The Fort Sumter of Creationist Astronomy?

By Phil Plait | June 12, 2005 10:54 pm

Note added June 13, 2005: I will be busy over the next few days, and may not be able to update the blog during that time. Given the furor this latest entry has generated, I’m inclined to keep it up a while anyway!

I have been saying for years that creationists would soon be turning their attention to sciences other than biology. Evolution may tick off creationists (because it has the unfortunate aspect of undermining their pre-conceived beliefs on how the Universe should behave, rather than how it does behave), but to them, other fields of science can be even worse.

Well, a shot across the bow has been fired. Sure, they’ve made dumb claims about astronomy before, which are easily debunked (I also debunked these claims in my book). But I consider this one more serious because it comes from a group which is more organized, and which has already started a concerted attack on science.

Specifically, it comes from the critters at The Discovery Institute, an unfortunately influential group of anti-scientists, even though the very basis of their existence is wrong. They have made it clear that biology is merely the first call of creationism, and it won’t be the last. On their blog (which rarely comes within a glancing blow of reality), they have this to say:

From http://www.evolutionnews.org/, to which I refuse to hotlink

Although much of the public controversy over intelligent design has focused on the application of design to biology, it’s important to remember that design theory itself reaches well beyond biology, and that some of the strongest evidence for design comes from such fields as physics, astronomy, and cosmology.

Evolution rankles them because it contradicts the Bible which says God made man in his own image and describes specifically how God did it. But cosmology, the study of the Universe as a whole, is even worse for them, since it clearly contradicts the very first passages of that Bible. If you take the Bible literally, then you have to reject everything we understand about science, and vice-versa. Most Christians in the US do not take the Bible literally, but those who do are a very squeaky wheel indeed. A lot of legislators (like say, in Kansas) think that wheel should be oiled. To push the analogy further, I think the air should be let out of it.

Many people like to say that science and religion are compatible. I find that to be a monumentally naive statement. Perhaps science and some religions can be reconciled, but if your religion says that Jupiter is really made of pixie dust, or that the Earth is flat, or that 1+1 =3, then your religion is wrong. It’s really just that simple. The Universe knows what it’s doing, and the reality of it is what science seeks. If your religion cannot be reconciled with that reality, then your religion is wrong (and I would certainly say the same thing about any science which incorrectly describes reality). Perhaps not all religions contradict reality, but certainly creationism does, as does Intelligent Design.

The effect of this on young-Earth creationism is obvious. I will be very clear here: If people read a book and use it to interpret reality, and it contradicts the way the Universe works, then either that book or their interpretation of it is wrong. Again, it is really just that simple.

There is no room for debate with young-earth creationists like those at the Discovery Institute (who, despite their bluster, have made it very clear that’s who they really are). Their ideas are absolute, and there is no shade of grey. If you are a Christian, and not a fundamentalist literal-Bible Christian, then you should be aware that these creationists are not on your side. To them, you are just as wrong as Muslims, Jews, and atheists. They may paint scientists as evil atheists who want to steer your children from The One True Way, but remember that this is their “True Way”, and probably not yours. They have no problems distorting the truth, egregiously and often if it so suits them.

Young Earth creationists have let slip the dogmas of war. In the ensuing battles they will use a host of weapons, including misrepresenting facts, mining of quotes, belaboring outdated theories, and dancing around to avoid answering direct questions. Mark my words: their history is clear.

They may have fired the first shot, but we have plenty of ammo on our side as well. And we also have many, many scientists willing to accept this call to arms.

I’m one of them. Over the course of time, you’ll be seeing more rebuttals — no, debunking — of creationist claims here. I’ve had enough, and this threat is real. They want to turn our classrooms in a theocratically-controlled anti-science breeding ground, and I’m not going to sit by and watch it happen.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind
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Comments (227)

  1. Thomas Siefert

    Couldn’t agree more, clear thinking minds is the way of the future.

  2. Pluck

    I sometimes wonder if they really believe it them selves. Some of the bullpucky they come up with must require a fair bit or rational thought, yet result in such utter insanity. (The probe fixated alien abduction crowd have stronger arguments.)
    Are we seeing orwelian doublethink in action? Creationism is doubleplus good.

  3. Tensor

    Phil,
    It’s just not scientists who need to enter the fray, ordinary laymen need to get involved also. For instance, I write letters to the editor in our local paper refuting creationist claims whenever possible (were limited to two published letters a month). I attend school board meetings when creationism is on the agenda. And continually point people to your site, Randi’s site, and talk origins among others. While those creationsist may be the squeaky wheel, enough people fighting their misinformation with facts will be the “oil” that gets rid of the squeak.

  4. Ah, the irony. From your Google Ads:

    “New Discoveries
    Prove Everything On Earth Is Intelligently Designed”

    Sorry, you can’t prove anything without at least a basis in logic. So, at a minimum, you can’t accept as your fundamental axioms statements that are either immediately and obviously false or supported by an infinite recursion of “the Great Mojo Jojo willed it to be so!”

    One debate technique that sometimes works with people who might someday open their eyes is the endless “Why?” Ala, “Why is the sky blue?” “Because Mojo Jojo willed it to be so!” “Why?”

    Another is the “What if you’re wrong?” question: if science finds that a fundamental theory is false or incomplete, we’ve all learned something and can use that experimental result to develop a broader understanding. A result that contradicts any purely literal unyielding framework SHATTERS the entire chain of half-truths and poor reasoning.

    My own attempts to write about this sort of thing: http://racross.blogspot.com/2005/06/science-requires-math-blind-belief-is.html

    I do tend to forget that there are people who use this “debate” purely for their own political gain. “This issue really pulls in the ratings! Let’s make some politcal hay!”

  5. Excellent entry! =D> =D>

    I’m going to show it to my friend who thinks that atheism is evil, I was so sick of it, I just said “FINE! you’ve just made me an atheist” as I was sick of rebutting his claims, so much so I was driven away from religion.

  6. Give ’em hell, Phil!

    They see it as a war. I think rational human beings, which constitute the vast majority of people, should fight back as thought it were one. The prize is our kids, and I can’t think of a better reason to do battle. They are counting on obfuscation, vagueness and general public apathy to gain power. Our weapons are vast amounts of scientific evidence, the huge majority of people who believe in science, and most importantly, the harsh spotlight of the light of day. Creationists and anti-scientists count on doing their work in small niches and dark corners. No more. It’s time to give them a rude shove into the blaring spotlight to be exposed for the fallacy they are.

