not really literal) of the Old Testament leads to claims that trivial acts by children, lack of obedience by women, or simple sexual acts between consenting adults, should be punished with cruel methods of execution. We all know that such “laws” could not be made up and enforced in a democratic, human rights-respecting society. I didn’t see him deny being an “authoritarian”, and a denial of that specific term would be silly at any rate.

Comment #177008

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 19, 2007 1:38 PM (e)

trivial acts by children, lack of obedience by women, or simple sexual acts between consenting adults, should be punished with cruel methods of execution.

Look. I– I’d had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was, ‘That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.’

http://www.mwscomp.com/movies/brian/brian-04.htm…

Comment #177011

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 19, 2007 1:48 PM (e)

Also, one of the things I hate more than anything else is a reliance on blilnd belief. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very intolerant of claims being made without being backed up by the evidence. But I suppose you probably won’t believe that, either.

oh no, we’re completely sure YOU believe it. that doesn’t actually make it so.

perhaps you should read the paper being discussed in this very thread?

as a comparsion, I could easily find you a schizophrenic who is convinced that there are bugs crawling up his arms.

He SEES them, FEELS them.

do the bugs really exist?

No.

does he BELIEVE they exist?

damn sure he does.

Comment #177017

Posted by David Stanton on May 19, 2007 2:13 PM (e)

Mark,

Sorry that you feel threatened by those who disagree with you. This may in fact help to explain why you find it necessary to base laws on your personal belief system, regardless of whether others agree with it or not. However, let me assure you that neither I nor anyone I know has any intention whatsoever of doing anything at all to you because of your beliefs. That would be stupid. What do I care what you believe anyway?

As for using your real name, how do we even know if that is your real name? How do you know if any of us are using our real names. We might have made up any names at all. As long as we use the same name consistently we have followed the rules, as far as I can tell. So Mark (if that is your real name) you can call me Dave (if that is my real name). Just don’t call me “surely” (or Dave Scott). I mean you no harm. At least you have the courage to discuss your views in a civil manner. You may have noticed that that makes you somewhat of an exception among the creationists that like to hang out here.

Now, about that evidence I presented. How is that working out for you?

Comment #177024

Posted by David Stanton on May 19, 2007 3:01 PM (e)

Sir Toejam,

The Halibut may be all well and good, but what about the piece of Cod that passeth all understanding? (Just thoought I’d throw that in for the halibut).

Comment #177027

Posted by CJO on May 19, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

As a Christian, I don’t like methodological naturalism as an assumption because it seems counter-productive to assume something you don’t believe to be true in order to find truth. Why should I assume naturalism when I am doing science if naturalism isn’t correct?

The answer is, you shouldn’t. If you are a person of faith, that is a part of what you are. Nobody is suggesting that, in order to do science, one has to adopt a Pascalian bargain stance to the existence of God, believing in him in ordinary life, and suddenly jettisoning faith when it is inconvenient. You can’t do that, and you don’t have to. What you do have to do is extend your faith in God to having faith that he will not choose to meddle in your experiment.

For me to assume naturalism in science would be like an atheist assuming, purely for the sake of method, that the Bible is literally true when doing science. That would, of course, be ridiculous. Why is it any less ridiculous for a Christian to assume naturalism?

A poster above alluded to an argument that I think is correct, but presented in a fairly glib way that is probably not very convincing to one who disagrees. Let me try to make it a little more compelling. I submit, if you took your car to the mechanic, and, after a half hour tinkering about with the engine stood up, and said, “There’s nothing I can do. It’s God’s will,” you would be finding another mechanic. Likewise, if a doctor was treating a family member and approached diagnosis in the same fashion, you would be very upset with the care your loved one was receiving. If methodological naturalism requires an assumption, it is mute on the ultimate nature of the universe, or on big questions like the existence of God. Sound methodology proceeds merely on the basis that we can isolate a particular phenomenon from distant and miniscule effects. If a physicist doesn’t consider the will of god in a given small-scale experiment, he considers it no less than he considers the gravitational effects of distant galactic clusters. He doesn’t assume those clusters don’t exist, he assumes that their effect on the specific phenomenon he is considering is negligible.

Your starting assumptions influence your conclusions. One of the main creationist claims is that the evidence for Darwinism is only greatly compelling when one assumes naturalism. If you assume naturalism, something like Darwinism has got to be the way life arose (what other plausible naturalistic possibilities are there?), and so a commitment to naturalism makes the evidence for Darwinism seem incredibly compelling. But if you start with the assumption of Christian theism and the infallibility of the Bible, the evidence for Darwinism is at least far less impressive. Creationism of some sort seems the more rational alternative.

It’s a commitment to the regularity of the universe and to the application of sound methods that makes the Darwinian account compelling. There is no symmetry between these commitments and that to “the infallibility of the bible.” One is an open stance: we investigate the natural world methodically, constantly checking our proposed explanations against observational data. Many, many scientists remain persons of faith while doing so. But, at minimum, they have to hold the evidence of nature above the evidence of any particular set of revealed scripture, when they come into conflict. The closed stance is the one that leads to failure to account for all available data because some of that data conflicts with pre-modern, folk-wisdom conceptions of the natural world. I really hope you can see the difference.

Comment #177048

Posted by Michael Roberts on May 19, 2007 4:35 PM (e)

I thought Kenyon was YEC when I first heard of him 20 years ago before ID was created ex johnsonio. By associating with ID he kept that under wraps.

Also Common sense philosophy inspired many Evangelicals in the 19 century including all those who accepted geology eg C Hodge and even worse evolution - Warfield McCosh and many others.

YEC seems to come from 2 sources , one is from the Seventh Day Adventists courtesy of Ellen White and then the popular anti-intellectual evangelicalism associated with dispensationalism which encouraged a literal interpretation. This was not apparent as many accepted the Gap Theory allowing geological time.

Nick you recommended McCalla’s book The Creationist Debate. It is an absolute load of crap. It gets its science wrong eg on radiometric age dating and its history of geology is just plain wrong as its treatment of the way Christians coped with geology then evolution. On geology Rudwick’s Bursting the Limits of Time and my chapter in Myth and Geology (Special Publication of the Geol Soc of London no273 ed Piccardi and Masse March 2007) simply contradicts all the nonsense he writes.

Comment #177049

Posted by harold on May 19, 2007 4:39 PM (e)

Diana -

Here’s where it gets really, really complicated, but try to concentrate - I didn’t say anything about whether scientists or science-supporting people are rude or not. You could name a million rude scientists and it wouldn’t address my comment. I said that some creationists are rude.

As it happens, it’s painfully obvious to anyone who has dealt with them that creationists are far ruder, in general, than people who support science - with plenty of exceptions in both groups (but I’m guessing you’re not an exception).

By the way, what’s your specific stance on consensual homosexual acts between adults, as an example issue? Legal or illegal? Imprisonment or execution? Fourth ammendment rights and defense attorneys, or hunt’em down however it needs to be done?

Comment #177055

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 19, 2007 5:39 PM (e)

OK, one more thing to address now: Nick Matzke’s question about the age of the earth. Judging by my reading of the evidence at this point, I would say the earth is probably around 10,000 years old. (OK, that’s your cue everyone! Bring on the insults!) The evidence I am referring to is biblical and scientific evidence

Sometimes I think I’m psychic, I swear.

Comment #177057

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 19, 2007 6:05 PM (e)

Reply from the ID guys…

First, I am not taking issue with the idea that the experiences of childhood affect our adult lives. I am sure a paper could equally be written on ‘attraction to science’ being traced back to childhood (which happens to be my own experience).

Second, there is a tension between the authors’ primary example of resistance to science (denying evolution) and the other examples (alternative medicine, spirits, astrology, ESP, divination). I do not think these can be lumped together in this way. By and large, in the US, evolution-doubting is widespread among the Christian community, but these same people do not indulge in the other cases of “resistance”.

Reading “Christian” there as “conservative evangelical/fundamentalist” – this group does not indulge in the other cases of “resistance”, except on global warming, HIV-AIDS, “Christian nation” mythology about the Founding Fathers, any history or archeology which seems to cause problems for a literal reading of the Bible, Bible-based prophesy and numerology, and then we have the observation, widespread amongst even evangelical academics, that the evangelical lay public is unusually gullible and subject to any number of frauds and fads particularly in the realm of health and medicine.

E.g., from an old-earth creationist of all people:

Evangelicals and Crackpot Science

By Robert C. Newman

Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute
Biblical Theological Seminary

ABSTRACT: Because of the tension which has developed between the scientific and the evangelical communities in the past century and a half, Bible believers are often (rightly or wrongly) suspicious of the discoveries and theorizing of modern science. This has led to a rather widespread attraction to theories viewed as crackpot by scientists and other educated people. Some examples are discussed and strategies proposed to protect Christians from looking unnecessarily foolish before the watching world.

Comment #177059

Posted by David Stanton on May 19, 2007 6:06 PM (e)

Diana,

I would like to introduce you to a guy named Pumpkinhead. After you look at a few of his posts denigrating evilutionists ancestry and suggesting various sexually deviant acts that we supposedly engage in, then you can come back and tell us how creationists really aren’t all that that impolite. And those are just the comments the moderators let through!

Comment #177066

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 19, 2007 8:01 PM (e)

Michael Roberts writes,

I thought Kenyon was YEC when I first heard of him 20 years ago before ID was created ex johnsonio. By associating with ID he kept that under wraps.

Also Common sense philosophy inspired many Evangelicals in the 19 century including all those who accepted geology eg C Hodge and even worse evolution - Warfield McCosh and many others.

All true, but it sure seems tough for most evangelicals, or at least evangelicals strongly committed to Biblical inerrancy, to accept evolution. Even those who can deal with an old earth via a creative interpretation of the OT find it difficult to go the next step and accept common ancestry of humans and apes (the primary issue). I think because Jesus cites Adam in the New Testament evangelicals are strongly inclined to take Adam literally even if they can go with an old earth and local flood.

YEC seems to come from 2 sources , one is from the Seventh Day Adventists courtesy of Ellen White and then the popular anti-intellectual evangelicalism associated with dispensationalism which encouraged a literal interpretation. This was not apparent as many accepted the Gap Theory allowing geological time.

I basically agree with this, although I do wonder if scriptural geology hung on a bit longer in the U.S. and fed into 20th-century YEC. E.g. I had thought scriptural geology was completely dead by 1850, but then I came across this discussion (from Mark Noll) of the theological disputes over slavery that occurred during the Civil War. The person being discussed is James Henley Thornwell, one of the most important conservative Reformed theologians of the day.

The third barrier to an orthodox, but nonliteral, view of Scripture was the highest. With relentless pressure, skillful defenders of slavery insisted that any attack on a literalist construction of biblical slavery was an attack on the Bible itself. A clear example of this strategy appeared in James Henley Thornwell’s fast sermon of 21 November 1860. Thornwell (1812-1862) was widely recognized as a theologian of integrity, probably the South’s most highly respected religious thinker. He had been active in his native South Carolina as a pastor, college teacher, and seminary professor from the time of his ordination in 1835. Thornwell was an eclectic thinker whose deep grounding in the Scriptures, commitment to the Westminster standards, and suspicion of generically evangelical voluntary societies was combined with a smattering of Scottish philosophy but also serious reservations about the egalitarian tendencies of the new moral philosophy. When he address a blue-ribbon audience in Columbia in the immediate aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 election, a good portion of his sermon was devoted to denouncing the idea that African Americans constituted a species distinct from Caucasians. On this basis he boldly chastised his audience of elite South Carolinians for not treating slaves properly as fellow human beings.

Yet Thornwell’s additional concern was to make a point for Northern readers. When he described the opinion that humanity was made up of several species, each with its own origin, and then denounced this view as heresy, his more distant target came into view: “It is idle to charge the responsibility of the doctrine about the diversity of species upon slaveholders, as to load them with the guilt of questioning the geological accuracy of Moses.” He then drove home the polemical dagger. Heretical teachings questioning the Bible’s account of the age of the earth indicated clearly the kind of teaching that questioned the slavery found in both Old and New Testaments. Heresies concerning Adam and Eve as well as on the geological record “are assaults of infidel science upon the records of our faith, and both have found their warmest advocates among the opponents of slavery.” [36] To audiences predisposed toward biblical literalism, Thornwell’s reasoning was persuasive. To propose for whatever reason that the Bible did not sanction slavery was to attack not just slavery but the Bible as well.

The theological crisis occasioned by reasoning like Thornwell’s was acute. Many Northern Bible-readers and not a few in the South felt that slavery was evil. They somehow knew the Bible supported them in that feeling. Yet when it came to using the Bible as it had been used with such success to evangelize and civilize the United States, the sacred page was snatched out of their hands. Trust in the Bible and reliance upon a Reformed, literal hermeneutic had created a crisis that only bullets, not arguments, could resolve.

[Note 36, p. 547: Thornwell, “Our National Sins,” 50. For a modern explanation of how Thornwell’s defense of a common sense race (and hence his defense of African Americans as fully human) was linked to his biblical defense of slavery, see Eugene D. Genovese, A Consuming Fire: The Fall of the Confederacy in the Mind of the White Christian South (Athens, Ga., 1998), 4, 80-88.]

(from pp. 399-400 of: Mark A. Noll (2002). America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. Oxford University Press. Italics original, bold added)

More Noll quotes here and here and here.

Nick you recommended McCalla’s book The Creationist Debate. It is an absolute load of crap. It gets its science wrong eg on radiometric age dating and its history of geology is just plain wrong as its treatment of the way Christians coped with geology then evolution. On geology Rudwick’s Bursting the Limits of Time and my chapter in Myth and Geology (Special Publication of the Geol Soc of London no273 ed Piccardi and Masse March 2007) simply contradicts all the nonsense he writes.

McCalla is not a geologist and he was attempting to cover 500 years of history so he is bound to miss a few things. He probably did not have this latest work (2005 and 2007) available, and I understand that you have been revising and updating the history of “scriptural geology” etc. in the early 1800s. Is this what you are reacting to or is it worse than that?

I am not competent to judge the history of geology beyond the basics, but overall McCalla’s book, it’s history of “chronology” (the attempt to reconcile the Bible with ancient history from other cultures, during 1650-1800 especially), “polygenism” (the mid-1800s debate over whether or not humans were one species or several – the Bible, and also Darwin, said “one species”), etc. really educated me on what was going on before 1859. The concluding chapter on creation science and ID was not quite perfect either on the history but overall it was extremely perceptive IMHO.

Comment #177072

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 19, 2007 8:40 PM (e)

PS: Michael Roberts’ article is here and was educational to me at least, although Thornwell provides at least one exception to the “all educated people accepted an old earth by 1860” idea:

Geological Society, London, Special Publications; 2007; v. 273; p. 39-49;
DOI: 10.1144/GSL.SP.2007.273.01.04
© 2007 Geological Society of London
Genesis Chapter 1 and geological time from Hugo Grotius and Marin Mersenne to William Conybeare and Thomas Chalmers (1620–1825)
Michael B. Roberts

The Vicarage, 5 Lancaster Road, Cockerham, Lancaster, LA2 OEB, UK (e-mail: [Enable javascript to see this email address.])

In 1550 few questioned the ‘biblical’ age of the earth, but by the mid-nineteenth century no educated person accepted it. The change is considered to have been a period of conflict between Christianity and science over the age of the earth. In fact, the conflict was small because from the Reformation era most considered the bible to be accommodated to its culture and that at the beginning of time God created a Chaos, which was re-constituted in ‘six days’. This was put forward by Grotius and Mersenne. then by the Theories of the Earth of Burnet. Whiston and others and then by later writers to allow for geological time. This reached its climax in early nineteenth century Britain with Chalmers. Conybeare and Buckland, thus preventing any major conflict between geology and Genesis. The perceived conflict of these centuries is a matter of retrospective interpretation, which does not do justice to those Christian thinkers, like de Luc, Chalmers and Townsend who accommodated geological time with little conflict, and those like Patrick, Ray and Whiston who opened up the way for this accommodation to geological time in the seventeenth century. The conflict between geology and Genesis is one of retrospective perception rather than historical reality. Only a minority of Christians, as with the anti- or scriptural geologists of the early nineteenth century, considered there to be a conflict.

Comment #177075

Posted by MPW on May 19, 2007 9:22 PM (e)

(I’ve never been able to figure out how to do nested quotes on here. Anyway…)

Mark, you said: “One of the main creationist claims is that the evidence for Darwinism is only greatly compelling when one assumes naturalism.”

I’m not sure this accurately describes the view of old-school YEC creationism; it sounds more like ID creationism to me. But accepting that statement for the sake of argument, I note that you may have given more away here than you intended, Mark. This sounds kind of like an admission that the evidence for evolution* is compelling. Certainly you’re stating that this evidence only seems unconvincing if you throw out naturalism. Yet you yourself admit that you and many other creationists comfortably accept a large role for methodological naturalism in science. So what is the justification for choosing the question of species origins as the point where naturalism becomes unacceptable?

Of course, this is arguably a rather minor question compared to the more fundamental one of just what in the world “non-naturalist science” is, anyway. How does it work? What useful results has it produced? I can’t immediately recall ever having heard a clear, substantive explanation of this from any crusader against naturalistic science, and they get asked quite often.

You said: “If you assume naturalism, something like Darwinism has got to be the way life arose (what other plausible naturalistic possibilities are there?)”

Well, none so far. Which is not to say it’s impossible that someone might come up with one someday. Again, how do you think this makes your case for you?

You said: “But if you start with the assumption of Christian theism and the infallibility of the Bible, the evidence for Darwinism is at least far less impressive. Creationism of some sort seems the more rational alternative.”

Which just shows that when one starts with faulty premises, one tends to come to faulty conclusions. This isn’t news.

*It’s not “Darwinism,” it’s the “theory of evolution,” or TOE if you want a more user-friendly term. You creos have all been told this a million times, I know, but it always bears repeating.

Comment #177079

Posted by James McGrath on May 19, 2007 10:00 PM (e)

Most fundamentalists will take it as a compliment if you say that their reasoning is child-like, and if the movie Jesus Camp is anything to go by, then many will not feel that indoctrination against science as a child is necessarily a bad thing either!

I just finished reading Ayala’s little book Darwin and Intelligent Design and I must say it is really remarkable how many crucial and even uniquely insightful scientific and theological arguments against antievolutionism and intelligent design he packs into such a short and highly readable book. I provide some key points and highlights from it on my blog - http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/blog/

Comment #177088

Posted by Petro on May 20, 2007 12:23 AM (e)

Mark Hausam is a case example on the childhood indoctrination studied in the Science article. Mark, do you agree with the conclusions presented? Did you have authorative adults with strong YEC beliefs around you, when you where a kid?

Comment #177089

Posted by Science Avenger on May 20, 2007 12:30 AM (e)

I’ll give Mark 1,000,000 to one odds he wasn’t born in India.

Comment #177091

Posted by George Cauldron on May 20, 2007 12:49 AM (e)

‘Diana’ misspelled the URL for that stupid Dembski ‘humor’ site (s)he tried to link to.

BTW, I think ‘Diana’ = ‘Grady’ = ‘Clarissa’. Perhaps Nick should check their ISP numbers?

Comment #177100

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 20, 2007 1:40 AM (e)

James Mcgrath wrote:

I just finished reading Ayala’s little book Darwin and Intelligent Design and I must say it is really remarkable how many crucial and even uniquely insightful scientific and theological arguments against antievolutionism and intelligent design he packs into such a short and highly readable book. I provide some key points and highlights from it on my blog

James, I checked out your site and the course in which you would like to use Ayala’s book. It looks like a very interesting course.

If you don’t mind my asking, what is the student make-up of the course? Do you get many science majors?

Comment #177101

Posted by Michael Roberts on May 20, 2007 1:50 AM (e)

Nick thanks for your comments in 177066

I have long been aware of Thornwell in the confederate states. His colleague Dabney said much the same, but in the 1860s they were an absolute rarity and I have struggled to find more than a dozen YEs (anachronism) in that period both in the USA and UK.

The Hodges are more typical but even then McCalla could not get him right p118.

His history of geology is dire and he totally misunderstands geologists like Murchison and Sedgwick p64-7 misreading earlier works by Rudwick. From his bibliography he referred to many sound books but still got it wrong

His paragraph on radiometric age dating on p 137 is worthy of AIG

He misunderstands the 17th century Theories of the Earth and to cap it all couldn’t even read The Genesis Flood right!

I rest my case. His book is rubbish and will mislead people on the developing relationship on science and religion from 1600 to today.

What we have is a mirror image of Creationist books as here is a poor example of a new genre Anti-creationism which seems to find a ready market.

Comment #177105

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 20, 2007 2:22 AM (e)

Michael – it sounds like you are working on a book review of McCalla. If so let me know, I would find it useful! From my perspective as a total noob on the history of geology, chronology, etc., it was pretty eye opening, but obviously there appear to be issues from the expert perspective.

PS: As far as good and bad anti-creationism books, I think McCalla is still above average – there has been a wave this last year or so, I have seen most of them, and a fair number are some combination of boring, derivative, or half-baked. OTOH there are some very good ones. But with each book it may depend on the expertise the reader is bringing to it. Experts are hard to satisfy but then the perfect book for the expert may be useless for the introductory reader.

Comment #177125

Posted by Moses on May 20, 2007 5:51 AM (e)

Comment #177088

Posted by Petro on May 20, 2007 12:23 AM (e)

Mark Hausam is a case example on the childhood indoctrination studied in the Science article. Mark, do you agree with the conclusions presented? Did you have authorative adults with strong YEC beliefs around you, when you where a kid?

Bit ironic isn’t it? An actual example defending his cultish belief system.

Comment #177146

Posted by harold on May 20, 2007 7:18 AM (e)

Moses -

The relationship between creationism and authoritarian fantasies that I have so clearly pointed out and demonstrated (twice now; Diana ducked the question about executing adults for consensual gay sex acts, and she would have replied if she opposed the idea) is, of course, especially true for aggressive, relatively well-off, relatively (that’s relatively) educated creationists.

I’d say it’s nearly 100% true for those who argue against evolution on the internet, run for school board, get involved in political campaigns, and the like.

The relationship between authoritarian tendencies and creationism appears to be considerably stronger than the relationship between parental teaching and creationism, at least among the self-appointed leaders and intelligentsia of the political cult. They’re often fond of boasting how they converted from parental atheism or liberal Christianity to “true” fundamentalism, and children of fundamentalists often choose a different religion. But every member of the DI is not-very-secretly working for Reconstructionism.

I don’t want to smear a smaller group of people, such as some members of Jehovah’s Witness congregations, Orthodox Jewish congregations, and the like, who may have beliefs that overlap with those of the “Conservative Christian Creationist”, but not consciously fantasize about imposing dystopian, authoritarian “Biblical” rule on the US, with themselves as the rulers.

There are also people who are taken in by the term “intelligent design” and assume that it means some sort of theistic or spiritual philosophy which is apolitical and compatible with science (Kurt Vonnegut appears to have made this mistake, at least transiently, late in his life).

Nevertheless, when someone describes themself as a “creationist”, or says that they “support ID” knowing what it really is and who the DI really is, it should be assumed that they are motivated by authoritarian, sex-obsessed political fantasies. I’m not saying that one “causes” the other - I think that whatever causes the obsession with brutal intrusion into other peoples’ private lives and enforcement of submissive rituals comes first and colors the “interpretation” of the Bible (or whatever cultural embodiment of tradition and authority may be at hand) - but I can’t prove that. I can, however, point out what appears to be a strong relationship.

Comment #177148

Posted by harold on May 20, 2007 7:48 AM (e)

I just noticed that the authoritarianism-creationism connection helps explain why “King James Bible literalism” creationism is mainly prevalent in English speaking countries relatively large Protestant populations, such as the US, anglophone Canada, and Australia, and to a lesser extent (I will explain why) the UK.

It’s simple - in another environment, with a different set of cultural symbols, a person with the same authoritarian tendencies and fantasies will link them to a justifying “interpretation” of a local symbol.

The trick is to find something that’s generally seen as “stern” and “traditional”, but also seen as “overall good” - and then distort it into a system of thought that somehow exiges that you impose a brutal authoritarian system, with yourself as ruler.

We know that there are Christian YEC’s and IDers in Finland, Poland, China, etc, but in those millieus, there are more convenient and more widely accepted works of philosophy, tradition, or religion to distort.

Comment #177203

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 20, 2007 9:26 AM (e)

When I said that my reason for adopting a young-earth way of thinking was based partly on “biblical evidence,” a lot of you took that to mean, apparently, that I accept the Bible on blind faith, arbitrarily assuming it to be true, and base my beliefs about the age of the earth on that. Therefore you called it authoritarian or relying on blind authority. However, I do not accept the Bible on blind faith, but because there is good evidence to conclude that it is true, and thus it is a rational source of evidence. So relying on the Bible is not opposed to relying on reason, but one source for reason to draw from. Relying on an authority can be rational, provided one has good reason to trust he authority.

Let me explain a little more clearly my methodology in thinking through the scientific questions we have been discussing. I reject reliance on blind faith entirely as irrational and even unethical. I believe in grounding all claims on rational sources of evidence. Starting from that foundation, I have concluded, based on the evidence, that Christianity is true and the Bible is infallible. Therefore, when the Bible describes the origin of the universe, earth, life, etc., I take it as an accurate, eye-witness (in a way) account of these things. So when I look at the scientific evidence, I come to it with those rational assumptions. It seems to me the best reading of the biblical text sees it as affirming creation in six days, defined as rotations of day and night, light and darkness. That probably implies regular, 24-hour days, or at least something very close to that (probably not billions of years). Now, if upon examination of the scientific evidence, the evidence clearly demands an interpretation that contradicts that view of the biblical creation accounts, then I would need to go back to those accounts and examine other plausible interpretations of them. If there were no plausible alternate interpretations, this would create a problem that would seem to call the Bible’s historicity into account. But I don’t anticipate that problem, because I think I have good reason to believe the Bible will be accurate (which doesn’t mean I would ignore evidence to the conrary). Because my conviction that the best interpretation of the biblical evidence supports a six-day creation is pretty strong (though probably less than 100% certain), it would take a lot of very good, very clear scientific evidence to convince me of the mainstream science view. So when I go to the scientific evidence, I am strongly, but rationally, biased by the biblical evidence towards a young-earth reading of the evidence. If the evidence can at least plausibly and reasonably be read in a young-earth manner, I will probably go with a young-earth interpretation. A naturalist, on the other hand, or one who will accept only natural explanations in science, will come to the empirical evidence biased, by what they take to be rational reasons, towards an old-earth interpretation. It would take an enormous amount of evidence to convince them otherwise, because a naturalistic reading of evolution depends on an old earth.

Therefore, what we have when we are dealing with the empirical evidence for Darwinian evolution and for age of the earth questions is two different starting points from which the evidence is examined, and these starting points can lead to radically different readings of the empirical evidence and thus radically different conclusions. So here is a question for you, if any of you can be self-aware enough about your own assumptions to answer it: Does the empirical evidence, in your opinion, demand an old earth and Darwinian evolution, or can it conceivably and plausibly be read in a non-Darwinian and/or young earth direction, if you were to come to it with the same starting assumptions I have–the reliability of the biblical text? To answer this question, you will have to be able to separate naturalistic assumptions from your evaluation of the empirical evidence and be able, for a moment, to see the evidence as if you were a biblical literalist, as if you were convinced that the Bible contains reliable history on origins and my interpretation of the text is accurate. I can do the same sort of thought-experiment in a naturalistic direction, and of course, when I do so, the evidence for evolution is obviously compelling.

I understand your arguments in favor of methodological naturalism. According to an orthodox Christian worldview, most of the time God works through natural means (the tsunamis, earthquakes, etc., are not exceptions but examples of this). By “natural means” I mean means that, while employed by divine providence for a purpose, yet follow natural, predictable laws. This is definitely true in everyday life almost, if not all, of the time, for all of us. Therefore I would not want a mechanic to try to use revelation from God to fix my care engine, because I don’t believe he will receive such revelation. (If I believed he would receive it, though, I would want him to use it.) I get irritated with Chrsitians who make decisions in their lives based on supposed revelations they are receiving, because I don’t think their expectation is biblical. Therefore, methodological naturalism, when applied to everyday experiments and things like that, will not be problematic. However, the orthodox Christian worldview does say that there have been points (and there will be points) in history where God has not worked through natural means. Creation is one of them. To apply methodological naturalism to these areas would be to make a false and misleading assumption and be guided by it. if I were a naturalist, I would have reason to employ methodological naturalism universally, but as a Christian, I have reason NOT to emply it universally. So how you see the reliabliligy of methodological naturalism in particular cases depends on what your worldview is, or other things that you believe (like whether you are a historic, orthodox Christian who takes the Bible seriously as history, or a naturalist, or something else). Do you see what I mean?

Someone asked me why I think Christianity is better than Hinduism or other supernatural religions. Ths short answer is that I believe in Christianity for the same reason most people, including people on this list, claim to believe what they believe–because of the evidence. I do not believe that Hinduism fits reality–the evidence is against it at a number of points. I do think the evidence points to Christianity. It is a naturalist assumption that one cannot rationally decide between competing supernatural claims. They assume that because they assume that all supernatural claims are absurd and without evidence, so there would be no way to arbitrate between them any more than one could rationally decide whose imaginary friend is more real than someone else’s. Since I am not a naturalist, I do not share that assumption, so I don’t believe it is impossible to rationally decide between supernatural claims.

Many of you seem to enjoy coming up with psychological explanations for why I believe what I believe. It is rather humorous (if frustrating), because all of your speculations are wildly off the mark. And yet you seem quite convinced of them. My personality is nearly as unauthoritarian as you can get. I do not secretly seek to possess power over people. My natural personality would drive me to a radical libertarianism in politics if I was just going with its natural preferences. And I do hate blind belief. I inculcate that to my children. If you try to tell one of my daughters something, assuming they will not be in their shy mode and not answer you, your answer is likely to be something like, “Where is your evidence for that? Prove it!” The fact that you can all feel like you have such strong evidence about me, and yet I have really given you almost none and your conclusions are completely off-base, doesn’t give me much hope that you do your scientific thinking in other areas any better. Obviously most of you believe things because you want to believe them, because they fit your biases, not because of the evidence. You want to believe about creationists what you want to believe–and you will make it fit despite lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary. I keep coming back to this description in my thinking about you–many of you (not all) seem like fundamentalists in the worse sense–close-mnded, bigoted, emotionally-driven, un-self-aware people who can’t even reigh in your negative biases enough to even try to understand anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Hopefully you are not like that in all of you life, but you definitely give the appearance of being like that when it comes to the subjects we are discussing. Oh, and I did not have authoritarian YEC parents. My parents were evangelicals (although my wife’s were agnostic, and she believe the same things that I do), but they were far from authoritarian. I’ve had an interest in talking to people of different religions/worldviews since I was quite young, and my parents always supported me in that. They used to drive me to a synagogue service every Friday night when I was in ninth grade, pick me up from mosques, and all sorts of things. They are not clearly-convinced six-day creationists, and neither was I a six-day creationist until about 2 years ago (I am 29 years old now). So why don’t you leave off thy psychoanalysis and try to keep your claims in proportion to your evidence? One would expect more from those who are professedly scientifically-minded.

I’ve got a lot to get to, but I’ll have to continue later. Thanks to you who have given me some specific evidence on Darwinism and an old earth. I haven’t forgotten it. I will come back to it later. Remember one thing: I am going to want to examine such evidence quite thoroughly before I will be convinced by it. I have wanted to do more of this for a long time, so I am enjoying having some opportunity to do it through this forum. Thank you. One question: Whoever it was who mentioned this, could you tell me a bit more about broken vitamin-C genes and why they support an evolutionary perspective in your view?

More later. Either tonight or tomorrow morning, depending on when I get some time.

Thanks,

Mark

Comment #177209

Posted by qetzal on May 20, 2007 9:56 AM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

I believe in grounding all claims on rational sources of evidence. Starting from that foundation, I have concluded, based on the evidence, that Christianity is true and the Bible is infallible.

Despite clear instances where the Bible contradicts itself?

So here is a question for you, if any of you can be self-aware enough about your own assumptions to answer it: Does the empirical evidence, in your opinion, demand an old earth and Darwinian evolution, or can it conceivably and plausibly be read in a non-Darwinian and/or young earth direction, if you were to come to it with the same starting assumptions I have–the reliability of the biblical text?

If your starting assumption is biblical infallibility, you can always find a way to interpret any evidence to fit your assumption. Anything that doesn’t fit can be explained away as “God did it that way for reasons we don’t (or can’t) understand.”

You seem to think we are doing the same thing. You think we start from an assumption that the earth is old and evolution is real, and interpret all evidence accordingly.

That’s not true. The reality is, if you start with NO assumptions, the evidence itself leads to a conclusion that the earth is billions of years old, and the that life evolved from a common ancestor.

Once again, you can find ways to re-interpret or dismiss that evidence, if you hold your biblical infallibility assumption as inviolate. That’s very different than claiming the empirical evidence supports a young earth or recent creation.

Comment #177210

Posted by harold on May 20, 2007 9:58 AM (e)

Mark H. -

Many of you seem to enjoy coming up with psychological explanations for why I believe what I believe. It is rather humorous (if frustrating), because all of your speculations are wildly off the mark. And yet you seem quite convinced of them. My personality is nearly as unauthoritarian as you can get

I’ve noted a relationship between authoritarianism and a tendency to “interpret” the Bible in a creationist. The topic of this thread is, in fact, what psychological traits might lead people to believe in creationist nonsense. I have not conjectured where the authoritarian tendencies come from.

Saying that your personality is “unauthoritarian”, while at the same time claiming to believe in the practice of “Old Testament Law” so harsh that you outright admit that you don’t even dare to discuss the details, is nonsense. It’s like claiming to be “nonviolent” while simultaneously attacking someone for no reason. You adhere to what amounts to almost the most authoritarian possible belief system. You are an authoritarian. It is a subjective judgment whether that is a good or bad thing. But it is what you are, by any reasonable standard.

Another trait you have in common with your creationist peers, which I forgot to mention, is that you seem to have a very weak faith. You believe in Christianity because you’ve hypnotized yourself into at least being able to claim with a straight face that it is a system of “facts”. Your “faith” cannot handle testing.

Another thing you have in common with other creationists is to repeat the same disproven statements over and over and over again.

This is not a forum for amateur psychiatric diagnosis, but it’s so clear that authoritarian thinking, inability to accept critical feedback, and the use of repetition as a defense against challenge, are related to your creationism, that it would be amiss not to say so. Again, it’s a subjective judgment whether these are good or bad. I’m just saying that they seem to be there.

I don’t particularly mean to give you a hard time, although I concede that find your political ideas dangerous and threatening to a free society. But the topic of this thread is the psychology of creationists, and you have joined it voluntarily.

Comment #177214

Posted by fnxtr on May 20, 2007 10:23 AM (e)

All I can say, Mark, is that you have an interesting interpretation of the word “evidence”. Further discussion is pointless.

Comment #177218

Posted by David Stanton on May 20, 2007 10:45 AM (e)

qetzel wrote:

“You seem to think we are doing the same thing. You think we start from an assumption that the earth is old and evolution is real, and interpret all evidence accordingly.

That’s not true. The reality is, if you start with NO assumptions, the evidence itself leads to a conclusion that the earth is billions of years old, and the that life evolved from a common ancestor.”

I agree completely. What assumptions do you need to count tree rings or annual layers in ice cores? Just look at the evidence. That doesn’t mean you have any assumptions whatsoever, except a willingness to look at the evidence. Why do you think looking at the evidence will give a reasonable answer? Because it has so many times in the past in so many different areas. This is not an assumption, it is based on experience. It is not assumed that a reasonable answer will always be forthcoming. It is not assumed that the right answer will always be found immediately. That would be like assuming that if the Bible is right about just one thing then it must be right about everything.

Another common psychological phenomenon in creationists is projection. In my experience they tend to assume that everyone actually thinks exactly the same way that they do. They simply can’t conceive that anyone could possibly be different from themselves. This often manisfests in the assumption that scientists are “indoctrinated” or “brainwashed” or that they can’t look at evidence without bias. Indeed, many posters on this blog usually assume that whenever a scientist makes a factual claim that they are just making stuff up. That is why it is important to provide references from the scientific literature to support factual claims.

Scientists must demonstrate that they really are different from someone who uses intuition to understand the universe. Scientists must not only espose the primacy of empiricism, they must also demonstrate it. Of course scientists are human. Of course they have biases and preconceptioons just like anyone else. The difference is that they strive to identify them, admit them and rise above them.

So, Mark, thanks once again for returning to submit yourself to such abuse. Now, about that evidence I mentioned, take your time. There’s plenty more where that came from.

Comment #177219

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on May 20, 2007 10:48 AM (e)

Evidence for a young earth.

Comment #177222

Posted by Science Avenger on May 20, 2007 11:18 AM (e)

Harold said:

Nevertheless, when someone describes themself as a “creationist”, or says that they “support ID” knowing what it really is and who the DI really is, it should be assumed that they are motivated by authoritarian, sex-obsessed political fantasies. I’m not saying that one “causes” the other - I think that whatever causes the obsession with brutal intrusion into other peoples’ private lives and enforcement of submissive rituals comes first and colors the “interpretation” of the Bible (or whatever cultural embodiment of tradition and authority may be at hand)

Interesting. I had been wondering what the point was of the odd racy questions. It is certainly an interesting observation. Dembski’s obsession with farts and Ann Coulter’s with fisting sprang to mind. Sexual deviancy driving the Hard Right? That’s delicious irony even without the erotic pun.

Comment #177223

Posted by David Stanton on May 20, 2007 11:19 AM (e)

Mark,

If you really do want to look at evidence, there is a great web resource called Talk Origins. They have an extensive archive dealing with creationist claims and providing evidence on many different topics. Just go to:

www.talkorigins.org

If you are interested in data regarding the age of the earth, try some of the following archives on that site:

/faqs/faq-age-of-the-earth
/icecores
/dating
/isochron-dating

If you are interested in genetic evidence, I would recommend starting with this archive:

/faqs/molgen

There is a vast literature on genetics and evolution. In my opiinion, some of the best evidence for common descent comes from genetics, including retroviral transposons. The material is technical, but the archive is written for non-scientists.

I hope you enjoy examining the evidence. That is how I came to accept the reality of evolution. It wasn’t what I was taught. It wasn’t what I wanted to believe. But, until you have actually examined the evidence, it is foolish to claim that your beliefs are based on evidence.

Comment #177229

Posted by Richard Simons on May 20, 2007 11:49 AM (e)

I have concluded, based on the evidence, that Christianity is true and the Bible is infallible.

I concede that it is possible to conclude that the Bible is correct on some matters (e.g. the approximate geography of the area in question) or even that it is correct in all the matters that have been checked (of course, this is ignoring the internal inconsistencies) but how is it possible to conclude, based on evidence, that anything is infallible?

Does the empirical evidence, in your opinion, demand an old earth and Darwinian evolution, or can it conceivably and plausibly be read in a non-Darwinian and/or young earth direction, if you were to come to it with the same starting assumptions I have–the reliability of the biblical text?

The evidence inexorably leads to the conclusion that the starting assumption is wrong.

I don’t think you have the remotest idea of how strong the evidence for an old earth and evolution is. There are multiple lines of evidence for an old earth and multiple lines of evidence that a recent world-wide flood did not occur. Every month literally thousands of scientific papers are published, every one of which could cause us to doubt the theory of evolution. But none ever has.

could you tell me a bit more about broken vitamin-C genes and why they support an evolutionary perspective in your view?

Most mammals are able to produce vitamin C. However, primates (including us), are unable to make this compound. If primates had the same origin as other mammals, we would expect to find signs that there had been a gene for vitamin C production. The gene is indeed found, but one base in the DNA has gone missing (guinea pigs have a different mistake). This means that when the RNA is transcribed the triplet codes from this point on are all out by one place, resulting in garbage instead of vitamin C. Also, if primates all have the same origin we would expect to find the same mistake in all of them. In all primates examined so far, that has been the case.

