Pharyngula

The hopeless inanity of Egnor

Michael Egnor, that neurosurgeon whose tenuous grip on rationality makes him so popular with the creationists, thinks he has a gotcha moment with some notorious atheist. That rude godless fellow, who is me, said this, which is accurate:

…greater science literacy, which is going to lead to the erosion of religion, and then we’ll get this nice positive feedback mechanism going where as religion slowly fades away we’ll get more and more science to replace it and that will displace more and more religion which will allow more and more science in and we’ll eventually get to the point where religion has taken that appropriate place as a side dish rather than the main course. And if you separate out the ethical message from religion — what have you got left — you got — you got a bunch of fairy tales, right?

Here’s Egnor’s foolish interpretation of that comment — and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of dogmatic Christians interpret it the same way.

In the midst of a furious national debate about intelligent design, Darwinism, and metaphysical bias and indoctrination in science education, one has to wonder why Dr. Myers would state plainly that the agenda of Darwinists is to advance atheism in the classroom. Why would Dr. Myers state unequivocally on film that a fundamental goal of science education is the suppression of religious belief?

The most parsimonious explanation is that he means it.

What nonsense. I did not “state unequivocally on film that a fundamental goal of science education is the suppression of religious belief.” I do not peddle atheism in the classroom, and am actually very careful, since I am a vocal atheist in the blogosphere, to reassure my students that apostasy is not required to get an “A” in my classes, and that they are free to hold whatever religious beliefs they want — the biology classroom is about evidence, not belief, and explanations supported by logic, not revelation.

I do think science erodes faith, but not because I hammer students with doctrinaire atheism; I don’t need to. Here’s a little anecdote I’ve told a few people that illustrates my attitude.

I was once in an argument with a staunch creationist (a not uncommon experience) in which he berated me, among a multitude of godless liberal college professors, for atheist indoctrination in the classroom…just like Michael Egnor. He was upset because, not unreasonably, people with his beliefs fear to send their children to those reputable colleges because they’ll come home changed and in doubt, and questioning the faith that they work so hard to instill. He thought the same thing, that our classes were places where we actively suppress religion.

I told him that I never criticize his religion in the classroom, nor do I push atheism. Instead, it’s like this: what he does with his religion is the equivalent of telling his kids that the sky is green, and worse, assuring them that this is a fundamental tenet of their religion and that the whole structure comes crashing down if they question it. They get in my classroom, and I don’t tell them their religion is wrong — I tell them to open their eyes and look up.*

That’s where science hurts religion. We have ideals of skepticism and empiricism that do conflict with most religions — I know, a bunch of you will tell me that your religion allows for those values, too, and I’ll argue with you a different time — and that’s where the antagonism arises. I don’t claim the fundamental goal of science education is the suppression of religious belief — the fundamental goal of science education is to question everything. It’s merely a side effect and their own damn fault that religion fares poorly when subjected to criticism.

*I wish I could claim that my crushing reply silenced my opponent and he rethought everything he claimed about science, but of course it didn’t — intransigent creationists never think. Instead, he tried to argue, “well, what if the sky is green, and your unspiritual eyes simply can’t see it?” Etc., etc., etc. And so it goes.

Comments

  1. #1 MartinM
    March 30, 2008

    Here’s Egnor’s foolish interpretation of that comment

    You’re too generous. I’m fairly sure he’s just a liar.

  2. #2 wnelson
    March 30, 2008

    “A kind answer turns away wrath.”

    Diplomacy…..

    ….anyone?

    …anyone???

  3. #3 Science Avenger
    March 30, 2008

    Religious people would find themselves and their religions less in conflict with science if they would simply stop making guesses about the world and pretending it is knowledge. Far more often than not, it is the religious that cross the NOMA line, not the scientists.

  4. #4 Norman Doering
    March 30, 2008

    PZ wrote:

    Instead, he tried to argue, “well, what if the sky is green, and your unspiritual eyes simply can’t see it?” Etc., etc., etc.

    Alas, no metaphor can really communicate a precise idea. The guy had no reference by which to interpret what “open their eyes and look up” really meant… or what a slow process that turns out to be.

  5. #5 Stanton
    March 30, 2008

    “A kind answer turns away wrath.”

    Diplomacy…..

    ….anyone?

    …anyone???

    And please explain to us why we should be diplomatic towards people who literally worship their own stupidity + ignorance, and who prove themselves utterly untrustworthy at every opportunity?

  6. #6 raven
    March 30, 2008

    PZ Myers:

    …greater science literacy, which is going to lead to the erosion of religion,

    Egnor the IDiot:

    that the agenda of Darwinists is to advance atheism in the classroom.

    You’ll note that Egnor misquoted Myers. Science literacy transmogrified into Darwinists.

    He set up a feeble strawman and pushed it over.

    BTW, what does Egnor suggest we do about science, science literacy, and the basis of our US civilization. Scrap it, hunt down anyone with a library card, and head on back to the Dark Ages. Probably.

  7. #7 Stanton
    March 30, 2008

    Also, wnelson, why does Professor Myers need to listen to you about diplomacy, when you also insist that he should give up teaching Biology and go into Philosophy because he’s a metaphorical “leper”?

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    Diplomacy…..
    ….anyone?
    …anyone???

    been there, done that, even with this particular fool of fools.

    it always starts with the olive branch of:

    “I’m sure you might have been mistaken – have you looked at the research in this area?”

    and the inevitable response from egnorites:

    “I don’t need too. You just make all this stuff up off the top of your head, then publish it! It makes no sense, and that is why we will topple your darwinisioreligionlikenaziism…”

    you know what?

    fuck you for not even bothering to find out the fact that it isn’t the scientists that have failed to try out the diplomacy angle.

    It’s the creobots that have come with pitchforks and torches; turning the other cheek just don’t quite cut it.

  9. #9 Sastra
    March 30, 2008

    When I first saw the video clip of your interview in EXpelled, I noticed a cut between the part where you talk about religion as knitting, and the next part — where you appear to be answering a question which we have not heard. I made a guess as to what the question was: something along the lines of “how has the history of science changed religion?” or maybe “what kind of impact did scientists in the 19th century expect their discoveries to have on religious belief?” Thus, you began with “greater scientific literacy was going to lead to the erosion of religion, etc.”

    Which, by the way, it has. The liberals and moderates who argue that science has revealed the greatness of God and only strengthened their faith generally believe in a very different kind of God than they would have believed in before science changed our view of the world. God is evolving. For the majority of intelligent, educated theists, God is less and less anthropomorphic superstition, and more and more the Unknowable Mystery of Ultimate Concerns.

    But I’m not surprised that your quote has been misinterpreted as you say — that science is taught in order to promote atheism. Not that religion would lessen gradually as people became more informed, but that science was going to be wielded as a tool to the specific end of eliminating it. That’s how they use science, after all. To proselytize.

    I am also willing to bet that your sentence

    And if you separate out the ethical message from religion – what do you got left? You’ve got a bunch of fairy tales, right?

    was going to be completely misinterpreted as “We want to get rid of religion’s ethical message. To do this, you tell people religion is a bunch of fairy tales, right?” That’s what they expect to hear. Atheists hate morals.

    On the contrary, you’re praising the ethics found in many religions — and pointing out that they work just fine on their own, without the religion. But without the fine ethics the religion really has nothing left, for it is not — technically speaking — “literally true.”

    Per Julia Sweeney, it’s psychologically true.

  10. #10 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    Hey, sastra-

    you see how this fits in with the parody dawkins vid in the other thread?

    they were making fun of exactly how the creobots project this issue into public awareness, they were making fun of exactly the kind of thing Egnor just did.

  11. #11 Physicalist
    March 30, 2008

    It’s just another example of the oh-so-accurate dictum: Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    All we’re trying to do is teach the students to think. As a matter of fact, if they learn to think for themselves, they’re going to reject the idiotic lies of the right-wing, and religious myths to boot.

    Idiots like Horowitz and Egnor then want to claim that the students are being indoctrinated — when in fact the students have merely grown wise enough to recognize foolishness when they see it. The right-wingers seem unable to fathom the power of reason and evidence.

  12. #12 Lucas Cantor
    March 30, 2008

    The video you linked to “is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Premise Media.”

    Anybody have a mirror for it?

  13. #13 daenku32
    March 30, 2008

    So Darwin is getting credit for physics and chemistry as well?

  14. #14 Sam L.
    March 30, 2008

    I know how most people here feel about diplomacy, but I’m inclined to agree to some degree with wnelson in #2. This piece is not only interesting, but about halfway through it you get to something that illustrates the value of diplomacy:

    http://www.rickross.com/reference/scientology/scien348.html

    While it’s important to take a hard stance against religious bullshitters, showing you are capable of diplomacy is an important part of convincing people who may be on the fence. I’m not defending Egnor, he misinterpreted a fairly diplomatic, innocuous statement. Fight back against the “creobots” (nice term), but there is something to be said for extending an olive branch to other, less insane people.

  15. #15 Azkyroth
    March 30, 2008

    “A kind answer turns away wrath.”

    Diplomacy…..

    ….anyone?

    …anyone???

    Yeah, yeah. And “If you just ignore the bullies, they’ll leave you alone.” And “Babies are found under cabbage leaves.”

    Got any more?

  16. #16 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    The right-wingers seem unable to fathom the power of reason and evidence.

    as a tangent, they also seem unable to grasp satire and irony, for that matter.

    I think when one has to spin such ludicrous mental defense systems to wall against reality, subtle(?) things like satire and irony are simply no longer able to penetrate.

    Based on 10 years of examining the extremely religious, I’d say that exposing their frequent lies, deceptions, misinformation, projection, and denial does wonders to show onlookers that there is a problem.

    it does nothing for the extremely religious themselves.

    Nothing will ever be able to penetrate Egnor’s mindset any longer. He has to first acknowledge something has gone wrong with his reasoning processes. It’s like trying to convince a schizophrenic they need to seek treatment.

    this is not an assumption on my part, It’s based on years of watching hundreds of creationists exhibit the exact same behavior patterns. The only way to prevent utter collapse of their nonsense in the face of reality is to group with like minded individuals, and use denial to allow them to project their warped sense of reasoning onto the rest of the world.

    It’s exactly the same kinds of behavior and psychologies one can find associated with extreme cults of any kind, not just religious ones.

  17. #17 missingpoints
    March 30, 2008

    Just wanted to share this quote from Ursula Le Guin’s review of a Salman Rushdie novel in The Guardian.

    “Some boast that science has ousted the incomprehensible; others cry that science has driven magic out of the world and plead for “re-enchantment”. But it’s clear that Charles Darwin lived in as wondrous a world, as full of discoveries, amazements and profound mysteries, as that of any fantasist. The people who disenchant the world are not the scientists, but those who see it as meaningless in itself, a machine operated by a deity. Science and literary fantasy would seem to be intellectually incompatible, yet both describe the world; the imagination functions actively in both modes, seeking meaning, and wins intellectual consent through strict attention to detail and coherence of thought, whether one is describing a beetle or an enchantress. Religion, which prescribes and proscribes, is irreconcilable with both of them, and since it demands belief, must shun their common ground, imagination. So the true believer must condemn both Darwin and Rushdie as “disobedient, irreverent, iconoclastic” dissidents from revealed truth.”

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/generalfiction/0,,2269016,00.html

  18. #18 Jeff Alexander
    March 30, 2008

    I know, a bunch of you will tell me that your religion allows for those values, too, and I’ll argue with you a different time

    What a tease, I look forward to hearing more about this.

  19. #19 Sastra
    March 30, 2008

    Ichythic #10 wrote:

    they were making fun of exactly how the creobots project this issue into public awareness, they were making fun of exactly the kind of thing Egnor just did.

    I see that, yes. Or, alternatively, they were making the same mistake themselves, just like many other pro-science, pro-evolution, and even atheist folks have. In the episode of South Park which satirized atheism, you could also have said they were only pointing out and exaggerating the silly views ABOUT atheism, and not lampooning it at all. Naw.

    If Richard Dawkins and the so-called New Atheists hadn’t been so misunderstood and vilified by other atheists (the Atheist Buttery), I think your case would be stronger. As it is, I think it’s a bit of a toss-up — and I’d still guess the parodist was going for the popular Golden Mean stance.

  20. #20 Azkyroth
    March 30, 2008

    While it’s important to take a hard stance against religious bullshitters, showing you are capable of diplomacy is an important part of convincing people who may be on the fence. I’m not defending Egnor, he misinterpreted a fairly diplomatic, innocuous statement. Fight back against the “creobots” (nice term), but there is something to be said for extending an olive branch to other, less insane people.

    If you’re sincere, you’re jousting at windmills and needlessly providing aid and comfort to a set of apologists whose strategy begins and ends with attempting to Gerrymander the boundaries of acceptable discourse.

  21. #21 Tessa
    March 30, 2008

    Egnorance (noun) – “egotistical combination of ignorance and arrogance” http://dererumnatura.us/archives/2007/03/egnorance.html

  22. #22 Elles
    March 30, 2008

    Bravo, bravo, bravo!

  23. #23 genesgalore
    March 30, 2008

    Jesus can’t send emails, Jesus can’t send emails, nana nana boo boo, stick your head in doo doo.

  24. #24 wnelson
    March 30, 2008

    fuck you for not even bothering to find out the fact that it isn’t the scientists that have failed to try out the diplomacy angle.

    Also, wnelson, why does Professor Myers need to listen to you about diplomacy, when you also insist that he should give up teaching Biology and go into Philosophy because he’s a metaphorical “leper”?

    I think I said something to the effect that Myers, and those like him, presume to deny the very categories of which they speak. “Tricked” into answering questions, is “bad” — wanting to enter into a discussion about the “evils” of the Nazis and Communists.

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position. Like I said, Myers needs to stay out of “ewww the Nazis weren’t nice” “they tricked me so they’re bad” part of this and go back to noodling with numbers.

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place — an equivalent philosophy — and “shut the fuck up” or wrecking careers doesn’t cut it. Blacklisting is bad karma, guys, the quintessential tactical blunder — something I haven’t heard Myers, and the others deny advocating. (The main point of the movie’s title, btw.)

  25. #25 BadMA
    March 30, 2008

    It’s just another example of the oh-so-accurate dictum: Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    I don’t disagree with this, but I am a bit puzzled by something. My grandfather was a staunch atheist. He was the kind of person who literally threw a priest out of his house when he tried to offer priestly help after a family tragedy. He was fairly well grounded in reality.

    He was also a Republican. There was a time when the Republican party was known for other things than simply being the party of religious nut cases. (I think his primary reason for being a Republican was it’s economic stance, and he was a small business owner.) If he were still alive, I’m not sure he would be able to stomach being associated with the religious right. At least during his time, it was possible to be conservative and not religious, but nowadays it seems impossible. (Christopher Hitchens not withstanding. He does seem to be in a minority, as I can’t see many religiously non-neutral conservatives associating him with the conservative side.)

    I’m for whichever side is for reality, which means I have to settle for the party that is better at keeping track of reality. (A full siding with reality is unfortunately impossible for any politician for the time being.)

  26. #26 lroot
    March 30, 2008

    I’m on my way to becoming a scientist and I think it’s ridiculous when people say it takes more faith to believe in God than science. Ever tried understanding plate tectonics or string theory?

  27. #27 Michael X
    March 30, 2008

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place

    It’s called evolution.

  28. #28 Wazza
    March 30, 2008

    Tessa, you beat me to it

    I was going to say he was showing his “egnorance”…

    As for the diplomacy thing, Randall Munroe has already covered that here and here

  29. #29 Sven DiMilo
    March 30, 2008

    Ah, see, “understanding”…there’s your problem. Simply believe!

  30. #30 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    As it is, I think it’s a bit of a toss-up — and I’d still guess the parodist was going for the popular Golden Mean stance.

    if you are comparing that vid to the southpark episode, you are comparing apples to oranges.

    you did see that episode, yes? If not, I’m sure you can find a torrent of it somewhere.

    you ARE right in the case of the SP episode, that it was indeed a case of the “golden mean” missing the mark entirely (nobody ever accused Matt and Trey of being well versed in much of anything, really). There was an obvious implied statement of “both sides are wrong”, that you simply do not find exhibited in the Dawkins vid.

    However, the very reason I pointed out what egnor just did is because it is an absolute perfect fit what what they are lampooning in the video.

    watch both again; you’ll see very large differences in presentation.

  31. #31 Tony P
    March 30, 2008

    I can pretty much trace the roots of my godlessness to my great grandfather. He was the one who invented the anti-jamming device for the high speed looms. He instilled the scientific principle in my at an early age, make a hypothesis and test the hypothesis through objective observation.

    Then of course the other mistake my parents made was putting me through Catholic schools post Vatican II. So in one class they’d teach us about science, and in another about religion. Problem was when you applied the scientific method to religion, you get null data.

    Oh well, they had good intentions I suppose. But what’s the saying, something about the road to hell being paved with those.