    It’s time to embarrass them. It seems that fundamentalists hate to be embarrassed more than anything – they see it as the ultimate defeat. It can also work in our favor on the other end of the spectrum. Embarrassment was the ONLY reason Kansas changed course after they first de-emphasized evolution in science standards in 1999. Important Kansans were suddenly embarrassed to the outside world, and they took swift action to restore their reputation.

    We can win this – only if each and every one of us stands up for what we believe. No more sitting on the sidelines.

  7. Chet Twarog

    I’m not quite sure how we’ll ever be able to educate them. It is quite obvious they don’t want to be. And, they (and, President Bush) are attempting to bankrupt the system along with the Department of Education, i.e., the public school system with the “No Child Left Behind” unfunded mandates.
    First, however, I’d wish that all of those different fundatmentalistic creationistic groups (Islamic, Christian, Hebrew, etc) would first decide on
    a “cohesive”. logical (boy, that’s tough), cosmology, be totally honest as to who they are (the ID guy is a “god”), their agenda, and then provide the extra-“holy book” evidence for their cooperative “vision”. I mean, without a religious war.
    Isn’t it interesting how the Old Testament “Genesis” is a Hebrew cultural/tradition taken literally by modern “creationists”. Have any of them actually drawn the world as described in the Old Testament?
    Interestingly, I just started reading a book by David Park: “The Grand Contraption–The World as Myth, Number, and Chance”, Princeton University Press, 2005.
    Of course, there’s Arthur N. Strahler’s “Science and Earth History–The Evolution/Creation Controversy”, Prometheus Books. This is a very good read and educational tool as it explores both very well.
    And, please, Atheist is A-theist.

  8. Jonah Cohen

    You know… is it about time we raised the profile of one Trofim Lysenko?

    IIRC, here’s the lowdown on this nitwit. He was a Soviet biologist (~1950’s? 60’s?) who advanced a highly mistaken version of genetics and evolution. While his ideas were easily proven as incorrect by scientific evidence, he advanced them because (in a way that doesn’t make sense to me, but apparently did to Stalin!) they were consistent with Marxist doctrine. So while he didn’t have science on his side, Lysenko did have political influence. And in the USSR of the time that meant a lot worse than just snuffing out the >ideas

  9. Jonah Cohen

    (hmmm… I seem to have cut off part of that post…)

    As I was saying. Just as Lysenko devastated Soviet agriculture and biological research in the name of appeasing the political zeitgeist, today America has the religious right. They may not have evidence on their side, but they have political power. And so, science – in policy and education – the cornerstone of our economy, our national security, our health – is in jeopardy. All because America may lack the guts to stand up to the whacko notions of some fundamentalist religious nuts. Somewhere in Hell, Lysenko is smiling.

  10. Bravo, Phil! Well said. It seems that the IDots are striving more and more these days to get their ludicrous message into the schools. Unfortunately folk like (shudder) Governor Rick Perry of Texas are all too willing to help them. Keep up the good fight!

  11. Part of the message that is sometimes missing is that there IS a place for religious (but not fanatic) people to stand on the correct side of the “debate” and that is on appropriate use of curriculum funds, especially as it involves federal money for public schools.

    Science class is for science. No philosophy, no religion, no stories that can’t be backed up with some sort of experimental result.

    Philosophy class is sometimes an appropriate place for comparative religion discussions. These are sources for the origins of certain ethical systems, history, literature, etc.

    Focused religion discussions already have their own tacitly federally-supported forum: Sunday School (or the religion-specific equivalent). Churches of many flavors enjoy a variety of tax breaks. If you feel that it’s critical for your children to believe that trees were created from the eyelashes of Mojo Jojo, there’s already a place to have that discussion. If you feel that other children would benefit from the discussion, invite them along (with parent’s permission, of course).

    So, maybe what public schools need is an active philosophy department where all of these bodies of literature are open for critical discussion. At a bare minimum, it would reduce the pollution of science classes. It might even open closed-minded people (of all flavors) just a crack.

  12. Kevin Nyberg

    Welcome to the war, and my sympathies go out in advance for what you will discover. You’ll find yourself missing the assembled menagerie of woo-woos you’ve grown to love/hate. ID is well-funded, has significant governmental connections, and panders to any number of groups/individuals whose agendas are truly frightening (Hint: examine the connections between California billionaire Howard Ahmanson and the Discovery Institute). But, waiting in the wings is the whole wacky cast, licking their chops at the prospect that their pet controversies will gain exposure as creationists force public schools to ‘teach the controversy.’ –kdn in Kansas

  13. “But cosmology, the study of the Universe as a whole, is even worse for them, since it clearly contradicts the very first passages of that Bible.”

    No, I doesn’t. It contradicts only the YEC view.

    Keep in mind when you argue against cosmological ID, you will be on the same side as the YECs.

    Three groups that I know are opposed to cosmological ID: YEC and the likes of Ken Hovind, the Panda’s Thumb crowd, and the Ayn Rand Institute.

  14. Welcome to most frustrating hobby you could have chosen to pick up Phil. Fighting this sort of ignorance takes an amazing amount of patience that many of us who have been doing it for a while have unfortunately lost.

  15. Bishop Usher

    It’s too bad that we can’t accept the fact that we were designed. I guess it’s psychological. It is fairly easy to prove that evolution is a fairy tale. Much, much more difficult to get anyone to admit it.

  16. Tom Ames

    David Heddle makes the odd suggestion that just because YECs oppose cosmological ID

  17. Pluck

    Yes, evolution is a fairy tale, and the reason race horse sperm is more expansive than your house is because those horse breeding guys believe in magic.

  18. Tom Ames

    David Heddle makes the odd suggestion that because YECs oppose cosmological ID scientists should take that as a reason to support it.

    YECs oppose cosmological ID because it violates their interpretation of the bible. Scientists oppose it because it has no empirical content.

    Get it?

  19. aiabx

    It’s too bad I can’t accept the fact that Santa Claus exists. Then I could get a new Porsche for Christmas!
    And there’s a hell of a lot more evidence for Santa Claus than there is for ID.
    -Andy B

  20. Another Phobos

    Excellent blog entry, Phil. Glad to hear you’re defending the heavens (excuse the pun). Isn’t it funny how some people consider science a “fairy tale” and yet see the stories of the Old Testament as literal truth?