If these organisms (or ‘kinds’) had different origins the presence of a defective gene makes absolutely no sense and the presence of the same defective gene in otherwise apparently related organisms again makes no sense. Of course, it is always possible to say ‘That is the way God chose to do it and who are we to understand His reasons?’ but that just avoids the problem.

Comment #177235

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 20, 2007 12:36 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

I believe in grounding all claims on rational sources of evidence. Starting from that foundation, I have concluded, based on the evidence, that Christianity is true and the Bible is infallible.

Are these “rational sources of evidence” clearly verifiable by others in the scientific community? Perhaps you could enlighten us on what this evidence is. You keep being so coy about this evidence. What’s the problem with showing us the evidence?

“Rational” sources of evidence can often be convincing self-delusions that have no external verifiable evidences to back them up. How do you know that this is not what you are doing to yourself (or, more to the point, is being done to you by use of fear)?

Comment #177240

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 20, 2007 1:23 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

I keep coming back to this description in my thinking about you–many of you (not all) seem like fundamentalists in the worse sense–close-mnded, bigoted, emotionally-driven, un-self-aware people who can’t even reigh in your negative biases enough to even try to understand anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

I’m not a psychologist, but I believe this is called “projection” in the psychological community.

There is a big difference between between the sects that are the topic of this thread and those who are willing to engage in the scientific process of checking things out. We are even willing to investigate the reliability of our sources. We don’t even take a source of “evidence” as reliable until we can find independent sources and crosschecks. That is what has been done in all of science. This even carries over to examinations of our own biases. Those who have managed to extract themselves from the repressive influences of authoritatian religions and have been able to look back and see the prison they were in know full well that one has to question and cross check everything, including revered authorities.

We have even done it with the religious texts of various religions, and it turns out that these are not reliable sources of information nor are they what literal followers of these text claim they are. You can easily check this for yourself if you go to a decent library or delve into the research that has been done on the history of religions in the world.

Comment #177243

Posted by David Stanton on May 20, 2007 1:43 PM (e)

Mark wrote:

“Does the empirical evidence, in your opinion, demand an old earth and Darwinian evolution, or can it conceivably and plausibly be read in a non-Darwinian and/or young earth direction, if you were to come to it with the same starting assumptions I have–the reliability of the biblical text? To answer this question, you will have to be able to separate naturalistic assumptions from your evaluation of the empirical evidence and be able, for a moment, to see the evidence as if you were a biblical literalist, as if you were convinced that the Bible contains reliable history on origins and my interpretation of the text is accurate. I can do the same sort of thought-experiment in a naturalistic direction, and of course, when I do so, the evidence for evolution is obviously compelling.”

I hope you realize that you have just admitted that the ONLY reason that YOU do not find the evidence compelling is that your starting assumptions will not allow it, no matter what the evidence. Then you have the audacity to assert that unless we can start with the exact same assumptions and still conclude that the evidence is not compelling that we are the ones who are biased! OK, you’re on.

I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home. My father was a preacher, my mother was a sunday school teacher. I was a national champion Bible quizzer. I was a biblical literalist. I went to college with the firm conviction that evolution was completely wrong and that all the evidence led to that conclusion. Then a funny thing happened in college. I studied comparative vertebrate anatomy. Because of what I learned, I finally had to admit that evolution was really true. If I were intellectually honest, I had to admit it, no matter what I had been taught. No one tried to convince me of this. No teacher tried to influence me. The truth was obvious when the evidence was examined. Of course my family practically disowned me. To this day I am the black sheep they pray for.

I have spent the last thirty years studying the evidence for evolution. Yes, I find that evidence extremely compelling. I started with your exact same assumptions, misconceptions and biases, perhaps even more so. So don’t you try to tell me I’m committed to naturalism.

Comment #177259

Posted by Larry Gilman on May 20, 2007 2:44 PM (e)

Dear Glenn,

Thanks for your note. You write that you take my view to be that Bloom and Weisberg’s “scientism is an illegitimate attempt to muscle those with views which differ from their own out of moral and ethical disputes.”

Yes, that’s pretty much my view. As I think you and I agree, any claim to have scientifically disverified “an untestable belief not in competition with scientific explanation” (your phrase) is bogus. All beliefs about unmeasurables, of whatever class, are untestable by scientific standards and therefore hewing to them cannot be characterized as “resistance to science.” Acculturation in a modern scientific setting may render certain beliefs less plausible for some people, or positively repulsive, but this is a sociological and psychological phenomenon, not a form of scientific disproof.

I’m not familiar with Paul Nelson’s writings. If he makes claims about observables (e.g., certain classes of neural event), then those claims can be scientifically disproved. But those are not the sort of claims being made, to the best of my knowledge, by (say) Catholics in the ensoulment dispute—which is the context that B&W reference.

Re. ID: When ID makes claims about observables/measurables it is, thus far, falsifiable, unlike a Catholic theologian’s belief that a third-day fetus has a “soul.” Of course, that does not qualify ID as “science”: any of us might stand with a sixth drink in our hand making falsifiable fact-claims as fast as we could slur them out, but it wouldn’t mean we were doing “science.” To be a scientist you have to do more than just be demonstrably wrong about something. (I assume we more or less agree on this point.)

I do not, by the way, agree with Stephen Jay Gould that religion and science are innately “nonoverlapping magisteria.” I do not see any useful sense in which Creationist claims about biology can be classified as not-religious, so clearly, some forms of religious belief are as overlapping as all get-out. But just as obviously, there are many categories of conviction, religious and other, that really are nonverifiable in any scientific sense, therefore nonfalsifiable or “nonoverlapping” with science. All ethical and aesthetic convictions, for instance. Or the belief in an “immaterial, immortal soul,” which B&W pretend is disverified.

Sincerely,

Larry Gilman

Comment #177267

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 20, 2007 3:42 PM (e)

Pete Dunkelberg, Comment #177219:

Thanks for that link. Great story!

Comment #177301

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on May 20, 2007 5:31 PM (e)

Is this blog post related to this thread? IOW, another explanation of why we have so many creos today.

Comment #177318

Posted by David B. Benson on May 20, 2007 6:50 PM (e)

Pete Dunkelberg — One-sixth! That a lot.

Scary…

Comment #177323

Posted by Moses on May 20, 2007 7:02 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

I believe in grounding all claims on rational sources of evidence. Starting from that foundation, I have concluded, based on the evidence, that Christianity is true and the Bible is infallible….

So here is a question for you, if any of you can be self-aware enough about your own assumptions to answer it: Does the empirical evidence, in your opinion, demand an old earth and Darwinian evolution, or can it conceivably and plausibly be read in a non-Darwinian and/or young earth direction, if you were to come to it with the same starting assumptions I have–the reliability of the biblical text?

Mr Hausam, your certainty in biblical inerrancy is exceeded only by your ignorance of the origin of Judaism and it’s daughter religion - Christianity. For example, in the original Hebrew, in the second Genesis, when the voice in the garden says (I’m paraphrasing here) “Let us make man like us, Male and Female” the speaking voice is female. That is, it’s using female voice, like many languages (Spanish, French, etc.) use a female voice when words are spoken. It’s as clear as the nose on your face. Is this a translation error? No. Judaism was ONCE a polytheistic religion that practiced infanticide. Something they abandoned in 1600BC, when the Jews became culturally distinct from the Canaanites. Yet some of its artifacts continuing on today in many Christian religions. For example, Catholics pray to Mary to intercede with God. This role was, originally, God’s wife’s (Asheroth (sp)) role. Only Asheroth was written out by the Jews during the unification of Israel & Judea. Therefore, her symbol (the caduceus) was used against her (the serpent in the tree) to make Eve the source of evil.

So why would should anyone take your claims of “biblical inerrancy” as fact when you don’t even have a clue to the origin of your religion? Your religion isn’t even what you think it is. It’s not the continuation of a religion springing up with the dawn of man. But a third or fourth generation religion that’s evolved over time from a two pagen relgions, combined into one, practiced by some semetic hill tribes in the mid-east.

Comment #177328

Posted by Alipio on May 20, 2007 7:43 PM (e)

I haven’t read the article, it’s a shame you have not explained what was the actual research and methodology used, at least a paragraph of general notions. Just how good is this tudy, really? This question comes naturally to me since the conclusion of this “scientific study” is the inafitilism of creationism, an idea that is popular and greatly accepted among scientists and atheists so of course it will be greeted with roaring applause, but to me this means extra scrutiny is necessary. Self-indulgence alarm!!

I think the role of infantilism in creationism and religion in general has been for a long time a compelling argument, but to argue this, do we need or actually want any study like this? Is this actually evidence better than the good old arguments?
Will people use this study to say it is NOW “scientifically proven” that creationist people are infantile? I think that is an aberration. Isn’t that somehow indulging in the Baconian ultrapositivist silliness of “facts good, theories bad”?

Comment #177330

Posted by Henry J on May 20, 2007 7:51 PM (e)

Re “Is this blog post related to this thread? IOW, another explanation of why we have so many creos today.”

Is their fraction of the population up, or is it the amount of public commentary about it coming from them?

Comment #177333

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2007 8:09 PM (e)

I concede that it is possible to conclude that the Bible is correct on some matters (e.g. the approximate geography of the area in question) or even that it is correct in all the matters that have been checked (of course, this is ignoring the internal inconsistencies) but how is it possible to conclude, based on evidence, that anything is infallible?

hmm, I think Flint has made mention numerous times that it seems likely that folks with a worldview constructed in the fashion Mark’s is MUST consider the primary source of their worldview to be infallible.

otherwise, they become lost.

I don’t see Mark abandoning his tediously constructed worldview any time soon, so there will necessarily be a divide that will limit further discussion to meaningless semantics.

as soon as Mark admits he is ready to accept that nothing is “infallible”, then there is room to poke about, but until then, he has his defense mechanisms on red alert, and it’s extremely unlikely that further discussion will net any new insights.

Comment #177334

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2007 8:12 PM (e)

Will people use this study to say it is NOW “scientifically proven” that creationist people are infantile? I think that is an aberration. Isn’t that somehow indulging in the Baconian ultrapositivist silliness of “facts good, theories bad”?

you’ve entirely missed the thrust of the paper if you think it has anything to do with “infantilism”.

you should have been able to do better than that just reading the abstract.

Comment #177349

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 20, 2007 8:37 PM (e)

…or is it the amount of public commentary about it coming from them?

yes.

and it will likely get worse as they are marginalized further and further.

Comment #177365

Posted by Bob Altemeyer on May 20, 2007 10:44 PM (e)

Sorry to get here after all the excitement. Very interesting debate for someone such as I who studies the psychology behind these stands. I found David Stanton’s personal account very compelling. What a remarkable, against all odds, change.

Comment #177460

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 21, 2007 2:22 AM (e)

Mark Hausen – your claims to have a mature view about the age of the earth would be more convincing if you gave us explanations for the following data that indicate the earth is older than 10,000 years:

tree rings – 11,000+ years

ice cores – 110,000+ years by direct counting of annual layers

Radiometric dating – millions of years. Don’t worry about the complicated isochron method for getting exact ages, just explain why there are no nonradiogenic elements in the Earth’s crust with half-lives shorter than 70 million years, but plenty of such elements with longer half-lives.

Finally, you seem unaware that the ponderous term “methodological naturalism” was actually coined by an evangelical Christian who supported the idea, and published it in Christian Scholars Review. The term just described a much older idea, also invented by Christians, which was that God created a rational world that could be understood through the operation of natural laws, and that invoking miracles to explain away evidence was dishonoring God’s gifts of nature and reason. Reliance on natural law was at the heart of every major scientific advance from the 1600s on, and by the mid-1800s it was basically universally understood, especially by scientists who were Christians, that science’s job was to discover and explain via natural law, and that miracles were outside of its purview.

This is all explained here and in the references given. So let’s not have any silliness about methodological naturalism being an atheist plot or a non-Christian assumption…

PS: Your bit about how it’s all about how you accept facts and like science you just “interpret” the facts differently, is classic creationist psychology – I briefly described it as “facts good! theory bad!” but everyone who has done a lengthy study of the history of creationism seems to have noted it.

Comment #177521

Posted by Frank J on May 21, 2007 5:57 AM (e)

Mark:

If you really do believe in a young earth, and believe that you are basing it on evidence, then you should be just as eager to debate old-earth creationists. You say that you don’t know much geology. Perhaps you can learn some from them. You do agree that they don’t have a prior commitment to philosophical naturalism, don’t you?

Comment #177541

Posted by harold on May 21, 2007 8:10 AM (e)

Science Avenger -

Dembski’s obsession with farts and Ann Coulter’s with fisting sprang to mind. Sexual deviancy driving the Hard Right?

Of course, I mentioned sexuality merely because the authoritarian agenda associated with creationism is massively sexuality-focused (abstinence, birth control, condoms, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, pornography, stem cells, HIV, etc) and massively focused on corporal punishment. A central focus of the agenda is to intervene in other peoples’ sex lives, and dole out corporal punishment for private sexual or sex-related behaviors between consenting adults. This is an objective observation, which has been confirmed by the comments of creationists on this thread. It is a subjective judgment whether this is “good” or “bad”.

I don’t want to delve too deeply, but anecdotal evidence does suggest that a dynamic of secret sexual “deviancy” coupled with public claims of sexual purity and violent, almost sadistic condemnation of those who live honestly, is part of the picture. The list is so long and well-known that I’ll only briefly mention Swaggart, Haggard, Foley and Gingrich.

It’s interesting to note that it’s not only gays, sexually active single women, and the like who are condemned in sexual terms by these people - honestly monogamous heterosexual males seem to annoy them as well. Creationist Ann Coulter is fairly typical in also hurling sexually-charged abuse at married heterosexuals like John Edwards. Married, heterosexual Jimmy Carter endured similar abuse in his day. I don’t claim to know what all this means.

Perhaps what they’re trying to say is that they should be the only people on earth who are allowed to have sex, and everyone else should suffer for doing the same thing. Coupled, perhaps, with the idea that their sex should be over-the-top Roman-style decadent and deviant.

Again, these somewhat distasteful musings are relevant here because the issue is “what motivates creationists?”.

Comment #177545

Posted by Raging Bee on May 21, 2007 8:33 AM (e)

Mark: I’m sorry I wasn’t able to respond to you when you were posting here. Are you still following this thread? My post is rather long and rambling, so unless I get some reply from you, indicating you’re still here to read what I write, I won’t bother.

Comment #177546

Posted by harold on May 21, 2007 8:46 AM (e)

I actually tried to cancel that last post immediately above.

However, there’s nothing inherently inaccurate about it. I do hasten to add that many creationists may have exemplary and satisfying personal lives, and treat their spouses and families well. (Although still clinging to a sociopolitical agenda obsessed over the private sexual behavior of others, of course.)

It may be that deviant behavior by creationists/religious right figures is over-reported; nevertheless, it does seem from anecdotes to be at a high level.

I’m neither analyzing nor judging here, merely documenting observed behavior.

Comment #177554

Posted by David Stanton on May 21, 2007 9:35 AM (e)

Bob,

Thanks for the kind words. My story was not an easy thing to post, since it is a true story. As a wise man once said, “it ain’t easy bein me.” (I said he was wise, I didn’t say he was an English major).

Comment #177601

Posted by Grady on May 21, 2007 12:41 PM (e)

Hey snex, I was reading through these posts and saw your suggestion that people claiming to be former atheists are liars.

How about people who claim to be ex Christians but are now atheists who post stuff over at places like EXCHRISTIAN?

Are they liars too?

Comment #177611

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 21, 2007 12:57 PM (e)

OK, let’s get into some evidential considerations. I am going to have to go slow on much of this, especially the scientific evidence. I can only take one thing, maybe two things, at a time for the most part. What we need to do is look at the evolutionist claims and the creationist claims on a particular subject, see what we know and what we don’t know, and see what is a reasonable deduction from the actual evidence. I am learning as I go in many of these detailed cases, so bear with me.

Vitamin C genes: The claim has been made that there is good reason to think that humans and other primates share a common ancestor because they both have broken vitamin-C genes, whereas other animals do not. One creationist article dealing with the vitamin-C gene can be found here: http://www.icr.org/article/3271/. The author claims that it is difficult to determine what is a real pseudogene, because (as far as I understand the argument) sometimes parts of a pathway that produces one thing often produce something else. What might look like a “broken gene” might not be broken after all. If it is not a broken gene, the argument for common ancestry of primates and humans from this gene would lose its foundation. The gene, in that case, would just be a particular gene perhaps unique to primates, which would be equally well-explained by common design. Even if the gene turns out to be an actual broken gene, would that be better explained by common ancestry? Humans and other primates are definitely uniquely alike in various ways. Could it be that all primates origially were created with a functioning vitamin-C gene and then they all, or most of them, lost it due to the same environmental (or whatever) factors? In other words, the fact that primates all have the broken gene might just as easily indicate simply that created similarities between humans and other primates led to them suffering the same loss of gene function, whereas the differences between primates and other animals prevented that from happening to many of them. So, in light of all of this, why is common ancestry a better explanation than common design? Another question related to this: Are there any other species that have something that looks like it might be broken vitamin-C genes, besides humans and other primates?

Tree rings: Here are a couple of creationist articles dealing with tree rings: 1. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v25/i1/… 2. A common creationist claim seems to be that there is no living tree that has been dated to more than 5,000 years using “straightforward tree ring counting” methods. One of the implications of six-day creationism is that it will probably be impossible to date things like rocks and trees that came from before the flood. The reason is that things were created in a mature state. Adam and Eve, for example, were created as adults. Trying to figure out their age based on normal methods would be inaccurate for them. Similar, trees and other animals (as well as non-living things) would have been created in a mature state. Therefore, a tree could have been created with a number of tree rings already present. So clearly old, dead trees that could have come from before the flood will be useless in deciding between a young earth and an old earth, because one would expect the possibility of lots of tree rings in either scenario. Note that the “mature creation” idea is not an ad-hoc way of accounting for evidence that seems to be against the creationist position; rather, it is a natural implication of six-day creationism in itself.

Therefore, the only challenge from tree rings (or similar sorts of tree-dating methods) to YEC can come from living trees, or recently living trees. I already mentioned that creationists claim that there is no living tree that has been straightforwardly dated at more than 5,000 years. At this point, I need to do more research. Creationists are suspicious of some methods that have been used to date living, or recently living, trees to ages beyond 5,000 years. I want to know the basis of the suspicion. How have these older dates been reached? What has been the methodology? I need to know more of the specifics of the methodologies. I haven’t found much yet on the King Clone bush, but I have found that one scientist, at least, has disputed the date of 11,000 years. Now, obviously, that doesn’t prove anything in itself; but I want to know who that scientist is and why he wants to revise the date of that bush. I want to know the details of why the bush is commonly dated to 11,000 years.

OK, now I want to begin providing some positive evidence for Christianity and the infallibility of the Bible. Here, too, I will have to go slowly, focusing on one or two things at a time. Here I would like to start with evidence for the existence of God.

One of the basic Christian claims here is that the existence of an infinite-personal God (theism) is a logical deduction from the existence of the universe, meaning the space-time universe we see all around us and all the things and entities in that universe. There are a number of ways of exhibiting this connection, and a number of lines of converging evidence that leads to that conclusion. I am just going to go slow, taking it a bit at a time.

Christians argue that you have to have a self-existent, infinite (unlimited) being who is outside of space and time in order to explain the universe. One of the basic principles of logic is that all things or events that begin to be must have a cause of their existence, and a cause sufficient to produce the effect. Some atheists have argued that the universe itself could be self-existent, and thus not need a cause. The problem with this is that the universe simply isn’t self-existent. The universe is not really a unified thing but a collection of interacting things. The collection as a whole must have had a beginning, and thus all the things in the collection must have had a beginning as well. Time itself had to have had a beginning. Since the big bang theory has been accepted, most scientists have accepted that time has not gone on indefinitely, but this is better proven by philosophical argumentation. Time cannot have gone on forever because it is logically impossible to traverse an infinite series. If time had been going on forever, there would have passed already an infinite number of, say, minutes. But there cannot have already passed an infinite number of minutes, because it would take literally forever to traverse an infinite number of minutes. You would never get to the end of the series, by definition. And yet, we have arrived at this present moment. So time hasn’t been going on forever in the past, which means that the time-series began, and everything in the time-series began. We are therefore necessarily led to the existence of a cause for the beginning of the time-series and everything in it. There must be a reason why time began. If we say that the cause that began the time-series is in time, that just pushes the problem further back, because it, for the same reason, would have to have a cause outside of itself as well. So the first cause of all things must be outside of time. There is something that is timeless that “gave birth” to the temporal universe we all live in.

Also, not only does the temporal universe as a whole require an explanation outside of itself, but each moment in the time-series requires an explanation. Whenever something changes, there must be an explanation for the change, and it must come from outside the thing changing. If you roll a ball, and it suddently changes direction as it rolls, this requires an explanation. It would not do to say simply, “The ball just started rolling in a different direction without a cause.” In each moment, things are as they are. We speak about the “potential” of things to change, but the potential cannot be in the things themselves. To speak of potential as existing as a part of the things themselves would be like saying that it is more than what it is. What it is is not all that it is but what it isn’t is contained in what it is as well. So if things are as they are each moment, why do they become different the next. There must be a cause outside of time which explains the occurrence of each new moment.

OK, so we need something timeless to explain the temporal universe. Let’s see what else we can learn about this timeless thing. Well, we can learn that it must be one thing and not many things. In philosophical terminology, the timeless thing must be simple and not complex. It must not be more than one thing or be capable of being divided into parts, which comes to the same thing. Why? Let’s look at it this way: Let’s try to envision two ultimate things. Let’s call one A and the other B. Since both A and B are supposed to be ultimate, themselves uncaused, one cannot be the cause of the other. They cannot both be caused by some higher cause. If they are caused, they are not the ultimate first cause we are looking for. So they are both uncaused. There is a serious problem here. How can both A and B exist, sharing the same reality, the same laws of logic, both existing in a common context (universe), and yet be utterly and absolutely unrelated to each other? Clearly, there is a reality that functions as the context for both A and B, and neither A nor B can explain each other or that context. So there is a unifying reality that is not identical to either A or B, and this unifying reality will be the real first cause. Eventually, then, we must come to something that is not a collection of parts, something that is undivided and thus can be truly ultimate, the first cause of all things.

So we have a timeless, undivided substance. This substance will not be in space any more than in time, for obvious reasons. To be in space is to be a limited thing among other things. The unifying ground of all things would transcend the limits of being a particular thing in space.

What else can we know about this undivided substance outside of space and time that is the ground of the being of the universe? We can know that this substance will be infinite, or unlimited. By “infinite” I mean “unbounded.” You can see why I say it must be unbounded. To be bounded would be to be one thing among others, which would mean that it would not be the ultimate first cause that explains all the particulars. It would be the fulness and source of all power, because there could be no energy coming from something outside of it. It would be omnipresent, because, again, it would be outside of space-time, not located in one particular place, which would again imply that it was merely one thing among others and thus not the ultimate first cause.

An important question arises at this point. Is this undivided first-causal substance personal or impersonal? That is, does it have a mind (or, more accurately, is it a mind) or is it mindless? Well, there is good reason to conclude that it must be a mind. A big question here is, “What is the relationship between matter/energy and consciousness or mind?” Naturalists assume, because they typically believe that all things are reducible to matter/energy, that consciousness is a property that emerges from interactions of matter and energy. But this does not fit the observable evidence. How can you tell a lightening bolt apart from a frog? Simply by observation. They are simply different things. Similary, you can tell mind/consciousnes apart from matter/energy (at least as we normally understand matter/energy). If you have a marble, most of us would agree that you do not have consciousness. What if you add another marble to it so that you have two marbles? Any closer to consciousness? If you add ten more marbles and arrange them in some pattern, you are still no closer to consciousness. If you add ten thousand marbles and arrange them in very complex patterns, even having them move about and bump into each other in complex patterns, you are still no closer to consciousness. If you have 10 trillion marbles and arrange them in inconceivably complex patterns, you are no closer to consciousness. The reason is that no matter how intricately you arrange the bits of matter, they are still nothing more, to put it crudely, than bits of matter bumping into each other arranged in a complex physical pattern. Now, if we replace marbles with electrons, neurons, energy particles or waves, molecules, proteins, or whatever, the situation will be the same. The brain is an enormously complex animated pattern of matter and energy particles forming complex patterns and moving about in complex ways. But this in itself can do nothing toward producing consciousness. It is clear that consciousness is connected with the brain, but it is also clear that consciousness is distinct from the activity of the brain conceived of as a material entity doing material sorts of actions and that consciousness cannot be produced from the brain’s activity. There is much evidence to show a very close connection between brain and consciousness, but no evidence to show that the mind is reducible to the material properties of the brain. There is at least something like a symbiotic relationship, but no matter how close the relationship is, relationship is not the same as identity, and we have good reason (such as my argument above) to conclude there is no identity, or that consciousness cannot be reduced to a phenomenon of matter/energy as we usually understand the latter.

Now, here is the implication of this observation for our present discussion. The ultimate first cause, as we have seen, must be an undivided reality. Thus, all things are going to find their origin/source in one unified thing in the end. If consciousness cannot be reduced to matter/energy (and there is nothing else it could possibly reduce to as nothing else is logically possible), then conciousness must exist as such, unreduced, in the first cause. In other words, the unified, undivided substance that is the cause of all things must possess consciousness, or be a mind. It would thus be a personal being, as opposed to an impersonal thing.

This fact explains other things human beings are aware of, such as the intrinsic value of human life and the existence of ethics. If the universe were fundamentally impersonal, objective moral values could not exist, because objective values can be nothing more nor less than an ideal standard/preference/goal with regard to what we are supposed to be and do. If ultimate reality is impersonal, there is no purpose or goal woven into the universe as a whole. Personal traits, like goals and values, evolved from uncaring impersonal laws and phenomena. So we exist for no purpose, and thus there is nothing we are supposed to be or do. So there are no moral obligations. But we know we have normative ethical obligations that press upon us, that there are things we are supposed to be and do. Only a theistic universe can account for that. Also, to say that something, like a human being, has intrinsic value, is to say that we have a moral obligation to value human beings. But if there is no ultimate standard for what has value, a standard rooted in the fundamental nature of the universe, nothing has any intrinsic value. You or I might value things, but we would be under no ethical obligation to do so; it would merely be preference of ours, nothing more. But an ultimate, objective standard of value requires theism, because to have value means to be important, but important to whom? Not to the laws of physics, or matter/energy. Only an ultimate person could ground ultimate values. Without an ultimate person, I might value things, and you might value things, but there would be no objective, absolute standard of valuable-ness outside of our preferences, and thus no ethical obligation to value anybody.

I’ve gone on for quite a while now so let’s stop here. I haven’t given you a complete case for Christianity or the Bible yet, but I have given you a case for theism, which is a major step in that direction. How will you deal with the evidence? I suspect the temptation of many of you will be to ignore it and simply dismiss it by labeling it something like “philosophical mumbo-jumbo.” That is a non-rational response to philosophical evidence that is common today in certain segments of the culture, including naturalistic circles. But you can’t deal with serious arguments by dismissing them as silly without serious considerations. I won’t do that with your scientific arguments, so don’t do that with my philosophical arguments. I have given you evidence for theism. Your only rational responses are to accept it or show where my argumentation goes wrong. Anything else is a refusal, for one reason or another, to deal with the evidence. If you are not used to thinking philosophically, I would suggest you get used to it. We all have to learn new things sometimes if we want to be able to legitimately claim the title of “truth-seeker” to ourselves. Much of my philosophical argumentation is an attempt to spell out things that I think we all sense intuitively, whether we recognize it or not. But I am not content with intuition–I want to see the rational arguments laid out. So I have done so. There is more I could add, and no doubt I could say what I have said better, but the evidence for theism is there. How will you respond to it?

As we continue, I will give you more evidence for the Christian worldview and for the infallibility of the Bible. (Not all of it will take quite so long to lay out as today’s portion has!) And we can continue to look at the scientific claims relating to Darwinism and YEC issues.

OK, enough for now! Thanks again!

Mark

Comment #177622

Posted by Ric on May 21, 2007 1:32 PM (e)

Mark wrote:

So here is a question for you, if any of you can be self-aware enough about your own assumptions to answer it: Does the empirical evidence, in your opinion, demand an old earth and Darwinian evolution, or can it conceivably and plausibly be read in a non-Darwinian and/or young earth direction, if you were to come to it with the same starting assumptions I have–the reliability of the biblical text?

Mark, the weight of the empirical evidence for an old earth and evolution would cause me to have some serious cognitive dissonance if I believed the bible was inerrant. I’d like to think that I would have the courage to resolve that strong discord by reasoning my way to the idea that the bible is not infallible. However, humans being what they are, I might rationalize my way to the idea that the mounds and mounds of evidence, for some reason, can’t be right, and I might grasp at every contrarian argument I could, blinding myself to their obvious flaws.

Heaven forbid that be the case, but I do have to admit of the possibility.

Comment #177627

Posted by Raging Bee on May 21, 2007 1:47 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

The reason is that things were created in a mature state.

This is a genteel/dodgy way of saying “God faked the evidence.” And if your God would create a whole planetful of fake evidence, knowing in advance that his people would be so greatly deceived by it, then how can you be sure that Bible you consider “infallible” isn’t similarly packed with misleading clues? Having faked a whole planet’s geological record, faking one more book would be no problem at all, physically or morally.

Christian pholosophers and theologians rejected this “God faked the evidence” idea CENTURIES ago because of the implications: once you admit that our all-powerful Creator would allow us to be so deceived, then we are therefore under the power of an Evil Genius, not a just and benificient Creator; and we can no longer be sure that ANYTHING we perceive, by any means, can be relied on. If God would create trees with rings “proving” they were older than they really were, could he not also have created the entire Universe, as is, last Thursday, with implanted fake memories (what you call “a mature state”) to make us think we’ve been around longer? Once we’ve admitted the possibility that our Creator is lying on that scale, then we can no longer be sure that anything we’ve ever seen, heard, smelled, tasted or felt is even real at all.

Christians, like most other theists, believe that their God(s) is/are compassionate, just, and wise, as well as all-powerful. But a Universe so filled with misleading clues as you claim ours is, cannot be the work of a compassionate, just and wise Creator, nor even of an absent-minded one; it can only be the work of an Evil Genius. Is that what your God is? Or is Satan more powerful than your God?

If God faked the evidence, or knowingly allowed it to be faked, then your Bible is no more “infallible” than Bush’s copy of “My Pet Goat;” and your entire world-view has no underpinning whatsoever.

Comment #177638

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on May 21, 2007 2:35 PM (e)

Mark, I am seriously impressed with your effort. This is not to say I agree.

I am just going to make a few comments on logic and your use of it.

One of the basic principles of logic is that all things or events that begin to be must have a cause of their existence, and a cause sufficient to produce the effect.

No, it isn’t. This what is sometimes called the principle of sufficient reason, but it is not part of logic.

Google logic and do some reading on what logic is.

There is a serious problem here. How can both A and B exist, sharing the same reality, the same laws of logic, both existing in a common context (universe), and yet be utterly and absolutely unrelated to each other? Clearly, there is a reality that functions as the context for both A and B, and neither A nor B can explain each other or that context. So there is a unifying reality that is not identical to either A or B, and this unifying reality will be the real first cause.
(emphasis added)

This illustrates a common problem in arguments. The word clearly or similar words is often the precise spot where the argument is hand waving. There is no logical reason why there couldn’t be two unrelated things. There is nothing about this in logic. (google logic again) Your clearly is really just “because I say so”. Again this is far from an original error. You are hardly the only person to think this way.

To be bounded would be to be one thing among others, ….

The only reason in sight is because you say so. Logically, if there is only one thing and it is bounded, there is no problem. It is hard not to think in terms of unbounded Euclidian space, but in math, notably topology, one soon learns about manifolds that need not be embedded in Euclidian space; there is no logical problem at all with just a sphere or Klein bottle existing by itself, for instance.

I know that it can be hard to absorb the thought that what seems self evident to you has no relation to logic, but you can absorb it with effort, including finding out what logic is and what its limitations are. Good luck.

Comment #177639

Posted by David Stanton on May 21, 2007 2:41 PM (e)

Mark,

You astound me. No really, I mean it. I would have bet cash money that you were never coming back here. Congratulations. However, quoting old discredited creationist claims is not evidence of anything. You were asked to examine the evidence for yourself. Instead you respond by quoting creationist web sites. That is not the way science works. Did you look at the tree rings? Did you look at the ice cores? Did you sequence the genes? If not, why should your opinion count for more that the opinions of those who have?

You asked if there were other “broken genes” in other species. I already gave you a web site with literally hundreds of examples of just such things in many species. Did you even bother to go and look at the site? Do you actually think that design is a better explanation for the human genome? Do you actually think that there are not good statistical tests of homology? Do you know that the same kind of thing has happened in other genes recently enough so that the gene identities cannot be reasonably questioned? Did you know that this topic is the basis of many medical studies regarding susceptability to disease?

As for the tree ring data, no there is no living tree older than 5,000 years. So what? There is no living human older than 150 years. Does that mean the world is only 150 years old maximum? There is an unbroken record, correlated with climatic conditions, that goes back over 50,000 years. You cannot explain that away with wishful thinking. As others have already pointed out, stating that things were “created in a mature state” is nonsense. You demonstrate once again that you will rationalize any evidence that does not conform to your preconceived notions.

As for your little thought experiment, I see you did not see fit to respond to my response. I suppose you could call me a liar, although I wouldn’t recommend that strategy. However, my experience is not unique. Thousands of biblical literalists have come to the conclusion, based on the evidence, that evolution is the correct explanation for the diversity of life we see on the planet. So much for commitment to naturalism.

I would suggest that you not trash up this site with long-winded arguments about the infallability of the Bible. The moderator has been quite lenient to this point, since you seem to be that rarity of rarities, a relatively civil creationist. However, any attemps to convert us wayward heathens to your brand of religion are inappropriate in this context. Quite frankly you are demonstrating exactly the behavior you were accused of in the first place.

Comment #177640

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 21, 2007 2:49 PM (e)

Well, Mark Hausam hasn’t surprised us in the least. He has simply repeated almost verbatim the standard misconceptions and “cannot possibly be” arguments of the ID/Creationists. Given the sources he cites, it is almost inevitable that he hasn’t put in the time necessary to learn what the science really is. Unfortunately, now he has a lot of misconceptions he has to unlearn in order for him to be able to grasp where our understanding is today. But that is just what the ID/Creationists accomplish when they clutter up our current understanding of things with mountains of garbage.

Simply transferring problems about ultimate beginnings to a Christian god (or any other kind of god) doesn’t solve anything. It just avoids the issue. Modern ideas about cosmology have not done this, even though the problem might seem intractable to the unscientific mind.

The ID/Creationists interpretations of philosophy and science have always been self-serving and, as a result, ignore volumes of information and arguments that have developed over the few hundred years that the scientific enterprise has been growing. One should at least be aware of all that before lapsing into arguments that go back into the late Middle Ages.

There are major misconceptions about probability, about the nature of infinity, the nature of time, the nature of mind, the nature of evidence. There is a total lack of awareness of the multiple lines of robust independent evidence that converge to produce the most probable conclusions scientists hold today.

And, above all, there is the prior commitment to place a particular sectarian view of the Christian religion as the condition for interpreting everything else; a commitment that is driven by fear that doubting it will condemn one’s soul to eternal damnation.

This forum is not the place for Mark to get his education in science. The best we can do is suggest that he get busy and start developing another perspective. Learn from the science community, not just form the ID/Creationists. After all, those of us in science have learned the science as well as the ID/Creationists arguments. Why don’t the ID/Creationists learn the science as well as their own ideology? At least they would be better educated.

Mark has some real demons to battle in order to escape the conceptual prison he is in. He very likely has been taught that we are unwitting instruments of the devil who are tempting him to abandon his security in eternity. Of course, because of the fact that we are “unwitting” instruments, cuts off any possibility that he can verify or refute that claim. So the safe thing to do (driven by deep down fear) is to hang on to what his religious handlers have told him.

We wish him well.

Comment #177644

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on May 21, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

Jeeze, I think a couple of you are way too impatient with Mark.

Comment #177655

Posted by Grady on May 21, 2007 3:31 PM (e)

If teaching creationism is child abuse, as Dawkins and Dennet tell us, shouldn’t creationists be put in jail?

Comment #177659

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 21, 2007 3:46 PM (e)

Pete Dunkelberg wrote:

Jeeze, I think a couple of you are way too impatient with Mark.

Pete: You may be quite right, and I admire your patience. We are approaching 200 comments on this thread and it has technically gone off topic. What would you suggest?

Comment #177661

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 21, 2007 3:58 PM (e)

OK, let’s get into some evidential considerations. I am going to have to go slow on much of this, especially the scientific evidence. I can only take one thing, maybe two things, at a time for the most part. What we need to do is look at the evolutionist claims and the creationist claims on a particular subject, see what we know and what we don’t know, and see what is a reasonable deduction from the actual evidence.

Here’s a thought: Why don’t you look at the evidence, and I mean masses of evidence at once, and see to what conclusions they lead using ordinary thought processes regarding phylogenies, derivation, and everyday inference? What is the point of looking piecemeal at a “particular subject” and comparing evolutionist and creationist claims, except that you don’t know how science deals with matters in general?

I am learning as I go in many of these detailed cases, so bear with me.

Then why are you coming in here with pre-set conclusions about the Bible, evolution, and evidence?

Vitamin C genes: The claim has been made that there is good reason to think that humans and other primates share a common ancestor because they both have broken vitamin-C genes, whereas other animals do not. One creationist article dealing with the vitamin-C gene can be found here: […]ww.icr.org/article/3271/. The author claims that it is difficult to determine what is a real pseudogene, because (as far as I understand the argument) sometimes parts of a pathway that produces one thing often produce something else.

And why should we care if it actually produces something else? Why would any “designer” take a “broken vitamin C gene” and make something else out of it?

See, there are predictions that evolutionary theory makes, based upon how things work in this world, and these predictions are sensibly borne out by the evidence. You’re just back-fitting your hypothesis to fit your “designer” by claiming that it might make things by breaking them and rearranging them exactly as evolutionary theory predicts.

What might look like a “broken gene” might not be broken after all. If it is not a broken gene, the argument for common ancestry of primates and humans from this gene would lose its foundation.

That is completely untrue. Many genes are believed to have arisen by adaptation of duplicated genes which no longer are needed for their former purpose. Learn about evolutionary theory from a credible source for once, instead of from the ignorant lying creationist sources that you continually refer to.

The gene, in that case, would just be a particular gene perhaps unique to primates, which would be equally well-explained by common design.

No, it wouldn’t. Here’s another thought: why don’t you learn about design from a credible source, instead of from ignorant lying cretins who fill your head with complete nonsense? Do you know anything about design, how humans are not restricted to designing from apparently ancestral genes?

Do you know that the Wright brothers designed by observing bird wings in flight? Why didn’t your designer use bird wings in order to design bat wings like a real designer would do? Instead your “designer” used legs to “design bat wings”, in a manner inconsistent with known designers’ actions.

Even if the gene turns out to be an actual broken gene, would that be better explained by common ancestry?

Because it’s (the process of gene loss during evolutionary processes, that is) an inherent prediction from evolutionary theory, while you avoid using known design processes to “predict” what your designer would do.

Humans and other primates are definitely uniquely alike in various ways. Could it be that all primates origially were created with a functioning vitamin-C gene and then they all, or most of them, lost it due to the same environmental (or whatever) factors?

Why would they? Come on, you’re throwing this out, come up with an actual cause instead of mere apologetics and reaction against evolution. Why would humans lose it, when clearly it would have been beneficial throughout historical times?

We know why primates would have lost the gene, which is because it appears that primates had plenty of C from dietary sources during part of their evolution. Then when humans needed it, reacquiring the trait was difficult to impossible, at least on the shorter timescale.

In other words, the fact that primates all have the broken gene might just as easily indicate simply that created similarities between humans and other primates led to them suffering the same loss of gene function, whereas the differences between primates and other animals prevented that from happening to many of them. So, in light of all of this, why is common ancestry a better explanation than common design? Another question related to this: Are there any other species that have something that looks like it might be broken vitamin-C genes, besides humans and other primates?

