Pharyngula

Ken Miller’s talk

Sad news: I was not able to make it to Miller’s talk at St. Catherine’s last night. We’re down to one car right now, and the choice was between me indulging myself with a long drive and a Ken Miller talk at the end of it, or my wife could have the vehicle so she could do the responsible thing and go to work. She won.

However, I have received some email about it (maybe I’ll get permission to post some of it), and there is one account on the web. It sounds like it was about what I expected: almost entirely good stuff, with a few wacky bits around the edges about his weird cult’s beliefs. He did have the advantage of one creationist in the Q&A throwing him one of their softball questions…usually, the creationists don’t bother to come in the door at my talks, so I’m a little jealous.

If anyone else managed to make it, tell us about it.

Here’s one anonymous account:

It was like watching the Titanic movie. You knew that in the end, the ship was going to hit an iceberg and sink. The Theory of Evolution is one of the best supported theories in science, BUT…

I had the privilege of attending Dr. Kenneth Miller’s presentation at St Catherine University in St Paul on “Finding Darwin’s God” on Wednesday night. The auditorium was packed and I’d estimate that at least 250 people or more were in attendance. It started out pleasant, with Dr. Miller talking about who he was, a brief examination of the Theory of Evolution, what the ID movement is and his influential role in the positive outcome of the trial in Dover. He effectively used slides and videos to cover a few examples of how evolution is supported by current scientific understanding. He talked about Neil Shubin’s Tiktaalik fish, the fusion of Chimpanzee Chromosome 13 and a few other accessible examples. I thought it was a great presentation. He even effectively shot down some wing nut in the back of the room who posed the tired Creationist argument “Give me an example of a genetic mutation adding information?” with numerous examples. Now that was exciting!

And then he started talking about how Genesis wasn’t a science book, and that the relevance of the Bible was the message of Jesus and of Salvation. That lasted for less than two to three minutes, and I knew it was coming, but it still soured me on the whole talk. Dr. Miller claims that he is neither a Creationist, nor a believer in Intelligent Design… but he does believe that a creator with quantifiable intelligence designed the evolutionary process and put it in motion. To me that sounds a lot like the basic arguments of Creationists and ID proponents. As a non-biologist, I cannot really throw my understanding of evolution into the ring with his, but I feel that I can comfortably question his assertion that evolution is compatible with Christian mythology. How can you tear out Chapter 1 of Genesis and say that God did not create humans and all the other animals in their present day form, but leave in the chapter where Jesus is crucified, dies and was resurrected from the dead for our salvation? How is one just an allegory and the other literal truth?

I stayed after and tried asking this and other questions but I didn’t get anywhere. I felt that he was in effect saying “this is what I believe and I don’t really have any testable evidence for believing what I believe, but it’s what I believe”. I think he got sick of me (I feel that I’m generally respectful and polite) and told me he had a plane to catch (which was probably the truth).

He left me with a lot of unanswered questions. First off… I’d like to know more about his view of what evolution is. He claims it was created by God or is somehow under the control of God. What I’d like to know is if it’s something that he thinks God created and just let run loose, not knowing what the final outcome might be or is it something that God knew exactly what it would produce. Either answer has a number of interesting follow-up questions. After the talk, I overheard him conversing with a bunch of other audience members and I thought I heard him suggest the later… that God didn’t know the exact outcome of his “Evolution 1.0″ simulation program and that variability is a key concept to how evolution works. I MUST have misheard him or something because that doesn’t make any sense coming from someone of the Roman Catholic faith. God had to wait roughly 4.5 billion years for an animal with a sophisticated enough linguistic ability before he could tell his story and lay down a set of laws? Well… I guess. It’s not like the dimwitted dinosaurs would have been able to understand all of the “THOU SHALTS” and “THOU SHALT NOTS”.

The other question I wanted to ask was if evolution was guided or unguided. Did God just hit the compile and execute commands on his “Evolution 1.0″ simulation program and then sit back with a coffee and a donut for 4.5 billion years watching with mild interest (or maybe he read a few blogs, as I sometimes do when waiting for a program to finish running or compiling) or does he tinker with the code and add new modules or tweak variables, possibly at the request of a support ticket (prayer)?

I don’t know… I hope to get some of these questions answered from the two books by Dr. Miller that I purchased tonight (Finding Darwin’s God and Only a Theory). I really look forward to reading them, but in the back of my mind I’m a bit unsettled by his insistence that the story of the Bible is compatible with the Theory of Evolution.

Comments

  1. #1 squall25
    April 9, 2009

    I will help you out. Only a Theory belongs on the bookshelf. Finding Darwin’s God belongs in the recycling bin.

  2. #2 Ted H.
    April 9, 2009

    It’s OK, PZ. We know you didn’t go because of the Wrath of Kwok. You would have been expelled anyway.

  3. #3 Sven DiMilo
    April 9, 2009

    Nicely written, if Opie-level naive, review. I doubt the author will be happy with Dr. Miller’s answers to his/her lingering questions.

  4. #4 Newfie
    April 9, 2009

    a la carte belief systems… whatever gets you through, I guess

  5. #5 Jonsi
    April 9, 2009

    Dawkins spoke at the Nierenburg lecture at Scripps the other night, and every question but one was a wingnut question. It was highly disappointing because to me, the wingnuts failed to understand he was invited as a biologist for what is considered a prestigious award for science, not his lack of belief in g0d. I really don’t think you are missing much, PZ, by the creationists not attending. All they do is read some talking point they printed off from a blog or forum. Would you rather answer “did you know atheists have murdered more people than killed in all wars combined?” or “what discoveries involving natural selection do you predict will significantly impact our lives this next century?”

    And as for the account and question “how can you throw out Genesis but believe other chapters?”, that was something that was hotly contested when Christianity was formed. The Gnostics, Marcion and the concept of docetism (the old testament g0d was a vile and inferior g0d to Jesus), all rejected parts of the old testament precisely because it didn’t fit with their new theology. Historically, they lost, and rather than teach you about those things in Sunday school, you will only learn about it through self or collegiate study. There’s no reason not to teach actual academic religious history in church. You’d think it would be self evident. But I’m guessing it would lead to critical thinking so they stick to stories about talking animals.

  6. #6 Bad
    April 9, 2009

    You really seem to be wasting your time here, anonymous. Miller never claims that his beliefs are evidential or in keeping with any one story, so challenging them for lack of evidence or plausibility is really sort of in bad faith on your part, no pun intended. Miller never claims that his beliefs are supposed to be taken seriously as something compelling for non-believers… so why act as if he were?

  7. #7 Dan M.
    April 9, 2009

    Mr. DiMilo: What, exactly, was naive about the review?

  8. #8 zohn smith
    April 9, 2009

    Mmmm…you could have taken a rental car, you know…unless Morris doesn’t have any rental car agencies.

    Now you have allowed Kwok to claim victory :-(

  9. #9 Holbach
    April 9, 2009

    Ken Miller may be a biologist, but he wants to have his due in both ways. What a cop out to say that he believes in evolution and then say that it is basically the way that god brought forth the species. This is bullshit, mixing factual evolution with religious nonsense, and I would rather he said that no, there was no evolution but only a god who created it all. Then he would render his position suspect and should be encouraged to join Ayala, Collins, and those who don’t have the fortitude to give up one illogical idea and stick with the rational discipline. I am an atheist, and not an agnostic, humanist, freethinker, deist, or any other doubtful appendage. Let’s be steadfast in our unbelief and not waver with all that indecisive crap that only tends to cast doubt by ardent atheists.

  10. #10 The Science Pundit
    April 9, 2009

    @Jonsi
    While I agree with you on all that you said, I think Dan’s (nice review Dan, btw) question might still be valid “if Marcion had won”. The biblical contradictions–both internal and with empirical observation–run deeper than Old Testament vs. New Testament.

    I had the pleasure of seeing Ken Miller on Darwin Day! Yeah!! I had many of the same concerns as Dan, but chose to just focus on the good 90% of his talk because (a) I didn’t think that a religion debate would be productive, and (b) I wasn’t about to let anything ruin my Darwin Day celebration. He let me do a quick one question interview at the book signing. That was prety cool.

  11. #11 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 9, 2009

    Kwok is going to be so mad at you.

    Fear his facebook onslaught

  12. #12 tmaxPA
    April 9, 2009

    Dan M: I’m not answering for DeMilo, but I also thought the review was naive. Why? Because the author seemed to be far more interested in Miller’s beliefs than in his theories. Which is to say he believed that his (anonymous’) incredulity of Miller’s beliefs were arguments against those beliefs, as if it were entirely impossible for a learned man to be wrong about something. A naive position.

  13. #13 SteadyEddy
    April 9, 2009

    I was fortunate enough to have a working car and I made it to the talk. Miller did a great job making the case for evolution in mostly middle school terms. His lecture was very easy to follow. So I’m sure he made some strides in convincing several of what I assume were mostly christian attendees (it was at a catholic all girls college). I sat in the front row along with several other atheists (why are we atheists such brown-nosers?).

    I recorded it on my .mp3 player and it’s quality is okay- certainly not as bad as my previous PZ-Loyal debate recording. Maybe I’ll upload it to badango or something overnight- it’s a big file so it’ll take a while to load up… I think the speech/Q&A was 110 minutes or so.

  14. #14 MadScientist
    April 9, 2009

    Same old apologist tactics. “I’m not knocking evolution and I’m not religious, BUT …” “I’m not pro-Hitler and I’m not denying the Holocaust BUT …” Can’t apologists come up with any newer gimmicks or must they ply the same old crap that’s been around since the creation of the world?

  15. #15 Kausik Datta
    April 9, 2009

    Bad @#6:

    Miller never claims that his beliefs are evidential or in keeping with any one story, so challenging them for lack of evidence or plausibility is really sort of in bad faith on your part, no pun intended.

    Yet, he is perfectly happy to sprinkle an intelligent and illuminating science talk with religious nonsense. I think it is a very valid question – that Dan raises – to ask what his real ideas of the evolutionary process is.

    Cognitive dissonance is all very fine perhaps; but when an individual – such as Dr. Miller – is generally considered an authority figure in whose opinions people give credence, he/she has the responsibility of not confusing between the podium and the pulpit, at least in public.

  16. #16 Bad
    April 9, 2009

    “Then he would render his position suspect and should be encouraged to join Ayala, Collins, and those who don’t have the fortitude to give up one illogical idea and stick with the rational discipline.”

    There’s nothing inherently illogical about those ideas. They might be evidentially unfounded and thus not compelling, but logic is based on the validity of arguments from premises, not the soundness of what are basically unprovable premises. If you simply don’t accept Miller’s premises, and there’s no reason to do so, then everything else he talks about past that point are completely toothless.

  17. #17 Stephanurus
    April 9, 2009

    The anonymous reviewer said Miller “… does believe that a creator with quantifiable intelligence designed the evolutionary process and put it in motion.”

    It was my understanding that the claim was that the “creator” has infinite intelligence. Is infinite intelligence quantifiable?
    Stephanurus

  18. #18 Kausik Datta
    April 9, 2009

    Oops, sorry, not the question that Dan raises… The question raised in the anonymous reviewer’s post.

  19. #19 CalGeorge
    April 9, 2009

    Ken Miller:

    Intelligent design – wrong.
    Creationism – wrong.
    Roman Catholicism – that’s the ticket!

    Sigh.

  20. #20 Kristine
    April 9, 2009

    Regrettably, I could not attend Ken Miller’s talk, either. We were scurrying to prepare for the CFI World Congress in Washington, DC.

    Incidentally, PZ, after Michael Ruse’s talk tonight I have a post up, and I’ll bet Larry Moran will, too. I think Ruse has lost his mind.

  21. #21 bad
    April 9, 2009

    “Cognitive dissonance is all very fine perhaps; but when an individual – such as Dr. Miller – is generally considered an authority figure in whose opinions people give credence, he/she has the responsibility of not confusing between the podium and the pulpit, at least in public.”

    His podium, his life, his opinions. Seems fair enough to me that he’s honest and upfront about them rather than coy: the more upfront the more you can decide whether what he’s saying makes sense or is really compelling or not. You act like his audience is exclusively for atheists or even scientists, but that’s obviously not the case.

    I’m not a big fan of the implication that people are simply authority figures and all listeners are sheep, and so them speaking is somehow dangerous. People who attend talks are supposed to be skeptics who critically evaluate the arguments of the speakers, not children who are in danger of being swayed this way or that.

  22. #22 EndUnknown
    April 9, 2009

    I am reading a lot of anti miller posts here. Im not sure that I agree with that. I’d rather have miller’s christianity that doesn’t shit on science, and teach our children to ignore it, as opposed to the ID bull. I do agree that his views are far from ideal, but they are 10000000000000x > IDiots

  23. #23 Newfie
    April 9, 2009

    So I’m sure he made some strides in convincing several of what I assume were mostly christian attendees.

    .. which, at the end of the day, is a good thing.

  24. #24 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    What, exactly, was naive about the review?

    Oh, perhaps I’m too cynical. I just felt that the seeming earnestness of the unanswered questions detracted from their pointedness. Of course Miller doesn’t have satisfactory (to me) answers to those (excellent, and well-phrased) questions. It’s his “faith.” Period. And having read some Miller, I’m pretty sure that this sentiment:

    I hope to get some of these questions answered from the two books by Dr. Miller that I purchased tonight

    can only end in disappointment.

    But I’m pretty cynical.

  25. #25 Snowbird
    April 10, 2009

    I would say that, like it or not, Ken Miller is a far better propronent of evolution than PZ, or even Dawkins. This isn’t because he is correct, but because he is a good speaker, and understands the cult of Jesus.

    Sometimes, you have to hold your nose and accept what you are given. Are we, as athiests, somehow suppose to be less pragmatic than those who follow fairy tales?

  26. #26 Kseniya
    April 10, 2009

    There are a lot of people out there who think and believe as Miller does: Evolution? Check. God? Check. As the reviewer suggested, it’s a bit like a modern form of Deism, with God firing up SimVerse v1.0 and just sitting back to watch it run (or going off to do something else, in which case He’ll be back in another 5 or 10 billion years to check on how things are progressing here).

    Miller is clearly one of the good guys. So his total view isn’t ideal from the atheist’s standpoint. Big deal.

    How can you tear out Chapter 1 of Genesis and say that God did not create humans and all the other animals in their present day form, but leave in the chapter where Jesus is crucified, dies and was resurrected from the dead for our salvation?

    Easy. The first is very obviously not true, and there’s a tremendous amount of evidence against it. The other is not entirely implausible if you believe in a God who performs miracles. As unlikely as that may be, there’s no mountain of evidence that clearly undermines the belief, as is the case with Genesis.

  27. #27 Ken Cope
    April 10, 2009

    As unlikely as that may be, there’s no mountain of evidence that clearly undermines the belief,

    Which is why I believe that Frodo vanquished all the foes of Middle Earth and Passed into the West with his Uncle Bilgo Baggins without dying, and lives there still to this day! You should see the mountains of internally consistent accounts from multiple sources that verify the truth of the historical documents!

  28. #28 tomh
    April 10, 2009

    Miller has the same annoying trait that so many religionists have, part of what makes them so obnoxious, he is simply incapable of keeping his personal beliefs personal. It doesn’t matter whether these beliefs have any relevance to the subject or not, he feels compelled to spew them out. What is it about these people that they think everyone is dying to know all about their irrelevant beliefs?

  29. #29 John Morales
    April 10, 2009

    tomh, see here and here for examples of why they evangelise.

    “Christians are motivated to share the Good News primarily because our Lord commands us to evangelize.”

  30. #30 Kseniya
    April 10, 2009

    Frodo? Yes, Ken. There’s a vaguely similar, competing belief involving a young sorcerer named Harry…

    What is it about these people that they think everyone is dying to know all about their irrelevant beliefs?

    I suspect that Miller is working the “Evolution is compatible with [non-Creationistic] religion” side of the street. You know – framing! Public relations! Seriously, though. In that context, his religious comments aren’t completely gratuitous. They have a purpose. We’re still fighting against local school boards full of creationists, and the fundie PR campaign that equates Evolution with atheism and other “evils,” and Miller is certainly no less aware of these unpleasant facts than interested bystanders such as you and me.

  31. #31 room101
    April 10, 2009

    @EndUnknown:

    …I do agree that his views are far from ideal, but they are 10000000000000x > IDiots

    Here, here…

    I, too, agree with the above comments regarding Miller’s apparent compartmentalization issues….

    but I sure am glad he’s on our side fighting against them bastard IDiots…

  32. #32 room101
    April 10, 2009

    @31

    Here, here…

    I meant to say “hear, hear”. So much for me calling anyone an “idiot”.

  33. #33 John Morales
    April 10, 2009

    room101, hear, hear!

  34. #34 Cathy
    April 10, 2009

    Jonsi (#5)–
    I was at the Nierenburg lecture at Scripps on Tuesday night, too, and heard Dawkins speak. Yes, there were several same-old, same-old questions from Christians. But there were several good aspects to that:

    1) Dawkins did a good job answering the questions and got a lot of applause for doing so, as well.

    2) I’m sure there were at least some Christians or theists in the audience who had never heard these excellent answers before. (I KNOW there was at least one, because I brought him, and on the way home my guest said that he thought Dawkins answered the questions beautifully.)

    3) It’s not every day that I get to hear someone give Richard Dawkins an opportunity to “repent.” Nor the shout of laughter from the audience at the offer.

  35. #35 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    I will now spar with you, Holbach. En guard!

    Ken Miller may be a biologist, but he wants to have his due in both ways.

    As a personal matter, that’s his business, just as it is your business to say that you accept both evolution and atheism.

    What a cop out to say that he believes in evolution and then say that it is basically the way that god brought forth the species.

    Why would it be a cop out, unless you want evolution (a falsifiable claim, and a fact, about the natural world) provide the ontological justification for something which is neither falsifiable or known to be a fact, the absence of gods? It is no more a ‘cop out’ than to assert that one believes in gravity, and then add that same is basically the means by which god brought forth thermonuclear reactors (stars). I grant that the latter claim is not scientific, but I don’t think Miller was claiming that it was science.

    This is bullshit, mixing factual evolution with religious nonsense, and I would rather he said that no, there was no evolution but only a god who created it all.

    Well, I can see where you would prefer to make that argument. You realize, of course, that you are simply mirroring the ‘zero-sum’ game of the strict Biblical literalist?

    In any case, you’re not really characterizing Miller fairly. Miller didn’t actually mix the fact of evolution with any sort of faith-based claim. He doesn’t claim that his views are science or a seamless garment of explanation between (in Gould’s phrase) separate magisteria. Miller’s claim has always been that his faith was compatible with a God that acted in concert with the laws of nature. It may seem to go against whatever supernatural boogeyman some folk prefer to argue with, but that’s not really his problem.

    Then he would render his position suspect and should be encouraged to join Ayala, Collins, and those who don’t have the fortitude to give up one illogical idea and stick with the rational discipline.

    You have some pretty strange ideas. What, exactly, are these folk joining? Is there some movement in science to partition it into a theistic and non-theistic wing? I must have missed that. Listen, pal, when I do science, I always do it WITHOUT God. I never invoke God or any other non-natural phenomena as an explanatory principle, and neither does Miller, Ayala, Collins, or for that matter PZ Myers. Science is by definition an atheistic enterprise, and we don’t have to ‘join’ some group if some of us happen to think there are areas of human experience which aren’t well-served by the scientific enterprise.

    I am an atheist, and not an agnostic, humanist, freethinker, deist, or any other doubtful appendage.

    Appendage to what? Again, your view of the scientific enterprise leaves me scratching my head. What I or you or Ken Miller privately believe is irrelevant to the conduct of science, and I fail to see why I should be exercised about any of our private beliefs.

    Let’s be steadfast in our unbelief and not waver with all that indecisive crap that only tends to cast doubt by ardent atheists.