  21. Kevin Nyberg

    http://www.kcfs.org/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=forum&f=3 is a bb in KS which has been a front line in the Kansas Theater of Operations so far, even attracting a fair amount of flaming from prominent ID partisans (some of whom apparently operate behind the scenes). For PX fans, there’s even a thread entitled, “Adam, The Missing Link.” –kdn in Kansas

  22. “Teach the controversy” is just doublespeak for “Create a monopoly” (i.e. for creationism). Have a look here for the top ten signs someone is trying to underhandedly eliminate any theory that competes with creationism, as opposed to engaging in a legitimate scientific inquiry into intelligent design.

  23. “It’s too bad that we can’t accept the fact that we were designed. I guess it’s psychological. It is fairly easy to prove that evolution is a fairy tale.”

    While this was clearly a trolling statement (the effective equivalent of “you guys suck!”), this is a good example of a place where an eye for logical fallacies can help disarm a content-free poster. Here are some that I think I can recognize in these three sentences.

    Prejudicial Language: http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/pl.php
    Anonymous Authorities: http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/anon.php
    Begging the Question: http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/begging.php

    and, of course,

    Non-Support: http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/nonsup.php

    “It is fairly easy to prove…” Okay, then, proceed!

  24. josh brown

    David Heddle claims that cosmology does not contradict the opening passages of the Bible, but only the YEC interpretation. This is plainly false.

    I don’t have a Bible in front of me, so I can’t quote directly. But the rough account of creation is as follows.

    In the beginning [that part I do remember!] there are three things in the universe: water, God, and a wind from God. (Interesting point of literalist theology: God didn’t create the water–it was there at the start.) God then parts the waters by creating land and the dome of heaven. So now we have earth, covered by the dome of heaven, and surround by water *all* around–not just left, right, in front and behind, but above and below, too. God then populates the land, sets the sun in the sky, etc.

    Leave aside that current cosmology provides a different account of the origin of the sun. I don’t know of any cosmological theory according to which the earth is bobbing along under water.

  25. Loren Petrich

    Strictly speaking, some of these creationists, I mean “Intelligent Design” guys, appear to be old earthers, in the fashion of Hugh Ross with his “Reasons to Believe” ministry. However, in public, the Discovery Institute guys are cagey about the age of the Earth, wanting both the support of young-earthers and the ability to deny that they are young-earthers.

  26. Pluck

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis;&version=31;

    The story of creation in the Bible is interesting in that it looks like a metaphorical description of the Tao, which basically states that all of existence is driven by the tension between yin and yang, which is ultimately Allness and Nothingness.
    Seen through a philosophers eyes, the Bible states that the universe was created through making divisions. Making black and white out of grey. Like space and matter coalescing out of plasma.
    Whoever wrote that down, I bet that was what they were trying to say. That reality is built on contrast.

  27. Patrick

    Good luck Phil. I’ve had it with christians and their intelligent design/creationism blah blah blah junk for a long time. If they want to believe that stuff in their churches and bedrooms, fine. I dont’ have to listen to it, but it’s becoming much more public and they are getting it out there so easily(for example: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:S.520:). It’s exhaustive trying to argue with them. It’s really not possible. They aren’t willing to open themselves to the fact that they might be wrong. Hard to debate someone in that mindset. They also have ton of money on their side. On the other hand, the more stuff out there showing how stupid and wrong they really are, the better. The threat is very real and so far they are winning the PR battle…That can be changed though…

    Patrick

  28. Jesus Christ, Heddle spams his unfunny, moronic brand of ‘humor’ *here*, too? Is there no sanctuary from his crap anywhere?

  29. Andrew exclaims “Jesus Christ, …” reminding me of one of the many many funny Terry Pratchett quotes. From Men At Arms,

    When you hit your thumb with an 8 pound hammer, its nice to be able to blaspheme. It takes a very strong, special minded atheist to jump up and down, with their their hand clasped under their other armpit and shout “Oh random fluctuations in the space time continuum!”

  30. Jeff Chamberlain

    Yay! (And “let slip the dogmas of war” is perfect.)

  31. Great post. I’ve been beating up on intelligent design on my site for a while now. I quoted you and linked you in a new post of mine – hope you don’t mind.

  32. Jeff S

    Great to hear about your site. I’m a physicist, but have been lurking/posting to http://www.pandasthumb.org of late. I’m sure you are pretty up on the dirty side of creationism, but since many connecting to this site might be kinda new, I thought I’d offer some pearls of wisdom. ahem.

    1) Arguing content doesn’t matter much. The response to Kansas was ingenius and effective — arguing about the content only gives them evidence that they are a valid “scientific” movement. Better to focus on the motives, techniques, and vacuity of the movement.

    2) This truly *is* a sinister movement. The “Discovery” Institute is supported by Howard Ahmanson, who embodies everything the Taliban ever held dear. But one evil millionaire kook isn’t much of a threat. There is a very large (tens of millions) number of Americans who are part of a movement called “Dominionism”, or “Reconstructionism”, who literally believe that it is a “good” christian’s duty (note : only “good” chistians need apply) to take over and effectively dismantle *all* secular instututions in America, then the rest of the world. This is to prepare for the second coming. They believe this in a *very* literal way, and they have been working steadily and effectively towards this end. One small tentacle of this strategy is to dismantle public education, or at least purge it of anything that smacks of “materialism” (i.e., goes againt their twisted view of christianity). So it is important not to let them divert your attention just to the details of one silly little piece of their drivel — they really don’t care if its “good sciene” or not — but keep in mind the larger view of who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish. A great place to learn more is theocracywatch.org, or just google “Dominionism”.

    3) It’s very important to remember who is *not* the enemy here. Most christians are good and kind people who really do strive to live according to the best principles of their religion. And likewise, people from all sorts of backgrounds have beliefs about the world that do not strictly match a rationalistic scientific world view. As scientists, it shouldn’t be our goal to shove a scientific outlook down their throats, no matter how “right” we feel we are. The real enemy here is those whose religious extremism fuels a stealthy, dishonest and sinister effort to sway public opinion against (science, democracy,tolerance,intelligence,…) to further their grab on power.

    4) Given that we know who the enemy is (2) and is not (3), we should always frame our discussions, debates, letters, postings, etc. in this light. We should avoid any actions that a) reinforce the claims of creationists that they are legitimate scientists, or b) lend any credence to their patheic claims that they are persecuted for their beliefs as christians (wow, that’s a biggie !), or c) tend to offend people whose beliefs do *not* spur them into evil lunacy.

    5) In communicating about the issue, keep the message simple : “Scientists do *not* disagree with creationism because of a preference for a different theory, they disagree with creationism because it is *not* in any respect valid science.”

    Dang, seems like I been a-stewing on this just a little, don’t it ?