You’re going to have to learn what science is, which is not a set of arguments over specific issues in biology, but is composed of coherent theories covering many facts by a common set of causal factors.

We don’t accept evolution because of the broken vitamin C gene, we accept it because it explains phylogenies and countless facts related to phylogeny, while nothing else does. It’s like languages, we know that they evolved because they embody the predictions of language evolution. You no doubt implicitly accept evolutionary explanations up to a point, so that you understand commonality and difference of human families based upon descent with modification. It’s just that you refuse to extend it when you have no reason not to do so, mainly due to your prior commitment to a belief which has no basis in evidence.

Instead of trying to deal separately with every last little fact, as creationists typically do, why don’t you explain why genetic dating happens to agree closely with the methods of dating fossils and rocks? Why don’t you explain nested hierarchies? Why don’t you tell us why there is no rational design (engineering solutions) among your “designed organisms”? Why don’t you tell us why wings are designed out of legs among vertebrates, and not designed from other, unrelated, wings?

Do you have an actual designer, or simply an intelligent being directing evolution in a manner producing results suspiciously close to what would be expected from “Darwinism”?

[Snip]Note that the “mature creation” idea is not an ad-hoc way of accounting for evidence that seems to be against the creationist position; rather, it is a natural implication of six-day creationism in itself.

What you fail to recognize is that claiming that Adam and Eve were created as adults is simply an “ad hoc” explanation, as it isn’t based on any evidence which correlates with the rest of the body of accumulated evidence. Extending your ad hoc explanation further hardly helps matters.

Christians argue that you have to have a self-existent, infinite (unlimited) being who is outside of space and time in order to explain the universe. One of the basic principles of logic is that all things or events that begin to be must have a cause of their existence, and a cause sufficient to produce the effect.

That isn’t a principle of logic at all. It’s an assumption of metaphysics, which is why metaphysics is in such disrepute in science and in any decent philosophy today, for there is no reasonable justification for the assumptions that you use.

Some atheists have argued that the universe itself could be self-existent, and thus not need a cause. The problem with this is that the universe simply isn’t self-existent. The universe is not really a unified thing but a collection of interacting things.

Okay, so you don’t know physics, philosophy, or atheism. “Self-existent” doesn’t even refer to anything, but is merely a set of words which fit grammatical structures and agrees with language in general.

More importantly, the universe is very much a unified thing, and cannot be understood otherwise. Relativity, quantum physics, thermodynamics, and even Newtonianism require the universe to be unified in crucial ways even in order to understand and predict it.

Because you don’t understand the unities of human models, from physics to philosophy, you don’t even have any basis for engaging in a conversation dealing with what is known about the universe.

The collection as a whole must have had a beginning, and thus all the things in the collection must have had a beginning as well.

A “collection” need not begin at the same time. Your lack of education makes you contradict even yourself.

Time itself had to have had a beginning. Since the big bang theory has been accepted, most scientists have accepted that time has not gone on indefinitely, but this is better proven by philosophical argumentation. Time cannot have gone on forever because it is logically impossible to traverse an infinite series. If time had been going on forever, there would have passed already an infinite number of, say, minutes. But there cannot have already passed an infinite number of minutes, because it would take literally forever to traverse an infinite number of minutes.

Sorry, your “philosophy” is unrecognizable as philosophy. The Greeks, who did know philosophpy (and started your particular version of it, to the extent that you understand it at all) thought that time had gone on forever. Many theists believe that God has been forever in time, if they don’t think that God is somehow beyond time.

Your trouble is that you can’t imagine time not starting at some point, which means that you’ve already missed the idea of time extending infinitely into the past (I doubt it’s a meaningful claim, against our present understanding of time and the other dimensions, but by philosophical means alone it remains possible).

[snip]So the first cause of all things must be outside of time. There is something that is timeless that “gave birth” to the temporal universe we all live in.

I’ve dealt somewhat with these dreary philosophical assumptions, but of course they’re not the point. You need to come up with evidence for creation of life and the earth, areas where biology makes solid claims, rather than arguing about the cosmos. I know that creationists rarely understand the limits of actual science, so they drag their little theologies into it all, but evolutionary theory as such does not deal with the creation of time or other cosmological issues.

[snip]So if things are as they are each moment, why do they become different the next. There must be a cause outside of time which explains the occurrence of each new moment.

Again, not an iota of evidence for your claims regarding creation, at least where it purports to supplant evolutionary theory.

Beyond that, it sure would be nice if you understood energy and dimensions, instead of relying upon your near-total ignorance of physics to claim that causation isn’t understood in the classical realm (yes, not beyond certain unknowns, but within the accounting methods of energy, momentum, “force”, etc., they are extremely well explained in science).

[snip]Eventually, then, we must come to something that is not a collection of parts, something that is undivided and thus can be truly ultimate, the first cause of all things.

Yes, we know, the simple being (or beyond being) who makes everything that is complex. It’s old worthless metaphysics, and your bringing it up indicates that you completely and utterly lack any scientific evidence for creation.

Now, here is the implication of this observation for our present discussion. The ultimate first cause, as we have seen, must be an undivided reality. Thus, all things are going to find their origin/source in one unified thing in the end. If consciousness cannot be reduced to matter/energy (and there is nothing else it could possibly reduce to as nothing else is logically possible), then conciousness must exist as such, unreduced, in the first cause. In other words, the unified, undivided substance that is the cause of all things must possess consciousness, or be a mind. It would thus be a personal being, as opposed to an impersonal thing.

There are no implications from your dreary ramblings based in unexamined metaphysical assumptions, for you have supplied no basis for those of us who don’t share your assumptions to begin to share them.

And consciousness can be reduced to matter/energy, which we know from accounting for matter/energy. Your unsupported assumption that it cannot be is only part and parcel of your unevidenced claims.

[snip]But an ultimate, objective standard of value requires theism, because to have value means to be important, but important to whom? Not to the laws of physics, or matter/energy. Only an ultimate person could ground ultimate values. Without an ultimate person, I might value things, and you might value things, but there would be no objective, absolute standard of valuable-ness outside of our preferences, and thus no ethical obligation to value anybody.

Okay, what ultimate objective values do humans share? Do the various genocides common through history support your claims?

Now I don’t deny that morality has commonality across peoples and cultures, what I fail to see any evidence for is an “objective, absolute standard”. Again, you utterly fail in the question of evidence, and how could you not when your entire “case” would fall if subjected to normal rules of evidence?

I’ve gone on for quite a while now so let’s stop here. I haven’t given you a complete case for Christianity or the Bible yet, but I have given you a case for theism, which is a major step in that direction.

I see no case whatsoever. See, I’ve actually studied philosophy quite deeply, and know that doubting your assumptions is all that is necessary to completely wipe out your metaphysical claims.

The trouble is that I know how you think, while you have essentially no contact with how someone who doubts your claims thinks. But because your metaphysics is circular and uses recursive functions to avoid questioning its own assumptions, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to see what a house of cards your “philosophy” is.

More importantly, you don’t even recognize what sort of evidence is needed to back up your claims of creationism as “science”. Hence you resort to exploded philosophies while ignoring the actual empirical evidence.

How will you deal with the evidence? I suspect the temptation of many of you will be to ignore it and simply dismiss it by labeling it something like “philosophical mumbo-jumbo.”

No, it’s bad, and poorly thought-out philosophical mumbo-jumbo. You’re as lacking in philosophical knowledge as you are in scientific knowledge.

That is a non-rational response to philosophical evidence that is common today in certain segments of the culture, including naturalistic circles.

Philosophy isn’t “evidence”, it’s a discussion about how to deal with actual evidence. See, you don’t even know how to use the language properly.

But you can’t deal with serious arguments by dismissing them as silly without serious considerations.

Serious arguments begin with questioning assumptions. You build upon faulty assumptions without subjecting them to any real analysis, for they are the only “arguments” you have to reach your “conclusions”.

I won’t do that with your scientific arguments, so don’t do that with my philosophical arguments.

You need to learn philosphy, and why Kant labels the metaphysics that you use as “speculation”.

I have given you evidence for theism. Your only rational responses are to accept it or show where my argumentation goes wrong.

I did show where they went wrong, in your blinkered assumptions. You don’t even know what logic entails.

Anything else is a refusal, for one reason or another, to deal with the evidence. If you are not used to thinking philosophically, I would suggest you get used to it.

I am used to it, which is why I have such a hard time dealing with old and fatuous nonsense such as yours.

We all have to learn new things sometimes if we want to be able to legitimately claim the title of “truth-seeker” to ourselves. Much of my philosophical argumentation is an attempt to spell out things that I think we all sense intuitively, whether we recognize it or not. But I am not content with intuition–I want to see the rational arguments laid out.

And this is one of your problems right there. You think that science should begin with rationality, hence you come in with ancient rationalizations and try to deduce your way to science. But science begins with the evidence, and the main role for philosophy today is to discuss how language and logic are to be properly used to discuss the evidence (since we can hardly think our way to God).

The fact of the matter is that there is little or no philosophy to be discussed with respect to biology, for biology remains within the area of evidence and science that most of the rest of empirical study does. Philosophy comes in where physics runs into weird effects and difficult questions, or when IDists/creationists try to foist metaphysics off onto us in lieu of their inability to supply the kinds of evidence needed in courts and in science (there are other times when philosophy matters in the practice of science, but these aren’t the usual in most of the practice of classical science).

You turn to “philosophy” because you can’t supply evidence in the prescribed manner. Unfortunately, all you know about “philosophy” is old nonsense which is based upon a decidedly unscientific view of the world and “reality”.

So I have done so. There is more I could add, and no doubt I could say what I have said better, but the evidence for theism is there. How will you respond to it?

By asking you for any reason why I should accept any of your “basic claims”, like that time can’t be infinite in the past from a purely philosophical viewpoint, why the source of the universe is supposed to be simple, why anything that is “outside the universe” would have to have the attributes you ascribe to it (indeed, the universe is thought by many to be due to factors outside of the universes, mainly because one can have some concept of what these at least might be via physics), and why consciousness supposedly is not “reducible” to matter/energy.

Or indeed, the main question to be posed is why you begin with unnecessary assumptions. Science properly (and ideally, though practically the problems of assumptions does inevitably exist) begins with the barest tool of human thought and observation, and builds models from what can be gleaned in that way. You want us to begin with what is unknown and unevidenced, and to subject our inductive and empirical processes to your unevidenced claims and faulty assumptions.

0As we continue, I will give you more evidence for the Christian worldview and for the infallibility of the Bible. (Not all of it will take quite so long to lay out as today’s portion has!) And we can continue to look at the scientific claims relating to Darwinism and YEC issues.

How about supporting anything you’ve said so far.

OK, enough for now! Thanks again!

No, it’s not enough, it’s far too much written about matters that you can’t demonstrate come out as you claim, and far too little about evidence which is not hopelessly compromised by your assumptions.

What you apparently don’t know is that science, like the courts, operates on the basis of leaving out your assumptions, and going as strictly by the evidence as possible. We would be derelict in our duties were we to even begin to use your assumptions and “reasoning” in order to understand physics, chemistry, the origins of life, cognitive science, or consciousness.

So we don’t ignore your statements because they’re unwelcome, or even because they’re so obviously unbased in an honest perusal of “reality”, but because they are prejudicial to the honest evaluation of scientific evidence. You think that we ought to countenance your “arguments” (fallacious assumptions and all), when allowing them to bias any science would be unworthy of any honest practitioner of science, or any expert witness on the stand.

You’re arguing “for theism” when virtually all of us here don’t care about the question of theism, at least not where evolution is concerned. That’s because we understand that empiricism rules in evidence-based matters. You don’t understand that, and you wish to prejudice the empirical with your bad philosophies, for of course you could never support your claims in the manner considered to be legitimate in courts and in science.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177667

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 21, 2007 4:20 PM (e)

Jeeze, I think a couple of you are way too impatient with Mark.

I had to look at that statement twice, for I thought he might have been saying that we’re way too patient with Mark.

The truth is that it’s hard to know how we should be with him. On the one hand, he’s polite and tries to be reasonable. On the other hand, he uses such old and disreputable arguments in both philosophy and in science that it’s difficult not to just tell him to for once learn something, anything.

Elzinga’s quite right that he needs to learn science, except that Hausam needs at least to unlearn some metaphysics if he’s ever going to be able to learn science, or even to disentangle science from ancient presuppositions. His metaphysical beliefs stand starkly in the way of his learning science, something true of probably the great majority of creationists/IDists.

I know how it is, I used to be a creationist, and the thought that creationist trumps evolution where it counts most—at the very beginning of matter and time—is a great comfort to any anxieties that a creationist kid might have over the evidence (not so much that I didn’t get over those comforts by my early teens). It’s the old joke where the scientists say to God, “We can do anything you can do,” God says go ahead and create life, the scientists turn around to pick up some dirt to make life and God says “Make your own dirt.” The parable is bizarre on many counts, not least of which is the supposed omniscience/omnipotence of the scientists (barring the creation of matter/energy), but it gets to the heart of the creationist attitude, that evolution is atheism and atheism is disproved by existence iteself.

Well, I did try to give a patient reply to Mark, without, however, pulling any punches on his serious lack of learning (I’d consider it an intellectual disservice to act as though he knew enough to discuss these issues). Yet it gets very long, and one is not sure if answering so much is itself all that valuable, particularly when I know how unlikely it is that Mark can ever understand how empirical data are arrived at, i.e., by studiously avoiding the assumptions that he thinks are prior to any scientific model.

Unless he can disabuse himself of that belief (and it is so very difficult when one has spent a life of reinforcement of his beliefs), at least contingently, there can be no real discussion about these things with him.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177670

Posted by IZA on May 21, 2007 4:22 PM (e)

FYI: Scriptural violence can foster aggression.
Source: Nature, Vol. 446, pp. 114-115 (8 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446114b; Published online 7 March 2007
URL: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v446/n7132/…

Comment #177671

Posted by IZA on May 21, 2007 4:22 PM (e)

FYI: Scriptural violence can foster aggression.
Source: Nature, Vol. 446, pp. 114-115 (8 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446114b; Published online 7 March 2007
URL: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v446/n7132/…

Comment #177673

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 21, 2007 4:38 PM (e)

Larry Gilman wrote:

I’m not familiar with Paul Nelson’s writings. If he makes claims about observables (e.g., certain classes of neural event), then those claims can be scientifically disproved. But those are not the sort of claims being made, to the best of my knowledge, by (say) Catholics in the ensoulment dispute—which is the context that B&W reference.

We had an argument with Paul Nelson recently about “agents” and how “agency” is supposed by him to be a sufficient causal framework. It’s on the PT thread, “Paul Nelson makes a bizarre argument,” (type or paste that into the search function of this site if interested in seeing it) It’s all tied in with his creationism/IDism, unsurprisingly, and yes, it’s quite unlike the Catholic claims regarding soul and the official Catholic position on evolution (at least as far as I can determine it to be).

As to the “soul,” I might be as inclined to argue about “the soul” as anyone in certain discussions, simply because something as undefined as “the soul” might as easily fit the emergent order of the human at some or all stages as another idea of what the “soul” would. Indeed, “he has no soul” is not an indictment of someone only among theists. There is a considerable overlap of ideas about what a human is with or without “soul talk”, so that it seems more than a little doubtful if someone with a “soul concept” believes something about humanity because of that concept, or simply puts what he believes about humans under the category of “ensouled being.”

Evidently we are quite in agreement on the impropriety of the attempt to delegitimize viewpoints simply because they involve a “soul” which has no definite (sensibly, scientific) meaning.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177676

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on May 21, 2007 4:46 PM (e)

We are approaching 200 comments on this thread and it has technically gone off topic. [what else is new?] What would you suggest?

First, I can’t really complain about others lacking patience since I don’t have the patience to go through a long post like Mark’s line by line as some do. But those who do surely could do it with a lot less scolding. That’s not a recommended teaching method. And you can’t expect Mark to learn so many different things in just a couple days. Just the basic nature and limitations of logic is a lot for many people. As I might have added to my previous post, Mark should be able to see before long that his arguments aren’t propositional logic - p implies q and all that. His arguments would have to syllogisms if logical. But actually trying to write the valid syllogisms would lead, repeatedly, to the insight that a premise is needed that he has not mentioned, which would amount to assuming the conclusion.

Example:
Socrates is a man.
Therefore Socrates is mortal.

The term mortal in the conclusion does not occur in the premise, so we don’t have a valid argument yet. Another premise, relating the terms in the first premise to terms in the conclusion, is needed. It had better be something like All men are mortal, or All Socrateses are mortal. Glen wants Mark to read Kant, among many other things, before making a blog comment. Get serious. Just discovering logic would be a very good step. One step at a time.

Comment #177682

Posted by Science Avenger on May 21, 2007 4:53 PM (e)

Mark Hausam said:

In other words, the unified, undivided substance that is the cause of all things must possess consciousness, or be a mind. It would thus be a personal being, as opposed to an impersonal thing.

This fact explains other things human beings are aware of, such as the intrinsic value of human life and the existence of ethics. If the universe were fundamentally impersonal, objective moral values could not exist, because objective values can be nothing more nor less than an ideal standard/preference/goal with regard to what we are supposed to be and do.

BTW Mark, I too marvel at your doggedness. Pity it is wasted on such poor material, and this argument above is about the worst.

It is flawed at every step, and since this has all gotten so very long, I’ll be brief at the expense of detailed supporting arguments:

1) There is no intrinsic value of human life. Ask Pol Pot.
2) Ethics exist because they have utility. All societies have laws dictating who can kill who when and why because a society that didn’t would have an ugly brutish, short, life.
3) Everything that makes morals subjective in an impersonal universe is true in a personal one too.
4) There is nothing less objective than that which is subject to the whim of a being, regardless of that being’s nature.

Really, you need to apply your intelligence to this crap you are spewing. You seem too intelligent to be incapable of seeing what most of the rest of us here see.

My suggestion: every time you make a statement about Yahweh or the Bible, imagine someone else saying a similar thing to you, except about Zeus and a book of Greek myths. Think about how ridiculous that would seem to you, and most importantly, think about the first questions that would occur to you to ask this person, and see if you can answer that same question about your views. You shouldn’t have to do that too long before you get your first candle lit.

Comment #177688

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on May 21, 2007 5:12 PM (e)

Glen, now I see your new Comment #177667. I agree with you, except:

1) you say you were patient yet your post is full of impatient unconstructive scolding. With your bedside manner I’m glad you’re not my doctor.

2) you want metaphysics first but how about logic first? It seems like a prerequsit and it may have the advantage of being feasible.

So you were once a creationist? That gives you much more feeling for it than I have. But ‘feeling’ in this case is not sensitivity (: as far as I can tell. I don’t see why you would think endlessly berating people is the way to advance understanding.

Comment #177692

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 21, 2007 5:20 PM (e)

Glen wants Mark to read Kant, among many other things, before making a blog comment. Get serious. Just discovering logic would be a very good step. One step at a time.

I want you to tell the truth, instead of making an illogical and illegitimate “extrapolation” from what I wrote to your faulty “conclusion,” Pete. I’d like to see you honestly make the deduction that you did, rather than your glib and unfounded accusation.

I bring up Kant because Mark needs to have some inkling of how much he doesn’t know. He thinks he’s a philosopher, a false notion (as false as your accusations, and as illogical as your chain of faulty “reasoning”) which he needs to be disabused of. For he’s not going to be led one step at a time to science on this forum—it’s hardly the venue for teaching years’-worth of course material.

And you’re hardly going to teach logic well with your illogical conclusions, Pete. There is more than one way to be impolite, you know, and false claims are among the best ways for it. You nailed that one, and showed about as much regard for the truth as your average IDist.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177695

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 21, 2007 5:45 PM (e)

) you say you were patient yet your post is full of impatient unconstructive scolding.

OK, so you’re not a very competent reader. I only wrote that “I tried to be patient,” with the very important caveat that I didn’t pull any punches. You reduce it down to your pathetic level of understanding, and then use your own standards to berate me for not complying with your misrepresentation of what I had claimed.

I hardly claimed to truly be patient with the uneducated buffoon, and what is “constructive” is something that I left up in the air. I do not need to comply with your timid views and constant misrepresentations of my positions, and I never pretended that I agreed with you. I did point out obliquely that I answered far more than you did, but of course you act as if your tepid replies were better than my no-holds-barred and much more extensive response.

With your bedside manner I’m glad you’re not my doctor.

Did I say that I was trying to reach him? Most of us are aiming more at lurkers/observers than at the generally uneducable IDist and creationists who actually post. But yes, as with Mark, you have your assumptions and you judge what goes on here by your own assumptions, without any evident knowledge that not everyone has the same aims as you do.

2) you want metaphysics first but how about logic first?

Of course I don’t want metaphysics first. I don’t believe in metaphysics at all. Quit twisting everything to fit your viewpoint.

It seems like a prerequsit and it may have the advantage of being feasible.

Get real. Mark is a creationist, and if you hit him at one point he’ll retreat to another (at least if he’s like the other 99.9%+). I told him he was wrong about logic, but as I was responding to a great volume of what he’d written I didn’t linger there. If you want to try to teach an apologist something be my guest. But I didn’t fault you for doing your thing, you have no cause to fault me for doing mine. I did and do fault you for your misrepresentations, particularly the nonsense that I want him to read Kant before he posts (actually, it’s arguable that he should, if he’s going to go on about metaphysics, but it wasn’t what I had written).

So you were once a creationist? That gives you much more feeling for it than I have. But ‘feeling’ in this case is not sensitivity

I made quite a different point with respect to my having been a creationist, which was that their many assumptions impede learning science. I didn’t claim to be “sensitive”, even though I can be in the right context. I don’t believe in being “sensitive” here, and it’s just your projections and faulty assumptions that make you once again misrepresent what I was getting at.

(: as far as I can tell. I don’t see why you would think endlessly berating people is the way to advance understanding.

Again, your faulty assumption, your false accusations based upon your faulty assumptions. I have never said that I was trying to advance his understanding, I wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Unless he can disabuse himself of that belief (and it is so very difficult when one has spent a life of reinforcement of his beliefs), at least contingently, there can be no real discussion about these things with him.

To the extent that I even care about affecting him (vs. onlookers), I’d hope to knock some sense into him. You be the “good cop” if you want, just quit trying to run the conversation based upon how you think it should go, and on your misapprehensions/misrepresentations of what is going on.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177710

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 21, 2007 6:03 PM (e)

Davidson wrote:

Hausam wrote:

I won’t do that with your scientific arguments, so don’t do that with my philosophical arguments.

You need to learn philosphy, and why Kant labels the metaphysics that you use as “speculation”.

This is the closest that I can see to any “justification” of Pete’s wild accusation, “Glen wants Mark to read Kant, among many other things, before making a blog comment.”

Perhaps, Pete, you should learn the difference between “shut up about the things that you fail to understand,” and “you have to have expert knowledge about everything even related to science prior to making a blog comment here.” My comment was the shorthand way of saying “you’re ignorant with respect to that in which you claim to be expert,” not that he needs to discuss the nonsense that he resorts to in order to avoid discussing the lack of evidence for his position.

The point I kept making is that Hausam never gave us any empirical evidence in favor of creationism, and I also noted that philosophy isn’t really at issue in these discussions (unless the creationists make it so). That’s a call for discussing the evidence in the way scientists do, not an invitation for bringing up philosophical concepts that Hausam is clearly incapable of dealing with competently.

Oh well, I guess we have someone on our side who aids and abets the distortions of what is to be discussed, and doesn’t appear to be much troubled by the fact that he misrepresents what I wrote in order to make “his points”.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177712

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 21, 2007 6:10 PM (e)

Just one caveat, in case anyone wants to jump on me. I wrote of Hausam:

He thinks he’s a philosopher,

Of course to say someone “thinks he’s a philosopher” needn’t imply that he thinks he’s a professional or credentialed philosopher, and of course I didn’t mean to imply that. That he thinks he’s competent in dealing with philosophical matters, when he doesn’t seem to even know the arguments against his assumptions, counts as “he thinks he’s a philosopher” in most contexts, and ought to in this one.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177715

Posted by Richard Simons on May 21, 2007 6:17 PM (e)

In other words, the fact that primates all have the broken gene might just as easily indicate simply that created similarities between humans and other primates led to them suffering the same loss of gene function, whereas the differences between primates and other animals prevented that from happening to many of them.

You mean God made something faulty?

So, in light of all of this, why is common ancestry a better explanation than common design?

Because it does not require special pleading. An additional point: evolution theory predicted something of that nature, whereas creationism predicts nothing, absolutely nothing. At heart, the theory of evolution is a very simple concept that explains an lot, whereas creationism requires a different explanation for every single facet (and a lot of fast thinking). Just try to think of creationist explanations for the human appendix, the strange anatomy in a giraffe’s neck, the absence of cacti and marsupials in Eurasia and Africa, the plethora of lemurs in Madagascar and the presence of vestigial limbs in some snakes and you’ll see what I mean.

A word of advice: do not trust anything that you read on a creationist website but always go back to the original source. They are notoriously unreliable.

Comment #177772

Posted by David Stanton on May 21, 2007 9:42 PM (e)

Come on guys, maybe we should give Mark a break. After all, look at how entertaining he has been.

The thread topic was the childishness of creationists and what happens? Along comes a creationist who claims his views are based strictly on the evidence. He claims we are all blinded by our committment to naturalism and that is why we can’t possibly draw the right conclusions from the evidence ourselves. But when confronted with that evidence, he claims he needs time to study it, even though he presumably already did. Then he completely ignores all of the evidence and claims that God just lied to us. Then he launches into a meaningless philosophical discussion in an attmept to prove the infallability of the Bible, after just having subscribed to the concept of a deceitful God.

I mean come on, this is priceless. And no matter how much we ridicule him, he keeps coming back for more. I’m sure he’s convinced he’s going to show us all the error of our ways and save us all. I wonder if he’ll start quoting from Of Pandas and People next, or maybe Icons of Evolution. Man, if he brings up those embryo drawings I’m going to bust a gut. And anyway, the thread has not really gone off-topic. This guy is the perfect example of exactly what the article was talking about.

Comment #177776

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 21, 2007 10:16 PM (e)

David Stanton wrote:

And anyway, the thread has not really gone off-topic. This guy is the perfect example of exactly what the article was talking about.

Yeah, after I made that comment, I slapped my forehead and thought, “DUH!”.

How could a topic get a better illustration than to have a living example drop in and display all the characteristics? :-)

I suspect that the ID/Creationist lurkers are learning more camouflage techniques by watching our analysis. It won’t help them. It is really hard to fake it in science when you have to commit ideas to paper either in proposals or in published research. Generally they are easy to spot, especially by people who really know what is going on.

Comment #177815

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 22, 2007 1:07 AM (e)

Hello again.

This is going to be my last post on this forum, and I want to address it partly to the lurkers, those who have been watching this discussion.

I hope you have had an opportunity to see the sort of people those who inhabit this list are. When I made a comment on this list originally, I had no idea it would grow into such a large discussion. When I saw that it was growing, I was happy, because I enjoyed the prospect of trying to have a rational discussion of the evidence with people I disagreed with. I have my beliefs about things, which are rational and based on good evidence, but I still have more to learn. I knew that Darwinists are usually biased towards their position by naturalistic assumptions, and I wanted to try to show some of that as well as learn some new things for myself.

You have seen the result. In response to my repeated attempts to engage in rational, respectful conversation, almost my only response has been emotional tirades; bitter, angry, hateful attacks; terrible, mean-spirited insults; arrogant, condescending tones and answers; absurd, wild speculations about why we idiots believe what we believe (include hints at charges of sexual deviance!); a total ignoring of everything I say, or, when not ignoring, carelessly misconstruing my comments and presenting them in the most uncharitable and worst possible light; unproven accusations of dishonesty, psychological projection, and a number of other things; repeated attacks on my learning, intelligence, and character; being palpably guilty of the majority of the things they were constantly accusing me of, etc. The objective observer will notice that I warranted none of this, nor did I stoop to their level to return their own arrogance and hatred in kind. I listened to what they said and tried to deal carefully and fairly with the evidence (a little at a time). Mostly their only response to my arguments and thoughts have been irrational attacks. They have routinely substituted insults and bullying for dealing objectively with the evidence.

These are people who claim to be guided by rationality, fair-mindedness and objectivity. I hope you see what an utter joke that is. If these people are so arrogant, absurd, childish, and emotionally-driven in this conversation, what sort of suspicion does that cast on the objectivity of their commitment to Darwinism (and, in some cases, naturalism)? Now, their claims have to be evaluated on the basis of the evidence, not simply rejected because of their childish, emotionally-driven behavior–we should not stoop to their level and do to them what they have repeatedly done to me. But, at the very least, these are clearly people that no one should put blind faith in to get the evidence right. Their non-rational attitudes have been laid quite bare. Don’t implicitly trust these people to define truth for you!

Now, this description does not equally apply to everyone I have spoken to here. Some have been far more bitter, some more condescending, than others. A couple have actually made some kind of recognizable attempt, to some degree, to talk rationally with me. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. But all of you (as far as I have had opportunity to talk to you enough to get an idea of how self-aware you are) have shown a great need for self-awareness in your thinking. You do not know how, or don’t want to know how, to really try to understand other ways of thinking from what you are used to and are comfortable with. Horizons can be expanded by actually (gasp!) talking to people on the other side of an issue, but most of you don’t care about truth; you are more interested in having childish fun ridiculing people who obviously are not nearly as intelligent and virtuous as you are (please don’t miss the sarcasm there!). I’ll leave you to pat yourselves on the back for your wisdom and cleverness and goodness and to smirk at the stupid creationist. That seems to be all you are capable of doing.

I wasn’t trying to use this forum to show up (ironically, given the theme of the original article that started this post) the childishness of most of the Darwinists on this thread, although that has worked out very well. I actually really did want to have a rational conversation, and I would have continued for some time trying to do that. David Stanton’s revealing and clever little post towards the end changed my mind. When he basically outright admitted that this whole converstation was, for him, merely a fun little game and that he has no respect whatsoever for those he disagrees with, I decided that it would be inappropriate to continue to subject myself to such a degrading conversation.

Thanks to those of you who sometimes tried to at least somewhat engage in rational conversation. Thanks to those who gave me some interesting things to think about. To most of you, your entertainment is leaving now. I hope this conversation can be used to encourage you some day, by God’s grace (the only thing that can change your hearts), to become virtuous, honest, objective, scientific, fair-minded people in reality and not just in assertion.

I’ll leave you all with a statement of my worldview, which I believe to be rational and true: There is one God who created all the universe for his own glory, to show his perfections. He created human beings in his image, existing to bring glory to him. The human race has fallen into wicked rebellion against its creator, and we are all corrupt and guilty sinners who deserve nothing but the eternal wrath of God in hell for what we are and do. God has offered salvation to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God himself in the flesh. He lived a perfectly virtuous life, died to pay the penalty for sins, and rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. He offers forgiveness and a new, righteous heart to all who will accept them from him. Only God’s grace can change your heart to accept this gift and turn back to obedience to him. If you turn, you have only him to thank and praise. If you don’t, you have only yourself to blame. Those who reject him will receive the fullness of his just wrath for all eternity, but those who accept him by his grace, his unmerited favor, will receive eternal life, glorifying and enjoying God to all eternity.

If anyone wants to talk more to me about anything (including learning more about my worldview, or even to argue and debate with me or rationally discuss evidence with me, so long as you leave the abuse behind), don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. My email address is [Enable javascript to see this email address.]. Many of the Darwinists here will probably ridicule everything I have said here, as they have everything else, but the truth is the truth in spite of them.

Goodbye!

Mark

Comment #177816

Posted by Science Avenger on May 22, 2007 1:24 AM (e)

So Mark Hausam is Realpc’s son?

Comment #177821

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on May 22, 2007 1:38 AM (e)

Um, sorry I didn’t moderate this thread, there was some potential for making progress with this guy, instead we had people fighting with him about Christianity and everything else.

FWIW here is my 2 cents on talking to creationists who actually want to talk: the most productive way to proceed in this sort of area is to focus on one single very narrow issue like the age of the earth, or even just a piece of evidence for the age of the earth. The only way to ever change the mind of a committed creationist is to get them to learn enough about some particular topic that they can see for themselves the difference between the evidence and what the Bible/creation scientists are telling them. Then they get concerned and go to the library and start reading on all the other issues, and 6-12 months later they realize they just can’t believe the YEC stuff any more.

This whole process is rare but has happened multiple times on talk.origins. But we appear to have more rage-against-the-creationists people than the explain-nicely people in this particular thread.

Mark, if you are still listening, ignore the insults and everything, just take some time to learn about why scientists think the earth is old. Here are 2 good books:

1. G. Brent Dalrymple, The Age of the Earth

2. Arthur N. Strahler, Science and Earth History.

You cannot really say you have investigated the issues even partially unless you read this two books.

Comment #177825

Posted by Gary on May 22, 2007 2:05 AM (e)

Mark,
As a lurker here, I thought I would tell you what I saw in this thread. You were polite, but refused to see any view but your own. You say you wanted to learn a few things, but when your “facts” were systematically destroyed you refused to learn the actual facts that were presented to you.
Speaking politely while refusing to listen to what the other people say isn’t polite, it’s just giving a sermon without raising your voice. Maybe a few of the other posters were a little harsh, but they obviously read and responded to what you were trying to say, and gave solid reasons for not accepting it.
Gary

Comment #177832

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 22, 2007 2:44 AM (e)

Perhaps some of the advice Mark received here seemed a bit blunt. On the other hand, it was also beginning to appear that Mark was playing some of the games many of us have seen other ID/Creationists play (at least I thought so).

I am willing to offer my apologies to Mark if he was really being sincere. But his last remarks show him to be pretty thin-skinned for someone who claims he wants to understand things that can be scary to people coming from his background. And my own observations of his problems with science stand. Whether or not he chooses to believe it, his own thinking is full of misinformation and locked up in a logical trap that is all too familiar to those of us who have seen it many times before.

The understanding of science and its implications doesn’t make people evil, uncaring, or any of the other accusations he makes of the people who responded to him. Most of what he is interpreting as cruelty is really frustration, anger, and dismay at seeing an intelligent person making a fool of himself and contorting himself into philosophical knots. If reasoning doesn’t seem to be working, then many people quite naturally, from experience, begin to suspect game-playing.

It may be that he will never learn what science is really all about. If he persists, I suspect it will be rougher that marine boot camp for him. He will have to face the concerns of people who are close to him who will fear for his soul.

However, if he ever does come out the other end of this, he will realize that this science stuff is more liberating than he can imagine now, and he won’t have to give up his soul.

The choice is his alone to make.

As I said in an earlier post, we wish him luck.

Comment #177836

Posted by demallien on May 22, 2007 3:32 AM (e)

Mark, all you have managed to convince the lurkers of, is the complete vacuity of your arguments. If that was your goal, ummm, bravo! You apparently need to go and look up the meaning of “evidence” in a dictionary… As for the content of the discussion, Carl Rennie summarised everything that needed to be said in just a few lines way back at comment #176652

But to get back on topic a bit, I thought it might be interesting to try and analyse how people like Mark can get it so terribly wrong. The reasoning seems (if we are to believe the example of Mark) to go something like this:

“The Bible is infallible: The Bible says that God created the Earth about 6000 odd years ago: Therefore any evidence that indicates that the Earth is older must have been manipulated by God to give this appearance”.

I mean, in a certain manner, it’s at least internally consistent… Obviously, for most of us here there is a major flaw, the Bible isn’t infallible. But how do you demonstrate that to someone like Mark? Most of our arguments for the Bible being fallible are based on things like “The Bible says that the Earth is less than 10000 years old, we have evidence to the contrary, therefore the Bible is wrong”.

What thought processes are we using to determine that our position is correct, and Mark’s position is false? Personally I arrive at that position because I’m an atheist, and hence, taking the word of the Bible over the word of say, The Lord Of the Rings, doesn’t make any sense - they’re both just works of fiction, and hence have nothing to say about the reality of the universe about us. But what are the reasons of theistic evolutionists and agnostics? Application of Occam’s razor? Scholarly knowledge of the history of the Bible, and how it was created? The thoughts of religious authority, such as the Pope, on these matters? I’d love to hear from the non-atheists here as to how they personally discount the testomy of religious texts…

Comment #177837

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 22, 2007 3:33 AM (e)

I wasn’t going to let Mark know about this, but on second thought maybe you should understand we also learned something back in the 1970s (before your time) from one of your heroes, Duane Gish. He use to deliberately make up all kinds of really outrageous stuff to irritate the scientists he was debating and then explain to his audience just how angry and evil scientists were because of their belief in evolution. His audiences ate it up.

Your last lecture to the lurkers hasn’t gone unnoticed. We know that game very well. If that is the game you are playing, then you are the bigger fool for revealing that you and your cohorts haven’t matured in the intervening years. It’s part of the profile.

I hope for your sake that this isn’t the case.

Comment #177850

Posted by Frank J on May 22, 2007 5:13 AM (e)

demallien wrote:

But to get back on topic a bit, I thought it might be interesting to try and analyse how people like Mark can get it so terribly wrong. The reasoning seems (if we are to believe the example of Mark) to go something like this:

“The Bible is infallible: The Bible says that God created the Earth about 6000 odd years ago: Therefore any evidence that indicates that the Earth is older must have been manipulated by God to give this appearance”.

I promised myself to get off this too-long thread, and even invited Mark to talk.origins where he can get more viewpoints, but since most of you keep taking his bait, I have one more comment. YECs aren’t the only ones who take the Bible as infallible, so do a variety of OECs with their own internal differences. And don’t forget the remaining flat-earthers and geocentists. YEC is a rather recent concoction, one that, among the leaders of anti-evolution movements if not their followers, is slowly going extinct like flat-earthism, and being replaced by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach that tries to cover up the irreconcilable differences between all the positions that claim to be “literal.”

If Mark truly believes that the evidence supports a young, spherical earth that is not the center of the universe, he should be just as interested in correcting - or learning from - other brands of creationism as he is in criticising “Darwinism” and “naturalism.”

Comment #177861

Posted by Frank J on May 22, 2007 5:38 AM (e)

So, in light of all of this, why is common ancestry a better explanation than common design?

OK, 2 more comments. Mark, if you’re still lurking, “common design” is not mutually exclusive with common ancestry. It is not an explanation at all unless one states how that common design is actuated, “plagiarized errors” and all. Anti-evolution activists are increasingly careful to avoid saying how, and in a few cases they even admit that common ancestry, if not a Darwinian mechanism, is how.

Make it 3: Nick, excellent recommendations. I have to wonder though, how many of those who do eventually see the absurdity of YEC go the ID route instead of conceding (theistic) evolution. Kenyon, perhaps?

Comment #177884

Posted by David Stanton on May 22, 2007 7:33 AM (e)

Mark,

Sorry if I offended you, but in my own defense you really offended me first. I guess that is why I felt I eventually had to resort to ridicule.

First, you asked for evidence and I provided it. But you didn’t look at the evidence. You didn’t read the references, you didn’t go to the web sites, you didn’t try to understand anything. And all this after you presumed to tell us that you had already examined the evidence.

Second, you attacked our integrity by claiming that we were all blinded by our committment to naturalism. That was also extremely offensive to me. Still, I tried to be civil. I even opened up to you and revealed personal information in order to let you see that not only do I understand, but that I have walked many miles in your shoes. That is why I tried so hard to have a decent conversation with you. I identify with you more than you could possibly know. And what was your response to my personal revelation? You completely ignored it, never even mentioned it. Well, so what, who cares? Man, if I were using my real name here I’d feel pretty silly now.

And then, right on cue, you start trying to save us all with your testimony. Well, if you recall, I’ve been there and done that. Did I say I was no longer a Christian? Did I say I was in need of saving? Don’t preach to me brother, Ive heard it all before.

So, goodbye Mark. I wish you well on your quest for truth, I really do. Do yourself a favor and take NIck’s suggestions. Get a degree in Biology. Go into the lab and do some research. Then come back in about thirty years and let us know how it’s going. Good luck.