    Surely this is masterful satire? When it comes to doing science, I am steadfast in my commitment to only proposing testable explanations in terms of natural causes. This is not a commitment to either belief or unbelief. As far as I can see, scientists are not in the ‘belief business.’ We’re in the ‘model-building-and-testing business.’

    And what is this ‘ardent atheism’? Consider two individuals, Atheos and Atheas.

    Atheos quietly says, “I don’t believe in god or gods, because I haven’t seen any evidence to support that belief. If a testable claim is made, I will test it. If it is falsified, I will report it. If it is not immediately falsified, I will continue to investigate while suspending judgement on the claim and any alleged consequences of that claim.”

    Atheas proclaims, “I believe god or gods don’t exist! If a claim is made that seems to be problematic for my belief, I’m going to snort in derision, because I’m satisfied that science can answer all meaningful questions in terms of natural causes. I don’t need to worry about such claims, because science will prove them to be bullshit!”

    I’m curious, Holbach, as to which of these you think is the proper attitude for a scientist, and whether either of these cartoon characters is sufficiently ardent in their atheism?

  36. #36 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Which is why I believe that Frodo vanquished all the foes of Middle Earth and Passed into the West with his Uncle Bilgo Baggins without dying, and lives there still to this day! You should see the mountains of internally consistent accounts from multiple sources that verify the truth of the historical documents!

    That’s what I should’ve told those nice young men on the bicycles!

    When are we going to have that next round of beer? I’m THIRSTY.

  37. #37 tomh
    April 10, 2009

    Kseniya wrote:
    I suspect that Miller is working the “Evolution is compatible with [non-Creationistic] religion” side of the street. You know – framing! Public relations!

    That would be clever of him, if it did any good, which I doubt. Personally, though, I don’t buy it, I see too many like him. They just can’t help themselves, it’s like a sickness. But that’s just me, you’re probably right.

  38. #38 Ken Cope
    April 10, 2009

    Atheos and Atheas are a rather thin false dichotomy, Scott. Bertrand Russell’s cosmic teapot is the right place to go with this. In the absence of any coherent definition or evidence, there is no point in wasting the brain cycles on ceding equal probability to every proposition and its negation. As for arguments about why I should extend my credulity to theistic apologetics? Ecclesiastes had it right, if only about theology and apologetics: There is nothing new under the sun.

    I think Oregon is too far for the next PZ public appearance Scott, although I acknowledge the schlep it took for you to get to Berkeley from Fresno. Lots of good microbrew in Oregon, too.

  39. #39 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    That would be clever of him, if it did any good, which I doubt.

    In a personal letter, Darwin once complained to Charles Lyell about the uniformitarian geologist’s reluctance to formally and publicly embrace his theory after years of private correspondence in which Lyell largely accepted Darwin’s views. Lyell’s reply was gentle, but firm: he felt that by remaining studiously neutral and above the fray in public, he had encouraged many naturalists to consider Darwin’s views without prejudice, and had brought many into the fold of evolution who might otherwise had balked.

    Let me suggest that Ken Miller is similarly effective in the role that he plays, in no small part because he doesn’t appear to be ‘playing’ or ‘framing’. His commitments are real. I will stop here lest anyone think my fulsome praise of Dr. Miller qualifies me for the John Kwok Fan Club.

  40. #40 John Morales
    April 10, 2009

    Scott,

    … I will stop here lest anyone think my fulsome praise of Dr. Miller qualifies me for the John Kwok Fan Club.

    Hardly.
    Anyway, your argument from pragmatism stands on its own merits.

  41. #41 Mick
    April 10, 2009

    #26 said…

    The other is not entirely implausible if you believe in a God who performs miracles.

    Now wait a second. How is Genesis any more implausible than the ressurection to one who accepts a god that can do literally anything? If such a being exists then anything you can attribute to it becomes plausible. What does evidence matter? God could just screwing with you.

  42. #42 RamblinDude
    April 10, 2009

    Couldn’t care less what Dr. Miller personally believes as long as he keeps science and its method pure. And he does.

  43. #43 RamblinDude
    April 10, 2009

    Couldn’t care less what Dr. Miller personally believes. . .

    Okay, that’s a bit of an overgeneralization. I suppose you could be a Nazi supremacist and keep the science pure . . . ack, I’m going to bed!

  44. #44 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    he keeps science and its method pure.

    But does he? First, he’s really not doing any science any more; for the last 15 years or so his career has been about writing and speaking. And when he speaks about the science of evolution he always manages to mention his personal beliefs.

  45. #45 Mrs Tilton
    April 10, 2009

    squall25 @1,

    Finding Darwin’s God belongs in the recycling bin

    O ye of little nuance. The second part of FDG belongs in the rubbish bin, perhaps. The first part belongs given to every young person who has had his or her time wasted, and mind confused, by creationist claptrap of any stripe.

    Even the first part is interesting, in an anthropological sense. And possibly even helpful; I suspect it is one of the influences that helped me abandon religious belief. When I got to the part where Miller, trying to address how an otherwise noninterventionist God would, emm, intervene when he has to, conjectures that maybe God tweaks things at the quantum level where Science can never see it happening, I was all Rilly? That’s a serious suggestion? Hmmm… maybe there’s a lot less to this stuff than I’d believed. Didn’t happen right away, mind, but my thoughts in those days had been delivered a momentum-jostling blow, and the second part of FDG is one of the things that delivered it. I don’t think that’s the effect Miller would have meant for it to have, but there you go.

  46. #46 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    I don’t know why this is such a mystery to people. If we create through evolution, why couldn’t God?

  47. #47 RamblinDude
    April 10, 2009

    Sven DiMilo But does he?

    Yes, you raise a good point, and I realize I commented blithely. After dealing with hardcore creationists, however, he?s like a breath of fresh air, (so is Scott) and it puts a smile on my face. I?m grateful that not all Christians are as monumentally irrational and obtuse as the people I deal with, but that doesn?t mean I?m happy about even a little Jesus-loves-you infiltrating its way into science. It?s just that I can stomach it in small doses. As for the larger question: is he, –in the end,– helping or hurting? Ahem . . . I?m going to bed.

  48. #48 John Morales
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba:

    I don’t know why this is such a mystery to people. If we create through evolution, why couldn’t God?

    ‘Cos we really exist. D’oh.
    How is this a mystery to you? ;)

  49. #49 Kel
    April 10, 2009

    I don’t know why this is such a mystery to people. If we create through evolution, why couldn’t God?

    Of course God could make through evolution, but why would we have need for such a hypothesis?

  50. #50 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @John Morales

    I know we really exsist, but how is this relevant? My question was about this percieved incompatability between evolution, God, theistic/deistic evolution, and faith. What’s your point?

  51. #51 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Kel

    Well, it could answer a question or two behind why we evolved the way we did, rather than how…

  52. #52 John Morales
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba, um.

    Imaginary entities (God) cannot create. We, however, can create, because we’re not imaginary.

    It’s really not a hard concept.

  53. #53 mothwentbad
    April 10, 2009

    Yeah, I don’t know. As floppy as the religious stuff sounds, I can see how tiring it must be to have someone want real answers everywhere you go, and I can sort of appreciate the whole thing about not wanting to be alone in the universe and wanting to live forever and stuff. Sometimes, I try to ponder what a lonely rock-and-a-hard-place situation liberal Christianity must be, and then I’m grateful that I’m a nihilist with some existentialist sympathies.

    Yes, we all want answers for real, the universe owes us them, only wait, no it doesn’t, too bad. Miller doesn’t have the answer. Might as well leave him in peace.

    Youth is very
    Cruel to an old face,
    He said in a hushed voice.
    It looks into its lines for wisdom
    So touchingly
    But there is nothing there to find.

  54. #54 JohnM
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba @ #51

    “Well, it could answer a question or two behind why we evolved the way we did, rather than how…”

    Silly person. We evolved the way we did BECAUSE we evolved the way we did. There are no behind Q. or Qs.

  55. #55 Nathaniel
    April 10, 2009

    I must say I’m getting some mixed signals here. Many of you berate Miller for speaking briefly (the account states that is was in the mere minutes) about his beliefs, yet you keep questioning him because of it, and asking him specific questions about it, even though you think it should be personal. Are you helping him keep it personal? Would he mention it if he hadn’t been asked so often about it?

    I suspect we won’t know the answer to that, but to argue so fervently against a man of obvious intellect for believing something else that, as far as I’ve heard himself describe it, sounds rather like mere ‘do good’ fairy tales. So what? Personally, I might object to the concept of organized religion, but I’m not going to look down on someone who wants to believe we’re supposed to be good to one another. However, being an atheist, I should probably agree that personal beliefs (and non-beliefs) should be kept personal, so I guess I’m already an idiot for mentioning anything of this at all.

  56. #56 Michael Hawkins
    April 10, 2009

    Hell, I may as well throw this out there.

    This is an interview with Ken Miller I did. It has others (including a creationist nut). No one is interested in science enough to get it published locally.

  57. #57 Kel
    April 10, 2009

    Well, it could answer a question or two behind why we evolved the way we did, rather than how…

    It could answer the why, assuming that there is a why. Though I’d personally argue that the answer to the why is tightly coupled with the how, in the sense that any answer of why needs to take into account the how. If life is full of accidents shaping evolution, as Stephen Jay Gould would put it, then surely that would have to reflect on any question of why us. As would the way and shape of the laws of physics.

    In any case, to assume that there is a why is a very human thing. It’s in effect anthropomorphising any answer. To me, it needs to be established that there first is a why before we can try to find an answer to it. But that’s just me though. I’m not saying there definitely isn’t a deity out there, or that we are not he focal point of the universe, but given the sheer scale of things; the 1023 stars in an approximately 94 billion light year wide universe where we are but one of 10 million living species, which are only less than one percent of species that ever lived on this planet. We have existed for less than 0.001% of the entire span of the universe. So forgive my scepticism, but it to me is really a stretching of our species importance to think that there needs to be a why.

  58. #58 Adrian T
    April 10, 2009

    I might sound like a ‘heretic’ here – however people like Francis Collins and Ken Miller are useful in that they show young earth creationists, accpeting evolution in itself does not necessitate atheism. I say this after an exasperating argument with a fundamentalist on a gay news forum (the topic strsyed onto evolution and I had a field day). From this argment I discovered that some people are so far gone, there really is no point trying to make them question their belief in any way. I recommended the person in question read Finding Darwins God and the Language of God at the end.

    That’s condescending I know; but getting people onto theistic evolution is better than Ken Ham’s fairy tales after all.

  59. #59 degustibus
    April 10, 2009

    maybe Miller’s angling for the Templeton Prize, a tidy chunk of change

  60. #60 Rasmus Holm
    April 10, 2009

    How can you tear out Chapter 1 of Genesis and say that God did not create humans and all the other animals in their present day form, but leave in the chapter where Jesus is crucified, dies and was resurrected from the dead for our salvation?

    Easy. The first is very obviously not true, and there’s a tremendous amount of evidence against it. The other is not entirely implausible if you believe in a God who performs miracles. As unlikely as that may be, there’s no mountain of evidence that clearly undermines the belief, as is the case with Genesis.

    That does not address the central issue of the very relevant question. If one chapter is so obviously false, what makes you think the following chapters are true? Either the bible is the perfect word of God from beginning to end, or it is not. So you say, this is exactly like the zero-sum game of the creationists. Yes, it is, but this is taken from the believers themselves from a time when they were rather more sure of themselves. To me all the talk about taking that part of the bible literally, and that part metaphorically, ignoring that part whilst emphasizing that part is an act of desparation on behalf of the believers. They have been left with little choice, but to do so. If left to themselves they would all want the bible to be literally true.

    Again I must echo Sam Harris. It is scant praise indeed if the best you can say about scripture is that some parts can be safely ignored.

  61. #61 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    But does he? First, he’s really not doing any science any more; for the last 15 years or so his career has been about writing and speaking. And when he speaks about the science of evolution he always manages to mention his personal beliefs.

    You know, if you were to speak about the science of evolution in public, chances are pretty good someone will ASK you what your personal beliefs are on the matter. Even if that’s not what you want to talk about. Last time I checked, any time PZ talks in public there’s a pretty good chance someone will ask him about HIS personal beliefs. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a scientist!

    As for the old curriculum vitae….

    Here’s a link to Miller’s CV.

    It’s true that it lists no scientific papers since 1999, but he’s still teaching at Brown, still writing and editing biology texts, still doing active research in cell membranes. That sounds like doing science to me!

  62. #62 XD
    April 10, 2009

    Kseniya:

    Easy. The first is very obviously not true, and there’s a tremendous amount of evidence against it. The other is not entirely implausible if you believe in a God who performs miracles. As unlikely as that may be, there’s no mountain of evidence that clearly undermines the belief, as is the case with Genesis.

    Well, if you believe that God can suspend the physical laws of the universe to enable miracles, why can’t he make the Earth as suggested in Genesis, and make it look like it’s older than it is? Maybe the apparent discrepancy between what we see and what is written it is a test of faith?

    Or do you think that God can do little miracles but not big miracles?

  63. #63 Liberal Atheist
    April 10, 2009

    #19 CalGeorge

    Ken Miller:

    Intelligent design – wrong.
    Creationism – wrong.
    Roman Catholicism – that’s the ticket!

    Of course he is a creationist, unless of course Catholics no longer believe in a divine creator.

  64. #64 Occam's Aftershave
    April 10, 2009

    I’m interested in removing some of my naivete here. Hope someone will indulge.

    When it comes to doing science, I am steadfast in my commitment to only proposing testable explanations in terms of natural causes. This is not a commitment to either belief or unbelief. As far as I can see, scientists are not in the ‘belief business.’ We’re in the ‘model-building-and-testing business.’

    Is the question of “what is science?” unimportant relative to the question of whether one adopts naturalism instead of supernaturalism, or adopts ontological naturalism instead of methodological naturalism? I daresay that for many practicing scientists the issue of being scientific inextricably is bound to commitment to ontological naturalism. For them, it may be that ontological supernaturalism is really begging the question (i.e., science is the only way we can hope to answer whether there is anything supernatural), and then Occam’s razor starts looking applicable. Case in point: the claim that there is no god of the gaps in evolution rejects supernaturalism as an explanation standing in place of models of the (presumably) unknown natural mechanisms. The rejection of supernaturalism is analogous, however at the meta level of ontological commitments to what cannot be demonstrated by science.

    Atheos quietly says, “I don’t believe in god or gods, because I haven’t seen any evidence to support that belief. If a testable claim is made, I will test it. If it is falsified, I will report it. If it is not immediately falsified, I will continue to investigate while suspending judgement on the claim and any alleged consequences of that claim.”

    Atheas proclaims, “I believe god or gods don’t exist! If a claim is made that seems to be problematic for my belief, I’m going to snort in derision, because I’m satisfied that science can answer all meaningful questions in terms of natural causes. I don’t need to worry about such claims, because science will prove them to be bullshit!”

    Surely there is a position in between the two where, like Atheas, one can believe that gods either do or don’t exist but are willing to change one’s belief as scientific evidence provides it. Let us say Schick holds this position. Atheos is agnostic, Schick is either theistic or atheistic. The theistic version of Schick has made a commitment to believing in something that has no evidence. The atheistic version of Schick has made a commitment to the believing in the non-existence of something that has no evidence for it (we can leave out the fact that quite a bit of evidence suggests no supernatural intervention in the world). What would be needed to change the beliefs of these two Schicks? To change the theist Schick’s mind, one would need evidence that the supernatural item does not exist. To change the atheist Schick’s mind, one would need evidence that the supernatural item does indeed exist. Does it not seem categorically different to try to prove an item does not exist compared to proving an item does exist? How does this fact not make the theist’s position more problematic than the atheist’s?

    The agnostic’s position is intellectually interesting but seems laughably unattainable for, you know, actual people. It is all well and good to claim one makes no commitments to beliefs that have inadequate supporting evidence, but when push comes to shove they don’t believe in untold numbers of things that that have no shred of evidence. For example, I have yet to meet an agnostic that believes flying purple monkeys will save them if the plane they’re flying in one day falls out of the sky. No evidence for or against the flying purple monkey hypothesis? Well let’s just say I’ve met few people that take Athenos’ position on the matter.

    In any case, you’re not really characterizing Miller fairly. Miller didn’t actually mix the fact of evolution with any sort of faith-based claim. He doesn’t claim that his views are science or a seamless garment of explanation between (in Gould’s phrase) separate magisteria. Miller’s claim has always been that his faith was compatible with a God that acted in concert with the laws of nature. It may seem to go against whatever supernatural boogeyman some folk prefer to argue with, but that’s not really his problem.

    Assume this is Miller’s claim. Do you suppose it is possible to scientifically test whether his exists? If so, do we have any evidence for it? If not, what reasons are there for holding on to untestable claims? I’m asking because I don’t know.

  65. #65 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    I don’t know why this is such a mystery to people. If we create through evolution, why couldn’t God?

    No one has claimed that, if there is a God, it couldn’t have created through evolution. But thanks for playing, even if you have no idea what the game is.

  66. #66 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Ken Cope (post #38):

    Atheas and Atheos were not intended as a ‘you must choose one or the other’ deal. That would be a false dichotomy. They were simply caricatures of two particular kinds of atheism I encounter from time to time: one intelligent, thoughtful, measured and principled; the other reactionary and akin to a belief system. You know, the kind of caricature that leads to one of us invoking Blake’s Law.

    Also, Oregon is too far for me as well, and that’s not what I was hinting at. UC Berkeley should be having another evolution conference this spring, and I was hoping, ya know, to maybe go to Jupiter’s again.

    Mrs. Tilton (post #45):

    I admit a similar disappointment to the attempt to sneak the divine in by way of quantum action in the last part of ‘Finding Darwin’s God’. The problem isn’t that it is clearly impossible; in fact, it’s clearly permissible. The problem is that it adds nothing to the discussion, scientifically, and ends up looking like a ‘sciency-sounding’ religious gloss. I have yet to meet anyone on either side of the ‘evo-creo wars’ who has the warm fuzzies for Dr. Miller’s approach here, and I think it’s telling that he hasn’t tried to develop it. It seems there was lead in that pilot balloon.

    John Morales (post #54):

    Silly person. We evolved the way we did BECAUSE we evolved the way we did.

    Amusing tautology, but I don’t have to invoke theism to point out the emptiness of that box. There are clearly constraints on the way life has evolved. It’s scientifically meaningful to ask questions about what the constraints are, and to what degree they are contingent features of history, and to what degree they are not.

    Testable explanations are of course to be preferred, and invoking non-natural causes is of course a no-no for methodological reasons. To bring this point back to the topic of Miller’s appeal to quantum processes, let’s be clear: this isn’t a testable explanation, but neither is it necessarily importing the supernatural into science. Miller’s not saying that you should add God to the science, he’s just proposing a way that God could be said to act today without violating any laws of physics. Again, this is a gloss that adds nothing to science either as description or explanation, but Miller isn’t commending it as such, so let’s not overreact.

    Michael Hawkins (post #56):

    Link appears not to work.

  67. #67 Rudi
    April 10, 2009

    Compared to Miller I am a mere minnow (not even that) when it comes to evolutionary biology, but even I can see his argument is entirely nonsensical. The simple question I would ask him is this:

    “Assuming the evolutionary process on earth was designed by the Christian God, in what ways does it differ from an evolutionary process that occurs as a result of the blind forces of nature and nothing else?”

    Would love to hear the answer – or non-answer – to that one.

  68. #68 John Morales
    April 10, 2009

    Scott @66, JohnM and I are different posters.

  69. #69 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    To change the theist Schick’s mind, one would need evidence that the supernatural item does not exist. To change the atheist Schick’s mind, one would need evidence that the supernatural item does indeed exist. Does it not seem categorically different to try to prove an item does not exist compared to proving an item does exist? How does this fact not make the theist’s position more problematic than the atheist’s?