  33. CarlosF

    Beware of the attacks coming from Creationism. We must stand against its influence in our life. There is a concerted attack from different sources to erode the scientific and critical thinking. Sometimes, I wonder if we are on the verge of a new Middle Age era, full of darkness. Science should be our gospel.

  34. Jeff S

    David Heddle said :

    “ID is no more synonymous with the Discovery Institute than evolution is with “Panda’s Thumbâ€?. ”

    Well, if he said it, it must be true…. But wait !!! Maybe we could actually *think* about this statement for a moment, and try to *see* if it makes any sense ! Maybe someone could do a google search and come up with a list of the “bright lights” of Intelligent Design theory. It shouldn’t be hard : there’s what, 4 or 5 of them ? (But that was at last count; I hear its a “growing number.”) And someone else could go the the web page of the “Discovery” Institute and get a list of it’s “Fellows” (i.e, people who take money from Howard Ahmanson to advance his agenda). I wonder what we might find …..

    In all fairness, we should probably do the same for evolution vis a vis the Panda’s Thumb. But then again, they don’t have an evil psycho millionaire handing out cash to phony scientists. And since tens of thousands of competent scientists have been submitting work in support of evolution to reputable scientific journals for public scrutiny for a century and a half or so, it would be quite a task to produce an inclusive list…..

  35. David Heddle said:

    “Keep in mind when you argue against cosmological ID, you will be on the same side as the YECs.”

    Wow, you’re right! And since Hitler liked chocolate chip cookies, and I like chocolate chip cookies, I must be a Nazi!

    Nice try at logic there, Mr. Heddle, but like everything I have seen that you’ve written, it’s fatally flawed.

    And I have Hugh Ross’s book book about the Day/Age apology, and it’s some of the silliest backpeddling I have yet seen from creationists. He wants to stand in the middle ground between religion and science, where there is not enough faith to justify religion, and not enough facts (none, really) to justify science. His ideas are worse than straight creationism; he’s arguing about angels dancing on the head of a pin. I’ll write up something about it someday.

  36. Irishman

    Jeff S., as a concept, ID is broader than any one organization. It may be true that the major proponents and most vocal publicizers of that strategy are pooling their resources in the Discovery Institute, but that does not mean the Discovery Institute holds the intellectual property rights to ID. After all, William Paley is one of the charter members of ID (back before it was called ID), and he surely isn’t a member of the Discovery Institute (being dead).

    This is really a pointless thing to argue over, anyway, because the original comment was from Loren Petrich, who referred to both “Intelligent Design” guys and Discovery Institute guys. I don’t think it a given that he intended to imply the two were identical. It seems to me he refers to IDers in general, and Discovery Institute in particular. Heddle apparently found the statement more ambiguous and interpreted it differently.

  37. josh brown

    David Heddle:

    All of the following quotations are from the NRSV translation.

    “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1.1-2).

    “And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky” (Genesis 1.6-8).

    “And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas” (Genesis 1.9-10).

    “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth” (Genesis 1.14-17).

    I fail to see how I mis-remembered or mis-represented the biblical account of creation.

    In my post I pointed out two aspects of these passages that are contradicted by contemporary cosmology: the origin of the sun and the claim that there is water above “the dome of the sky.” I could have added more; for example, according to the biblical account (even on the “day-age” interpretation) the earth and life on it pre-dated the sun.

    I didn’t, as you suggest, raise the point that Genesis and cosmology posit entirely different time-scales on which all of these events happen. I didn’t do so precisely because of the “day-age” interpretation.

    I must say, though, that this is getting perilously close to substituting a metaphorical reading of Genesis for a literal reading. And of course, if we allow ourselves enough leeway in constructing metaphorical interpretations, Genesis can be made out to be consistent with *any* set of statements. Indeed, it seems that the motivation for the “day-age” interpretation and other metaphorical interpretations of Genesis is precisely the fact that, taken at face value, the creation account in Genesis *is* contradicted by our best scientific evidence.

    Lastly, you misinterpreted my point. I didn’t assert that the creation account in Genesis was plainly false. What is plainly false is *your* claim that modern cosmology does not contradict Genesis but only young earth creationism. Please do read this post more carefully than you read the last.

  38. Gillian

    to me, the most intensely frustrating thing about those who believe in ID or YEC or any other non-scientific description of the origins of the world is that they give other religious people a bad name in certain circles.

    just as an example:

    the Catholic Church (to which I no longer belong, but my mother does) has accepted evolution over a literal interpretation of the Bible for over 50 years. sure, that’s a major chunk of time shorter than evolution as a theory has existed, but given how long it took them to pardon Galileo, not bad, right?

    alternately, I’m a devout Pagan. have been for years. I believe in a Goddess, but the preponderance of evidence is with science–and that’s fine. I can believe in Her and accept science as the way the world works without damaging either mindset. how small is the God of the YECs that they must understand everything He does?

  39. JPax2003

    Well, if they “let slip the dogmas of war” then we can assume the dogma, or axiom, that says the first casualty of war is the truth. This may work for their side but should not for your side. Some have suggested here that the battle should not be against ID or YEC ideas but should be against their tactics in attempting to manipulate society. However, this would tend to lead away from an affirmative defense of science into a negative attack against religion. As one of your previous blog entries mentioned the psychological impact of framing and lead you to call your opponents “anti-science”, so may your opponents pick up the opposite and call you “anti-religion.”

    From your blog it seems clear that you are trying to avoid indicting all faithful people as being anti-science, yet sometimes it is less than clear. Saying that the statement “religion and science are compatible” is naive is one of those less than clear remarks. There are theologies that claim that a literal reading of Genesis does not support YEC. For some who are both faithful and scientific-minded evolution and physics are the mechanisms of creation. How do you debunk that? Would you debunk that? Why?

    If I were you, I would avoid using the term “literal interpretation” as it is framed by YECs. Call it the the YEC interpretation (or misinterpretation) so as to remove their assumed authority over biblical literacy. If you grant them that authority then you’ve granted them half their argument already. It’ll take twice as much time and effort to debate them on their home turf (base assumptions), but anything less is a half-fast job.

  40. Pfluch

    I have considred becomming a pagan. It makes alot more sense than christianity.

    Take Pan for example. God of pretty scenery and naked women, plus, bad ass flute player. Praying to him could pay off bigtime. Or Dionysos, ruler of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

    Some of them pagan gods know what makes for good clean fun. Can you say the same for Jehova?