  32. #32 Wazza
    March 30, 2008

    K, wnelson, time out…

    Religion does not guarantee morality. Neither does atheism, but at least with atheism you get the chance to work it out from first principles, ie “how would I feel if someone did that to me?”

    in religion, all you can do is follow the prophet’s word.

    And ID doesn’t give you any philosophy. All ID does is say “don’t trust your eyes. Don’t trust your intellect. They don’t let you see the truth.” And we know that’s not true, because we’ve used our eyes, we’ve used our brains – and you can say God gave them to us if you like – and we’ve figured out the truth for ourselves. If there really is a God, he ought to be proud of the scientists for using what he gave them.

  33. #33 RamblinDude
    March 30, 2008

    the fundamental goal of science education is to question everything.

    AHA!! So you admit it unequivocally! You want to suppress faith!

    I actually know people who see it that way. I wish I were kidding.

  34. #34 MAJeff, OM
    March 30, 2008

    nobody ever accused Matt and Trey of being well versed in much of anything, really

    Amen to that. There have been like four interesting/entertaining episodes and a really decent movie-musical.

    The rest? meh.

  35. #35 James F
    March 30, 2008

    #25

    I think that the anti-evolution forces are ideologically skewed by the Religious Right, but otherwise it is not a liberal vs. conservative issue. For example, there is a group, Darwin Central, devoted to defending evolution from a conservative perspective.

  36. #36 genesgalore
    March 30, 2008

    Ever tried understanding plate tectonics or string theory?

    Posted by: lroot | March 30, 2008 10:19 PM
    string theory yes, plate tectonics no. oh no!!! in another 80 million years sea level will drop by another several hundred feet, just like it did in the last 80 million. what a crunchy planet we live on.

  37. #37 Sastra
    March 30, 2008

    wnelson #24 wrote:

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position.

    I think that’s true only if “good,” “truth,” and “evil” are seen as spiritual forces, immaterial transcendent powers which act down on matter to form and shape it for Higher Ends.

    If, on the other hand, these concepts are understood as abstractions for the things we value and care about — including other people and how we relate to them — then I think there is no difference between how theists and atheists approach ethics and ideas.

    It wouldn’t matter even if Good, Truth, Evil — and Expediency (you forgot that one)– really were magical pure Platonic forms or not. One can still make sense of them — and justify them — as referring to common agreements of experience and reaction.

  38. #38 JimC
    March 30, 2008

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place

    Well what exactly is the THEORY of ID? No one actually seems to know.

    What are it’s fruits? Give an example of a research project using ID.

    Thats your homework. I suspect you will find you don’t need to replace nothing as it doesn’t create a vacuum.

  39. #39 jrandomatheist
    March 30, 2008

    “There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position.”

    For someone who wants ‘diplomacy’ you sure lack tact. In fact, I think I’ll respond just as diplomatically to you as you are to atheists like me:

    Oh go fuck yourself you pathetic subhuman lying scumbag. Inane statements like that can only be made by sub-moron mouthbreathers who have missed both the entire history of moral philosophy and all of the empirical evidence or lying trolls. I mean if atheists are so immoral, tell me why so few of them are in prison compared to christians?

    So which are you wnelson, moron or liar?

  40. #40 genesgalore
    March 30, 2008

    Posted by: JimC | March 30, 2008 10:33 PM

    dude, we were visited by space aliens. they did a bunch of experiments on apes but got called back to the mothership before they could perfect a spine that was idiot proof.

  41. #41 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place

    hasn’t ID already been displaced by “teach the controversy”?

    somebody forgot to check the Disinformation Institutes’s talking point list again.

    Blacklisting is bad karma, guys,

    then you better watch that oncoming car, as it’s the creationists that have been negatively influencing people’s careers, moron.

    In addition to the thousands of secondary school educators who have been knuckled under by angry, ignorant, parents, here’s a short (and very incomplete) list of recent (last 2 years alone) events that rather dwarfs those presented in “expelled”:

    2 professors fired, Bitterman (SW CC Iowa) and Bolyanatz (Wheaton)

    1 persecuted unmercifully Richard Colling (Olivet)

    1 attempted firing Murphy (Fuller Theological by Phillip Johnson IDist)

    1 successful death threats, assaults harrasment Gwen Pearson (UT Permian)

    1 state official fired Chris Comer (Texas)

    1 assault, fired from dept. Chair Paul Mirecki (U. of Kansas)

    1 killed, Rudi Boa, Biomedical Student (Scotland)

    Death Threats Eric Pianka UT Austin and the Texas Academy of Science engineered by a hostile, bizarre IDist named Bill Dembski

    Death Threats Michael Korn, fugitive from justice, towards the UC Boulder biology department and miscellaneous evolutionary biologists.

    Raven’s been on a collecting mission, just for idiots like yourself that think the “expulsions” are coming from the science side of things.

    you can point to ANY instance of someone claiming to be “expelled” for their anti-science beliefs, and I will be happy to show you exactly how that particular person either bungled their jobs, failed to publish in their fields, or did some other stupid ass thing that got them fired or let go.

  42. #42 waldteufel
    March 30, 2008

    I’ve been a geophysicist since 1968, and one of my professors, and later thesis advisers, always told us everything that any professor said in a classroom should be regarded as a question and not an answer. All of my professors insisted that we probe and question.

    I’ve never, ever heard anything like that from any preacher.

    Faith is a thinking stopper. Egnor doesn’t want you to think.

    Like all of the other DI poseurs, he wants you to kneel down and accept the bullshit they shovel out from their Wholly Babble.

    His shtick is the promulgation of ignorance.

    I’d really hate to be the patient of such an ignorant, arrogant . . . .egnorant man.

  43. #43 cdesignproponent
    March 30, 2008

    @#12 (Lucas Cantor):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvHfdZINjX4

    There you go.

  44. #44 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    Oh go fuck yourself you pathetic subhuman lying scumbag.

    see?

    it’s not just me that immediately feels the need to tell you to put your head back up the orifice you pulled it out of.

    If you want diplomacy, a good start would be by not ignorantly attempting to insult the intelligence of the people you want to convince.

  45. #45 RamblinDude
    March 30, 2008

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position.

    Why on earth can’t there be secular “good”? Or atheistic “truths”? And what exactly is so wrong with expediency? The golden rule is expedient. It cultivates harmony. Turning the other cheek may be “expedient” in some situations, no faith in the spirit world required. It’s expedient to not do things that make you feel bad and lessen your enthusiasm for living, things like killing and stealing and lying. Ethical behavior is expedient, it’s worthwhile.

    The concept of atheists doing things out of expediency is only troubling for those who think people are inherently evil and biased for unethical behavior, and that morality must be imposed upon us from supernatural sources.

  46. #46 genesgalore
    March 30, 2008

    buddhist have a thing for reincarnation. so guess what??? they don’t have a problem with embryonic manipulation. who is getting stuck with bad krama???

  47. #47 Stanton
    March 30, 2008

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position. Like I said, Myers needs to stay out of “ewww the Nazis weren’t nice” “they tricked me so they’re bad” part of this and go back to noodling with numbers.

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place — an equivalent philosophy — and “shut the fuck up” or wrecking careers doesn’t cut it. Blacklisting is bad karma, guys, the quintessential tactical blunder — something I haven’t heard Myers, and the others deny advocating. (The main point of the movie’s title, btw.)

    And wnelson again misses two grossly important points, in that A) Intelligent Desigh proponents have demonstrated that they have no drive to prove that Intelligent Design “theory” is worth inclusion into Mainstream Science, and B) Intelligent Design proponents have demonstrated that they do not want diplomacy, at all, to begin with. I mean, really, please explain to us why we should be diplomatic with a group of people who lie every time they move their lips or move their fingers across a keyboard.

  48. #48 Janine, ID
    March 30, 2008

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place

    wnelson

    You got it backwards. There was the theory of evolution. ID was cobbled out of the old creation myths as a “scientific” challenge to evolution. A rather toothless challenge at that. And no, it is not toothless because it is “suppressed”.

  49. #49 Ken Cope
    March 30, 2008

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place

    With ID, there is nothing to displace. It’s premise masquerading as conclusion, null and void. There’s no pixie dust, but assholes like wnelson demand we all clap for fairies every time they show up here to break wind.

    ID isn’t philosophy: “goddidit” doesn’t even rise to the status of stoner 101. It’s nearly as otiose as wnelson, who sucks philosophy’s hind teat because he can ante up neither observation nor evidence. It isn’t blacklisting when you don’t make the cut on the basis of profound incompetence.

  50. #50 James F
    March 30, 2008

    #48

    Indeed. ID is toothless (current peer-reviewed research paper count, zero) because it rests on supernatural explanations and thus isn’t science, not because of the Global Darwinist Conspiracy?.

  51. #51 NP
    March 30, 2008

    I would wager that one of the reasons why science erodes faith is because of the tendency of creationists to teach their children that evolution did not occur, that the earth is 6000 years old, and that they would be Nazis if they believed otherwise. They then also teach their kids that believing in evolution is satanic because if you don’t believe in creation you have no right to believe in anything of the other tenets of the religion. And so when it becomes blindingly obvious to the child that evolution is in fact true, he or she tends to discard the whole package.

  52. #52 danley
    March 30, 2008

    Eh, jes egnor him.

  53. #53 Copache
    March 30, 2008

    You have my support, PZ. In fact, I blogged about this very subject just minutes ago. I hate to advertise shit, but it’s worthy of checking out I think.

    http://copache.wordpress.com/

  54. #54 genesgalore
    March 30, 2008

    daddy, daddy, daddy, i want to ride a dinosaur.

  55. #55 rmp
    March 30, 2008

    OK, I’ve gotta ask. As I understand the Q&A after the Mall of America viewing, it was stated that there are 10 peer reviewed papers. Yes, 10 isn’t very many but it also isn’t 0, so it a crock that there are ‘some’ peered reviewed papers?

  56. #56 genesgalore
    March 30, 2008

    daddy, daddy, daddy, i want to ride a dinosaur.

  57. #57 Dick Marti
    March 30, 2008

    PZ,
    As you become more prominent (not that you are not there already), you’ll find that creationists will look for opportunities to twist your every word and utterance to their advantage.

  58. #58 Denis Loubet
    March 30, 2008

    Iroot wrote: “I’m on my way to becoming a scientist and I think it’s ridiculous when people say it takes more faith to believe in God than science. Ever tried understanding plate tectonics or string theory?”

    Whoa! You’ve got your magisteria in a bunch! Since when does understanding have anything to do with faith? If you’re taking plate tectonics on faith, then you’re doing science wrong. And if you’re basing a faith in god on your understanding of of it, then you’re sort of doing religion wrong.

    It takes WORK to understand plate tectonics, and it takes faith to believe in a god. Don’t mix the two up.

  59. #59 Ian H Spedding FCD
    March 30, 2008

    wnelson wrote

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position.

    Euthyphro dilemma?

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place — an equivalent philosophy —

    Glad to get confirmation ID is a philosophy not science.

  60. #60 James F
    March 30, 2008

    #55

    rmp, there are zero peer-reviewed ID research papers. I like phrasing it this way so there is no ambiguity. The cdesign proponentsists try to claim things like books published by trade or university presses as peer-reviewed publications, and include literature reviews and commentary papers that present no new data and typically do not mention intelligent design. See Talk Origins for details.

  61. #61 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    it was stated that there are 10 peer reviewed papers

    the crock lies in what that actually means if you examine the papers themselves (no data), or the journals they came from (like Rivista di Biologia).

    you’re actually far more accurate sticking with 0 as the number of papers published in peer reviewed journals containing any data whatsoever to support the concept of ID.

    which isn’t surprising, given that it’s not even formulable as a testable hypothesis to begin with.

    I think this was actually being discussed on another thread, if you would like to review the list of purported articles yourself.

    It’s also been talked about on occasion at talkorigins, and at Panda’s Thumb.

    search those for the threads that actually take a gander and breakdown this “literature”.

  62. #62 Blake Stacey
    March 30, 2008

    Off-topic: the Church of Scientology is “fair-gaming” a Boston man for the crime of being a member of Anonymous they can identify.

  63. #63 Sastra
    March 30, 2008

    Science erodes faith in God because, ironically, it erodes faith in man.

    “The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.”(Stephen Jay Gould)

    Even the process itself erodes our confidence in the ability to understand the universe just by sitting in an armchair and contemplating. No scientific theory has ever had to be discarded because philosophers came running up crying “But this contradicts one of our very best precepts!”

  64. #64 Eric
    March 30, 2008

    While increasing scientific literacy is an admirable goal, I think eventually we will hit a cutoff in understanding. There is a percentage of the population that will never understand science nor give up religion. Hopefully we’ll eventually reach the point where religious people are the minority in the population, not the atheists/strict scientists. However, we’ll never get to a point where religion disappears.

    And while science may lead in many cases (like me) to atheism, it is absurd to say that science shouldn’t be taught because our children might think for themselves (Alas, my parents feel this way about me in hindsight).

  65. #65 imback
    March 30, 2008

    Egnor’s misinterpretation of PZ’s point seems to be parallel to the misunderstanding of evolution by many creationists. When it’s claimed science education has the effect of eroding faith, it is misinterpreted as having the intent of eroding faith. Just as when it’s claimed evolution had the effect of, say, producing fish with feet, it is misunderstood as having the intent of producing fish with feet. Egnor et al could just be stone clueless as to how non-teleological systems work.

    missingpoints: Thanks for the Le Guin quote. She rocks, and so does Rushdie.

  66. #66 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 30, 2008

    Well what exactly is the THEORY of ID? No one actually seems to know.

    Yes I asked our old buddy Kevin Wirth(less) to let us in on what the testable falsifiable theory of ID was.

    It was soundly ignored. Multiple times.

    not that I thought it wouldn’t.

  67. #67 Kseniya
    March 30, 2008

    I think post #24 finally establishes WNelson’s status as a Concern Troll. Frankly, my inner Pollyanna is a bit surprised.

  68. #68 Dale Husband
    March 30, 2008

    Isn’t Egnor committing yet another example of quote-mining? And this seems an admission that daring to think and see for yourself is the thing that fundamentalist leaders fear most!

  69. #69 Ken Cope
    March 30, 2008

    my inner Pollyanna is a bit surprised

    Pollyanna, may I present Professor Pangloss, a bag designed perfectly for the holding of scum?

  70. #70 Ken Cope
    March 30, 2008

    As far as scum is concerned, Professor wnelson Pangloss is a bag of infinite holding.

  71. #71 DanioPhD
    March 30, 2008

    Eric @#64 said:

    While increasing scientific literacy is an admirable goal, I think eventually we will hit a cutoff in understanding. There is a percentage of the population that will never understand science nor give up religion.

    Yeah, there is a percentage of the population who feels that way NOW, and they contribute significantly to the state of relative science illiteracy in America today. They make the laws and budget decisions that devalue scientific contributions to humanity. They advocate ‘abstinence only’ education and ‘academic freedom’, to the further detriment of science education. Their children, however, don’t necessarily have to follow in their footsteps in this regard. If enough of us passionate science educators keep making science available and accessible and not just give it up as a lost cause, I truly believe that a paradigm shift can and will occur. Yes, it will be a slow, painful and frustrating change, but the goal is more than merely ‘admirable’–it is absolutely, critically necessary. And while, indeed, there may be a certain, hopefully dwindling, sector that continues to hold on to religion, the goal of public understanding of science should encompass even them.

  72. #72 Sastra
    March 30, 2008

    “Greater science literacy was going to lead to the erosion of religion, and then you get this nice positive feedback mechanism going whereas religion slowly fades away with more and more science to replace it, and that will displace more and more religion with a lot more science – and we eventually get to that point where religion has taken that appropriate place as a side dish rather than the main course.”

    PZ, do you remember what specific question you were answering here? Unlike Egnor, I’m not going to assume it must have been some variation of “why did you become a teacher?”

  73. #73 Damian
    March 30, 2008

    Thank you, Ian H Spedding FCD, that was exactly what I was going to say.

    I am yet to see a satisfactory answer as to how a morality that is reliant on God’s word/nature/however else you would like to frame it, isn’t entirely arbitrary. I am not so keen on baby killing becoming a right moral action, to be honest.

    Essentially, we are all in the same boat – theist and atheist – and all of this stuff about not being able to account for good and bad is palpable nonsense. Strictly speaking, no action is right or wrong as far as the universe is concerned (which it isn’t, of course), but so what? Nobody has shown that there are any absolute moral values imbued within the universe. It’s just tough luck for those who wish that there were.

    A theist would have to show how all secular accounts of a basic objective morality are wrong, first and foremost. There is also no way to objectively decide which account of morality is the correct one (different religions), or between variations of the same religion. There are thousands of modern ethical dilemma’s that religion has nothing to say about, either.

  74. #74 Cheezits
    March 31, 2008

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil”…

    There is no theory of ID.

  75. #75 SteveM
    March 31, 2008

    Egnor’s statements are not a “misinterpretation” or “misunderstanding” of PZ’s statements. They are outright deliberate distortions i.e. lies, plain and simple.

  76. #76 lroot
    March 31, 2008

    I stand by my use of the word faith. Faith generally comes before understanding. I think using the word understanding when referring to plate tectonics is a bit of a stretch, and also an ego trip. But not as much of an ego trip as thinking you understand and personally communicate with supernatural beings that create universes.

  77. #77 Stanton
    March 31, 2008

    As far as scum is concerned, Professor wnelson Pangloss is a bag of infinite holding.

    If he’s supposed to hold scum indefinitely, then why does he spew it forth continuously?

  78. #78 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    If he’s supposed to hold scum indefinitely, then why does he spew it forth continuously?

    no, no, you missed the word there, old boy:

    Infinite, not indefinite.

    he has plenty to spare.

  79. #79 biogeek
    March 31, 2008

    #68
    Remember the first sin… it wasn’t eating just any apple. It was eating the Fruit of the *Tree of Knowledge*. The worst thing a person can do, if you follow the logic (what little there is) in this fable, is to Know. Sky daddy, omniscient though they try to make him out to be, only realized they had done the naughty tasting when they demonstrated their knowledge (by hiding their nekkid bits behind leaves – which brings in the horror of the human body expressed so often by religiopaths).

    This is why judeo-islamo-christian religion and science have conflict. One views the activities inherent in the other as profound evil, and clings to the (false) notion that what they believe is the only morality. Science must be immoral, and the scientists too, and the knowledge thus acquired.

  80. #80 Lowell
    March 31, 2008

    BadMA wrote: “At least during his time, it was possible to be conservative and not religious, but nowadays it seems impossible. (Christopher Hitchens not withstanding. He does seem to be in a minority, as I can’t see many religiously non-neutral conservatives associating him with the conservative side.)”

    I disagree that Hitchens is a “conservative.” It’s just that he was a one-issue voter/pundit. He was in favor of the Global War on Terrorism (whatever that meant) no matter what, and he is incapable of admitting that he was wrong about that.

    I’ve lost almost all respect for him, but I don’t see how you can paint him as a “conservative.” He just happens to share a couple of characteristics with them.

  81. #81 Nathanael Nerode
    March 31, 2008

    We have ideals of skepticism and empiricism that do conflict with most religions — I know, a bunch of you will tell me that your religion allows for those values, too, and I’ll argue with you a different time

    As far as I can tell, many atheistic religions are comfortably compatible with empiricism and skepticism. The crucial problem are religions which demand that you believe particular things. Requiring belief in an active God is pretty much a deal-breaker. Judaism’s traditional emphasis on practice of ritual and maintenance of community customs, with no actual belief required, has been fairly compatible. The more minimalist forms of Buddhism pretty much ask you to believe “If you follow the traditional instructions of the Buddha, you will be more content.” This is testable and seems to be true for many people. Taoism is very mystical but makes no specific demands regarding the beliefs of the follower — arguably because of its vagueness — and so ends up being entirely compatible. Arguably all of these are undesirable in other ways, but incompatibility with skepticism and empiricism is not one of them. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that all three are overrepresented in the population of scientists relative to their repreentation in the general population?

    And if you separate out the ethical message from religion — what have you got left — you got — you got a bunch of fairy tales, right?

    Hmm. That, but some other stuff too. Religions often also have, on the good side:

    - a social club — don’t make the mistake of underestimating this. Social clubs have a tendency to turn into quasi-religious organizations, so there’s something really significant psychologically in this aspect.

    - semi-arbitrary rituals (especially useful for those prone to OCD). Add enough of these to a social club, and most outside observers will have trouble telling it apart from a religion.

    - occasionally, proven-useful practices, such as meditation (though not so much in Western religion) — all of which can be done independent of the religion quite easily.

    And on the bad side:
    - brainwashing
    - authoritarian hierarchies (these seem to arise semi-spontaneously in a lot of organizations, of course)

  82. #82 PZ Myers
    March 31, 2008

    PZ, do you remember what specific question you were answering here?

    No, sorry…it was almost a year ago, and we talked for about 3 hours, so no way can I remember that.

  83. #83 Nathanael Nerode
    March 31, 2008

    Regarding comment five:

    And please explain to us why we should be diplomatic towards people who literally worship their own stupidity + ignorance, and who prove themselves utterly untrustworthy at every opportunity?

    They’ve mostly been brainwashed. The techniques are listed in _Leaving the Fold_, which was a real eye-opener for me. They deserve deprogramming, but of course they can’t be forced to do it. “Diplomacy” doesn’t seem right, but the correct approach is one which leaves them emotionally open to breaking out of their closed-loop belief system. Even if it’s unlikely that they will actually break out.

  84. #84 Sycorax
    March 31, 2008

    The “what if the sky really is green?” nonsense reminds me of a Philip K. Dick quote: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

  85. #85 Jim
    March 31, 2008

    I read this article and find I have nothing to say. But if I heard you say this in person I think I would just stand and applaud. And hope some day I get to shake your hand.

  86. #86 Coyote
    March 31, 2008

    Oddly enough, the sky is green. Because of the way our eyes perceive light, we see it as blue. If you were to measure the light scattered through the atmosphere with an instrument you’d see it in the green range, not the blue. To quote Bill Nye, “It’s SCIENCE!”

  87. #87 two faced
    March 31, 2008

    I have to admit. Expelled does make you looked rather two faced.

    You act one way on camera, and quite another on your blog.

  88. #88 Wazza
    March 31, 2008

    Well, we can make him look the same on his blog, too… just mine some quotes!

  89. #89 Interrobang
    March 31, 2008

    You act one way on camera, and quite another on your blog.

    You ever heard of “deceptive film editing”?

    If that isn’t enough of an explanation for you, people often construct personae in writing that don’t match what their personalities are when viewed face-to-face, or on film, as it were. The deceptive thing about judging someone’s “facetime” personality by their writing is that while the author is constructing a persona, the reader is also constructing the author’s “self” through interpreting the author’s words. You might have heard the saying, “Never confuse the artist with their work,” which is the same thing.

    I’m often a fire-breathing blood-drinker on the internet, but in real life, I’m just a bookish technical writer with a penchant for discourse analytics. I think PZed’s about the same.

  90. #90 hephaistos
    March 31, 2008

    Coyote: The spectrum of light from the sky is objectively measurable by instruments. But the color we “see” when we look at the sky is somehow generated in our brains as the result of light from the sky stimulating our retinas. That sensation we call “color” is completely subjective, although experiments show that most humans experience the same visual stimulation – they see the color – as the same color. There is no way that we can see a green sky as blue, because there is no way for us to know that the sky is green unless we look at it, in which case we will see blue. It may be that the maximum intensity of electromagnetic radiation scattered by molecules in the sky is in the “green” region of the visual spectrum. But the complete spectrum acting via our optical system makes the sky look blue to us, so the sky is blue. There is no simple relationship between the predominant wavelength(s) of light in a spectrum and the color which we sense. Bill Nye, if that is the source of your information, should know better.

  91. #91 wnelson
    March 31, 2008

    Glad to get confirmation ID is a philosophy not science.

    I think this sums up the thrust of the blowback. [except for IIchthyic's protest that Xian fundies hold sway over scientific institutions with their "intimidation".]

    Guys, it’s real simple: ID people allow for an unmoved mover of sorts — you guys want to dogmatically assert that can’t be true. Now, how on Earth you can leap over that tall building is a mystery, since by definition, all that exists is matter and energy. Also, how this impacts biological research is a mystery: there have been too many theists and Christian scientists for any of you to want to disown the Principia Mathematica — maybe Bach was on Acid, maybe all those Scottish inventors were drunk?

    You are already involved in a metaphysical discussion, whether you want to be or not — if it’s true that God doesn’t exist, it’s still true that it’s God who doesn’t exist.

    Again — at least Hitchens can quote Spinoza. Maybe it will take the Brits to supply adequately educated pundits. America’s umpteenth educational place [thanks, NEA!!] doesn’t seem to be able to penetrate the ideological morass.

  92. #92 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    They’ve mostly been brainwashed. The techniques are listed in _Leaving the Fold_, which was a real eye-opener for me. They deserve deprogramming, but of course they can’t be forced to do it. “Diplomacy” doesn’t seem right, but the correct approach is one which leaves them emotionally open to breaking out of their closed-loop belief system. Even if it’s unlikely that they will actually break out.

    *bing*

    it’s easy enough to point out someone who is brainwashed to someone who isn’t and say:

    “see that guy? don’t become brainwashed like him.”

    quite another to try and convinced the brainwashed to seek treatment.

    the purpose of this blog has never been the conversion of the unconvertable, AFAICT, but merely to point out them out as warning to others, like you might put up a sign warning of a rabid dog.

  93. #93 Epistaxis
    March 31, 2008

    Stanton, #5:

    And please explain to us why we should be diplomatic towards people who literally worship their own stupidity + ignorance, and who prove themselves utterly untrustworthy at every opportunity?

    Ichthyic, #8:

    fuck you for not even bothering to find out the fact that it isn’t the scientists that have failed to try out the diplomacy angle.

    Diplomacy would be for swaying the bystanders, not the creationists themselves. Extra-blogosphere, the vast majority of people, including voters, do not have strong opinions. Every time we screech like Stanton, or simply give creationists a juicy soundbite connecting science to atheism like PZ, we play right into their narrative of science as a closed-minded priesthood with an anti-god agenda.

    To answer your question, Stanton, they’ve already given up the high ground – let’s keep it.

  94. #94 Ken Cope
    March 31, 2008

    ID people allow for an unmoved mover of sorts — you guys want to dogmatically assert that can’t be true.

    What’s all this about Spinoza’s unmoved movement? Did it take place before the beginning, South of the South Pole?

  95. #95 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    [except for IIchthyic's protest that Xian fundies hold sway over scientific institutions with their "intimidation".]

    misquoting me already, moron?

    I said fundies intimidate HIGH SCHOOL teachers and can influence what they teach by sheer numbers. take a gander at Northern Florida if you don’t believe me (not that i care).

    as far as other methods of intimidation…

    why do you think Bush tweaked so many scientific reports coming from government research institutions over his first 5 years in office?

    for the fun of it?

    he owed some debts.

    ID people allow for an unmoved mover of sorts — you guys want to dogmatically assert that can’t be true.

    fucking, fucking liar.

    NOBODY here has said that.

    what we have said is that unless you know how a putative designer actually works in the world, there IS NO WAY TO TEST IT. Hence ID is entirely devoid of any explanatory or predictive power whatsoever. Nobody is saying that some alien influence never came down and zapped some goo somewhere to modify the process, but the fact of the matter is, unless you can come up with how such an alien actually works, there is simply no way to test the idea.

    even Dawkins will tell you the same. Which is, btw, basically what he does in Expelled, it’s just that the producers were too stupid to understand that that was what he was doing.

    which of course means, you also won’t understand it.

    Nor is there any need, since 150 years of hundreds of thousands of independent tests have done nothing but support the idea of natural selection as a mechanism of evolution. However, just like science to go and add other mechanisms to flesh out the theory of evolution as a whole (neutral drift for example).

    NOTHING has countered the basic premise of the theory. People who don’t understand this haven’t the slightest clue of all the people that have tried to disprove various aspects of the theory. They seem to think scientists are all some sort of self-supportive cabal, but nothing could be further from the truth. every new idea that gets published that is even remotely interesting is like meat for hungry wolves, as it rightly should be. That the basic premise of evolutionary theory remains remarkably whole after 150 years is astonishing.

    what also is astonishing is that you keep coming here trying to play the “diplomacy” card, when you haven’t the slightest clue what you’re on about, and proceed to mangle and lie about what we say and our intentions.

    I repeat:

    take that head of yours and shove it back up the orifice from whence it came.

  96. #96 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    Diplomacy would be for swaying the bystanders, not the creationists themselves.

    a hand is reached out to all that ASK for it. Anyone who comes here with the actual intent of asking honest questions always gets a hand.

    clearer?

    However, I’m sure I speak for many when I say that if you come to my house with pitchforks and torches, don’t expect the welcome mat to be out.

  97. #97 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    What’s all this about Spinoza’s unmoved movement?

    sounds like an interesting premise for an Exlax commercial.

    :p

  98. #98 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    To answer your question, Stanton, they’ve already given up the high ground – let’s keep it.

    you simply, like Nisbet, do not understand the mindset of a cultist.

    I think someone around here linked to some recent activities of the Scientologists in their never ending drive to persecute perceived detractors through the legal system.

    believe me when i tell you that “the high ground” does not apply here. You don’t see the scientists trying to pass legislation changing the very definition of science itself, for example (Kansas), or trying to pass legislation allowing the teaching of creationism in secondary schools (Florida).

    like i said, there is a time for diplomacy, and there is a time for looking at the mob with the pitchforks and torches coming to your house as a threat beyond the effects of diplomacy.

  99. #99 Stanton
    March 31, 2008

    Diplomacy would be for swaying the bystanders, not the creationists themselves. Extra-blogosphere, the vast majority of people, including voters, do not have strong opinions. Every time we screech like Stanton, or simply give creationists a juicy soundbite connecting science to atheism like PZ, we play right into their narrative of science as a closed-minded priesthood with an anti-god agenda.

    To answer your question, Stanton, they’ve already given up the high ground – let’s keep it.

    So, then, Mr Concern Troll, what do you intend to happen if you insist that we stop pointing out the incessant stream of wrong-doings spewed by Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents?

    That they will magically disappear once we stop complaining? Or that, if we’re nice, these people will see the errors of their ways, and stop trying to wreck the educational system of the United States in the name of Jesus Christ?

    Furthermore, how does my pointing out that Intelligent Design proponents are lying cheats to a one negatively impact the image of science? Explain to me why my saying that “The Discovery Institute is an organization of swindlers” causes people to think that scientists are really atheistic pagan devil-worshiping baby-eaters with PZ Myers as their anti-Pope?

    Are you saying I should tone it down, and just mumble that “the Discovery Institute is just misguided in its purpose”?

  100. #100 Dustin
    March 31, 2008

    ID people allow for an unmoved mover of sorts — you guys want to dogmatically assert that can’t be true.

    That’s moronic, and you haven’t been paying attention. Some of us do have the common sense to realize that it is very unlikely, but if you like to scream about teapots in orbit around Neptune, I suppose that’s your incredibly unparsimonious cup of tea. We have been, quite undogmatically, asserting that what ID “allows” isn’t falsifiable, doesn’t make predictions, isn’t supported by evidence, and that what it does offer as evidence is simply wrong. Also, they’re damn liars, and so are you.

    Epistaxis wrote wanked:

    Every time we screech like Stanton, or simply give creationists a juicy soundbite connecting science to atheism like PZ, we play right into their narrative of science as a closed-minded priesthood with an anti-god agenda.

    Oh? And what happens when we sit around being largely ineffectual save those times we can rouse ourselves long enough to sneer at at the people who don’t, in our infinitely wise opinion “frame” things properly? It’s a funny thing how very little most of you whiners actually do in the way of “framing” for the general public when you aren’t trolling around here and oozing the condescension that you are, frankly, too stupid and lazy to be entitled to. It makes me think that your concerns are a little less than sincere.

  101. #101 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2008

    I have to admit. Expelled does make you looked rather two faced.

    You act one way on camera, and quite another on your blog.

    I have to admit. Comments like this make you look like a fucking retard.

    Next time you decide to waste a few electrons, you might want to consider adding a few details so people have some fucking clue as to what you’re trying to say.

  102. #102 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 31, 2008

    @ lroot:

    I’m on my way to becoming a scientist and I think it’s ridiculous when people say it takes more faith to believe in God than science. Ever tried understanding plate tectonics or string theory?

    First, I assume you are referring to science theories rather than science at large, but you still seem to be confusing them. We can trust the process itself, as long as we get results. There is no reason to trust developing theories such as string theory when they haven’t made touch with experiments yet.

    Second, the status of plate tectonics are different, as plate tectonics has been validated science for a long time. One can measure the plate drift directly now, IIRC a few cm/year or so depending on the plate, which is pretty awesome. I found papers from 1974 doing it astronomically, and a 1979 student project discussing how this can be done.

    Btw, string theory isn’t the best example of a potentially inviable theory. It is at the very least a useful area of math, it has provided fruitful ideas in both math and physics and it has made touch with other areas of theoretical physics. (AFAIU provided independent calculation of black hole entropy.) Seems to me it has been useful so far, but the question is if it is the correct description.

  103. #103 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 31, 2008

    @ lroot:

    I’m on my way to becoming a scientist and I think it’s ridiculous when people say it takes more faith to believe in God than science. Ever tried understanding plate tectonics or string theory?

    First, I assume you are referring to science theories rather than science at large, but you still seem to be confusing them. We can trust the process itself, as long as we get results. There is no reason to trust developing theories such as string theory when they haven’t made touch with experiments yet.

    Second, the status of plate tectonics are different, as plate tectonics has been validated science for a long time. One can measure the plate drift directly now, IIRC a few cm/year or so depending on the plate, which is pretty awesome. I found papers from 1974 doing it astronomically, and a 1979 student project discussing how this can be done.