Comment #177891

Posted by Raging Bee on May 22, 2007 8:22 AM (e)

First Mark claims he wants to engage in a rational discussion of facts, theories and logic. Despite his self-pitying claims to the contrary, it is plain to see that that is exactly what we gave him. I, for one, raised an objection to one of his most central points, and Glen, true to his well-known custom, gave several long and laborious point-by-point responses to his statements. And, instead of responding explicitly to any of our discussion, Mark simply ignores all of the substantive responses, cries about the insulting responses as if they were the only responses he got, and storms off in a huff, addressing his last post only to those who had not responded to him at all.

I won’t bother with an extensive fisking, but I will quote a few choice bits…

In response to my repeated attempts to engage in rational, respectful conversation, almost my only response has been emotional tirades; bitter, angry, hateful attacks; terrible, mean-spirited insults; arrogant, condescending tones and answers; absurd, wild speculations about why we idiots believe what we believe (include hints at charges of sexual deviance!)…

Mark should have known that he was, at all times, perfectly capable of going past the insults and directly addressing only those points he considered worthy of his time. Instead, he did exactly the opposite, misrepresented criticism as “persecution,” and went straight into overplaying the crybaby-victim card.

…a total ignoring of everything I say, or, when not ignoring, carelessly misconstruing my comments and presenting them in the most uncharitable and worst possible light…

This is not just an emotional reaction; it is a lie, told for the obvious purpose of defaming people who made him look like an ass. For someone who has said he wants to impose Old Testament law on everyone, this so-called Christian is pretty careless about obeying the Old Testament bit about not bearing false witness against one’s neighbor.

Thanks to those of you who sometimes tried to at least somewhat engage in rational conversation.

Why did he not even try to respond to those attempts? Why didn’t he at least thank the more civil respondents by name? Because that would only highlight exactly who, and which arguments, he was running away from.

If anyone wants to talk more to me about anything…don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. My email address is…

So he won’t talk to us here, but he will talk to us via email. Or so he says. Of course, if any of us conclusively refute his “logic” via email, he’ll be able to deny it happened, and continue pretending he’s always right and we’re all just impotent raging heathens. I predict he will post claims, here or elsewhere, that no one ever refuted any of his claims, and/or he was flooded with anti-Christian hate-mail. (Why else would he post an email address on a blog where he claims to have got so many hateful responses?)

It’s perfectly obvious by now that Mark came here with a script, and would have stuck to the script no matter what any of us said. His blatant misrepresentation of our responses is sufficient proof of that. WE didn’t give him the response his closed doctrine led him to expect; so he gave it to himself instead.

Comment #177895

Posted by Raging Bee on May 22, 2007 8:45 AM (e)

I’d love to hear from the non-atheists here as to how they personally discount the testomy of religious texts…

Speaking for myself, I do not “discount” religious texts in their entirety; I merely discount certain peripheral bits of those texts, and human interpretations thereof that I find useless or erroneous.

In the case of the Bible, my reasoning is as follows:

1) The primary subject of the Bible, the subject the authors seem to want us to focus our attention on, is not science or history or the physical world; it is Man’s relationship to God: how he feels about us, what he wants us to do, how he thinks we should behave. If you count on the Bible for the definitive word on any other subject, you are misusing the Bible, and will probably be misled into wrong or fruitless actions. (Ever notice how the YEC’s pay so much attention to details in Genesis, and so little attention to the teachings of Jesus or the Ten Commandments?)

2) Man’s relationship to God is so nebulous and transcendent a subject that it simply cannot be described in a literal way, especially to people who don’t have the time to spare for full-blown seminary training. So the Bible is not written as a literal document, and is not meant to be interpreted so.

3) Pick a famous Bible story, such as the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, or even the Crucifixion and Ressurection; and ask yourself WHY it’s considered important. Chances are you’ll see that, whether or not it’s believed literally true, it’s also told for its symbolic truth, to dramatically illustrate some larger truth so that ordinary people can understand it. In the case of the Prodigal Son, for example, the literal truth of the story – who, exactly, the Prodigal Son really was, how many siblings he had, etc. – doesn’t even matter; the whole thing could have been made up by a preacher in the Mideast, and it would still resonate as an allegorical/symbolic representation of an important truth about Man’s relationship to God.

Anyway, that’s my answer. Sorry to go even more OT than my last post…

Comment #177898

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 22, 2007 9:22 AM (e)

Mark, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen rational discourse before (I bet you have, judging by your fine use of English) but what Glen did is a good example. Yes, Glen’s tone is acerbic but honestly, don’t you see that a point-by-point, reasoned response to something you’ve written is one of the highest forms of civility and demonstrations of respect?

You can show us some civility — you don’t need to by polite — by responding to our best points (this includes all of the science and most of the philosophy) as opposed to responding to our worst points (the vitriol).

And here is some advice from Matthew which I think is apropos:

[7:3] Why do you notice the sliver in your friend’s eye, but overlook the timber in your own? How can you say to your friend, “Let me get the sliver out of your eye, when there is that timber in your own? You phony, first take the timber out of your own eye and then you’ll see well enough to remove the sliver from your friends eye.

[18:3] And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’ [Emphasis mine, obviously]

Comment #177902

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on May 22, 2007 9:50 AM (e)

In the end is all about retaining power over the masses. Conversion to Jesus is just the convenient excuse so they believe they are following the call “to go and preach”. However, this situation is a recapitulation of previous episodes when the Roman Catholic Church ruled over European societies. You can see a parallel of the tactics and reasoning used by fundies to retain power and those used by the Roman Church. Of course without the Inquisitorial tribunal but only because they don’t have that much power over the society.
Treat the followers like kiddies and they will be submissive to your decree and will do your biding. Reason have no bearing in this scenario therefore science is a particularly big target. After all you have to save souls that will no doubt be condemned to eternal suffering in Hell.

Comment #177908

Posted by David Stanton on May 22, 2007 10:13 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

“It’s perfectly obvious by now that Mark came here with a script, and would have stuck to the script no matter what any of us said. His blatant misrepresentation of our responses is sufficient proof of that. WE didn’t give him the response his closed doctrine led him to expect; so he gave it to himself instead.”

I completely agree. I never ridiculed this guy until after he had preven he had a very think skin and an almost pathological need to be abused. Even then I tried to be relatively civil and merely pointed out the flaws in his reasoning. And I’m the reason he doesn’t want to play with us anymore? He was called a fool, ignorant, a liar, his knowledge and competency were denegrated, etc. Notice that I didn’t do any of that.

What I think happened is that he might have actually learned something and then realized that he was completely wrong. Or maybe he just ran into something he couldn’t find an easy answer for on some creationist website. Or maybe he just got lazy and decided evidence wasn’t all that important after all. Now, how to find a convenient excuse to get out of this gracefully. I know, now I’m offended. Yea, that’s it. That’ll work.

Comment #177945

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 22, 2007 11:13 AM (e)

Hello again.

This is going to be my last post on this forum, and I want to address it partly to the lurkers, those who have been watching this discussion.

Yes, they’ve seen your posturing and self-pitying wallow.

I hope you have had an opportunity to see the sort of people those who inhabit this list are.

Too smart for the likes of you, Mark.

When I made a comment on this list originally, I had no idea it would grow into such a large discussion. When I saw that it was growing, I was happy, because I enjoyed the prospect of trying to have a rational discussion of the evidence with people I disagreed with. I have my beliefs about things, which are rational and based on good evidence, but I still have more to learn.

You’ve indicated that you know virtually nothing, from science to philosophy.

I knew that Darwinists are usually biased towards their position by naturalistic assumptions, and I wanted to try to show some of that as well as learn some new things for myself.

Here’s one of your insulting and dishonest a priori assumptions, your extreme bias that no one has any reason to credit as anything worthy of respect. Rather than an honest and humble desire to discuss the issues, you started off with your name-calling, ad hominem attacks, and revelations of your complete inability to deal with other ideas in an intellectually honest manner.

And there’s nothing that we should do except to call you on your dishonesty and ignorance.

You have seen the result. In response to my repeated attempts to engage in rational, respectful conversation, almost my only response has been emotional tirades; bitter, angry, hateful attacks; terrible, mean-spirited insults;

So you can’t answer us. No reason to set off on your list of ignorant insults, which you also can’t provide any evidence for.

arrogant, condescending tones and answers; absurd, wild speculations about why we idiots believe what we believe (include hints at charges of sexual deviance!);

Dearly ignorant, the initial blog was about why you idiots believe what you do. Instead of engaging the evidence and issues which back up the reasoned conclusions we have for explaining why you believe as you do—the typological thinking, the stereotypical manner in which you approach “issues”, your almost total inability to see another’s viewpoint, your resistance to evidence that goes against your prejudices, and your lack of curiosity about the world and how to interface with it—you simply fob off all such analyses and instead example the worst of creationist/IDist “argumentation” coming from sterile and ancient misconceptions.

a total ignoring of everything I say, or, when not ignoring, carelessly misconstruing my comments and presenting them in the most uncharitable and worst possible light;

An honest judgment of your ignorance and poor analytical abilities is not “uncharitable,” whatever the concern trolls say. It is the kind of response you should have been given years ago, in the hope that you’d learn something better.

And instead of answering what has been given to you no matter how little you deserve it, you whine pitiably and claim persecution.

unproven accusations of dishonesty, psychological projection, and a number of other things; repeated attacks on my learning, intelligence, and character;

All such judgments are in context, and the evidence is that you lack learning, at least haven’t the education to use whatever intelligence you do have, and you are utterly lacking in the character that would make further discussion profitable to you or to us.

being palpably guilty of the majority of the things they were constantly accusing me of, etc.

Yes, honesty is hardly a constraint on your self-pity party and ad hominem attacks.

The objective observer will notice that I warranted none of this, nor did I stoop to their level to return their own arrogance and hatred in kind.

Says the guy in his orgy dishonest attacks.

By the way, you continually ignored the many measured responses (or you answered only what you wanted) that you received previous to yesterday, including mine and those of many others.

Early on you put in your little intellectually dishonest diatribe, which indicated that you neither understand what the ad hominem attacks you make, nor have you the sense of decency to ask what the bases of our acceptance of evolution is rather than to impose your extremely biased and incorrect viewpoint upon this discussion:

For me to assume naturalism in science would be like an atheist assuming, purely for the sake of method, that the Bible is literally true when doing science. That would, of course, be ridiculous. Why is it any less ridiculous for a Christian to assume naturalism? Your starting assumptions influence your conclusions. One of the main creationist claims is that the evidence for Darwinism is only greatly compelling when one assumes naturalism. If you assume naturalism, something like Darwinism has got to be the way life arose (what other plausible naturalistic possibilities are there?), and so a commitment to naturalism makes the evidence for Darwinism seem incredibly compelling.

What you call “naturalism” is only the application of normal judicial and scientific (different, yet similar, in these two areas) constraints upon investigation. I don’t even like to call it “naturalism”, since that term begs so many questions, and is only meaningful when it is based in some phenomenological, psychological, or other more meaningful context.

But you already had your “answers” and were not interested in asking honest questions.

I listened to what they said and tried to deal carefully and fairly with the evidence (a little at a time).

If you actually tried, this only shows how much you need to learn, as you are completely unfitted to even discuss what “naturalism” means in science (btw, “natural” means something different in physics, and physics rarely if ever refers to “naturalism” in the way that some analytic philosophers and scientists do)

Mostly their only response to my arguments and thoughts have been irrational attacks. They have routinely substituted insults and bullying for dealing objectively with the evidence.

More dissembling. You’ve been answered substantively by many, and if we haven’t always been absurdly charitable with your ignorant attacks, that is what you set yourself up for when you blither on about what you so little understand.

These are people who claim to be guided by rationality, fair-mindedness and objectivity. I hope you see what an utter joke that is. If these people are so arrogant, absurd, childish, and emotionally-driven in this conversation, what sort of suspicion does that cast on the objectivity of their commitment to Darwinism (and, in some cases, naturalism)?

What does a self-pitying whine by someone who attacked us without cause, justification, or attention to the subject of the blog, say about still another unevidenced and ignorant attack upon those who have shown how bankrupt your assumptions and attacks are?

Now, their claims have to be evaluated on the basis of the evidence, not simply rejected because of their childish, emotionally-driven behavior–we should not stoop to their level and do to them what they have repeatedly done to me. But, at the very least, these are clearly people that no one should put blind faith in to get the evidence right. Their non-rational attitudes have been laid quite bare. Don’t implicitly trust these people to define truth for you!

No, believe the emotional attacks of this dolt who can’t answer the substantive responses he has received. There’s little mystery in why he does nothing but whine about how he has been treated, which is that he can’t even begin to show that what he has written is in fact the truth, from his ad hominems to his derivative creationist nonsense.

Now, this description does not equally apply to everyone I have spoken to here. Some have been far more bitter, some more condescending, than others. A couple have actually made some kind of recognizable attempt, to some degree, to talk rationally with me.

I tried to reason with you, without, of course, pretending that you have any substance while spouting your unexamined creationist BS, your stilted philosophical “reasoning”, and your attacks on others. That’s an honest response, while treating you as if you were someone open to evidence, educated, and approaching this with a sufficient basis for dealing with the huge numbers of subjects you broach, is a fictionalization of the dispute.

If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. But all of you (as far as I have had opportunity to talk to you enough to get an idea of how self-aware you are) have shown a great need for self-awareness in your thinking. You do not know how, or don’t want to know how, to really try to understand other ways of thinking from what you are used to and are comfortable with.

Oh clueless one, you haven’t a hint how much better many of us understand your psyche and faulty psychology than do you. Indeed, if you had a modicum of knowledge beyond your cribbed outlook, you’d at least have recognized that we have only rejected your viewpoint because we have studied it both as a internally coherent (relatively) and circular way of looking at the world, and as an outlook which falls apart when only a few assumptions essential to its relative coherence are considered skeptically.

The master does not respect the insolent student. Until you learn some respect for those who know what you don’t, you haven’t a chance to learn anything beyond your prejudices.

Horizons can be expanded by actually (gasp!) talking to people on the other side of an issue, but most of you don’t care about truth; you are more interested in having childish fun ridiculing people who obviously are not nearly as intelligent and virtuous as you are (please don’t miss the sarcasm there!).

I don’t miss the stupidity, either. Wow, you learned to use the word “childish”, without, of course, being able to back up your mindless insults.

Had I not talked to the other side I would not have answered you as well as I have. The fact that you can’t answer me without insults and whining only shows that you have not learned anything from discussing these issues with “the other side”.

I’ll leave you to pat yourselves on the back for your wisdom and cleverness and goodness and to smirk at the stupid creationist. That seems to be all you are capable of doing.

Oh please, dimwit, do you think that taking you down gives us any feeling of having accomplished anything beyond the routine exposition of fundamentalist ignorance? There is little or no credit for wisdom or cleverness in besting the likes of you.

I wasn’t trying to use this forum to show up (ironically, given the theme of the original article that started this post) the childishness of most of the Darwinists on this thread, although that has worked out very well.

The tired old claim of victory from the creationist who fails to answer any of the pointed responses he’s received and wants merely to resort to what he began with, claims of superiority in a lack of prejudice and in being willing to deal with the evidence. Oh yes, stupidity is intelligence, close-mindedness is openness, and ad hominems are reason. It’s a victory all right, the only kind of victory creationists ever win, their ability to resist thought and evidence.

I actually really did want to have a rational conversation, and I would have continued for some time trying to do that. David Stanton’s revealing and clever little post towards the end changed my mind. When he basically outright admitted that this whole converstation was, for him, merely a fun little game and that he has no respect whatsoever for those he disagrees with, I decided that it would be inappropriate to continue to subject myself to such a degrading conversation.

You wanted a “rational conversation” on your terms, which included the unexamined and dishonest prejudice that we in fact base our science on some illegitimate idea of “naturalism”, which you obviously don’t understand.

Thanks to those of you who sometimes tried to at least somewhat engage in rational conversation. Thanks to those who gave me some interesting things to think about.

Try, try to learn to do more than to insult your interlocutors next time, if there is a next time.

To most of you, your entertainment is leaving now. I hope this conversation can be used to encourage you some day, by God’s grace (the only thing that can change your hearts), to become virtuous, honest, objective, scientific, fair-minded people in reality and not just in assertion.

We’d never learn it from you, not that you (again) have bothered to back up your insults.

I’ll leave you all with a statement of my worldview, which I believe to be rational and true: There is one God who created all the universe for his own glory, to show his perfections. He created human beings in his image, existing to bring glory to him. The human race has fallen into wicked rebellion against its creator, and we are all corrupt and guilty sinners who deserve nothing but the eternal wrath of God in hell for what we are and do. God has offered salvation to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God himself in the flesh. He lived a perfectly virtuous life, died to pay the penalty for sins, and rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. He offers forgiveness and a new, righteous heart to all who will accept them from him.

Yes, it’s more than obvious that this is where you’re coming from, not from an honest, questioning viewpoint which would be willing to lay that all aside for the sake of discussing issues on terms which others recognize.

Only God’s grace can change your heart to accept this gift and turn back to obedience to him. If you turn, you have only him to thank and praise. If you don’t, you have only yourself to blame. Those who reject him will receive the fullness of his just wrath for all eternity, but those who accept him by his grace, his unmerited favor, will receive eternal life, glorifying and enjoying God to all eternity.

Yeah yeah, we’re going to hell. Guess what, if we do burn for not accepting Jesus it may very well be because you came in here with arrogance, ad hominems, and an unwillingness (more likely, an inability) to look at these matters in the way that we do. That is to say, I’ve known Jesuits with whom I could have a reasoned discussion about these things, where there was give and take and a willingness on both sides to consider where each other is in the discussion. Someone like that might give credit to Xianity on this forum. You do not.

If anyone wants to talk more to me about anything (including learning more about my worldview, or even to argue and debate with me or rationally discuss evidence with me, so long as you leave the abuse behind), don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

And why would anyone who doesn’t share your prejudices want to learn them? OK, granted that we learned them in philosophy classes, since philosophy comes out of the cramped pre-suppositions that you accept as truth, but I can’t think that many other than those who study the history of philosophy would be interested in losing the progress made in science and in philosophy over the millenia.

My email address is […]. Many of the Darwinists here will probably ridicule everything I have said here, as they have everything else, but the truth is the truth in spite of them.

If by “ridicule” (and what is “Darwinist” on this side of the Atlantic, except a term of ridicule?) you mean “answer”, yes, you’re right, you are ridiculed/answered. Not that you deserve it, since you didn’t respond to the many considered replies that you received, you went on your little snit with a whole lot of unbased accusations, and you failed to demonstrate the least little bit of openness to what we’ve said. But sure, you’re answered, and it is true that just about any reasonable reply to you heaps ridicule upon your biases and false accusations.

Goodbye!

Won’t miss you. I’ll tell you what, why don’t you go whine about your evil treatment by the “Darwinists” on some fundie forum, and even better, link to this thread as evidence. I mean, you’ve showed up our “childishness” so well with a whole lot of unfounded accusations (what did Jesus say about those?), so this should be your crowning achievement, the point at which you showed up all of us evil Darwinists. And don’t even think about how insulting it is for you to come in here with the attitude that we’re simply anti-God “naturalists” who otherwise would believe in creationism—for, you are the victim, you are the one whose original dishonest attacks lay no charge against you, but are a righteous provocation and scourge against the wickedness of those who you want to treat you charitably.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177947

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 22, 2007 11:27 AM (e)

Some here are familiar with the “Gish Gallop” which Duane Gish developed and polished somewhere back in the 1970s. In a debate with a scientist, he would throw out a barrage of complete nonsense and the scientist would attempt to make a point-by-point refutation (the rules of the debate were allegedly to stick to the science). Gish would not even respond to the refutation, but would simply throw out another barrage. This sequence was repeated throughout the debate.

If the scientist got impatient, Gish would be sure to make the worst of it by suggesting to his audiences that this impatience was anger at having the evils of evolution exposed by him.

You may have noticed that Mark was doing a similar thing on this thread. Over the years there have been a number of roles that the ID/Creationists have developed and taken on in debates. These roles come from the imagined heroes in their pantheon of Christian warriors. The role has nothing to do with learning about science but, instead, to become a conquering warrior or a heroic martyr. In Mark’s case, he chose the “Sacrificial Lamb” role. He played the gentle and innocent seeker of Truth hoping to learn as well as to influence.

His final post was an over-the-top Wagnerian opera death scene in which the lamb in his final death throws reminds his audience that, in his innocence and purity, he has been brutally shredded to death by the evil Darwinist wolves he came to tame as well as learn from. He even ended it with a final goodbye in a minor key.

This is a scene that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of a young mother who envisions the terrors faced by her children as they head off to public schools. And it reinforces the image of the evilness produced in humans by the belief in evolution.

I don’t think I am being too cynical here. Mark could have been sincere, but in a public forum like this, that would be extremely unlikely. He was aware of the audience (lurkers). One doesn’t do this kind of “humble” searching for truth in a public debate on a forum like this. I began to suspect this when he didn’t respond to any of the refutations offered by others in this thread.

He apparently didn’t pick up on some not-so-subtle hints that some of us may have been on to him, and my impression was that most people tried to read his stuff and respond appropriately. He was not treated any more rudely that a scientist would have been treated for making the same blunders.

This is why I think it is risky to attempt to engage in point-by-point refutations in these kinds of debates. Most of the time it is a trap. It is better to not get caught in the role playing and to simply but consistently refer the individual to the scientific literature, offering only some general guidance about where the problems are in the individual’s thinking.

Comment #177949

Posted by Science Avenger on May 22, 2007 11:41 AM (e)

I gave Mr. Hausam a couple of post full of substantive issues he could have addressed, but he ignored all of it. And sure there was a healthy bit of snark, but nothing I or anyone else said approached the likes of this from Mark:

I keep coming back to this description in my thinking about you–many of you (not all) seem like fundamentalists in the worse sense–close-mnded, bigoted, emotionally-driven, un-self-aware people

So in additional to being an intellectual poseur and coward, he’s also a hypocrite.

Comment #177955

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 22, 2007 12:01 PM (e)

Um, sorry I didn’t moderate this thread, there was some potential for making progress with this guy, instead we had people fighting with him about Christianity and everything else.

I see no evidence that there was any potential for making progress with Hausam.

Why did people fight with him about Xianity and everything else? It’s because he brought up Xianity and everything else. He was asked to deal with evolutionary matters, and to back up his creationism. What he did was to give the standard ICR responses over evolution and evidence for the old earth, brought up a whole lot of old Xian metaphysics for his “evidence for creation,” and when he couldn’t take the heat he resorted totally to the script that, as Raging Bee notes, appears to have been what he never once deviated from during the whole time (yes he was cagey and used lots of modifiers in the beginning, yet he was using Paul’s dismissal of certain people (who Mark conflates with “Darwinists”) as the basis for his whole “consideration” of the evidence and argumentation).

FWIW here is my 2 cents on talking to creationists who actually want to talk: the most productive way to proceed in this sort of area is to focus on one single very narrow issue like the age of the earth, or even just a piece of evidence for the age of the earth.

I have the feeling that you received your belief that Mark wanted to talk (rather than preach), and that he was not the one all over the map, from a third party. I, for one, responded to his many claims from various angles, however I kept pointing out that none of this “philosophy” was necessary and that scientific evidence for his claims was needed.

Of course various folk had brought up various matters, but when Mark’s off backing up creationism with an entirely specious metaphysical chain of “reasoning” from a host of unreasonable assumptions, there isn’t much to do to bring sanity back into the picture.

The only way to ever change the mind of a committed creationist is to get them to learn enough about some particular topic that they can see for themselves the difference between the evidence and what the Bible/creation scientists are telling them. Then they get concerned and go to the library and start reading on all the other issues, and 6-12 months later they realize they just can’t believe the YEC stuff any more.

Is that how it goes? You have evidence for this? More specifically, do you have evidence that this is how Mark would likely respond?

When the age of the earth was brought up he didn’t exactly go to the library and start reading, he went to the ICR and came back with fatuous apologetics. There’s such a thing as treating the apparently open-minded with respect, there’s another thing called “playing into their hands” when they’re just jerking you around with ancient PRATTs.

This whole process is rare but has happened multiple times on talk.origins. But we appear to have more rage-against-the-creationists people than the explain-nicely people in this particular thread.

Simple accusations get you nowhere. Don’t believe any concern trolls who might be reporting to you. Why don’t you actually look at the responses, their rationales, and the unreasoning ad hominems with which we were greeted from the first and met with in the subsequent responses?

If you can look at them and actually make a case that Mark was willing to discuss (not preach) and that we were just “not nice”, then go ahead and do so. It’s rather ironic that the quintessential case of blind repetition of what their authorities say, stereotypical thinking, and projection of their faults onto others, would be treated by the guy who brought up (some of) these infantile responses as if this quintessence of bad faith (Mark) had been ill-treated.

Mark, if you are still listening, ignore the insults and everything

Yes Mark, poor persecuted fellow, ignore everything (like you need an invitation to do so) that’s been said, ignore the “insults” (you know, the judgments against your insults), and go right ahead with your openness to the evidence.

Or again, if you can back up your accusations, Nick, go right ahead. Otherwise I’ll ignore your insults, except for the unfairness of them.

just take some time to learn about why scientists think the earth is old. Here are 2 good books:

1. G. Brent Dalrymple, The Age of the Earth

2. Arthur N. Strahler, Science and Earth History.

I bet he’s scampering off to do so even as I write this (muffled maniacal laughter is heard, despite the fact that the receiver is covered).

Still, no harm in pointing him to them. But treating the guy whose starting-off point involves the belief that we only believe “Darwinism” because we’re godless sinners and quite possibly gay (via Paul—not that there’s anything wrong with that, with its various meanings) as if he were some poor persecuted little boy is not harmless. Less harmful to us, however, than to anyone who makes the accusation and can’t back it up.

You cannot really say you have investigated the issues even partially unless you read this two books.

Really? If he read journals, took college courses, and, perhaps, read some different books, he still could not really say that he’s investigated the issues as long as he’s failed to read those particular two books?

When I started this response I hadn’t noticed that highly dubious contention. Well, I guess it’s no more dubious than treating a guy who began with insults, ignored reasoned responses to his canned creationist nonsense, and ended with insults and yelps of persecution, as if he were being picked on.

And no, there is no excuse to take this response as “evidence” that we, or I, am just not nice, as certain concern trolls might have it. It is, rather, the reasonable demand that one back up his insults against a collective of people who have answered Mark with much more care and detail than either Matzke or Dunkelberg ever have. Anything may be said with evidence, no one has the right to insult without evidence—neither Mark nor Nick.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177965

Posted by Andrew Wade on May 22, 2007 12:34 PM (e)

Mike Elzinga wrote:

This is why I think it is risky to attempt to engage in point-by-point refutations in these kinds of debates. Most of the time it is a trap.

If so it is a poor one. A textual message thread developing over several days provides the sort of time and space required to fisk a “Gish Gallop” effectively. This is almost a perfect forum for point-by-point refutations. It’s not necessary to continue to follow the “Gish Gallop” indefinitely; just long enough to show that the supposed “gentle and innocent seeker of Truth” is utterly uninterested in the replies, and by extension the truth. That’s hard to do within the constraints of a verbal debate, it’s much easier here.

It is not the fisking but the name-calling that provided a foil to the sacrificial lamb here.

Comment #177966

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 22, 2007 12:41 PM (e)

You may have noticed that Mark was doing a similar thing [Gish Gallop] on this thread. Over the years there have been a number of roles that the ID/Creationists have developed and taken on in debates. These roles come from the imagined heroes in their pantheon of Christian warriors. The role has nothing to do with learning about science but, instead, to become a conquering warrior or a heroic martyr. In Mark’s case, he chose the “Sacrificial Lamb” role. He played the gentle and innocent seeker of Truth hoping to learn as well as to influence.

Not too well, though. In his second post he writes the following highly insulting depiction of us in the third person in one paragraph, only to make it effectively a first-person insult in the very first sentence of the next paragraph:

Both Darwinists and creationists generally see the creation-evolution controversy in this light. Creationists (and many theists in general) often argue that a fundamental pride and rebellious attitude towards the true God is what motivates people to be naturalists and Darwinists. Pride and rebellion cause them to suppress the truth, thus distorting their processes of reasoning so that they miss the obvious and end up endorsing nonsense, despite the intelligence of many naturalists which, if not subjected to their rebellious spirit, would lead them in a totally different direction. Paul, in Romans 1:18-32 in the Bible, provides a good example of typical theistic reasoning about why naturalists really believe what they believe despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

By the way, in case anyone hasn’t detected it by now, I am a Christian and a creationist.

It was pretty obvious at that point that he had no desire to learn from us, or even to learn anything about us except whatever would reinforce his a priori beliefs about us.

I’m not disputing your idea that he was trying to come in as a teachable lamb, he’s just not very good at it, if indeed that was his primary intent (I’m leaving it open that he may have had various motivations and intentions).

This is a scene that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of a young mother who envisions the terrors faced by her children as they head off to public schools. And it reinforces the image of the evilness produced in humans by the belief in evolution.

I think he kind of blew it at the end, though. He’d almost certainly been suppressing his emotions until the end, but I’m afraid he didn’t fool more than, say, a couple on our side. I do believe that the sense of being sorely and unfairly injured is real, partly because he had been trying so hard to keep what was so obvious from appearing in his posts, and despite all of his heroic attempts to save us we were just “mean” to him.

Whatever the sincerity in being thwarted in his attempt to preach to us, it is indeed more Wagnerian than what one reads in the Gospels. Sure, the fundies will sympathize with the poor injured person (evil Darwinists are so hard to treat gently, you know), but most of them will not really be impressed by the hypocritical whine that he was injured and never opened his mouth.

I don’t think I am being too cynical here. Mark could have been sincere, but in a public forum like this, that would be extremely unlikely. He was aware of the audience (lurkers). One doesn’t do this kind of “humble” searching for truth in a public debate on a forum like this. I began to suspect this when he didn’t respond to any of the refutations offered by others in this thread.

Right, well I treated him quite well in the beginning, and he just went on with his diatribe against our “close-mindedness”, etc. He can’t even begin to see how closed his mind is, though, and it is inevitable that when projection is called he’s going to be angered.

[snip]He was not treated any more rudely that a scientist would have been treated for making the same blunders.

Very good point. When we treat them equally, they, and the concern trolls, consider such equal treatment to be unfair, or somehow unproductive (like anything in Mark’s approach was productive).

This is why I think it is risky to attempt to engage in point-by-point refutations in these kinds of debates. Most of the time it is a trap.

Actually, when there are no time limits (and this varies with poster and with each poster’s schedule), it may not be a trap. It’s a trap far more in oral debates with limited times allotted to each participant, with the Gish’s, etc., wanting to cast as much doubt as possible without there being time to refute.

I like to answer, if time allows, because it is considered by many as an indictment of evolution when questions remain unanswered. There’s no question that the creos are in a kind of a trap, where any refutation of one point leads them to another point of defense, however one can undercut many “arguments” given enough time (though when metaphysics comes up it is often extremely difficult to get the metaphysician to notice that their assumptions aren’t truth. Those educated to believe in metaphysics are often worse than those ignorant of philosophy, so that they typically insist that their assumptions be satisfied no matter how many times it’s pointed out to them that they merely have unwarranted prejudices).

It is better to not get caught in the role playing and to simply but consistently refer the individual to the scientific literature, offering only some general guidance about where the problems are in the individual’s thinking.

Yes, that’s true of scientific matters. I rarely refute their particular “arguments” over the science point by point, but attempt to bring up the “big picture”, that entire patterns are predicted and explained by evolution, while creationism neither predicts nor explains anything.

The truth is, it often is best to ridicule their lack of knowledge about what they’re discussing, and challenge them to learn something other than creationistic nonsense. “Good cops” and concern trolls sometimes play a helpful role as well, though few creationists ever crawl out of their dungeons of “certainty”.

What would really be obnoxious is if all of us acted like chumps and played along with the transparently false statements that they want a fair-minded dialog, well after they have indicated that they intend to get to their “conclusions” by forcing their assumptions into the premises of the “debate”. People like Mark will always go away denouncing us for their own sins of narrow-mindedness and ignorance, but when he can’t play us for fools in front of the observers he leaves sooner rather than later, and with nothing to show for it except the hypocritical claim to have received insults without giving them out.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #177978

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 22, 2007 2:24 PM (e)

Andrew Wade wrote:

A textual message thread developing over several days provides the sort of time and space required to fisk a “Gish Gallop” effectively. This is almost a perfect forum for point-by-point refutations.

Indeed, Andrew, you make a good point. I guess I was actually thinking about the choreographed verbal debates when I wrote that. But having a traceable thread is much nicer. If the archive is readily available, that is even better.

Comment #177987

Posted by David B. Benson on May 22, 2007 2:30 PM (e)

This has been some thread!

But I am convinced that Mark never comprehended that he has been thoroughly, completely fisked…

Comment #178012

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 22, 2007 3:20 PM (e)

That’s not a recommended teaching method.

I can’t believe, after all the time spent hanging on these boards, that you could possibly not recognize that someone like Mark is NOT here to learn.

someone who is here to learn asks honest questions in order to stem their ignorance.

People like Mark revel in their ignorance and do anything possible to rationalize it.

big difference, and a lack of patience is certainly NOT what I saw in response to his posts.

You should check out the AFDave “creator hypothesis” threads both on ATBC and on Dawkins.net to see the end result of trying to “be patient” with the likes of creobots like Mark and AFDave.

there is a definite threshhold someone has to cross before an actual evidentiary argument becomes meaningful. Mark has NOT passed that threshhold, and I very much doubt he ever will.

Comment #178036

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 22, 2007 4:43 PM (e)

Glen:

Right, well I treated him quite well in the beginning

No, you didn’t, Glen. Your replies to Mark Hausam were haughty and condescending from the start (see #176580, and your following posts aren’t better).

Frankly, I’m disgusted by the way that many of the pro-science posters behaved themselves on this thread. I’ve been watching this exchange, and I couldn’t help but notice the number of people who were ready to assume the utter worst about Mark Hausam, to the extent of putting words in his mouth (see raven in #176590, for example). harold, your grotesque insinuations about the sexual tastes of Christians were way, way out of line. Sir_Toejam, sometimes I swear you couldn’t be polite to someone if your life depended on it.

It is extremely frustrating to see intelligent people behave so foolishly. Why is it that creationism remains so popular? Why is it that we have so much trouble convincing religious people that we’re worth listening to? It certainly isn’t because of the facts– and yet so many of you behave as though facts are all that matter. If that were true, we wouldn’t be having this debate.

If you know anything about psychology, you know that the emotional content of an argument sways most people at least as much as the intellectual content. If you deliver a cogently reasoned argument in an insulting tone, your opponent will find it very difficult to accept your reasoning. Yet despite this, many posters here pay little or no attention to whether they’re coming across as insulting or not.

Frankly, “defenders of evolution” who can’t exercise a little self-restraint when it comes to insulting people are some of the best recruiters a creationist could have. If you turn someone off to science or evolution by coming across as an arrogant prick, you’ve done as much harm as if you’d told someone that there are no transitional forms in the fossil record.

Get a clue: if you’re going to convince any of the vast majority of the American public that evolution is correct, you can’t afford to come across as arrogant or condescending in their eyes. Act like you’re an ambassador to another culture. Learn what’s appropriate and inappropriate in that culture. Until you do that, very few people are going to be able to hear your elegantly-reasoned scientific arguments– and that’s your fault. And if you can’t be bothered to develop that level of politeness, do science a favor and keep your mouth shut, because, frankly, you’re doing more harm than good.

Comment #178044

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 22, 2007 5:08 PM (e)

If you know anything about psychology, you know that the emotional content of an argument sways most people at least as much as the intellectual content

*yawn*

and continuing misrepresentation of folks like Mark as if he were willing to learn anything, rather than use the opportunity to preach, is naive at best.

you want polite?

why don’t you go have a “debate” with Sal Cordova, eh?

I’m so sick of the attitude that people like Mark are actually BEING polite to begin with. He’s no more “polite” than Sal Cordova.

if you can’t see the difference, I truly pity you.

Comment #178060

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 22, 2007 5:37 PM (e)

Frankly, “defenders of evolution” who can’t exercise a little self-restraint when it comes to insulting people are some of the best recruiters a creationist could have.

…and I call BS on that. Prove it.

there are people worth investing time in to try to educate them as to what the evidence really is and says, and then there are people who COME IN with the ideology that a book they base their worldview on is INFALLIBLE.

again, if you can’t see the difference, you’re gonna waste a lot of time, and I’d make an argument that if you waste time on the hopeless ones, THAT is doing a service to the creationists. Have you even considered the possibility that it’s exactly what they want?

Comment #178061

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 22, 2007 5:56 PM (e)

No, you didn’t, Glen. Your replies to Mark Hausam were haughty and condescending from the start (see #176580, and your following posts aren’t better).

Apparently you have no capacity for understanding context, or the fact that I continue to state that I don’t pull punches. Saying that I treated him quite well is to be understood in that vein, and not by whatever arbitrary “standards” that you are using now, and which you are not actually explaining.

IOW, your attack against me is ad hoc and as baseless as an IDist paper. You either don’t know what “condescending” means, or you’re incapable of thinking through what it means to treat someone who is clearly using inferior argumentation as if he is acting inferior. “Haughty,” of course, is a rather subjective term, but you have to be quite uncomprehending of what was at stake to label what I wrote as “haughty and condescending” and leave it at that.

It’s apparent that all of you concern trolls cannot actually fault the honesty of what was written, and can only attack for a “tone” that you find offensive in your ignorance of what is going on. I do explain what is going on, however it appears that you are too indolent, or ignorant of psychology, sociology, and political speech, to even begin to care, let alone to deal with these matters in an intelligent manner.

So, what did we say that was inaccurate (I know you didn’t say it was, I’m pointing out that truth matters, yet not to you concern trolls)? I documented many inaccuracies on the part of Hausam, Dunkelberg, and the impropriety of the free-floating charges from Nick (as well as his absurd statements regarding the two books he recommended). And you’re about as haughty and baseless in your charges and strawman attacks as anyone I’ve ever seen. Get a grip, learn something other than your academic “politeness” and backstabbing, and learn what those of us who know something about humanity actually know.

Here is #176580 in its entirety. See if I wrote anything out of line, or if Spitzer is as egregious and appalling as Hausam was (added comments in brackets):

Both Darwinists and creationists generally see the creation-evolution controversy in this light. Creationists (and many theists in general) often argue that a fundamental pride and rebellious attitude towards the true God is what motivates people to be naturalists and Darwinists.

I’d guess that the total lack of evidence for this ad hominem attack is the reason why most reject it without considering it too closely.

[Here I’m answering Hausam’s baseless ad hominem attack against us, with the honest and reasonable observation that it indeed lacks evidence. I’m not “humble” or some such thing that the egregious Spitzer demands of me, but then he couldn’t actually fault what I’d written, he’s just a concern troll who doesn’t like my tone, and ignores the vileness of Hausam’s comments.]

Pride and rebellion cause them to suppress the truth, thus distorting their processes of reasoning so that they miss the obvious and end up endorsing nonsense, despite the intelligence of many naturalists which, if not subjected to their rebellious spirit, would lead them in a totally different direction.

Yes, that’s also the Mormon position on those who reject Joseph Smith, and the Seventh-day Adventist position on those who reject their prophet, Ellen White. On the face of it, such “explanations” are simply reactive protections of certain belief systems which cannot hold up to examination.

[A good answer to another set of baseless charges. I know that people like Hausam reject the false charges made by sects against those who disagree with their prophets, and I compared his baseless remarks with theirs. Again nothing untrue or more “haughty” or “condescending” than was called for. Spitzer just can’t deal with these things, so he accuses without bothering with the merits of what was written.]

Paul, in Romans 1:18-32 in the Bible, provides a good example of typical theistic reasoning about why naturalists really believe what they believe despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

Paul was not responding to a modern theory based upon and explaining masses of evidence, nor could anybody at that time. That anyone would even use the reasoning of Paul, when he couldn’t even hope to respond to evolutionary theory as it stands in the year 2007, indicates a far from reasoning attitude and a resort to mere authority in the face of questioning of a position.

[Good points regarding the fact that Paul wasn’t even discussing “Darwinists”. I guess telling the truth offends the appalling Spitzer.]