  41. hale_bopp

    Cheers, Phil. I am long time foot soldier as well, writing letters to the editor of the paper, going to school board meetings, and, in return, receiving annonymous religious tracts in the mail pointing out how misguided I am.

    In college, my friends and I used to say, “We don’t care if you are a ________ as long as you keep it in the bedroom”, making fun of the attitude people took toward gays and lesbians (and some still take toward gays and lebians).

    So, I don’t mind if you are a YEC or ID as LONG AS YOU KEEP IN THE BEDROOM!

    Rob

  42. Thomas Siefert

    Gee… Phil, this is going to outgrow your server space….

  43. BA,

    Welcome to the war! You’ll need a weapon. I believe the other side are using swords or lances or whatever. You get a razor. Don’t worry, it’s a good razor – it’s Occam’s Razor.

    Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that the young earth movement have expressed their true goals. Kurt Wise was interviewed by Harper’s back in 1996. He said (and i quote)

    “First we’ll have to develop an epistemology – a philosophy of knowledge – that will tell us how to to look at teh scriptual and physical world data. We will need a philosophy of science and a philosophy of philosophy. Then each field of science will be examined in that new light – a new geology, a new paleontology, a new cosmology, a new archaeology, and a new history of the origin of language, culture and history.”
    Nov 1996 (vol 293, no. 1758) Harper’s Magazine p 58.

    The entire article is fascinating, if stomach turning, reading. Dr. Wise graduated with a degree in geology from Chicago and a PhD from Harvard. So much for those student loans going to a good cause. I keep the magazine around the house to remind me that we are still closer to the middle ages than the future.

    John

  44. Michelle Rochon

    God Existence’s is something I used to wonder, like anyone do at a point of their life. Thus I have been thinking for a while on the said subject, and I have reached a conclusion, my own conclusion (For now! always open for proofs.)… Thus my mind is clear:

    If the G-Man Who Art in Heaven wanted me to worship him, he would’ve made a better job and made SURE I wouldn’t have been stuck to do my forementioned wonder. The Bible would be Rock-Hard proofs of facts and not “This guy said that”. That said, I must admit that if the author, or Author, was still on Earth to sell the thing, he’d be a billionaire.

    But MY problem is when someone comes into my life and disturbs me with his religion. I have made my choice, don’t try to change it! It’s a matter of PERSONAL BELIEF! My spiritual quest has been settled to a thought that I need BETTER PROOFS to begin any worship. I don’t tell you “What IF nothing happens when you die?”, so don’t tell me “YOU SPREAD LIES! YOU BELIEVE IN SCIENCE! YOU DON’T FOLLOW THE BOOK! YOU WILL GO TO HELL!”. (“Fine with me if I do, at least I won’t be stuck in Heaven with you” is the mean reply I give them when they pull this on me.)

    I have a lot of problems with “Down right to the book” churchies. It seems to drive the people extremely mad, mad enough to wish to exterminate whatever goes against their religion, to cut away their freedom… even when their religion tells them to be loving and all-forgiving.

    I would like to quote Carl Sagan’s “Contact” book if you do not mind…

    “Look at how clearly authentic the Message is. It’s being picked up all over the world. Radio telescopes are humming away in countries with different histories, different languages, different politics, different religions. Everybody’s getting the same kind of data from the same place in the sky, at the same frequencies with the same polarization modulation. The Muslims, the Hindus, the Christians, and the atheists are all getting the same message. Any skeptic can hook up a radio telescope – it doesn’t have to be very big – and get the identical data.”
    “You’re not suggesting that your radio message IS from God,” Rankin offered.
    “Not at all. Just that the civilization on Vega – with powers infinitely less than what you attribute to your God – was able to make things very clear. If your God wanted to talk to us through the unlikely means of word-of-mouth transmission and ancient writings over thousands of years, he could have done it so there was no room left for debate about his existence.”

  45. Dominic Copeland

    Nice article Phil, keep fighting the good fight with your astronomy know how 😛

  46. DaveScot

    Wow Phil! EXCELLENT hissy fit!

    Here’s the scoop, pal. This isn’t about science anymore. It’s about politics. Scientists are outnumbered at least 100 to 1 by non-scientists. Your opinion now means as much as your vote. Scientists still get one vote each just like morons that didn’t graduate high school last time I checked. I look forward to reading your comments as you come to grips with the political facts of life. Get madder. I love it. :-)

  47. DaveScot

    Oh by the way. Don’t bother with the YEC crowd. Your fight is with the IDers that accept common descent from a unversal common ancestor some several billions of years ago. Read the statement “Dissent from Darwinism” that was signed by 400 brave scientists willing to risk ostracism from chance worshippers like you to simply say “We the undersigned scientists are skeptical of the ability of random mutation plus natural selection to explain the diversity of life.”

    That’s what you gotta fight. That’s where the stake is driven in the ground. Let me know which part of “skeptical of random mutation + natural selection” you don’t understand. It seems few of you chance worshipping Darwin apologists have understood it yet. Or maybe you understand but you know you can’t fight that so you’re cherry picking – going after the low hanging fruit represented by the YEC crowd? Hey, be my guest. I think they’re a little off the deep end myself. Unfortunately for you it’s people like Mike Behe who’re the real threat. The YECers are just hangers on.

  48. Graham

    I have been expecting this move ever since I heard a Christian Radio station (at my local Net Cafe!) announce a talk on ‘evolution’ but then describe the contents as being Cosmological (eg the Big Bang).

    I would like to suggest that you start with the [url=http://tinyurl.com/c8x88]Setterfield Hypothesis[/url], this is a Creationist claim that originated in Australia, it states that the speed of light was infinite and then declined to its current value from the moment of Original Sin!?!

    The whole argument is based upon selective quoting of speed of light measurements starting from the original measurment back in the 1600’s

  49. DaveScot

    Well, at least you guys won one battle today – Micheal Jackson was acquitted on all charges. Please remember to have a designated drivers at your places of revelry tonight.

  50. DaveScot

    No serious IDers are coming within miles of biblical creation science. That’s a straw man. It’s your only hope too. Good luck with that one.

  51. Slarty Bartfast

    I’m pleased to see that you, Phil, have weighed in on the question–or, is there really a question?–of science vs. creationism. As a Christian (who also minored in Physics), I’ve always thought that the writer of Genesis was on a “need-to-know” basis with God. How important were the facts of the origin of the universe and of our species when the goal, at the time, was to establish the idea of a single God (i.e. monotheism vs. polytheism) who was truly interested in our wellbeing? It’s a shame to be so dedicated to a literal interpretation of the opening prose–some of the most sublime in the English language–that we miss the rest of the Bible’s message of God’s love for us.