    Btw, string theory isn’t the best example of a potentially inviable theory. It is at the very least a useful area of math, it has provided fruitful ideas in both math and physics and it has made touch with other areas of theoretical physics. (AFAIU provided independent calculation of black hole entropy.) Seems to me it has been useful so far, but the question is if it is the correct description.

  104. #104 Dustin
    March 31, 2008

    Next time you decide to waste a few electrons, put a screwdriver in a wall socket.

    I fixed it because, frankly, I don’t think I need to read troll elaborations.

  105. #105 Anton Mates
    March 31, 2008

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position.

    Again, there is no “expediency” either. All your values are ultimately arbitrary; selfishness is no more “logical” than selflessness.

    Values exist because we manufacture them out of our own heads. Some of us expend additional brainpower manufacturing deities to enforce those values, but that doesn’t make them any more natural or objective.

  106. #106 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 31, 2008

    @ wnelson:

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place — an equivalent philosophy — and “shut the fuck up” or wrecking careers doesn’t cut it.

    You are chasing the wrong game here. It is ID that is the career wrecker. Or rather it is suspected to be, but there is only an observable correlation. If you look at the publication record of guys like Dembski and Gonzales, it drops off around the time they publicly adopt ID creationism.

    Looking closer at say Dembski, it is quite possible that he wouldn’t made a mathematician anyway. It seems he is only capable of mediocre math at the level of math grad students. But it is claimed that his unrelated PhD work is fairly robust if not inspired, consistent with ID putting his mind on the fritz.

    And why shouldn’t it? ID has no bearing on the world as long as it isn’t used to derive testable predictions but as a cloak for making contra-factual claims on diverse sciences. So it can only serve to confuse and detract from a science career. Why did you expect otherwise?

    And as for the mistake about arguing philosophy and religion instead of science, it is already covered here.

  107. #107 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 31, 2008

    @ wnelson:

    You can’t displace something like ID without having something to put in it’s place — an equivalent philosophy — and “shut the fuck up” or wrecking careers doesn’t cut it.

    You are chasing the wrong game here. It is ID that is the career wrecker. Or rather it is suspected to be, but there is only an observable correlation. If you look at the publication record of guys like Dembski and Gonzales, it drops off around the time they publicly adopt ID creationism.

    Looking closer at say Dembski, it is quite possible that he wouldn’t made a mathematician anyway. It seems he is only capable of mediocre math at the level of math grad students. But it is claimed that his unrelated PhD work is fairly robust if not inspired, consistent with ID putting his mind on the fritz.

    And why shouldn’t it? ID has no bearing on the world as long as it isn’t used to derive testable predictions but as a cloak for making contra-factual claims on diverse sciences. So it can only serve to confuse and detract from a science career. Why did you expect otherwise?

    And as for the mistake about arguing philosophy and religion instead of science, it is already covered here.

  108. #108 Damian
    March 31, 2008

    Has anyone else noticed that, whilst clearly attempting to project his (supposed) philosophical authority over the “inferior” scientists who frequent this blog, wnelson hasn’t actually said anything that couldn’t be found in, “Philosophy – A Very Short Introduction”?

  109. #109 Neil
    March 31, 2008

    I’m real sorry to disappoint Mr. Spinoza, but I won’t be quoting him either. Diplomacy is equally irrelevant here.

    Damn, I wasn’t going to take the bait, but I did. Oh well.

    This post is about lying. Egnor might be the greatest surgeon ever. Maybe someday he will prove that god exists, and have a marvelous conversation with Jesus while dining on unmoved movers and first causes. That doesn’t give him license to go around lying and misrepresenting people to further his philosophy(views, superstitions, comfort zones, gut feelings, whatever.)
    I don’t care what he believes, and if his beliefs help him do his job, that is just dandy. But he obviously has trouble reconciling the two. He can believe anything he wants; but when looking for scientific answers to scientific questions, his superstitions should not be involved. Unless maybe there are some actual “facts” or “evidence” included as well.
    I’m just a layman, but I know enough to check my assumptions and superstitions at the door of rational thought.

  110. #110 Stuart Weinstein
    March 31, 2008

    “‘m on my way to becoming a scientist and I think it’s ridiculous when people say it takes more faith to believe in God than science. Ever tried understanding plate tectonics or string theory?”

    I dont’ know about string theory. I’m a geophysicist.

    What troubles you about plate tectonics?

  111. #111 Steve
    March 31, 2008

    Religion isn’t going anywhere. Already, attempts are being made to produce new religions that have some relevance to the modern world. Scientology is one, and unfortunately it is just as toxic as the older religions.

    People need religion against the knowledge of death, to give them purpose (“God’s plan”), and hopefully provide a bit of common sense courtesy. They also need it to provide a sense of group belonging, to be the elect, the saved, somehow special.

    The problem with Christianity is that they have included the Old Testament and the ravings of Paul in their religious writings. Such a good message drowned out by all of the hatred. And this doesn’t even address the weirdness of consuming your Creator, among other things. It’s a backwater shepherd religion, and eventually something will replace it in the fullness of time.

    The question is whether the best parts of the message will survive.

  112. #112 John Morales
    March 31, 2008

    #96

    a hand is reached out to all that ASK for it. Anyone who comes here with the actual intent of asking honest questions always gets a hand.

    Well said, Ichthyic! Pharyngula, where discussion is (ahem) educated but robust and forthrightly combative, responds to honest questions.

    I note that for the first time in history, any bright child with access to the Internet could become an autodidact.
    Less grandiosely put, access to science is available, to anyone with access to the Internet.

  113. #113 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    Scientology is one, and unfortunately it is just as toxic as the older religions.

    just as? moreso I’d say. those guys are positively dangerous if you get on the wrong side of them. They’ll basically destroy your life by misusing the legal system.

    scientology has more relevance to the modern world?

    you mean, in the fact that it’s basically a giant pyramid scheme?

    yes, hucksters will never stop trying to dupe the credulous.

    doesn’t mean it will take the form of a religion, necessarily.

  114. #114 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    People need religion against the knowledge of death, to give them purpose (“God’s plan”), and hopefully provide a bit of common sense courtesy. They also need it to provide a sense of group belonging, to be the elect, the saved, somehow special.

    not correct.

    one exception disproves what you say, and you’re on a blog full of such exceptions.

    you might reword that to “some think they need religion”.

    it’s just as obvious they really don’t, however.

    no more than a drunk needs alcohol.

  115. #115 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    Less grandiosely put, access to science is available, to anyone with access to the Internet.

    yup, even I can feel the dramatic transformation in knowledge gathering that the internet has added to the game. It’s totally changed how I do my journal research over the last 15 years; sped up my periodical reviews by orders of magnitude (I hardly ever occasion a trip to the library any more), and helped make up for the inevitable drop in memory skills that starts with middle age.

    google fu!

    supernatural death slam!

    http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~pound/kungfu.html
    :)

    We’ve witnessed the birth of a new age of information, trite as that might sound.

    It leaves even less room for the ignorant to prosper, which of course makes them all the more defensive. “Expelled” is the beginning of the end, methinks. I tend to use the projection level of the creationists themselves as a bellwether of how defensive they feel, and most have been screaming WATERLOOO! for the past few years now. Desperation smacks of endgame. “Expelled” makes me smell blood in the water.

    now if only we could convince more of the big journals to go open source, it really would be a great help to furthering the education of all.

    http://www.doaj.org/

    I highly encourage educators and sciencefolk of all stripes to spend a little time checking out and trying to see how one might support the concept of open access journals.

  116. #116 Ed Darrell
    March 31, 2008

    Here’s the real rub: You say you teach the facts, Egnor says that threatens his religion.

    What sort of religion is threatened by the facts? Clearly Egnor, and others of the Discoveryist faith, lack faith in the Christian God who created all things (and saw that they were “good”); why would a simple recounting of history threaten anyone’s faith, if they really believed that?

    Either the Discoveryists lack the faith they claim they wish to protect, or they are lying about what they believe.

    The Liberty Bell has a Bible inscription on it (remember, it was done originally with private funds, etc., etc.): “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof – Lev. XXV, v. x.”

    Egnor campaigns against that sentiment. He claims its unfair when we proclaim liberty.

    I have one word, from the bottom of my Christian heart, for the Discoveryists including Egnor: Skroom.

  117. #117 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    Egnor campaigns against that sentiment. He claims its unfair when we proclaim liberty.

    …and you know what Georgie said about those mean ‘ol terrorists.

    “They hate us for our freedom.”

    oh wait, Egnor isn’t a terrorist?

    I say we let homeland security decide. If it was good enough for Dembski…

  118. #118 Stephen Wells
    March 31, 2008

    @91: you’re also involved in a werewolf discussion, whether you like it or not, since if werewolves don’t exist, it is still true that it is _werewolves_ that don’t exist. Lycanthropy allows for a wolf-man of sorts, and you want to dogmatically insist that that can’t be true. I suggest you festoon yourself with garlic, wolfsbane and silver daggers.

  119. #119 Ross Nixon
    March 31, 2008

    Coyote, the sky is violet, not green! http://tinyurl.com/2puddc

  120. #120 Azkyroth
    March 31, 2008

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position.

    Not even wrong.

  121. #121 Azkyroth
    March 31, 2008

    Thank you, Ian H Spedding FCD [snip]

    I am not so keen on baby killing becoming a right moral action, to be honest.

    Jesus Mythical Christ, don’t get him started again. D:

  122. #122 Egnor Is A Fool
    March 31, 2008

    I don’t see where Egnor says this, but I’ll trust that you quoted him accurately. Leave it to an English major to pounce on a bad metaphor, especially one regarding Nature.

    Instead, he tried to argue, “well, what if the sky is green, and your unspiritual eyes simply can’t see it?”

    My “unspiritual” eyes do see the sky as green, and when it is green I do not see it as some mysterious phenomena cast down upon us by some great deity in the Heavens as the ignorant ancient peoples did. Science solved this mystery. But what if I am colorblind and cannot see the sky as green? Then I can hear the auroras “sing.” And what if I am colorblind and deaf as well? Would I deny electrons and magnetic fields? The solar wind?

    I guess a better metaphor would be that Nature is always messing with our heads and science tells us why and how. Science knowledge checks our imaginations that run wild with long and winding locutions that theologians tend to engage in, and it is all self-referential. Fantasy is fiction, and although it can drive one to think of possibilities, such as Jules Verne’s submarines, the results are always anchored in reality, not a self-referential god. Yes, the sky is green and blue and red and yellow and grey and purple and we know WHY this is so.

    He will keep rowing and rowing
    without ever knowing
    why he is terribly blind.
    It’s so odd to see
    a neurosurgeon with glee
    trapped within his own mind.

    The hubris of the ego! And, Egnor, Nature (including all living things and our brains) doesn’t give a shit about you – it’s just going to go on beating up your
    inability to understand it. It’s laughing at you…figuratively speaking.

  123. #123 Sue Laris
    March 31, 2008

    I recall seeing a video of Dr. Egnor at work. As best I recall, it went like this -

    Doctor: Forceps!

    Nurse: Forceps! (hands over forceps)

    Doctor: Scalpel!

    Nurse: Scalpel! (hands over scalpel)

    Doctor: Handkerchief!

    Nurse: Handkerchief! (covers Dr.’s head with handkerchief)

    Doctor: OPERATE! I’M GOING TO OPERATE! OPERATE! OOOPERAAATE!

  124. #124 Nick Gotts
    March 31, 2008

    “There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position.” – wnelson

    A flat-out lie. Truth is correspondence with the facts. The core of evil is deliberately causing unnecessary suffering, although there are logically possible acts which do not come into this category but are evil (e.g., painlessly eliminating all life on Earth). Good is more complicated, but no more dependent on the existence of a deity. In fact, postulating the existence of a deity at best gets you nowhere. Either you say “Truth is what God believes, evil is what he forbids, good is what he commands.”, or postulating God’s existence clearly does not help. If you do, are you defining truth, good, evil in this way, or are you making a substantive assertion about the nature of God? If the former, I am free simply to reject your definitions. If the latter, at least so far as good and evil are concerned, is overwhelmingly against you, at least if you also believe God to be omnipotent (and if he is not, why should we regard him as anything special?).

    Incidentally, repeating your lie will not make it true.

  125. #125 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    Guys, it’s real simple: ID people allow for an unmoved mover of sorts — you guys want to dogmatically assert that can’t be true. Now, how on Earth you can leap over that tall building is a mystery, since by definition, all that exists is matter and energy. Also, how this impacts biological research is a mystery: there have been too many theists and Christian scientists for any of you to want to disown the Principia Mathematica — maybe Bach was on Acid, maybe all those Scottish inventors were drunk?

    And yet again you demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the situation. The “crux of the biscuit” is not whether religious people can be good scientists, it is about religious scientists applying religious ideas to science and therefore practicing bad science. Then trying to push it as good science into the public education system and research labs.

    Period.

    Your whine-fest above is just demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the issue as well as a good heaping spoonful of self perceived persecution complex.

  126. #126 Cheezits
    March 31, 2008

    When it’s claimed science education has the effect of eroding faith, it is misinterpreted as having the intent of eroding faith.

    That’s hardly surprising, since creationists invariably confuse effect with intent. They see something in nature that does something, they assume that it must have been designed *for that purpose*. They see intent everywhere.

  127. #127 Nick Gotts
    March 31, 2008

    “ID people allow for an unmoved mover of sorts — you guys want to dogmatically assert that can’t be true.”

    It should be obvious to the meanest intelligence (I allude to yours, my dear wnelson) that no evidence whatever can disprove the existence of an intelligent creator of the universe – which is why few if any atheists claim such a disproof. A sufficiently shy and powerful creator could of course conceal its existence from any research we might undertake. Indeed, theists have come closer and closer to postulating such a creator as the project of rational enquiry has advanced, and a more interventionist kind of creator has become less and less plausible. What many atheists, me included, would assert is that the existence of a creator which could be considered worthy of worship (i.e. an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being) is contrary to the abundant evidence of unnecessary suffering in the world. Of course the conventional depiction of the Christian god, who sentences those who do not believe in him or who disobey his orders to eternal torment, is of a being so evil as to make the most monstrously evil human beings look merely a little mischievous by comparison.

  128. #128 Crowlie
    March 31, 2008

    They truly funny thing is that the whole idea of literal creationism was only invented a few hundred years ago after the scientific method became established. Prior to that the Bible was seen as a collection of origin stories to be taken as metaphor and allegory. Particularly after the US civil war Fundamentalists realised they were losing ground and opted for a new, improved view of reality in order to further captivate true believers.

    Aren’t “good”, “evil” and “truth” all results of a collapse of consciousness anyway?

  129. #129 charley
    March 31, 2008

    Creobots are hard to reach because they view the Bible as the inerrant word of God. Scientific evidence, reason or even their own senses do not change their mind, because humans are considered fallible, fallen etc. One way to crack the bubble a little is to get them to examine their beliefs about the Bible. Ask them why they believe the Bible is perfect and ask them to explain in detail where this important book came from. These topics are avoided like the plague within the church, so a surprising number of fundamentalists haven’t even thought about them.

  130. #16

    The only way to prevent utter collapse of their nonsense in the face of reality is to group with like minded individuals, and use denial to allow them to project their warped sense of reasoning onto the rest of the world.

    It’s exactly the same kinds of behavior and psychologies one can find associated with extreme cults of any kind, not just religious ones.

    It isn’t a quality exclusive to schizophrenics and cultists, but also addicts.

  131. #131 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    wnelson #91 wrote:

    You are already involved in a metaphysical discussion, whether you want to be or not — if it’s true that God doesn’t exist, it’s still true that it’s God who doesn’t exist.

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here. On the face of it, it looks as if you’re claiming that if we can imagine or conceive of the possibility of something, then it must be real. We can only think about magical unicorns, say, because unicorns really exist in a metaphysical world of Pure Form we’re somehow accessing. Or, maybe, you’re saying that we create reality with our minds, ala The Secret, as we shift around quantum fields of consciousness through the intensity of our intentions and make it true.

    Those are both pretty contorted, arbitrary ways of understanding what an abstract idea is, and yes, they’d need scientific evidence in their support if they’re going to make it out of the morass of philosophical speculation. Assuming this is what you meant.

    At any rate, your argument falls apart as soon as you yourself try to deal with what you take to be false gods — who must then become REAL Gods which you’re “denying.”

  132. #132 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    Epistaxis #93 wrote:

    Every time we screech like Stanton, or simply give creationists a juicy soundbite connecting science to atheism like PZ, we play right into their narrative of science as a closed-minded priesthood with an anti-god agenda.

    A reasonable argument can also be made the other way — that when we show no passion, and when we fail to address the very heart of the human belief in magical thinking, we play right into their narrative of science as a cold, disconnected activity closed off from the realization that our universe is fundamentally enchanted.

  133. #133 Kseniya
    March 31, 2008

    I don’t see where Egnor says this, but I’ll trust that you quoted him accurately

    You’re correct, he doesn’t – but neither did PZ attribute it to Egnor. “The sky is green” came from “an argument with a staunch creationist…” Reread the post and you’ll see what I mean.

  134. #134 freelunch
    March 31, 2008

    “A kind answer turns away wrath.”

    Diplomacy…..

    ….anyone?

    …anyone???

    Bueller?

    My experience is that the religious zealots are not listening to any answer and rarely are kind. When they falsely accuse people of lying, after they have been corrected, they have drawn righteous wrath upon them and they deserve to be publicly rebuked.

    Tit-for-tat is the best way to deal with others in a way that gets them to act reasonably. Don’t start it, but don’t let the religionists believe that you are a pushover or a fool who is too nice to speak up or that they are somehow protected in their dishonesty because they are Lying for the Lord.

  135. #135 Bronze Dog
    March 31, 2008

    Diplomacy would be for swaying the bystanders, not the creationists themselves. Extra-blogosphere, the vast majority of people, including voters, do not have strong opinions. Every time we screech like Stanton, or simply give creationists a juicy soundbite connecting science to atheism like PZ, we play right into their narrative of science as a closed-minded priesthood with an anti-god agenda.

    Funny, it was firebrands like PZ who got my opinions to be very strong. It was their coverage of Creationists resorting to base methods that got me motivated to speak up. He’s making it quite clear that it’s the Creationists with the horrible agenda and dirty tactics.

    It’s not like there’s anything else we could do. Diplomacy doesn’t work if the other side does everything possible to undermine trust.

  136. #136 kid bitzer
    March 31, 2008

    i once heard a minister claim that religious instruction would make students more moral people, who would be less likely to rob banks.

    one has to wonder why a minister would state plainly that the agenda of christians is to advance the agenda of wealthy robber-barons in the classroom.

    The most parsimonious explanation is that he means it.

    jesus. at least old-school jesuits were smart enough to understand the doctrine of double effect. but then again, old-school jesuits were also smart enough not to be creationists.

  137. #137 phein
    March 31, 2008

    Saith #1: Here’s Egnor’s foolish interpretation of that comment

    You’re too generous. I’m fairly sure he’s just a liar.

    I think he’s just implementing the mission statement of the website, as it is listed at the bottom of the page:

    “The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site.”

    That says it all, doesn’t it?

  138. #138 Sonja
    March 31, 2008

    What PZ is saying is basically what led to my non-belief. I spent 5 days a week in a very good public school and 1 day a week at church. From a very early age, I could see that school was smart and religion was stupid — just by comparison.

  139. #139 DrFrank
    March 31, 2008

    And if you separate out the ethical message from religion — what have you got left — you got — you got a bunch of fairy tales, right?
    I think you’re being particularly harsh on fairy tales here: plenty of those stories have some kind of underlying ethical message ;)

  140. #140 386sx
    March 31, 2008

    You are already involved in a metaphysical discussion, whether you want to be or not — if it’s true that God doesn’t exist, it’s still true that it’s God who doesn’t exist.

    Yeah, so? What’s wrong with being involved in a metaphysical discussion. Does it have the cooties or something? Silly troll person!

  141. #141 jimvj
    March 31, 2008

    Charley (#127), you are completely on target.

    The best way to erode irrational belief in “The Bible” is to highlight its shoddy history:
    - that the bible is really a 300-plus year afterthought in the evolution of christianity – the founders of the religion had no concept of a “bible”;
    - that we have no originals, only copies of copies, which were deliberately and accidentally altered;
    - that there is no intrinsic definition of what a “bible” should contain;
    - that archaeology shows no evidence of the legends depicted in the Old Testament; etc.

    Our chief weapons in this fight should be scholars like Bart Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus), Israel Finkelstein, etc.

  142. #142 Glen Davidson
    March 31, 2008

    He thought the same thing, that our classes were places where we actively suppress religion.

    I told him that I never criticize his religion in the classroom, nor do I push atheism. Instead, it’s like this: what he does with his religion is the equivalent of telling his kids that the sky is green, and worse, assuring them that this is a fundamental tenet of their religion and that the whole structure comes crashing down if they question it. They get in my classroom, and I don’t tell them their religion is wrong — I tell them to open their eyes and look up.*

    And here’s what the Expelled site has to say (in their “News” section):

    Belief in atheism, agnosticism and belief in a designer are real beliefs – let’s not pretend that they don’t exist, can be side stepped or pretend that it is fair, constitutional or intellectually rigorous to favor one such worldview over another… especially in the realm of science. To oppose such academic freedom – especially at the taxpayer’s expense – is simply wrong. If you agree, look here.

    Ignoring issues of whether or not atheism and agnosticism are “beliefs,” certainly they are not allowed to be taught at taxpayers expense. Which means that Expelled is unwittingly (just about everything they do is unwitting, granted) pointing out that belief in a designer ought also not to be taught.

    For once they got something right, if unsurprisingly, only by accident.

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

  143. #143 Ben
    March 31, 2008

    Great post PZ. I’ve found myself in similar discussions in the past, and I don’t think I’ve ever said it better.

  144. #144 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    I always wonder how many of these people accusing nasty liberals of indoctrination have ever actually sat in a college classroom. I mean, I’m pretty out there on the left (for the most part), but much of my pedagogical approach involves asking my students questions–about the readings, about the topics–and then trying to facilitate a conversation fitting their answers into a sociological perspective. But even moreso, particularly when having my students do research, I always point out that being able to ask the right questions is a skill they need to develop.

    It’s asking questions–and not knowing the answer ahead of time–that seems to freak them out.

    Asking questions would seem to be a particularly ineffective means of indoctrination.

  145. #145 Physicalist
    March 31, 2008

    Boy, the stupid from the Expelled folks is just non-stop, isn’t it?

    “Belief in atheism, agnosticism and belief in a designer are real beliefs.”

    Well, let’s see here, to “believe in a designer” is to believe that a designer exists. So to “believe in atheism,” is to believe that atheism exists.

    Only a complete idiot would question whether atheism exists. Now, I know that one does find such idiots occasionally (they claim that atheists only pretend not to believe in god), but the Expelled morons even go beyond that. They’re talking about whether the belief in atheism exists. That’s a whole higher order of stupidity; no sane person could question whether some people believe that some people don’t believe in god.

  146. #146 Epistaxis
    March 31, 2008

    Sastra, #130:

    A reasonable argument can also be made the other way — that when we show no passion, and when we fail to address the very heart of the human belief in magical thinking, we play right into their narrative of science as a cold, disconnected activity closed off from the realization that our universe is fundamentally enchanted.

    That’s a good point, and thank you for making it more diplomatically than some.

    I think it’s possible to be passionate and diplomatic at the same time. It’s about choosing an appropriate tone. If your first, knee-jerk reaction to someone who disagrees with you is coarse name-calling (of which you can find several examples in above comments), uninformed bystanders who don’t read all the same books and blogs as you do are more likely to side with the other guy because he seems to have an argument independent of petty insults. When we’re dealing with creationists, the weight of evidence and logic is entirely on our side; once the audience is aware of that, it will be superfluous to call them “fucking retards.”

  147. #147 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    True, but at what point after having shown them the evidence over and over is it reasonable to treat them like the willfully ignorant (and often incredibly dishonest) people they are?

    At some point you have to address this. The constant regurgitation of lies has to be dealt with on a level that shows exactly what they are doing.

  148. #148 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that all three are overrepresented in the population of scientists relative to their repreentation in the general population?

    Sounds interesting. Do you have numbers on this?

    I’m on my way to becoming a scientist and I think it’s ridiculous when people say it takes more faith to believe in God than science. Ever tried understanding plate tectonics or string theory?

    I’m not a geophysicist, only a humble paleobiologist… but I still don’t see where the problem with plate tectonics is. I find it easy to understand. Where exactly is your problem?

    String theory is also not a matter of faith — it’s a matter of math. I don’t understand it, but that’s because I don’t have l33t math sgillz. There are, I’m told, superhumans out there who understand that math and consequently understand string theory.

  149. #149 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that all three are overrepresented in the population of scientists relative to their repreentation in the general population?

    Sounds interesting. Do you have numbers on this?

    I’m on my way to becoming a scientist and I think it’s ridiculous when people say it takes more faith to believe in God than science. Ever tried understanding plate tectonics or string theory?

    I’m not a geophysicist, only a humble paleobiologist… but I still don’t see where the problem with plate tectonics is. I find it easy to understand. Where exactly is your problem?

    String theory is also not a matter of faith — it’s a matter of math. I don’t understand it, but that’s because I don’t have l33t math sgillz. There are, I’m told, superhumans out there who understand that math and consequently understand string theory.

  150. #150 June
    March 31, 2008

    The constant regurgitation of lies has to be dealt with on a level that shows exactly what they are doing.

    Very true, so do it! Expose the lie! Build a database of lies and their refutations! Provide references!

    If you can prove a lie, why descend to the vulgar Ad Hominem level?

  151. #151 Sven DiMilo
    March 31, 2008

    June, where have you been for the last 20 years?

  152. #152 SteveM
    March 31, 2008

    Something in one of the previous comments got me thinking about my Catholic upbringing (back in the ’60′s) I went to Catholic schoool for grades 1-3, then public school with catechism (or CCD) up through 8th grade. I don’t remember there ever being any conflict with “Science” back then. I remember specifically in 7th or 8th grade CCD our priest discussing with us the Genesis creation story as being a metaphor for how people became “human” (i.e. self aware, intelligent, moral beings, etc.) not a story of how we and the universe came to be. I think it was part of that discussion that introduced me to the argument that Faith is the key and so the universe must be entirely understandable from a scientific inquiry otherwise there would be a proof of God’s existence and no need for Faith.

    The point being that there seems to be a time when at least the RCC endorsed science even going as far back as Galileo. Yes, Galileo. It seems now that the Pope did not object to his findings per se, they just didn’t want him to publish. Maybe a distinction without a difference, but the point is, even then the church believed that to know the universe was to know God, that the Bible taught “how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go”.

    It seems that people saying the fundies want to send us back to the medeival times are undershooting, they want to send us back to pre-history when the world did seem to be a world of magic ruled by unseen and unknown forces.

  153. #153 AiM
    March 31, 2008

    If you feel you have to defend yourself against Egnor, PZ, you must feel his comments carry some weight.

  154. #154 Sven DiMilo
    March 31, 2008

    Of all the stupid arguments that crop up here again and again and again, that one, AiM, may well be the stupidest.
    Congratulations.

  155. #155 Egnor Is A Fool
    March 31, 2008

    Thanks, Kseniya – will try to be more awake in the early morn.

    Staunch creationist = Egnor, who has engaged in whirlwind arguments for dualism too many times. Not a neurosurgeon I would subject my brain to.

    Belief in atheism, agnosticism and belief in a designer are real beliefs…to favor one such worldview over another… especially in the realm of science. To oppose such academic freedom…

    So…”beliefs” in Science class? Epistaxis, it’s real hard not to say “fucking retards” when a child knows “beliefs” are not part of science. Science does not equate to atheism – religion falls apart by its own weight. Science may confirm atheism, but does not deny faith to those who want it. They fear weak faith. Horror of horrors!

  156. #156 Bronze Dog
    March 31, 2008

    If you feel you have to defend yourself against Egnor, PZ, you must feel his comments carry some weight.

    Riiiiight. And if PZ ignored him, you’d be complaining that he can’t deal with Egnor, which is why he’d be ignoring him. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    How about you skip the pointless psychobabble angle and point us to some weight in Egnor’s statements?

    Or is playing evasive games to imply some unspecified weight just easier?

  157. #157 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    Epistaxis #144 wrote:

    I think it’s possible to be passionate and diplomatic at the same time. It’s about choosing an appropriate tone. If your first, knee-jerk reaction to someone who disagrees with you is coarse name-calling (of which you can find several examples in above comments), uninformed bystanders who don’t read all the same books and blogs as you do are more likely to side with the other guy because he seems to have an argument independent of petty insults.

    I agree — but I’m not sure that’s really what anyone is advocating (though it may be what some of them are doing.)

    To state the obvious, it depends on the situation. Less obvious, it depends on what’s going to resonate with people — and in some cases it appears that the counterintuitive happens. When challenged with aggressive insults, people will always dig in their heels and resist. But they don’t necessarily resist more than if they’d been treated with tact.

    Now and then it seems that an optimum amount of belligerence can also shock them — and the audience — into a radical shift in perspective. There is nothing sacred and untouchable about their viewpoint. Religion is like politics, or economics, or social theories. If someone thinks you’re full of shit, they’ll say it. Even if it’s about God. Even if it’s about your religious faith. No automatic deference. No backing off. No free lunch. It’s put up or shut up, same as every other aspect of life.

    I agree you have to pick your battles, and be sensitive to when not to be sensitive. Every time PZ writes another “It’s time to get ANGRY and KICK SOME FUCKWIT BUTT” kind of post, Pharyngula seems to turn into the equivalent of Tortuga the Pirate Outpost for a while. Everyone starts brandishing swords and drinking too much and pity the poor soul who wanders in and makes the suggestion we turn the music down a bit.

    But I think we do need a bit of bravado for what lies ahead. In addition to being effective as a tactic, it can also be very effective for us. In our real lives, we usually don’t get this kind of support and rallying. We get pitied, or scorned, or lectured, or badgered, or shushed — and our natural tendency as social animals is often to back down and try to find a compromise. But sometimes we shouldn’t. And knowing that, hey — creationism is bullshit and we can tell them it’s bullshit if we wanted — can be kind of comforting. Whether we do or not.

    Oh, moderation, of course. You won’t find anyone who doesn’t agree we need to exercise moderation. But sometimes the Voices of Moderation seem go to extremes in how high they draw the line.

  158. #158 Sarcastro
    March 31, 2008

    There’s an interesting quote and reply in Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God that I always think of when the fundies get really, really nutty. Campbell quotes Seneca:

    “There are differences of interpretation between our countrymen and the Etruscans, who possess consummate skill in the explanation of the meaning of lightning. While we think that because clouds collide therefore lightning is emitted, they hold that clouds collide in order that lightning may be emitted.”

    To which Campbell simply replies “And so we turn from the ancient world to the modern.”

    Personally, I think the Etruscan magi were more intellectually honest than the “modern” evolution denier. The magician would, at least, cop to the possibility that evolution was the mechanism by which the gods acted.

    Speaking of fun Latin quotes, Cicero quotes Cato the Younger as saying: “I wonder that a soothsayer doesn’t laugh when he sees another soothsayer.”

    Quite.

  159. #159 Longtime Lurker
    March 31, 2008

    “ID people allow for an unmoved mover of sorts — you guys want to dogmatically assert that can’t be true.”

    Funny how the troll gets it exactly backwards, the ID people presuppose an unmoved mover, the non-believers observe a lack of evidence for a designer, and move on to more promising areas of inquiry. Who is dogmatically asserting something?

    Also, leave Spinoza out of the debate… the quote (attributed to Marx) “philosophy is to life as masturbation is to sex” comes to mind. Philosophy is what saddled us with the shoddy “Scala Naturae” model (the real root of the evils Mathis et al. attribute to “Darwinism”)in the first place.

  160. #160 Azkyroth
    March 31, 2008

    Very true, so do it! Expose the lie! Build a database of lies and their refutations! Provide references!

    If you can prove a lie, why descend to the vulgar Ad Hominem level?

    And don’t forget, an insult automatically invalidates your claim!

  161. #161 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2008

    I agree you have to pick your battles, and be sensitive to when not to be sensitive. Every time PZ writes another “It’s time to get ANGRY and KICK SOME FUCKWIT BUTT” kind of post, Pharyngula seems to turn into the equivalent of Tortuga the Pirate Outpost for a while. Everyone starts brandishing swords and drinking too much and pity the poor soul who wanders in and makes the suggestion we turn the music down a bit.

    Sastra, did you have to use such appealing imagery?
    The whole wheat side of me agrees with you, while my frosted side is hoisting a tankard of grog and singing shanties about plundering creo gold!

  162. #162 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    AAArrrrr… I be influenc’d by th’ Pastafarians, methinks!

  163. #163 Stanton
    March 31, 2008

    AAArrrrr… I be influenc’d by th’ Pastafarians, methinks!

    Does this mean you want to convert?

    Perhaps a baptism with marinara sauce?

    Or do you prefer a parmesan cream?

  164. #164 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    If you feel you have to defend yourself against Egnor, PZ, you must feel his comments carry some weight.

    That may be the dumbest pro Egnor thing I’ve read so far… except what Egnor says himself.

    Say you are an English literature Professor. Now suppose someone tells you that Shakespeare wrote Moby Dick, it was written in a series of Haikus and was published in 1982. If you corrected that idiocy does that mean that his assertion has some weight?

  165. #165 eyelessgame
    March 31, 2008

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position. – wnelson

    If “good” has no other definition than “that which God has arbitrarily declared to be good”, then wnelson is correct. If goodness has no actual meaning, in other words — if things are good not because of any intrinsic nature but because God has declared them so — then of course rejection of the God hypothesis implies rejection of the notion of “good”.

    Now that’s an awfully sterile idea of “goodness”, of course, but I cheerfully agree that wnelson can defend his position. My notion of “good”, however, isn’t wholly arbitrary, but grounded in actual phenomena, and thus doesn’t depend on hypothesizing an external arbitrary “good” evaluator.

    if it’s true that God doesn’t exist, it’s still true that it’s God who doesn’t exist. -wnelson

    And if it’s true that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, it’s still true that it’s Santa Claus who doesn’t exist.

    Can you enlighten me on why the former is more profound than the latter?

  166. #166 Sven DiMilo
    March 31, 2008

    Shakespeare wrote Moby Dick, it was written in a series of Haikus and was published in 1982

    Teach the controversy, baby! Teach it!

  167. #167 Stanton
    March 31, 2008

    And if it’s true that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, it’s still true that it’s Santa Claus who doesn’t exist.

    Technically, there really is/was a Santa Claus: he was a Greek bishop of Myra, in what is now Turkey, who was extremely popular because of his habits of secret gift-giving, charity, and vociferous defense of the falsely accused.

    Such was his popularity that these two towns had a centuries-long feud over which town would have the honor of interring his bones, in that each kept stealing the bones from the other town.

  168. #168 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    Such was his popularity that these two towns had a centuries-long feud over which town would have the honor of interring his bones, in that each kept stealing the bones from the other town.

    I’ve never heard that. That’s awesome. Kinda of puts a new twist on that present game “Dirty Santa”.

  169. #169 Glen Davidson
    March 31, 2008

    Here’s something on topic, from D’Souza:

    The Failure of “Intelligent Design”

    Posted Mar 31st 2008 9:38AM by Dinesh D’Souza
    Filed under: Science, Christianity, Atheism

    As a Christian, I believe that the universe and its living creatures are the products of intelligent design. This belief is not merely derived from theology but is also supported by rational considerations. There is enormous intelligence embedded in the laws of nature. The greatest scientists over the past few centuries have worked to decode the intelligence mysteriously imprinted in the workings of nature. Scientific laws, as spelled out by Keppler, Newton, Einstein and others, reveal nature as exquisitely orderly. So who encoded this intelligence in nature?

    Since the universe had a beginning, how did it get here? There is no natural explanation, since the universe includes all of nature. It is more than absurd to posit that the universe caused itself. The most reasonable explanation is that our rational universe is the product of some super-rational or omniscient intelligence. An intelligent designer is not the only explanation, but it certainly is the best explanation.

    How the creator went about His business of making the universe and its life forms is another question, and this is a question for science to answer to the degree that it can be answered. Darwin’s theory of evolution posits that chance, mutation and natural selection largely account for the transitions between one life form and another. Man, as an animal, is also the product of evolution, having descended from the same evolutionary “tree” that produced gorillas and chimpanzees.

    Did God order things this way? Certainly if you read the Bible you would never predict Darwin’s theory of evolution. But neither from the Scriptural accounts could one predict that the earth goes around the sun. The Bible is not and does not purport to be a science textbook. It takes no position, for example, on the heliocentric theory. Unfortunately, in past centuries, many Christians interpreted a few casual references to the sun “rising” to mean that the earth must be stationery and the sun must revolve around the earth. These interpretations were hasty, to say the least: the Bible is describing sunrise from a human or experiential perspective. Still, these narrow-minded Christians opposed Copernicus and Galileo until they were forced to admit that they were wrong. It wasn’t the Bible that was mistaken; it was the foolish certainty of its interpreters that was exposed and discredited.

    Today some Christians may be heading down the same path with their embrace of “intelligent design” or ID. This movement is based on the idea that Darwinian evolution is not only flawed but basically fraudulent. ID should not, however, be confused with bible-thumping six-day creationism. It does not regard the earth as 6,000 years old. Its leading advocates are former legal scholar Phillip Johnson, biochemist Michael Behe, mathematician David Berlinski, and science journalist Jonathan Wells. Berlinski has a new book out The Devil’s Advocate that makes the remarkable claim that “Darwin’s theory of evolution has little to contribute to the content of the sciences.” Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled” provides horror stories to show that the case for ID as well as critiques of evolution from an ID perspective are routinely excluded or censored in the halls of academe.

    ID advocates have sought to convince courts to require that their work be taught alongside Darwinian evolution, yet such efforts have been resoundingly defeated. Why has the ID legal strategy proven to be such a failure, even at the hands of conservative judges? Imagine that a group of advocates challenged Einstein’s theories of general and special relativity. Let’s say that this group, made up of a law professor, a couple of physicists, several journalists, as well as some divinity school graduates, flatly denies Einstein’s proposition that e=mc2. How would a judge, who is not a physicist, resolve the group’s demand for inclusion in the physics classroom? He would summon a wide cross-section of leading physicists. They would inform him that despite unresolved debates about relativity–for example, its unexplained relationship to quantum theory–Einstein’s theories are supported by a wide body of data. They enjoy near-unanimous support in the physics community worldwide. There is no alternative scientific theory that comes close to explaining the facts at hand. In such a situation any judge would promptly show the dissenters the door and deny their demand for equal time in the classroom. This is precisely the predicament of the ID movement.

    The problem with evolution is not that it is unscientific but that it is routinely taught in textbooks and in the classroom in an atheist way. Textbooks frequently go beyond the scientific evidence to make metaphysical claims about how evolution renders the idea of a Creator superfluous. If I wanted to promote my book What’s So Great About Christianity I’d direct you there to find examples. (But I don’t, so I won’t.) Most Christians don’t care whether the eye evolved by natural selection or whether Darwin’s theories can account for macroevolution or only microevolution. What they care about is that evolution is being used to deny God as the creator. For those who are concerned about this atheism masquerading as science, there is a better way. Instead of trying to get unscientific ID theories included in the classroom, a better strategy would be to get the unscientific atheist propaganda out. In future blogs I’ll show such a strategy can be successfully implemented.

    news.aol.com/newsbloggers/2008/03/31/the-failure-of-intelligent-design/

    [thanks to Jason Spaceman at Talkorigins]

    He’s still full of it (that atheism is being taught is BS, like PZ says), but at least he’s acknowledging that ID is a horrible waste of energy for the Xians.

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

  170. #170 Brownian, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Kinda of puts a new twist on that present game “Dirty Santa”.

    I once knew a guy who claimed he was fond of giving ‘Dirty Santas’ during sex.

    To each their own, I guess, but it just seems rude and unhygienic to me.

  171. #171 Glen Davidson
    March 31, 2008

    Cross-posting my response to D’Souza from Talkorigins:

    The article starts out well, then it’s the old D’Souza make-shit-up
    tactic:

    The problem with evolution is not that it is unscientific but that
    it
    is routinely taught in textbooks and in the classroom in an atheist
    way.

    What, you mean God isn’t brought up, just as it isn’t in chemistry,
    geology, and physics? If you had any justification for bringing up
    God in biology class, I’m sure you’d produce it.

    Textbooks frequently go beyond the scientific evidence to make
    metaphysical claims about how evolution renders the idea of a Creator
    superfluous.

    Of course they don’t, you’re just lying. Naturally you don’t bring in
    any evidence, because you don’t have any. Evolutionary theory only
    deals with biology, there is no way that it could tell us whether or
    not the universe needs a creator. This is the same dishonesty that
    apparently runs through “Expelled,” pure falsehoods which run through
    the creationist/ID communities, which are never shown to have any
    basis in fact.

    Textbooks do sometimes point out that Paley’s “designer,” or Dembski’s
    designer, isn’t science. Probably because it isn’t.

    Here is one of my favorite quotes from the “Expelled” site (
    expelledthemovie.com/chronicle.php?article=1):

    Belief in atheism, agnosticism and belief in a designer are real
    beliefs – let’s not pretend that they don’t exist, can be side stepped
    or pretend that it is fair, constitutional or intellectually rigorous
    to favor one such worldview over another… especially in the realm of
    science. To oppose such academic freedom – especially at the
    taxpayer’s expense – is simply wrong. If you agree, look here.

    I like it because (aside from issues of whether or not atheism and
    agnosticism are “beliefs” as such) there isn’t a chance in hell that
    atheism or agnosticism could be taught in biology class, yet these
    morons think that belief in a “designer” ought to be taught. And
    apparently D’Souza believes as stupidly as do Mathis, Stein, &tc.,
    that somehow evolution is taught “atheistically.” No, it is taught
    without reference to gods or the lack thereof, because such concepts
    are simply superfluous to science.

    If I wanted to promote my book What’s So Great About
    Christianity I’d direct you there to find examples. (But I don’t, so
    I
    won’t.)

    Very good, D’Souza, you managed to completely ignore the need to
    support your statement, and you promoted your book by saying that you
    wouldn’t do so. Wow, you really struck out as a reasonable thinker
    there.

    Most Christians don’t care whether the eye evolved by natural
    selection or whether Darwin’s theories can account for macroevolution
    or only microevolution. What they care about is that evolution is
    being used to deny God as the creator.

    Most of us don’t care if you want your Creator, we just don’t want you
    to inject such ideas into science class. That’s not atheism, that’s
    keeping religious prejudice out of a science which must preclude those
    prejudices from influencing it.

    For those who are concerned
    about this atheism masquerading as science, there is a better way.
    Instead of trying to get unscientific ID theories included in the
    classroom, a better strategy would be to get the unscientific atheist
    propaganda out. In future blogs I’ll show such a strategy can be
    successfully implemented.

    There’s a simple way to get unscientific atheist propaganda out,
    simply sue any school district which actually violates separation of
    church and state. Which you’d do in a flash if atheistic propaganda
    really were taught in schools (I’m not talking about the occasional
    atheistic teacher who might sometimes overstep the bounds, this will
    happen from time to time with both theists and atheists).

    But at least D’Souza’s found out what a vacuous waste ID has turned
    out to be for the theists. It’s a step up from the ambiguous
    statements he’s sometimes made in the past.

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

  172. #172 phantomreader42
    March 31, 2008

    wnelson being an IDiot:

    ID people allow for an unmoved mover of sorts — you guys want to dogmatically assert that can’t be true.”

    No, IDiots dogmatically assert that there is a GodDesigner, WITHOUT THE SLIGHTEST SHRED OF EVIDENCE! They whine and lie when their laughable excuses for arguments are subjected to any scrutiny, as they know they can’t hold up.

    An insight into wnelson’s character:

    There is no “good,” there is no “truth,” there is no “evil” — there is expediency, period. An atheist can in no way, shape, or form defend any other position.

    Ah, dragging out the old “Atheists have no morals” smear! That kind of remark says a lot more about the person making it than about atheists in general. In my experience, the people who say that are usually stupid, dishonest, or sociopaths. In your case it may well be all three.

  173. #173 Sven DiMilo
    March 31, 2008

    D’Souza sounding nearly intelligible!
    I think, though, that every time we see Berlinski identified as a mathematician (as he always is, though he ain’t), we should substitute “sophisticated Paris resident.” (see the links from here).

    Then it reads:
    “[ID's] leading advocates are former legal scholar Phillip Johnson, biochemist Michael Behe, sophisticated Paris resident David Berlinski, and science journalist Jonathan Wells.”
    See? Much more accurate and informative.

    Wish I could see Dembski pout over his exclusion from that list!

  174. #174 Stanton
    March 31, 2008

    I once knew a guy who claimed he was fond of giving ‘Dirty Santas’ during sex.

    To each their own, I guess, but it just seems rude and unhygienic to me.

    I’m not sure about rude, but, certainly, the “Dirty Santa” is extraordinarily unhygienic, as it involves the use of a deer, preferably one that is excited.

  175. #175 Jonathon
    March 31, 2008

    From Sastra @ #9:

    The liberals and moderates who argue that science has revealed the greatness of God and only strengthened their faith generally believe in a very different kind of God than they would have believed in before science changed our view of the world. God is evolving. For the majority of intelligent, educated theists, God is less and less anthropomorphic superstition, and more and more the Unknowable Mystery of Ultimate Concerns.

    Count me in as one of these liberals/progressives.

    I grew up in a Southern Baptist family in rural Georgia. I was forced to attend church services every Sunday during my youth, up until I left for college and could make my own choice. I was never really a “true believer” in Baptist/evangelical/fundamentalist terms, so as a young man I adopted the position of atheism. Surprisingly, it took me denying the existence of the “Christian” deity to actually find God, or as I refer to it, “The God of the Universe”.

    Truly, my theism is quite different from that which was taught to me in my childhood. I don’t believe that the stories contained in the Bible are literal truth. I don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, the trinity or the virgin birth. Yet, I find great value in the teachings of Jesus and do my best to follow his example.

    Leaving “Christianity” behind opened my eyes to many wonders, many views of God. Science does demolish the old, superstitious deities of the past, but it reinforces for me the complexity and beauty of the Universe in which we find ourselves. Through science we better understand the world and ourselves. Yes, for me it was because of science that I retain a belief in God. Only those tied to the brittle, broken fables of Bronze Age tribesmen find their belief system undermined by truth.

  176. #176 Steve
    March 31, 2008

    Maybe the ID’ers who claim that atheists have no morals are lacking certain necessary characteristics.They have to be told, because they won’t understand any other way. Some don’t anyway. A sense that killing your own kind is failure. A sense that helping your own kind is success. Perhaps they have to be told to treat others as they wish to be treated because that fundamental something is missing in them. Do their parents not teach them these things?

    Mostly, though, I think that the “religious” are afraid. It’s a scary place out there, and finding out they are just bits of protoplasm on a speck of dust rolling around a nuclear furnace makes them feel small, rather than filling them with awe.

    In any case,I say that maybe they should pluck the beams from their own eyes before they come and work on my slivers.

  177. #177 Emily
    March 31, 2008

    Un-spiritual minds also fail to recognise the earth revolving around the sun… Quite unfortunate ;)

  178. #178 James F
    March 31, 2008

    #166
    Glen, thank you for posting this. D’Souza was doing a fine job defending theistic evolution over ID and showing why the latter is so fundamentally flawed until the last paragraph. Has anyone encountered an atheist agenda in science instruction? I’ve always learned, and later performed, science from the standpoint of methodological naturalism. Pro- or anti-religious indoctrination in a public school science class is unconstitutional, but so far I only know of cases of the former, not the latter.

  179. #179 June
    March 31, 2008

    Say you are an English literature Professor. Now suppose someone tells you that Shakespeare wrote Moby Dick, it was written in a series of Haikus and was published in 1982. If you corrected that idiocy does that mean that his assertion has some weight?

    You can rebut his claim in several ways, such as bringing in a copy of Moby Dick or asking him for evidence. But calling him (say) a ‘moron’ does not rebut the claim, even if he is a moron! You still need to prove your insults!

  180. #180 MartinM
    March 31, 2008

    But calling him (say) a ‘moron’ does not rebut the claim, even if he is a moron!

    Did anyone claim otherwise?

  181. #181 June
    March 31, 2008

    And don’t forget, an insult automatically invalidates your claim!

    You are learning!

  182. #182 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    You can rebut his claim in several ways, such as bringing in a copy of Moby Dick or asking him for evidence. But calling him (say) a ‘moron’ does not rebut the claim, even if he is a moron! You still need to prove your insults!

    After bringing him a signed first edition copy of Moby dick and pointing to the prose as well as Melville’s name in black and he still claims Shakespearian Haiku….Idiot.

    And that is the point. After presenting the evidence over and over and over and they still are want to be willfully ignorant to the point of denying the book you are holding in your hand in front of them does not exist, then they are idiots. And should be branded as such. You show them copies of said book in every library in the city and state and yet they still deny it. Idiot.

    When they then try to push legislation to teach Shakespeare’s Haiku masterpiece Moby Dick in the public schools and cry foul that they are being persecuted for not being allowed to do so…. dangerous idiot.

  183. #183 Eamon Knight
    March 31, 2008

    In that clip PZ comes across as a mild-mannered professor from a rural college, saying pretty reasonable things — things one might disagree with, but nothing really outrageous or threatening. And I wondered: just what are the film-makers trying to get across with this interview? What’s so shocking that it fits the persecution story they’re telling?

    Now, thanks to Egnor, we know: their target audience is supposed to read their own paranoia into PZ’s words to make them into something other than what they are.

  184. #184 Stanton
    March 31, 2008

    So, then, June, what would one do if the person claiming that Shakespeare wrote Moby Dick not only refused to acknowledge the existence of physical evidence contradicting his claims, but also dismissed all efforts to rebut his claims as being a part of a world-wide conspiracy to silence him and curtail his liberties?

  185. #185 lroot
    March 31, 2008

    @Torbjörn Larsson
    I’m not questioning the scientific method, I’m just being a little bit more vague/creative with my definition of faith. I’m not questioning that the plates move, I just don’t think that the theory is at the point where anyone can say they actually understand exactly what is going on.

    String theory requires a lot of faith for the average person. All that the vast majority of us (people who don’t have the cognitive capacity to wade through PDE’s in 10 dimensional space), have to understand what it does are the analogies the physicists can relay to us. Similarly, all that I have to understand any religion is a book full of metaphors or analogies. I’m not questioning the validity of the science; I just find it funny how similar it can be to religion.

    @Stuart Weinstein
    I’m almost a geophysicist as well. I’m just on the tip of the iceberg with the whole plate tectonics things, but what concerns me is slab rollback. I don’t think the buoyancy contrast between the subducting slab and the mantle is large enough to get the whole thing churning.
    (Afonso J.C., Ranali G., Fernandez M. (2007) Density structure and buoyancy of the oceanic lithosphere revisited Geophysical Reasearch letters, Vol. 34, 2007). So that leaves us with the global mantle flow and far field forces as possible explanations for the movements of plates. I hope that someone thinks of something a little more satisfying.

  186. #186 lroot
    March 31, 2008

    @Torbjörn Larsson
    I’m not questioning the scientific method, I’m just being a little bit more vague/creative with my definition of faith. I’m not questioning that the plates move, I just don’t think that the theory is at the point where anyone can say they actually understand exactly what is going on.

    String theory requires a lot of faith for the average person. All that the vast majority of us (people who don’t have the cognitive capacity to wade through PDE’s in 10 dimensional space), have to understand what it does are the analogies that physicists can relay to us. Similarly, all that I have to understand any religion is a book full of metaphors or analogies. I’m not questioning the validity of the science; I just find it interesting and funny how similar it can be to religion.

    @Stuart Weinstein
    I’m almost a geophysicist as well. I’m just on the tip of the iceberg with the whole plate tectonics things, but what concerns me is slab rollback. I don’t think the buoyancy contrast between the subducting slab and the mantle is large enough to get the whole thing churning.
    (Afonso J.C., Ranali G., Fernandez M. (2007) Density structure and buoyancy of the oceanic lithosphere revisited Geophysical Reasearch letters, Vol. 34, 2007). That leaves us with the global mantle flow and far field forces as possible explanations for the movements of plates. I hope that someone thinks of something a little more satisfying.

  187. #187 lroot
    March 31, 2008

    @Torbjörn Larsson
    I’m not questioning the scientific method, I’m just being a little bit more vague/creative with my definition of faith. I’m not questioning that the plates move, I just don’t think that the theory is at the point where anyone can say they actually understand exactly what is going on.

    String theory requires a lot of faith for the average person. All that the vast majority of us (people who don’t have the cognitive capacity to wade through PDE’s in 10 dimensional space), have to understand what it does are the analogies that physicists can relay to us. Similarly, all that I have to understand any religion is a book full of metaphors or analogies. I’m not questioning the validity of the science; I just find it interesting and funny how similar it can be to religion.

    @Stuart Weinstein
    I’m almost a geophysicist as well. I’m just on the tip of the iceberg with the whole plate tectonics things, but what concerns me is slab rollback. I don’t think the buoyancy contrast between the subducting slab and the mantle is large enough to get the whole thing churning.
    (Afonso J.C., Ranali G., Fernandez M. (2007) Density structure and buoyancy of the oceanic lithosphere revisited Geophysical Reasearch letters, Vol. 34, 2007). That leaves us with the global mantle flow and far field forces as possible explanations for the movements of plates. I hope that someone thinks of something a little more satisfying.

  188. #188 lroot
    March 31, 2008

    sorry about the triple post

  189. #189 Tulse
    March 31, 2008

    It is more than absurd to posit that the universe caused itself. The most reasonable explanation is that our rational universe is the product of some super-rational or omniscient intelligence.

    I guess D’Souza and I have different notions of “absurd”, since it seems to me that a “super-rational intelligence” would also have to have a cause, such as another super-rational intelligence, and then it’s just turtles all the way down.

    Truly, my theism is quite different from that which was taught to me in my childhood. I don’t believe that the stories contained in the Bible are literal truth. I don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, the trinity or the virgin birth. Yet, I find great value in the teachings of Jesus and do my best to follow his example.

    Jonathon, there are plenty of non-Christians who think that Jesus was a nice man who said some nice things, just like Buddha did, and Lao Tzu did, and even for that matter Mark Twain did. But if your valuing of Jesus’s teachings doesn’t actually entail any supernatural commitments, then in what sense are you actually a theist?

  190. #190 negentropyeater
    March 31, 2008

    Glen #168,

    “There’s a simple way to get unscientific atheist propaganda out, simply sue any school district which actually violates separation of church and state. Which you’d do in a flash if atheistic propaganda really were taught in schools (I’m not talking about the occasional
    atheistic teacher who might sometimes overstep the bounds, this will happen from time to time with both theists and atheists).”

    How occasional is this ?
    (BTW, what is the % of biology teachers and profs. who are atheist, any statistics?)

    D’Souza seems to claim that he has evidence to back his claim that Evolution is “taught in an Atheist way” in the USA , so I think it would be nice to see if we have counter evidence.(BTW it’s not the case in France which is far more pro atheist than the USA, so it would surprise me that it’d be the case in the USA).

    On a similar note, if a biology teacher makes a statement such as “the theory of Evolution renders Atheism plausible”, is this considered pro-atheist ? I would argue that No, and this statement could also be made by a Theist, if honest, but it is very rarely the case.

  191. #191 BadMA
    March 31, 2008

    I disagree that Hitchens is a “conservative.” It’s just that he was a one-issue voter/pundit. He was in favor of the Global War on Terrorism (whatever that meant) no matter what, and he is incapable of admitting that he was wrong about that.

    It’s a general limitation of language that we have to assign labels. I do agree that Hitchens only shares some characteristics of some conservative politics, but I wouldn’t brand him completely in a category because of it. I would expect most conservatives to run screaming from any hint that Hitchens is in any way a real “conservative.” However, that does support my previous statement that we assume a lot my assigning labels, and the term conservative means different things to different people. For some people (my grandfather), conservative had nothing to do with religion, but look how that has changed!

  192. #192 Azkyroth
    March 31, 2008

    You are learning!

    -June

    Pity you aren’t.

  193. #193 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    Jonathon #172 wrote:

    Science does demolish the old, superstitious deities of the past, but it reinforces for me the complexity and beauty of the Universe in which we find ourselves. Through science we better understand the world and ourselves. Yes, for me it was because of science that I retain a belief in God.

    Science didn’t really help you retain your belief in God unless you now view God as a science theory, a hypothesis suggested and then confirmed through modern research and discovery, but falsifiable given new data. I don’t think that’s what you meant.

    Instead, science gave you a new and better framework on which to stretch the preexisting concept of God, to make it more reasonable, more consistent, and more expressive of a universe much larger and far more surprising than we once thought.

    Although you may believe that scientific literacy hasn’t weakened either your faith or appreciation of God at all — it has simply allowed it to change and enhance your understanding of what God is — I suspect that, in at least one significant sense, religion (and God) for you has indeed become a “side dish, and not the main course,” as PZ puts it.

    The question is this: if it turns out that this beautiful, complex Universe was not the plan or intention of a God … would you no longer find the universe beautiful or complex anymore? Would you stop caring about your friends and family, and stop working for the causes that matter to you? Would you lie, rape, pillage, and end by jumping off a cliff in nihilistic despair? Was science a mistake?

    My guess is no — and that you’re going to agree. The effect that science has on religion is not just informing us that the God of the 6,000 year old earth was too small. The real effect is in the approach: what we learn about the world now changes how we understand God, instead of the other way around. That’s a significant shift.

    The danger of allowing the concept of God to get more and more reasonable and less and less superstitious is that eventually it starts to make sense to atheists. That’s not how atheists are converted. It’s how theists gradually come to realize that it doesn’t matter if God’s a real thing — or only a symbol for the real things that matter to us. God didn’t and couldn’t give them their meaning and beauty: we do.

  194. #194 negentropyeater
    March 31, 2008

    Tulse #186,
    “I guess D’Souza and I have different notions of “absurd”, since it seems to me that a “super-rational intelligence” would also have to have a cause, such as another super-rational intelligence, and then it’s just turtles all the way down.”

    But in all fairness, I don’t see how you can avoid the turtles. Wether the Big Bang was the result of highly advanced technology or a purely natural phenomena is still open question, so I’d say that neither are “absurd”. They are both valid hypotheses.

  195. #195 phantomreader42
    March 31, 2008

    Steve @ #173:

    Maybe the ID’ers who claim that atheists have no morals are lacking certain necessary characteristics.They have to be told, because they won’t understand any other way. Some don’t anyway. A sense that killing your own kind is failure. A sense that helping your own kind is success. Perhaps they have to be told to treat others as they wish to be treated because that fundamental something is missing in them. Do their parents not teach them these things?

    Mostly, though, I think that the “religious” are afraid. It’s a scary place out there, and finding out they are just bits of protoplasm on a speck of dust rolling around a nuclear furnace makes them feel small, rather than filling them with awe.

    In any case,I say that maybe they should pluck the beams from their own eyes before they come and work on my slivers.

    I suspect the people who continue spreading the “atheists have no morals” smear fall into three categories.

    1. People who don’t really believe what they’re saying, but say it anyway because they think it’ll help them win converts or arguments. These people are unabashed liars.

    2. People who honestly believe that atheists have no morals, because they have been told this by the aforementioned liars and never bothered to actually think about it. These people are gullible, willfully ignorant, or just plain stupid.

    3. People who believe atheists have no morals, because they personally don’t see any reason to behave in a moral fashion other than fear that their imaginary friend will do mean things to them if they piss him off. They’re projecting their own lack of morality on everyone else. These people are sociopaths thinly disguising their illness with a veneer of religious nonsense. These are the people who ask atheists “why don’t you go around raping and murdering people?” because their own answer to that question is “god hasn’t given me permission to yet”. They are dangerous, in that eventually their faith will falter, or they ‘ll decide the invisible sky tyrant WANTS them to murder some people, and that will drive them to murder.

    Of course, the dishonest, deluded, and dangerous groups aren’t mutually exclusive.

  196. #196 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    phantomreader42:

    I would add another category:

    4.) Presuppositionalists who agree that atheists have morals and often behave very well, but insist that atheists cannot ACCOUNT for morals. Since morality relies on the existence of transcendent Truths, an atheist who borrows the concept but refused to recognize its source is guilty of self-contradiction.

    I don’t know for sure given the little I’ve seen, but I suspect wnelson is a presupper playing TAG (Transcendental Argument for God). Reformed Church/ Presbyterian/ Calvinist. Just a guess.

    But either way, you’ll still run into #4, so you should know about it, or else they roll their eyes because you’re not getting their point. Not that TAG isn’t a great big Eye Roll of an apologetic to begin with.

  197. #197 Tulse
    March 31, 2008

    But in all fairness, I don’t see how you can avoid the turtles. Wether the Big Bang was the result of highly advanced technology or a purely natural phenomena is still open question, so I’d say that neither are “absurd”.

    So you disagree with D’Souza, then, who clearly thinks that a universe that appears out of nothing makes less sense than a universe created by a being that presumably appeared out of nothing.

    The problem is, as you rightly note, you can’t avoid the turtles, and postulating a creator simply adds complexity without any explanatory power. It doesn’t solve the problem, it just pushes it down the road, with the added mess of explaining both how a creator made things, and how the creator itself was made. It’s slight-of-hand, nothing more, and the suggestion that it is somehow preferable on logical grounds is either silly or disingenuous.

  198. #198 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Reformed Church/

    Scary motherfuckers.

  199. #199 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    I personally think that if there was a cause for the universe, it is likely to have been an orchestra.

    I know that the orchestras that we know about — with their violins and woodwinds and brass section — came about as the result of a long and complicated process of accumulation over time — but that says nothing about what a TRANSCENDENT orchestra outside of space and time might be like. And just because the orchestras we’re familiar with have instruments, and could not exist as disembodied entities making sound in a vacuum — we know that conditions at the time of the Big Bang were completely unpredictable. We should not insist that things behave then as they do today.

    So it just makes sense to me then that the Big Bang was caused by an orchestra. An eternally existing uncaused orchestra. After all, the universe began, and it would be absurd to say it caused itself. Duh.

  200. #200 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    “Belief in atheism, agnosticism and belief in a designer are real beliefs.”

    and not collecting stamps is a real hobby.

    *rolleyes*

  201. #201 pedlar
    March 31, 2008

    But in all fairness, I don’t see how you can avoid the turtles.

    But where do these turtles come from? For D.Souza, they appear as a simple consequence of the opening sentence of his second paragraph:

    Since the universe had a beginning …

    Well, let’s make the turtles disappear. Why should the Universe have a beginning? That’s just an assumption and people like D’souza get away with it all the time. Yet most people do not instinctively recoil from the propostion that the future is infinite, that time just goes on forward. In fact most people go through life with precisely that unspoken/unquestioned assumption. But if you propose that the past is likewise eternal they just look at you blankly, and blink a couple of times.

    So, let’s propose it. Did the universe have a beginning? [I reckon the answer is pretty simple: yes and no. But that's another topic.] Point is, simply by asking the question you’re avoiding the (necessity for) turtles.

    Not that I have anything against turtles.

  202. #202 MartinM
    March 31, 2008

    Did the universe have a beginning?

    It’s an interesting question, but perhaps more pertinent is ‘was there ever a time when the Universe did not exist?’

  203. #203 Cheezits
    March 31, 2008

    I suspect the people who continue spreading the “atheists have no morals” smear fall into three categories.

    I don’t think there are that many people who actually make that claim. More likely, they believe that atheists have morals, but they got them from God but won’t give him the credit. Or they believe that atheistic forms of morality are just hijacked from Christianity.

  204. #204 Laser Potato
    March 31, 2008

    “I don’t think there are that many people who actually make that claim. More likely, they believe that atheists have morals, but they got them from God but won’t give him the credit. Or they believe that atheistic forms of morality are just hijacked from Christianity.”
    Shalini’s blog got hit by one of those once-he stopped posting when I asked why wolves and gorillas posess altruism as well. Heh.

  205. #205 True Bob
    March 31, 2008

    It’s an interesting question, but perhaps more pertinent is ‘was there ever a time when the Universe did not exist?’

    Is there Time if there is no Universe?

  206. #206 Alan Kellogg
    March 31, 2008

    I don’t believe in God, I know that God exists. How I know this is not something I can explain, because we don’t yet have the tools for it. I understand what omnipotence and omniscience mean; omnipotence means you can do everything, omniscience means you don’t have to. This all means I can accept a God who sees no need to be continually fussing with reality. I have no need for a God who needs to be continually fussing with reality.

    I have faith in God. I also have faith in the scientific method. I, in short, have faith in science in that the scientific method properly applied produces results that can be verified or disproved. Science has done a damn good job of showing the truth of the most basic concept of all basic concepts, that the universe is understandable. That the universe is understandable, this understanding can be taught, it can be improved, and it cannot be perfected.

    Cannot be perfected because we’re not perfect, and we will never be perfect because we live within an imperfect universe. Some short time after the Big Bang a bubble formed. Today it’s this huge volume that has about half the stuff it’s supposed to. If the universe were a product of the glassblower’s art, it would’ve been melted down immediately upon the bubble becoming apparent.

    I reject creationism because it insists God has to continually fuss with reality, because it shows no faith in God. Creationism basically says that God has to be this limited being who can’t do everything and can’t understand you don’t need to. Creationists say God is omnipotent and omniscient, but show no real understanding of what those terms mean. As I said above; omnipotent means you can do everything, omniscience means you don’t have to.

    So when a Dembski, Behe, or Egnor say that God had to do it they are essentially reducing God to their level. They are insisting that God has to be limited as they are limited. That God must understand as they understand, and be as capable as they are. This I reject.

    Going by what we are presently capable of knowing I can understand how one can conclude God does not exist.. I don’t agree, but, as I noted before, we don’t have the tools I need to properly present my case. I also know there will come a time when you will have the opportunity to know how I know, but how that will occur is also something we don’t yet have the tools to explain. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. The time will come when you will know, and that is sufficient for me.

    For it comes down to this, I have faith in God. And I have faith that you—most of you at least—can and will adjust quite nicely when you learn what I know.

    One last thing, if anybody knows where I can find where God’s Word was written down for mortals to read, could you tell me where? I mean, if the Koran is the word of God, then why does so much of it read like it was written by a man having a hissy fit?

  207. #207 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    I have faith in God. I also have faith in the scientific method.

    as someone said to me in a different thread just a few moments ago…

    Compartmentalization is a wondrous skill.

    Kudos on your apparent successful application.

    Hope it’s not taking too much effort, though.

  208. #208 Sven DiMilo
    March 31, 2008

    Is there Time if there is no Universe?

    Deep indeed.

    And if a Universe begins with no one to hear it, does it make a Bang?

    And, verily, What is the sound of one Big Universe Banging?

  209. #209 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    And I have faith that you—most of you at least—can and will adjust quite nicely when you learn what I know.

    And we’re the arrogant ones.

  210. #210 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    And we’re the arrogant ones.

    I don’t think he actually meant it in an arrogant fashion, at least intentionally.

    perhaps he lacked the tools to express what he meant in less arrogant terms?
    ;)

  211. #211 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    … the one thing I will give Alan is that he presents the only version of theistic apologetics that I feel don’t directly lead to cult-like ignorance.

    someone who can say this:

    I, in short, have faith in science in that the scientific method properly applied produces results that can be verified or disproved. Science has done a damn good job of showing the truth of the most basic concept of all basic concepts, that the universe is understandable. That the universe is understandable, this understanding can be taught, it can be improved

    has successfully compartmentalized, and I have no quarrel with, really.

  212. #212 Damian
    March 31, 2008

    How I know this is not something I can explain, because we don’t yet have the tools for it.

    I can’t believe that you have missed this: The Yo-God! God Detector.

  213. #213 Stanton
    March 31, 2008

    One last thing, if anybody knows where I can find where God’s Word was written down for mortals to read, could you tell me where? I mean, if the Koran is the word of God, then why does so much of it read like it was written by a man having a hissy fit?

    You could say that: according to legend, and Nullifidian, please correct me if I’m wrong, Allah/God commanded Mohammed to speak the first verses of what would become the Koran, but, he replied, “I don’t know what to say, I’m not a chieftain’s bard.”
    Whereupon an angel came up behind him, put its hands around his torso, and literally squeezed the verses out of him.

  214. #214 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    Whereupon an angel came up behind him, put its hands around his torso, and literally squeezed the verses out of him.

    are you sure they weren’t just trying to relieve a bout of constipation?

  215. #215 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    Alan Kellogg #203 wrote:

    That the universe is understandable, this understanding can be taught, it can be improved, and it cannot be perfected. Cannot be perfected because we’re not perfect, and we will never be perfect because we live within an imperfect universe.

    But there is evidently one perfect thing in an imperfect universe. Can you guess?

    I don’t believe in God, I know that God exists.

    Perfect certainty — and that is found in an imperfect person who will never be perfect. That is the one perfect thing in an imperfect universe.

    Betcha thought it was gonna be God, huh?

  216. #216 Mark A. Siefert
    April 1, 2008

    Egnor… Egnor… Isn’t this the same character who has been misquoting Steven J. Novella in regards to substance dualism and nerobiology?

  217. #217 James F
    April 1, 2008

    #203

    I have to say, if more convinced theists were like Alan, ID and creationism would be on the ropes and relegated to the fringes of society where they belong. You may not agree with his beliefs, and certainly they cannot be “known” in a scientific sense, but folks who have his point of view are valuable allies. When I stand against the anti-evolution forces, I stand with theists and atheists, liberals and conservatives, and all sorts of people who disagree on other issues.

  218. #218 Azkyroth
    April 1, 2008

    In other words, James, Occam’s Razor belongs in the secondary weapon slot for the moment?

  219. #219 pedlar
    April 1, 2008

    ‘kay, this thread is surely dead now, but someone still has to say it …

    Sastra, you are wicked.

  220. #220 wazza
    April 1, 2008

    second the above comment, and will gladly duke it out with above commenter for barest chance of kissing topic’s toes

  221. #221 James F
    April 1, 2008

    #215

    Azkyroth,

    My interest is opposing anti-evolutionists, not opposing religion, although I oppose the religious when they seek to breach the wall of separation of church and state. As a scientist this my focus is creationism/ID; as Richard Dawkins noted in a TED talk, “it’s fair to say that American biologists are in a state of war.” I am not one of those who think that PZ, Dawkins, and others need to be quiet for fear of conflating support of evolution with support of atheism; quite the opposite, I believe we need as many people as possible, from as broad a spectrum of views as possible, to speak out in support of evolution and science in general. Furthermore, I’ve seen it work in practice; to name just one recent example, the Texas Freedom Network (basically a mainline Protestant organization) and the Texas Citizens for Science joined forces to help defeat creationist candidates for the state school board. And that’s no April foolin’.

  222. #222 Azkyroth
    April 1, 2008

    My point was that Occam’s Razor is really the only effective argument against what Kellogg seems to be proposing.

  223. #223 Alan Kellogg
    April 1, 2008

    I speak only for myself, I can speak for nobody else. How I know what I know regarding God is not something we have the tools to prove. To test in the original sense. We can say this or that about it, but what we say depends greatly on what we can know and what we can do to learn and to prove our learning.

    And you know what, I could be wrong about my experiences. It may be an entirely natural being who’s responsible for what I experienced and where I am now. Though if He is, He’s got some kick ass technology.

    The late Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I submit that any really advanced technology bears a strong resemblance to divine abilities.

    BTW, no man who can admit honestly to limitations could ever be termed arrogant.

  224. #224 Alan Kellogg
    April 1, 2008

    #219 Azkyroth

    What do you use when you don’t have any testable hypotheses for a phenomenon? Science is not only about discovering how to explain things, but also about learning when you don’t know enough to explain.

  225. #225 Those Pesky Darwinists
    April 1, 2008

    One day I woke up an atheist and realized my dog drools a lot more then me but then the thought of pharyngula came to mind.

  226. #226 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    What do you use when you don’t have any testable hypotheses for a phenomenon?

    example?

    otherwise, “I don’t know” works perfectly fine.

  227. #227 melior
    April 1, 2008

    What do you use when you don’t have any testable hypotheses for a phenomenon?

    Religion addict: “ineffable”
    Scientist: “merits further investigation”

  228. #228 Kseniya
    April 1, 2008

    Here we go again.

    “As Christians we know naturalism is false. Nature is not sufficient.” ~ W. Dembski

    True, for a given value of “know”.

  229. #229 Stanton
    April 1, 2008

    The late Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I submit that any really advanced technology bears a strong resemblance to divine abilities.

    On the one hand, I do not comprehend the programming that allows a mouse to move the cursor on a computer screen, but, on the other hand, I would need to be a drooling idiot to take this particular technological ignorance as a sign of divinity.

    BTW, no man who can admit honestly to limitations could ever be termed arrogant.

    Sure a man can be extraordinarily arrogant in admitting limitations, primarily when that person sets his own personal limitations as the be all and end all of knowledge. It’s the main reason why Intelligent Design is not a science, and smothers science: it appeals to ignorance by saying “Biological system (insert name and description here) is irreducibly complex, thus, we can not learn any further beyond the fact that it was intelligently designed by an unknowable designer (who is probably God as described in the Bible).”

  230. #230 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    BTW, no man who can admit honestly to limitations could ever be termed arrogant.

    that’s not the issue.

    the issue that makes you arrogant is that you claim our own limitations for US:

    The time will come when you will know, and that is sufficient for me.

    if that doesn’t smack of arrogance to you, then you need to rethink what you consider to be arrogance.

  231. #231 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    btw, I wonder if this:

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/politics/blog/2008/04/justice_dept_releases_interrog.html

    means it’s time to dredge up the torture issue again?

    It’s apparently the case that the Bush administration literally took the protection of the constitution to be the job of the judiciary, and if the judiciary didn’t come after him, he must not be doing anything wrong…

  232. #232 spurge
    April 1, 2008

    I guess Bush forgot his oath of office?

  233. #233 Kseniya
    April 1, 2008

    I guess Bush forgot his oath of office?

    Yes, years ago, when he retroactively converted it to an oath to keep us safe.

    o_O

  234. #234 spurge
    April 1, 2008

    I felt much safer before Bush was in office.

    He sucks at his job.

  235. #235 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    Yes, years ago, when he retroactively converted it to an oath to keep us safe.

    uh huh.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/us/02fence.html?ref=us

    In a sweeping use abuse of its authority, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it would bypass environmental reviews to speed construction of fencing along the Mexican border.

  236. #236 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    maybe it’s time to go before HS boxes us all in…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j6Tln0lN0c

  237. #237 spurge
    April 1, 2008

    I am on a Mexican radio!

  238. #238 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    another voodoo fan!

    yeah.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT_0gPrzGA0

  239. #239 spurge
    April 1, 2008

    80′s flashback!

    The days where MTV actually played videos.

  240. #240 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    ‘ol Stan definetly had an influence on my musical tastes growing up.

  241. #241 spurge
    April 1, 2008
  242. #242 MAJeff, OM
    April 1, 2008

    Well, MTV’s offspring, VH1, is making me wish I have cable. They’re showing the docu
    “The Night James Brown Saved Boston” on Saturday night. Got rave reviews at SXSW. It’s about the city of Boston working with James Brown to promote a concert the night after MLK was assassinated as an attempt to avoid some of the rioting and unrest that had spread through other cities.

    Friday is the 40th Anniversary of the assassination; Saturday the 40th anniversary of the concert (I’ll be at a Margaret Cho concert that night).

  243. #243 spurge
    April 1, 2008

    I don’t know if I was influenced much but I do love that song.

  244. #244 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    Random weirdness.

    holy flying pig-squids, batman!

  245. #245 spurge
    April 1, 2008

    It looks like they will be showing it on April 5,7,and 7th.

  246. #246 spurge
    April 1, 2008

    correction 5,6, 7th

  247. #247 spurge
    April 1, 2008

    Can the show not be taped Jeff?

  248. #248 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    good thing Jeff just popped in. I was thinking the discussion of 80′s music would be a good one for his site.

    Jeff-

    why do you not make your sig into a link to your site, so forgetful folks like myself can just click on it to go there to spew musical randomness?

  249. #249 MAJeff, OM
    April 1, 2008

    Because i’ve basically killed the site. Lost interest. Decided to finish the dissertation.

    I’m probably gonna wait for the DVD, since it will have the docu and the full concert. Might be a good one to have.

    I did mention to my students today that I’d take a tape of it though

  250. #250 Krubozumo Nyankoye
    April 1, 2008

    I highly encourage educators and sciencefolk of all stripes to spend a little time checking out and trying to see how one might support the concept of open access journals.

    Posted by: Ichthyic | March 31, 2008 4:35 AM

    Ichthyic, I am strongly in favor of this idea with one caveat, there should be an intermediate level of ‘interpretation’ such that the average science semi-literate can get a realistic view of what the papers actually say and mean. Let’s face it, scientific writing is not very accessible to the layman and given the lack of background would be largely without context.

    Therefore, perhaps a solution to open access would be to found an institution that could pay primary journals for the right to interpret and re-publish their results in a more publicly comprehensible mode. Such a version would not be particularly useful to scientists who would still want the original papers and therefore, subscription could be inexpensive.

    There is, however, yet another problem, the scientific literature that is available electronically is not very old. To the layman, it might be important to be able to go back and read foundational papers in order to see and understand the whole chain of reasoning on which current results are based and interpreted.

    There is yet another aspect to all of this that merits consideration, most research is publicly funded, certainly that which finds its way into the peer reviewed literature, so why is it then the proprietary property of some publisher? All the research grants I have participated in included the costs of publication which are considerable.

    It’s an idealistic goal, difficult to achieve, but perhaps
    vital. Perhaps the RDF would take an interest.

    Cheers,

  251. #251 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    Because i’ve basically killed the site. Lost interest. Decided to finish the dissertation.

    1. OK
    2. good.

    carry on.
    :)

  252. #252 Kseniya
    April 1, 2008

    James Brown hit on my mom once.

    </banality>

  253. #253 MAJeff, OM
    April 1, 2008

    1. OK
    2. good.
    carry on. :)

    Yeah, it’s done by December or I’m done. That’s it.

    My own banality: I used to work with Prince’s third grade teacher.

  254. #254 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    Ichthyic, I am strongly in favor of this idea with one caveat, there should be an intermediate level of ‘interpretation’ such that the average science semi-literate can get a realistic view of what the papers actually say and mean.

    actually, that’s the job of good folks like PZ.

    that’s why Science Blogs exists!

    still, I know from practical experience that having access to the original articles is quite valuable to everybody.

    at the very least, it keeps those that blog about them honest, but the main reason is that it allows those with knowledge in one area but not necessarily in another to followup by reading the full papers, or going off and doing lit review on their own.

    without open access, this isn’t even a possibility.

    There is yet another aspect to all of this that merits consideration, most research is publicly funded, certainly that which finds its way into the peer reviewed literature, so why is it then the proprietary property of some publisher?

    because the funding of RESEARCH doesn’t cover the PUBLICATION of research, unfortunately.

    Well, that’s not entirely accurate; NIH’s publications are also publicly funded.

    most aren’t, however.

    costs a lot of money to keep a periodical going, which is of course, one of the obstacles to open access.

    still, there are ways to grant open access which limit the financial impacts to publishers that are still not being looked at seriously by the vast majority of them.

    Delayed access is the simplest one:

    limit open access until a certain time period has passed (say 3-6 months, for example). That way, people who actually need immediate access will still pay for the subscriptions, and people that don’t can simply grab it at the library or wait for open access.

    this is a very simplified overview of the situation.

    In addition to the issues discussed on the DOAJ site I linked to earlier, here’s another set of relevant points:

    http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/jbiol.htm

  255. #255 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    All the research grants I have participated in included the costs of publication which are considerable.

    just to clarify, this supports YOUR end of the publication process (which admittedly can indeed be costly, depending on the journal).

    Journals don’t fund themselves by submissions, but by subscription dues.

    this is where the issue of cost and privatization comes in.

    the articles published in a journal are considered as the very things the journal uses to market subscriptions.

  256. #256 Kseniya
    April 1, 2008

    I guess she was at the JB show in town one night, and somehow ended up at an after-party in Chinatown. You may know the scene: some of the restaurants stay open very late, and even after last call you still stand a chance of being served “cold tea” on request. She was a cute little blonde party girl back in the day. JB invited her to join the entourage and fly with him to Chicago (?) in the morning. She declined.

    This was a year or two before I came along. I sometimes wonder: What if she’d gone?

  257. #257 Ichthyic
    April 1, 2008

    My own banality: I used to work with Prince’s third grade teacher.

    I was at a late 80′s Voodoo concert in a small club in Santa Barbara, and the lead base player was so strung out on heroin that they had to quit after 4 riffs.

    they ALMOST made it through “Ring of Fire”… until he started playing the baseline for a totally different song, then passed out on the stage.

    memorable, if not a long night.

    businesswise, I helped put together the very first commercial Rod Stewart and NSYNC websites, as well as the fansite for the Back Street Boys.

    Rod Stewart’s old manager was one of my bosses, and the Rolling Stones old manager was the other.

    I did that stuff for a few years, and was always shocked whenever I would go back to doing research and find all my buddies fascinated to hear about it.

    I never found anybody I worked with in the music business to be interesting in the slightest.

    *shrug*

  258. #258 MAJeff, OM
    April 1, 2008
  259. #259 Kseniya
    April 1, 2008

    Music is interesting. Musicians and industry folk? Sometimes. :-)

  260. #260 Ichthyic
    April 2, 2008

    Music is interesting. Musicians and industry folk? Sometimes. :-)

    well, we did sell a lot of Rod Stewart G-String underwear out of the online store (by far and away the most popular item).

    somebody out there must find him interesting…

  261. #261 Kseniya
    April 2, 2008

    Didn’t he used to be married to Stacy’s Mom?

  262. #262 Ichthyic
    April 2, 2008

    Didn’t he used to be married to Stacy’s Mom?

    Stacy…?

  263. #263 James F
    April 2, 2008
  264. #264 wazza
    April 2, 2008

    Her parents work as janitors in a mall near where I live…

    “Stacy’s dad is pretty f***ing rad,
    I know what I want, and it’s making me mad,
    Stacy can’t you see, you’re just not the type for me,
    I know it might be bad, yeah, but I’m in love with Stacy’s dad.”

    You could change Stacy for Skatje and sum up the feelings of most of the commenters over the whole Expelled thing…

  265. #265 Kseniya
    April 2, 2008

    *????*

  266. #266 David Marjanovi?
    April 2, 2008

    I also have faith in the scientific method. I, in short, have faith in science in that the scientific method properly applied produces results that can be verified or disproved.

    If you have faith in the scientific method, you haven’t understood it — as is suggested by your use of “verified”. Or what have I missed? What exactly do you mean by “faith” and “verified”?

  267. #267 David Marjanovi?
    April 2, 2008

    I also have faith in the scientific method. I, in short, have faith in science in that the scientific method properly applied produces results that can be verified or disproved.

    If you have faith in the scientific method, you haven’t understood it — as is suggested by your use of “verified”. Or what have I missed? What exactly do you mean by “faith” and “verified”?

  268. #270 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 4, 2008

    Damn, I’m sorry I missed out on all the James Brown talk.

    I’m a HUGE James Brown fan.

  269. #271 debbyo
    April 5, 2008

    Is it too funky in here? GIVE ME AIR. Gimme some aaaaaaaaaai’!

    I’m with you Rev. Say it loud.

  270. #272 debbyo
    April 5, 2008

    Now, there’s a wacky Christian — who sure could shake his money-maker!

  271. #273 wazza
    April 5, 2008

    Indeed. Why can’t more christians be like Mr Brown?

  272. #275 Kenny P
    July 15, 2008

    I would imagine that doubts of a young Christian could start as early as the 3rd grade math class.

    I mean, that triune God, one is three and three is one.

    One times three equals one? The new Christian math?

    I suppose a kind patriarchal father would get his “three-in-one” can of oil down from the shelf to help explain the trinity to his doubting Thomas.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.