    Interesting and thoughtful response, but I disagree with the premise. The theist could well conclude God does not exist by virtue of repeated failure to manifest any evidence of their existence. One does not need to prove that the supernatural item need not exist; one could simply experience repeated failure to find any evidence for same, as Ken pointed out with respect to Russell’s teapot.

    Besides, I think the categorical distinction emerges elsewhere, in this question: what counts as evidence? It seems incoherent to expect scientists to accept an observable cause or finding, which is natural, as evidence for or against the supernatural.

    So, if there is a happy medium, it might be handy to keep Atheos for the purpose of doing science, whether one is privately Atheas, Schick or what have you.

    Assume this is Miller’s claim. Do you suppose it is possible to scientifically test whether his exists? If so, do we have any evidence for it? If not, what reasons are there for holding on to untestable claims? I’m asking because I don’t know.

    That is Miller’s claim. It’s the one he makes in his books, on the PBS series ‘Evolution’ and his public speaking engagements (I’ve attended two).

    I think Miller would concede that there is no scientific claim for his proposal, nor any evidence that would count as such within science. Obviously, it’s held on faith: which is one of the reasons it deserves no standing within science.

  70. #70 Wowbagger, OM
    April 10, 2009

    XD wrote:

    Well, if you believe that God can suspend the physical laws of the universe to enable miracles, why can’t he make the Earth as suggested in Genesis, and make it look like it’s older than it is? Maybe the apparent discrepancy between what we see and what is written it is a test of faith?

    I think it’s because doing something like making the earth seem older than it is would kind of imply a god which was, at the very least, a mischievous, dishonest one – and, at worst, a miserable, capricious, malevolent one. Since the Abrahamic religions all want to claim the thing whose ass they kiss isn’t a vile monster but a moral, just and loving god, they can’t really go down the ‘oh, he just likes fucking with us’ path.

  71. #71 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    Well, it could answer a question or two behind why we evolved the way we did, rather than how…

    No, it cannot answer any such question. “Because God wanted it that way” says nothing.

  72. #72 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    Miller’s not saying that you should add God to the science, he’s just proposing a way that God could be said to act today without violating any laws of physics.

    In the same way that a trillion cavorting ectoplasmic angels dancing on the head of every pin doesn’t violate any laws of physics. What it does violate is laws of semantics.

  73. #73 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    Obviously, it’s held on faith: which is one of the reasons it deserves no standing within science.

    It deserves no standing in rational discourse of any sort.

  74. #74 Strangebrew
    April 10, 2009

    55#

    Are you helping him keep it personal? Would he mention it if he hadn’t been asked so often about it?

    Yes I rather think he would…Miller believes in a God…those that do have a hard time of keeping it in their pants for any length of time.

    And while Miller has formulated and cultivated the persona of a man of Science while believing in a fairy tale daddy in the sky seems to pacify folks…
    I call that cognitive dissonance of epic proportion!
    A few have it…Collins for example…
    Hitchins illuminated that point in a recent debate…

    But Miller uses it to play the Christian martyr if not in deed then certainly by illusion.
    Meaning that if attacked directly on that aspect of his perception he can claim professional dissonance…if the attacks continues it is Christian persecution simple like so…

    He struts a fine line…one day he will over balance…they all do!

    He does it at every opportunity though…a little unassuming elucidation to a belief of supernatural woo magic…very moving I am sure…guaranteed to bring a comfortable ahhhh!…to the sighs of the afflicted…

    But in order to maintain the intellectual high ground it is left up to the audience to ask the question…which will initiate the trade mark response…which inevitable they do!
    So in a way Nathaniel has a point.

    But the main point is it would be doubtful he could not resist alluding to woo when speaking in public…however understated of course…even if not confronted deliberately on that aspect.

    I could not give a flying fishes mating ritual what science he understands…it is the science he does not that raises the question…why believe a fairy story when science is available to explain either in part at the moment or completely in the future?
    I have never heard the case that Miller proposes for his belief…as far as I know it has never been documented…what evidence he has….being a scientist one would assume he has evidence otherwise it is a betrayal of his profession…or a distinct weakness in his education training and practice of science…but whatever the smoking gun persuasive fact of his belief is not widely known…although I am prepared to be corrected on that!

    I have no doubt that Miller is a fine and honourable bunny with a good grasp of reality except with that one flaw…

    But that one flaw is a monumental anathema to science full stop!

    Seems it is a pile of jeebus excrement…cannot buy into it on any level…
    And there seems little point in professing such nonsense whatever the level of advertisement…I see no good reason to pander to fools or pretend sanity while doing it…
    And if it is truly a personal kink…then he should indeed keep it personal…he just seems a little to willing to flaunt his modest deistic leanings.

    But he shares that trait with the rest of the sunbeams for jeebus crew whether creationist or moderate…so no change in the morphology or indeed the virulence of the delusion then!

  75. #75 clinteas
    April 10, 2009

    Well, if you believe that God can suspend the physical laws of the universe to enable miracles, why can’t he make the Earth as suggested in Genesis, and make it look like it’s older than it is?

    Once again,religionists jumping through invisible logic hoops to integrate the real world with their superstitions.
    Why not just drop the whole god crap?

    It cracks me up everytime I see religionists desperately try and make up some elaborate shit about how we are fooled by satan,and/or satan/god/FSM put fossils in the earth to fool us/test our faith/just generally be difficult.

  76. #76 Strangebrew
    April 10, 2009

    75#

    Once again,religionists jumping through invisible logic hoops to integrate the real world with their superstitions.

    They have to…some of the twisted ‘explanations’ creationist dredge up for the Ark practicalities and the flood physicality…

    are not only humorous but seriously challenged by apparently the same level of intellectuality displayed by 5 year old’s at play school.

    Very sad indictment of education or IQ prevalence in the local gene pool!

  77. #77 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Obviously, it’s held on faith: which is one of the reasons it deserves no standing within science.

    It deserves no standing in rational discourse of any sort.

    Exactly.

  78. #78 JBlilie
    April 10, 2009

    Very nice write-up from anonymous.

    I think that anonymous gets the basic principles of the case, which is all you really need.

  79. #79 JBlilie
    April 10, 2009

    “‘Because God wanted it that way’ says nothing.”

    Magic explains nothing! Spread the word.

  80. #80 conelrad
    April 10, 2009

    “Open up, in there!
    We’ve got a warranted belief system!”
    (I think this is how they get around the
    lack of evidence–they’ve got a warrant.)

  81. #81 DanN
    April 10, 2009

    I was there. I had seen most of the material (and jokes) in his videos that are on the internet.

    However, while I don’t agree with the God thing, I think it enlightened a lot of people that do believe in God. So it’s not a bad thing.

    It didn’t change the mind of any YEC in the crowd, but I’m sure it impacted most of the Catholics there.

    The strange thing was it was a bit like being in church. When Ken would say something and people agreed with it, everyone would shake their head in unison.

  82. #82 ZK
    April 10, 2009

    “Dr. Miller claims that he is neither a Creationist, nor a believer in Intelligent Design… but he does believe that a creator with quantifiable intelligence designed the evolutionary process and put it in motion.”

    Well twist my nipple-nuts and call me Susan, that’s creationism if ever I heard it :-(

  83. #83 Thoughtful Guy
    April 10, 2009

    This is an interest thread. It appears that an atheist can be every bit as zealous, in their adhering to their unbelief, as any Christian fundamentalist. Ken Miller is no threat to you or to Science yet you chastise him for his beliefs. People like him are what keep the fundamentalist school boards in check. Let him believe what he wants. It’s not harming him or anyone else.

  84. #84 SteveM
    April 10, 2009

    Well, if you believe that God can suspend the physical laws of the universe to enable miracles, why can’t he make the Earth as suggested in Genesis, and make it look like it’s older than it is? Maybe the apparent discrepancy between what we see and what is written it is a test of faith?

    Yes, and in fact that is almost one of the tenents of the Catholic Church. Yes, an omnipotent God could have created the universe 10,000 years ago or even 5 minutes ago with everything in place to “look like” it started 14 billion years ago. But that is completely uninformative. There is no way to base any kind of science on that. Science is based on the way things look. If you want to believe that the universe was created recently, you will have to do so without any evidence. And that brings us back to the RCC; whose attitude is that God did indeed create the universe but did so in a way that is completely indistinguishable from entirely natural processes. The reason is that if science could prove that God is necessary, then there would be no freedom to choose Faith, and Faith is what God requires for salvation.

  85. #85 ZK
    April 10, 2009

    @83

    I don’t think anyone herein, except the passing bible thumpers and trolls, would even dream of telling anyone else what to believe.

    Expressing an opinion, negative or otherwise, about somebody’s stated beliefs is another matter.

  86. #86 Walton
    April 10, 2009

    Science is based on the way things look. If you want to believe that the universe was created recently, you will have to do so without any evidence. And that brings us back to the RCC; whose attitude is that God did indeed create the universe but did so in a way that is completely indistinguishable from entirely natural processes. The reason is that if science could prove that God is necessary, then there would be no freedom to choose Faith, and Faith is what God requires for salvation.

    But that begs the question: if belief in God is not based, and cannot be based, on empirical evidence, how can one know that one has chosen the right god or the right religion? A person can have faith in virtually anything, after all, and there are any number of different religions out there.

  87. #87 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    But that begs the question: if belief in God is not based, and cannot be based, on empirical evidence, how can one know that one has chosen the right god or the right religion?

    Merely the act of being born into a particular family or a particular geographic location settles that for many people.

  88. #88 Lorkas
    April 10, 2009

    It seems to me that a lot of people here are complaining that Ken Miller is with “them” on the religious issue, but forgetting that he is with “us” on science.

    He gave a talk destroying ID and creationism. Who cares if he believes crazy junk on the side–he’s still kicking ass for evolution!

  89. #89 Citizen Z
    April 10, 2009

    Dr. Miller claims that he is neither a Creationist, nor a believer in Intelligent Design… but he does believe that a creator with quantifiable intelligence designed the evolutionary process and put it in motion. To me that sounds a lot like the basic arguments of Creationists and ID proponents.

    I really don’t get this kind of response from the reviewer and other commenters. Creationists and IDers go pretty far beyond the “put it in motion” argument Miller offers. That the argument is silly doesn’t mean it’s the same as the ones offered by cdesign proponentsists.

    Why not just accuse Miller of being a proponent of “Intelligent Falling”? I’d bet he’d say the same thing about gravity as evolution, or any other natural phenomenon.

  90. #90 CalGeorge
    April 10, 2009

    I love it when Ken squirms around to defend the Pope:

    Pope Benedict may never be seen as “Darwin’s Pope,” but his writings and homilies place him squarely in the tradition of scientific acceptance established by his predecessors. The Holy Father’s concerns are not with evolution per se, but with how evolution is to be understood in our modern world. Biological evolution fits neatly into a traditional Catholic understanding of how contingent natural processes can be seen as part of God’s plan, while “evolutionist” philosophies that deny the Divine do not.

    http://www.hds.harvard.edu/news/bulletin_mag/articles/33-2_miller.html

    That’s where he loses his integrity. His faith is forcing him to defend the “scientific” views of a bunch of ignoramuses.

  91. #91 Strangebrew
    April 10, 2009

    82#

    Well twist my nipple-nuts and call me Susan, that’s creationism if ever I heard it :-(

    Well of course it is …how could it not be?
    Absolutely no excuse for it…religionists like theology black and white…either you is or you isn’t!

    Miller is…by his own admission…fine…but lets not lose sight of the fact that it is a barking delusion after all…

    Most theists are creationists by their own admissions as well…just that they like to set themselves apart from other deluded with meaningless caveats…
    Trying to gain a little space b’twixt ‘n’ b’tween the howling pack by twisting logic to their own position.

    ‘Yes evolution happens but god guided evolution’

    On what evidence?…or more succinctly…Why?

    If god wanted a worshipping bunch of idiots to pay homage to his glorious ass why bother evolving species…might as well start with the full deck to begin with…he is apparently capable of such manipulation…

    Unless of course he ain’t that good at this deity thang and requires natural phenomena to help him out.

    Waiting 5 billion years to get his jollies strikes as a rather pointless exercise…and seeing as he only interfered 2000 years ago in a bronze age setting for a very brief time then disappeared again does not encourage enthusiasm for the premise.

    And why ‘create’ so many species only to have them promptly top themselves…there is no sense…if this planet is unique in lifeforms then why denigrate the other lifesforms to beasts and dirty and unworthy of gods love…RC do not even give them souls…tis all a crock of sweaty cassocks…

    Miller might be the acceptable face of belief…it does not change the fact it is a belief in codswollop.

  92. #92 Wowbagger, OM
    April 10, 2009

    ‘Thoughtful’ Guy, belying his moniker, wrote:

    It appears that an atheist can be every bit as zealous, in their adhering to their unbelief, as any Christian fundamentalist.

    You’re a moron. Why is asking for evidence for something when none has been presented ‘zealously adhering’ to nonbelief in it? Do you ‘zealously adhere’ to your nonbelief in unicorns? How about minotaurs? Leprechauns? Mermaids? Mermen?

    If you don’t understand the difference you’re far too stupid to be posting here.

  93. #93 Dianne
    April 10, 2009

    but he does believe that a creator with quantifiable intelligence designed the evolutionary process and put it in motion.

    “Quantifiable intelligence”? How is he going to quantify the intelligence of this imaginary creator? (DNA’s pretty clever–+10 IQ points, but the decision to put the hypothyroid behind the thyroid? Less good: -5?) I’m not sure you’d come out with a positive number for the creator’s IQ using this method.

  94. #94 SteveM
    April 10, 2009

    But that begs the question: if belief in God is not based, and cannot be based, on empirical evidence, how can one know that one has chosen the right god or the right religion? A person can have faith in virtually anything, after all, and there are any number of different religions out there.

    No, it poses the question, but yes, that is what “faith” is; belief without evidence. Didn’t I say that the first time? If there was a way to objectively know which one was the “right” god to believe in, it would not be “faith”.

  95. #95 SteveM
    April 10, 2009

    Waiting 5 billion years to get his jollies strikes as a rather pointless exercise…

    Being outside of time, God doesn’t have to “wait” for anything to “happen” in the universe. To Him it is simply a 4 Dimensional sculpture that He can view and manipulate in any way He desires.

  96. #96 Bad
    April 10, 2009

    “tomh: Miller has the same annoying trait that so many religionists have, part of what makes them so obnoxious, he is simply incapable of keeping his personal beliefs personal. It doesn’t matter whether these beliefs have any relevance to the subject or not, he feels compelled to spew them out. ”

    Yes, because THANK GOODNESS that PZ never burdens us with his personal opinions and beliefs or snarky commentary on things! I’d never be a regular reader if he displayed any personality like that! I demand strict and complete adherence to whatever I decide the topic is, with no mention of humanity whatsoever! (Just like everytime Ed Brayton mentions basketball, I boycott his blog and sulk for a week)

  97. #97 Wowbagger, OM
    April 10, 2009

    If there was a way to objectively know which one was the “right” god to believe in, it would not be “faith”.

    If it were simply a matter of ‘faith’ wouldn’t there be only one god you could believe in?

  98. #98 amphiox
    April 10, 2009

    Just wanted to add in my two cents on the Genesis vs Jesus thread:

    Genesis actually gets the order of appearance of the animals wrong. So, pending the discovery of a 250 million year old fossil bird, it would fail completely even as a metaphor.

    On the other hand, there is no evidence that unequivocably falsifies the Jesus story. We don’t have any eyewitness accounts saying “Yeah, I was there and the guy who was crucified, his name was Boris, not Jesus”, or “I was the Roman Soldier guarding that tomb, and I was there the whole time, and there was no resurrection. I watched the carcass putrefy all the way to bone,” or a document signed by Pontious Pilate wherein he decrees Jesus innocent of the charges and releases him into the custody of his friends.

    With the exception of the one miracle at the end, most of what Jesus was supposed to have said and done is plausible. Even the majority of his miracles are small stuff that could have been accomplished by normal means to be convincing to a small audience of largely unsophisticated bystanders. (The resurrection of Lazarus being one of the few exceptions).

    So in the case of Genesis, we have evidence directly falsifying the account. We know with certainty that it is false.

    In the case of the Jesus story, we have a lack of evidence in favor, and a general implausibility of some features of the account, based on the known laws of science. We therefore do not have evidence that it is false, only that it is unlikely.

    And there is no a priori requirement to zero-sum our view of the bible. It began as a collection of disparate works, which were collated together long after they were written. Each individual portion can stand and fall on its own merit, without reference to any other part. So if you are a believer, and if you really hate your brain, you can insist on believing that every word is literally true, but you don’t have to. Some parts can be seen as metaphor, some parts as history, some parts as the opinion of a fallible eyewitness. Each part may be considered “true” in some sense, but not literally so. If you are a nonbeliever, you do not have to reject the whole work as a useless fabrication. Some parts are literature and has merit as such (some parts not so much), some parts are historical accounts of varying degrees of accuracy, second hand or third hand accounts, repeatedly revised down through the ages. Some parts are simply descriptions of cultural practices or a particular group of people at a particular point in time, and some parts are instructions of the same.

  99. #99 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    We don’t have any eyewitness accounts saying “Yeah, I was there and the guy who was crucified, his name was Boris, not Jesus”

    Was this eyewitness a moose?

  100. #100 amphiox
    April 10, 2009

    Walton #86:
    Of course, the only way you can know if you are having faith in the right god, is by faith.

    You must have faith that you are having the right faith (that you are having the right faith that you are having the right faith. . . .)

    If science is a line, then faith is a circle.

  101. #101 Strangebrew
    April 10, 2009

    95#

    Being outside of time, God doesn’t have to “wait” for anything to “happen” in the universe.To Him it is simply a 4 Dimensional sculpture that He can view and manipulate in any way He desires.

    Evidence for both of those propositions is..?

  102. #102 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    We may groan and roll our eyes when we hear Miller get to his inevitable punchline (“evolution is real, but dog set it all in motion”) but it’s vitally important to have someone with his detailed understanding of evolution demonstrate this very important point:

    Atheism is not a prerequisite to understanding evolution.

    No matter how eloquent and accessible PZ and Dawkins may be, no matter how vast and detailed their knowledge, there are a lot of people who can’t seem to hear anything after the word atheist.

    Understanding how evolution works might lead you to question your belief in god — that is if you’re willing to maintain a rational, logical mode of thinking — but you don’t have to abandon your belief in god to understand how evolution works.

    The more people who understand and accept evolution the better, in my opinion. Requiring people to check their faith at the door does not help toward that goal.

  103. #103 Kseniya
    April 10, 2009

    Scott Hatfield:

    Let me suggest that Ken Miller is similarly effective in the role that he plays, in no small part because he doesn’t appear to be ‘playing’ or ‘framing’. His commitments are real.

    Yes, that’s what I was getting at. If you read my comment as an implication that Miller was merely framing, or being disingenuous on some level, then I didn’t express myself very well.

    Rasmus Holm:

    That does not address the central issue of the very relevant question. If one chapter is so obviously false, what makes you think the following chapters are true?

    It matters not what I think. It matters what Miller and his intended audience think.

    Either the bible is the perfect word of God from beginning to end, or it is not.

    Correct. And yes, that is the zero-sum game of the creationist, but that is not the game that’s being played. Nobody is playing the “It’s either all true, or it’s all false” game at the moment except you. Surely you realize that Miller is part of a majority of Christians who believe in Jesus and the NT, but not in the creation myths put forth in Genesis. Would you, like Holbach, prefer that all nonatheist evolutionists give up the charade and go YEC on us?

    If left to themselves they would all want the bible to be literally true.

    Facts say otherwise. Many a theistic scientist, when left to himself, made an important discovery which changed the way humankind viewed life, the universe, and everything, which modified the belief systems held by most people who understood what the discovery meant.