  52. MattusMaximus

    Good post Phil, and good comments everyone. I’m very happy to see this thread so active – it really speaks to how important this issue really is. Some points…

    1. Keep an eye on your local papers, state legislatures, and school boards. One of the common tactic of the creationists is to sneak stuff past an unsuspecting public. And if you see a goofy creationist letter in your local paper, respond!

    2. Don’t argue logic or this-or-that specific point. Most folks will get lost in the details. My favorite tactic is to point out why ID-creationism is NOT science, and then to issue a challenge. Something along the lines of…

    “Through evolutionary biology, we cured polio and a host of other diseases. When was the last time a creationist used their ideas to come up with a cure or treatment for any disease?”

    I really like this particular line of argument because it is pragmatic; it shows the practical, everyday benefit of teaching evolution. By making this connection, we build our case among the public – stating that progress in the fight against cancer or HIV/AIDS is entirely due to the underpinnings of evolutionary biology is a very strong argument indeed.

    Another of my favorite arguments…

    “Often, creationists like Slater and Behe state that by not allowing the
    teaching of intelligent design in science classes, students aren’t presented
    a “balanced” view. By those same arguments, we should give just as much time in science classes to teaching our students that there are only four elements (earth, air, fire, water) in nature, as opposed to the Periodic
    Table of the Elements. How about that the Sun orbits the Earth? Hey, it’s
    only fair to include all of these other views, right?”

    That one just gets people thinking… :)

    3. Organize with like-minded folks in your area/state. I’m on a listserv that addresses the evolution issue directly, and I make sure that the science faculty at my school are kept up to date on the matter. You may actually already have an organization in your state that deal with this, such as in Kansas.

    In addition, even if there’s no group in your state, I strongly recommend becoming a member of the National Center for Science Education, a nationwide organization that specializes in this topic. Check them out at…

    http://www.natcenscied.org

    NCSE has been very active in the past year, and they have a lot of work ahead of them. Please give them your support.

    4. Don’t alienate religious folks who are not fundamentalists. Many people who buy the ID stuff are just ignorant and can be won over, but not if you dismiss them as idiots. Seek out allies who are religious, as they deflate the creationists’ claims that you can’t accept evolution and believe in a god or gods.

    5. Take a deep breath – it’s going to be a long fight, but one we can win.

    Cheers – Mattus

  53. An example of a rational person of faith: “The Skeptical Deist?” By Hal Bidlack, Ph.D. http://www.randi.org/jr/050903.html

    Nowhere in his post does he pretend that false = true, that contradictory evidence is somehow trumped by Divine Deceit. He also has gentle criticism for reactionary atheists.

  54. Jalbert

    The more you click on the “intelligent design” google ads, the more those knuckleheads are out of pocket.

  55. We should win this one, reality is hard to argue against in the long run.
    But, only if people show up when needed to fight the good fight,
    Science can still lose if we’re all apathetic until it is too late.

  56. Unsympathetic reader

    About HIV/AIDS:
    Take note of the large number of HIV-causes-AIDS “dissenters” among the ID crowd (Phil Johnson, take a bow!). Most recently, an ID sponsored online “magazine” promoted a series by yet another quack who asks us to “rethink AIDS”.

  57. Karnalis

    What if it turns out that the Bible was just an ancient gamer’s manual, and Jesus was just somebody’s D&D character?

    Anyway, I’m glad to see that you’re stepping up to the plate on this one. Sometimes, I wish I had the kind of voice and recognition you currently have so I could tackle such antiscience nonsense as well, but I’ve got my work cut out for me before I ever reach that point. Still, I do my best, and at least I’ve got a good bad astronomer to look to for inspiration! 😉

  58. I live up the street from JPL. They recently had their “once a year Open House” and there were some grumbles about budget cuts and all….

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/santabarbarian/sets/344622/

    wonder what they would say about this new “wrinkle”

  59. Mike

    As a Science Student (Physics and math) who is also a christian, What I find really annoying is that these people don’t even know their bibles beyond the cliff-notes. Many passages aren’t even internally consistent, and make little sense in a literal reading. Several key stories are told multiple times with conflicting details. For example, One account of Noah’s Ark says they had 2 of every animal while another they had 7 of the clean and 2 of the unclean. Moreover, the two accounts of creation don’t correspond with each other. In the first account plants were created on the 3rd day, 3 days before man. In the second man was made first. There are many of these inconsistencies that were included to indicate that a particular story was not necessarily to be taken accurate and complete depictions of real events. Instead they are meant to depict deeper truths of the event. A belief in God in the Bible should not mean abandoning reason. The same God who created the world gave us that ability to reason.

    If people chose to have beliefs that contradict observed reality, that is their right. They should not be allowed to call teach their beliefs as science. They should also understand their beliefs lack any logical sense.

  60. Michael Hopkins

    BA,

    The Discovery Institute is not a YEC organization though a few of their people are YECs. A good number of their people do support a 4.5 billion year old earth. The DI is guilty of not being willing to condemn the young-earthers though. And I think that they should have that shoved into their face aften and hard. Until the DI is willing to condemn young-earthism in no uncertain terms, the DI has not credibility as an organization interested in truth. And as someone else pointed out they are HIV deniers which is another thing which we should never cease to point out. In this respect they are even more backwards than the YEC organizations like ICR, AiG, and CRS since those groups do accept that HIV causes AIDS.

    DaveScot,

    The Michael Jackson bit is really low. You should be ashamed. I guess you have nothing of substance do you?

    You cite the following statement signed by 400 “brave” “scientists”:

    “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

    Without exception, every single genuine evolutionary biologist in the world could sign that statement in good faith if they were so stupid not to realize the anti-science agenda of those distributing the statement. A big hint: evolutionary biologists do recognize things besides mutation and natural selection had a role in the history of life. Every last one of those “scientists” either did not know squat about evolution or was being dishonest. It is as simple as that. And do note that the DI list is light on biologists. And of course, there are easily more people named Steve who signed a powerful statement than the DI got of people of any name to sign their rather vague antievolutionary statement.

  61. George Sime

    Sickem Phil GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!

  62. niZmO_Man

    kick their asses Phil!

    i think all rational thinking people should rally behind your cause and set these people straight

  63. Pietro

    Beware Phil,

    You have started an avalanche. “Friends” with radical ideas may try to take advantage.

  64. Made me stand up and scream “BRAVO!”

  65. DaveScot

    HIV – does it or does it not cause AIDS.

    It probably causes AIDS in the same manner that burning jet fuel caused the World Trade Center to collapse. Technically, quite likely IMO although I don’t care enough about AIDS to dig into the merits of any controversy over what causes it.

    That said, in another sense, inanimate objects aren’t the cause of anything! Hammers aren’t the cause of nails holding boards together. Burning jet fuel wasn’t the cause of the WTC collapse – terrorists were the cause. HIV isn’t the cause of AIDS – homosexuals, prostitutes, and intravenous drug users cause AIDS. Any other victims are irrelevant as the disease would never have spread to them without the three major risk groups above.

    You may now return to your regular beliefs that inanimate objects are causes. One of my favorite loony left beliefs is it isn’t people that kill people but guns that kill people. Oooooooooooookay… and HIV causes AIDS. Right. Got it. Message received and duly noted.

  66. Jesus CF

    Great! Needham/Spallanzani part II. I bet on science! Go get them Phil!

  67. Marco Ferrari

    Good fight Phil, and good luck. We, from Europe, are observing you, curious and a tad worried.
    As an aside, what about the two ads by google on top of the page? Ones says “G*d is love” and the other “Prove Everything On Earth Is Intelligently Designed”. Any way to get rid of them?

    P.S. Who is this G*d though?

  68. George Sime

    Hey Phil
    Heres a good one to start with concerning the millions of light years problem with YEC.
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/405.asp

    If there is a middle wouldnt you be able to figure out where it is from galaxy distribution or somthing ?

  69. Candy

    I’m glad I’m good for something.

  70. M. Vindaloo

    Well done. What is wrong with these religious freaks? I’m in Texas and just by being here my partner and I unsettle these misinformed people: my partner is a lesbian evolutionary biologist!

  71. Heh. The crazies never cease to amaze me.

    HIV isn’t the cause of AIDS- homosexuals, prostitutes, and intravenous drug users cause AIDS.

    Not to get off topic, but this is a great illustration of how anti-science people think. A little bit of jargon, a whole bunch of moral supremecy, one cup of hate of hate, 2 quarts of prejudice, and WHAMMO – you’re an anti-scientist!

    Unfortunately, this kind of religious voodoo has spread to the upper eschalons of power. I remember recently Bill Frist defending his views on TV (and being totally flustered) that HIV was spread by sweat and tears, and that condoms fail 15% of the time. It seems that only a grilling on “This Week” made him reluctant to spread what he knew was misinformation.

    We need more daylight on these people. The general public need to know there’s scientific “controversy” over evolution. It’s just hated by religious zealots, who don’t want science taught to our kids.

  72. Heh – the above typo was meant to say “The general public need to know there’s NO scientific “controversyâ€? over evolution. “

  73. Mike

    Wow, that’s a lot of replies… no, I didn’t read them all, but I did make it through about half before skipping to the bottom and reading the more recent things.

    Anyway.

    Science and Religion can co-exist. Here’s why. One is reality, the other isn’t. One is the real world, the other is your imagination.

    The problem isn’t that they cannot co-exist, the problem is that religion wonks want to either make them one and the same, or make the religion, the fantasy, override the reality, the science, and won’t stand for it any other way… my way or nothing sort of thing.

    I’m well versed in science and critical thinking, and I also make a hobby of theology. If it makes you sleep better at night to think that all the things, ALL OF THEM, that science has, and will eventually describe emprically has a root in a supernatural being. Fine. Knock yourself out.

    There isn’t any argument to be made here, except a philosophical one. No one can find definitive proof of Gods existence, one way or the other. That doesn’t mean It doesn’t exist, or that It does. Science couldn’t prove that virii existed for a long time either… they didn’t pop into existence the day one researcher shouted “Eureka! A Virus!”

    Again, there isn’t a point at arguing this. Here’s the thing, if the IDers are right, and I’m not saying they are, who cares? If doesn’t invalidate ANYTHING scientific that anyone has shown. They’re not saying that black is white, or shouldn’t be anyway, they’re simply saying that, underneath all the particle physics and biology that make our brains intrepret the image reflected in our eye as a thing that is white is God. They’re not saying that the science is wrong, they’re saying that the science was created intelligently, that the universe is a huge table of quantum bouncy balls that in the beginning, God dumped out of a bucket the size of a singularity, or maybe that God was the singularity… whatever.

    Anyway… I’m not saying I believe any of that, I’m just restating the point. Personally, I think religion is a bunch of hoopla designed to make miserable ignorant people sleep better, but stay miserable and ignorant, while giving 10% of their money to way-of-life wonks who don’t know how to acutally work for a living… but that’s just my personal opinion…

    -mike

  74. Roadtripper

    Dave ( IQ153 “write that down”) Scot:

    You’re slipping fast. Get some help. Please.

  75. We humans have something that other animals don’t: Intellect. Other animals are driven by basic instincts out of which fear is the most important. If it were not for fear, species wouldn’t survive. We are driven, in addition to instinct, by intellect. Creationism (and religion, in general) has taken birth when humans were ignorant – fear was the predominant reaction to natural phenomena. Couple this with intellect or thinking, and voila, we have supernatural beings at work! Since humans have spent most time in ignorance it is natural that the concept of God and hence religion and creation are more deeply imprinted upon our minds. Not to pardon creationists, but these people have a fear of the unknown that stops them from accepting reality. They would rather attribute everything to God than go out and investigate. They are miserable in their fear – and as they say – misery seeks company. These people only want to increase their numbers because of their fear and insecurity. I wish and hope that creationists are defeated by science.

  76. Another Phobos

    [i]Technically, quite likely IMO although I don’t care enough about AIDS to dig into the merits of any controversy over what causes it. …HIV isn’t the cause of AIDS [/i]

    Excellent example of antiscientific thinking that is to be faced in this public debate. ‘Forget the facts, I’ve already got the conclusion.’

    [i]You may now return to your regular beliefs that inanimate objects are causes.[/i]

    And what social group causes the ocean tides, earthquakes, volcanos, weather, thunder, radiative energy, plate techtonics, etc.?

    p.s. Phil – you gotta block those crackpot Google ads!

  77. James Hanley

    Re: Dave Scott’s comment that inanimate objects can’t be causes.

    True, but is a virus really inanimate? It may not crawl across the street on its own, but it is self-replicating. Seems pretty animated to me.

    Viruses are a fairly primitive life form, but they are life, as compared to an inanimate object such as rock.

  78. CR

    I have no problem accepting the concept of evolution; we may not know exactly how it has led to our current world, given the length of time, random forces, gaps in the fossil record and so on, but that’s the beauty of science & discovery–finding things out. An understanding of the concept can help us better describe the world (or universe, on a cosmological level) AS IT IS, rather than as some people think it SHOULD BE.

    Hey, I WANT there to be something beyond our physical realm, some carrying on of our individuality after death. But I don’t let that get in the way of my acceptance of the physical universe as it is. If anything, the idea that this might be all there is lets me appreciate life even more; it is something to be cherished. (As opposed to many religious beliefs that command the killing of “enemies” and destruction of all who oppose.)

    We can never know “all there is to know” about the universe, but I see no problem in trying to know all that we CAN know about it.

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who is appalled by the current political/religious/media trend toward anti-science, and the “dumbing down” of education & society.

  79. kyle

    Good post. Your record speaks to your ability to tackle this.

  80. Rodney

    This is probably old news to most of you but…

    You’ve heard of the creationist theme park, right. I don’t remember which of the states it’s in but it’s an amusement park based upon teaching kids that people and dinosaurs co-existed, until the flood, etc.

    I’m in shock.

    Keep swinging that hammer BA,

    We all must do what we can but I’m just in shock, at the moment. Every time I think they’ve become as much of a cartoon as they can, the hits keep coming.

    What’s next, “Apostle donuts,” collect them all. (Everyone would forget that there were two James’ and keep buying them…)

    Off topic? Yes but not by much.

    rodney

  81. Tom Bone

    Great entry! In addition to the Discovery Institute there are, of course, numerous other groups pushing the creationist agenda. They tend to pop out of the wood work in every corner of the globe. One international group that I think may be tied to the Discovery Institute is “Answers in Genesis” based in Australia (AnswersIn Genesis.org). These people are YECs.
    I attended a lecture given by their spokes man, Ken Ham. As Sun Tsu said, know your enemy. Though charismatic, the guy is an apologist nut. BE WARNED! You will find quickly that most of them truly think they are doing the right thing and protecting us (who are obviously to weak to run our own lives) from the dangers of immorality.

    Another such speaker at the same lecture used a novel approach that I had not seen before. He went into detail about the anatomy of the human eye and ear to “prove” to the audience that something that complex couldn’t have arisen by chance. He also attacked the statement made some years ago that human eye is poorly engineered, at that the designer should have been fired for incompetence. The kicker was that the speaker was reading his notes through wire framed glasses. I guess some of these people really can’t see the truth right under (or in this case, on top of) their noses.

  82. Dave

    In regards to the comment by one “Bishop Usher”, does the date 4004 B.C. mean anything to you. If you were a YEC, it certainly would.

  83. For the Young Person: Fable A: Babies are brought by Storks
    For the Adult Person: Truth: Adult people cause babies through censored acts.

    For the Young Society: Fable B: God created the world.
    For the Mature Society: Truth: Well, we don’t really know for sure yet, do we. Best guess, though, Billions and Billions of years ago, a really big and quick expansion occurred from something very tiny, very hot, and very massive and became something much larger, cooler, and still massive and within that grew the stars and planets and amino acids and mitochondria (or was it Metaclorians) and RNA and eventually some of these were able to replicate and thus was life.

    I believe nearly all the New Testament can be interpretted as allegory, I subject that the Old Testament is also. Thus a fable for a young society. I think we’ve outgrown the need for the fable.

    jbs

  84. That last “subject” was supposed to be “submit”…

    By the way, there seem to be a bunch of posts that no longer list, I see responses to a certain raving luna… individual but none of his originals.

    jbs

  85. CR

    By the way, to further illustrate my feelings…
    Today, after a brief rainstorm, I witnessed an incredibly beautiful full rainbow in the evening sky, which a few minutes later became a double rainbow. Not just the hint of a second rainbow on one side of the first, but a full double rainbow. (Luckily for me, I even had my camera along with me, though it took four shots just to fit the whole huge thing!)
    It was astounding, but no less so just because I knew scientifically what was causing the effect (sunlight from behind my vantage point refracting through zillions of rain droplets in front of a backdrop of clouds). In fact, knowing what caused the rainbow, knowing that the conditions had to be just right, and knowing that I had to be in just the right place at the right time to see it, enhanced the beauty.
    Another example is aurora (in my case, aurora borealis). I know scientifically that they are the result of ionization in the upper atmosphere, but that doesn’t ever make them any less stunning to me, even if the display is not overly spectacular. (By “spectacular,” I mean intense brightness and/or multiple colors, long duration, pronounced motion.) Knowing what they are lets me appreciate them more.
    Science isn’t just about cold, hard facts. It’s about understanding, and understanding can lead to appreciation. In short, there can be beauty in science.

  86. Somehow, this site seems fitting – http://www.swarthmore.edu/NatSci/cpurrin1/textbookdisclaimers/ – laugh, it’s funny.

  87. Peter B

    What a coincidence!

    A web-debate has just started here:

    http://webdiary.smh.com.au/

    It’s discussing whether creation or evolution is true. Starring for the evolution side are some scientists and a member of the Australian Skeptics. Starring for the creationists are four members of Answers in Genesis.

  88. Captain Swoop

    First time on the Blog, What can I say. go for it Phil!

  89. Chet Twarog

    CR’s comments are wonderfully true!
    Even at 55, I still hike the woodlands, marshes, swamps, meadows, and beaches of New England admiring the amazing varieties of the evolved adaptations of biological species all around.
    You want to see evolutionary adaptations in action: observe the transformation of catepillars into moths or butterflies; tadpoles into frogs/toads/newts; a sandy patterned toad on sand/pebbles change skin color into a dark pattern on soil and humus; or, Figure 3.2 of the macro-mutated toad with eyes in the roof of its mouth in Dawkins’s great book “Climbing Mount Improbable”; etc.
    And, observing stars/planets that are forming within dust/gas clouds of the Eagle Nebula or any of the daily astronomical wonders in the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. Or, the year that comet Hale-Bopp was so observable and so marvelous a sight. Or, a meteor shower.
    I am an Atheist Secular Humanist Naturalist that does have “ultra-human” natural endorphin “highs” with goosebumps and chills and…
    with anything “beautiful”.
    Stay curious!

  90. Just wanted to say thanks to Phil and all of you for this wonderful thread.

    I like CR’s summary: “Science isn’t just about cold, hard facts. It’s about understanding, and understanding can lead to appreciation. In short, there can be beauty in science.” Anybody who reads the BA Blog, even a non-scientist word geek like myself, can see that shining out from every post.

    Please, