The concern troll clans are gathering

This is getting ridiculous. Now I’m accused of “trying to drive a wedge between those who are against evolution” … because I think belief in angels and demons is absurd.

Damn. Just because someone accepts evolution doesn’t automatically make them a good guy, and if they’re praising evolution and at the same time babbling about demons causing appendicitis or angels warding off curses, they aren’t on my side in the cause of increasing rationality.

I’m beginning to wonder if there is some psychological transference going on here. People who think that merely believing in Jesus grants them redemption must also think that believing in evolution is a magic charm that grants them exemption from criticism of any nonsense they might hold. It doesn’t work that way. There is no get-out-of-criticism-free card.


  1. #1 Sastra
    October 4, 2007

    Yes, first you attack angels as “unscientific.” And then it’s going to be demon possession. And ESP. And then Vitalism. And Healing Energy. Where does one draw the line between religion and pseudoscience? Where does the supernatural end and the paranormal begin? Let’s all figure out where we take something seriously and analyze, and where we nod, smile, and “respect.”

    Dembski was clearly arguing that scientists were unfairly ignoring the existence of angels. And he’s right. Ruling out the existence of angels because they’re “religious” is wrong. Ruling them out because of the poor nature of the evidence for their existence, the excellent evidence in favor of alternative naturalist explanations for belief in them against their existence, and the subsequent application of Occam’s principle of parsimony — well, that’s just fine.

  2. #2 Ichthyic
    October 4, 2007

    Dembski was clearly arguing that scientists were unfairly ignoring the existence of angels. And he’s right.

    remove the “unfairly”, and THEN you are correct.

    now if only everyone would just ignore Dembski himself.

  3. #3 uncle frogy
    October 5, 2007

    holly mackerel I tried to read the panda’s thumb but I did not have the energy tonight to get wound up again. devils and angles? I have found a way to look at “them” that puts them into some kind of perspective.
    they are a psychological projection, completely human and have not physical existence in reality
    or they are some kind of being with an existence and an evolutionary history like all other life forms a space alien an extraterrestrial creature completely conjecture
    as for the other forms in human mythology including christian mythology it is just that and in that way are of the first. type the second type (if we ever find one) we will find many things that may be familiar but may have even more trouble with our own religious believers who have are proving every day to be dangerous controlling people who are often violent in the lengths they will go to protect and expand their believes.

  4. #4 Sastra
    October 5, 2007

    I once asked Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic magazine, what was the difference between the “supernatural” and the “paranormal?” Although he wrote several books on the ‘borderlands of science and religion,’ to my surprise he seemed a bit surprised by the question. He thought a bit and said “probably no difference.”

    I think he’s right — the dividing line doesn’t seem to be in the nature of the claim, or whether its testable, or whether its open to being ruled on by science, but on how mainstream the belief is. And if you look at statistics on how many people believe in ghosts and ESP, it’s all pretty mainstream. It’s just that there’s a generally tendency to think that the “paranormal” are those things that you, personally, think it’s okay for science to critique when the predictions prove worthless, and the “supernatural” are those things which you don’t think it’s okay for science to critique when predictions prove worthless. The lines moves from person to person.

    As anyone who has dealt with dowsers, astrologers, energy healers, and psychics will agree, these people really, really want it all to be true. They base their entire world view on the reality of these things, and believe that these phenomena point to something “higher” than the ordinary material, physical, natural realm. If angels are religious, then vitalism is spiritual.

    The label of ‘paranormal’ isn’t just reserved for things which are “outside our experience, but possible.” String theory and multiverse theories are outside our experience, possible, and might not even be testable or knowable — yet they don’t get labeled ‘paranormal.’ Why not?

    Look at how the word is actually applied. Like the supernatural, the paranormal is distinguished from the weird-but-not-paranormal by how it reassures us of our significance. The attributes of human minds are somehow fundamental structures in the universe. Values and meaning are top-down skyhooks. String Theory + Love = paranormal. Quantum theory + Consciousness = paranormal.

    Or supernatural. Same damn thing.

    I think the people on Panda’s Thumb who are upset that PZ is so insensitive as to attack a religious belief in angels forget that the exact same arguments and whines are used against them for attacking a religious belief in Creationism. The lines keep moving according to the speaker’s special sensitivities, not some clear criteria.

    I have so-called “liberal” friends who think ID should be included in science classes out of “respect” for “other ways of knowing.” They don’t believe in it, but calling Young Earth Creationism loony — or even “wrong” — is so insensitive. People should be allowed to believe whatever they want. Science is testing to see what works for you. People’s religious beliefs should be respected. Science should be broadened to include all of reality which impacts us, and creationism matters to people. Mean, rude, exclusionary evolutionists over on PT, making fun of people’s deeply held religious beliefs … sniff

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    October 5, 2007

    Isn’t it valuable to know that the “leading lights” of Intelligent Design endorse religion at every opportunity? Isn’t it important to note how often they admit that their aims are explicitly religious? Would anyone get upset if a post at the Panda’s Thumb pointed out what Michael Behe said in Time or on The Colbert Report, namely that ID is God’s way of fighting back?

  6. #6 Sastra
    October 5, 2007

    So on this much we agree. Those who proclaim faith in both Evolution and in Jesus are misguided liars and cannot be trusted.

    No, I don’t agree at all. Theistic evolutionists are not liars, and they’re not untrustworthy. They are compartmentalizing, and are being somewhat inconsistent. They can be trusted to the extent that they agree to compartmentalize and be only somewhat inconsistent. They draw arbitrary lines, but in cautious and sensible places. Ok.

    That doesn’t mean that it can’t be pointed out that they’re compartmentalizing and being somewhat inconsistent. It’s only polite to treat them as respected colleagues in error, and not pander to them as children who need to be humored. They’re cautious and sensible, but not everyone of faith is. Those lines are, by nature, arbitrary.

  7. #7 AJ Milne
    October 5, 2007

    Sastra, the Rev. Paul T. Hipple is a Man of God, a soldier of the cloth, and one of the leading lights of the Dominionist movement. Why, just recently, spent 30 days ministering unto the fallen of the Sumter County jail–a facility which he selflessly entered of his own volition (details at the link). I would not so readily question his theological findings.

  8. #8 Hipple, Rev. Paul T.
    October 5, 2007

    Thank you for your kind, comforting words, Brother or Sister AJ Milne. I don’t suppose you are looking to join a Church Youth Group?

    Now let me see if I understand this political correctness, Brother or Sister Sastra:

    When a young child has stolen forbidden fruit from the cookie jar, and lies to his pappy or mommy about it, he is not lying, just “compartmentalizing”.

    I suppose we can all get along, but we’ll need a new commandment for that one:

    11. Though Shalt Not Compartmentalize.

  9. #9 Matt Penfold
    October 5, 2007

    This debate touches on a comment made by Ed Brayton a week or so ago which I am surprised no one else has picked up on. Maybe they did are are just fed up with correcting the man’s poor thinking.

    “It isn’t that I don’t think it’s diplomatic to call belief in God a delusion; it’s that I honestly don’t think it’s delusional to believe in God.”

    Now there does seem to be a bit of confusion over what Ed is saying here as he is not clear by what he means by delusional. If we take it that he is using the word in the context that Dawkins uses it, then what he is saying is that he thinks that there is evidence to support the existence of god. In “The God Delusion” Dawkins makes it very clear that he used deluded to mean believing in something for which there is no evidence. It must follow if Ed is using the word in same context he thinks that there is evidence. There does exist another possibility. Ed is on record as stating he has not, and will not read “The God Delusion”. Is is possible then that Ed is using the term deluded in another context. Of course if he is then he is being dishonest.

    I am really not sure where Ed is coming from when he said that, but I am sure it is yet another sign of his descent into lunacy.

  10. #10 uncle frogy
    October 5, 2007

    I seems to me we have reached an interesting time in human history.
    We are now arguing about whether mythology is real or not. might be the first time that has happened at least to this degree. we have killed over which mythology is “best” but never are any myths true before.
    Angles daemons gods ghosts spirits immortal souls life after death supper natural paranormal “magic” it is all myth. it would appear the myth dies hard.

    “all of your belief is myth while mine is the word of god”

    just how is that proved?

  11. #11 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 6, 2007

    Sastra #6, “Where does the supernatural end and the paranormal begin?”

    That’s GOT to be on the short-list of the all-time dumbest questions ever. There should be an award to recognize such exceptional stupidity.

  12. #12 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 6, 2007

    Sastra #52 says, “The label of ‘paranormal’ isn’t just reserved for things which are “outside our experience, but possible.” String theory and multiverse theories are outside our experience, possible, and might not even be testable or knowable — yet they don’t get labeled ‘paranormal.’ Why not?”

    Why? Because THEORY ISN’T “outside of our experience.” You are confounding formal speculation (which lives WITHIN our experience) with the realm of actuality – that “thing” we typically REFER to as “nature” – whether our conceptual models address or accurately describe nature or not.

    But no amount of ignorance can justify the idea of the existence of a reality apart from nature, like that implied by the words “PARAnormal” and “SUPERnatural”.

    Sastra also says, “People’s religious beliefs should be respected.”

    Sure. Its always been proper and polite to respect the right of people to believe anything they wish.

    BUT, when those RELIGIOUS beliefs compel believers to disrespect and otherwise discriminate against anybody else for not accepting their way of thinking, or when those RELIGIOUS beliefs promote an atmosphere of social exclusion and seriously imposes its will on the lives of those who RESPECTFULLY decline to join the herd, attacking RELIGIOUS belief on those particular grounds AND on the general philosophical ground that addresses the foundation of irrationality upon which such belief rests IS perfectly justified.

    Its interesting that the RELIGIOUS beliefs that monopolizes the principle of “The Golden Rule” most often break it.

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