By the way, in case anyone hasn’t detected it by now, I am a Christian and a creationist. I don’t particularly enjoy getting into motives too much, but I have to agree with CJO that sometimes it is necessary to do so.

More like, it is usually necessary to do so, at least for a full accounting. The motivations of scientists and of science in general are not greatly different from those of other people, including creationists, at least not with respect to their personal and psychological aspects. It is the system of science (checks and balances) that typically prevents motivations and prejudices from compromising the collective processes of science.

[Oh my God, yet another good answer, and I dare to treat the truth as better than Hausam’s dishonest claims. I must repent in ashes, for Spitzer opposes honest responses to egregious twits.]

However, thoughts about motives should not take away from what in my last post I called “the real question,” which is the state of the evidence.

That isn’t in question, as has been demonstrated exhaustively on this forum. However I do recognize that your side has little in their arsenal except the constant drumbeat of charges that there are “questions”, no matter how many times these have been adequately answered.

[Oh wow, another reasonably polite reply that nonetheless sticks to the truth. Well we already know that truth doesn’t matter to Spitzer, at least not in this matter.]

Sometimes discussions about motives can degenerate into ad hominem arguments and simply name-calling, which, of course, should never replace serious evaluation and argumentation.

Yes, or they can turn into special pleading and unreasonable objections when the side that can’t present meaningful arguments reacts to sound judgments of same.

[A labeling of Hausam’s special pleading and unreasonable objections as such. Where does anything written by Spitzer ring true, unless he wants me to avoid stating the truth forthrightly? Nowhere at all, and his accusations are as unreasonable as he is hypocritical in attacking with the very haughtiness and condescension that he condemns in my responses, only without any reasonable justification. He’s just spewing dishonest accusations.]

Glen D

Frankly, I’m disgusted by the way that many of the pro-science posters behaved themselves on this thread.

I’m disgusted by your total disregard for the egregious insults put out by Dunkelberg, Hausam, and lesser insults from Matzke, while you attack those who actually answered Hausam with learning and concern for honesty, which of course you did not.

You’re a disgrace to anyone who cares first and foremost about honesty in a discussion.

I’ve been watching this exchange, and I couldn’t help but notice the number of people who were ready to assume the utter worst about Mark Hausam, to the extent of putting words in his mouth (see raven in #176590, for example). harold, your grotesque insinuations about the sexual tastes of Christians were way, way out of line. Sir_Toejam, sometimes I swear you couldn’t be polite to someone if your life depended on it.

I won’t speak for others, but your unfounded attacks on me speak volumes about the character of your post.

It is extremely frustrating to see intelligent people behave so foolishly.

It’s frustrating to make intelligent responses based upon our weighing of the entire audience, then to be attacked so unintelligently by a person who can’t back up his remarks.

Why is it that creationism remains so popular? Why is it that we have so much trouble convincing religious people that we’re worth listening to?

Gee, why don’t you give us a full and nuanced account of the history of religion and science in this country, without you stupidly concluding that honest responses that call idiots on their idiocy are what keep creationism going? I have no patience with your pig-ignorant “analysis” of this complex situation, as you justify your emotional outburst by misrepresenting what we have been doing here.

It certainly isn’t because of the facts– and yet so many of you behave as though facts are all that matter. If that were true, we wouldn’t be having this debate.

If you know anything about psychology, you know that the emotional content of an argument sways most people at least as much as the intellectual content.

If you knew anything to speak of about psychology, you wouldn’t attack us for using emotional content to convey how disgusting we find Mark’s lies and evidently conscious omissions. But you lecture us as if your concern trollery were the height of psychological awareness, you being clueless about the need to deal with evocative words with the lameness of Mark’s “intellectual response”. Indeed, I recognize the necessity for dealing with you on the same level, lacking in intellectual rigor as your post is.

If you deliver a cogently reasoned argument in an insulting tone, your opponent will find it very difficult to accept your reasoning.

Seemingly you haven’t bothered with what we’ve written about how apparent it was from the beginning that Mark was and is not open to intellectual argumentation. So rather than dealing with our arguments, you come in with this strawman attack, based in your inability to read the exchanges with any competence.

Yet despite this, many posters here pay little or no attention to whether they’re coming across as insulting or not.

Again, you’re either ignorant of what was written, too stupid to follow it, or just plain dishonest. I gave a more polite response to Mark in the beginning than I thought he deserved as a person, but there is such a thing as giving a person the benefit of the doubt. Then I was deliberately insulting because he is incapable of a reasoned response.

Frankly, “defenders of evolution” who can’t exercise a little self-restraint when it comes to insulting people are some of the best recruiters a creationist could have.

Spitzer here apes the stupid remarks of the IDiots. While we quite plainly and deliberately respond to trolls like Spitzer and Hausam with exactly the kind of replies that we think are necessary to the PT audience, he ignorantly and without evident intellectual honesty supposes that we’re lacking in “self-restraint”. Why don’t you go and learn something about politics, sociology, and psychology, Spitzer?

If you turn someone off to science or evolution by coming across as an arrogant prick, you’ve done as much harm as if you’d told someone that there are no transitional forms in the fossil record.

And if you’re too indolent or incompetent even to read what we wrote about how we gauged Mark’s attitude to be, you do as much harm as the lying DI as they spin every response as if it were due to some anxiety over the evidence of evolution. You ignorant and arrogant prick.

Get a clue: if you’re going to convince any of the vast majority of the American public that evolution is correct, you can’t afford to come across as arrogant or condescending in their eyes.

Grow up, and get an education, Spitzer. We’re not going to let some jackass, yank us around like we don’t even know what’s going on.

Act like you’re an ambassador to another culture. Learn what’s appropriate and inappropriate in that culture.

It’s not another culture, it’s an adversarial opponent who constantly tells untruths about us, much as you do Spitzer. Laying down and rolling over in the face of insults and lies is the height of defeatism, something you wouldn’t know because you’re ignorant about these affairs.

Until you do that, very few people are going to be able to hear your elegantly-reasoned scientific arguments– and that’s your fault.

No, it’s your fault (as well as the rest of the clueless and uneducated spinners), for you’re the one who is treating falsely in this thread, with a mountainful of ignorance about how to deal with deliberate lies, the Gish Gallop, and the constant misrepresentation of the contempt appropriate to lies as if they were clueless and unmerited insults.

And if you can’t be bothered to develop that level of politeness, do science a favor and keep your mouth shut, because, frankly, you’re doing more harm than good.

Why don’t you shut up where you can’t even understand what we’ve been writing? As a side issue, we have actually have discussed these matters at some length, and you drivel on and on without even addressing the points we make. It really isn’t for people like you, who know primarily science and the different culture of academia, to pretend that you know anything about fighting with those who think ignorance is superior to knowledge, stupidity superior to nuanced analyses, and biases superior to openness.

Only your presumed superiority in your abject lack of understanding is evidently superior in your unreasoned attacks on those of us who know exceedingly more than you do about how to deal with these people.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178070

Posted by onein6billion on May 22, 2007 6:05 PM (e)

Of course one can google “Mark Hausam” and come up with things like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xkghhMoCzU

It seems clear that he made up his mind a long time ago and no mere “evidence” could possibly change it.

And then look at his current teaching job and graduate student status. :-(

Comment #178071

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 22, 2007 6:07 PM (e)

again, if you can’t see the difference, you’re gonna waste a lot of time, and I’d make an argument that if you waste time on the hopeless ones, THAT is doing a service to the creationists. Have you even considered the possibility that it’s exactly what they want?

Nah, it’s the DI line to the hilt. He can’t read and respond to what we’ve written, so he lashes out in his incomprehension of the psychologies used by those of us who know something about psychology.

He probably does think that Cordova is polite, and that we’re just too emotional when we actually call his packs of lies impolite, dishonest, and in the most literal sense possible, undeserving of respect.

I’ll note again that he didn’t, and couldn’t (certainly not honestly with respect to my own posts—the only ones I can be rock-solid certain about), claim that we said anything dishonest in response to Mark. He’s so sixties, with the notion that if we just give the proper respect, by golly all the criminals and fundies will suddenly recognize the superiority of science, truth, and the American way.

It’s the most naive version of “psychology” in existence.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178088

Posted by George Cauldron on May 22, 2007 6:20 PM (e)

Mark:

If you’re still reading this, I see that you are a member of a Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City. This means that where you live you are in fact a member of a religious minority. May I ask what your opinion of Mormonism is?

Comment #178111

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 22, 2007 7:54 PM (e)

and continuing misrepresentation of folks like Mark as if he were willing to learn anything, rather than use the opportunity to preach, is naive at best.

I’m not saying that Mark Hausam was sincere; my point holds whether he was sincere or whether he was Sal Cordova. (My apology; in looking at my last post, I can see why you might have drawn the conclusion that I believed Hausam was sincere.) Whether the audience is the opponent or whether the audience is the lurkers, insulting an opponent is going to turn off a lot of people, especially Christians. I don’t know what kind of “proof” you want, STJ, but I have spent a fair bit of time hanging out with evangelicals, and they place a high priority on the way that people treat one another. (Think I’m wrong? Prove otherwise.) If you’re rude to Sal Cordova, you play right into his hands; he looks like the “good guy” to a naive audience. And what’s the point of being rude? It does nothing for science.

Glen D.: Did you read what I wrote? You keep insisting that nothing you said was incorrect. My whole point was that being accurate is not enough. Do you think that it’s enough? If it is, then go convince all the creationists that evolution makes sense. We’ll be waiting right here.

Comment #178118

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 22, 2007 8:02 PM (e)

As interesting as these forums can be, their prime disadvantage for me personally is that they can quickly become unfocused and take up more time than I have to available participate. The more traditional sources of information (books, libraries, journals, magazines, and the many internet sources) have a much higher density of information per word and track more directly to where one wants to go.

While I have enough experience and confidence with my own areas of expertise that come up in these discussions, this medium doesn’t feel right and puts me off when it comes to expressing complex ideas. From a pedagogical perspective, it seems quite poor compared to other media I have used. With many voices vying for attention, trolls dropping in and deflection the conversation, frustration over being misunderstood, the mixing of crap with the good stuff, it often seems more like a place to acquire misconceptions about people and ideas instead of reliable knowledge.

One can watch free-for-alls on TV if that is what one wants. But when attempting to learn, the traditional sources seem better to me and that is where I would want to direct people rather than try to explain things on a forum such as this. Concentrated learning requires shutting out the bedlam, if only for a couple of hours at a time.

I marvel at how much time many of you can put into this. I can’t sit on my duff at the computer for that long without cramping up, physically and mentally.

Comment #178121

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 22, 2007 8:17 PM (e)

hmm, I’m having trouble posting this, so I’m going to tweak the links a bit and see if that fixes it…

It seems clear that he made up his mind a long time ago and no mere “evidence” could possibly change it.

after seeing literally hundreds of creobots present their “arguments”, it becomes obvious from the very first post, just by the style and content, that there will be little point in further exchange.

the best that can be done is simply to point them to talk origins, and that just for the lurkers, as it’s very unlikely that the person the response is actually directed to will even bother.

It’s not like I started being so abrupt; creobots TAUGHT me through hundreds of encounters exactly which ones are even worth responding to with any kind of evidentiary argument.

that said, since the topic comes up so often, here are a couple of article relating to psuedogenes, including exactly how the vitamin C psuedogene is broken in exactly the same way in both humans and some primates:

review of psuedogene research:

link is:www.interesting.vaty.net/2006/11/real-life-of-pseudogenes.html

that article will give a decent general overview of the entire area of research that encompasses “pseudogenes”.

our own Andrea Bottaro had an interesting thread on the subject last year as well:

link is:www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/08/rumors_of_pseud.html

the biological origins of the broken C-complex in primates can be found in talk origins, of course (the link is right on the front page of PT), but for another interesting perspective, there have been attempts to model how such breakages might have evolved, like this paper for example:

link is:www.itee.uq.edu.au/~complexity/_publications/iccs02-jw-etal-strange-loops.pdf

How does this relate to Mark? well, if he had done even preliminary investigation in the area he “claimed interest” in, he already would know far more resources and articles published on psuedogenes and specifically the vitamin C complex.

it’s an easy google search, really.

so the fact that he hadn’t even done that much SHOULD tell you something.

I tried to post this earlier, but the server wasn’t receiving posts for a while.

so now I’ll address this:

f you’re rude to Sal Cordova, you play right into his hands; he looks like the “good guy” to a naive audience.

go tell that one to Alan McNeill.

Comment #178123

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 22, 2007 8:24 PM (e)

hmm, I’m having trouble posting this, so I’m going to tweak the links a bit and see if that fixes it…

It seems clear that he made up his mind a long time ago and no mere “evidence” could possibly change it.

after seeing literally hundreds of creobots present their “arguments”, it becomes obvious from the very first post, just by the style and content, that there will be little point in further exchange.

the best that can be done is simply to point them to talk origins, and that just for the lurkers, as it’s very unlikely that the person the response is actually directed to will even bother.

It’s not like I started being so abrupt; creobots TAUGHT me through hundreds of encounters exactly which ones are even worth responding to with any kind of evidentiary argument.

that said, since the topic comes up so often, here are a couple of article relating to psuedogenes, including exactly how the vitamin C psuedogene is broken in exactly the same way in both humans and some primates:

review of psuedogene research:

link is:www.interesting.vaty.net/2006/11/real-life-of-pseudogenes.html

that article will give a decent general overview of the entire area of research that encompasses “pseudogenes”.

our own Andrea Bottaro had an interesting thread on the subject last year as well:

link is:www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/08/rumors_of_pseud.html

the biological origins of the broken C-complex in primates can be found in talk origins, of course (the link is right on the front page of PT), but for another interesting perspective, there have been attempts to model how such breakages might have evolved, like this paper for example:

link is:www.itee.uq.edu.au/~complexity/_publications/iccs02-jw-etal-strange-loops.pdf

How does this relate to Mark? well, if he had done even preliminary investigation in the area he “claimed interest” in, he already would know far more resources and articles published on psuedogenes and specifically the vitamin C complex.

it’s an easy google search, really.

so the fact that he hadn’t even done that much SHOULD tell you something.

I tried to post this earlier, but the server wasn’t receiving posts for a while.

so now I’ll address this:

f you’re rude to Sal Cordova, you play right into his hands; he looks like the “good guy” to a naive audience.

go tell that one to Alan McNeill.

Comment #178124

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 22, 2007 8:40 PM (e)

…and as to this:

I don’t know what kind of “proof” you want, STJ, but I have spent a fair bit of time hanging out with evangelicals, and they place a high priority on the way that people treat one another. (Think I’m wrong? Prove otherwise.) If you’re rude to Sal Cordova, you play right into his hands; he looks like the “good guy” to a naive audience. And what’s the point of being rude? It does nothing for science.

I’ve seen the list of former creationists (small as it is) that post on PT, or Pharyngula, or ATBC, and I don’t recall any of the bases for their stated acceptance of evolutionary theory or the standard scientific method, for that matter, having anything to do with the “politeness” of the source materials of their education, be it people or simply published works.

can you show me someone who dropped creationism because a person they spoke with was polite?

Did you review the results of Alan McNeill’s attempt to be “polite” in his course on ID at Cornell, by chance?

how much traction are YOU yourself making with the evangelical crowd you supposedly hang with, being all polite and such?

my point is that politeness is irrelevant when the person making the creationist argument has no intent to learn to begin with. Surely you have learned how to tell the difference by this time? Honest people start off by asking questions, rather than preaching about the infallibility of their position.

it’s not even related to religion - the ability to teach somebody ANYTHING is related to how open they are to learning new material, if they come to the table already decided, there is little left but ridiculing their position and thus marginalizing them.

there are lots of books written on the effectiveness of ridicule. have you never read any of them?

Comment #178135

Posted by harold on May 23, 2007 8:43 AM (e)

B. Spitzer

harold, your grotesque insinuations about the sexual tastes of Christians were way, way out of line

I don’t want to get into a flame war here, particularly not since, while I concede that I strongly disagree with the specifics of your points here and don’t feel that Mark was unfairly treated, I do sympathize with your instinct to engage in considerate, collegial and reasoned discourse whenever possible. I feel that in this case, the pro-science commenters here did that, but my main thrust is your interpretation of my comments.

Incidentally, I consider myself Christian, albeit not in a way that all other Christians would agree with.

The quote above reflects a significant misunderstanding of what I said.

I remind you that the focus of this thread was not the age of the earth, but what psychological factors may be associated with creationism.

I conjectured that there is a relation between creationism, not Christianity, but creationism, with authoritarian political beliefs and instincts. I do not consider creationism and Christianity to be synonymous, so we can dismiss the conjecture that I commented on “Christians” out of hand. I also noted that some traditional religious views with creationist-overlapping beliefs, such as Orthodox Judaism and Jehovah’s Witness, may not show this relationship, or show it less strongly.

I further noted, and I stand by this observation as patently obvious, that the authoritarian views of creationists are especially focused on human sexuality. I blandly repeat that harsh opinions on homosexuality, birth control, abortion, abstinence, sexual health education, HIV, stem cells, and other sex/reproduction issues are well-known to be associated with political creationism/fundamentalism.

I also commented that the use of corporal punishment with respect to these and other issues seems to be a characteristic of many creationist minds. I then specifically asked Mark Hausman if I had characterized his views correctly. He represents a single example, of course, but had he denied this and declared himself a proponent of gay marriage and universal sexual health education that incorporates but does not focus exclusively on the advantages of abstinence, my conjecture would have been challenged. However, after confessing that his true views might be considered “barbaric”, and that he would not reveal the details, he conceded that my conjecture was correct.

I also went one step further and noted that, anecdotally some people associated with creationism have been caught in eggregious “double lives”, giving the example of Jimmy Swaggart, Haggard, Newt Gingrich, and Mark Foley. (The views of Foley and Gingrich are expressed with great slipperiness in public venues, but both have been sufficiently associated with “religious right” issues, including implications of support for creationism in schools, that I stand by them as valid examples.) I did, in fact, imply if not outright state that for some people, difficulty accepting and controlling sexual impulses may be a factor in a complex dynamic that leads to public expression of authoritarian views on sexuality and associated claims of creationist belief. It is trivial to point out that I am not the first to make this conjecture, and I stand by it.

Nevertheless, even when making this conjecture, I made it very, very clear that I merely referred to a possible trend seen from a few anecdotes, and that many creationists may have exemplary personal lives.

My point was that an important psychological association of creationism is political authoritarianism with a focus on sexuality. I felt that this point was a very important extension of the discussion, which opened with the assertion that “childishness” drove creationism. I strongly stand by that, while not denying that concrete thinking, often associated with children, seems to be part of the picture.

I never mind having my opinions criticized, corrected, modified, or otherwise rationally disputed. I do object to having them distorted. I understand that this was not your intent, that I was speaking on a subject which is perceived as controversial, and that the misunderstanding was innocent.

This is why quoting authors (in appropriate context) is a good technique. Had you tried to find a specific “grotesque insinuation about the sexual tastes of Christians” among my posts, you would have realized that there might be some misunderstanding.

Comment #178145

Posted by Raging Bee on May 23, 2007 10:43 AM (e)

A few more thoughts on Mark Hausam and how he was treated here…

First, Mark was treated politely when he first identified himself as a YEC. In fact, he was explicitly welcomed and thanked for being more civil than most of his kind have been here. After that, many posters gave point-by-point responses to his assertions that, while often rough-sounding (like a teacher addressing a student who clearly hadn’t done his homework), were on-point and directly addressed Mark’s case. I’ve been on the receiving end of much worse, and less relevant, insults, both here and elsewhere, and it never stopped me from making the case I wanted to make. The insults directed at Mark were no more than what you’d expect in a widely-read public blog where anyone can post a response. Public debate on substantive issues can be rough; that’s just a fact of life. Mark has no excuse for crying and running away from the debate he intended to start.

Second, if Mark was really as true a Christian as he claimed to be, then the teachings of Jesus would have made him wise enough, and strong enough, to weather the insults, stick to the points he thought worth defending, and calmly persevere in his quest to spread, and help us understand, whatever message he thought important. I’m not a Christian myself, but I’ve encountered Christian evangelists who were made visibly wiser and stronger by their Gospel; their bearing and behavior made them more convincing evangelists, and I respect them even though I did not adopt their beliefs. Mark’s actions here prove he is not in that group: he accused us of misrepresenting his message, but made no attempt to correct any such misunderstandings – a gross dereliction of duty for someone charged with leading others to the path of righteousness.

Third, regarding this point:

If you turn someone off to science or evolution by coming across as an arrogant prick, you’ve done as much harm as if you’d told someone that there are no transitional forms in the fossil record.

I agree that excessive incivility can hurt our cause, and it’s something we need to observe every day; but we must also understand that the creationists and other tribalist demagogues go out of their way to force such situations, in order to deter their flock from listening to “others.” The script is standard all over the world: make an insulting and/or stupid comment; when “the enemy” expresses anger at being insulted or lied to, cry about how harsh and angry they are; when “the enemy” ponts out the dishonesty of your remarks, label it “persecution” and say something like “I was willing to discuss the subject politely, but you meanies insulted me! You just blew your chance to persuade me, and I’ll never listen to you again!”

Fourth, on the question of which tactic “works” best when debating creationists, I think that depends on where your own intellectual strengths are, who you’re arguing with, and where. My general rule is: find out what matters most to your “opponent,” and argue at least part of your case from there. In Mark’s case, he quickly made it obvious that his entire case was based on clinging to the Bible as an “infallible” source of Truth, so I tried to address that basic underpinning of his world-view. His total failure even to acknowledge my point leads me to conclude that he was unable to refute it – and may, in the provacy of his bedroom at least, be wondering if he was really right after all.

Finally, we don’t really know whether any of our arguments succeded or failed in Mark’s case. He stormed off in a huff from this thread, but seeds of doubt may have been planted, and perhaps, as he and his friends grow up, he may find a secure place to stand against the lies he was fed in the name of his Savior. Or not. People are known to recoil in horror at an “alien” idea, then come to understand and embrace it months or years later.

Comment #178149

Posted by Raging Bee on May 23, 2007 10:56 AM (e)

If you’re rude to Sal Cordova, you play right into his hands; he looks like the “good guy” to a naive audience.

And that’s why Sal makes rude responses all but inevitable, by spewing outright lies while pretending to be the very embodiment of brown-nosed civility. It’s his schtick, and his place in the creationist movement.

Which is why, when Sal shows up at all, many of us base our rudeness on an explicltly-laid-out factual case, using quotes and references, to prove he’s a liar. That won’t convince the die-hard tribalists, of course, but it may sow seeds of doubt in anyone who gives a shit about truth and honest Christian behavior.

Comment #178150

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 23, 2007 11:22 AM (e)

The script is standard all over the world: make an insulting and/or stupid comment; when “the enemy” expresses anger at being insulted or lied to, cry about how harsh and angry they are; when “the enemy” ponts out the dishonesty of your remarks, label it “persecution” and say something like “I was willing to discuss the subject politely, but you meanies insulted me! You just blew your chance to persuade me, and I’ll never listen to you again!”

Oh quite. We’ve pointed that out to Spitzer, but since he’s too self-righteous to trouble to read and try to understand (he seems not to do the latter very well), he just stereotypes creationists and ignores the reasons we gave for our responses in this specific case. That is, we didn’t respond as we did (later on) because he was a creationist, but because he was a jerk.

But since Spitzer seems inured to argumentation, reason, and honest depictions of what is at issue, I’ll use what such types of individuals do sometimes heed, authority. Dennett characterized it well, iow, as we did without Spitzer paying the least attention:

“Instead, the proponents of intelligent design use a ploy that works something like this. First you misuse or misdescribe some scientist’s work. Then you get an angry rebuttal. Then, instead of dealing forthrightly with the charges leveled, you cite the rebuttal as evidence that there is a ‘controversy’ to teach.”

Of course whether or not the response to such dishonesty really is “angry” is in question. Most of us know better than to respond with equanimity to dishonest and unfair attacks, even if it’s routine and more boring than truly emotion-provoking. Spitzer knows none of this, that I can tell.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178151

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 23, 2007 11:52 AM (e)

Glen D.: Did you read what I wrote?

Are you even capable of reading anything above grade school level, Spitzer, or are you too unconcerned about honesty never to respect the replies you’ve been given?

I wrote this for you, as I know how dully you comprehend what is written on this thread:

So, what did we say that was inaccurate (I know you didn’t say it was, I’m pointing out that truth matters, yet not to you concern trolls)?

Moving on:

Spitzer wrote:

You keep insisting that nothing you said was incorrect.

Obviously I read your mindless chatter, which is why I point out that I have higher standards than you, I care about honesty. I was not the least bit more “haughty and condescending” than the egregious Hausam was in the post in which I was responding (as I pointed out), the difference was that what I wrote was honest and informed, and for that reason immensely more polite than anything you’ve written on this thread.

My whole point was that being accurate is not enough.

Apparently you think that this banal point is somehow brilliant, and that we have missed it. You have no evidence that we have missed it, and in fact we were as polite in the beginning as Hausam was, and as he deserved (too bad you’re too unintelligent to know this). I would simply attack if I though being accurate were enough, but then that’s one of the strawmen that you attack in your yawning abyss of incomprehension.

Do you think that it’s enough?

Are you too unintelligent to understand what we’ve written? OK, the evidence is that you are, or you wouldn’t have attacked with your ignorance and banality in the first place?

If it is, then go convince all the creationists that evolution makes sense. We’ll be waiting right here.

The most disgusting aspect of your uninformed, dull, and banal attacks is your stereotyping. We were responding to Hausam, and specifically to his progression of ad hominems, failure to respond to considered replies,, and the substitution of second-rate failed philosophy for the evidence he was asked to provide for his claims. We were not trying to “convince all creationists”. On your part, it takes a special kind of ignorance and the failure to regard people as individuals for you to accuse us of treating a class of people, when in fact we were dealing with one individual. That is your failure to understand humanity, your mistreatment of creationists and those who oppose them as “classes”, rather than dealing with them in their particulars and according to their especial merits.

So of course we (most of us, anyway) dealt with Mark as we would with anybody, creationist or evolutionist, given the quality and presentation of their arguments. While we see “Mark” and treat him according to what he writes (of course that could be questioned as well, but it would have to be questioned with regard to the details of the exchange), you see “a creationist,” and complain how we treat a class of people when we’re doing our best not to treat anybody “as a class” (yes, we pay attention to probabilities involved with the label “creationist”, but try not to jump on him immediately despite the fact that probably 99% of creationists/IDists we get here now will not prove to be intellectually honest).

Not only do you insist that we treat Mark according to the class that you put him in, you insist that we treat that whole class in a different manner than we would other “classes,” such as scientists with whom we might disagree. Your entire approach just reeks of prejudice.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178153

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 23, 2007 11:56 AM (e)

Raging Bee wrote:

I agree that excessive incivility can hurt our cause, and it’s something we need to observe every day; but we must also understand that the creationists and other tribalist demagogues go out of their way to force such situations, in order to deter their flock from listening to “others.” The script is standard all over the world: make an insulting and/or stupid comment; when “the enemy” expresses anger at being insulted or lied to, cry about how harsh and angry they are; when “the enemy” ponts out the dishonesty of your remarks, label it “persecution” and say something like “I was willing to discuss the subject politely, but you meanies insulted me! You just blew your chance to persuade me, and I’ll never listen to you again!”

I agree here. My recollection is that Duane Gish inspired this tactic. The persecution complex runs through nearly all the ID/Creationist’s ploys.

Marks melodramatic exit prompted my image of the Wagnerian death scene, but I have to confess that the scene that followed, in which the various participants started going after each other amused me also. I pictured the Darwinian wolves jockeying for alpha position over the warm carcass. The scene seemed so (do I have to say it) “red in tooth and claw”. :-)

On the other hand, this public self-criticism is indeed healthier than the closed self-justification of the authoritarian fundamentalists. No matter how gruff some scientists may seem to outsiders, if the passion for truth and the knowledge and integrity of the scientist comes through, students and colleagues understand. That’s what the peer review process does.

Comment #178183

Posted by Popper's ghost on May 23, 2007 3:36 PM (e)

It is easy to construct a psychological account of why just about anyone does just about anything. If you don’t like someone’s beliefs, or you take them to be false, you can always come up with some account of a non-rational process that is the REAL reason why they believe it.

That’s nice. But do you have something adult to offer, like an actual rebuttal of the Bloom and Weisberg’s paper, rather than your oh-so-easy substance-free “common sense” dismissal?

Thank you for your civil tone.

Man you people are suckers for form over substance.

Comment #178192

Posted by Popper's ghost on May 23, 2007 3:49 PM (e)

And what’s the point of being rude?

It cuts to the chase: B. Spitzer is an effing moron and pompous hypocrite.

Comment #178201

Posted by David B. Benson on May 23, 2007 4:07 PM (e)

Well, this was quite the thread, but has certainly gone downhill here in the coda

Comment #178202

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2007 4:18 PM (e)

well, I’d make the suggestion that the reason a troll like Mark was so easily able to hijack the thread is that by and large the vast majority of visitors do not have access to the actual paper being discussed.

which brings up the general point that the limited access to many of these articles greatly limits discussion historically, as well.

My suggestion would be either for the contributors to do a more thorough job detailing the methods and results of the papers presented, try to choose papers that DO have public access to make their points with, or figure out some way for blog participants to get limited access in some form.

Also, I think science blogs should lobby scientific journals for public access to what they think are important papers for public policy discussion.

I highly encourage everyone to review the current status of the open access journals, and support those journals who participate.

http://www.doaj.org/

Comment #178206

Posted by Popper's ghost on May 23, 2007 4:32 PM (e)

Well, this was quite the thread, but has certainly gone downhill here in the coda…

Spitzer is an asshole concern troll who shows up to attack people that he sees as being critical of Christians; threads always go sharply downhill after he shows up. The “coda” is , well, you know, just a summary.

Comment #178205

Posted by harold on May 23, 2007 4:32 PM (e)

Well, this was quite the thread, but has certainly gone downhill here in the coda…

I’m also quite irritated at B. Spitzer for creating a rather nasty strawman of my points, and then, when I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, refusing the minimal politeness of a reply to my clarification.

Given the apparent hypocrisy of crudely distorting another person’s valid and civil points into a distasteful and unfair distortion, while simultaneously preaching respect and compassion, I’m starting to wonder if maybe as I was wrong and Popper’s Ghost is right, when it comes to the character of B. Spitzer. I could still be conviced otherwise, but now I need some convincing.

I’m a strong proponent of civility, but there’s no reason that it has to be taken to the point of humorlessness and submissiveness. I find it rather odd that so many people complain about the mild, clearly humorous, not-very-insulting “rudeness” of pro-science posters, while seeming to overlook the more serious rudeness of distorting, refusing to acknowledge, and attempting to deceive, so characteristic of creationists. (And of course, creationists also more likely to resort to outright insults and the like, as well.)

Comment #178207

Posted by David Stanton on May 23, 2007 4:34 PM (e)

onein6billion,

Thanks for the link. It was very revealing. It is now obvious that this guy was lying to all of us from the very beginning. It now appears that when he realized that he would not be able to convince any of us that he was right and that he would definately not be able to convert any of us that he simply gave up. I for one now regret giving him the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t know if anyone is still paying attention to this thread, but in the same issue of Science as the article under discussion, there was a short announcement concerning a new journal being put out by the ICR. It is described as a “professional peer reviewed journal … to support theories such as the young earth, the global flood and the non-evolutionary origin of the species.” This should be good for a few laughs. And since when do journals request data supporting any particular theory? I guess contrary data won’t even be considered, go figure. Perhaps this topic would deserve a new thread. Perhaps one is already in the works.

Comment #178208

Posted by David B. Benson on May 23, 2007 4:45 PM (e)

Popper’s Ghost & harold — Thanks for the heads-up regarding B. Spitzer.

I guess we can’t get him banned yet?

Comment #178210

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 23, 2007 4:47 PM (e)

I (almost) always like it when Popper’s Ghost shows up on these threads, not only because he’s usually right, but because he makes the rest of us look like saints by comparison (and I don’t necessarily think that “saint” is a good thing, especially when dealing with Spitzer and Hausam, but it does deflect attacks).

And no, this isn’t in the least way a criticism of his harsh, name-calling posts. There’s a lot to be said for just noting what an effing moron someone is and moving on. However, I’ll leave that up to PG.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178211

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 23, 2007 4:49 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

My suggestion would be either for the contributors to do a more thorough job detailing the methods and results of the papers presented, try to choose papers that DO have public access to make their points with, or figure out some way for blog participants to get limited access in some form.

This relates to what I was alluding to in my comment above (#178118). I was personally beginning to feel the pinch of the “limited scientific bandwidth” of this thread. I find myself put off by trying to post an extended explanation that I sense would not be read. And indeed it is frustrating that most of the online journals have restricted membership access.

On the other hand, many of the people looking at the discussions occurring here would probably like more layperson-friendly sources. I wonder if PT could have a list of links to these along the sidebar. These could be updated from time-to-time. That way, in discussions that relate to commonly raised topics, a responder could simply point to the link. I realize that TalkOrigins.org is a good source, but that certainly isn’t the only one. Many point to Wikipedia, but sometimes that is questionable.

But ST’s suggestion is a good one.

David B. Benson wrote:

Well, this was quite the thread, but has certainly gone downhill here in the coda…

I agree. Lots of repetition going on now.

Perhaps there could be a standard protocol developed for handling trolls that would dispense with them fairly efficiently yet keep the discussion on track. It’s worth putting some thought into.

Comment #178213

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 23, 2007 4:55 PM (e)

I’m not sure why this isn’t posting, but here goes again. Sorry if it double posts.

Sir_Toejam wrote:

My suggestion would be either for the contributors to do a more thorough job detailing the methods and results of the papers presented, try to choose papers that DO have public access to make their points with, or figure out some way for blog participants to get limited access in some form.

This relates to what I was alluding to in my comment above (#178118). I was personally beginning to feel the pinch of the “limited scientific bandwidth” of this thread. I find myself put off by trying to post an extended explanation that I sense would not be read. And indeed it is frustrating that most of the online journals have restricted membership access.

On the other hand, many of the people looking at the discussions occurring here would probably like more layperson-friendly sources. I wonder if PT could have a list of links to these along the sidebar. These could be updated from time-to-time. That way, in discussions that relate to commonly raised topics, a responder could simply point to the link. I realize that TalkOrigins.org is a good source, but that certainly isn’t the only one. Many point to Wikipedia, but sometimes that is questionable.

But ST’s suggestion is a good one.

David B. Benson wrote:

Well, this was quite the thread, but has certainly gone downhill here in the coda…

I agree. Lots of repetition going on now.

Perhaps there could be a standard protocol developed for handling trolls that would dispense with them fairly efficiently yet keep the discussion on track. It’s worth putting some thought into.

Comment #178214

Posted by Popper's ghost on May 23, 2007 5:18 PM (e)

Popper’s Ghost & harold — Thanks for the heads-up regarding B. Spitzer.

I guess we can’t get him banned yet?

I’m not for banning Spitzer. Also, my previous comment was hyperbole; it does characterize many, but not all, of his contributions.

Popper’s Ghost shows up on these threads, not only because he’s usually right

I guess you’ve forgiven me for rudely dismissing you in our previous exchange (I didn’t want to get into a fight with you when there are far more deserving targets for both of us; but I was embarrassed by the way I handled that, so I never went back to see your response).

but because he makes the rest of us look like saints by comparison

Glad to be of service. :-) Actually, I was impressed by the genuine patience for, and taking seriously, Mr. Hausam, and found the comments by Dunkelberg but, especially, Spitzer, quite uncalled for. Spitzer’s pathetic and dishonest preaching was so immensely hypocritical that I felt it deserved comment, and since I have a fondness for self-reference or what might be seen as anti-irony – such as Mr. Hausam illustrating so well the thesis that was the subject of the thread – I thought it worthwhile to actually answer Spitzer’s question about the value of rudeness … with rudeness. For someone who talks about psychology, it’s remarkable that he’s so clueless about the purpose and value of rudeness. Perhaps he should cogitate over the fact that expressions of contempt are so powerful that judges are allowed to take away one’s liberty without due process for any such expression toward the court.

Comment #178223

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 23, 2007 5:38 PM (e)

I guess you’ve forgiven me for rudely dismissing you in our previous exchange (I didn’t want to get into a fight with you when there are far more deserving targets for both of us; but I was embarrassed by the way I handled that, so I never went back to see your response).

Might be just as well not to look at my response, as I don’t recall if it was appropriate either.

And it’s more work to remember what went on than to just let them slide into the past, so usually I go with the latter.

But I was thinking of asking, is it the Christian aspect that typically motivates Spitzer to go on these attacks? I’ve seen him around without really noticing what he responds to, and didn’t even recall that he was such an inept and self-righteous bozo. If he’s on some sanctimonious religious trip it would explain him somewhat.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178228

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2007 5:48 PM (e)

Perhaps he should cogitate over the fact that expressions of contempt are so powerful that judges are allowed to take away one’s liberty without due process for any such expression toward the court.

at the risk of going even further OT, I smell a story here.

did you have an amusing anecdote behind that statement?

Comment #178233

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 23, 2007 6:02 PM (e)

I haven’t seen many responses to Harold’s observations, but I thought they were interesting and relevant to the issues raised by the Science paper.

I don’t know if Harold would have raised them had Mark not showed up (my first impression was that he saw an opportunity to question a real example when Mark appeared), but the fears that many of these authoritarian groups have about evolution include the immorality issues they associate with evolution (if we are descended from apes we will act like apes).

So my own impression was that Harold was unfairly attacked.

If I may offer another somewhat more critical observation (but not intended to discredit the cogent points made by persons making them), I felt that some appeared a little thin-skinned when attacked. Maybe it has to do with my being a physicist and an ex-submariner (and maybe a bit more “thick-sculled”) but I felt it would have been wiser to ignore the personal attacks and simply defend the point at issue.

But over all, I think most here did quite well given the crazyness of some of the arguments by the trolls.

Comment #178239

Posted by Popper's ghost on May 23, 2007 6:29 PM (e)

But I was thinking of asking, is it the Christian aspect that typically motivates Spitzer to go on these attacks? I’ve seen him around without really noticing what he responds to, and didn’t even recall that he was such an inept and self-righteous bozo. If he’s on some sanctimonious religious trip it would explain him somewhat.

He definitely has a thing about how scientists, especially atheists, especially PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins, treat religion and the religious, which usually means Christians. His most memorable post for me was in the thread where PZ Myers banned Lenny:
(I’ve removed the http and host header to try to get around the stupid idiotic effing ineffective against real spammers filter):
archives/2006/06/ron_numbers_int.html

What’s remarkable there is that he lobbed his stone, as the first post, a big ole fight broke out, and he never showed up again.

Here’s more along the same lines (I removed the http and host header to
archives/2006/02/the_true_histor.html#comment-76921
archives/2006/02/the_true_histor.html#comment-76950

Phil Johnson cites The Blind Watchmaker as inspiring him to start the ID movement. To hear Johnson tell it, the ID movement might never have existed if reading that book hadn’t lit the fuse.

See, it’s all Dawkins’ fault, to hear Johnson tell it … or Spitzer retell it.

And of course atheists are equivalent to fundies in various ways, a line we heard a lot from Lenny:
archives/2006/08/et_tu_francis_c.html#comment-121124

And in this thread we have this fascinating bit of Christian exceptionalism:

Whether the audience is the opponent or whether the audience is the lurkers, insulting an opponent is going to turn off a lot of people, especially Christians.

Yeah, because the fans of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the Swift Boaters, virtually every hate radio jock in American history (Father Coughlin, anyone?), the KKK, racists, etc. ad nauseam … not a single one is Christian, nosiree. No, it’s especially scientists, with PT contributors being at the top of the list, who insult their sweet innocent cheek-turning neighbor-loving Christian opponents.

Comment #178240

Posted by Popper's ghost on May 23, 2007 6:36 PM (e)

And I didn’t even mention the whole DI/ID crowd. Per the wise, honest, psychologically sophisticated Mr. Spitzer, William Dembski maintains a following because of the loving way he sends his farts our way.

did you have an amusing anecdote behind that statement?

My lawyer advises me not to discuss it further.

Comment #178254

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 23, 2007 7:05 PM (e)

Yeah, because the fans of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the Swift Boaters, virtually every hate radio jock in American history (Father Coughlin, anyone?), the KKK, racists, etc. ad nauseam … not a single one is Christian, nosiree. No, it’s especially scientists, with PT contributors being at the top of the list, who insult their sweet innocent cheek-turning neighbor-loving Christian opponents.

Yes, it’s an amazing thing that demonizing your opponent doesnt’ work, just one of those coincidences where demonization=political success. But hey, if the visible (and calculable) relatedness of DNA, morphology, and biochemistry doesn’t point to, say, relatedness, why should the success of demonizers have anything to do with their whipping up of hate?

Or the other version, since fundamentalists and evangelicals are so put off by insults, no doubt Hausam, Dembski, and the UD crowd are driving ID into extinction. Thus we would do best to let them alone.

[slightly saner mode]I get it now, Spitzer just wants science to end and a golden age of fundie love to prevail. You know, the Age of Aquarius.[/slightly saner mode]

(Thanks for the sources. I’ll be mindful of them.)

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178255

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 23, 2007 7:05 PM (e)

Yeah, because the fans of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the Swift Boaters, virtually every hate radio jock in American history (Father Coughlin, anyone?), the KKK, racists, etc. ad nauseam … not a single one is Christian, nosiree. No, it’s especially scientists, with PT contributors being at the top of the list, who insult their sweet innocent cheek-turning neighbor-loving Christian opponents.

Yes, it’s an amazing thing that demonizing your opponent doesnt’ work, just one of those coincidences where demonization=political success. But hey, if the visible (and calculable) relatedness of DNA, morphology, and biochemistry doesn’t point to, say, relatedness, why should the success of demonizers have anything to do with their whipping up of hate?

Or the other version, since fundamentalists and evangelicals are so put off by insults, no doubt Hausam, Dembski, and the UD crowd are driving ID into extinction. Thus we would do best to let them alone.

[slightly saner mode]I get it now, Spitzer just wants science to end and a golden age of fundie love to prevail. You know, the Age of Aquarius.[/slightly saner mode]

(Thanks for the sources. I’ll be mindful of them.)

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178258

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 23, 2007 7:06 PM (e)

Yeah, because the fans of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the Swift Boaters, virtually every hate radio jock in American history (Father Coughlin, anyone?), the KKK, racists, etc. ad nauseam … not a single one is Christian, nosiree. No, it’s especially scientists, with PT contributors being at the top of the list, who insult their sweet innocent cheek-turning neighbor-loving Christian opponents.

Yes, it’s an amazing thing that demonizing your opponent doesnt’ work, just one of those coincidences where demonization=political success. But hey, if the visible (and calculable) relatedness of DNA, morphology, and biochemistry doesn’t point to, say, relatedness, why should the success of demonizers have anything to do with their whipping up of hate?

Or the other version, since fundamentalists and evangelicals are so put off by insults, no doubt Hausam, Dembski, and the UD crowd are driving ID into extinction. Thus we would do best to let them alone.

[slightly saner mode]I get it now, Spitzer just wants science to end and a golden age of fundie love to prevail. You know, the Age of Aquarius.[/slightly saner mode]

(Thanks for the sources. I’ll be mindful of them.)

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178271

Posted by Glen Davidson on May 23, 2007 7:34 PM (e)

Oooh, sorry about the multiple posts.

This server not only remains inadequate, its problems apparently morph into new forms which I don’t recognize immediately. I kept getting a site that said “Forbidden”, even as what I wrote posted.

I hope someone is thinking about improving the server, cause it’s sure been doing a bad job lately, from agonizingly slow posting times, to outright crashing.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #178454

Posted by Henry J on May 24, 2007 9:56 AM (e)

Re “I kept getting a site that said “Forbidden”,”

That is a rather inappropriate error message for what is probably a server or network congestion issue.

Henry

Comment #178730

Posted by Registered User on May 25, 2007 1:51 AM (e)

Frankly, I’m disgusted by the way that many of the pro-science posters behaved themselves on this thread.

LOL.

I miss Great White Wonder.

Comment #178732

Posted by Registered User on May 25, 2007 1:54 AM (e)

Frankly, I’m disgusted by the way that many of the pro-science posters behaved themselves on this thread.

LOL. Where is Great White Wonder when you need him?

Comment #178922

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 25, 2007 11:14 PM (e)

Harold:

Clearly, I owe you an apology. With regards to your post #178135: When I read your original post(s), it seemed to me that you were insinuating that all (or many) Christians were secretly S&M fetishists, or something of that strange nature. Thank you for clarifying your position. I apologize for jumping to conclusions without asking more about your views. (Those posters who chastised me for snapping at people in a discussion about politeness are, frankly, quite right to do so. I could stand to do a better job of taking my own advice! Thank you to the posters who took me to task on that one.)

Harold, I also apologize for not responding to your post in a more timely fashion. I haven’t had the time to check PT in the last few days. Unfortunately, I tend to be a rather sporadic poster, when I post at all.

STJ, you asked (perhaps sarcastically?) if I’d had any success arguing “politely” with creationists. I admit that I’ve never done a controlled study of any sort. However, a few years ago, when I was in grad school, a couple of friends and I were regular posters on an online discussion board, and I decided to see what would happen if I approached those discussions with an unusually polite and calm manner. Did it actually help to convince people of the merits of evolutionary theory? I don’t know, but opponents did seem somewhat more open to listening to what I had to say. It also helped keep the discussion on the science, rather than on sniping or flame wars, and I think that was useful.

Perhaps most importantly, I get the sense that a lot of creationists (sincere and otherwise) approach evolutionists expecting to be ridiculed or sneered at. I like to not fulfill this expectation. It robs the insincere ones of the opportunity to play the martyr card; and it does seem to force the sincere ones to stop and re-evaluate their assumptions.

I don’t think that scientists have to be saints. But I think there’s considerable strategic value in attacking creationists politely. Frankly, the reason I get so worked up about this is that we really should be winning this debate. As far as the science goes, we’re 100% in the right. So why aren’t we pulling more of the public over to our side? I can’t help but think that it’s because we’re doing a strategically poor job in the way that we present our case to the public.

It’s all very well and good to say that, by scientific standards, politeness consists of getting your facts straight. But that’s not what “politeness” means to most non-scientists out there. Why not be polite in the mainstream sense of courtesy and in the scientific sense of accuracy? It is certainly not a strategy which will win over everybody, but I think it would be more successful than the way we’re currently presenting our case.

Oh, and Harold, one last point: yes, as you suggest (#178205), the rudeness of many creationists is vastly greater than what the pro-science posters on this thread have shown. There are a couple of reasons why I’ve spoken up about the latter and not the former. For one thing, I don’t care if the creationists make themselves look bad; in fact, I welcome it. They aren’t my team. I respect the pro-science side enough to critique it; I don’t respect the creationists enough to waste the time on them.

As for Glen D. and Popper’s Ghost: I don’t know whether to be entertained or creeped out by your attempt to piece together a psychological profile of me from my few posts on PT, but your results are bizarrely off-base (which probably can’t be helped, given the small sample size; but it re-emphasizes the fact that you really can’t intuit much about a person from a handful of online posts). I reject your label of “concern troll”. I rarely post on these threads unless I feel I’ve got a perspective which no-one else is airing. I think there are blind spots in the approach of the pro-science side of this debate, and I’m not going to apologize for pointing them out.

I will, however, apologize for being so shirty to Glen in my post #178036. I needn’t have been so snippy.

[slightly saner mode]I get it now, Spitzer just wants science to end and a golden age of fundie love to prevail. You know, the Age of Aquarius.[/slightly saner mode]

I think I’m entitled to be a bit snippy about this, however. I’m a professor of biology, Glen D (and Popper’s Ghost). I teach evolutionary biology. In fact, unless you’re in education, I’ve probably done more than either one of you to promote the public understanding of science. I think a lot about how to make science accessible and compelling to an audience which probably includes creationists, because it’s something I have to do in the classroom on a daily basis. So kindly don’t make up stories about me being an enemy of science. Frankly, I may have been a little brusque with Glen D. in my original post, but the abuse you’ve leveled at me seems more than a little excessive.

Comment #178923

Posted by stevaroni on May 25, 2007 11:58 PM (e)

I still haven’t figured out what to think of Mark Hausam. I’m a charitable person and I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk him up to at least being earnest, if annoyingly unresponsive to direct questions.

But I’m around evangelical types a lot, and this illustrates on of the most frustrating problems with trying to have a discussion about science with a YEC, even an earnest one.

We’re just speaking a different conceptual language.

To a YEC, evolution is just another religion, and talking to an evolution believer is just like talking to a member of any other faith. Most religions even require a little proselytizing anyhow, and it’s a familiar ritual.

A polite and earnest Christian can certainly have a civil conversation with someone with other beliefs, and may even listen courteously to the other guys sales pitch, but that’s what it is, a sales pitch for another, competing religion.

Social protocol then demands that the other believer grant them the same courtesy and listen to their talking points, because, after all, their religious views are just as valid and protected in the public arena and should invite the same respect from men of good will.

These are matters of faith.

There is simply no framework in their world that there is some material, objective way to test matters of faith.

Yes, yes, on a conscious level they may talk about how they have evidence but that’s not really how it works deep down inside. They simply have no mechanism that allows them to entertain the notion that their basic framework might be totally, completely, wrong.

Just ask someone who’s deeply religious “What would you do if somehow you unambiguously discovered that God does not really exist”.

You will never get an answer. The response will always be a version of “Well, I know that won’t ever possibly happen”.

They can speculate about what would happen if their spouse was eaten by wolves, or their house was hit by a meteorite, but not how they could be wrong about their God.

Personally, I think it’s an avoidance mechanism in the face of overwhelming evidence, like all the parents who believe their sweet little teenager can’t be having sex after finding a half empty package of birth control pills in her sock drawer. But I’m an engineer, not a psychologist, so hey, what do I know?

Science, on the other hand has no such qualms. The status quo in physics and life-sciences has been shaken to it’s core over and over again in the last two centuries. That’s how progress is made.

Can the TOE be wrong? Of course it can!

How do you tell? You examine all the evidence you can get your hands on, again and again and if the explanation doesn’t fit the facts you get a new explanation.

You can ask a scientist what would happen if he suddenly, unambiguously found out that there was a God, and he’ll typically answer quickly and insightfully (usually something like “I’d ask him… ”)

That’s why people like Mark get so flustered here.

We’re speaking two different languages.

To them, even the honest ones, it’s not an argument about facts any more than trying to convert the Buddhist next-door is an argument about “facts”. It’s about religion, about philosophy, and even a earnest YEC has a horrible time with hardcore science because we’re so damned rude.

There’s a protocol for religious debate, I’ll politely listen to you proselytize about your false god, then you have to listen to me witness about the glories of mine.

We scientists don’t do that. We keep harping about evidence, worthy in it’s own sense, to but sure, but of trivial value compared to something really important like infallible faith.

Mark is upset because we don’t take his philosophy seriously, he says so several times in those exact words.

We don’t give a fig about philosophy, we’re upset because he doesn’t take out evidence seriously. We say so many times.

We both complain that there are none so blind as those who will not see.

I deal with the laws of physics professionally and I don’t have the luxury of pretending that the simple rules of nature don’t work the way they very demonstrably do.

But I surely don’t know how to get through to those people who insist on it. I just hope they’re not out there right now making my new antibiotics.

Comment #178924

Posted by stevaroni on May 26, 2007 12:01 AM (e)

I still haven’t figured out what to think of Mark Hausam. I’m a charitable person and I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk him up to at least being earnest, if annoyingly unresponsive to direct questions.

But I’m around evangelical types a lot, and this illustrates on of the most frustrating problems with trying to have a discussion about science with a YEC, even an earnest one.

We’re just speaking a different conceptual language.

To a YEC, evolution is just another religion, and talking to an evolution believer is just like talking to a member of any other faith. Most religions even require a little proselytizing anyhow, and it’s a familiar ritual.

A polite and earnest Christian can certainly have a civil conversation with someone with other beliefs, and may even listen courteously to the other guys sales pitch, but that’s what it is, a sales pitch for another, competing religion.

Social protocol then demands that the other believer grant them the same courtesy and listen to their talking points, because, after all, their religious views are just as valid and protected in the public arena and should invite the same respect from men of good will.

These are matters of faith.

There is simply no framework in their world that there is some material, objective way to test matters of faith.

Yes, yes, on a conscious level they may talk about how they have evidence but that’s not really how it works deep down inside. They simply have no mechanism that allows them to entertain the notion that their basic framework might be totally, completely, wrong.

Just ask someone who’s deeply religious “What would you do if somehow you unambiguously discovered that God does not really exist”.

You will never get an answer. The response will always be a version of “Well, I know that won’t ever possibly happen”.

They can speculate about what would happen if their spouse was eaten by wolves, or their house was hit by a meteorite, but not how they could be wrong about their God.

Personally, I think it’s an avoidance mechanism in the face of overwhelming evidence, like all the parents who believe their sweet little teenager can’t be having sex after finding a half empty package of birth control pills in her sock drawer. But I’m an engineer, not a psychologist, so hey, what do I know?

Science, on the other hand has no such qualms. The status quo in physics and life-sciences has been shaken to it’s core over and over again in the last two centuries. That’s how progress is made.

Can the TOE be wrong? Of course it can!

How do you tell? You examine all the evidence you can get your hands on, again and again and if the explanation doesn’t fit the facts you get a new explanation.

You can ask a scientist what would happen if he suddenly, unambiguously found out that there was a God, and he’ll typically answer quickly and insightfully (usually something like “I’d ask him… ”)

That’s why people like Mark get so flustered here.

We’re speaking two different languages.

To them, even the honest ones, it’s not an argument about facts any more than trying to convert the Buddhist next-door is an argument about “facts”. It’s about religion, about philosophy, and even a earnest YEC has a horrible time with hardcore science because we’re so damned rude.

There’s a protocol for religious debate, I’ll politely listen to you proselytize about your false god, then you have to listen to me witness about the glories of mine.

We scientists don’t do that. We keep harping about evidence, worthy in it’s own sense, to but sure, but of trivial value compared to something really important like infallible faith.

Mark is upset because we don’t take his philosophy seriously, he says so several times in those exact words.

We don’t give a fig about philosophy, we’re upset because he doesn’t take out evidence seriously. We say so many times.

We both complain that there are none so blind as those who will not see.

I deal with the laws of physics professionally and I don’t have the luxury of pretending that the simple rules of nature don’t work the way they very demonstrably do.

But I surely don’t know how to get through to those people who insist on it. I just hope they’re not out there right now making my new antibiotics.

Comment #178925

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 26, 2007 12:07 AM (e)

I still haven’t figured out what to think of Mark Hausam.

check the link to the video provided in one of the posts in response to his, in case you aren’t used to seeing his exact pattern.

Comment #178986

Posted by Science Avenger on May 26, 2007 7:03 AM (e)

B. Spitzer said: …we really should be winning this debate. As far as the science goes, we’re 100% in the right. So why aren’t we pulling more of the public over to our side? I can’t help but think that it’s because we’re doing a strategically poor job in the way that we present our case to the public.

It’s more basic than that. The public doesn’t want to understand. After all, is evolution any more or less justified by the evidence than other, more accepted, areas of science? No, but evolution sets off an uncomfortable chain reaction in the fundamentalist Christian’s head that goes something like this:

evolution=>no adam=>no original sin=>nothing for Jesus to die and save us for/from

and/or

evolution=>biblical error

They’d rather doubt evolution. You’ll get a similar, less potent reaction from laypeople when talking about quantum mechanics. In that case, they just can’t fathom something violating their common sense that badly, and so reject it. I’m not sure there exists a strategy that can overcome these kinds of biases, and frankly, the fact that we are having this conversation this far into the game stands as strong evidence of that. After all, it’s not as though every scientist in history has approached this issue with a snide, rude attitude. The approaches have varied as much as the personalities of the scientists themselves, from in-your-facism to gentle-humblism. Yet here we are, still losing in the public eye (luckily still winning where it matters most). Not to reignite an old war, but this is why some of us think fighting creationism while being “tolerant” of religion is self-defeating. We could be wrong, but I don’t see any good evidence of it.

It’s all very well and good to say that, by scientific standards, politeness consists of getting your facts straight. But that’s not what “politeness” means to most non-scientists out there.

Sadly true. What politeness means to most non-scientists out there is “pretend all opinions have equal value”. Want to piss off everyone at your next party? The next time you get into a discussion where someone says something that is objectively wrong about a science with religious implications, instead of letting it slide as we all so often do, confront them on it, as politely and calmly and objectively as you can, but do not let up until they admit their error. You will wreck the party, which is why we all let stuff slide all the time in the first place. In the intellectually-pussified culture that is America, better to beat the guy up and have an affair with his girlfriend than tell him he is objectively wrong about something he considers significant to his religion.

You can’t “be polite in the mainstream sense of courtesy and in the scientific sense of accuracy”. They are in conflict. Everything is just a matter of opinion, ask anyone.

Comment #178988

Posted by Science Avenger on May 26, 2007 7:23 AM (e)

Stevaroni wrote:

Just ask someone who’s deeply religious “What would you do if somehow you unambiguously discovered that God does not really exist”.

You will never get an answer. The response will always be a version of “Well, I know that won’t ever possibly happen”.

Indeed, that is related to one of my favorite debating tactics. If I get into it with a fundie (which I avoid as much as possible these days) I ask them if it is POSSIBLE that they are wrong about the existence of God. Yeah, faith and bible and where’d the universe come from and all that jazz, but still, it’s POSSIBLE you are wrong, right?

You’d be amazed at the number of people who can’t bring themselves to say it, even in front of a group of people that will start laughing at them. They know they are giving away the whole debate, and still they can’t admit it. Hell, you’d think the less scrupulous ones would just lie to save face, but no.

Mark is upset because we don’t take his philosophy seriously, he says so several times in those exact words.

He and his take their personal philosophy so seriously because that is their primary truth-finder. The more educated among them will give lip service to science and evidence, but in the end, they accept what they can make sense out of in their noodle, and nothing else. Laymen don’t understand the layers and layers of knowledge in science. They still think they can glean reality merely by thinking about it. Mark thinks he can figure it all out with philosophy, no “pathetic level of detail” or evidence or experimentation required.

That reference is no coincidence. That attitude is what ID taps into. Never mind actually having to do any work, just look at things and think about them and you’ll understand as much and more than the scientists do. That’s the DI’s modus operandi.

Comment #179008

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 26, 2007 9:37 AM (e)

Hello.

I’ve been continuing to watch all the posts since my last. It looked like the conversation was ending yesterday, but there were some new interesting posts when I checked it this morning.

Let me respond to a few things that have been said since I stopped posting. My real reason for leaving the thread was precisely what I stated in my last post. I was feeling very degraded and insulted. It seemed like many of you were just using me for entertainment. Stanton’s post about how “we keep ridiculing him, and he keeps coming back for more” hit me especially hard. I actually felt like I had a moral responsibility to my own dignity to leave off the conversation at this point.

Something that might help you all understand my reaction is that I really have hardly ever participated in an ongoing blog conversation. They are enormously time consuming and I haven’t had the time. The internet seems to bring out a lot of vitriol in people, and I am not used to that level of it. I’m not saying that that excuses it, but it is common. I am all in favor of straightforwardness and bluntness, but too much vitriol is not only disrepectful, it is unproductive.

I really was sincere in wanting to carry on a rational conversation. I did not lie to anyone. I am what I made myself out to be. I have things I am very conviced of. I have things I feel a need to learn more about. One thing I truly, honestly want to learn more is more of the specific arguments on both sides over the age of the earth. Of course this forum is not a good place to try to do that thoroughly, but I saw an opportunity to make some progress, so I took it as for as long as it would last. By the way, some people have suggested that the link to my debate with David Keller over whether God is necessary for ethics indicates that I was lying on this thread all the time. Why does it suggest that? I never hid the fact that I am a committed Christian. I even gave an argument about the ethics issue in my next-to-last-post. I never mentioned the debate simply because I never had any reason to mention it.

I was trying to deal with the evidence. I was not simply ignoring people and sticking to my closed-minded worldview. I didn’t answer everybody’s questions every time I posted because I only had a limited amount of time to post, so I focused on a few major things each time. I don’t have time to blog all day, it is too time-consuming. And I was dealing with the evidence, a little at a time, as I said I would.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to offend anyone. David Stanton, you were offended because I didn’t respond to your personal story. I didn’t know it was so important to you. I didn’t respond not because I wanted to insultingly ignore you, but because I only had a short time to post and wanted to focus directly on more evidential considerations, which was where the conversation seemed to need to go. It is difficult to keep up with such a long, ongoing thread when you only have a short time each day to deal with it.

We started out at the beginning of the whole conversation when CJO pointed out that when someone seems to be denying clear evidence, it makes sense to ask about motives. I agreed with that, and I still agree. My policy about motives is this: Assume the best of someone until you are forced by the evidence to think worse. Sometimes it is necessary to think worse. Much of what irritated me was that so many people seemed so ready to think the worst about me when, really, I had given no one any real evidence to support the harsh characterizations. I just wanted to avoid the attitude of trying to figure out someone’s real, secret motives and just deal with the evidence.

By the way, I don’t agree about scientists and religious people speaking different languages. I REALLY am interested in evidence, and believe what I believe because I think it is supported by the evidence. If the evidence said that God deosn’t exist, I wouldn’t believe in God. A lot of people in all worldviews don’t want to look at evidence, but that is not true of everyone. I am open to rational discussion.

Anyway, I hope that explains a little more about me. If you suspect something sinister or deceptive, just ask me about it and see if I can clear it up for you. Give me a chance to explain before you concoct some horrible scenario.

I can’t keep up an ongoing conversation on this blog, simply because it is time-consuming. I have looked up the books Nick Matzke suggested and I am right now attempting to get a hold of them. If anyone does want to talk to me or ask me something, I will lurk here longer, but be patient if it takes a while for me to respond, and don’t be upset if I respond shortly and quickly. It is not trying to ignore you, it is really a time issue. I am a die-hard for conversation between different sides, and I want to try to foster it as much as I can.

Have a good day!

Mark

Comment #179038

Posted by David Stanton on May 26, 2007 11:25 AM (e)

Mark,

Thank you so much for coming back. I really did feel bad that you were offended by my remarks. I also feel like I owe you an explanation.

First, I am sorry that you were offended by being used for entertainment. However, you must realize that for those of us who have gone through this personal struggle for ourselves already, for those of us who have had extensive dealings with people who refuse to accept evidence, it can be highly entertaining. Still, if I had known that writing that particular comment would be so offensive to you, I would never have written it.

Second, no response to my personal story was necessary. What I really wanted was for you to see that it is possible for someone not committed to naturalism to be convinced by the evidence, despite strong social incentive against such a conversion. That was the challenge you presented. I responded to your thought experiment directly. I answered a question you posed. You never acknowledged that response. That was just another indication that you had no real respect for evidence, at least to me.

Third, I did eventually call you a liar directly. I do not apologize for that. However, once again, I do feel that I owe you an explanation. You came here claiminig that you were not “authoritarian”. You came here claiming that your beliefs were based on evidence. In my opinion neither statement is true. In the video you very carefully explain exactly why you feel that you can have no moral behavior unless moral constraints are imposed by an all-powerful independent source. That to me is the definition of authoritarianism. You absolutely refuse to even admit the possibility that you can develop a moral code independent of these imposed moral imperatives. I will not argue the point with you, except to point out that many disagree. Still, that I why I felt you were being less than honest. You also claimed to believe in the infallability of the Bible. That is not belief based on evidence, at least not in the scientific sense. Since you claimed your beliefe were based on evidence, I assumed that you had already looked at the evidence. I was astonished that you had no data to bring to the conversation. I was astonished that you were not already familiar with the data that exists. I wasn’t surprised, just astonished. The fact that you needed so much time to examine the evidence showed that you really hadn’t ever looked at it before. Basing beliefs on ignorance is not the same as basing beliefs on evidence. You must first examine all the evidence, then come up with the best explanation for all the evidence. That is why I called you a liar.

Fourth, you did eventually stop all pretense and just start preaching directly. I never said I was no longer a Chrisitan. I was offended that you assumed that I needed saving. Quite frankly, I believe that testifying for your faith was the real motivation for your posting. I hope I am wrong. I hope you really are willing to look at the evidence. I hope your mind is really open.

I am sincerely delighted that you have taken Nick’s suggestions. It is possible for people to change their beliefs based on the evidence. I am living proof. Good luck.

Comment #179048

Posted by eyelessgame on May 26, 2007 12:06 PM (e)

Mark -

Really do go read as much of www.talkorigins.org as you can possibly digest. They have several FAQs related to the age of the earth, discussion of many of the creationist claims made by ICR and AiG, and fora for discussing that evidence. (I personally find it a more interesting subject than biology, so I don’t hang around panda’s thumb much.) And the best forum for discussing creationism vs evolution (and the related topics of creationism vs cosmology etc.) is talk.origins on usenet (which today is most easily reached through ‘Google Groups’, though there are many other portals).

You’re right about the general level of vitriol on the internet.

If you’re willing to hang around here (or another related forum) you’ll find it a lot more productive and pleasant if you ignore the vitriol and respond to the specific points raised in objection to your statements.

Realize that a lot comes across differently in print than intended. I don’t think you intended to imply that people who pursue methodological naturalism actually do so out of a desire to pursue “unnatural lusts” with others of the same gender, but one of your early posts came across that way thanks to your rather odd reference to Romans 1:18-22. Most people – but not all, of course – ignored this implication and concentrated on the nature of your argument.

If you refuse to be sidelined by the people you simply can’t converse with productively, you’ll have more productive conversations.

(I do think we’re pretty much doomed as far as having a productive conversation with you about this, and that stevaroni in #178924 hit on exactly why. But I could be wrong.)

Comment #179049

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 26, 2007 12:16 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

By the way, I don’t agree about scientists and religious people speaking different languages. I REALLY am interested in evidence, and believe what I believe because I think it is supported by the evidence. If the evidence said that God deosn’t exist, I wouldn’t believe in God. A lot of people in all worldviews don’t want to look at evidence, but that is not true of everyone. I am open to rational discussion.

And in comment #176555

Mark Hausam wrote:

Both Darwinists and creationists generally see the creation-evolution controversy in this light. Creationists (and many theists in general) often argue that a fundamental pride and rebellious attitude towards the true God is what motivates people to be naturalists and Darwinists. Pride and rebellion cause them to suppress the truth, thus distorting their processes of reasoning so that they miss the obvious and end up endorsing nonsense, despite the intelligence of many naturalists which, if not subjected to their rebellious spirit, would lead them in a totally different direction. Paul, in Romans 1:18-32 in the Bible, provides a good example of typical theistic reasoning about why naturalists really believe what they believe despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

Most of us here have seen how these stereotypes are propagated from the pulpits of many fundamentalist churches, and we have a pretty good idea of what the motivations are. Scientists and others who check things out are seen as a threat to the demagogues who spew out this crap. So if you don’t think scientists and some “religious” people speak different “languages”, why did you make that remark? Did you think no one would look up the biblical reference?

You then followed up by demonstrating your complete lack of understanding of the evidence (or that the evidence even existed), and clearly exhibited your prior commitments to your particular sectarian interpretation of the Christian bible. At least this part of the conversation was related to the topic of this thread because you were exhibiting some of the characteristics that ensure that misconceptions about science become entrenched in adulthood.

And your comment in your post #176555 exhibits the strong bigotry and hatred of people who learn to think and investigate. It is the kind of comment that paralyzes members of your sect in any search that might take place outside the proscribed limits set by your religious handlers. A number of people here pointed that out to you.

You have a tough road ahead if you are serious about learning about science. We hope you succeed.

Comment #179234

Posted by Frank J on May 27, 2007 8:58 AM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

I really was sincere in wanting to carry on a rational conversation.

I’ll ask yet again. Why don’t you go to the talk.origins newsgoup, where you can converse with those with a wider variety of opinions, including some that agree with yours?

Mark Hausam wrote:

I did not lie to anyone.

Nor have you replied to my comments about OEC and “common design.”

Comment #179248

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 27, 2007 9:40 AM (e)

The reference to Paul has been much understood. Part of that is my fault. My reference had nothing to do with suggesting people are naturalists because of homosexuality. That is not Paul’s point. Paul’s assertion is that the existence of God is clearly seen through the evidence of nature, so that those who don’t believe in God are without excuse. Their rejection of God stems from rebellion rather than intellectual honesty. Paul also argues that God’s basic moral law is known to all through the evidence coming from the creation. Paul brings up homosexuality only as one example of the rebelliousness of a world that has rejected God. He did not imply that ALL rejectors of God are homosexual.

I brought up Paul’s point to show that theists have ideas about the motives of naturalists just as naturalists have ideas about the motivations of theists. This was, of course, in response to the point of the thread–trying to explain psychologically why creationists believe what they believe. Creationists wonder why Darwinists believe what they believe also. Now, here is a place I should have been more clear. David Stanton is quite right to point out that not everyone who is a Darwinist of some sort is a naturalist, nor are all Christians creationists in the ICR sense (i.e. young earth creationists). However, Although in some areas I am not familiar with all the details of the scientific claims on both sides, from what I do know thus far, it appears to me that worldview presuppositions do play a large role in whether at least certain aspects of the Darwinist view of things, or the creationist view of things, seem like the best explanation or not. The mainstream scientiric world has adopted methodological naturalism, which commits scientists to only consider natural causes when theorizing about the anything, including the origin of life and species. Wherever the phrase “methodological naturalism” came from, there can be no doubt that it is assumed and enforced in the scientific community. You are simply not allowed to invoke a supernatural explanation in science these days. That is why creationism is rejected as science not just because it is regarded as wrong, but because it is “religious”–it invokes the supernatural. ID is rejected, at least partly, on those grounds as well.

Now, the imposition of this rule makes me, as a theist, very nervous, because I don’t have any reason to think that nature will obey science’s arbitrary rules, and, as a Christian, I have reason to believe there was in fact supernatural involvement in the creation of life. I don’t think all scientists are philosophical naturalists, but the imposition of this rule at least leads me to suspect that the overall scientific consensus on these issues has been weighted by a methodology that at least implicitly assumes philosophical naturalism. In places where I have been able to think through the evidence so far, I have seen this influence. For example, why are scientists so confident that some naturalistic mechanism–like random mutations and natural selection–is the real explanation of the diversity of life? Even if we were to grant that the fossil record proves common ancestry, why would that prove that a naturalistic mechanism is responsible for diversification? How can we really know what the mechanism was by empirical investigation, since we didn’t see it happen? Why is some purely naturlistic mechanism more likely than guidance from some supernatural being? One of the main thrusts of ID is to argue that the machine-like nature of life leads more naturally and obviously to an inference that life was designed by an intelligent being than to an inference that life arose purely by unguided naturalistic mechanisms. Even if we don’t like some of the specifics of how ID argues this, why is this not a reasonable idea, at least just as scientific as any naturalistic scenario? Is it at least partly because of the imposition of methodological naturalism in science?

With regard to young earth-old earth issues, the arguments here tend to be more technical and harder to grasp. I can see through to the naturalistic assumptions in many Darwinist arguments, but it has been difficult for me to do that in this area, because things are usually beyond my ability to grasp due to their extremely technical nature. However, in every case I have looked into so far, the creationist arguments seem at least just as reasonable as the mainstream arguments. This fact, plus my suspicions of how mainstream science is done with the imposition of methodological naturalism, plus my awareness of how methodological naturalism weights the evidence for Darwinism, makes me distrustful that mainstream science has been any more fair here than they have been with Darwinism.

There is another element that influences me in all of this as well–the biblical evidence. There has been some confusion in this thread as to how much I have looked at the evidence for the young-earth-old-earth controversy. I have done some broad, quick looks at some of scientific arguments on both sides, leaving much more detailed work to be done. But I have done much more detailed examination of the biblical evidence. I have examined the evidential case for accepting the Bible as the word of God and as infallible very thoroughly, and I am quote competent therefore to conclude that the Bible is infallible based on the evidence. Therefore, what the Bible says has hugely significant evidential value in determining questions of the origin of life and species. If the Bible tells me that the world was created in six days, that in itself, because I have conclusive reasons for trusting the Bible, gives me good, conclusve reasons to believe the world was created in six days. I am not 100% convinced, but I am convinced with high probability, that the Bible does teach that the world was created in six days, so therefore I have strong evidential reasons to believe that it was. Most of you do not regard this part of my evidential claims as real evience, so you think I have no substantial evidence for my creationist position. I, on the other hand, do regard my belief in the Bible as being a part of the real evidence, so I would say that I have examined much of the evidence relevant to the young earth-old earth question. I beiieve the Bible can count as evidence, because I believe I have good reason to trust the Bible. If some of you think my trust in the Bible in these areas is misplaced, either because the Bible is not reliable or because of faulty interpretation, or whatever, this difference between us is more of a philosophical difference rather than being one based in the scientific evidence. So I do feel competent to say something about the six day question, although my knowledge needs improvement in some areas.

When it comes to Darwinism, and when it comes to YEC issues (although here I am not quite as confident, wanting to examine more of the scientific evidence and not quite 100% oonfident of the biblical position on the six days), I believe that methodological naturalism has biased the mainstream scientific perspective. I should be clear though that I don’t mean to say that all scientists are naturalists or that all mainstream scientists believe in Darwinism and an old earth because they are directly influenced by naturalism. David Stanton gives us a good example of someone who did not come to those conclusions because of prior naturalistic beliefs. I grant it. But I do think that the existence of a scientific consensus tends in itself to be a powerful motivator for people to trust the mainstream position, and perhaps even many people who aren’t directly influenced by naturalism are indirectly influenced by the strongly weighted character of the presentation of the evidence from the consensus of the mainstream community. Perhaps not all have been influenced in that way, but I’m sure many have. Even many non-naturalist scientists are extremely protective of methodological naturalism–why, except that they have been influenced to be so by the biases of the mainstream community, or because they have let naturalistic thinking influence them to some degree? But let me make another thing clear: I don’t think that all people who are Darwinists are so because of rebelliousness against God. I do think that all people who are naturalists are so because of rebelliousness against God. I did not make that distinction sufficiently clear before. I apologize for that.

Many of you will probably be inclined to think I am rigid and authoritarian, not open to listening to evidence from other positions, because I think I have good reason to believe the Bible. If you think this, you are wrong. Thinking that people who believe the Bible must be less open to listening to evidence from the other side than people who do not is a bias, probably originating from naturalism, that has no basis in reality. I am entirely reason-based in my thinking. Believing the Bible is not at all opposed to being entirely reason-based, but obviously a naturalist would think it is. I think being a naturslist is opposed to being reason-based. My philosophical argument for theism wasn’t meant to be preachy, but to be the beginning of a good, solid argument for why I believe the Bible, and thus trust it in these areas. I think the philosophical arguments are good and constitute real evidence. Many people today reject out of hand that sort of philosophical reasoning as worthless, but this is an unjustified bias.

By the way, I didn’t come on this thread to preach, but to do exactly what I said I wanted to do. My giving of my worldview when I was about to leave wasn’t my intention from the beginning, but it seemed appropriate as we had been talking about some reasons for believing the Bible. So I wanted to leave a more complete statement of how I look at the world before I left.

I think a lot of the previous discussion had a lot of misunderstandings on all sides. I am sorry for any of those that were caused by me, and I am sorry for any misunderstandings on my part of anything you were trying to do. It is hard to know how things will sound in this sort of format. Let’s just agree to ask each other about anything that sounds offensive or strange before drawing conclusions from it. That should help quite a bit. Also, if I seem to be ignoring something because I don’t want to deal with it, that is probably not true. It is just hard to keep up with every point. If you want to ask me something, and I don’t answer you, point out your question as something you would strongly desire me to answer. Of course, all this assumes anyone will want to talk more on this thread, which is not a foregone conclusion. We may be done here with all we want or need to do. Or we may not. Either way is fine with me. I may try to check out talk.origins as well sometime soon. Thanks for the suggestions about that.

Have a great day!

Mark

Comment #179250

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 27, 2007 9:44 AM (e)

Frank J, I just saw your post. I’ll get back to it later.

Mark

Comment #179268

Posted by David Stanton on May 27, 2007 11:16 AM (e)

Mark,

“I have examined the evidential case for accepting the Bible as the word of God and as infallible very thoroughly, and I am quote competent therefore to conclude that the Bible is infallible based on the evidence.”

If you want to think scientifically, this is the first thing that must go. Evidence cannot lead to infallibility. It is not even theoretically possible. No scientist, no paper, no theory is ever deemed infallible in science. Even the theory of evolution, despite the overwhelmiing evidence, is not above reproach. That is how our knowledge increases. That is how we make progress, by constantly questioning even our most basic assumptions. Forget the Bible when looking at the evidence, that should be your goal. That doesn’t mean you have to reject the Bible. All I am asking is that you lay it aside for a while. If you can’t or won’t do that, then any further discussion is pointless. You need to get past this authoritarian mindset and think for yourself.

“David Stanton gives us a good example of someone who did not come to those conclusions because of prior naturalistic beliefs. I grant it.”

Thank you for finally acknowledging the point. If it is possible to look at the evidence and come to this conclusion, then you should at least be willing to try. Even if all of science is tainted by “naturalism”, you should still be able to look at the evidence and make up your own mind. Don’t take anyone else’s word for anything. That is exactly the point. Sequence the genes for yourself if you don’t trust anybody. That is how science works. That’s what I did. You don’t need to trade one form of authoritarianism for another. What you need to do is break out of the box altotether. Believe me, I know how hard it can be. You don’t have to give up your faith or your morals to look at evidence, you just have to give up your reliance on authority. It can be a very liberating experience.

Comment #179269

Posted by Science Avenger on May 27, 2007 11:17 AM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

I can’t keep up an ongoing conversation on this blog, simply because it is time-consuming.

Perhaps that would improve if you didn’t tell your life story in every post. You make Glenn Davidson look downright curt by comparison. Just answer the questions posed to you BRIEFLY, and to the point. Much of what you say, while I have no doubt is heartfelt, is simply not necessary for the conversation to progress in a productive manner, and in some ways obstructs that goal.

Comment #179277

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 27, 2007 12:11 PM (e)

Dear Mark, re your post #179248,

Over the last couple of decades, critics of science (such as Phil Johnson and Alvin Plantinga) have argued that “methodological naturalism” is an unnecessary– and philosophically loaded– way of doing science. ID proponents have argued that it unfairly excludes the supernatural from science. You seem to have picked up this argument from them, concluding that the supernatural has been arbitrarily banned by the rule-makers of science.

There are some interesting counter-arguments– I could point you to a couple of essays by Pennock, for example– but I personally feel that the entire debate is beside the point. The “ground rule” for science isn’t that the supernatural is excluded. The ground rule is that we have to test our ideas against the empirical world. (I apologize to any philosophers of science present; I’m oversimplifying, but I hope I’m not doing too much violence to the ideas.) We have this ground rule not because of any bias or arbitrary philosophy, but because it works. It has an extraordinarily good track record for helping us to figure out how this world operates.

As far as I’m concerned, you can invoke all the supernatural explanations you want, as long as you test those explanations against the empirical world. If your explanations turn out to have genuine, reliable predictive power, then they’re successful. Here’s the problem, though: no-one has ever come up with supernatural mechanisms with the reliable, testable predictive power that “natural” explanations have. It’s not, as you suggest, that supernatural explanations are banned from science before they can get a fair hearing. It’s that supernatural explanations are banned from science because they’ve gotten a fair hearing, and they have proven themselves to be unable to make useful, testable predictions.

In the same way, ID is rejected as science not because there is some arbitrary rule against it, but because ID has failed to come up with any testable, useful ideas. In the form in which it’s usually championed by ID proponents, it does not have any predictive power whatsoever.

You ask why scientists are confident that a naturalistic mechanism (random mutation and selection) is the real explanation for the diversity of life. Well, we’re not 100% certain, and we never will be. However, we know that if random mutation and selection are responsible for life’s diversity, then we ought to see certain testable, reliable patterns: patterns in the fossil record, patterns in the geographical distributions of organisms, patterns most of all in the genetic similarities and differences among living organisms today. The theory of evolution makes an almost infinite number of risky predictions– that is, predictions which could potentially prove incorrect. But, when we’ve checked, we’ve found, over and over again, that those predictions are accurate. Moreover, the various different patterns match up. The ages of the fossils match up with the differences in the genomes of living organisms; the functions of living systems match up with what we know about the nature of selection. That leads us to believe that the theory is getting at something genuinely true about the history of life.

Does this rule out all miracles, or all intelligent design? No. It remains entirely possible that God intervened directly in the history of life. Science does not rule that out. But what the ID proponents are claiming is not that God could intervene– they are claiming that God has intervened, and, more importantly, that they can prove this scientifically. This last claim is false. Whatever God may or may not have done, they have not been able to prove ID in any scientific manner.

With respect to the age of the Earth, you state that “the creationist arguments seem at least just as reasonable as the mainstream arguments”. This is perhaps where things get a little sticky. I wouldn’t say exactly that scientists and religious individuals speak different languages, but they certainly do have different cultures, and those cultures have very different expectations. In scientific culture, you’re expected to test ideas fiercely and mercilessly, and one of the reasons that some of the posters here have been so angry with you is that you’ve presented some ideas without subjecting them to the in-depth criticism that scientific culture demands.

Let me refer back to a couple of examples that you brought up. It was pointed out that humans and the great apes all have a pseudogene for vitamin C, a gene that is broken in exactly the same manner. You referred to another website, which made the argument that perhaps the common environment shared by humans and apes caused that gene to break in the same way in each of them. All right, but now we need to test that idea! How does the environment act so that the same gene is broken in these different species? From what we know about genetic changes, is there any evidence that such a mechanism exists? If such a mechanism exists, shouldn’t all organisms become genetically more alike when they share a common environment; and shouldn’t, for example, all marine mammals be unusually alike genetically? Shouldn’t all of the plants in a wet tropical forest become more similar to one another than to plants in a temperate forest? You see, if that explanation for the vitamin C pseudogene is correct, there should be thousands of clues out there that confirm that explanation. Has anyone has looked for those clues? What did they find?

Even if you don’t know the answers to questions like these, in scientific culture you’re expected to at least realize that the questions exist. And the truth is that most of them have already been asked, in one way or another, usually a very long time ago. For example, the idea that God made His initial Creation with the “appearance of age”, as you suggest above, has been argued about since 1857. (Also, if you know how tree rings form, you’ll realize that trees don’t need them in order to function– God could have created perfectly functional mature trees with no rings at all.) If you bring up these ideas without indicating that you’ve done your homework on them, or at least that you’re aware of some of the major objections to them, people are going to get very impatient with you, at least on this blog.

I won’t go into the Biblical evidence in any great detail, because I’m not a Biblical scholar. However (as others have mentioned here), unless you can demonstrate empirically that the Bible is the Word of God and that it is intended to be interpreted in a straightforward literal fashion, you can’t expect the scientific community to accept the literal text of Genesis as scientific evidence. That’s not to say that you can’t take that evidence into consideration personally, but please remember that scientific evidence is limited to what can be tested empirically. It’s that empirical testing which has an excellent track record, and if you want something to be considered as science, it has to meet that standard. In scientific culture, you’re expected to keep empirical evidence separate from subjective evidence, and restrict yourself to the empirical evidence. (That’s not to say that subjective evidence is less important than empirical evidence. I imagine that many posters here believe that– indeed, many may think of “subjective evidence” as an oxymoron. However, I personally think that when you’re putting together a world-view, subjective considerations must be taken into account.)

A book that you might be interested in looking at is “Paradigms on Pilgrimage”. It’s written by two Christian scholars, one of whom is a Biblical scholar (and was the pastor of the church I attended in college). He argues that, based on Biblical evidence alone, Genesis should not be interpreted literally. I mention it largely because of my personal respect for the author, who, in my experience, is a man of scholarly authority and an admirable Christian leader as well.

Regrettably, I don’t usually have time to respond to posts here in detail, and I will be “off the grid” for a while soon, so I apologize if I’m unable to serve as a resource for the questions you may have. If you have comments on what I’ve said, please feel free to make them, but please don’t be insulted if I don’t reply in a timely fashion– it is not intentional. I’d second the suggestion of some of the posters here that you seek a different forum to discuss these issues; PT isn’t the most suitable place for such a discussion. I hope I haven’t been too long-winded. I wish you the best.

Comment #179313

Posted by Frank J on May 27, 2007 3:48 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

There is another element that influences me in all of this as well–the biblical evidence. There has been some confusion in this thread as to how much I have looked at the evidence for the young-earth-old-earth controversy. I have done some broad, quick looks at some of scientific arguments on both sides, leaving much more detailed work to be done. But I have done much more detailed examination of the biblical evidence.

If that’s the case, then it seems that you are at least as much at odds with the ID community as you are with “Darwinists,” because ID specifically avoids the Bible as evidence. Forgive me if that’s been covered above - I haven’t read every post - but I see a lot about “Darwinists” and creationists, but nothing about ID, which is gradually replacing YEC and OEC among anti-evolution activists. Do you think that “replacement” is bad, or good because the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach diverts attention from the lack of evidence for YEC and OEC. Note: by “lack of evidence” I don’t mean “of a designer,” but “what the designer did and when.”

Comment #179319

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 27, 2007 4:08 PM (e)

Obtaining 100% certainty is not a goal that is likely to be achieved in anything, especially in religion. Nor can one trust the “evidences” from the readings of religious texts.

Religious zealots (certainly the monotheistic ones) have been warring among themselves and killing each other for centuries. The number of sects continues to grow. They display considerable animosity toward each other’s interpretations of religious writings. They continue (especially in the U.S.) their war on science as though science is another threatening religion. None of this should give a thoughtful person confidence in the knowledge possessed by members of all of these sects.

Over the last 300 years or so science, as we now know it, has developed and nearly freed itself from this quagmire sectarian bickering. There is nearly universal consensus on the fundamental theories and supporting evidence that constitutes our picture of the universe today. And this cuts across all ethnic, religious, racial, and national backgrounds.

In attempting to make an assessment about where the best knowledge lies, I would recommend taking these facts into consideration. This is not hard to discern, and anyone can check. Authoritarian religious handlers have a habit of keeping their flocks from thinking about things like this. As long as their followers fear to ask, they can be counted on to buy into the sectarian line, and the sectarian leaders retain their position of power and authority over their followers.

Comment #179348

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on May 27, 2007 7:20 PM (e)

I’ve just come back to this thread tonight, so I’ve missed some of this afternoon’s comments, and I’d like to comment in turn on Mark H’s (#179248) description of science, which uses phrases like “science’s arbitrary rules” and makes statements like “The mainstream scientiric [sic] world has adopted methodological naturalism, which commits scientists to only consider natural causes when theorizing about the anything, including the origin of life and species.”

I (and probably most other posters here) think that you really don’t understand what science is, if you are making statements like “science’s arbitrary rules”. Let me use an analogy to show you how I think of science, as a practicing (during my undergraduate and graduate days) scientist, and now as a science educator (primarily) in a community college.

I do woodworking as a hobby. I make furniture of various kinds, do carpentry, and make turned objects. In doing so, I use a number of tools. Each activity in woodworking has a tool best suited for the job, a saw for cutting wood, planes and sandpaper for flattening and smoothing wood, screwdrivers and hammers for driving fasteners, a lathe for turning something into a round shape, etc. I could probably use a screwdriver to cut a piece of wood in half, but it wouldn’t work very well, and would give a very poor product. Some things wouldn’t work at all in forming a woodworking project - a fire extinguisher would be useless in making a piece of wood flat, as a rather ridiculous example. No one has handed down a decree that only saws are to be used in cutting wood, or that a hammer is the only tool to be used to drive nails. It is just that years of experience (in some cases, millennia - woodworking has a very long history) has shown that certain tools just work, or work better than others.

It’s the same with science. Science is the tool that we have found best allows us to understand the world and universe around us. Methodological naturalism is not an “arbitrary rule”; it the only way of doing science that has allowed us to discover the hard facts of our surroundings. Can we interpret the world around us using supernatural explanations? Sure, but many years of science has shown us that it doesn’t work well.

Does this mean that religion is useless? No (although some readers may disagree). Although a fire extinguisher can’t flatten a piece of wood, it still has very important uses.

As an experienced woodworker, I’d get offended if someone who had never done woodworking suggested that a method that had been repeatedly tried in the past was better than what I use, when their method has been repeatedly shown to work poorly or at all. I’d also object if they showed me a horribly made stool and told me that it was a beautiful example of a well made bookshelf.

As a scientist, I get offended when someone who has no idea what they are talking about says that they not only have a better method but gives me factually false interpretations of the world around us. I’m not a biologist (the primary area of interest to most posters here, AFAIK. In my own field (paleoceanography), I’ve dealt with several areas of research, for which the only sensible way to interpret them, consistent with what we know about how reality works, is that the world is millions of years old. And yes, I do get offended when someone who has no idea about what they are talking about, says that they know better than me, or distorts the data to imply something that is contrary to reality.

The rules of science are not “arbitrary”. They are used because they work.

Comment #179510

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 28, 2007 9:11 AM (e)

Thanks again for all your thoughts.

When I say the Bible is “infallible,” I don’t mean that I trust it without having good reason to trust it from the evidence. I mean that the evidence points to its being the word of God and thus without error. It is falsifiable. If its claims did not match up with reality, it would be falsified. There is no authoritarianism here, just following the evidence where it leads.

I do believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the Bible is the a communication from God, that it is infallible, and that Genesis is meant to be read historically. Therefore, I have good, sufficient reason to believe that God has given us an eyewitness account of creation. Let’s say I’m right about that. Would it make sense for me to “put the Bible aside” as David suggests? Science is a search for truth. When scientists investigate the origin of the universe, life, etc., they want to know what really happened. Shouldn’t the investigation therefore take into account all available evidence? If the Bible constitutes important information on the subject, shouldn’t it be taken into consideration as we try to understand these things? If it really gives us an eyewitness account, putting it aside in our investigation of origins would be like a detective trying to solve the mystery of a crime while “putting aside” a key eyewitness testimony and refuing to take it into consideration, calling it “authoritarian” to pay attention to the eyewitness. I am not saying that I would ignore scientific evidence that contradicts the Bible if any were found; I am saying that I have good reason to believe the Bible constitutes a piece of that evidence, and I must take it into consideration. When I look at the scientific evidence, I will look at it as someone who has more information on the subject from an omniscient eyewitness. If the empirical evidence can be interpreted in a way that fits with that eyewitness testimony, I will go with that interpretation, because I have good reason to do so. This is rational and scientific, because I am taking into consideration all the available evidence in a search to find out what really happened. Isn’t that what the scientific method is intended to do?

If you don’t like what I have said, it is probably because, for one reason or another, you don’t think the Bible is a trustworthy eyewitness testimony as to what really happened at creation. Fine. This is where the real difference between us lies. But I am not any more authoritarian for thinking I have good reason to trust the eyewitness than you are for thinking you have good reason not to. This conflct can theoretically be resolved on rational grounds. We must consider the evidence that leads me to think the Bible gives us the sort of information I think it does.

The reason creationists and ID people worry about methodological naturalism is precisely because of this conflict. What irritates creationists is that mainstream scientists claim to be following the evidence without any influence from other, more philosophical considerations, such as a disbelief in the Bible as historically reliable. One’s take on the nature of the Bible makes a big difference as to what evidence one thinks one has, and therefore can influence how one interprets the direct empirical evidence. If I “put the Bible aside,” the conclusion of my investigation might be different than it would be if I didn’t put the Bible aside. So I need to know what the evidence would lead me to do–put the Bible aside or take it into consideration. I believe the latter is the correct procedure. For science to be reliable, it must not cast aside any available evidence, especially something as important as an eyewitness testimony from an omniscient being.

So I do have competence to speak about this issue. I have an eyewitness account–and that gives me the right to make claims about the creation and how it took place. There are things I want to learn more about, and I will continue to take all evidence with the utmost seriousness, but i will not pretend like I don’t have a great deal of information on the subject already. If you have to pretend like the Bible is not the Word of God (“put it aside”–it amounts to the same thing) in order to be considered to really be doing science, that just proves the point about methodological naturalism (or at least methodological deism).

Vitamin C: What I was suggesting here was that maybe environmental factors, adaptation and/or mutation, and natural selection led to the loss of part of the vitamin-C pathway in all primates. The similarity of primates might be a factor in why they all were susceptible to the same result and some other animals weren’t. Is this a reasonable possibility? Would this be consistent with a denial of common ancestry? If so, it is not evidence for common ancestry.

On Frank’s OEC question: I am aware of the OEC position, flat-earthism, etc. I don’t think the biblical evidence supports these two positions in any of their forms. Part of my investigation of the evidence is looking at what the Bible actually says. What is says seems best read in a young-earth manner as far as I can tell at this point. I am not infallible; I could be wrong. But that is my best reading of the exegetical evidence at this point.

On methodological naturalism working: Most creationists don’t believe that God performs miracles everyday or miraculously alters people’s lab experiments, etc. So the recognition of nothing but natural laws will probably not be a problem in everyday science, inventions, etc. You could say it “works” in these areas. But when it comes to areas where there is likely to have been, or where we have reason to believe there was, something above those natural laws going on–such as during the time of creation–methodological naturalism will not work any more, but will hinder the search for truth.

Some of you seem irritated that I won’t take your word that science supports an old earth and Darwinism. GvlGeologist, for example, seems to come across this way (maybe unintentionally). You seem to be implying, “I’m a scientist–I’ve studied these things, so when I tell you the evidence points in an old earth direction who are you to disagree? If you aren’t immediately persuaded by my list of evidences (even though you haven’t examined them thoroughly for yourself first), you must not care about science.” On the contrary, I am being scientific. I refuse to believe the evidence points to an old earth just because a bunch of scientists tell me so. I will examine all claims one-by-one, but I will not take your word for it. I agree with David Stanton on this–no authoritarianism, including the authoritarianism of trusting the “experts.” I am from Missouri. You will have to “show me,” and that painstakingly, if you want me to be persuaded.

Appearance of age: Just a brief comment here. Appearance of age does not mean God lied or planted bad evidence. Appearance of age is simply a natural by-product from a six-day creation. God created life very quickly. He either created adult forms or caused extraordinarily rapid growth. he also probably created the world and rocks in a supernatural way. This would just naturally tend to throw off attempts to calculate age. It is not deceptive; it is simply a fact that needs to be taken into account (but only someone who believes the Bible would probably even consider taking such an important fact into account–we have important information that those who don’t believe the Bible don’t have). Who’s to say God wouldn’t create tree rings? Why assume that tree rings only exist as indicators of age? They do that, but perhaps their ultimate purpose is aesthetic? Maybe God created Adam and Eve with belly buttons. Perhaps they are an aesthetic part of the human body and also happen to have a function in birth? Sometimes we are thrown off track by making assumptions that we have no warrant to make.

Mark

Comment #179539

Posted by fnxtr on May 28, 2007 10:46 AM (e)

Comment #177214

Posted by fnxtr on May 20, 2007 10:23 AM (e)

All I can say, Mark, is that you have an interesting interpretation of the word “evidence”. Further discussion is pointless.

Comment #179544

Posted by David Stanton on May 28, 2007 11:15 AM (e)

Mark,

You challenged me to demonstrate that one could come to the conclusion that evolution was true without a committment to naturalism. I demonstrated to you that I had done exactly that and you finally agreed.

I challenged you to put the Bible aside and examine the evidence. You are apparently emotionally incapable of doing that. Until you can do that, I certainly don’t have any more to say to you. I suspect that many others will feel the same.

Oh, by the way, do you really think it matters if you have an “eyewitness account” of something? Is that all that is considered in a murder investigation? Would they take the testimony of an eyewitness as being conclusive if all the evidence contridicted the testimony, even if the eyewitnes were otherwise credible? Watch CSI some time, you might learn something about evidence.

Well, I guess you have demonstrated conclusively that the authoritarian mindset can be so firmly entrenched that virtually nothing can touch it. At least you didn’t lie about it and try to keep preaching to us. Feel free to come back any time you are ready to try to change. Until then, good luck, you’ll need it.

Comment #179545

Posted by Science Avenger on May 28, 2007 11:24 AM (e)

Mark Hausam dodged thusly:

Vitamin C: What I was suggesting here was that maybe environmental factors, adaptation and/or mutation, and natural selection led to the loss of part of the vitamin-C pathway in all primates. The similarity of primates might be a factor in why they all were susceptible to the same result and some other animals weren’t. Is this a reasonable possibility? Would this be consistent with a denial of common ancestry? If so, it is not evidence for common ancestry.

Yes, we know that. You would do well to stop assuming the people here don’t understand you. We understand you just fine. We DISAGREE with you.

In this case, B. Spitzer went to a lot of trouble to explain to you why it isn’t good enough to just stop with “is this possible?”, and as usual you just ignored the point.

B. Spitzer said:

Let me refer back to a couple of examples that you brought up. It was pointed out that humans and the great apes all have a pseudogene for vitamin C, a gene that is broken in exactly the same manner. You referred to another website, which made the argument that perhaps the common environment shared by humans and apes caused that gene to break in the same way in each of them. All right, but now we need to test that idea! How does the environment act so that the same gene is broken in these different species? From what we know about genetic changes, is there any evidence that such a mechanism exists? If such a mechanism exists, shouldn’t all organisms become genetically more alike when they share a common environment; and shouldn’t, for example, all marine mammals be unusually alike genetically? Shouldn’t all of the plants in a wet tropical forest become more similar to one another than to plants in a temperate forest? You see, if that explanation for the vitamin C pseudogene is correct, there should be thousands of clues out there that confirm that explanation. Has anyone has looked for those clues? What did they find?

You say you are interested in evidence, but your words reveal otherwise. Those interested in evidence don’t stop the intellectual search the moment they find a possible way their pet theory could be true. They actually test the idea.

Comment #179549

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 28, 2007 11:35 AM (e)

Mark Hausam is beginning to look like a caricature played by a good actor. His arguments track the ID/Creationist line so well that it appears someone is reading from a script.

Instead of the Wagnerian death scene I pictured earlier, I am now beginning to see the death scene of the Frog King of Far Far Away in Shrek 3.

Comment #179552

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 28, 2007 11:40 AM (e)

Trying to post is getting difficult. Here is another try. Sorry if there are multiple posts.

Mark Hausam is beginning to look like a caricature played by a good actor. His arguments track the ID/Creationist line so well that it appears someone is reading from a script.

Instead of the Wagnerian death scene I pictured earlier, I am now beginning to see the death scene of the Frog King of Far Far Away in Shrek 3.

Comment #179560

Posted by qetzal on May 28, 2007 12:02 PM (e)

Mark,

A plain reading of most English versions of the Bible shows that it’s self-contradictory. For example, Genesis 1 says God created the vegetation on the 3rd day, and man on the 6th. Yet Genesis 2 says God created man before there were any plants.

Both of those cannot be strictly true. At best you can try to come up with interpretations to explain away the discrepancy. In that case, even if the Bible is infallible, our interpretation of it will not be.

Alternately, you can argue that English translations of the Bible may sometimes be inaccurate. In that case, the Bible is not infallible. (Not in every version, at least.)

As soon as you are honest and admit that either the Bible requires interpretation, or it contains mistakes (or both), you should also admit that the 6 days of creation may also be either open to interpretation or a mistake. Then, when you look at the multiple independent lines of evidence that the Earth is much, much older than 6000 years, you can no longer honestly fall back on the Bible to claim that such evidence is somehow being misinterpreted.

Regarding your vitamin C argument, I’d like to present you with an analogy. Suppose you’re on safari in Africa, looking at water buffalo. Most of them are dark colored, but suddenly you notice one is white. Later you see another white one. Intrigued, you decide to study white water buffalo. You determine that all the white ones seem to live in a relatively small area.

“How did this happen?” you think. Maybe all the white ones are genetically related and they inherited some mutation for albinism from a common ancestor. Or, maybe there’s something in that area that causes water buffalo to sometimes turn white.

Just two different ways of interpreting the evidence, right? The think is, science doesn’t stop there. Science asks follow up questions, and makes predictions based on which idea might be right. So, you keep studying the white buffalo, and suddenly you notice that all the white ones have shorter horns than the others. How does that fit in?

Well, if they’re all genetically related, it’s easy to explain as just another trait inherited from their common ancestor. It’s harder to fit into the environmental factor idea though. For that, you’d have to posit either one factor that has both effects, or two different factors that just happen to affect all the same animals. Not so likely, but not impossible.

So now what? Why, keep studying, of course. You catch some of the white buffalo, collect their blood, and compare it to blood from normal buffalo. The normal buffalo prove to have a range of blood types (call them X, Y, and Z). Interestingly, all the white ones have type Y blood.

Now hopefully you can see that this is further evidence that our hypothetical white buffalo almost certainly derived from a common ancestor. It’s extremely unlikely that some environmental factor could cause some buffalo in a given area to be white, and have short horns, and have only type Y blood. Not impossible, but extremely unlikely.

On the other hand, the common ancestor hypothesis predicts that related animals should share multiple charactersitics that distinguish them from unrelated ones.

The vitamin C example is like this analogy. It doesn’t ‘prove’ common descent all by itself. But when you put it together with all the other evidence, the rational conclusion is inescapable: humans and other primates share a common ancestor.

You can reject that if you want. You can explain away each and every piece of evidence. It’s easy to do if your starting point is ‘God exists and He is all powerful and He created everything in six literal days.’ But you are not arguing from evidence. If you still claim that you are, you’re either deluding yourself or you don’t understand what evidence is.

Comment #179563

Posted by B. Spitzer on May 28, 2007 12:26 PM (e)

Dear Mark,

I do believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the Bible is the a communication from God, that it is infallible, and that Genesis is meant to be read historically.

If you indeed have solid, empirical evidence for these statements– and by that I mean evidence that anyone can see or feel or measure for themselves– then the text of Genesis could be admitted as scientific evidence, IMO. But remember that this evidence must stand up to close scrutiny and make empirical predictions if it’s going to admitted as science.

With respect, I doubt that you have scrutinized this evidence as carefully and critically as a scientist would demand. After all, most earnest Christians on this planet probably do not agree with you that Genesis should be treated as a literal account of Creation! And I have never heard a Biblical scholar argue that there is solid empirical evidence that the Bible is such a literal account. Please be sure that you understand what “empirical” evidence consists of before you claim in a scientific forum that there is evidence to conclude that the Bible is an infallible, literal account of Creation. While I do not doubt your sincerity, I think you are still confused about when evidence can and cannot be counted in a scientific context.

I agree with David Stanton on this–no authoritarianism, including the authoritarianism of trusting the “experts.” I am from Missouri. You will have to “show me,” and that painstakingly, if you want me to be persuaded.

Good! Insisting on seeing the evidence is a fine trait. But there are two very serious problems with your approach. First: it is not our job to persuade you. It is your job to collect the evidence and decide for yourself. Sometimes people will help you out along the way, but please don’t expect others to guide you through every step.

And second: if you want to be scientific, you must demand the same level of proof from your own ideas as you demand from the experts’. So far, you are completely failing to do that! Look back at the way you’re dealing with the topic of the vitamin C gene. You mention that the environment might cause similar breakages in the vitamin C gene in similar species– but you stop there. That’s not how science works, and if you want to be taken seriously by scientists, you can’t work that way either. You need to test that idea critically. How do you know that the environment breaks genes in particular ways in similar species?

I get the sense that you are becoming frustrated. Please realize that we are approaching this topic from a different perspective than you are. None of us are being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn. But some of the arguments that you’re making don’t live up to the standards that are necessary to do good science. And history has shown that, if we want science to work properly– to yield real knowledge and real technical achievements– we have to keep those standards. Please try to understand why those standards are there, and approach your own ideas with a critical eye.

B. Spitzer

Comment #179571

Posted by gerald on May 28, 2007 1:19 PM (e)

Mark said:
“When I say the Bible is “infallible,” I don’t mean that I trust it without having good reason to trust it from the evidence. I mean that the evidence points to its being the word of God and thus without error.”

i know this is a science forum but since you talked about historical-socio-cultural issues (the bible) i thought it would be useful to check out this book:

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Hardcover)
by Bart D. Ehrman

http://www.amazon.com/Misquoting-Jesus-Story-Beh…

maybe if you examine your premise(the bible) you can get to a different viewpoint?

Comment #179715

Posted by David Stanton on May 28, 2007 10:31 PM (e)

Guys, I appreciate the effort here, I really do. But, in my opinion, trying to convince Mark that the Bible isn’t infallible isn’t the right approach. He’s never going to admit the possibility. His mind is already made up on this point. The best we can hope for is that he can put the Bible aside for a little while. Here is what he says:

“If it really gives us an eyewitness account, putting it aside in our investigation of origins would be like a detective trying to solve the mystery of a crime while “putting aside” a key eyewitness testimony and refuing to take it into consideration, calling it “authoritarian” to pay attention to the eyewitness. I am not saying that I would ignore scientific evidence that contradicts the Bible if any were found; I am saying that I have good reason to believe the Bible constitutes a piece of that evidence, and I must take it into consideration. When I look at the scientific evidence, I will look at it as someone who has more information on the subject from an omniscient eyewitness. If the empirical evidence can be interpreted in a way that fits with that eyewitness testimony, I will go with that interpretation, because I have good reason to do so.”

You see, his starting assumption trumps all evidence. He can’t seem to realize that, if the Bible is literally true, putting it aside cannot possibly hurt his argument. If the Bible is literally true, then the evidence must inevitably lead to the same conclusion independently. Even if you have an eyewitness account, any good DA will still need to build a case based on evidence, if for no other reason than that something could happen to the witness. If the witness is credible, why should that bother anybody? His unwillingness to even consider the possibility of examining the evidence without the prior assumption of biblical inerrancy demonstrates conclusively his authoritarian mindset, all protestations to the contrary. I guess he just doesn’t have sufficient faith to look at the evidence without his assumptions.

Oh well. Why should it be our job to convince him of anything? Who cares what he believes? Let him find out the truth for himself if he’s sincere.

Comment #179748

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 29, 2007 12:22 AM (e)

David Stanton wrote:

Oh well. Why should it be our job to convince him of anything? Who cares what he believes? Let him find out the truth for himself if he’s sincere.

Agreed.

However, we can study the tactics and propaganda of the ID/Creationists to see how they do their dirty work.

And when a poster child (I didn’t see that pun coming) who is the result of their work shows up, we can study that also.

This gives us more insight into the misconceptions they have, how they are generated, and how we might deal with them whenever we are involved in educating young people about science.

Trying to change an adult whose thinking has already ossified may not be the most fruitful use of our time. The fundamentalists already know to go after the young.

Comment #179801

Posted by Frank J on May 29, 2007 5:20 AM (e)

fnxtr wrote:

All I can say, Mark, is that you have an interesting interpretation of the word “evidence”. Further discussion is pointless.

Especially since he wrote “evidences”.

Comment #179802

Posted by demallien on May 29, 2007 5:47 AM (e)

Following on from Mike’s post, it would seem that Mark’s big hang-up is that he considers methodological naturalism to be an arbitrary rule, and hence our dismissal of the Bible, in part on grounds based in methodological naturalism (MN), is for him unjustifiable.

Furthermore, for him, this “failure” on the part of science is grounds to dismiss any scientific evidence that conflicts with his Bible. Meh!

You know Mark, scientific studies have been done to determine if people praying for a sick person helps the sick person - it doesn’t. But every time that we put a new medication on the market, it’s because it has been scientifically demonstrated to be effective. That medication was created by applying scientific principles - what a funny coincidence! Why do you think that might be? (Hint: methodological naturalism works, and the rest is just bollocks)…

Comment #179851

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 29, 2007 9:45 AM (e)

You’ve misunderstood my position a bit. I am open to evidence that contradicts my position. When I said I cannot put aside the Bible when looking at the evidence, I tried to make it clear that I did not mean that I will accept the Bible no matter what and ignore contrary evidence. My basis for believing the Bible is that its claims match up with reality in striking ways–it gets God right, human nature right, the relationship between God and humans right, the nature of human evil right, the only possible way of escaping from human evil right, etc. It matches what we ought to know from our experience and interaction with ourselves and with the world so well that it must be taken seriously as a divine revelation. Since my acceptance of it as divine revelation is based on its conformity with reality, it is immensely falsifiable. If it didn’t match reality, its claims would be falsified. I am open to listening to claims from non-Christians, or more liberal Christians, that it doesn’t match the evidence of reality. I have to take those claims seriously and evaluated them honestly.

I also will not and cannot ignore any possible contrary evidence coming from science. David is quite right: If the Bible is correct, then the evidence from science should match up. Here is another area where the Bible is falsifiable. If I am confronted with clear evidence that cannot jive with the claims of the Bible, that would call the Bible’s historicity into question. I would acknowledge that. As I said, I am open to responding to whatever evidence there is. However, it is also true that I believe I already have strong evidence that the Bible is trustworthy, so I fully expect the evidence to match (but again, this does not mean I would ignore evidence to the contrary). My belief in the Bible can be falsified, but until it is, I already have strong reason to believe it, so I must take it into account in my evaluation of evidence. I must use the Bible as an aid in interpreting the scientific evidence. This is important, because there can often be multiple interpretations of the scientific evidence, and one’s knowledge from other areas can affect what interpretations seem more reasonable. Take, for example, the dating of tree rings. If the Genesis account is true, and six days is the correct interpretation, you would expect an appearance of age to very likely exist in various features of the non-living and living earth. So, if you were trying to date the age of the earth from the scientific evidence, you might look at the tree rings of fossil trees. If you look at those rings from the perspective of taking Genesis seriously, you will remember that trees before the flood might have been created already having tree rings, perhaps many of them. So you will hesitate to draw conclusions of age from the rings. If you come to the scientific evidence without an acceptance of the six day interpretation of Genesis, and instead assume a naturalistic uniformity throughout past time, you will probably take the rings as good indicators of age. This is not a matter of the Genesis-believer ignoring or distorting the evidence; it is a matter of the evidence being interpreted, quite legitimately, differently due to differing beliefs coming from other sources. Another example of this might be the dating the age of rocks. If we accept Genesis, who knows in what state various rocks were created, how much the ratio of parent-daughter elements might have been in the rock from the beginning, etc. Thus, a person who comes to the scientific evidence accepting Genesis will be more agnostic on the possibility of dating rocks based on parent-daughter ratios of various elements, etc., whereas a person coming to the rocks assuming naturalistic uniformity might not be so agnostic but might think they can confidently date the rocks. I know I am presenting a very simplified picture here, but hopefully you see the point I am making. There can certainly be evidence that simply must be interpreted in an old-earth way, and if that evidence were strong and clear enough, it would cast doubt on the Genesis account in its six day interpretation. But sometimes evidence may be interpreted as proving an old earth when, in reality, its seeming to point that way is based on an interpretation of the evidence that is based on dubious or false assumptions. If the reason the evidence is interpreted in an old earth way is that an assumption was made of naturalistic uniformity rather than an assumption based in Genesis, this evidence would be suspect to one who accepts Genesis. It would be a circular argument–the proof would be based on an assumption based on a the very belief the evidence is supposed to prove. In order to falsify Genesis, there has to be evidence that cannot be legitimately interpreted in conformity to Genesis. There has to be evidence such that its only reasonable interpretation, without dubious or false assumptions, contradicts Genesis. If there is such, we must listen to it and take it seriously. But if the interpretation of the evidence is based on naturalistic or uniformitarian, or any other false assumptions, believers in Genesis have no reason to take it seriously. It is a circular argument.

So I am not being authoritarian. I am pointing out a legitimate, significant issue for interpretation that needs to be taken into account. I do believe that I have sufficient evidence to take the Bible seriously, evidence that is sufficient for me and that should be sufficient for all people, evidence that passes any reasonable scientific test. I gave some of that evidence before in my argument for theism, but that was only a beginning. I could go on and present much more. In a nutshell, I accept the Bible as valid because it accurately describes reality. The Christian worldview, derived from the Bible, tells the truth about the world we live in, about ourselves, about God, etc., in a way that far surpasses any other worldview. In addition to this, after correctly diagnosing our condition of guilt and rebellions against God, it claims to offer a remedy from God that, upon examination, turns out to be the only possible sort of remedy–the death of Christ to satisfy the justice of God against human sin and to give to humans his righteousness, that we might be brought into a right relationship with God. His life, death, and resurrection also purchase for humans the power to change our hearts back to loving obedience to God rather than wicked rebellion. Given all of these things, the only rational response is to accept the Christian worldview, the Bible, as divine revelation. I could go into more detail, add more to the picture, but hopefully this gives you an idea of the direction of my thinking here. I like the way C. S. Lewis described the evidence for the Christian worldview: “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen–not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

So that is how I look at things. As I said, my beliefs are quite falsifiable, including from evidence coming from scientific sources, although this evidence would have to be quite unmistakably clear in order to overturn the immense amount of evidence I have for the Bible and for my interpretation of it from other sources. You are all right–It would be good for me to look into the scientific evidence in much more depth. I intend to do so. I look forward to it. I am looking forward to reading the books Nick Matzke recommended. Do any of you have a good recommendation for one or two books that deal clearly and thoroughly with the evidence for Darwinism, both in terms of common descent as well as the mechanisms of evolutionary change? If you must choose between books that focus on common descent OR the mechanisms of change, I would be more interested at this time in common descent. Thank you!

Thanks again for all your help, suggestions, comments, etc.

Mark

Comment #179857

Posted by demallien on May 29, 2007 10:40 AM (e)

Mark, what I am about to say to you is neither a metaphorical flourish, nor an insult, it is quite simply a statement of fact: you are delusional. I mean that literally.

Multiple lines of scientific evidence, including astronomical observations, models of the creation of the solar system, radiometric dating, ratios of isotopes in the earth’s crusts, ice cores, tree rings, fossils, geological understanding of the evolution of the earth’s mantle, and numerous other techniques all tell the same story - the earth, and indeed the universe, are way older than the estimated dates from the Bible. Going the other way, there is not a single line of scientific enquiry that indicates that the Earth has the approximate age proposed by the Bible, not one.

Any continued claims on your part that the Bible is not in disagreement with the observed facts, is, as I have already pointed out, delusional, a major disconnect from reality. Well, it’s either that you are delusional, or that you are lying through your teeth, and trolling. Choose whichever of the two labels pleases you the most… Don’t be surprised though when many PT participants note your ability to put together coherent sentences, and hence lean towards “troll” as being the more likely of the two labels, and treat you accordingly.

Or, you could prove me wrong by clearly stating that you are in fact aware that there are mountains of evidence that contradict a literal reading of the Bible. But you aren’t going to do that, are you Mark?

Comment #179876

Posted by Raging Bee on May 29, 2007 12:12 PM (e)

Mark: glad to have you back.

You seem to have no time to respond to the points we’ve made, but plenty of time to complain about how little time you have. Funny, that. If your time were so limited, why not simply quit complaining, get straight to the point, respond to the points being made, and ignore all those horrid insults? As an unsympathetic professor pointed out to me long ago, most professions entail, in large measure, explaining important and complex concepts using unfairly-limited time and space.

I actually felt like I had a moral responsibility to my own dignity to leave off the conversation at this point.

What about your “moral responsibility” to clear up all those misunderstandings and misrepresentations of your belief that you were complaining about when you ran out on us? That would have done your dignity a lot of good as well.

I was trying to deal with the evidence.

No, you’re not – not if you’re “explaining” evidence contrary to your beliefs by alleging that “God created the Earth that way” (which is, as I said before, what your “created in a mature state” argument amounted to).

David Stanton, you were offended because I didn’t respond to your personal story. I didn’t know it was so important to you.

I’m guessing David posted that story because he thought it important to YOU as well, and to the debate in general, not merely because it was important to himself. And you simply brushed it off and implied it was only important to him. And you’ve taken the time to admit you had read it, but still not time to respond to it – thus (in my estimation at least) compounding the intial insult.

I can see through to the naturalistic assumptions in many Darwinist arguments, but it has been difficult for me to do that in this area, because things are usually beyond my ability to grasp due to their extremely technical nature. However, in every case I have looked into so far, the creationist arguments seem at least just as reasonable as the mainstream arguments. This fact, plus my suspicions of how mainstream science is done with the imposition of methodological naturalism, plus my awareness of how methodological naturalism weights the evidence for Darwinism, makes me distrustful that mainstream science has been any more fair here than they have been with Darwinism.

So in other words, you’ve admitted that you reject “Darwinist arguments” not because you understand the concepts and evidence, but because you DON’T understand them, and because of your preconceived “suspicions of how mainstream science is done.” Suspicions which are only reinforced by your ignorance of how – and why – “mainstream science is done.”

Thinking that people who believe the Bible must be less open to listening to evidence from the other side than people who do not is a bias, probably originating from naturalism, that has no basis in reality.

No, it’s not a bias; it’s a conclusion based on what those who “believe the Bible” – especially yourself – have actually said: you have admitted you are ignorant of vast areas of relevant knowledge, you make up a rationalization that allows you to simply ignore any evidence that doesn’t fit your belief (God planted all that evidence when he created everything “in a mature state”), and you reiterate your belief in one book (a book that doesn’t even have a bibliography), without even acknowledging ANY of the arguments and evidence we’ve presented here.

Appearance of age: Just a brief comment here. Appearance of age does not mean God lied or planted bad evidence. Appearance of age is simply a natural by-product from a six-day creation. God created life very quickly. He either created adult forms or caused extraordinarily rapid growth. he also probably created the world and rocks in a supernatural way.

In other words, God used supernatural means to create things that appeared, on close examination, to be much older than they really were. And God, being all-knowing, must have known that he was creating a planet-full of physical evidence that, when interpreted according to physical laws and principles that have already been shown to work in all other circumstances, point conclusively to a completely different explanation of the origin of species and the age of the Earth. So yes, you are indeed saying God faked the evidence by the planetful, whether you admit it or not. (Unless, of course, you wish us to believe that your “extraordinarily rapid growth” argument means that eithteen-billion-odd years of events happened in six days; which would cast a LOT of doubt on what you, and your interpretation of the Bible, mean by the word “day.”)

And if you use “supernatural means” to explain away evidence that contradicts your beliefs, than you cannot pretend you’re “being scientific” or “concerned with the evidence.”

This would just naturally tend to throw off attempts to calculate age. It is not deceptive; it is simply a fact that needs to be taken into account (but only someone who believes the Bible would probably even consider taking such an important fact into account–we have important information that those who don’t believe the Bible don’t have).

You can’t call it a “fact” unless, and until, you can prove it by some means other than “The Bible tells us so.”

Who’s to say God wouldn’t create tree rings? Why assume that tree rings only exist as indicators of age?

We do not “assume” it; we conclude it based on years of observation. This difference between “assuming” and “observing” and “concluding” is one of the many important technical concepts that you admit you don’t yet understand; and until you understand it, you cannot claim any superior position from which to discount centuries of accumulated knowledge.

They do that, but perhaps their ultimate purpose is aesthetic? Maybe God created Adam and Eve with belly buttons. Perhaps they are an aesthetic part of the human body and also happen to have a function in birth?

Got any physical evidence to back up all that isle musing? And you’ve just admitted that your argument amounts to “God faked the evidence” – just like a furniture-maker creating “stressed” or “antiqued” furniture with the conscious intent of making it look older than it really is.

Sometimes we are thrown off track by making assumptions that we have no warrant to make.

And chief among those misleading assumptions is “God must have made it that way, no further inquiry is necessary.” That assumption has NEVER led to any progress or increase in knowledge, in the sciences or any other field. That is why it is roundly rejected by scientists – and cops, generals, enterpreneurs, politicians, builders, lawyers, doctors, etc., etc. (How many crimes have been solved by resorting to Bible quotes? That didn’t work so well in the Burning Times, did it?)

So that is how I look at things. As I said, my beliefs are quite falsifiable, including from evidence coming from scientific sources…

You have just given us your reasons for arbitrarily rejecting a planetful of physical evidence, based on the assumption that “God made it that way for reasons we needn’t explore.” So no, your beliefs are not “falsifiable,” therefore they are scientifically vacuous. If you want to believe all that yourself, that’s your personal choice. But if you call it “scieitific,” fully cognizant of your (explicitly admitted) ignorance of science, then you are either a fool or a liar.

Comment #179880

Posted by Raging Bee on May 29, 2007 12:25 PM (e)

Mark: on the question of how, exactly, we are supposed to use and interpret the Bible, perhaps you should try to address the points I made on that subject in Comment #177895 above.

Comment #179891

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 29, 2007 1:38 PM (e)

Mark, re “evidence”: I do not think that word means what you think it means. In particular, “evidence” does not include revelation. In standard scientific usage, evidence is by definition available to everybody. It is synonymous with the scientific usage of “fact”. As somebody said above, if you ever doubt the facts, you are free to find them and look at them yourself. Contrast this with your usage of “evidence” which, based on your subjective language when you talk about it, is actually better described as “revelation”.

Science only deals with evidence which is available to all. It does not — it cannot — include revelation. C.f. religion, which concerns itself with the interpretation of revelation to reach faith. If religion used evidence to reach conclusions, it wouldn’t result in faith.

You can save us a lot of time if you can categorize how you came to know some of the things you claim. Is the Bible infallible because of evidence? Or because of revelation?

Comment #179902

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 29, 2007 2:31 PM (e)

Mark,

Btw, in a free country there is nothing wrong with using revelation as a way to personally know things. The problem is when revelation is conflated with evidence, and when it is used as the basis for authority. You must acknowledge that you’re doing a bit of both.

Comment #179916

Posted by Science Avenger on May 29, 2007 3:41 PM (e)

Mark Hausam revealingly said:

My basis for believing the Bible is that its claims match up with reality in striking ways–it gets God right, human nature right, the relationship between God and humans right, the nature of human evil right, the only possible way of escaping from human evil right, etc.

Let’s examine this claim carefully. Mark is claiming to have confirmed biblical claims in these areas. That means Mark is claiming to KNOW:

God’s nature
Human nature
The relationship between God and humans
The nature of human evil
The means of escaping from human evil

This reveals quite clearly that Mark doesn’t know the difference between “believes” and “scientifically confirms”. He claims to have confirmed what he cannot possibly know. Mark, scientific confirmation involves FACTS. What you have up there is a collection of speculations. And yes, I grant most willingly that the Bible conforms to all your preconceptions (not facts) of how those questions should be answered (anyone care to guess why?).

But those are not facts, and that’s where the Bible stubs its toe over and over again. Rabbits are not ruminents, Pi > 3.0, people have never lived to be 900 years old, bats are not birds, no man named Moses led any large group of people out of Egypt to wander the Synai peninsula for 40 years, no matter how tall a tree grew, you could not see the entire world from the top of it, there was no worldwide flood, and you cannot create spotted sheep by having sheep look at spots while mating. The Bible erroneously claims all these things, and many many more.

So if you want to claim the Bible as God’s word on the subjects concerning God, morality, the soul, and heaven and hell, knock yourself out. But if you are truly interested in evidence, then you have to admit that the Bible should not be taken literally on historical or scientific subjects. It leaves no other choice.

Comment #180013

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 29, 2007 9:00 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

It [the Christian bible] matches what we ought to know from our experience and interaction with ourselves and with the world so well that it must be taken seriously as a divine revelation. Since my acceptance of it as divine revelation is based on its conformity with reality, it is immensely falsifiable. If it didn’t match reality, its claims would be falsified.

It is clear that Mark doesn’t understand the meaning of circular thinking. If we humans can have “experience and interaction with ourselves and with the world” why can’t humans write that stuff down? Is he claiming they haven’t without “divine prompting?” If humans do keep records, does that justify calling them divine revelation because they match with the experiences they have had? Does he know anything about the history of religion and law?

Experience teaches humans many lessons that don’t require “divine revelation” to understand. This isn’t limited to humans. Most animals can learn, and many exist within organizational structures roughly analogous to what we would call “cultures”. Humans and other animals are able to pass knowledge on to later generations; humans do it more efficiently (not necessarily more effectively because, as is obvious here, some don’t learn from history). Evolution explains this ability more parsimoniously than does “divine revelation”. How can monotheists have so many conflicts over their interpretations of “divine revelation” from this one true source? Evidently they don’t all agree that “divine revelation” matches their experience and interactions with themselves, yet they all claim to know “The Truth”.

One doesn’t have to belong to any particular religious sect to understand the concept of behavioral consequences. And many societies that have never heard of the Christian bible have developed rules of behavior to regulate their daily lives. These rules have worked as well (and in many cases better) than those supposedly divine revelations Mark takes to be “in conformity with reality.” Most cultures on this planet have not agreed, and would not agree, that what is written in the Christian bible matches their experience and interaction (“conforms to reality”).

Living in such a closed dungeon of medieval thinking leaves one pretty much unaware of an entire universe of knowledge that others have discovered. Metaphors such as Plato’s cave come to mind. Mark not only needs to learn science, he needs to study history, literature, art, poetry, mythology, law, comparative religions, cultural diversity, and a whole range of subjects that deal with the propagation of human knowledge and perception. It is clear that he has no reference points whatsoever.

Comment #180039

Posted by Raging Bee on May 29, 2007 10:56 PM (e)

Forget comparative religions – Mark needs to learn the basics of his own religion! Most of what he’s said would embarrass all but the dumbest of his fellow Christians, and was rightly rejected by Christian philosophers centuries ago.

Can anyone here paste that famous quote from St. Augustine about Christians making fools of themselves by claiming to know things that any Pagan can see just ain’t so?

Comment #180053

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 29, 2007 11:30 PM (e)

I kinda skipped over this part:

Since my acceptance of it as divine revelation is based on its conformity with reality, it is immensely falsifiable.

So you wouldn’t accept any revelation which was surprising? Only those which fit the evidence?

Comment #180061

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 30, 2007 12:17 AM (e)

Do you realize how lacking in self-awareness most of you are? You seem to be unable to really understand the thinking of someone who actually has a different worldview from yours. Instead of really listening carefully and trying to understand, you oversimplify, caricature, and reject without serious consideration.

Many of you are quite convinced I don’t know anything–reason, the meaning of evidence, logic, history, and pretty much everything else. You are quite convinced you’ve got my psyche basically figured out. Well, I happen to know myself, and you are completely off base. You are confident you understand me, but your evaluations are groundless and almost completely inaccurate. Obviously, for you, confidence is not in proportion to having a good reason to be confident. Your getting things so ridiculously wrong here doesn’t give one much confidence you know what you are talking about in other areas. You obviously have a difficulty with keeping your claims in proportion to your evidence.

You keep asserting things without proving them, as if they are obvious. And yet your assertions simply reflect your ignorance that there are real, intelligent people who think differently from you. They reveal your apparently undiscovered biases. You assert that evidence doesn’t include revelation; that there are lots of good ways to interpret the Bible non-literally; that I can’t possibly know something about the nature of God from reason; that conflicts among monotheists must mean none of them have any good reason to believe what they believe. These are nice assertions. I am well aware that there are lots of people who hold these beliefs, and I understand the argumentation behind them. I happen to think they are wrong. Revelation can be evidence accessible to everyone. It is dishonest or uninformed to claim to believe the Bible without accepting its historical and other factual claims. Conflict among monotheists doesn’t prove that Christians don’t know the truth. Those are my assertions. We can both assert. But assertions won’t do it; we need facts. I am willing to give you my reasons for my assertions. Do you have any good reasons for yours? In order to have good reasons for yours, you really need to try to seriously understand how I (and others like me) think and why, rather than simplistically caricaturing and rejecting. So far, none of you have shown that you have the self-awareness and other-awareness to have done this or to be doing it now. It is difficult to have an intelligent conversation when you can’t understand anything but your own viewpoint.

Let me give you one example. I claim to know that God exists. I gave you some arguments for the existence of God a while back. Hardly anyone has attempted any real response to those arguments. Glen responded with a long post, but his response was dismissive and didn’t really deal with any of my arguments substantively. It all pretty much amounted to, “All this metaphysics stuff is stupid, so there!” Well, I don’t think it is stupid, and I am not going to be convinced by loud, unproven assertions to the contrary. Pete Dunkelberg (I believe) actually attempted an intelligent response, but it pretty much amounted to a complaint that I don’t know how to define “logic.” Actually, I do. I’m sorry he didn’t like my particular use of the term in that context, but that hardly amounts to a substantive critique. (I also appreciated Pete’s attempt, condescending though it was, to be respectful. Thank you.) All of you simply assert that I cannot know anything metaphysical, such as something about the nature of God. That is your belief, where is your proof? I think I can know these things. Am I supposed to believe I can’t, against my own experience, simply on the basis of your authority? Sorry, I’m too scientifically-minded to work that way.

The Bible does not contain contradictions. The thing about rabbits not being ruminents and bats not being birds is an unfair evaluation of the Bible. The Bible is not interested in 21st century scientific classifications. It uses phenomenological and common-sense language–not surprisingly, since it is not just written to 21st century biologists. It may class all birds and bats together as flying creatures, but this is not an error, it is simply not attempting to describe things with the level of detail a biologist would. Now if the Bible said rabbits could fly, we’d have a problem. But it doesn’t. If you are being careless, it is easy to find apparent contradictions in the Bible (and probably just about anything else). If you care about getting things right, you will be able to tell the difference between a contradiction or error and a common-sense or phenomenological description. (By the way, what in the world is your reference for seeing the whole world from the top of a tree? I have no idea what you are talking about here.)

I’ve given you some proof for the existence of God in post #177611. Why don’t you deal with some of that seriously? After that, I can give you some more evidence for my beliefs. And perhaps it is about time to start providing some proof for some of your many strong claims. Revelation can’t be accessible to all and doesn’t constitute evidence? Prove it. The Bible can be legitimately and honestly interpreted without taking its historical claims seriously? Prove it. The existence of conflict among monotheists proves that none of them have the truth? Prove it. Metaphysical arguments are fatuous gibberish? Prove it. Lack of biologically precise language is the same as error? Prove it. It is time to break out of the little box of a universe most of you seem to inhabit and learn to understand the complexity of what is really out there and other ways of thinking besides what you are used to.

B. Spitzer, I want to thank you for your attempts so far to try to listen to what I have to say and to engage it seriously (and for standing up for me earlier amidst the absurd slanders of others, taking some slander yourself in the process). I greatly appreciate it. You say I must provide empirical evidence of the Bible before it can be taken seriously. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the Bible, or the Christian worldview, must predict accurate things about the world we observe. I do believe the Bible does this incredibly well, which is why I believe it should be taken seriously. There is much that can be said here, but let me start with what I have already started with–the evidence for the existence of God I gave in post #177611. Here is one example of where the Bible lines up with reality whereas some other worldviews, such as naturalism, do not. Naturalism predicts that God will not be a logically necessary ingredient to explain the universe. Christianity predicts he will be. It turns out that you cannot explain the universe we observe without the existence of God. This falsifies naturalism and supports Christianity (although other confirmations must be had before a complete case for Christianity is made). Do you consider this a valid example of what you call empirical evidence? If not, why not specifically?

Thanks!

Mark

Comment #180071

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 30, 2007 1:02 AM (e)

Well, Mark, I don’t intend to repeat myself. Many responded to that post, and it was the post that revealed most clearly your lack of understanding of modern scientific concepts. It includes misconceptions that to all the way back to Zeno. And it revealed a complete lack of awareness of the long history of discussion, both philosophical and scientific, that has addressed the arguments you make. Several people pointed that out to you.

This is not the forum for you to get an education that is going to take you many years, given your current state and mindset. You will have to go to libraries, read science texts, and anything else that has been suggested here to bring yourself up to date.

No one here hates you or wishes you ill. Don’t misinterpret bluntness as rudeness. Many people replying to you have excellent credentials and many more years of experience than you do. Many have been where you have been and discovered they were not seeing the whole picture. Don’t copycat the criticisms we have made of your positions without understanding the big picture. You only make things worse for yourself and those you claim to represent.

Good luck to you.

Comment #180076

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 30, 2007 1:25 AM (e)

It turns out that you cannot explain the universe we observe without the existence of God. This falsifies naturalism and supports Christianity (although other confirmations must be had before a complete case for Christianity is made). Do you consider this a valid example of what you call empirical evidence? If not, why not specifically?

I hate to say I told ya so…

meh, no i don’t.

You all spent 3 very patient days trying to explain things to him, and in the end, this is what you get.

Not one iota different from where he started.

shrug.

Comment #180081

Posted by demallien on May 30, 2007 1:47 AM (e)

OK, I’ll play, can’t work until the caffeine kicks in anyway…

Mark, do you know about the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Have you Heard the Word? Why don’t you look up It’s Noodliness on Wikipedia, and come back and explain to us why your God is more credible…

Pastafarianism forever!

Comment #180086

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 30, 2007 2:11 AM (e)

How predictable. Three responses so far to my arguments about the existence of God. None of them even try to deal specifically with the specific arguments.

Elzinga’s response: “That’s just stupid, and everybody knows it! You’re just dumb and uneducated!” Thanks for a brilliant and illuminating response.

Sir Toejam’s response: “We’re wating our time! He hasn’t been convinced by our brilliance yet!” Keep on shining helpful answers like that, and maybe someday I will be–if I stop looking for real evidence, that is.

demallian’s response: “Why do you believe in God more than the Flying Spaghetti monster?” I already told you in the post I referred you to. Go back and read it, then give a response rather than asking over again the same question I already answered.

Any more brilliance, anyone? Boy, how could I have missed the clear evidence for atheism…

Mark

Comment #180101

Posted by demallien on May 30, 2007 4:16 AM (e)

Mark,

No, you haven’t already answered my question. I don’t see anywhere in your post a discussion of why the Bible is more trustworthy than the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Care to explain how you arrive objectively at the conclusion that one is better than the other?

Comment #180115

Posted by Frank J on May 30, 2007 5:44 AM (e)

What does it take for you “Darwinists” to stop taking Mark’s bait?

He admits to knowing about OEC and ID, only after much of my nagging, and is aware that they are just as much in conflict with his position as evolution is. But with your help he quickly reverts back to the pretense that it’s either “the Bible” (his interpretation only, of course) or “Darwinism.”

Mark, if you really want to learn about common descent, check Douglas Theobald’s online article “The 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution.” (yes, he uses “evidences” tongue-in-cheek). You can use it 2 ways. It is a gold mine for quotes to mine, if that’s what you want. But it also has 29+ potential falsifiers for “macroevolution,” that not one anti-evolutionist, whether YEC, OEC or IDer, has ever attempted to fulfill. Why would that be?

Comment #180176

Posted by GuyeFaux on May 30, 2007 9:23 AM (e)

Revelation can be evidence accessible to everyone.

Yes, but revelation is not acceptable as scientific evidence.

Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with you if you use revelation as a way to know things. You just you can’t claim that your knowledge is evidence-based, and you certainly can’t premise your science on this knowledge. Those are the ground rules of science, I’m afraid, and there are good reasons for having them. Can you figure out why it’s important to exclude personal revelation from science? (Hint: My revelations are likely to be different than yours.)

And seriously, stop with the persecution complex. If you want a specific point answered, say so. You mentioned your “proof” that God exists hasn’t been addressed. Well, now I claim that Glen’s refutation of it hasn’t been addressed by you, despite your mis-characterization of it.

Comment #180203

Posted by Science Avenger on May 30, 2007 11:21 AM (e)

Mark Hausam dodged thusly:

The thing about rabbits not being ruminents and bats not being birds is an unfair evaluation of the Bible… It may class all birds and bats together as flying creatures, but this is not an error, it is simply not attempting to describe things with the level of detail a biologist would. Now if the Bible said rabbits could fly, we’d have a problem.

You are just making shit up. The Bible doesn’t “class all birds and bats together as flying creatures”, it says that bats ARE birds. That sir is an error. Likewise, it says rabbits “chew the cud”, which they in fact do not. That is also an error. It doesn’t cease to be an error because saying rabbits could fly would be an even bigger error.

If you are being careless, it is easy to find apparent contradictions in the Bible (and probably just about anything else).

Yeah, and if you are willing to ignore the meaning of clear straightforward language, and merely make shit up that conforms to your predjudices, it is easy to pretend errors aren’t errors.

what in the world is your reference for seeing the whole world from the top of a tree? I have no idea what you are talking about here.

And this differs from everything else how exactly?

I believe it was Joshua that had a dream that described such a tree.

Comment #180213

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 30, 2007 11:58 AM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

I hate to say I told ya so…
meh, no i don’t.
You all spent 3 very patient days trying to explain things to him, and in the end, this is what you get.
Not one iota different from where he started.
shrug.

Actually ST, this is “déjà vu all over again” for me; it is exactly where I figured it would go, and it is beginning to cycle right back through the same stuff. He wants to debate so he can sharpen his debating skills against us evilutionists. Debate is one of their favored forums because form takes precedence over substance, and one doesn’t have to know anything.

Mark has most of the characteristics I mentioned before he showed up and this all began. It was especially clear in his post #177611 where he elaborated a string of misconceptions that indicated he was sloppily self-educated in science. He has obtained his understanding of science from some pretty disreputable sources, and it shows. He doesn’t know this yet, and he won’t believe it even when we point it out.

Both the information and irony in this thread have been interesting. Nothing new, but at least a spot check on where things are in the ID/Creationist crowd.

By the way, I thought your input was excellent.

Comment #180233

Posted by Raging Bee on May 30, 2007 1:02 PM (e)

Instead of really listening carefully and trying to understand, you oversimplify, caricature, and reject without serious consideration.

And once again, you completely fail to describe exactly what we got wrong.

Revelation can be evidence accessible to everyone.

Most of the “revelations” I’ve heard of have been personal and unverifiable – including those of the various authors of the books of the Bible, who have no proof other than “God showed me this and you’d better believe me.”

I am well aware that there are lots of people who hold these beliefs, and I understand the argumentation behind them. I happen to think they are wrong.

You’ve just admitted you DON’T understand a huge amount of technical and logical stuff that backs up a lot of our argumentation; now you’re saying you understand it all. Color me unimpressed. And all you’ve said in response is that you “happen to think” we’re wrong, without telling us why we should happen to think so too. Personal belief don’t mean squat outside your own life, unless you can back it up with something that exists outside your own head.

[The Bible] may class all birds and bats together as flying creatures, but this is not an error, it is simply not attempting to describe things with the level of detail a biologist would.

You’re absolutely right – which is why (as I’ve said before in a post you completely ignored) it is foolish to try to use the Bible as a science text, as you insist on using Genesis. That’s not why it was written, and it makes no sense to use something for a purpose it was not made to serve. Using the Bible as a science text makes no more sense than shoveling snow with a screwdriver.

Revelation can’t be accessible to all and doesn’t constitute evidence? Prove it.

Lots of people have had revelations to which I am not privy; and I’ve had a few to which no one else is privy. None of it means squat in a peer-reviewed paper or a courtroom. What more proof do you need?

The Bible can be legitimately and honestly interpreted without taking its historical claims seriously? Prove it.

MILLIONS of Christians, if not billions, do just that every day: they draw moral values, spiritual strength, and common-sense guidance from the Bible, and get their knowledge in other areas (history, science, world affairs, etc.) from other texts. And they live honest, unpretentious and fulfilled lives according to the teachings of Jesus, commanding respect from all without threatening anyone or ignoring any complicated or uncomfortable truth. That’s more than Christians of your sort can say. The very fact that you have to demand such proof – and get it from a Pagan, no less – speaks volumes about your understanding of your own faith.

The existence of conflict among monotheists proves that none of them have the truth? Prove it.

Did anyone here even make that assertion? Some of us merely said that all that conflict proves that Christian thought and experience is more complex than you seem to think it is.

Lack of biologically precise language is the same as error? Prove it.

Again, you misrepresented our position: the error is in taking a book with such biologically imprecise language, and pretending it’s an “infallible” source of information on biological subjects such as the origin of species. If it has “imprecise language,” as you’ve just admitted it has, then it cannot be considered reliable on that particular subject.

There is much that can be said here, but let me start with what I have already started with–the evidence for the existence of God I gave in post #177611.

That’s the post where you tried to tell us that God knowingly planted a planetful of systematically misleading clues, in order to justfy ignoring all the evidence that contradicts your creation-story. And your “proof” of God’s existence is no more honest or credible.

But since you insist, I’ll go through a kinda-random sampling of the inconherent non-sequiturs and unfounded assertions that constitute your “proof:”

Some atheists have argued that the universe itself could be self-existent, and thus not need a cause. The problem with this is that the universe simply isn’t self-existent.

An assertion with no facts, observatins or logic to back it up. Besides, if the Universe can’t be “self-existent,” are you sure God can be?

Since the big bang theory has been accepted, most scientists have accepted that time has not gone on indefinitely, but this is better proven by philosophical argumentation.

Non-sequitur. Yes, the Big Bang is accepted, but that does not imply concensus on what, if anything, existed before it. Some scientists speak of an Oscillating Universe: Big Bang, expansion, slowing down due to gravity, brief stasis, contraction, Big Crunch, repeat forever. In my own opinion, Big Bang = “Let there be light!” But there’s no proof of that, at least not yet.

Time cannot have gone on forever because it is logically impossible to traverse an infinite series. If time had been going on forever, there would have passed already an infinite number of, say, minutes. But there cannot have already passed an infinite number of minutes, because it would take literally forever to traverse an infinite number of minutes.

If it’s possible for an infinite number of minutes to exist, then why is it not possible for someone or something (you’re a bit unclear here) to “traverse” them (you’re a bit unclear on that too)?

And yet, we have arrived at this present moment.

“We” were born/created within the possibly-infinite timestream, and “arrived” “here” – another point within the same timestream – from “there.” So what?

Also, not only does the temporal universe as a whole require an explanation outside of itself, but each moment in the time-series requires an explanation. Whenever something changes, there must be an explanation for the change, and it must come from outside the thing changing.

So far at least, all observed changes have been adequately explained using the physical laws and cause-and-effect relationships that prevail within “the time-series.” “Explanations” involving agency from outside “the time-series” have proven unreliable at best, insane or dishonest at worst.

There’s more to your “proof,” but I think I can stop here and conclude that it’s groundless and based on arbitrary assumptions and bogus word-games. George Orwell said it best: the more you think in abstractions, the more the words you choose to use will rush into the vacuum and do all your thinking for you. Use different words, and you will be led to different thoughts.

Furthermore, even if you can prove the existence of _A_ supreme being, you still have yet to prove WHICH supreme being(s) we should all worship and obey; and – more to the point here – none of this proves we can ignore centuries of valid science in favor of this or that vaguely-written creation-story.

Comment #180246

Posted by Science Avenger on May 30, 2007 1:20 PM (e)

Mark Hausam said:

Time cannot have gone on forever because it is logically impossible to traverse an infinite series. If time had been going on forever, there would have passed already an infinite number of, say, minutes. But there cannot have already passed an infinite number of minutes, because it would take literally forever to traverse an infinite number of minutes.

This is the Kalam argument, an annoying bit of pseudo philosophy. It is easily disproved by trying to imagine the location of the point in time (say X years BC) from which he claims we cannot move to the present. All distances are finite.

The argument for an infinite universe is that it had no beginning, not that (as this straw man presumes) it had a beginning, infinitely removed from now. But I’m sure he’ll ignore this like he ignores all the substantive arguments against his position.

Comment #180253

Posted by Henry J on May 30, 2007 2:07 PM (e)

That’s sort of like arguing that infinity can’t exist because if it did it would have properties that a finite thing wouldn’t have. (Such as being equivalent to a proper subset of itself.)

Henry

Comment #180254

Posted by CJO on May 30, 2007 2:07 PM (e)

I claim to know that God exists. I gave you some arguments for the existence of God a while back. Hardly anyone has attempted any real response to those arguments. Glen responded with a long post, but his response was dismissive and didn’t really deal with any of my arguments substantively. It all pretty much amounted to, “All this metaphysics stuff is stupid, so there!” Well, I don’t think it is stupid, and I am not going to be convinced by loud, unproven assertions to the contrary. Pete Dunkelberg (I believe) actually attempted an intelligent response, but it pretty much amounted to a complaint that I don’t know how to define “logic.” Actually, I do. I’m sorry he didn’t like my particular use of the term in that context, but that hardly amounts to a substantive critique.

This is not an accurate characterization of these replies. What Glen did, in his typically exhaustive style, is point out your conflation of certain propositions in metaphysics with a foundation for logical certainty. You can prove anything with propositional logic, given enough freedom to choose your axioms. What you did was, in essence, assume your conclusion. Glen called you on it.

Here is one example of where the Bible lines up with reality whereas some other worldviews, such as naturalism, do not. Naturalism predicts that God will not be a logically necessary ingredient to explain the universe. Christianity predicts he will be. It turns out that you cannot explain the universe we observe without the existence of God. This falsifies naturalism and supports Christianity (although other confirmations must be had before a complete case for Christianity is made). Do you consider this a valid example of what you call empirical evidence? If not, why not specifically?

The only reference there to anything that might remotely be construed as “empirical” is “the universe we observe.” In the post to which you keep referring us back, you make a great many unsubstantiated metaphysical pronouncements about what you believe to be the nature of the universe. Examples:

The universe is not really a unified thing but a collection of interacting things.

Whenever something changes, there must be an explanation for the change, and it must come from outside the thing changing.

The brain is an enormously complex animated pattern of matter and energy particles forming complex patterns and moving about in complex ways. But this in itself can do nothing toward producing consciousness.

All of these are unargued assertions. All are taken to be self-evident. The two big problems with this approach are: 1) as Glen forcefully pointed out, these are not uncontroversial even among those who take this kind of metaphysical argumentation seriously, so you can’t just get away with acting like you’ve forced anyone to accept them on your say-so and, more importantly, vis a vis empirical matters, 2) nothing is self-evident when it has to be methodically judged against against physical reality.

Scientific, or empirical, evidence is only obtained by testing a hypothesis in a replicable fashion and presenting the methodology and results for anybody to check for themselves. Supposed proofs for the existence of god simply don’t cut it. The fact that you don’t like the rules carries no force.

Comment #180319

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 30, 2007 5:34 PM (e)

Mark Hausam wrote:

Boy, how could I have missed the clear evidence for atheism…

Among many fundamentalist sects, “atheist” is a clear expression of fear and hatred (often synonymous with “instruments of the devil”, “Satan,” “The Evil One,” etc.).

It is one of the code words used by the religious handlers in these sects to insure that their followers avoid or discount any words from individuals who have been given this label. The next emotional connection is to apply this label to anyone who is critical of the sectarian line. Note the circularity.

Thus, other sects and non-Christian religions often receive this or some other pejorative label. Any objective comments about religions and ethical systems in general are presumed to come from atheists, hence devil worshipers and evil people bent on destroying the souls of the sectarian believers and are therefore to be discounted.

Does Mark think all discussions of topics involving sectarian views must be prefaced with assurances that the protagonist “sympathizes with”, “understands”, or is in some way validating the sectarian view and is only offering hypothetical critiques? Otherwise that person is evil in some way?

It is a verifiable fact that science has practitioners from nearly every religion, non-religion, or undeclared religion, who still all agree on the scientific evidence for evolution and the picture we have of the universe today. This is a better track record than even within some sects let alone among sects. Is this bad?

Comment #180339

Posted by David B. Benson on May 30, 2007 7:00 PM (e)

demallien —

Her Noodliness!

Comment #180408

Posted by Henry J on May 30, 2007 9:57 PM (e)

What does it take for you “Darwinists” to stop taking Mark’s bait?

Free pizza?

Henry

Comment #180412

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 30, 2007 10:13 PM (e)

bloody extortionist!

:P

Comment #180452

Posted by demallien on May 30, 2007 11:53 PM (e)

David Benson,

Pfft, you do of course have proof that Its Noodliness is female, don’t you?

RAmen

Comment #180481

Posted by Mike Elzinga on May 31, 2007 2:47 AM (e)

Way back in my earliest post (#176430, before Mark showed up) I was mentioning what I and some of my colleagues had observed back in the 1970s and 80s about the unusually persistent sets of misconceptions that are common and propagate within some of the fundamentalist communities.

It appears that the only significant change we have seen since then is the emphasis on the “materialism” shtick that was introduced primarily by Philip E. Johnson. By asserting that there are two justifiable ways of looking at evidence (one that includes supernatural revelation in the Christian bible, the other that contains only the evidence from the material world), it implies that both are justifiable but the one that admits the supernatural has to be superior by definition.

This, of course, goes back to Thomas Aquinas (with roots going back even farther to Augustine), who claimed that Man resides in the intersection of two worlds (a spiritual world and a material world) and draws knowledge from both. In principle the knowledge one obtains from both worlds must agree (after all, God made the world). However, if they do not agree, one is supposed to doubt the “corruptible knowledge” from the material world and give priority to the knowledge from the spiritual world because that comes directly from God by revelation. (Mark seems to think we don’t understand this concept.)

However, the rapid expansion of knowledge in the intervening centuries and our increased understanding of the development of religions have made this whole picture obsolete. Anyone who has studied this history knows what I am talking about. None of the ID/Creationists appear to have studied this history (or they are reading the corrupted version of history coming out of the Discovery Institute) so they believe they have come up with a new idea which makes them impervious because those of us who are corrupt can’t possibly see what they see from their supernatural insights.

So many of these ID/Creationists are both bulletproof and thin-skinned, meaning they are impervious to arguments from the “materialists” and sensitive to the barbs and arrows those godless devils throw at them. The latter makes them heroes and potential martyrs to their cohorts whenever they engage the atheistic Darwinists. This is an unbeatable combination. Unfortunately it is also wrong but they are imperviousness to the historical and scientific record as well.

Many here have patiently and extensively put forward the many reasons Mark’s “arguments” don’t hold water. You have more patience than I have.

I have developed a type of triage strategy in my own attempts to deal with the ID/Creationists. Generally, if an ID/Creationist comes loaded with a bunch of arguments, this one is already beyond “treatment” because he is armored-up and ready to do battle and is willing to accept martyrdom. So I tend to withhold knowledge and time from such an individual. Nothing works with them anyway. They are usually playing to some gallery.

At the other extreme are those who are comfortable with their philosophical and religious knowledge, are eager to learn and willing to put in the time and effort to do so. These I can help, and I don’t withhold knowledge and time from them.

In the middle are the ones who need broader theological and philosophical instruction as well as scientific instruction. I can handle the latter in my own areas of science, refer them experts in other areas of science, and refer them to well-respected theologians and philosophers for the rest.

Many of my colleagues over the years have not had sufficient exposure to the theological and philosophical issues and history to effectively sort these issues out. My own exposure was serendipitous. Back in the 1970s the Scientific Creationists were goading scientists into debates, and the scientists were thinking they were debating science. The rules of the debate were to “stick to the science”. They didn’t understand that the debate had nothing to do with science; it was really religious and (pseudo)philosophical. I saw a number of debates that were disasters for the scientists who didn’t pick up on the clues.

It seems to me that more of our scientific training will have to include these kinds of issues in the future. As long as much of our research money comes from the public, we owe it to them to at least understand the bigger picture. I have never regretted my exposure to these ideas. I think it made me a better researcher and instructor. It put my own research in a broader context and made it more interesting.

I personally find Mark’s world depressing and devoid of humor and potential.

Comment #180496

Posted by demallien on May 31, 2007 3:49 AM (e)

You have to admit though Mike that this thread is brilliant! How many other threads start off with a scientific paper, and then provide an interactive example of the paper’s subject for us to play with? It’s practical science gold! Kudos to Nick Matzke :-)

And now back to waiting for the next installment from our labrat :-)

Comment #180588

Posted by Mark Hausam on May 31, 2007 9:54 AM (e)

As I continue to reflect upon this conversation, it does seem that probably the biggest difference between my thinking and many of yours is that I take seriously the claim of the Bible to be a reliable revelation from God. I believe that God exists, and that it is possible to have such a revelation. I believe the Bible evidences itself to be such a revelation. This means that I come to the specifically scientific evidence for origins believing I have additional information on the subject, and that affects my interpretation of that evidence. Most of you seem to think the idea of revelation is inherently non-objective or non-evidential and cannot be part of one’s evaluation of the evidence. We have, therefore, a deeper philosophical disagreement that undoubtedly affects the way we evaluate things.

I am an empiricist, too. I think my arguments for the existence of God are empirical. They actually use the same kind of reasoning used by scientists (as well as by people in everyday life). Scientists believe they have found evidence of many planets orbiting distant stars. Many of them cannot be seen directly, so how do they know they are there? They deduce their existence from their gravitational effects on their stars. In a similar way, many of the classic proofs for God’s existence logically deduce the existence and much of the nature of God from empirical observations of the natural universe, one’s own consciousness, etc. There is a strong tendency among many scientists (and others) to want to separate “scientific arguments” from “religious” or “philosophical arguments,” but I think this is ultimately a false dichotomy that doesn’t hold up. Richard Dawkins seems to agree with this analysis. In The God Delusion, he rejects Gould’s NOMA and argues that the existence of God is a scientific question. Arguments for the existence of God are scientific arguments. of course, Dawkins thinks they are bad arguments whereas I think many of them are good. But if they are good arguments, then God would be scientifically established and all the implications of that (possibility of revelation, etc.) would have to be taken into account in further scientific research.

OK, let’s deal with some responses to responses to my arguments. I am going to try to go through these rather quickly. (OK, I’m naive. : ))

On rabbits being ruminents and bats being birds: Here are a couple of good websites that provide a good, more full response to these objections: http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v20/i4/… and http://www.tektonics.org/af/batbird.html. As I said before, these objections make the mistake of confusing real error with more laid-back biological descriptions. The Bible’s definition of “chew the cud” is broader than ours and can include rabbits. “Birds” in the Bible is a broader category than our modern one as well–it lumps pretty much all flying creatures together. So there are no errors here. A lot of times, accusations of biblical error or contradiction stem from a superficial and shallow reading of the text. It is actually, in some ways, similar to the “quote mining” practice many Darwinists think creationists constantly engage in.

Let me deal with some of the responses to my arguments about the existence of God. Thank you for your thoughts on this, for trying to point out specific objections. I am going to try to go VERY quickly through these, since there are a lot of small objections. If you don’t remember my post very well, you might have to go back and look at it to remember what I am responding to, since I must use a bit of shorthand here.

“All your arguments are simply ungrounded assertions.” No, they are not. They are based in good logical thinking. They are substantive arguments that need to be dealt with on a deeper level than being merely dismissed without serious consideration, which is what this response is doing.

“Time could have been going on forever in the past.” No, it couldn’t have. I am well aware that the concept of an infinite past does not mean there was a beginning infinitely long ago–that is not my point. My argument is that if you posit an infinite past, you will have to say that time has actually been going on infinitely, which means an infinite amount of time–say, an infinite number of minutes–has to have actually occurred. But it is impossible for an infinite amount of minutes to have actually occurred. That would be an inifinite series of minutes that will have been completed and traversed, but you can’t traverse or complete an infinite series. It would take literally forever to actually traverse an infinite number of minutes, and yet an implication of saying that the past has been going on forever is that we have actually traversed such an infinite. The past is not hypothetical. By definition, it has already, actually happened. If the past is infinite, then an infinite amount of time has actually already happened, not just hypothetically but really. But this is impossible by definition. So time cannot have been going on forever.

“Consciousness can be reduced to matter/energy.” No, it cannot. Glen didn’t even attempt to deal with my arguments here, so I don’t have much to say.

“Science starts with evidence, not with unproven assumptions.” That assumes my arguments are “unproven assumptions,” which they are not. They are good, even empirically-based arguments that therefore should constitute a part of the evidence that sciantists consider.

“There can be two totally unrelated things.” I argued that the Ultimate Reality has to be simple being, one thing without parts. One reason for this is that you cannot have two ultimate things, neither one derived from the other or from some higher reality. The reason is that any two things will always share a common reality. They will share laws of logic. They will be simiarl in some ways, if only by both existing, sharing the same laws of logic, etc. Such a situation will not be able to explain the unity of the universe we live in. If the two ultimate things were truly completely and utterly unrelated, they would not share a common reality. Since they do, we have to explain where that unifying reality comes from. Whatever exlains that unifying reality will be the real Ultimate Reality. To explain that unity, it cannot be a combination of two or more things totally unrelated to each other but must be a complete unity itself. This is a bit hard to articulate. I will be happy to go into greater depth if anyone is interested. At any rate, the logic of my argument stands. You simply cannot have two totally unrelated things constituting some unified Ultimate Reality.

“It is possible to have only one object that is bounded/limited.” No, it isn’t. When we talk about something being bounded in this context, we are saying it comes to an end and then there is more reality outside of it. Whatever that reality outside of it is, it is not identical with the original object (since it is outside of it). If it is not the object itself, it is something different from the object. So you will have at least two different “things” or parts of reality. For reality to be truly unified, you must have something without parts and without any other reality existing ultimate besides that one simple thing/being. If no other reality exists, that being would constitute the whole of reality and thus could have no other reality “outside” of it. It would thus have to be unbounded or unlimited (one meaning of the term “infinite”).

Sometimes we get confused dealing with these things because we fail to distinguish what really exists, what must exist, etc., with mathematical ideas or concepts that may be useful mathematically but which cannot exist in the real world. An infinite series, for example, can exist as a mathematical idea, but it is logically impossible that there should be a real infinite series of anything in real life. We can imagine mathematically an infinitesimal point, but such a point is impossible in reality. The concept of infinite as an unending series of finite amounts of something is not possible in reality. But if we mean by “infinite” something that is unbounded, not only is that possible, it must necessarily exist.

“Who created God?” No one. God is a self-existent being. He is a necessary being who is the origin of all causal chains. Something must be self-existent, unproduced from something else, or there would be no basis for the existence of anything. If everything borrows its energy from something else, we leave unexplained where the energy comes from. It must come from somewhere, and yet if everything borrows it from something else, there will be no place it can finally come from. At the back or bottom of all reality, there must be some self-existent reality, something that is the very ground of being, itself unproduced from anything else. This cannot be the universe we observe, because it exhibits properties (such as passing through time), which are incompatible with being self-existent. So there must be some transcendent reality. This plus other arguments lead us to condlude this ultimate, self-existent reality is God.

“God is no better than flying spaghetting monster.” I need more info on the nature of such a creature. I assume he is partially made of noodles. He would therfore be made of bounded parts, and therefore could not be the unified ground of all being (see original post and above for details). Therefore, he cannot be logically deduced from the observable universe. Therefore, I have no evidence for his existence.

“Revelation is obviously subjective and personal, and cannot constitute evidence.” I disagree. I think there are good, objective reasons for accepting the Bible as information from God. My theistic arguments are a part of my case for that.

“You keep saying you don’t understand things and then you say you do.” Like most people, I understand some things and not others. This is not exactly contradictory. I am very familiar with the philosophical (and yet still empirically-based) arguments for my position. I am very familiar with biblical exegesis. I am very familiar with how assumptions can play a role in our evaluations of evidence. I am not very familiar with the technical arguments for and against an old earth, although I have some basic overall knowledge.

“The Bible is not a science book.” That is true. It speaks in common-sense and phenomenological terms, rather than in strictly accurate 21st century biological or other scientific language. However, it does make understandable claims that mean something, and my assertion is that it is always right when it does so. The Bible seems to claim that for itself, so I find it inconsistent to claim to accept the Bible as revelation and then ignore what it says about itself and other things. We must be careful when we draw historical or scientific information from the Bible, because it doesn’t speak with scientific precision or intend to address all we want to know. However, we must respect its factual claims. As I said before, if the Bible claimed that rabbits habitually fly, that would be an error, plain and simple, because they don’t. When the Bible says God created the world in six days, it seems most reasonable to understand that according to its common-sense meaning. The context seems to support that as well.

“A lot of Christians read the Bible differently.” I know. But that doesn’t prove they are right.

OK, that is enough for now. I did get the info for the website Frank J gave me. Thanks. Any other book recommendations on Darwinism? I want something that is reasonably accessible to the non-specialist but is thorough.

Thanks!

Mark