An interesting exchange took place during the Q and A of a talk entitled “Georgia Public School Board Members’ Beliefs Concerning the Inclusion of Creationism in the Science Curriculum.” The speaker was Kathie Morgan of LIberty University.

The talk itself was unremarkable, even by the crushingly low standards of creationist scholarship. The premise was that there are ways of bringing creationism into the classroom, in the form of supplementary materials beyond what the state requirements mandate, that do not run afoul of any Supreme Court rulings. Morgan and her colleagues decided to investigate the relationship between the personal beliefs of school board members, and their receptivity to the idea of bringing creationism into the science classroom.

A look at their paper reveals that they used a random sample of 144 people out of one thousand thirty-four board members. These folks were then sent a survey, which was answered by 66, or forty-six percent of the people.

Pretty thin gruel for a serious statistical study, but since their conclusions were so thoroughly unremarkable (turns out that young-Earthers are more receptive than old-Earthers to including creationism in the classroom), I’m not inclined to quibble with them.

I had intended to remain quiet during the Q and A. The only part of the talk that provoked a raised eyebrow from me was when Morgan actually opened her talk with a prayer, and, besides, I didn’t feel it was my job to challenge every bit of nonsense to come down the road. But then an enthusiastic young woman identifying herself as affiliated with the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School got up and unleashed the following:

We were just denied the right to grant degrees in the state of Texas, because we were considered to be fraudulent by teaching creation science. I don’t think Christians understand the depth of the stronghold evolutionists have in our system. They have engineered things to stop anything that we say, to report anything that we say. I was just reading an article that said that people’s faith, their belief , and their commitment to their belief is what makes the difference in whether or not they will accept what teachers teach about evolution. So I think we need to look at our churches and start really building up our kids so that their faith is strong. And then I’m also thinking about the idea that these scientists that looked at our program said that we don’t use inquiry. Boy, I wish they would come to this conference because they would see that we do scientific inquiry. And I just think that we need to step forward so that we can stand up for what we know is right. I don’t know if you realize that the National Science Teachers Association even has a list of questions and answers for the teachers supposed to give to students if they bring up religion in the classroom. That it’s just a myth, that we’re not talking about our religious beliefs when we talk about creation and that we need to move on to what is true science. And they so indoctrinate kids that it’s also destroying their faith in the end because they are told that what they believe is not true.

And this to me is another thing we need to look into. It’s almost like Hitler’s time. It’s almost like we are being so indoctrinated, and our teachers are being taught, in our state schools, the answers to give when students ask questions. And furthermore it’s in our state objectives we are supposed to be able to teach both the weaknesses and strengths of evolution, but there’s hardly anyone who knows the weaknesses of evolution because nobody teaches it. And we need to get people together and have a plan in place for the education system, so we can move forward. ACLU can put out all these little fires all over the place just like in Georgia. They see something come up and they send a bunch of their Gestapo people there to thwart whatever is going on. And we need to have some sort of meeting of educators so we can start doing something about it. (Emphasis Added)

Oh bruh – ther. Couldn’t let that one slide. I don’t know what she was talking about regarding the NSTA, but those Hitler comparisons really bug me. So I got in line at the microphone and after waiting patiently for a few other questioners to finish (one of whom was eager to inform us that Darwinists know they have no data to refute all the evidence of a young Earth presented at the conference’s opening presentation, and rely on such repressive tactics to cover up this lack) I offered the following:

I don’t really have a question but I would like to make a comment to the speaker a few questioners ago. I would request that you not make such casual comparisons to Hitler. When you’re forced to wear yellow stars as a prelude to getting rounded up into train cars and the rest of it, then you can compare your situation to Hitler. And don’t liken the ACLU to the Gestapo. These are people who are filing lawsuits in a legal proceeding to protest what they believe are violations of civil rights, and these lawsuits then get adjudicated in a lawful process. That ain’t the Gestapo. So I would ask that you tone it down a little bit.

The woman looked somewhat abashed as I said this. Less impressed was Jerry Bergman, who got up to speak after me. True connoisseurs of creationism will recognize the name, since he is something of a celebrity among the young-Earthers. Here’s what he had to say:

Let me respond to that. I just finished a book called Slaughter of the Dissidents, with the subtitle The Shocking Truth About Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters. It’s three volumes, fifteen hundred pages. I interviewed hundreds of people whose careers were ended, they ended up in divorce and suicide, quite a few suicides. There’s quite a bit of physical violence, people who have been beaten up. And it’s true, you’re point is well-taken …

At this point I called out from the audience:

You’re comparing that to six million people who lost their lives.

Bergman continued:

That’s true, we’re not being put into concentration camps. But I know people who have not worked in twenty years. I know a person with two doctoral degrees who has been unable to find work in fifteen years. It’s pressing, doing this. It’s very pressing, my wife won’t read it, she proofs most everything I do and she will not read this becuase she says it’s too depressing as to what’s going on. It really is, in many ways we’re faced with enormous opposition and I see it as getting worse. I hope not, I hope I’m wrong. But pick up my book it shoud be at the printer this week and if you want information about it I’ll be glad to give it to you.

But it’s really a major problem, and the Darwinists are really getting vicious, they really are. We are, I would say, following the history of Nazi Germany. They went through four periods of persecution against the Jews specifically, we’re in the second period in this country. And it’s true we have two more to go and I hope it doesn’t go there, but it’s edging up there especially when you realize what happens in the lives of these people. And it’s a huge waste of resources. What bothers me most is how vicious the Darwinists are. Really, really vicious people. I’d love to argue about this and I don’t like to talk so much with people who agree with me. I’d rather talk to people who disagree with me. It’s far more invigorating. And I’ve found you can’t dialogue with Darwinists by and large. You just can’t do it. It’s a barrage of name-calling. Up on the platform I have several times literally had people come up on the stage and try to pull me off the stage. I’ve had people threaten my work. The college is getting tired of people calling, the college where I teach at, of trying to get me fired. They’re tired of it, it happens so often. Fortunatly they defended me. But many schools, like Gonzales, one reason he lost his career was because the college got tired of people calling up and saying you’ve got to fire this guy because he’s an ID supporter. He’s a theistic evolutionist, by the way. They can’t even deal with theistic evolutionists they only can accept more and more atheists. So I’m glad we have Liberty University around, we’ve got a few schools, so read what’s going on and you won’t have such a benign opinion about what’s happening. It’s really frightening.

I think it would take three volumes and fifteen hundred pages just to catalog the crazy in that melodramatic soliloquy. A person defending Hitler and Gestapo comparisons complaining about vicious name-calling? A person who thinks Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure in any measure because his school was receiving hostile phone calls telling us about the state of affairs in academe? Please.

I was tempted to get up again to reply, but the moderator stepped in to inform us that time was fast running out, and that only the people already standing would have a chance to ask their questions. Probably for the best. I have a general policy at these gatherings of saying my piece and then shutting up, regardless of what provocation comes down the road. Better to look calm and undistrubed than to seem shrill and obnoxious.

Incidentally, his subtly titled book has its own web site, though it seems that most of the links are not active. I would also invite you to check out the Wikipedia article on Bergman for some interesting information about his background.

The original questioner got up and sort of apologized:

I just wanted to comment, because, you’re right, I made statements that were very strong. But you know what, I think we are going to have to wake up, and we’re asleep.

Then it was off to the races for several minutes of reiteration of what she said previously. The way she said “you’re right” suggested that she wished she hadn’t availed herself of such hyperbole, but otherwise she stood by everything she said.

After the talk several people thanked me for having raised the issue. Indeed, on several occasions people later stopped me in the hall to tell me they agreed with the point I had raised. One elderly gentleman commended my statement. Then he went on to tell me that it’s clear the Darwinists are not interested in promoting science, because they sued over the Cobb County sticker, and that sticker only called for students to think critically about evolution. It said nothing about creationism.

I replied that he had it backward. It was clear that the school board was not interested in promoting critical thinking, because they were offered a compromise sticker that would have told students to be critical and skeptical of all scientific theories, not just evolution. That sticker was rejected, proving that the board’s interest was in singling out evolution for special treatment, which could have only a religious and not a scientific motive.

The conversation quickly turned to other matters.

So that’s it for now. Let me close with a few photos. Looks like the creationists are coming for our Scandinavian friends:



and for the children:



Have a nice day!

Comments

  1. #1 I am so wise
    August 24, 2008

    For any creationists out there, here is a good rule of thumb to live by- If you have to sneak about, engage in covert action, and lie about your intentions, and you are not a CIA operative or planning a surprise party or popping the question , then what you doing is probably illegal, if not immoral.

  2. #2 anevilmeme
    August 24, 2008

    Creationists really are ego maniacs, its not all about them. The big bad education system treats astrologers, alchemists, spoon benders, et al the same way; if it isn’t science it doesn’t belong.

  3. #3 MPW
    August 24, 2008

    Man, that was depressing.

    How do you convince people who are so willing and able to fabricate and (probably) believe an utterly fictional narrative of what’s going on in the world around them – indeed, in some cases, about what’s going right in front of their faces?

    I guess you mostly can’t, and marginalizing their influence is the best route. I’m heartened to think that these sorts of diehard loonies are a pretty small minority. I do believe that to be true – most evolution deniers or doubters among ordinary citizens don’t really think or care much about it, they’re just nodding and saying, “Ok, yeah” to people like this, whom they’ve been taught to accept as authorities (probably true of the bulk of evolution accepters, too, to be honest). But they help give this small minority an outsized influence. The less power the diehards have in culture, politics and especially education, the faster their numbers of their movement will shrink.

    How do you do that, though? The knock-down, drag-out, legal and political battles fought by organizations like the ACLU and the National Center for Science Education are an important element, but they’re far from being enough.

    Slaughter of the Dissidents… Jesus H. Christ in a breadbasket. I almost threw my computer out the window when I read that. The chutzpah of these people is mindboggling.

  4. #4 Russell
    August 24, 2008

    Most of us who were raised in a conservative religious setting, and who developed an interest in science, resolved that conflict in our own minds at a young age. It is almost unfathomable to me the amount of cognitive dissonance carried by a creationist who pursues science to any depth, especially in the life or earth sciences. I am not surprised that it eventually leads some to suicide, realizing how much time they have wasted and intellectual masturbation they have practiced defending a silly ideology, and others to imagining they are living in a demon-ridden world, where most of the people around them are active or passive conspirators against The Truth.

    How sad.

  5. #5 Dan
    August 24, 2008

    Congratulations on being able to deliver such a succinct and coherent response under what must have been great pressure (of both the psychological and the blood sorts)!

  6. #6 Rikard
    August 24, 2008

    Oh no, was Mats Molén there? He’s the high priest of Swedish creationists, and every bit as intellectually honest as those folks you have in the States. But he’s pretty much on his own, him and a few hundred other people in the Genesis organization, I believe.

  7. #7 Rikard
    August 24, 2008

    That should have been “Mats Molen” with an acute accent on the e. Don’t know why that didn’t work…

  8. #8 Pierce R. Butler
    August 24, 2008

    How did Jerry Bergman interview the “quite a few” dissidents who committed suicide?

  9. #10 SteveL
    August 24, 2008

    Education is not value-neutral. Children cannot go to public school (or any school) for years and never be exposed there to any issues of morality, philosophy, or ethics: Never in science, never in sexuality education, never in history, never in social studies.

    That’s just absurd. So the question is how should such moral issues be broached, and what to do when the moral discussion goes in a different direction than what the child is hearing at home or in his church. The theory of evolution is just one example of something with potentially uncomfortable philosophical implications. But you can’t teach American history or world history or social studies either, without getting into some controversial topics that might upset some parents.

    When I went to junior high school in the 1960s, the Vietnam War was raging, and Israel had just fought the 1967 Middle East war successfully. And the curriculum for the Social Studies class that year was supposed to cover Asia and the Middle East. There is no way that my Social Studies teacher could avoid talking about Vietnam and Israel, since those events were dominating the headlines every night. And yes, some of his comments he made upset some of the students, particularly comments that were perceived to be anti-Israel. But back then, parents didn’t have this hair-trigger activism to call in the lawyers every time their kids were exposed to something provocative at school. So the teacher got away with it, and the class had a good discussion.

  10. #11 Rich
    August 25, 2008

    As a theistic evolutionist I need to make a comment. This blog has from time to time has taken theistic evolutionists to task. But to extrapolate from that the jobs of TEs are in jeopardy or that there is some atheist conspiracy against TEs is laughable.

    “They can’t even deal with theistic evolutionists they only can accept more and more atheists.”

    I don’t know. Jason seems to be doing just fine. Criticism doesn’t equal persecution. I agree by making that equivalence really cheapens what happened during the Holocaust and should shock any right-minded Christian.

  11. #12 Pseudonym
    August 25, 2008

    But to extrapolate from that the jobs of TEs are in jeopardy or that there is some atheist conspiracy against TEs is laughable.

    Indeed. I haven’t seen a criticism of Ken Miller anywhere in the science blogosphere that, when distilled, is any stronger than “I don’t get it”.

  12. #13 386sx
    August 25, 2008

    .They can’t even deal with theistic evolutionists they only can accept more and more atheists.

    So hows come the Discovery Institute people are always calling theistic evolutionists who aren’t creationists “Darwinists”?

    I don’t think anybody knows what a Darwinist is. I don’t think anybody knows what a Creationist is. And I don’t think anybody knows what a theistic evolutionist is. Especially Bergman, who probably doesn’t know what anything at all is. He seems very confused.

  13. #14 386sx@gmail.com
    August 25, 2008

    Indeed. I haven’t seen a criticism of Ken Miller anywhere in the science blogosphere that, when distilled, is any stronger than “I don’t get it”.

    That’s because Ken Miller is probably a Darwinist. Yeah, I know it don’t make sense.

  14. #15 Snark
    August 25, 2008

    Ah well….about that whole “Atheism = Hitler” crap. Just quote from the official party program of the NSDAP (vulgo: The Nazis):
    Paragraph 24: … Die Partei als solche vertritt den Standpunkt eines positiven Christentums, ohne sich konfessionell an ein bestimmtes Bekenntnis zu binden.

    An attempt of translation:
    … . The party as such (the national socialist party, that is) takes the standpoint of positive christianity (e.g. actively promoting christianity), without binding itself to a certain confession.

    There simply was NEARLY NO Resistance or even controversy in the third Reich between Christianity and the Nazis.
    How could there have been ? Nearly all Nazis were christians, the rest were “Gottgläubige”.

  15. #16 Soren
    August 25, 2008

    As a Dane I am very interested in who are coming for me, but the image (DSC00376.JPG) is not showing, could you please fix it?

    Cheers

  16. #17 SLC
    August 25, 2008

    Re Ken Miller

    Prof. Miller rejects the sobriquet “theistic evolutionist.” The following is a piece of a response which he posted as a comment on Larry Morans’ blog.

    “And, to respond to John Farrell’s comment, I am not a “theistic evolutionist.” Rather, I am an evolutionist who happens also to be a theist. I do not use theism as a causal explanation for anything in science, including evolution. Nor would any scientist.”

    In the interest of accuracy I think that it is more accurate to describe the position of Prof. Miller as one who accepts methodological naturalism and philosophical theism while Prof. Moran accepts methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. The first is science, the second is philosophy. The problem is that both hardline atheists like Prof. Moran and hardline creationists like Kurt Wise insist that the first implies the second, a position rejected by folks like Ken Miller, and I suspect, Prof. Rosenhouse.

  17. #18 heddle
    August 25, 2008

    SLC,

    Spot on.

  18. #19 JimV
    August 25, 2008

    Thanks, Blake Stacy, for your list, with its credible references. Now I would like to see the creationists present an equally credible list, with documented death threats and so on; until then, Gestapo talk sounds like a classic case of bearing false witness.

  19. #20 heddle
    August 25, 2008

    JimV,

    Not all of Blake Stacy’s list is credible–in fact he makes the same mistake as the creationists who argue persecution–that is to accept any such claim uncritically. Take, for example, the case of Paul Mirecki. Stacy writes:

    He had displayed an acerbic tongue in online discussion forums

    I think “stupid” is more accurate than “acerbic.” Hitchens is acerbic; Mirecki writes like a ten year old. What Mirecki wrote that caused the furor was:

    The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category ‘mythology,’

    Phrases like “their big fat face” do not qualify as acerbic, but rather, when describing the purpose of a course you are scheduled to teach, as idiotic. As does the way he signed the comment:

    Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P.

    Upsetting the religious right might indeed be an understandable part of someone’s motivation to teach a course. But bragging about it prior to the first day of class is just plain stupid. There is supposed to be, at the very least, an illusion of objectivity.

    So when Blake Stacy writes

    Sympathy for a physically assaulted human being did not stay the KU administration, who forced him to step down as department chair.

    He is being, arguably disingenuous. He ignores the plausible explanation that KU asked him to step down because, from Mirecki’s own stupid actions, he had become a frackin’ crackin’ embarrassment.

    As for the assault, Stacy writes:

    that apology and change of plan did not prevent two men from beating him in the street one December morning, for the crimethink of having proposed the class in the first place.

    Has it been demonstrated that the two good ‘ole boys in a pickup tracked Mirecki in the early morning and beat him because of the class? I think it has not–and accepting the claim uncritically is a symptom that Stacy is as irrational as the creationists in blindly enumerating cases of alleged persecution, each one accepted as gospel.

    Stacy presenting Mirecki as a victim of persecution is no better and perhaps not even as compelling than those who present Gonzalez as a martyr, and that case is weak.

  20. #21 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    The theory of evolution is a philosophical position and as such should be taught alongside other philosophical postions. it has no place in science classes, just as creationism has no place in science classes.

    Teach the theory in Philosophy where it belongs.

  21. #22 SLC
    August 25, 2008

    Re Nigel Harrison

    The Theory of Relativity is philosophy, not science. It should be taught in philosophy courses, not science courses.

    The germ theory of disease is philosophy, not science. It should be taught in philosophy courses, not science courses.

    Of course, regular readers of this blog recognize the previous two statements as snark.

  22. #23 Glen Davidson
    August 25, 2008

    If a theory claims to be able to explain some phenomenon but does not generate even an attempt at an explanation, then it should be banished. Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box p.186

    Unsurprisingly, he was there suggesting that evolution ought to be banished–and from science, not just the schools. But if it’s a principle (and not the propaganda that it appears to be), he’s certainly given the go-ahead to keeping ID/creationism out of science and the schools.

    And no, Behe, evolution doesn’t claim to explain everything (yet, at least), just a whole lot. ID/creationism explains nothing.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  23. #24 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    Re: Posted by: SLC | August 25, 2008 11:19 AM

    The theory of relativity and germ theory are not positioned as explanations of the origin of life or how/why man exists.

    The theory of evolution is a philosophical position masquerading as science, just as inteligent design/”scientifc creationism” is.

    Theories need to be weighed against the facts that are available. Even Dawkins, Sagan, Huxley, etc. all are on the record, in one form or another, as saying the fact that life exists is a miracle/stroke of luck and against incredible odds. But they chose evolution because the other possibility, that of an intelligent designer is unacceptable to them. – That is not only a statement of faith, falling back on miracles and luck have no place in science, it is disingenuous at best.

  24. #25 Mark Duigon
    August 25, 2008

    I was just reading an article that said that people’s faith, their belief , and their commitment to their belief is what makes the difference in whether or not they will accept what teachers teach about evolution. So I think we need to look at our churches and start really building up our kids so that their faith is strong.

    That might only work for, well, certain churches that, unlike most of the mainstream churches, do have a problem with science and evolution.

  25. #26 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    Re: Posted by: Mark Duigon | August 25, 2008 1:03 PM

    Agree no-one should never be afraid of where the facts may lead. Unfortunately on both the evolution and creation side of the debate, ignorance and fear are widespread due to peoples own presuppositional baggage.

    Hence we see certain members of the scientific community ridicule their own, such as Dean Kenyon, author of Biochemical Predestination, when they start to seriously consider an intelligent designer and likewise we see churches put up the shutters, saying “just have faith” and making ridiculous statements about science out of fear. I.e. essentially weak faith.

  26. #27 SLC
    August 25, 2008

    Re Nigel Harrison

    1. As usual, Mr. Harrison posts the same old crap that all creationists spew, namely conflating evolution with the origin of life. The theory of evolution is not, repeat is not, a theory of the origin of life. They are two entirely separate fields of investigation. This is the big lie that creationists spout and would give credit to Josef Goebbels, the father of the big lie.

    2. There is more evidence supporting the theory of evolution then almost any other scientific theory, certainly more then supports the General Theory of Relativity.

    3. Dean Kenyon is a young earth creationist. This is why he has no credibility in the scientific community. Young earth creationism not only is in conflict with evolution, it is in conflict with physics geology, astronomy and cosmology. Dr. Kenyon is a crackpot in the mold of Ken Ham and Kent Hovind.

  27. #28 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    Re: Posted by: SLC | August 25, 2008 1:36 PM

    Dr Kenyon was revered by the “evolutionists” when he authored “Biochemical Predestination” and it stayed that way for many years.

    The theory of evolution always makes the “faith” leap of adaptation to macro evolution and from macro evolution to origins – high school biology text books today have about 80 pages out of the 500 odd that make these philosophical leaps.

    The “scientific father” – Darwin titled his book “Origin of the species…” despite that it had nothing to do with Origins – so I guess he is the father of the lie!!

    There may be more “evidence” in your opinion, with regards to evolution than the theory of relativity, however, the point was the theory of relativity does not make a faith based leap to origins.

  28. #29 Jon
    August 25, 2008

    Nigel, tell me:

    If evolution can create small lasting changes which are beneficial, how can it not create large lasting changes which are beneficial?

    This is not a leap of faith. It’s a logical necessity, unless you, or other creationists, can account for a physical mechanism which prevents it. This isn’t even bringing in the evidence which indirectly supports macroevolution.

    It is not possible to admit microevolution is true, with full understanding of what microevolution is, without also admitting that macroevolution happens.

    There’s nothing philosophical going on here. Thousands of small, beneficial changes add up to one large beneficial change. Many large changes add up to an even larger change. What physical mechanism allows for small beneficial changes, but not large ones?

  29. #30 Jon
    August 25, 2008

    The “scientific father” – Darwin titled his book “Origin of the species…” despite that it had nothing to do with Origins – so I guess he is the father of the lie!!

    Completely untrue. The origin of species. In other words, the origin of the diversity of life. The title is perfectly apropos.

  30. #31 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    Jon;

    No one is saying small changes can not logically add up to a big change, the evidence just does not show it.

    So yes it is possible to admit adaptation is true, we see it, in the finches, the spotted moth, bacteria etc.

    BTW – On origin of the species you will then of course agree with the rest of the title, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” – which is one of many reasons why I have an issue on evolution, one of the logical conclusions is without a doubt racism.

  31. #32 Interrobang
    August 25, 2008

    Creationists really don’t have any new rhetorical material, do they? We have, in short order, a creationist claiming that the academy is Hitleresque and the ACLU is equivalent to the Gestapo, another creationist saying that name-calling is “really vicious,” a creationist complaining about a tone problem rather than the substance of an argument, a creationist confusing abiogenesis with evolution (hint: they’re not the same), and a creationist confusing the Victorian meaning of the term “race” with the modern meaning of the term “race,” thereby concluding (again!) that Darwin was some kind of racist. (Hint: The usages are not the same either. The Victorian usage was a lot closer to what we’d use the word “species” to describe now, and not what we would use the term “race” to describe.)

    If this were the Saturday night Bingo, I’d have won the toaster oven by now.

  32. #33 Dave
    August 25, 2008

    Nigel,

    Why do you think that, given universal common descent, “one of the logical conclusions is without a doubt racism.”?

    One of the most fascinating facts that falls out of evolution, or common descent with modification, is that we’re all related to each other. Though I’ve never met you, nonetheless I know that somewhere along the line, perhaps through my aunt, several-hundred-times-removed, we’re kin. If we go back farther in the family trees, we connect not just humans to other humans, but we also discover a lineage that links us to every single other living thing on our little planet here. What could possible be less racist?

  33. #34 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    Interrobang;

    Where is your linguistic evidence that the term race in the Victorian era was closer aligned to what we today call species. That is nothing more than a matter of your opinion.

    Further, it is evolutionists that make the leap from adaptation to our origins from a common ancestor and another leap to life arising from some soup of chemicals, despite the overhwelming evidence to the contrary. So whilst you say the concepts are not the same, why do evolutionists persist in making the leap?

  34. #35 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    Dave;

    “Though I’ve never met you, nonetheless I know that somewhere along the line, perhaps through my aunt, several-hundred-times-removed, we’re kin.”

    And this is the same position a theist, particuarly Judeo-Christian should logically reach as well. So we agree in that regard.

    Unfortunately that was not and is not the case with many noted evolutionists, nor is it the case with some other faiths such as Mormonism as just one example.

  35. #36 pough
    August 25, 2008

    Guys, Nigel is pretty obviously a satire. Nobody can be that dumb.

  36. #37 Jon
    August 25, 2008

    No one is saying small changes can not logically add up to a big change, the evidence just does not show it.

    If small changes logically lead to big changes, but you’re claiming that in a specific case they cannot, then what must logically happen? You have to say why in this specific case it cannot.

    In this case there’s all the evidence in the world that it happens, namely A) a huge diversity of life on this planet B) transitional forms which detail change over time with great predictability, C) the common genetic and phylogenetic basis of all life, D) preserved ERVs in the genetic code, E) breeding experiments which produce novel features (most recently the Lenski study), et cetera.

    BTW – On origin of the species you will then of course agree with the rest of the title, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” – which is one of many reasons why I have an issue on evolution, one of the logical conclusions is without a doubt racism.

    Oh, so now you’re oh so interested in logical conclusions, are you? You’ve obviously never read the book. Agree? If so, I wonder how you can possibly judge a book based upon its title alone. Perhaps you’re not familiar with the aphorism concerning books and their covers.

    I’ll drop you a hint, though. The way people used words 200 years ago and the way they use them today is slightly different.

  37. #38 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    Pough – you represent the typical position of why these discussions nver get very far.

    Jon – there is a huge diversity, my position does not say there wouldn’t be.

    Transitional forms (here we go) show the abundant transitional forms both now and from the past. You know very well you have at best five examples all of which are debatable.

    The common basis of life, again my position does not say that there wouldn’t be.

    Show me the breeding experiments that produced a new species.

    Did you want to debate linguistic analysis and evolution of language? The use of some words has changed over time, but you made the statement that the meaning of race around 200 years ago was closer to species, is there any evidence other than your opinon because it fits your argument?

  38. #39 Nigel Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    BTW – it’s been great, thanks all for the discussion.

    Cheers

  39. #40 Steve
    August 25, 2008

    “And this is the same position (we’re all kin) a theist, particuarly Judeo-Christian should logically reach as well.”

    Unfortunately, “Judeo-Christians” have actively promoted and acted upon racist ideas for thousands of years, and they have claimed Biblical justifications while doing so. I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church, a convention founded on the principle that that Bible said that blacks were inferior and that God blessed slavery. It seems have have taken a very, very long time for the “logic” of the Bible to lead to a less racist world.

  40. #41 pough
    August 25, 2008

    Pough – you represent the typical position of why these discussions nver get very far.

    Right back atcha! So many incorrect assumptions piled on top of one another (race, origin, theory) makes it so terribly difficult to even get to the same starting point. You’re just a big bundle of wrong that has to be unbundled first. And that’s only if you’re actually serious and not just someone driving by to yank a few chains. Dealing with Poe’s Law issues can be really frustrating.

    On the off-chance you’re both serious and willing to learn:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(biology)

    Oh and regarding macroevolution: if there’s one thing my creationist, math teacher dad ever taught me about math, it’s that you can never get to a million by increments of one.

  41. #42 pough
    August 25, 2008

    Not only that, but evolution is descriptive, not prescriptive. Is versus ought. Even if good ol’ Darwin thought that evolution by natural (and sexual) selection gave any kind of foundation to racism (which I doubt he did), he would have been wrong. Obviously wrong. It isn’t what’s supposed to happen, it’s merely what has happened.

    And if you can’t get that distinction, I’d love to watch you sputter while watching CSI. The nerve of them telling people not only that they ought to murder, but also how!

  42. #43 Tyler DiPietro
    August 25, 2008

    “Show me the breeding experiments that produced a new species.”

    That would depend on your definition of “species”. For instance breeding experiments on drosophila (fruit flies) have produced reproductive isolation, a common standard for speciation.

  43. #44 SLC
    August 25, 2008

    Re nigel hamilton

    1. By races, Darwin and 19th century naturalist meant the same thing as todays naturalists mean by varieties. The term race as they used it had nothing to do with human races.

    2. By origin of species, Darwin meant the evolution of new species from older species. This has nothing to do with the origin of life. Mr. Hamilton is either ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked (but I don’t want to consider that). I agree with Mr. pough that the last may well be accurate.

    3. Like any scientific theory, evolution makes testable hypotheses. For instance, evolution says that if chimpanzees with 48 chromosomes and humans with 46 chromosomes have a common ancestor, then the one of the 46 human chromosomes must be the fusion of 2 chromosomes. Guess what, human chromosome 2 has 2 centromeres and 4 telomeres, indicating a fusion of 2 chromosomes, just as evolution predicts. Of course, creationism doesn’t predict anything so is untestable.

  44. #45 Jim Harrison
    August 25, 2008

    What makes the ascription of racism to Charles Darwin particularly unfair is the fact that he was strongly antislavery. Darwin almost got thrown off the Beagle for arguing against the Captain’s proslavery Toryism. Liberal attitudes ran in the family. To promote the anti-slavery campaign, Darwin’s grandfather, the potter Josiah Wedgwood, produced a famous medal with the legend, “Am I not a man and a brother?” Darwin’s other grandfather, Erasmus Darwin described it in his poem the Botanic Garden:

    The slave, in chains on supplicating knee,
    Spreads his wide arms, and lifts his eye to Thee;
    With hunger pale, with wounds and toil opress’d,
    “Are we not brothers?” Sorrown chokes the rest

    Laying a charge of racism against Darwin is simply Swift Boating.

  45. #46 Joe
    August 25, 2008

    I wouldn’t waste too much time presenting evidence for transtions to Nigel Harrison. He’s shown that his primary response to such evidence is to ignore it and/or dance around it, as in this exchange:

    http://www.progressiveu.org/212446-the-transitional-fossil-challenge-for-creationists

  46. #47 Joe
    August 25, 2008

    I should add that Nigel’s contribution is to be found about halfway down the comments section of the post. I guess it could be a different Nigel Harrison, but these two Nigels certainly sound alike.

  47. #48 Luna_the_cat
    August 26, 2008

    Wait, I have a question for Nigel.


    …it is evolutionists that make the leap from adaptation to our origins from a common ancestor and another leap to life arising from some soup of chemicals, despite the overhwelming evidence to the contrary.

    OK, tell us: WHAT “overhwelming evidence to the contrary”? What is this “evidence”? Vague handwaves are absolutely unacceptable, here; you need to be able to answer in precisely as much detail as the answers available about evolution have. For example, when I say “speciation has been observed in the spontaneous appearance of the fully fertile species Spartina anglica, as the result of a polyploid mutation in a sterile hybrid; speciation has also been observed in Fusarium oxysporum (strain LCH I) as the result of mutations leading to the evolution of a novel PEThydrolase”, YOU have to be able to say why this does not represent evolution in its most classic sense, and you should be able to provide specific counter-examples of named and explicated species or mechanisms which could not possibly have been the result of evolution.

    Go on, do.

  48. #49 Valhar2000
    August 26, 2008

    This post almsot made me cry. I just don’t get how things can have degenerated to this point, nor do I see how they cna get better. In fact, the more I learn about this the more it seems to me that the US is headed to near-complete destruction, similar to what Germany experienced after its total defeat in WW2 (relax, it’s not a Godwin).

    Once these people have strecthed the US military enough with their invasions, destroyed education, destroyed the environment and crippled the economy, then the country will fall, and people will finally be inescapably forced to see just how toxic this ideology is.

    However, the suffring inflicted on americans (not to speak of the rest of humanity) during this process will be unimaginable.

  49. #50 Draconiz
    August 26, 2008

    “it seems to me not improbable that if we could succeed in naturalising, or were to cultivate, during many generations, the several races, for instance, of the cabbage, in very poor soil”
    The origin of species

    Yes, Darwin was very racist, about cabbages!!!

  50. #51 Jason
    August 26, 2008

    Nigel has run away. Like most creationists, he think that simply making the statement “no transitions” equals evidence and/or a valid argument. Bye-bye Nigel.

  51. #52 Peter Henderson
    August 26, 2008

    Indeed. I haven’t seen a criticism of Ken Miller anywhere in the science blogosphere that, when distilled, is any stronger than “I don’t get it”.

    I would disagree somewhat. PZ Meyers recently described Christians who accepted evolution as being “wishy washy”. When asked about Prof. Ken Miller he replied “Ken Miller is a wishy washy Catholic”. It seems that certain Aitheists, for some strange reason, have even more disdain for TEs than for the YECs.

    As a theistic evolutionist I need to make a comment. This blog has from time to time has taken theistic evolutionists to task.

    I sometinmes feel the same way as Rich on this one. Do Atheists not realise that most Christians who accept evolution are probably TEs ?????

    As for Nigel Harrison, those who describe evolution as philosophy are usually YECs. The idea that the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old is not even philosophy. I was once told (in a philosophy class) that the definition of Philosophy is the pursuit of knowledge. Young Earth Creationism doesn’t even fall into this catagory.

    Jason: I’m surprised you didn’t bring up the comments made recently by geocentrist YEC Tom Willis i.e. that evolutionists should be removed from society and put in concentration camps.

  52. #53 minimalist
    August 26, 2008

    It seems pretty apparent that running away was Nigel’s intent all along, given that he followed up a post with a bunch of questions, four minutes later with a post that basically said “kthxbye”.

    Rarely have I seen a creationist so quick, upfront, and honest about his unwillingness to hear the answers.

  53. #54 JimCH
    August 26, 2008

    Rarely have I seen a creationist so quick, upfront, and honest about his unwillingness to hear the answers.

    Really? Maybe here or in group settings, I guess. But one-on-one, I experience creationists saying that they “just don’t want to hear anymore” at some point in the conversation & walking away … all the time.

  54. #55 SLC
    August 26, 2008

    Re Peter Henderson

    Apparently Mr. Henderson missed my comment about Ken Miller posted earlier on this thread so I will repeat it. Prof. Miller rejects, repeat rejects the sobriquet theistic evolutionist. Form Larry Morans’ blog, here is a comment from Prof. Miller:

    “And, to respond to John Farrell’s comment, I am not a “theistic evolutionist.” Rather, I am an evolutionist who happens also to be a theist. I do not use theism as a causal explanation for anything in science, including evolution. Nor would any scientist.”

  55. #56 pough
    August 26, 2008

    It seems that certain Atheists, for some strange reason, have even more disdain for TEs than for the YECs.

    More disdain? Seriously? “Wishy-washy” trumps “idiot”, “moron” and “creotard”? You play by a different set of rules.

  56. #57 minimalist
    August 26, 2008

    But one-on-one, I experience creationists saying that they “just don’t want to hear anymore” at some point in the conversation & walking away … all the time.

    Sure, but do they do that before you’ve even had the chance to reply? Usually they wait for you to start citing facts before their brains start going all DAIIISY… DAIIIIIIISYYYYY….

  57. #58 JimV
    August 26, 2008

    Not all of Blake Stacy’s list is credible–in fact he makes the same mistake as the creationists who argue persecution–that is to accept any such claim uncritically. Take, for example, the case of Paul Mirecki …

    Posted by: heddle | August 25, 2008 10:39 AM

    (That deserved a quicker response than this. The fact that I left on a short visit to relatives after my initial comment here is an explanation for but does not excuse my belated reply.)

    I should have said the list seems quite credible to me, but that I did not fact-check it or consider possible alternate explanations. I try to choose my words carefully when making comments (with the result of sounding stilted most of the time), but don’t always succeed.

    If I could accomplish some good end by successfully guessing whether Mr. Mirecki was assaulted as a result of his atheistic views or for some other reason, I would pick Blake Stacy’s supposition as more probable than not. However, in a jury, presented with the question and the same amount of evidence, I would have to vote that the accusation was not proven.

    I remain grateful to Blake Stacy for researching and presenting his list, but the more thoroughly it is vetted the better it will be, and one way to do that is to consider contrary opinions. (Of course, I hope the creationists will do the same.)

  58. #59 Peter Henderson
    August 27, 2008

    Apparently Mr. Henderson missed my comment about Ken Miller posted earlier on this thread so I will repeat it. Prof. Miller rejects, repeat rejects the sobriquet theistic evolutionist.

    I did’t miss the comments SLC. All I was doing was quoting PZ meyers whose comments about Prof. Miller, in my opinion, were completely inappropriate.

    I’m not sure how Prof. Miller’s views differ from those of C.S. Lewis, Charles Hodge, or B.B.Warfield though. they were all evangelicals who accepted both the antiquity of the Earth/Universe and evolution.

  59. #60 Peter Henderson
    August 27, 2008

    More disdain? Seriously? “Wishy-washy” trumps “idiot”, “moron” and “creotard”? You play by a different set of rules.

    I’m not sure what you mean ?

    It’s just that I get the impression sometimes, that Jason has more respect for the YECs than for Christians who accept evolution (and therefore mainstream science), labelling us as inconsistant (or “wishy washy” for that matter), just like the YECs do. We just can’t win either way.

  60. #61 Valhar2000
    August 27, 2008

    Peter Henderson:
    <>It’s just that I get the impression sometimes, that Jason has more respect for the YECs than for Christians who accept evolution (and therefore mainstream science), labelling us as inconsistant (or “wishy washy” for that matter), just like the YECs do.<>

    Well, I guess you have faith that it is so, so no use arguing about it.

  61. #62 Iapetus
    August 27, 2008

    Peter Henderson,

    “It’s just that I get the impression sometimes, that Jason has more respect for the YECs than for Christians who accept evolution (and therefore mainstream science), labelling us as inconsistant (or “wishy washy” for that matter), just like the YECs do.”

    It depends on what is meant by “consistent” here.

    If you fully accept the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution by mutation and natural selection, you are certainly consistent in the sense that you do not have to make these ad hoc assumptions and unwarranted metaphysical speculations that YECs do to ram the known facts about the natural world in a preconceived dogmatical framework.

    However, as we all know you do not stop there. Rather, you are postulating that the process of evolution by natural selection was the means that your god used to bring about humankind. This is where I see a two-fold inconsistency appearing.

    It is inconsistent in a scientific sense because it introduces a superfluous, unnecessary element which does not bestow any additional explanatory power to the theory and is solely added on non-scientific, i.e. religious grounds. It is furthermore hard (I would say impossible) to reconcile this with our current understanding of the completely a-teleological nature of the evolutionary process, so the whole argument really is metaphysical rather than scientific. I think Miller realized this and therefore made the statement quoted by SLC.

    It is also (and even more so) inconsistent in a theological sense, because it forces you to dismiss the biblical creation account as mere fable or allegory. This in turn renders the whole saga of Jesus and his death as a vicarious atonement for humankind suspect, if not outright incoherent.

    Furthermore, I think it is somewhat misleading to call your position “theistic”, because unless you posit that your god literally set up or intervened in the evolutionary process to achieve the desired outcome (which would be a scientific claim), what you really have here is a deistic position, where this god at most got the universe started and subsequently retreated into the shadows. I find this hard to reconcile with the picture that is painted in the bible.

    Finally, as I see it TE significantly exacerbates the theodizee problem, which to my knowledge remains an unsolved conundrum for christian apologists to this very day.

    So while your position is certainly more benign for science and society as a whole than outright creationsm, it is burdened with such a huge amount of internal difficulties that I can understand people who say that the YEC position, while being irreconcilable with science, is at least faithful to the biblical account and in this sense more consistent than TE.

  62. #63 Luna_the_cat
    August 27, 2008

    Iapetus:
    exacerbates the theodizee problem

    Minor quibble — it’s “theodicy”.

    That’s all.

    (Personally, I have to vote with the maltheists on this one. If the Christian God does exist, in the form as described in the Bible, then the inescapable conclusion of a rational & moral being is that this God is, in fact, evil.)

  63. #64 heddle
    August 27, 2008

    Iapetus,

    Finally, as I see it TE significantly exacerbates the theodizee problem, which to my knowledge remains an unsolved conundrum for christian apologists to this very day.

    I don’t think so. I know Jason and others have made that claim, but I do not find the argument convincing. In any old earth view, TE or not (say, the OEC of Hugh Ross) you have animals killing other animals in typically agonizing ways. The suffering of animals is the same in both views. The suffering of any animal being ripped to shreds in the jaws of another is unrelated to whether it is part of an evolutionary process or not. So in as much as the problem of evil is related to suffering, it is no worse for TEs than for anti-evolutionary OECs like Ross. Likewise for the point that the problem is related not just to suffering but also to God’s intent. In both cases it must be viewed as God’s will that the animals died as they did. The problem is bad, indeed the theodicy problem is intractable, but I don’t see why it is especially bad for TEs.

    I can understand people who say that the YEC position, while being irreconcilable with science, is at least faithful to the biblical account and in this sense more consistent than TE.

    Maybe with the Genesis account, but not with the overlap of the bible and science as a whole. In a comprehensive sense, the YEC view is not consistent with the bible which teaches that the heavens declare God’s glory and that creation leaves all men without excuse. The YEC position is that the heavens declare an illusion and that creation is a minefield of faith-testing data that can lead one astray.

    It is also (and even more so) inconsistent in a theological sense, because it forces you to dismiss the biblical creation account as mere fable or allegory. This in turn renders the whole saga of Jesus and his death as a vicarious atonement for humankind suspect, if not outright incoherent.

    Leaving aside what I see as a false dichotomy, that it is either the YEC account or fable/allegory, why would it render the atonement incoherent? YECs assert that all the time–but I have yet to see any sound exegesis that an old earth or death before the fall would render Christ powerless to redeem mankind.

  64. #65 Iapetus
    August 27, 2008

    Luna_the_cat

    “Minor quibble — it’s “theodicy”.”

    You are correct.

    “Theodizee” is the German version, which is my native language.

  65. #66 Iapetus
    August 27, 2008

    heddle,

    “In any old earth view, TE or not (say, the OEC of Hugh Ross) you have animals killing other animals in typically agonizing ways. The suffering of animals is the same in both views. The suffering of any animal being ripped to shreds in the jaws of another is unrelated to whether it is part of an evolutionary process or not. So in as much as the problem of evil is related to suffering, it is no worse for TEs than for anti-evolutionary OECs like Ross.”

    While the amount or intensity of suffering might be the same under a TE and non-TE premise, there is a crucial difference with regards to the theodicy problem.

    A standard reply to the question how an omnibenevolent and omnipotent god can be squared with the occurrence of evil and suffering in his creation is that this was the unavoidable price he had to pay for a free world that allows its creatures to live independently and to make their own decisions. In other words, although this creator god does not WANT evil and suffering to happen, he has to ALLOW it for ulterior reasons. This is an inadequate response IMO, but it at least tries to give a plausible explanation.

    Now, when you posit that god actively chose to bring about human beings by an evolutionary process, you are saying that god does not merely allow suffering, but he actively CAUSED it by setting evolution up in the first place in full knowledge of its implications. Surely an omnipotent being could have found another way of achieving his aim, so the justification via alleged necessity does not really work here, unless you can show that ONLY evolution by natural selection was available to him.

    “Maybe with the Genesis account, but not with the overlap of the bible and science as a whole. In a comprehensive sense, the YEC view is not consistent with the bible which teaches that the heavens declare God’s glory and that creation leaves all men without excuse. The YEC position is that the heavens declare an illusion and that creation is a minefield of faith-testing data that can lead one astray.”

    Well, if I were a YEC or a biblical literalist in general I would respond that you presuppose without justification that the scientific method is reliable and produces truthful results and that said results would be superior to scripture (incidentally, this was an argument that I recently encountered while discussing with a fundamentalist calvinist). In their view, scientific findings are generally untrustworthy and must be seen as false when in conflict with scripture. So the “illusions” you are referring to are simply the result of flawed methods of knowledge-acquisition. This is certainly a concise position, although not one I find very compelling.

    However, if you contrast this with a stance where scriptural “truths” are either discarded or heavily re-interpreted, often beyond recognition, to keep them in line with scientific findings, I am not convinced that the latter is really more reasonable.

    “Leaving aside what I see as a false dichotomy, that it is either the YEC account or fable/allegory, why would it render the atonement incoherent? YECs assert that all the time–but I have yet to see any sound exegesis that an old earth or death before the fall would render Christ powerless to redeem mankind.”

    If you find another alternative aside from YEC and fable/allegory reasonable, I would be interested to hear it.

    As I see it the story of vicarious atonement presupposes a “fall”, i.e. a radical discontinuity in the state of human affairs and possibly the earth as a whole (to phrase it in a way that is not ruled out by science right from the start). Do you have any evidence for this? What is supposed to have happened during and after the “fall” that needed Jesus to die for?

  66. #67 heddle
    August 27, 2008

    Iapetus,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Now, when you posit that god actively chose to bring about human beings by an evolutionary process, you are saying that god does not merely allow suffering, but he actively CAUSED it by setting evolution up in the first place in full knowledge of its implications. Surely an omnipotent being could have found another way of achieving his aim, so the justification via alleged necessity does not really work here, unless you can show that ONLY evolution by natural selection was available to him

    .

    But we are not comparing all possible ways that we can hypothesize that God might have created the earth, just two: TE vs. OEC. In both cases God caused the suffering, in both cases he set up a system knowing the consequences.

    The Non TE OEC position is that God used the species to prepare the earth for human habitation and for creating bio-deposits. In that view he still created predators for the purpose of killing prey. In either the TE or the non evolutionary OEC view, God purposefully created animals to kill other animals. In the TE case it was via evolution as a secondary process. In the non-evolutionary OEC view, he created lions supernaturally, also fully knowing they would kill and eat other animals, and that that was their purpose. In both cases he is complicit. In both cases he did it on purpose. In both cases he created a system that he knew would result in terror and pain for animals. Again, how is the theodicy problem worse for TEs? If you ask me, if it is worse for anyone, it is worse for the OEC position because there God is acting in a more direct manner. In the OEC view there is no chance for God to say “oops, I didn’t see that coming, my bad.”

    If you find another alternative aside from YEC and fable/allegory reasonable, I would be interested to hear it.

    There is the day-age theory and the gap theory–the former is an alternative literal interpretation of Genesis. The later is also arguably literal. Then there is the framework view, and Augustine’s instantaneous view, which are quasi-allegorical in that they attach a certain reality to the account. You could call them allegorical, but certainly not in the classic sense implied when one takes the stated position that “Genesis is an allegory.”

    Of course you can simply dismiss them all as “unreasonable.” And I have no interest in defending any of them.

    As I see it the story of vicarious atonement presupposes a “fall”, i.e. a radical discontinuity in the state of human affairs and possibly the earth as a whole (to phrase it in a way that is not ruled out by science right from the start). Do you have any evidence for this? What is supposed to have happened during and after the “fall” that needed Jesus to die for?

    The issue of a “fall” is independent of the age of the earth or the creation story one supports. In fact, the “fall” is closely related to if not synonymous with the doctrine of original sin which was formalized by Augustine, who had a radically non-literal view of Genesis. The fall simply means that after Adam sinned, he and all his descendants were going to need a savior. What happened was that Adam’s moral ability was radically impaired. As Augustine put it, Adam could no longer choose not to sin. That’s it. It has nothing to do with whether or not billions of years of earth history preceded Adam’s sin, or just a matter of days.

  67. #68 Peter Henderson
    August 27, 2008

    However, as we all know you do not stop there. Rather, you are postulating that the process of evolution by natural selection was the means that your god used to bring about humankind. This is where I see a two-fold inconsistency appearing.

    It is also (and even more so) inconsistent in a theological sense, because it forces you to dismiss the biblical creation account as mere fable or allegory. This in turn renders the whole saga of Jesus and his death as a vicarious atonement for humankind suspect, if not outright incoherent.

    And again lapetus you are sugesting exactly what the YECs are suggesting. i.e. That modern science is incompatible with the bible. It’s a matter of enterpretation. Many Christians would read Genesis almost like parrable.

    This brings me to another point. Christians are being urged to support evolution (i.e. science) by participating in events such as evolution Sunday, and signing the clergy letter project. Again, it is comments like yours that makes me feel uncomfortable with events like these. I assume you would be against both ?????? I will repeat this again. Most Christians who accept evolution are probably theistic evolutionists.

    Christians shouldn’t have to make a choice between Atheism/science and Christianity/YECism. I have been told often enough that science takes “NO” position on the supernatural. In fact, I regard Atheism as a faith position every bit as Christianity. The correct philosophical position for science should be Agnostisism, in my opinion.

    I was once told by a Methodist minister that the most predominant world view was actually agnosticism, even within the church. I suspect that a lot of people who call themselves Atheists, are in reality, really agnostics.

  68. #69 Iapetus
    August 27, 2008

    heddle,

    “But we are not comparing all possible ways that we can hypothesize that God might have created the earth, just two: TE vs. OEC. In both cases God caused the suffering, in both cases he set up a system knowing the consequences.

    The Non TE OEC position is that God used the species to prepare the earth for human habitation and for creating bio-deposits.”

    OK, I did not know that OEC holds to that view. I guess living in “Old Europe” can be a disadvantage with regard to the intricacies of creationism…;-)

    If this is the case, I would say that both OEC and TE paint a comparably bleak picture of their god. It makes the YEC position, which views creation as initially perfect until Adam screwed it up, seem almost preferable if you want to address the theodicy problem. Too bad that YEC is scientifically impossible.

    “In the OEC view there is no chance for God to say “oops, I didn’t see that coming, my bad.””

    I would think he can not use this excuse under TE auspices either, since as I understand it the whole point of TE is that god knew right from the start how the process would pan out and what its “end result” would be.

    “There is the day-age theory and the gap theory–the former is an alternative literal interpretation of Genesis. The later is also arguably literal. Then there is the framework view, and Augustine’s instantaneous view, which are quasi-allegorical in that they attach a certain reality to the account. You could call them allegorical, but certainly not in the classic sense implied when one takes the stated position that “Genesis is an allegory.”

    Of course you can simply dismiss them all as “unreasonable.” And I have no interest in defending any of them.”

    So your objection to my YEC/allegory dichotomy was solely on the grounds of completeness? I had the impression that you hold to a position that is outside of this scope and expected you to supply some arguments for it.

    Of course I am aware that there can be interpretations of Genesis (as with any story) that are semi-allegorical in that they deem some parts to be fictitious, others an accurate account of reality. However, if one takes a TE position (and thereby implicitly accepts the scientific worldview as a whole), I do not see how one can argue for such an interpretation.

    “The fall simply means that after Adam sinned, he and all his descendants were going to need a savior. What happened was that Adam’s moral ability was radically impaired. As Augustine put it, Adam could no longer choose not to sin. That’s it. It has nothing to do with whether or not billions of years of earth history preceded Adam’s sin, or just a matter of days.”

    This view presupposes that there ever existed a literal “Adam”, i.e. a single male ancestor of all humankind. We have no scientific evidence whatsoever for this assumption. On the contrary, I see this notion as being irreconcilable with an acceptance of evolution. Furthermore, what is it supposed to mean that his moral ability was radically impaired? Impaired by what? What exactly did “Adam” do that qualified as sin?

  69. #70 ctw
    August 27, 2008

    “We have no scientific evidence whatsoever for this assumption [the existence of a literal "Adam"].”

    I can’t recall the argument justifying it, but I have a vague recollection of reading the contention that there was an evolutionary “Eve” (and presumably, therefore, a noncontemporaneous evolutionary “Adam”. I don’t know enough genetics/biology/etc to recreate the argument correctly, but my guess is that it went something like the following reductio ad absurdum (actually, reductio ad improbability):

    Assume there are at least two female ancestors of the current human species who have no common ancestor. Then different segments of the current (relatively) homogenous human species must have evolved independently from ancestors from different species, a statistical improbability.

    To emphasize, I am NOT offering that as a “proof”, since it undoubtedly contains multiple ignorant errors, just as roughly suggestive of how a proof (if any) might go.

    If any reader knows a proof or knows that my recollection is wrong and none can exist, I’d appreciate confrmation or refutation of my recollection. This is a recurring issue and it would be useful to resolve it one way or the other.

    - Charles

  70. #71 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 27, 2008

    heddle –

    The YEC position is that the heavens declare an illusion and that creation is a minefield of faith-testing data that can lead one astray.

    In fairness, the YEC position is that the scientific evidence entirely supports the idea of a young-Earth and the spontaneous creation of the basic kinds of life. The only reason this isn’t obvious to scientists is that they see the world through a fog of naturalistic bias.

    They would also turn your argument around and say that non-literal approaches to the Bible turn the scriptures into a minefield of misleading stories that have led countless sincere believers astray. If you need a science degree before you can properly interpret the Bible, then you will have to abandon the idea of the perspicuity of scripture.

    In both cases he is complicit. In both cases he did it on purpose. In both cases he created a system that he knew would result in terror and pain for animals. Again, how is the theodicy problem worse for TEs? If you ask me, if it is worse for anyone, it is worse for the OEC position because there God is acting in a more direct manner. In the OEC view there is no chance for God to say “oops, I didn’t see that coming, my bad.

    I’m certainly convinced the theodicy problem is very serious (I’d say insoluble) either way. The fact remains, however, that OEC’s and TE’s have different explanatory burdens. TE’s have to explain why God would use a mechanism as savage and inefficient as natural selection to do His creating. OEC’s don’t have to explain that. They both have the burden of explaining what those three billion years were all about, however.

    Accepting the idea that humans beings are the result of a lengthy and savage evolutionary process that played out over billions of years presents a very serious thoedicy problem for Christians. If you find it comforting to argue that you can have the same problem by leaving out the evolution part and just keeping the long ages of suffering death and extinction part, then that is your business. Personally, I’d prefer to hear an explanation either way.

  71. #72 Iapetus
    August 27, 2008

    Peter Henderson,

    “And again lapetus you are sugesting exactly what the YECs are suggesting. i.e. That modern science is incompatible with the bible. It’s a matter of enterpretation. Many Christians would read Genesis almost like parrable.”

    I would indeed hold that if one accepts the findings of science and the resulting scientific worldview, it becomes impossible to have a literalist view of large swathes of the bible, especially the Genesis story.

    As for a metaphorical interpretation, this sounds good on the face of it, but runs into serious problems upon closer examination. As I see it, the notion of a “fall” is indispensable for Christianity, because otherwise the crucifixion of Jesus as an act of vicarious atonement would be utterly pointless. So I think you can not view Genesis wholly as a metaphor. However, which part do you want to declare literally true and in concordance with the scientific worldview?

    “Christians are being urged to support evolution (i.e. science) by participating in events such as evolution Sunday, and signing the clergy letter project. Again, it is comments like yours that makes me feel uncomfortable with events like these. I assume you would be against both ?????? I will repeat this again. Most Christians who accept evolution are probably theistic evolutionists.”

    If you want to support the teaching of evolution and science in general, you have my endorsement. However, this can not mean that you are entitled to be spared from any criticism of your position. As I said, TE has serious problems with regards to its internal consistency, but is nonetheless vastly preferable to creationism.

    “Christians shouldn’t have to make a choice between Atheism/science and Christianity/YECism. I have been told often enough that science takes “NO” position on the supernatural.”

    The scientific method is based on methodological naturalism and therefore per definitionem not interested in the “supernatural”, whatever this may be. Consequently, science does not logically or empirically disprove the existence of supernatural beings like gods, which is why the term “theistic scientist” is no oxymoron, provided that he/she does not conflate science and faith.

    That said, unless we assume a positivistic definition of science we can say that the development of scientific discoveries over the last centuries has given rise to a worldview that has no need of gods as an explanatory device and furthermore has rendered many religious truth claims obsolete. In my view it is intellectually problematic to voice support for this or that scientific theory while holding on to a worldview containing elements that are virtually impossible to reconcile with the overall picture these theories are embedded in.

    “In fact, I regard Atheism as a faith position every bit as Christianity. The correct philosophical position for science should be Agnostisism, in my opinion.”

    Technically, the scientific worldview IS agnostic regarding the existence of gods, since ultimate certainty can principally not be achieved. However, this does not mean that we can not discuss arguments concerning e.g. the coherence and explanatory power of the theistic and atheistic position as well as the question which position is more in accordance with scientific findings.

  72. #73 ctw
    August 27, 2008

    “I regard Atheism as a faith position every bit as Christianity. The correct philosophical position for science should be Agnostisism”

    Pregnant with implications.

    First, why capitalize “Atheism”? This seems to suggest something, although I’m not sure what.

    Second, who is to say what philosophical position is “correct”?

    Finally, depends on how one defines “atheism” and “belief”. If by “atheism” one means literally “not theism”, I don’t know what it means to NOT believe something based on faith. It would seem that to be faith-based, a belief must be positive. For example, I don’t believe that Ulan Bator is south of the Kamchatka peninsula not because I have faith that it isn’t but because I have no opinion one way or the other.

    And assuming one means by “believing X” that one thinks that X is certainly (or at least with high probability) TRUE, it’s agnosticism that must be faith-based, since it is the belief that something is ultimately unknowable.

    Of course, if one defines “atheism” as certainty that no god exists, it must be faith-based. But IMO, no thoughtful person asserts such a thing.

    - Charles

  73. #74 Iapetus
    August 28, 2008

    Charles,

    “I can’t recall the argument justifying it, but I have a vague recollection of reading the contention that there was an evolutionary “Eve” (and presumably, therefore, a noncontemporaneous evolutionary “Adam”).”

    I am no expert in population genetics either, but I found these two Wikipedia articles helpful:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eve_hypothesis
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_recent_common_ancestor

    Both articles emphasize that a) “Adam” and “Eve” were separated by thousands of years in time and b) it does not follow in any way that the human population ever went through an extreme bottleneck of only two people, which is what a creationist would want.

  74. #75 heddle
    August 28, 2008

    Not to put to much emphasis on it, but in regards to genetics expressed in biblical language, we should use Eve and Noah, not Eve and Adam. (And of course, Mitochondrial Eve should be older. Which she is.)

    Just saying.

  75. #76 ctw
    August 28, 2008

    lapetus:

    Thanks. I didn’t remember the “Mitochondrial Eve” issue, but recognized the MCRA entry as one I had visited before (and maybe revisited – I’m at the age where the memory starts fading fast). I should have thought to try wiki before posting the query.

    heddle:

    I guess I don’t get the full import of your comment (not surprising since I know as little about the Bible as I do about genetics).

    If the point is that the post-flood MRC(male)A is Noah, why isn’t Mrs. Noah the female analog? And in any event, the issue was the fall, so the “MR” part seems irrelevant. If Noah was a descendant of Adam, the latter still gets the blame.

    Or did I entirely miss the point?

    - Charles

  76. #77 heddle
    August 28, 2008

    ctw,

    In theory, this is the reason: after the flood, all surviving males were Noah and his sons, so all subsequent genetic backtracking leads back to Noah. He reset the genetic clock for males. The surviving women, however, were not related–in particular they had different mothers. Thus they still, in principle, in terms of Mitochondrial DNA mutations, pointed back to Eve.

    That’s all I care to say on this–just view it for amusement purposes.

  77. #78 ctw
    August 28, 2008

    heddle:

    Thanks. And I understood the comment to be for “amusement”, but found the concept interesting nonetheless. And as I said, I don’t know (or at least don’t remember) even the most basic Bible stories, so I completely missed the “fact” that there were sons and their wives aboard.

    - Charles

  78. #79 runescape accounts
    April 23, 2009

    runescape accounts isn’t just about building up your skills and your bank account. Sometimes you need to get out, meet new people…AND KILL THEM! After a certain amount of time you get to a point where some jerk desperately needs to catch a fireball in the face, or a sword between the ribs. It’s fun, but you should always remember that it’s an actual person behind the screen there. This means two things. Firstly it’s nice

    to be respectful to them( about the fact you just slaughtered their hapless hide!), and secondly – they will usually be much more challenging and runescape gold in how they fight back than stock runecraft monsters.But basics first. You want to pkill – go to the wilderness. Turn north and walk for ages and you’ll get there. The further into the wilderness you venture the more dangerous things become. The trick is in making sure it’s dangerous for the other guy and not you. Ideally

    you’ll want to attack someone of runescape power leveling,

    and you’ll want to hit them from the south. If you hit them from the south they need to run north to get away from you. The further north they go the sooner they hit wilderness level 20. Once they get there they can’t escape you by teleporting – you OWN them!

  79. #80 Fikri
    tJXDHoQVKSAUxnZCtep
    July 22, 2012

    Well…where do I start?Today, driving home from work, upon my ipod with the seinttg on shuffle, ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ by The Smiths came on. As a 15 year-old when this song came out, I loved an appearance of this song that The Smiths did on UK programme ‘Top of the Pops’. It was the coolest thing I had seen for some time and as a long-standing Smiths fan at the time it just reaffirmed my love for The Smiths and Morrissey.At the time I remember Morrissey being interviewed and saying the song was about being hassled by the press or something. It was not until I looked this song up on Youtube a few minutes ago that I ever considered it may have religious conotations and listening to it in that way I can see how it could, even if I doubt Morrissey’s intent was Christian, perhaps more ironic. However, one of the comments referred to its anti-religious sentiment and whilst I did not necessarily see it that way, it made me want to probe further and a search in google threw up your blog. And you could be me. Converse wearing, indie music listener, developing a relationship or interest in God. So I have read parts of your blog and now ordered one of the books you wrote about.So…I wonder…was the shuffle feature earlier of this song meant to lead me here?Best wishes to youSteve

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