    It is scant praise indeed if the best you can say about scripture is that some parts can be safely ignored.

    I tend to agree, but… So?

    Many people have written about their personal deconversion experinces here on Pharyngula. Each story describes a process, and more often than not, the process is a gradual one, and serves as an analogy to the process that a society goes through as it slowly, and perhaps inexorably, give up its old gods. We can no sooner force atheism on our society than we can apply selective breeding to turn a population of lizards, in a few hundred years, into a population of warm-blooded furry things.

    Creationists want everyone to believe that acceptance of evolution necessarily leads to the loss of faith. This is a very powerful argument for believers who cannot imagine living without that faith. Miller’s openness about his dedication to science and his belief in the doctrines of his faith serve as an important counter-argument. Regardless of what you or I may think of his spiritual beliefs, he may succeed in arenas where Dawkins and Myers may fail, and until my geckos start to look like ferrets, that may be far more beneficial to the cause of science than our petulant insistence that all “good” scientists give up their belief in the supernatural.

  104. #104 KI
    April 10, 2009

    Rev@99
    More likely Mr. Peabody doing one of those cross-over plotlines. To the Wayback Machine, Sherman!

  105. #105 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    Why is there an issue with Miller? I mean, sure, he talks about god, but he has also been one of the leaders in demonstrating that ID and Creationism are false.

    He disagrees with you (and me) on the existence of god. But as long as he doesn’t preach it, and as long as he can keep his god the fuck out of science, or in the realm of mystical “maybe”-ness that doesn’t touch reality, I don’t mind.

    And if it provides him some sort of comfort, and does not negatively affect anyone else’s life, I don’t give a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

    Yes, it is bullshit. Yes, it would be nice if he stopped flapping his gob about his god, but if all theists and deists were like this, it would be a huge step forward from what we have now.

    Well, just as long as their “comfort” doesn’t come with “morals” I guess. If that’s the issue, I can see where everyone’s coming from.

    Also, if he brings out “Communication Theory” that some IDiots try to taut, I’m on your side.

  106. #106 JBlilie
    April 10, 2009

    @98

    “On the other hand, there is no evidence that nequivocably falsifies the Jesus story.”

    Likewise, there’s no reason to believe the story. I just listened to Lee Strobel (again) claim that there is good physical evidence for the entire Jesus story: That he was exactly what the NT says he was/is.

    If the things that supposedly happened with/by/to Jesus had happened in Roman Palestine, you sure think those good record-keeping, interested, educated (relatively speaking) Romans would have recorded them. And if those records had ever existed, the early Christians would have preserved, referenced, and trumpeted them. (They even stooped to adding bits to other histories (e.g. Josephus) to make it look like the Jesus story in the NT was true.) This absence of record is much closer (much closer) to a refutation of the Jesus package than anything out there is to evidence for the story.

  107. #107 SteveM
    April 10, 2009

    95#

    Being outside of time, God doesn’t have to “wait” for anything to “happen” in the universe.To Him it is simply a 4 Dimensional sculpture that He can view and manipulate in any way He desires.

    Evidence for both of those propositions is..?

    There isn’t any. But “God is outside of time” is a common assertion of the theist. The rest logically follows.

  108. #108 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 10, 2009
    What I’d like to know is if it’s something that he thinks God created and just let run loose, not knowing what the final outcome might be or is it something that God knew exactly what it would produce.

    Being omniscient, God is not supposed to be capable of not knowing the final outcome.

    Discuss the implications of omnipotence on all this. :-)

    Let’s be steadfast in our unbelief and not waver with all that indecisive crap that only tends to cast doubt by ardent atheists.

    Let’s be steadfast scientists ? let’s cast doubt left, right, and center. Let’s fling doubt around the way the wizard in Monty Python and the Holy Grail flings around magic fireballs. Let’s try to mow down all ideas like Django, and then let’s see which ones still stand so we can repeat the treatment. Let’s keep hammering away at every idea to see if we can get it to fail.

    We’ve seen what happens when people try to believe they have certainty, divine certainty. It is… not pretty. Let’s just say that ubi dubium, ibi libertas turned out to be a drastic, terrible, dreadful understatement.

    Don’t repeat the one single big error of Epicurus, the one error the world is still suffering from.

    Sorry for getting poetic.

    Well, it could answer a question or two behind why we evolved the way we did, rather than how…

    But this is one and the same question.

    “Everything is the way it is because it got that way.”

    The way we evolved, the selection the environment imposed on our ancestors, the mutations they underwent, are the cause for why we are what we are.

  109. #109 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    flaq #102 wrote:

    The more people who understand and accept evolution the better, in my opinion. Requiring people to check their faith at the door does not help toward that goal.

    I think a lot of the people here seem to be talking about different approaches to keeping religion away from science, and its getting confusing because they’re not always addressing the argument people are making.

    There’s the Privacy View: believe whatever you want about the supernatural, but just don’t bring it into science. That last part could mean either don’t bring it into science as a competing theory (it’s a faith!), or don’t mention it in public while you’re talking about science.

    And then there’s the Debate View: if you believe in the supernatural, then please do bring it into science. But, follow the rules and use the scientific means — formulate it as a hypothesis, make it testable, and watch it stand or fall on its merits. If you’re talking about doing science, then it’s time to take faith beliefs seriously, and throw out the phony, strained mental protections which we tend to place around favorite weak ideas.

    People who are criticizing Miller’s talk aren’t necessarily saying that his bringing up religion violates either prong of the Privacy View. Yes, we can see he’s not allowing his faith to compete with or interfere with scientific theories such as evolution. And no, we don’t think faith-talk should be “checked at the door.”

    On the contrary. Bring it in the front door. Don’t sneak it in the back.

    My own view is that second one. We need people like Miller telling the faithful that you can have both science and God, as long as you take faith more seriously than God. And we need people like Dawkins and PZ to tell the faithful that they need to take ‘God’ more seriously than keeping their faith. Miller will indeed be more effective in the short run, if we’re just trying to get people to accept evolution. But if we’re trying to get people to think scientifically, critically, and analytically about everything — including religion — then we need the scientific humanists atheists out there.

  110. #110 David Wiener
    April 10, 2009

    Holback @ #9

    In what way in humanism incompatible with Atheism? Anyway, sounds like you are talking about some sort of rationalism and investing far too much meaning in Atheism. As many have said here before, Atheism defines what you do not believe in.

  111. #111 bobxxxx
    April 10, 2009

    I respect Ken Miller’s knowledge and I have learned quite a bit from him from reading the transcript of the Dover trial, but I often wonder if he is just pretending to be a Christian to sell his books. I just can’t imagine somebody like Ken Miller actually believing in the Resurrection and the other Christian bullshit.

  112. #112 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    Sastra, I know you weren’t addressing me, but it answered my question. Thank you.

  113. #113 PZ Myers
    April 10, 2009

    Oh, come on. I am certain that Miller is completely sincere. He’s just wrong.

  114. #114 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    Sastra #109:

    If you’re talking about doing science, then it’s time to take faith beliefs seriously, and throw out the phony, strained mental protections which we tend to place around favorite weak ideas.

    Hear, hear. (Here?) Well put and all that.

    However, I think it’s important to at least acknowledge that what you just described is actually quite difficult for people to do. Especially for people who have used the crutch of faith for so long they’re not sure they could walk without it.

    Someone like Miller, who can explain the concept of evolution to a non-scientific audience, and skillfully shoot down the creationist/ID objections du jour, and then turn around and proclaim his belief in god, might be making all kinds of wild errors in logic, reason, scientific method, etc., but he’s doing an important service for people who would flat out refuse to consider any idea that required them to abandon their god.

    It’s utterly irrational, and completely non-scientific, to explain evolution and then declare that god made it happen, but at least he’s getting through to people with the evolution part. Maybe the rational thinking part will follow.

  115. #115 Otto
    April 10, 2009

    I attended the lecture and commented about it in the
    “Oregon or bust” thread #45.
    Miller is a good speaker with a sense of humor.
    He did a great job of squashing creationism in the
    first part of his talk. God was only mentioned once.
    I did learn some new things, like why have humans less
    genes than other primates.

    Miller pointed out that we not only descended from primates,
    we are primates.

    The second part was why he believes in god and to me
    it came over as ‘there are so many things we don’t know,
    that proves there is a god’.

    Miller likes Dawkins book ‘The Selfish Gene’.
    He called it brilliant.

    A creationist questioner was put down quite effectively.

    The lecture was well attended and had to be moved to
    a larger hall.

  116. #116 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Hear, hear. (Here?)

    Hear.

  117. #117 Greg Peterson
    April 10, 2009

    We thought it was excellent. His unsupportable metaphysical assertions are an annoying distraction, sure, but the overall thrust of what he has to say, and the masterly way he presents science, makes them an excusable peccadillo. Sure, it would be sweet if he were rationally pure, but really, what fun would that be? And as a sort of Janus standing between the religious and scientific, I would argue he does more good than harm with his beliefs. Look, for people to become rational, either they have to first give up more and more of their religious certitude, which can happen in, for example, the wake of a tragedy or some sort of epiphany. Or they can be more and more impressed by the power of empirical ideas to explain things and less enchanted at religious pretenders to explanation. The one of those two things that science communicators have the most control over is the second one. In that, Miller is an ally, even though he crosses back over into irrationality when he promotes his superstitions. It’s a tricky balance, but I prefer the fight against creationism WITH Miller than without him, that’s for sure.

  118. #118 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    Miller’s an interesting case for sure. Did you know?
    > He is not, and has never been, a professional evolutionary biologist (expert or otherwise). His (impressive) scientific career focused on electron microscopic studies of membrane organization. Of course photosynthetic membranes are the product of evolution like all else biological, but as far as I can tell Miller’s research (at the subcellular level of organization) had little or no direct relevance to evolution; pretty straightforward structure/function cell biology stuff. He is certainly well respected among cell biologists, having (for one thing) edited a couple of important journals for many years.
    > He is not doing much in the way of active research, and has not for at least 10 years. Contrary to Scott’s perception: no, he isn’t “doing” much–if any–science any more. He’s teaching it and talking about it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (cf. Dawkins), but the respect a lot of people have for Miller is not due to his eminence as a scientist. It’s due to his eminence as a communicator.
    > He is a very experienced and excellent teacher of biology at the introductory level. His course (according to the posted syllabus) includes three lectures (out of 38) on evolution.
    > He has co-authored biology textbooks for the highschool and college markets, first editions 1990. This, more than science or teaching, is the source of his general reputation.
    > He got into the avocation (now his primary vocation) of defending evolution against creationists with the publication of an article in American Biology Teacher in 1982. This was after 6 years of teaching at Harvard and 2 at Brown.
    > He is unquestionably indefatigable in the battle against creationism; see here. [note, incidentally, that almost all his online stuff is hosted at millerandlevine.com, not at Brown]
    > He has a thick skin when it comes to criticism.

    Your perception of Miller is going to depend on your priorities. Crush creationism and keep science education scientific? He’s most assuredly on your side. Keep biological science rigorous and woo-free? Not so much.

  119. #119 anonymous coward
    April 10, 2009

    If we label the creation story and subsequent Fall of Man in Genesis as a myth, how do we account for death and disease? Let?s look at something like down syndrome, a genetic disorder that is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. Down syndrome does not violate any of the precepts of evolution or of gene recombination. Few would argue that it is a favorable outcome or fair, but you wouldn?t expect either from an unguided, indifferent process. If you argue that evolution is a guided, purposeful process I would like to hear an explanation for why the creator built this outcome into his evolutionary algorithm that created life and all that we know on the face of the Earth? All of the answers that I can think of with my puny, non-scientific brain call into question the Omniscience, Omnipresence and Omnibenevolence of the Christian God.

  120. #120 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    p.s. Inexplicably, his CV makes no mention at all of where he went to high school!
    Fortunately, that oversight is corrected here.

  121. #121 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009
    Hear, hear. (Here?)

    Hear.

    where?

  122. #122 jimvj
    April 10, 2009

    @98 (amphiox):

    “On the other hand, there is no evidence that nequivocably falsifies the Jesus story.”

    There is lots of evidence, actually. For one startling
    example, watch this James Randi video, and see the extent
    to which the “faithful” will go to maintain their myths.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSzQC1zKesU

  123. #123 bobxxxx
    April 10, 2009

    Oh, come on. I am certain that Miller is completely sincere. He’s just wrong.

    Nobody can read another person’s mind, but OK, let’s say he is what he says he is, a Christian. Ken Miller certainly seems to be an extremely honest person. I suggest maybe he thinks Jeebus was a big deal, but not really the son-of-god and he didn’t really become a zombie after decomposing for 3 days. Perhaps Ken Miller is just a follower of Jeebus, and for that reason he calls himself a Christian. I wish Ken Miller would visit this blog some day to explain which parts of Christianity he accepts or rejects.

    It’s interesting that every time I listen to Ken Miller, the Christian, I can feel my atheism becoming stronger. Ken Miller may have unintentionally convinced a large number of Christians to throw out Mr. God.

  124. #124 flaq
    April 10, 2009
    Hear, hear. (Here?)

    Hear.

    where?

    Here.

  125. #125 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    ok, so I don’t know how to do the nested quote thing. But I tried, god dammit I tried!

  126. #126 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    I suggest maybe he thinks Jeebus was a big deal, but not really the son-of-god and he didn’t really become a zombie after decomposing for 3 days. Perhaps Ken Miller is just a follower of Jeebus, and for that reason he calls himself a Christian.

    Miller considers himself a practicing Roman Catholic in good stead. The woo is strong with this one.

  127. #127 Redem
    April 10, 2009

    I don’t think we’re being particularly fair to Dr Miller, he is a believer, he makes no secret of it, he has faith in his religion. But the common enemy we both face is the insidious nature of the ID movement, people who knowingly and deliberately are trying to undermine science education. And in that fight, Dr Miller will convince far more people than any atheist scientist can, because the people we need to reach are brainwashed to ignore anything we say.

    Miller bypasses that and can make inroads to showing that evolution is not some atheist plot to undermine the bible, as many creationists are taught.

    We need to pick our fights better, ID is the real enemy of science, the religious beliefs of individual scientists are not.

  128. #128 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    bobxxxx #123:

    I wish Ken Miller would visit this blog some day to explain which parts of Christianity he accepts or rejects.

    Why does it matter? So he’s wrong, let him be wrong. So what? Why should anyone give a rat’s ass what he thinks about god or non-god? So many people out there are so much wronger than Ken Miller. At least he’s out there doing a good job of teaching people about evolution and exposing creationism for the lie that it is.

    If there’s one thing I can’t stand about faith and religion, it’s watching someone demand that others toe the line of their particular brand of dogma. Let’s don’t start pulling that crap over here.

  129. #129 XD
    April 10, 2009

    [blockquote]
    [blockquote]
    [blockquote]Hear, hear. (Here?)[/blockquote]
    Hear.[/blockquote]
    where?[/blockquote]
    Here.

    Replace the square brackets with pointy brackets.

  130. #130 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    But the common enemy we both face is the insidious nature of the ID movement…ID is the real enemy of science, the religious beliefs of individual scientists are not.

    Look, the current battle against inclusion of “Intelligent Design” in public science classes is not the battle. It may well be your battle, and more power to you, but other people are frying other fish. ID is just the current manifestation of creationism. Creationism is an aspect of fundamentalist religion. Fundamentalist religion is one aspect of religion. Religion is one aspect of irrationality. People are fighting at all of these levels, and others.

    Miller is a useful and valued ally in the narrow-sense battle, but he’s part of the problem at other levels. Pick your battles, fine, and rock on, but other people are picking other battles.

  131. #131 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    O.K.

    Got it.

    Thanks.

    I’m sure this will come in handy some day.

  132. #132 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    Sven #130 — When you get around to eradicating irrationality, count me out. I have an irrationally irate reaction to those little stickers they put on produce at the supermarket, and I’m going to cling to my belief that those stickers are evil till the day I die.

  133. #133 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @#51

    Oh? How do you know God is imaginary? Sounds like someone is speaking in definitives, here…

  134. #134 bobxxxx
    April 10, 2009

    Why does it matter?

    I’m just interested in what exactly are Ken Miller’s religious beliefs, and what Christian ideas he rejects. I’m interested in this person because I’m a big fan of his. It was when I read his explanation of human chromosome two in the transcript of the Dover trial I first realized how incredibly powerful the evidence for evolution could be. After I read his excellent explanation, I realized it was no longer possible for any educated person to be a creationist.

    I noticed religious biologists are rare. Why people like Ken Miller exist at all is a very interesting subject to me because I don’t understand how it’s possible to have a strong understanding of evolution and still have supernatural beliefs.

  135. #135 Bad
    April 10, 2009

    I’m still baffled by the way in which people use words like “illogical” and sometimes even “irrational.”

    Miller has faith premises which he himself claims he can’t convince anyone to accept if they don’t already. But there’s nothing inherently illogical about that. And nothing irrational either, unless you define rationality as such that all statements must be based on sound premises, in which case we’re all sort of f’ed. Empiricism itself is essentially founded on assumptions we can’t demonstrate have any validity for goodness sakes. I happen to think that those assumptions, given that they are necessary to function in what seems collectively, to be our mutually real world, are sort of unavoidable, but philosophically they’re no more or less “rational” in terms of what can be reasonably justified.

    And the thing is: if you don’t accept Miller’s additional faith premises, then you’ve already won. Because already accepts all of ours either way. Fighting battles we’ve already won as if they were live issues just seems sort of silly and even kind of pedantic.

  136. #136 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @nothing’s sacred

    Wrong again, dude. I suggest you look deeper into these things, rather than just pretend you know what I’m getting at…

  137. #137 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Kel

    Well, I mean look at it from this point: All of the things we created through evolution (dogs, fruits, other species, etc.) do they know they were made for a purpose? Would they be wrong to believe that?

  138. #138 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    How do you know God is imaginary?

    No physical evidence, like an eternally burning bush, that shows it to be of divine, and not natural origin, when examined by a team of scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers. Until then, imaginary, existing only between peoples ears.

  139. #139 Kausik Datta
    April 10, 2009

    The Reverend at #121:

    Hear, hear. (Here?)

    Hear.

    where?

    More importantly, is there bacon?

  140. #140 Jeremy Mohn
    April 10, 2009

    I had the pleasure of attending Ken Miller’s lecture at Kansas State University last night, and I couldn’t help but notice that some of his presentation slides were written in Comic Sans font.

    I just thought that some of the folks here would probably find that amusing.

  141. #141 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @NerdofRedhead, OM

    That doesn’t mean God doesn’t exsist, it merley means that our preception of God may be mistaken. Who says God has to be supernatrual? Why can’t God be a natrual entity we just don’t quite understand yet, like dark matter? Besides, we live in a rather large universe; we’re not going to discover EVERYTHING that EVER exsisted\exists…

  142. #142 JN
    April 10, 2009

    if it’s something that he thinks God created and just let run loose, not knowing what the final outcome might be or is it something that God knew exactly what it would produce

    I praise the reviewer for this well put question. It does a great job of identifying a crucial contradiction in Ken Miller’s stance: if he believes his god knew the outcome, then it follows that his god has the ability to precisely define the mechanism to create a desired reality, and Miller is shown to be nothing but a refined creationist; if his god had no idea of the outcome, this god is nothing but a different name for what he certainly understands as laws of nature.

  143. #143 SteadyEddy
    April 10, 2009

    I recorded Miller’s talk on my .mp3 player and tried to upload it last night to bodango. It’s a 95 mb .mp3 file- almost 2 hrs long. I fell asleep watching the updating upload bar. When I awoke this morning it had failed to upload correctly overnight. Is there another way I should try to get this available to everyone? I’ve only done this once before and that time had good luck with bodango.com.

  144. #144 flack
    April 10, 2009

    Why can’t God be a natrual entity we just don’t quite understand yet, like dark matter?

    That’s the beauty of it! Since you’re making it up, god can be whatever you want. Dark matter? Sure, why not. And when science gets around to understanding dark matter in too much detail, well, then you get to define god as something else we don’t understand yet.

    Woo is way easier than knowledge, any day.

  145. #145 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    can’t believe I misspelled my own name. Durrrh.

  146. #146 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    That doesn’t mean God doesn’t exsist.

    Boy, you godbots are sure stupid today. If god doesn’t interfere with the physical world, he can’t be proven or disproven, then Occam’s razor implies that god doesn’t exist (simplest explanation). If god interacts with the world, there should be some physical evidence present to indicate the interference. If god does interact with the physical world, and does it in such a way as to stay hidden, it is the same as the non-interference argument. The Xian god interferes with the natural world. That’s what the bible says. So, show us the physical evidence.

  147. #147 The Tim Channel
    April 10, 2009

    I would only have changed a few things…

    Sad news: I was not able to make it to Miller’s talk at St. Catherine’s last night. We’re down to one car right now, and the choice was between me indulging myself with a long drive and a Ken Miller talk

    and they would definitely be related to the choices you make when indulging yourself.

    Enjoy.

  148. #148 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    SteadyEddy #143 – I don’t know what bodango is, but 95mb is a pretty hefty file size. If you can, try compressing it down to a smaller (lower-quality) mp3, save it as mono instead of stereo, and if there’s a “spoken word” option in your audio software, use it. Then try chopping it up into 2 or 3 smaller files and upload them separately.

    I’d love to hear the talk, so please post if you get it online.

  149. #149 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Nerd of Redhead, OM

    Woah dude, where did that come from? Stupid? Oh, I get it; if you don’t agree, it must be nonsense! So simple!
    But anyway, I guess it’s to be expected. There is plenty of evidence, but you won’t see it as such. I may as well try to convince you to have a new favorite color…

    P.S., no need to insult me. I’m not a creotard, and I didn’t insult you. Is this what you people see as fair?

  150. #150 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Flack

    Nope, you’re just wrong. Jeez, for people who hate insults, and hasty conclusions\generalizations, you seem to have quite an affinity for them…

  151. #151 CJO
    April 10, 2009

    On the other hand, there is no evidence that unequivocably falsifies the Jesus story. […] With the exception of the one miracle at the end, most of what Jesus was supposed to have said and done is plausible. Even the majority of his miracles are small stuff that could have been accomplished by normal means to be convincing to a small audience of largely unsophisticated bystanders. (The resurrection of Lazarus being one of the few exceptions).

    Is there evidence that unequivocally falsifies the divince conception of Augustus by Apollo via a snake?

    This is treating the New Testament texts with kid-gloves. It’s special pleading; the people who take this line would not treat any other anonymous ancient text containing tales of saviors and miracles the same way. In short, you’re wrong. Almost none of what Jesus was supposed to have said and done is plausible and it’s only the cultural currency of the narrative that leads people to deny it.

    The falsification doesn’t need to take the form of a revalatory discovery of some heretofore unimagined primary source as in your examples; the NT falsifies itself.

    As a general statement of this approach, I will just say that the obvious lack of felt need on the part of the authors of the synoptic gospels to refrain from embellishing the tradition along theological and apologetic lines at the very least strongly suggests that no actual historical occurences were the inspiration for these stories.

  152. #152 Watchman
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba:

    There is plenty of evidence

    Evidence of a god’s interaction or interference with the natural world? I’d love to see some. Please provide. Thanks. No, you don’t get to hide behind the “I have evidence, but you won’t believe it, so I’m not going to bother providing it” excuse. Either ante up, or cash out.

  153. #153 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    There is plenty of evidence,

    Weasel words from the godbots. Funny how that evidence never seems to get presented, or if it does, it is some presupposition philosophical sophistry that can be blown apart by a good sneeze.
    So, present the evidence of shut up, if you are a man of integrity.

  154. #154 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Nerd of Redhead, OM

    See? This is just what I mean; just like with a creotard, any evidence the opposing party presents always “doesn’t prove anything”. Well, fine; Impossibly lucky occurences, (like surviving a dangerous housefire), or even living a good life.
    But like I said before, you won’t see it because you don’t want to. That’s fine man, I’m not here to convert anyone, so fear not. Just don’t jump down the throats of other believers, because of your presupposition…same thing goes for you, Watchman

  155. #155 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba, either show the evidence or shut up. That is what a honorable man would do. But, then godbots aren’t honorable…

  156. #156 CJO
    April 10, 2009

    Well, fine; Impossibly lucky occurences, (like surviving a dangerous housefire), or even living a good life.

    That’s what you call evidence?

  157. #157 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    Nope, you’re just wrong.

    Wow. I understand now. I’m wrong. Just wrong. And your evidence for that is that… well… you said so.

    Thanks for straightening that out for me. I’m off to church.

  158. #158 Watchman
    April 10, 2009

    Touchy, touchy.

    I’m not jumping down your throat. You said you had evidence. I asked that you provide some. I even said “please.” If that’s your idea of aggression, you’re playing in the wrong sandbox, son.

    Impossibly lucky occurences, (like surviving a dangerous housefire), or even living a good life.

    That’s your evidence? You’re saying that surviving a house fire and living a good life, among other (I presume) relatively common occurrences, are miracles that require that a supernatural entity bend or break the laws of physics?

  159. #159 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Nerd of Redhead, OM:

    I already have, either look at it, or stop insulting me.
    By the way, I’m not a man. Just thought you should know…

  160. #160 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    You have presented nothing. Just ordinary life. The equivalent of the “look in the mirror” lack of evidence we’ve heard a zillion times before. All natural explanations. So you have nothing, as expected. Supernatural evidence is required. Until then, your god exists in your mind, but not mine.

  161. #161 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Watchman:

    Don’t play coy, man. If you’re being snide (which you and others were\are), I can see it a mile away.
    Yes, those “common occurences” are miracles, on account of if they didn’t happen to you, you’d be in a rather bad position. Like I said before, who says God has to be supernatrual or magical? If we didn’t understand God, it would seem like magic, but that’s merley a mistake in human perception

  162. #162 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    Wow. Lame. Evidence by way of personal experience. Not evidence.

    The “natural” god your describing isn’t a god. It’s an alien. And yes some aliens might seem god like or indistinguishable from a god. Still doesn’t make it the creator of the universe who gives a shit about your sins or life.

    You people throw out these “ideas” as if we haven’t thought about them. We have.

  163. #163 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Nerd of Redhead, OM:

    Yeah, a life so ordinary only a small fraction of all people on his planet get to experience it. I’ve mentioned before that God doesn’t have to be (and probably isn’t) some magical entity, and that a good thing which has a physical explanation isn’t necesarrily[sp] “unguided” or “random”.

  164. #164 Curley Sue
    April 10, 2009

    Can you just tell the Christians that evolution is true, Genesis got it wrong and then grab your coat and hat and walk out the door while the audience roars in applause? The creation myths of Genesis and the Fall of Man, provide a much simpler and palatable (well? to some it apparently does?!) explanation to life?s seemingly important questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why do good things happen to bad people?, etc.

    Telling your average Christian that evolution is most certainly true, despite past beliefs held by nearly every member of every theistic religion, isn?t exactly the same as saying that the Earth isn?t flat as most once believed. One merely has to look at an image of the Earth taken from space to see that ?four corners of the Earth? shouldn?t be taken literally. In my opinion it?s nearly impossible to dismiss the creation myth in Genesis as nonsense and then attempt to explain why the loving God of the New Testament both sent his son to die for our salvation and created the evolutionary mechanism that allowed for production of deadly viruses such as HIV that has killed an estimated 25 million of his beloved children. If you don?t have the myths in the early chapters of the Christian Bible, you?re left with little more than ?The Lord works in mysterious ways? and ?Noone can understand the mind of God?.

    In my opinion, the ?mind of god? is just as far outside the scope of science as understanding the mind of Thor or the mind of Ra or any of the imaginary creators posited by ignorant shepherds of ancient times. I?m sure most reading this would agree and I assume that Dr. Miller would also concur. My issue is how he could possibly reconcile his Christian beliefs that demand a purpose driven and guided evolutionary process, with the apparent indifference and cruelty that we actually observe in nearly all aspects of evolution. Yes, I have heard Dr. Miller say that evolution is a shining example of the ingenious design and power of God (or something similar to that? the idea that evolution is God?s finest masterpiece), but in that statement you?re selectively ignoring all the unfavorable outcomes of the evolutionary process (?When good bacteria go bad?).

    I?ve had many people tell me that man will never be able to fully understand the WHY of evolution, even if we are able to fully grasp the HOW. I would understand that coming from a deist or pantheist, but not from someone who labeled themselves as a theist. The Christian Bible clearly states the WHY? unless I was raised reading the wrong Bible or they?ve made some major updates since the last revision that I read. I think it?s far likelier that there is no WHY and only a HOW.

    In summary, if you were writing a scientific textbook intended for high-school students, would you include a few sentences discussing the apparent evidence or lack of evidence for a guided, purpose driven evolutionary mechanism?

    I personally think that the view of evolution that Dr. Miller is trying to sell to other Christians is going to be a hard sell and either Christianity is going to have to take some divergent steps from tradition or the US is going to remain bunkmates with Turkey, down there at the bottom of the ?acceptance of evolution by country? chart.

  165. #165 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Steve_C:

    Nope, you (much like the others) just don’t get it. Way to assume I’m a Christian, too. After all, nothing says rational like criticizing others for the same stuff you do. Something tells me you’ve not thought too much about this…

  166. #166 Qwerty
    April 10, 2009

    I was at the lecture given by Ken Miller at the College of St. Catherine (or St. Kate’s as the locals call it).

    Here are some of my thoughts regarding the presentation:

    Miller is an effective communicator. This must have been important at Dover. (And his religious background must have been viewed as an asset considering the judge was a religious conservation recommended by Rick Santorum.)He is very effective in his judicious use of slides to make points during a presentation.

    His talk is essentially the same as the one you can find at youtube. So, if you want to see it, go there.

    St. Kate’s is a Catholic school but it cannot be viewed as conservative. The Sisters of Carondelet who founded the school are very liberal Catholics. (Indeed, the sisters have a booth at gay pride every year in Minneapolis.)

    No one has mentioned the young girl who asked Miller if he thought women should be ordained. He answered by describing his family. His father was a seminarian who backed out just before Pearl Harbor because he “liked girls.” Miller then talked about his two daughters, how one is a biologist and the other a historian, and the importance of the contributions of women. Then, he went on to say he thought priests should be allowed to be married and women should also be allowed to be ordained. (Not an answer a conservative Catholic would give and or approve.)

    I also heard the one creationist question which, as others have pointed out, Miller handled quite effectively.

    He did recommend Dawkins “The Selfish Gene” when someone remarked in a question that they thought Dawkins was too “metaphysical” (I think).

    He did enjoy meeting with and talking with students which, in addition to his communication skills, probably makes him an effective professor.

    Although I have drifted from the Catholism of my upbringing to atheism, I didn’t have any problems with Miller’s beliefs as they are his. Especially since he believes in good science education, evolution, admires Darwin, and doesn’t approve of creationism. I’ll let you more ardent atheists tear apart his theistic beliefs.

    Finally, I had to admire the school itself. Even though I don’t believe anymore, this school was started by nuns who picked a hill and laid out a beautiful campus dominated by the church at the top of the hill.

  167. #167 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Yeah, a life so ordinary only a small fraction of all people on his planet get to experience it. I’ve mentioned before that God doesn’t have to be (and probably isn’t) some magical entity, and that a good thing which has a physical explanation isn’t necesarrily[sp] “unguided” or “random”.

    Still wrong. Life is for all the people on the planet. They experience it. The definition of god is omnipotent and omnipresent. If god isn’t that, it isn’t a god. So you fail big time. And unguided and random don’t mean what you think they mean.

  168. #168 CJO
    April 10, 2009

    Way to assume I’m a Christian, too.

    Way to clearly state just what it is you do believe, so others don’t have to make assumptions.

  169. #169 Ken Cope
    April 10, 2009

    Yes, those “common occurences” are miracles, on account of if they didn’t happen to you, you’d be in a rather bad position. Like I said before, who says God has to be supernatrual or magical? If we didn’t understand God, it would seem like magic, but that’s merley a mistake in human perception

    Among the attributes I share with many of the posters here (I may go so far as to call it a virtue, you may regard it as a curse), is that I would rather know whether or not I’m right than convince myself that whatever I happen to believe is right. This means that there are a great many things I may never be able to claim, with certainty, that I know. What this curiosity to learn and understand has led to, is the disquieting realization that I have a tendency to fool myself, and rather thoroughly. As flawed as it is, science represents a toolkit for the collection of the best tools we’ve had success with so far, in our collective effort to avoid fooling ourselves and believing things that just ain’t necessarily so. Earlier in my life, I used the word “synchronicity” when “coincidence” would have been more appropriate. When the phone rang, and I’d think to myself, “I’ll bet that’s my brother,” and it was, I’d get all smug and feel in tune with the universe and call myself psychic, the hit having driven out of my mind all the misses, the times I wondered if it was my brother calling and it was somebody else on the line instead. That’s just one example, but did you ever wonder why the people who praise miracles for having escaped a conflagration are the survivors, and never the victims?

    The problem with this approach is that I don’t get to be certain about many things at all. I can seldom prove I’m right about anything, and I recognize that I’m quite likely to be wrong about many things, so I try to find out how I can tell if something I believe is wrong, and withhold assent to any given proposition until I encounter evidence that gives it sufficient weight to bother considering. I used to believe in a lot of things for which there is no evidence, but I changed and I’m happier for it, even if it means that there are a great many things about which I may never know the truth, even though I’m surrounded by people who are quite certain of the truth of their beliefs; people who are like the sort of person I can no longer be. Your mileage may vary.

  170. #170 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    God Is Love Luck

  171. #171 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Nerd of Redhead, OM:

    Did you even read that? I said a good life, not just a life. On account of God is acknowledged by 95% of all people on earth, and has a powerful impact on politics and society, how is that not “omnipotent” or “omnipresent”?
    Seems like the only “fail” here is your misinterpretation of my posts

  172. #172 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    Where did I say christian?

  173. #173 Eric
    April 10, 2009

    St. Kate’s is a Catholic school but it cannot be viewed as conservative. The Sisters of Carondelet who founded the school are very liberal Catholics. (Indeed, the sisters have a booth at gay pride every year in Minneapolis.)

    One of the fliers that was being handed out at Dr. Miller’s speech was for an upcoming debate at Northwestern College in St. Paul (NO association to the College of St Catherine) on whether or not the Grand Canyon was the result of Noah’s flood. [1]

    I had to chuckle at that…

    [1] http://www.citypages.com/events/grand-canyon-debate-evolution-or-creation-803537/

  174. #174 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba just keeps moving the goal posts. How… common.

  175. #175 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Uebra, still fail. But then, godbots are not known for logic, rationality, and clear thinking. God is not necessary for anything, much less a good life. So, I’m not the one with the bad presumptions, you are. Godbots. Logic U R doin’ it wrong.

  176. #176 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Ken Cope:

    I’m not saying it’s definitley true, or just fooling myself; it just follows logically. We create realities, so why couldn’t we live in a created reality? The creation doesn’t have to be magical, after all…

  177. #177 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba,
    (btw, if that’s Latin, love the moniker)

    Um… On account of God is acknowledged by 95% of all people on earth, and has a powerful impact on politics and society, how is that not “omnipotent” or “omnipresent”?

    Well, can your – and the other 95 percent’s collective – belief in god make me levitate? Can it rearrange the stars? Start a volcano? Give us a colony on another planet? Can it do any of that at this instant?

    No? Then that is something “God” (as a collective belief) cannot do. If there is something it cannot do, it is not omnipotent. I would also argue that by such logic it is not omnipresent as it does not exist in a room full of atheists, non-human animals or inanimate objects.

    Also, you have reinforced my suspicion that “God” is a hivemind.

  178. #178 Eric
    April 10, 2009

    *** Quick edit to my post above about the “flood debate” flyer. ***

    I highly doubt it was being passed out by the organizers of the Dr. Miller talk. I did not see who was passing it out or where it was laid out for people to take or laugh at.

  179. #179 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Nerd of Redhead, OM:

    Insult me all you want, but you’ve failed to prove one thing I’ve said incorrect, or even listen to my arguments. Then again, atheist doesn’t always mean rational, as demonstrated here…

  180. #180 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    We create realities, so why couldn’t we live in a created reality? The creation doesn’t have to be magical, after all…

    Sounds like Heinlein’s last few books. And means as much as those books. Fiction.

  181. #181 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba #171 wrote:

    Seems like the only “fail” here is your misinterpretation of my posts

    Seems like you’re going to have to define what you mean by “God.” And, it would be helpful if you’re specific enough that we’re able to distinguish it from the concept of God, or anything that inspires us, or the fact that things exist — unless you’re using the term so loosely, that any of those will do just as well as “God.”

  182. #182 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba. Present evidence for your version of god. Present evidence that god has anything to do with the current state of the world, which is many places is quite shitty.

    You don’t have evidence or an argument. You have “ideas”, none of which were presented very well or even explained well.

    Tell us what you believe. Why you believe and explain the evidence. If not you’re just a moving target of silliness that we have no problem hitting.

  183. #183 CJO
    April 10, 2009

    it just follows logically. We create realities, so why couldn’t we live in a created reality?

    We do not “create realities.” That’s just taking a figure of speech too far. We create representations of reality.

  184. #184 Qwerty
    April 10, 2009

    Eric @ 173 – Damn Eric, I missed getting the “Noah’s flood flyer”, but Northwestern must be very Biblical in its approach to education. I wonder if it is as conservative as Bethel which is also in the northern burbs of St. Paul?

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the theory of gravity would preclude a global flood; because if the earth was covered with water, the water would have NO place to go. (But then religious nutters come up with giant land masses suddently flattening and then rearising. I guess they have god in mind as He came down to earth and then arose! This is Good Friday, I will probabaly get sent to purgatory for an additional millenium for thinking this! Lucky I don’t believe in heaven, hell, or the you’re almost in heaven waiting room aka purgatory any more.

  185. #185 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @GMacs:

    I don’t think it’s latin, but thanks for the complement!
    Move the stars and levitate you how? If you’re talking about just sheer belief, you’re talking about magic, not anything I endorse. But if you’re talking about belief as a motivator for doing all the things you just described through plausible mechanisms, why not? Nothing is “all powerful”, but I’m sure to a 3-year old, you’re the strongest and tallest person in the world…

  186. #186 Qwerty
    April 10, 2009

    Eric @ 173 – Damn Eric, I missed getting the “Noah’s flood flyer”, but Northwestern must be very Biblical in its approach to education. I wonder if it is as conservative as Bethel which is also in the northern burbs of St. Paul?

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the theory of gravity would preclude a global flood; because if the earth was covered with water, the water would have NO place to go. (But then religious nutters come up with giant land masses suddently flattening and then rearising. I guess they have god in mind as He came down to earth and then arose! This is Good Friday, I will probabaly get sent to purgatory for an additional millenium for thinking this! Lucky I don’t believe in heaven, hell, or the you’re almost in heaven waiting room aka purgatory any more.

  187. #187 Qwerty
    April 10, 2009

    I double posted! Oh, the shame and probably another millenium in purgatory!

  188. #188 JohnMorley
    April 10, 2009

    The statement that Miller explained “the fusion of Chimpanzee Chromosome 13″ is a questionable one to me (probably wongfully). Is PZ saying that we evolved from chimps? I am under the impression that we merely share a common ancestor, not that we came from chimps.

  189. #189 Watchman
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba:

    Ok, I get it now. Good stuff happens. Therefore, God.

    How about this? Over one hundred thousand people were killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami the day after Christmas a few years ago. Therefore, God does not exist.

    What do you make of my evidence, and the conclusion I’ve drawn from it?

    Hey, you’re welcome to your beliefs, but don’t expect your arguments to get much respect if that’s the kind of non-evidence you’re going to present. What we’re really asking for is some evidence that this entity you’ve hypothesized has influenced the outcome of the events you’ve described.

    Apologies for the incorrect gender assumption.

  190. #190 Liberal Atheist
    April 10, 2009

    If he really is a Catholic, then he believes in a divine creator, which makes him a creationist. Catholicism is idiotic. Someone who obviously can be a skeptical and rational person should know that.

  191. #191 Guy Incognito
    April 10, 2009

    What in the hell is heliotheistic pandeism?

  192. #192 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    Is it an ALIEN or a GOD? Is it a personal god? Can it know you’re thoughts? Defy physics?

    Your god seems pretty squishy. It keeps changing shape and abilities. You seem to know that it can do amazing things… but then fail to define HOW amazing.

  193. #193 JohnMorley
    April 10, 2009

    Err just noticed that it was not PZ, but the reviewer that said this.

  194. #194 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    I’m not saying it’s definitley true, or just fooling myself; it just follows logically. We create realities, so why couldn’t we live in a created reality? The creation doesn’t have to be magical, after all…

    Yes yes we could but then again we could live under the fingernail of a giant or in the tooth cavity of a giant basilisk or on the last kernel of corn at a picnic of the gods of Ham or just be the figments of Kevin Bacon’s imagination.

    But those are just wild unfounded postulations wholly unsupported by anything that we can see, measure or extrapolate from what we know beyond far “could bes”.

    We can go on forever about the “could bes” creating wild fantastic worlds that only barely have a silk thin thread tying them to reality. But that would be silly.

    Start with what we can measure and work outwards. What you are doing is nothing more than creating fiction to make you feel better about your beliefs.

    They bare no resemblance reality and are merely a form of mental masturbation.

    Keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out.

  195. #195 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    JohnMorley… the fusion shows that we do have a common ancestor with the chimps. The fusion was predicted and found.

  196. #196 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba,

    You are using your words too loosely. You are also using the words of others too loosely.

    Some people here aren’t talking figuratively. Although I will agree that “god” doesn’t always mean “omniscient/omnipresent/etc.” (ie pagan gods being tricked by mortals), it does in Judeo-Christian philosophy (at least it has the last 2 millenia, which is long enough).

    And “omnipotent” implies(actually almost always means) OMNIPOTENT.

    Speaking of meanings (and words :)), verba (UERBA in Classical Latin) can be a form of either the word “word” or “beating/lashing”. Cool, huh?

  197. #197 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    Jeez, I wish there was some kind of “reply” button on everyone’s name, or something. Because it’s time-consuming to reply to all of you, I’ll explain myself quite plainly. However, if any of you are going to be snide assholes, don’t expect a response.
    I am a Pandeist. I don’t accept any kind of magic as an answer, and try to take thing as they are. However, on account of the world is “as we see it”, it’s completley reasonable that there’s plenty we’re missing, and (due to the nature of both our preception, and physical objects), plenty more we’ll not be able to witness. That said, I don’t find it irrational to believe that we live in a world which is (to some degree) constructed.
    With regard to evolution, I don’t disagree with it, and use it quite often to seek answers about the human condition. However, on account of we use evolution as a means of creation, it only seems logical that we could’ve been created the same way. Like I said before, with regard to all the things which wouldn’t otherwise exsist had it not been for outside meddling (such as dogs, genetically-modified animals, etc.), would they be wrong for believing they were created for a purpose?

  198. #198 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    However, on account of we use evolution as a means of creation, it only seems logical that we could’ve been created the same way.

    Um, we were.

    It’s called evolution.

  199. #199 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    Yes they would. There’s no evidence of a purpose. Considering how long we’ve been here and how long the earth has existed.

    There’s been no meddling or intent. It’s just wishful thinking.

  200. #200 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    Wrong again, dude. I suggest you look deeper into these things, rather than just pretend you know what I’m getting at…

    Troll.

  201. #201 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @GMacs, that is pretty cool, actually! I honestly had no idea! What a strange world we live in…

  202. #202 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    Well, I mean look at it from this point: All of the things we created through evolution (dogs, fruits, other species, etc.) do they know they were made for a purpose? Would they be wrong to believe that?

    Fallacy of affirmation of the consequent.

    On account of God is acknowledged by 95% of all people on earth, and has a powerful impact on politics and society, how is that not “omnipotent” or “omnipresent”?

    Yet another fool incapable of distinguishing between God and belief in God (not that this is an example of omnipotence of either one).

    However, if any of you are going to be snide assholes, don’t expect a response.

    Oh good.

  203. #203 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    I am a Pandeist.

    Who’s Pande?

  204. #204 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Steve_C:

    On account of the aforementioned were bred for specific purposes, they wouldn’t be wrong for believing that. There’s evidence, but just none they can see.
    No meddling or intent? So tobacco plants with firefly genes occur natrually?

  205. #205 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    I don’t find it irrational to believe that we live in a world which is (to some degree) constructed.

    Failing to find an irrational belief to be irrational is itself irrational. And it’s certainly irrational to believe something for no valid reason. “It could be” — which is what you have been arguing here (against a strawman) is never a valid reason to believe something.

  206. #206 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @nothing’s sacred:

    *facepalm*

  207. #207 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba #197 wrote:

    I am a Pandeist. I don’t accept any kind of magic as an answer, and try to take thing as they are.

    Could you please be more specific on what you mean by “Pandeism?” Keep in mind that “any kind of magic” would involve things like Mind or Consciousness existing as a force, and creating or moving physical objects through will. It would also include values like ‘goodness’ or ‘love’ manifesting itself. If you take the “magic” out of concepts of God, you take out those things which distinguish it from naturalistic atheism. I think you need to keep some “magic.”

    If you are wrong about pandeism — how would you find that out?

    Like I said before, with regard to all the things which wouldn’t otherwise exsist had it not been for outside meddling (such as dogs, genetically-modified animals, etc.), would they be wrong for believing they were created for a purpose?

    Yes and no. They were created for someone else’s purpose or function. That doesn’t necessarily mean that, from their perspective, they have a “purpose.”

  208. #208 Ken Cope
    April 10, 2009

    I am a Pandeist.

    Who’s Pande?

    Pande go Pande go Pande?

  209. #209 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Sven DiMilo:

    That actually made me laugh. :)

  210. #210 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    Is [the anonymous reviewer] saying that we evolved from chimps? I am under the impression that we merely share a common ancestor, not that we came from chimps.

    We share a fairly recent common ancestor with extant chimpanzees. If that common ancestor were alive today, it would almost certainly be classified as a chimpanzee itself. I am using the word “chimpanzee” slightly loosely to mean both Pan troglodytes (“the” chimpanzee, sensu stricto) and Pan paniscus (pedantically the bonobo) and, as far as I (and Jared Diamond) are concerned, Homo sapiens as well.

  211. #212 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    *facepalm*

    Try not to damage your brain any worse than it already is.

  212. #213 Eric
    April 10, 2009

    JohnMorley…

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we descended from chimps, rather that all primates share a common ancestor. The difference between human primates and chimps (including all the great apes) is that we have 23 pairs of chromosomes versus the 24 that our ancestors and siblings have. There is very strong evidence for the theory that chromosome 2 in humans is equivalent to the chromosomes 2p and 2q in chimpanzees if you fused them together, telomere to telomere.

    Dr. Ken Miller has a great explanation of it here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

  213. #214 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba wrote:

    I don’t find it irrational to believe that we live in a world which is (to some degree) constructed.

    Mere “could be” thinking. Your personal threshold for for what feels rational to you is not a good indicator of what is true.

    Put another way, simply stating that something can’t be disproven is not a sufficient argument for its existence.

    As Rev. BDC said a few posts ago, start from what we know, and work from there. What you seem to be doing is looking at all the possible realities, eliminating the ones that seem irrational to you, and then claiming the one you like. One could build a case for any amount of ridiculous nonsense based on that standard. Doesn’t make any of it true.

  214. #215 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Sastra:

    It basically means that I think that God is the universe, and that everything in it is a manifestation of it. No sin, no rib women or magical trees, or talking donkey’s, or winged people.
    If indeed I am wrong, then well…I’m wrong. I’m not shutting that possiblity out.
    But to be created fore someone or something elses[sp] purpose, is still to have a purpose…

  215. #216 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    But to be created fore someone or something elses[sp] purpose, is still to have a purpose…

    Forgive me, but what are you meaning with that?

  216. #217 Mark C.
    April 10, 2009

    Dr. Miller gave a talk at Kansas State University last night (the 9th), which I went to. It sounds like the same talk as described in PZ’s post.

    I thought it was very, VERY good, though I became slightly uncomfortable when he said that Augustinian philosophy leads (or maybe can lead, I don’t remember) to good science (the example was Mendel), and when he kept using the word “design” (in scare quotes, to indicate the intentionless variety) to say that he agrees that life is designed… but by evolution.

    I don’t know his exact intention with this talk, but I thought it was a very good presentation, as far as persuading theists of the compatibility of science and god-belief goes. Now of course, I must make the caveat that evolution is obviously not compatible with certain theologies, such as a literalist Christian, Jewish, or Islamic theology. While I think that many believers who accept evolution are being inconsistent in their methodology, I would rather they accept evolution and science and remain theists rather than reject evolution and science.

  217. #218 flaq
    April 10, 2009

    God is the universe

    OK, I’m out. Your definition of god is so loose and meaningless that there’s no hope of ever having a real conversation about it.

    Like I said before, you define god how you like, so while your at it, you might as well make up a good one.

    Just don’t expect credit for behaving rationally.

  218. #219 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    Mere “could be” thinking.

    My point, but it’s worse than that, as there is strong evidence that the world is not constructed … unless one construes “constructed” in such a way as to have the exact same characteristics as absence of construction. Construction must entail intent, teleology … else it’s a semantically hollow claim. E.g.,

    I think that God is the universe, and that everything in it is a manifestation of it.

    A semantically hollow claim that does not entail or even allow construction. If “God” and “universe” are equated, then “God” is merely a synonym and any string of letters would do as well.

    If indeed I am wrong, then well…I’m wrong.

    You’re not even wrong.

    But to be created fore someone or something elses[sp] purpose, is still to have a purpose…

    Having a purpose requires an analytical, computational engine, something like a brain or computer, that can create and weigh scenarios and outcomes. Purposes are not ectoplasmic ooze that can simply exist without an appropriate embodiment.

  219. #220 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba #215 wrote:

    It basically means that I think that God is the universe, and that everything in it is a manifestation of it.

    But you’re not just calling the universe “God,” are you? Do you see reality as fundamentally ‘mind-like?’ Is the universe a person, or similar to a person?

    If indeed I am wrong, then well…I’m wrong. I’m not shutting that possiblity out.

    If you’re not shutting out the possibility that you’re wrong, then you must be able to think of some things that, if they happened, would change your mind, and show you that Pandeism was wrong. What would they be?

    But to be created fore someone or something elses[sp] purpose, is still to have a purpose…

    Think of it this way. Jason and Jeremy are classmates. Jason’s parents had him for a purpose: they wanted a plumber in the family. They read him books about plumbing, buy him tools, and plan on sending him to plumbing school. Some day he will put new pipes in their home. Everything hinges on this. He would not have been conceived had this not been the goal.

    On the other hand, Jeremy was a ‘surprise,’ and his parents don’t care what Jeremy chooses to do with his life, it’s up to him.

    Does Jason have a purpose, which Jeremy lacks? Does his life have more meaning?

  220. #221 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    So if the universe is god. Why the hell would it create us?

  221. #222 Guy Incognito
    April 10, 2009

    If indeed I am wrong, then well…I’m wrong. I’m not shutting that possiblity out.

    But how would you know if you’re wrong? If God is the universe, what part of it could be offered as evidence that you are wrong?

  222. #223 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    The statement that Miller explained “the fusion of Chimpanzee Chromosome 13″ is a questionable one to me (probably wongfully).

    “Chimpanzee Chromosome” is just a way of identifying the chromosome, using a specific species as the identifier. If it had said “the fusion of ape Chromosome 13″, someone might make the opposite complaint that humans are apes. In both cases the objection would stem from overinterpreting — i.e., yes, it’s wrongful.

  223. #224 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    Jason’s parents had him for a purpose: they wanted a plumber in the family. They read him books about plumbing, buy him tools, and plan on sending him to plumbing school. Some day he will put new pipes in their home. Everything hinges on this. He would not have been conceived had this not been the goal.

    At what point does he campaign for John McCain?

    Sorry, the existentialism-type stuff is making me sleepy.

    Uerba, a “pandeist” sounds like an atheist who is terrified of admitting they are an atheist. I was like that, until I read The God Delusion.

    Can we get some definitions here? Here’s my submission:

    Pandeist [pan DEH ist] n.
    1. One who believes in Pandeism
    2. One who is too rational to believe in superstition, cares too much to be considered agnostic, and is too terrified of the existential implications to admit he/she is an atheist.

    Anyone else want to amend it?

  224. #225 Watchman
    April 10, 2009

    So if the universe is god. Why the hell would it create us?

    *headscratch*

    Because we’re the next best thing to lactobacillus?

    (FAYI: It seems that Uerba is 18 yrs old… College freshman I would guess.)

  225. #226 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    At what point does he campaign for John McCain?

    For.The.Win.

  226. #227 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (cf. Dawkins), but the respect a lot of people have for Miller is not due to his eminence as a scientist. It’s due to his eminence as a communicator.

    Well, apparently, as a high school biology teacher I wouldn’t then qualify as ‘doing’ science, either. I’m not a scientist, apparently. But I play one on TV!

  227. #228 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    a “pandeist” sounds like an atheist who is terrified of admitting they are an atheist

    I think it’s more a matter of clinging to mysticism, even to the point where all the content is hollowed out — like Einstein. He believed there was some sort of “intelligence” in the laws of physics, but denied all the elements that intelligence would entail.

  228. #229 Tulse
    April 10, 2009

    If “God” is the universe, why not just call it…the universe? What is gained by calling it “God”?

  229. #230 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    Scott, I’m not trying to be insulting, but no. High school biology teachers (for whom, good ones anyway, I have utmost respect) are neither scientists nor are they doing science, IMO. I’d say the same about a PhD teaching at the college level if teaching was all she did. I taught at a community college myself for some years, and during those years I considered myself a teacher rather than a scientist.

  230. #231 Badger3k
    April 10, 2009

    From his/her “we create our own realities” comment, I wonder if Uerba believes in “The Secret” and other such woo.

    The only way we create our own realities is that we can only directly experience the universe from within our own minds, and interpret it that way. Perhaps referring to “subjective realities” – our viewing the real, “objective reality” that exists. Of course, that means that there are bound to be many subjective realities that are factually wrong….

  231. #232 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @flaq:

    I’m not just picking and choosing as I please, I’m doing these based on how likley they ultimatley are.

  232. #233 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    I’m not just picking and choosing as I please, I’m doing these based on how likley they ultimatley are.

    Oh that’s rich. And how are you determining that likelihood?

  233. #234 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    From his/her “we create our own realities” comment, I wonder if Uerba believes in “The Secret” and other such woo.

    That’s a misquote, and I think Uerba was pretty clear about not meaning anything like that: “such as dogs, genetically-modified animals, etc.”

  234. #235 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    What a strange world we live in…

    We? Other than words and their associated semantics, you’re not much a part of my reality. For all I know you’re just a program.

    Like those crows over there…

    Now, will it be the red pill or the blue pill?

    (Forgive me if I find this rather entertaining.)

  235. #236 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Well, I mean look at it from this point: All of the things we created through evolution (dogs, fruits, other species, etc.) do they know they were made for a purpose? Would they be wrong to believe that?

    If a dogs or bananas had the intellectual capacity to be capable of “believing” anything about their origins, it would seem they would also have the ability to examine the evidence, no? In which case, they would find clear evidence that they were in fact bred. (Incidentally, human history would be vastly different without dogs.)

  236. #237 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    I’m sorry I missed that comment.

    I can just imagine an apple sitting around quoting Shakespeare

    To be or not to be!

  237. #238 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    Would they be wrong to believe that?

    If they believed it for the wrong reason — if they simply guessed at it, or intuited it, or made a hasty analogy to something that didn’t really apply — then yes, they would be wrong to believe that.

    It’s not about getting the “right” answer. It’s about doing the work from the ground up. Method, method, method…

  238. #239 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    Nah, I think things like “The secret” don’t hold true beyond the placebo effect. Argh, so many people to reply too…

    1)Yes, I am a college freshman

    2)Overall, I see the universe seems to have a kind of creativity to it which makes it less than conscience, but definitley more than an inanimite object

    3)On account of nothing is ever exactly as it seems, it just makes sense that at least some things are constructed

    4)I think that all things have some kind of purpose. After all, if it’s absolutley pointless, why should it exsist?

  239. #240 Watchman
    April 10, 2009

    If “God” is the universe, why not just call it…the universe? What is gained by calling it “God”?

    What is gained is the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that The Universe is sensitive to our needs, involved in our lives, and emotionally available.

    Uerba, I’m still curious about what you make of my evidence (nearly a quarter of a million dead due to the Indian Ocean tsunami) for the non-existence of the pandeistic god.

  240. #241 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    Nah, I think things like “The secret” don’t hold true beyond the placebo effect.

    Explain how you can make that statement and then floow up with all of this

    2)Overall, I see the universe seems to have a kind of creativity to it which makes it less than conscience, but definitley more than an inanimite object

    3)On account of nothing is ever exactly as it seems, it just makes sense that at least some things are constructed

    4)I think that all things have some kind of purpose. After all, if it’s absolutley pointless, why should it exsist?

    What exactly makes the secret wrong and what you said there likely.

    The fact you think it “seems” that way?

  241. #242 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Rev. BigDumbChimp:

    I determine things by looking at the world around me. We aren’t inerrant, after all. If the world is how we see it, it only makes sense that we’re bound to miss at least a few crucial details

  242. #243 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    floow is of course follow

    KoT

  243. #244 Watchman
    April 10, 2009

    Nah, I think things like “The secret” don’t hold true beyond the placebo effect.

    You’re on to something, here. Seriously.

    Gotta run. Have a good evening. Keep those brain cells workin’, Uerba.

  244. #245 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Yawn, just another person who can’t understand the universe doesn’t give a shit about our existence, so we have to. I look around me and see evolution, no god, and a whole lot of randomness without purpose. After all, hurricanes and tornadoes aren’t steered by anybody, even god.

  245. #246 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    I determine things by looking at the world around me. We aren’t inerrant, after all. If the world is how we see it, it only makes sense that we’re bound to miss at least a few crucial details

    That’s a bit of naivete there, that or a cop out.
    What do you base your idea in points 2-4 on?

    Have you every heard of the Watchmaker’s Argument?

  246. #247 Watchman
    April 10, 2009

    If the world is how we see it, it only makes sense that we’re bound to miss at least a few crucial details

    But it’s NOT always “how we see it”. Think about how many centuries went by while people thought the sky was a dome or that everything in the sky circled the earth, because that was so obviously how it looked. That’s how it seemed, and it went essentially unquestioned for millennia.

    (Ok, really going now. Have fun!)

  247. #248 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Watchman:

    That doesn’t really mean anything. Deism isn’t centered around a personal god\God, so I don’t get any “warm, fuzzy feelings” from my beliefs. Besides, not to debate philosophy (as this little thing has drained me enough, already) good cannot exist without evil.

    @Rev. BigDumbChimp:

    “The secret” basically says that believing something good will happen makes it happen, independent of any material mechanism. That’s magic, pure and simple.

  248. #249 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Yes, it is bullshit. Yes, it would be nice if he stopped flapping his gob about his god, but if all theists and deists were like this, it would be a huge step forward from what we have now.

    Just something I think should be mentioned, especially given CalGeorge’s #90:

    Ken Miller is a Catholic.
    heddle is a Baptist.

    Neither is simply a deist. I think this may be one of the things that most rankles me about both. There seems to be a certain fundamental dishonesty in their presentation of their beliefs. Dishonesty and evasiveness.

  249. #250 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    “The secret” basically says that believing something good will happen makes it happen, independent of any material mechanism. That’s magic, pure and simple.

    And what is different from you claiming that there is purpose in our existence given to us by some nebulous being god which you define as, well nothing and everything?

  250. #251 James F
    April 10, 2009

    Holy pantheist/Spinozist digression, Batman!

    From the talks I’ve seen in person and on line, Ken Miller makes a clear distinction between science and philosophy. Like the NCSE, AAAS, NAS, and the U Cal Museum of Paleontology, he makes a point of countering the claim that religious belief automatically means rejection of evolution because it is such a major argument used by creationists, from Answers in Genesis to the Discovery Institute. Making the claim that all religion-based beliefs are compatible with science is not correct, of course, but as far as I know Prof. Miller has never argued that position.

  251. #252 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba #239 wrote:

    2)Overall, I see the universe seems to have a kind of creativity to it which makes it less than conscience, but definitley more than an inanimite object
    3)On account of nothing is ever exactly as it seems, it just makes sense that at least some things are constructed

    If you’re going to say that “nothing is ever exactly as it seems,” then it’s not a good idea to argue that something “seems” to be a certain way, so it definitely must be the case.

    We can use the words “creative” and “constructive” without implying any sort of intention. If someone said that stalactites are created and constructed by water dripping from limestone, we don’t assume that water must be animated with some kind of Life Force, and made the stalactite for a purpose. I think you understand this in the small examples, but think that something must change if we’re looking at the Big Picture. Not necessarily.

    4)I think that all things have some kind of purpose. After all, if it’s absolutley pointless, why should it exsist?

    Cause and effect, chance and necessity. When we say that things are meaningful or pointless, we always include the idea that things are meaningful or pointless to someone. Meaning comes in only when you have a point-of-view. And once you have a point-of-view with a goal, then — and only then — can you talk about purposes.

    1.) What if God exists, but its purposes are completely boring to us? What if, the more we understand the Mind of God, the more frustrating, dull, and depressing it becomes. God created everything for a reason — and we don’t care about that reason.

    Do things now have a point?

    2.) What if there is no God, but we evolved in such a way that many things matter to us? The more we involve ourselves in our environment, and with each other, the more excited, inspired, and fulfilled we are. We are here for no reason — but we just so happen to care about things anyway.

    Is everything “really” pointless?

  252. #253 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    3)On account of nothing is ever exactly as it seems, it just makes sense that at least some things are constructed

    4)I think that all things have some kind of purpose. After all, if it’s absolutley pointless, why should it exsist?

    Sigh.

  253. #254 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    good cannot exist without evil

    Are you sure? What about the dichotomy of good and bad. There is a connotational difference.

    Actually, I do know of people who don’t believe in “good and evil” because they consider it to be the domain of theology (which they, like me, reject). But that’s all semantics.

  254. #255 JohnMorley
    April 10, 2009

    I understand Miller’s explanation of the fusion that produced human chromosome 2. He does so marvelously. What I have trouble with is the statement that “the fusion of Chimpanzee Chromosome 13″ occurred, and is evidence of evolution. Thank you for the explanation, that is one of the cool things about this blog; people are happy to answer questions! But you answered the wrong one… current understanding doesn’t show a chimpanzee fusion…but rather a human precursor fusin, right?

  255. #256 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    Wow. Uerba has it all figured out.

    *facepalm*

  256. #257 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    …creationists, from Answers in Genesis to the Discovery Institute.

    *GASP* How can you call the DI creationists? Didn’t you see Expelled? They are simply a group of open-minded people who are trying to put forth some inquiry to the monolithic Scientific Establishment. Didn’t you see how small there office was? That means they’re mavericks.

    I think I hurt myself writing that.

  257. #258 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    I think that Uerba is suffering from a nasty case of magical thinking and a variation of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    Anyway my tautological warning alarms are starting to beep.

    There is no way for Uerba to be able to falsify his/her postulations when he/she defines god in the way he/she does. It’s just a mental circle jerk and all participants reside in his/her head.

    Uerba what could falsify your belief?

  258. #259 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    *Sigh*, so many replies…

    1) Purpose is “given” to us by God, the same way life is given to you by your parents. Neither requires or invokes magic.

    2) Opposites exist in reality. In fact, they’re necessitated.

    3) @Sastra:

    On account of everything is to some degree from a point-of-view, everything must have some kind of purpose. Even if you’re talking about natrual processes like stalgtite formation, that too must serve some purpose. Sorry if I didn’t answer it completley, this thing is just draining me

  259. #260 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009
  260. #261 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba’s problem was illustrated in his (almost certainly) first post, #46:

    I don’t know why this is such a mystery to people.

    Unwarranted arrogance.

  261. #262 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Opposites exist in reality. In fact, they’re necessitated.

    Not true.

  262. #263 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    I wonder what the opposite of bacon is?

  263. #264 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    current understanding doesn’t show a chimpanzee fusion…but rather a human precursor fusin, right?

    Well, yeah. The fusion occured on the lineage that produced modern humans after that lineage had separated from the lineage that produced modern chimpanzees.

  264. #265 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    On account of everything is to some degree from a point-of-view, everything must have some kind of purpose.

    Exactly! Like the purpose of arguing with atheists on line is…
    …um… To kill time?

  265. #266 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    I wonder what the opposite of bacon is?

    tofu?

    shit?

    white zinfandel?

  266. #267 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Rev. BigDumbChimp:

    If it were discovered that this universe was all there was\is\ever will be, I would be wrong. I’m not talking about “according to current scientific understanding”, either. I’m talking about if it were discovered that there is POSITIVLEY NOTHING outside of the universe.

  267. #268 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    On account of everything is to some degree from a point-of-view, everything must have some kind of purpose. Even if you’re talking about natrual processes like stalgtite formation, that too must serve some purpose.

    Wishful Thinking

    Though I think you are playing fast and loose with what you are defining as purpose.

  268. #269 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    Look out; here comes some free advice. (25 points for identifying the reference)
    Uerba: you have much thought and experience still ahead of you. Don’t make the mistake of wasting formative years in certainty and dogma. Keep thinking. And read every comment you can find by Sastra.

  269. #270 Guy Incognito
    April 10, 2009

    I’m talking about if it were discovered that there is POSITIVLEY NOTHING outside of the universe.

    How does one detect positively nothing?

  270. #271 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    “tofu?”
    Sven,
    Do. Not. Dis. The ‘fu.
    Rev, my guess is a theoretical “anti-bacon”. Like anti-matter, but anti-tastier.

  271. #272 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    Even if you’re talking about natrual processes like stalgtite formation, that too must serve some purpose.

    Really? And what, pray tell, is the purpose of dripstone precipitation?

  272. #273 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    If it were discovered that this universe was all there was\is\ever will be, I would be wrong. I’m not talking about “according to current scientific understanding”, either. I’m talking about if it were discovered that there is POSITIVLEY NOTHING outside of the universe.

    Wait you’re shifting goalposts now. That isn’t falsifying your claim that the universe is God and that everything has purpose. That only falsifies the idea that there is something beyond our universe.

    Try again

  273. #274 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    Actually, I eat and enjoy a lot of ‘fu.

    But it sure as hell ain’t bacon.

  274. #275 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    1) The opposite of bacon is a living pig! :)

    2) What arrogance? I was talking about creationists, not atheists. Is this how this started? A misunderstanding of my first post?

    3) @GMacs:
    I just like to argue, what can I say?

  275. #276 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    anti-bacon

    Do you think that is somewhere alongside Dark Matter?

  276. #277 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    Rev,
    The Beating shoved the goalposts off a fucking cliff a while back.

    Guy, You throw negatively nothing at it, and you see if nothing happens.

  277. #278 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    1) The opposite of bacon is a living pig! :)

    Careful, you’re treading into blasphemous territory. Don’t make me sound the alarm for pitchforks and torches. ;)

  278. #279 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    The opposite of bacon is uni! duhhhh.

  279. #280 Wowbagger, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Really? And what, pray tell, is the purpose of dripstone precipitation?

    Maybe stalactite formations have an evolutionary function, such as giving irritatingly clever geologists the opportunity to show up on blogs and show off their knowledge of the technical terms about rocks and stuff, which they know for a fact women just swoon at – thereby increasing their chances of passing on their DNA.

    I knew I should have done geology!

  280. #281 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    Hmmmm…anti-bacon.
    So, like, bacon + anti-bacon = mutual annihilation?

    It would have to be composed of anti-protein, anti-fat, and anti-salt…

    pop-rocks?

  281. #282 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    I wonder what the opposite of bacon is?
    tofu?
    shit?
    white zinfandel?

    OK, that made me laugh. And while we’re OT, I’ll link to this ’cause I noticed it @ the top of the page and it happens that I was just thinking about this question today at the symphony:

    http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2009/04/even_isolated_cultures_underst.php

    Feel free to ignore if you’re not interested in music.

    Really? And what, pray tell, is the purpose of dripstone precipitation?

    To be trippy, obviously.

  282. #283 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    The opposite of bacon is a living pig! :)

    Then what’s the opposite of a ham or pork loin?
    Anti-bacon comes from Dark Pigs. They look like regular pigs if you took a photo negative. They are vegan-friendly.

  283. #284 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    The statement that Miller explained “the fusion of Chimpanzee Chromosome 13″ is a questionable one to me (probably wongfully). Is PZ saying that we evolved from chimps? I am under the impression that we merely share a common ancestor, not that we came from chimps.

    Forgive me if this was previously explained, but the actual claim biologists make is that the putative fusion event occurred sometime after the LCA (last common ancestor) of modern human and chimp populations.

  284. #285 Steve_C
    April 10, 2009

    Noooo it can’t be crispy or crunchy.

    Gummi bears! The anti-bacon.

    I still think UNI is a better anti-bacon.

  285. #286 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    1) If there is nothing outside of the universe, it (probably) could not have been created by anything. If it wasn’t purposefully created, then it’s more likley that other things weren’t.

    2) Err, I’m not too keen on cave geology, so don’t make a theme out of it. You’re not going to get much

    3) Jeez, the sexism here is rampant. Why does everyone just assume I’m a guy? Just click my name, it’s not that hard

  286. #287 Wowbagger, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Apologies – my last post might read like I’m making the assumption all geologists are men; that, of course, is rubbish.

  287. #288 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba #259 wrote:

    *Sigh*, so many replies…

    Yeah, that happens. We can see you’re swamped; take your time.

    1) Purpose is “given” to us by God, the same way life is given to you by your parents. Neither requires or invokes magic.

    No, this is confusing. You’re talking as if purpose is a sort of thing that can be given. Did Jason’s parents “give” him a purpose (“you will be a plumber”) the same way they “gave” him a wrench for his birthday, and the same way they “gave” him life (which is a bit poetic)?

    Are human beings artifacts made as tools, in order to do something?

    We create our own purposes, when we form goals to satisfy desires. You can’t be “given” a purpose in any meaningful sense. As you realize, purposes aren’t magical essences, invisible things. The fairy Godmothers gave the baby Princess Aurora the gifts of Beauty, Charm — and Purpose, and they fell on her crib like sparkles from their wands.

    On account of everything is to some degree from a point-of-view, everything must have some kind of purpose. Even if you’re talking about natrual processes like stalgtite formation, that too must serve some purpose.

    I’m not sure of the way you’re using the word “purpose” here. It seems to me that the word usually implies a psychological reason which goes beyond mindless cause and effect — particularly if you talk about something “serving a purpose.” The stalactite doesn’t serve anyone’s purpose until and unless something living comes along and chooses to use it to fulfill some goal of theirs. If that doesn’t happen, then the stalactite serves no purpose.

    If you think otherwise, you have to explain why. Whose purpose? There is no default, disembodied Point-Of_View that just exists nowhere and everywhere.

  288. #289 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    *smacks Wowbagger*

    Hey, were you in “Son of Watchman” the other day when AlanC referred to me as “dashing?” Seriously–dashing. From Alan. It’s true of course, but I still feel dirty.

    Uerba, seriously, you don’t even wanna go near bacon. Rev is in this thread! It’s gonna end in tears…

  289. #290 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    @Rev. BigDumbChimp:

    If life doesn’t necessitate opposites, why is there an opposite for everything in the universe? Are opposites a relic of some type?

  290. #291 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    :floow is of course follow

    KoT

    I followed that. As does this post.

  291. #292 Michael Hawkins
    April 10, 2009

    Damn, my link didn’t work earlier. I probably missed out on some good traffic.

    At any rate, I wanted to link to an interview with Ken Miller which includes a member of the NCSE, NAS, and the Creationist Museum.

    Here’s the link without HTML.

    http://forthesakeofscience.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/why-natural-selection-is-not-random/

  292. #293 sphere coupler
    April 10, 2009

    It all boils down to tradition. We as humans have always attributed (God) to that which we did not understand.Has always been so and will always be so. Its just that some understand more than others, and to a panthiest (one who doesn’t understand the universe) (God= universe)
    is just another step in thought evolution.When you get to the trueth of the matter there is only one thing that counts and that one thing is

    BACON?

  293. #294 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    my last post might read like I’m making the assumption all geologists are men; that, of course, is rubbish.

    I actually know a female geology major over whom nerds at Belegarth drool. I think it’s just a geology thing.

  294. #295 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Maybe stalactite formations have an evolutionary function, such as giving irritatingly clever geologists the opportunity to show up on blogs and show off their knowledge of the technical terms about rocks and stuff, which they know for a fact women just swoon at – thereby increasing their chances of passing on their DNA.

    Since it is becoming increasingly clear that cave formation is heavily mediated by communities of bacteria, things like stalactites could be seen as bacterial constructs whose ‘function’ is not only the immediate one of providing bacteria with a substrate for activity, but (when united as a column) stabilizing emerging cave environment. Fanciful, I know.

  295. #296 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    2) Err, I’m not too keen on cave geology, so don’t make a theme out of it. You’re not going to get much

    So that would be “I have no idea what the purpose is” then? Perhaps you should stick to examples where you actually understand the science.

    why is there an opposite for everything in the universe?

    Wait, what?

  296. #297 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    Jeez, the sexism here is rampant. Why does everyone just assume I’m a guy?

    Where did that happen?

    Uni is both proteinaceous and salty and therefore an inappropriate anti-bacon. Gummybears is better. I think you can get bacon-flavored jellybeans.

    Hee! I made SC laugh; the day is saved.

  297. #298 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Ken Miller is a Catholic.
    heddle is a Baptist.

    Neither is simply a deist. I think this may be one of the things that most rankles me about both. There seems to be a certain fundamental dishonesty in their presentation of their beliefs. Dishonesty and evasiveness.

    I’m a Methodist. Does that make me dishonest and evasive?

  298. #299 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    stalactites could be seen as bacterial constructs whose ‘function’ is … (when united as a column) stabilizing emerging cave environment. Fanciful, I know.

    So, if Dawkins were a geologist, he would have written The Blind Cavern Builder?

    Actually that is pretty neat.

  299. #300 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    Uerba #267 wrote:

    If it were discovered that this universe was all there was\is\ever will be, I would be wrong. I’m not talking about “according to current scientific understanding”, either. I’m talking about if it were discovered that there is POSITIVLEY NOTHING outside of the universe.

    The easy way to do this, of course, is to define “The Universe” as “all there was\ever\will be.”

    But that wouldn’t cut out God, of course. If it exists, it would therefore be included in “The Universe.”

    But other than stipulative definitions, I don’t think your challenge can be met. Guy Incognito at #270 asks a good question: “How does one detect positively nothing?” All you’ve got then, is a gap of ignorance, and a God you can always, always put in it.

  300. #301 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    why is there an opposite for everything in the universe?
    Wait, what?

    Sure:

    good / evil

    matter / antimatter

    Yankees / Red Sox

    PZ / VD

    Bacon / ??? (possibly gummybears)

  301. #302 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    Wait, what?

    Anti-bacon Josh

    try and keep up ;)

  302. #303 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    1) If there is nothing outside of the universe, it (probably) could not have been created by anything. If it wasn’t purposefully created, then it’s more likley that other things weren’t.

    ahh but that’s not falsifying is it?

    try again

  303. #304 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    (throws up hands in irritation)

    Cursed formatting!

    Anyway, what I meant to say is that I don’t think Miller portrays himself as a deist (can’t speak for heddle), and I don’t know why anyone would think he had, and was thus dissembling. Read PZ’s post earlier in this thread, where he affirms Miller’s sincerity…he (PZ) just think he’s mistaken.

  304. #305 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    And not only is that not falsifying it’s still not answering your claim that god is the universe.

  305. #306 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    bah shit

    answering should be addressing.

    the typos are strong tonight and I’ve only had 2 beers.

  306. #307 Uerba
    April 10, 2009

    Let me rephrase that: If it were shown that the universe simply could not have been created, that would falsify my belief.
    On another note, I’m feeling quite drained. Don’t be suprised if I don’t get back to you, as I’ve a paper and drawing to get started on. I’ll be back later. Peace for now, y’all

  307. #308 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    *smacks Rev*

  308. #309 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    I’ve a paper and drawing to get started on

    I thought I smelled design student.

  309. #310 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    Let me rephrase that: If it were shown that the universe simply could not have been created, that would falsify my belief.

    That is as nebulous as your definition of god.

  310. #311 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 10, 2009

    (amused expression)

    The problem with redefining ‘God’ as the ‘Universe’ or as ‘the ground of all being’ is that we lose the warm fuzzies. It’s the warm fuzzies, that we somehow can claim to have a personal experience of God, that makes so many in the pews willing to hurl spears at those who deny God’s existence. Similarly, it’s not a dispassionate attempt to cleave unnecessary expressions that add nothing to a description that motivates the frontal assault on theism. It’s all the ‘warm fuzzies’ that were ripped from the non-belivers in the name of belief.

    The truth is that when we equate the universe with existence we can gain a deity whose existence is hard to pin down, and thus difficult to argue against. But we also lose the warm fuzzies. It’s never going to be either an easy target, or a position hotly defended.

    Speaking of which, as much as I would like to hang out here and see where this discussion of pantheism goes, I’ve got some good old-fashioned religion to participate in this Good Friday. I wish a joyful and peaceful weekend to all of you, whatever your take on the universe.

  311. #312 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    Peace out, Scott.

    All Fridays are good Fridays ;)

  312. #313 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Scott Hatfield, have a good weekend, and don’t eat toooooo much for Easter dinner. Rejoin us when you can.

  313. #314 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Since I’m already OT and associating wildly, as I will do from time to time, if I were a geologist I imagine I’d find Max Ernst’s “Europe after the Rains II” just fascinating (artistically, not scientifically, mind you):

    http://www.artscatter.com/general/what-kind-of-bird-are-you-looking-at-max-ernst/

    I’m a Methodist. Does that make me dishonest and evasive?

    A great question. I don’t know enough about your sect to say. I know much more about Miller’s and heddle’s. What are the beliefs of Methodism, specifically, that go beyond a vague deism? (And I’ll note that I’ve never thought you insincere or evasive. It’s not a matter of belief, but of presenting, or not presenting, those beliefs in a certain way.)

    Hee! I made SC laugh; the day is saved.

    :D I’ll let you know when I’m next in NY. :P

    good / evil
    Yankees / Red Sox

    Grr.

    [/irrational jingoism]

  314. #315 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    Back atcha, Scott!

  315. #316 sphere coupler
    April 10, 2009

    Since I am neither an atheist nor a religionist many people have accused me of sitting on the fence and most have prodded me to decide one way or the other. To them I say ” nay I am not sitting on the fence, I AM the fence-waiting until the final lab test to decide” where does that leave me?
    *hunkers down*

  316. #317 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    You are not a fence; you are a mugwump.

    A mugwump is a bird sitting on a fence with its mug on one side and its wump on the other.

    That one cracked me up for days when I was 11.

  317. #318 Sven DiMilo
    April 10, 2009

    p.s. I hate the Yankees.

    must…get…offline…

  318. #319 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    good / evil Yankees / Red Sox

    I only see evil there

  319. #320 GMacs
    April 10, 2009

    sphere coupler,
    That reminds me of the operation of mindsets of (most) religious people and (some) atheists.

    As an atheist, I am called “amoral”, “foolish [Psalm: whatever the fuck]”, etc. Mostly indirectly of course, when people make sweeping generalizations of atheists.
    But when I was agnostic, I was simply called “pussy”.

    This is why I try to respect the views agnostics, and even moderately religious.

    And btw, most atheists are technically agnostic (see Dawkins’ 7 point scale).

  320. #321 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    Since it is becoming increasingly clear that cave formation is heavily mediated by communities of bacteria,…

    Presuming that you were talking about speliothem formation and not “cave” formation, then yes, this is absolutely an accurate statement.

    …things like stalactites could be seen as bacterial constructs whose ‘function’ is not only the immediate one of providing bacteria with a substrate for activity, but (when united as a column) stabilizing emerging cave environment. Fanciful, I know.

    I see what you mean here, but would you go so far as to think of that “function” as purpose…?

    Have a very Good Friday, Scott. See you back here on the other side.

  321. #322 Kausik Datta
    April 10, 2009

    @The Reverend

    The opposite of bacon is… [fanfare]

    ME!!!!

    They say opposites attract. Hell, yeah!

  322. #323 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Anyway, what I meant to say is that I don’t think Miller portrays himself as a deist

    Well, he doesn’t exactly present himself as a Catholic consistently, I don’t think. Evolution aside (and I don’t think his foundationless, even vaguely deistic, beliefs have any place in evidence/reason-based discourse), is Catholicism compatible with science?

    (can’t speak for heddle),

    He’s a Biblical inerrantist and physicist who refuses to be pinned down on his beliefs.

    Read PZ’s post earlier in this thread, where he affirms Miller’s sincerity…he (PZ) just think he’s mistaken.

    I have no doubt that he’s sincere in his Christianity. I do believe he’s dishonestly selective in his presentation of his beliefs to different audiences. If you’re a Catholic, you need to be clear about that upfront.

    ***

    Just saw your more recent response. Peace. Have a great weekend.

  323. #324 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    …if I were a geologist I imagine I’d find Max Ernst’s “Europe after the Rains II” just fascinating (artistically, not scientifically, mind you):

    I agree; I suspect you would…

  324. #325 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    p.s. I hate the Yankees.

    Oddly, I don’t at all. It’s a strange rivalry.

    I only see evil there

    Grr. :)

  325. #326 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    I was talking about creationists, not atheists.

    I believe you, but your comment was misdirected, as the dispute here is between atheist and theist evolutionists. The former believe that God could create through evolution, if God does or could exist, and the latter believe that God does create through evolution.

  326. #327 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    I agree; I suspect you would…

    Hey! I think it’s a cool fucking painting.

    But then I’m coming at this from the art side and it’s true it has zero scientific relevance or significance. Is there any artwork you’d find intereating from a geological perspective? (hmmmmm…thoughts abound…)

  327. #328 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    I see what you mean here, but would you go so far as to think of that “function” as purpose…?

    Right, like I said earlier she’s playing fast and loose with the definition of purpose.

  328. #329 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    Hey! I think it’s a cool fucking painting.

    *blink blink*
    *confused*

    I was agreeing with you… I thought it was badass.

    Is there any artwork you’d find intereating from a geological perspective? (hmmmmm…thoughts abound…)

    I’m going to ponder the various levels in that for a bit…

    To be serious for a second (shut up, AnthonyK–I heard that), I try very hard to turn it off when I look at art. It’s bloody hard. There’s a cool sculpture on the National Mall that looks like this weird sci-fi cross-section of the earth. It’s fucking cool from any angle, but I can’t stop actually trying to impose convection cells on the weird little boxes that make up the interior (*headdesk*).

    And knowing a bit about marble, it’s way hard not to have, I dunno, some “additional” appreciation for the talent that went into Greek sculptures (and for Gothic architecture in general).

    But generally, if I’m looking at art, I try to turn the rock side of my head off.

  329. #330 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Hmmm… I thought the opposite of Bacon was Sedgwick.
    *dives for cover*

  330. #331 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    Let me rephrase that: If it were shown that the universe simply could not have been created, that would falsify my belief.

    How generous of you.

  331. #332 nothing's sacred
    April 10, 2009

    And I guess likewise the IDiots can now tell us that ID is falsifiable because it would be falsified if it were shown that it simply couldn’t be correct. We are all indebted to Uerba for this brilliant extension of Popper’s work.

  332. #333 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    And I guess likewise the IDiots can now tell us that ID is falsifiable because it would be falsified if it were shown that it simply couldn’t be correct.

    Especially considering it doesn’t even really address her original assertion.

  333. #334 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    We are all indebted to Uerba for this brilliant extension of Popper’s work.

    Indeed. I guess we can presume that a cover article in Nature will be forthcoming?

  334. #335 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    *blink blink*
    *confused*

    I was agreeing with you… I thought it was badass.

    Sorry! I read it as “I suspect you would,” with the “you” as condescending and sarcastic. Hypersensitive? Me?. Nah.

    Hm. When I was studying this, one of my areas of interest was “museuming,” as it was known at the time. I had an idea for conceptual exhibits, like: “Time.” A few years later, I read that a museum in Paris was doing exactly that (which was cool – I’ll always have more ideas). But now that I think about it, especially after reading your posts for the past few weeks, there’s such an interesting connection between the deep history of the earth and the human history of using these materials for art. I don’t know that it’s been explored sufficiently…

  335. #336 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    Hypersensitive? Me?. Nah.

    Of course not. Never. Me either…

    But now that I think about it, especially after reading your posts for the past few weeks, there’s such an interesting connection between the deep history of the earth and the human history of using these materials for art. I don’t know that it’s been explored sufficiently…

    You might have hit on something here. The archaeologists might have beat earth materials/art to death (e.g., I know that pigments have been addressed in detail and I’ve read a little about the history of using clay), but maybe not too. This might be something we should talk about further.

  336. #337 Cath the Canberra Cook
    April 10, 2009

    But Rev, what *is* anti-bacon? You’re just rephrasing.

    Bacon is good, tasty, fat, salt & protein. So the opposite must be bad, tasteless, no-fat, no-salt, no-protein. Plain white sugar suggests itself, but not conclusively, especially since honey-cured bacon exists. Perhaps it’s nutrasweet?

  337. #338 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    But Rev, what *is* anti-bacon? You’re just rephrasing.

    no that wasn’t me that was Gmac.

    I’m curious as to what anti-bacon would be but I do agree that the the results of bringing the two together would be catastrophic…. or maybe ecstasy.

    Either the the time-bacon continuum would be in danger.

  338. #339 Sastra
    April 10, 2009

    I’m curious as to what anti-bacon would be but I do agree that the the results of bringing the two together would be catastrophic…. or maybe ecstasy.

    Rice cakes. Quaker brand Plain Rice Cakes. The anti-bacon.

    Putting bacon between two rice cakes is an art project, similar to Oppenheim’s Object

    http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A4416&page_number=1&template_id=1&sort_order=1

  339. #340 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    The archaeologists might have beat earth materials/art to death (e.g., I know that pigments have been addressed in detail and I’ve read a little about the history of using clay), but maybe not too. This might be something we should talk about further.

    Ay! Overwhelmed with ideas, both scholarly and artistic! This is what happens when you spend the aternoon at the symphony! Bartók over the line, sweet Jesus, Bartók over the line…

  340. #341 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Michio Kaku’s latest, Bacon of the Impossible, is quite illuminating.

  341. #342 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 10, 2009

    SC, that was unforgivable.

  342. #343 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    Ay! Overwhelmed with ideas, both scholarly and artistic! This is what happens when you spend the aternoon at the symphony!

    *grin*

    From that, I got an image of a single surge of inspiration exploding into a shower of light above your head and then falling around your shoulders in a cascade of dozens of individual ideas. Set to the faint memory of your afternoon’s soundtrack, of course. Perfect.

    Let’s absolutely continue this train of thought, either on or offline.

    Sadly, I suspect my brain has largely put out what creativity it has stored up for this Friday. It might be time to visit the pillow.

  343. #344 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2009

    ooof. After that this thread need more funk

  344. #345 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    SC, that was unforgivable.

    Which – Bartók or Kaku? Surely not Brewer and Shipley…? :)

  345. #346 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 10, 2009

    I am the music geek on this blog. What do you think?
    ‘raspberry’

  346. #347 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    The bacon; the funk.
    Can there be a connection?

  347. #348 'Tis Himself
    April 10, 2009

    Bartók over the line, sweet Jesus, Bartók over the line…

    I am so stealing this. Thanks, SC.

  348. #349 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 10, 2009

    One Bartók over the line.

  349. #350 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    Let’s absolutely continue this train of thought, either on or offline.

    Yes.

    Sadly, I suspect my brain has largely put out what creativity it has stored up for this Friday. It might be time to visit the pillow.

    Sweet dreams. I, in contrast, may be getting out my notebook (I’m a night person). You’ve been an inspiration, dude…

    :)

  350. #351 Josh
    April 10, 2009

    Awesome. I’ll try and catch up with you tomorrow. Or just send PZ an email and we can pick it up over email.

    You’ve been an inspiration, dude…

    Thanks. Some of the best news I’ve heard all week.

  351. #352 Kseniya
    April 10, 2009

    SC, how was the Mandarin?

  352. #353 SC, OM
    April 10, 2009

    SC, how was the Mandarin?

    Thanks for asking! You can’t even imagine. Awesome. Even visually awesome. The whole program was great, but that was my favorite. Dazzlingly, cinematically cool.

    MAJeff rocks. You should come to the next one!

  353. #354 Kseniya
    April 10, 2009

    I’d love to see the Mandarin, or Rite of Spring, actually performed as originally conceived – dramatized, danced. I realize that’s a bit much to hope for. The BSO doing the Mandarin at all – now that’s cooler than cool!

    Earlier today, I saw you mention that you were going to the Symphony, so I looked up the program. I left a comment on that thread, but I can’t remember which one it was now.

    I’ve had Bartok on my mind all week, because a week ago I picked up a CD of “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste” with “Concerto for Orchestra”. I was looking for a CD of my dad’s favorite vinyl version of “Music for…”, an Ozawa/BSO version on Deutchegrammophon from the ’70s, that had “Mandarin” on the B side. It’s out of print on CD, so I got this newer version (also Ozawa, with a different orchestra) but it has the Concerto, not the Mandarin. Oh well. The Concerto’s not too shabby. :-)

    I thought about getting the definitive Reiner/Chicago version of “Music for Strings…”, but I balked at getting a CD of something that was recorded in the 1950s, and the new Ozawa version got some glowing reviews, so I went for that. My dad loves it, but says the “Music for…” isn’t quite as good as the one he has on vinyl. LOL. Isn’t that always how it works? People get attached to certain performances, and nothing else, no matter how good, will be exactly “right”. It’s good, though, and I think the reviewer is right: the Concerto is phenomenal, and rivals the definitive version (also by Reiner and the Chicago Symphony).

    Anyway, I’m glad it was great, and that you had fun. :-)

  354. #355 Scott W
    April 10, 2009

    I’m not a big fan of Miller’s: Evolution as the process set in motion by a creator. It is similar to something Dobzhansky set out in his “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in Light of Evolution” paper.

    I DO believe it is disingenuous – Evolution hardly seems to need a ‘creator’ to set the process in motion, and indeed the world around me (ok.. us) seems to have no need, or evidence of a creator (ASIDE – why is this never plural ???).

    HOWEVER – I do think Ken Miller is EXTREMELY useful to us BECAUSE of this belief of his. It makes evolution a little more friendly to those who cling to faith, and allows them to open up their minds, consider evidence, learn, understand and appreciate the process.

    I am a secondary school Biology teacher – many of my students cling to the faiths of their parents, and evolution is a very difficult subject to get them to even consider. Miller’s views are a useful way of entering the subject.

    I liken this to a cold pool – you can jump right in and discard god(s) all together)=. OR, you can ease your way into the pool, going as you feel comfortable – rejecting the literal genesis, ‘guided’ evolution, etc whilst accepting Natural Selection, Evolution, but still hanging onto the ‘creator’.

    I doubt the transition of acceptance was ‘sudden’ for most people – rather more likely a graded slope into where many of us on here are now.

  355. #356 SC, OM
    April 11, 2009

    I’d love to see the Mandarin, or Rite of Spring, actually performed as originally conceived – dramatized, danced.

    I couldn’t be less of an expert (really, I’m ridiculously ignorant). I didn’t know till I read the program on the T on the way home that it was a ballet, but that made perfect sense. Man, that would be amazing to see.

    Anyway, I’m glad it was great, and that you had fun. :-)

    Thanks! Rush tickets – $9! And a beautiful day to boot!

  356. #357 Kseniya
    April 11, 2009

    Did the program contain a synopsis of the plot of “The Miraculous Mandarin”? It is rather profane, so much so that it was banned after its premiere in Cologne. The synopsis on Wikipedia is sanitized. As I understand the story, the Mandarin needs something a bit more carnal than “an embrace” before letting go of life. The trombone glissandi say it all. ;-)

    It’s all very rad. People thing of “classical” music as staid and safe, but here we have something as scandalous as the Mandarin, not to mention other pieces like “The Rite of Spring”, which caused a riot at its premiere.

    The “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste” is really amazing. It’s not as brazenly dramatic as “Mandarin”, but it’s a thing of formidable beauty. It’s dark, moody, and by turns writhing, sparkling, sweeping, ethereal… brilliant writing and orchestration. It’s organic. The whole thing grows like a tangled vine out of a simple, haunting theme of maybe twelve notes. It’s not even his masterpiece. The guy had it goin’ on. (My inner Ukrainian says: “Hungarians! Who knew?”)

    :-D

    If you enjoy cinematic ballet music, get your hands on a copy of Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe”. It’s magnificent. If you think Ravel’s masterworks were the “Bolero” and his orchestration of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”, you’re missing out on some great stuff. I also love his string quartet (he only wrote one, which is often paired on disc with the excellent Debussy quartet) and his solo piano compositions, which are typically both stunning and beautiful. “Gaspard de la nuit” and “Le tombeau de Couperin” come to mind. (Forgive spelling errors, the French titles are from memory…)

    Judging from your comments on the cognition blog you linked to, you might be interested in the work of Edgar Varese. Sorry, I can’t think of any titles offhand.

    I’m no expert, either, but I know a little bit about the relatively few things I’m well acquainted with. :-)

  357. #358 Sven DiMilo
    April 11, 2009
  358. #359 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    Rice cakes. Quaker brand Plain Rice Cakes. The anti-bacon.

    I’m not so sure, considering how similar they are to pork rinds.

  359. #360 GMacs
    April 11, 2009

    Rev,
    I’m sorry, I was tired last night. Then I suppose I just started theorizing about a theoretical theory of a possible (well, conceivable) opposite to bacon. I do not know what it is.
    Perhaps the universe created bacon and anti-bacon, then it kept the two separate. It does not want the two to come into contact, and so, we cannot think of what the anti-bacon is.
    See how that works when you turn “god” into “the universe”?
    Fuck! Curse you UERBAAAAAA!

  360. #361 SC, OM
    April 11, 2009

    Thanks for the recommendations!

    Did the program contain a synopsis of the plot of “The Miraculous Mandarin”? It is rather profane, so much so that it was banned after its premiere in Cologne. The synopsis on Wikipedia is sanitized. As I understand the story, the Mandarin needs something a bit more carnal than “an embrace” before letting go of life. The trombone glissandi say it all. ;-)

    Sorry – fell asleep. From the program:

    The tale is lurid and violent, set in a brothel bedroom. At the rise of the curtain, three ruffians enter with a girl. Finding no money in her flat, they order her to go to the window and attract a customer. Three times she lures men into the room; the first two have no money, and the ruffians unceremoniously throw them out. But finally a mysterious and exotic “mandarin” enters, a man whose face reveals no sign of emotion except for his burning eyes, which stare ceaselessly at the girl. She begins dancing for him, gradually dancing more and more sensuously. She falls into his lap and he embraces her, trembling with passion. Now frightened, she tries to elude him, and he pursues her. Just as the mandarin reaches the girl, the ruffians attack him and take his jewels and money. Then they decide to kill him. Three times they attack him in different ways. They smother him, but he will not die, and continues staring at the girl. They stab him; he does not fall or bleed. They hang him from the chandelier; it comes crashing down, and his body begins to glow with a greenish light. Finally the girl feels some pity for this strange man. She embraces him, and her act of compassion releases him from the longing that has driven him. His wounds begin to bleed, and he finally dies.

  361. #362 Kevin (NYC)
    April 11, 2009

    “Easy. The first is very obviously not true, and there’s a tremendous amount of evidence against it. The other is not entirely implausible … as is the case with Genesis”

    I don’t know if anyone covered this here but the problem is more subtle than just getting rid of the creation of the world myth. ITs the creation of the world and the downfall of man myth.

    Adam was lured into sin by Eve and God punished them in many ways.. death being one of them. This is the original sin.

    and that is why the christers say jesus came. to defeat death by washing away your original sin with his blood.

    Then you will defeat death and live forever.

    Without the Genisis story, Jesus could have stayed as GOD-sperm and never made Mary sleep in a barn.

  362. #363 Kseniya
    April 11, 2009

    Maybe I was wrong about the carnal angle.

    A few other corrections: It’s not a ballet at all: it’s a pantomime set to music, a silent movie for the stage. It is acted, not danced.

    Also, after reviewing notes on the recording, the trombone glissandi I mentioned happen before the Mandarin enters; it heralds the entrance of the first would-be seductee, a shabby old rake. (The second is a shy young man who also lacks any riches to pilfer.)

    The trombone figures are so very, very lurid at the rake’s entrance, in my mind I’d made them represent the Mandarin refusal to die, even after being run through with a sword. (But no, the music gets more eerie at that point, not more lurid, and even more so when the ruffians try to hang him and his body starts to glow…)

    Yup. Banned in Cologne immediately after the premiere, for moral reasons.

  363. #364 Kseniya
    April 11, 2009

    Michael Steinberg wrote the following in the notes to Deutsche Grammophon 2530-887, which was my first exposure to the piece:

    Bartók summarized Menyhért Lengyel’s story this way: “Three vagabonds force a beautiful girl to lure men into their den so that they can rob them. The first is a poor youth, the second is not better off, but the third is a wealthy Chinese. He is a good catch, and the girl entertains him by dancing. The Mandarin’s desire is aroused, he is inflamed with passion, but the girl shrinks from him in horror. The vagabonds attack him, smother him in a quilt, and run him through with a sword – but their violence is of no avail. They cannot cope with the Mandarin, who continues to look at the girl with love and longing in his eyes. Finally feminine intuition helps, and the girl satisfies the Mandarin’s desire. Only then does he collapse and die.”

    I must have supposed that if he did not die, and in fact did not so much as bleed even after being skewered, that his blood must have been busy elsewhere.

  364. #365 Josh
    April 18, 2009

    SC, we’ve not yet picked this conversation back up, but I did some quick looking around regarding the human history of using geological materials for art. I didn’t turn much up, except a lot about clay. Did you have any luck?

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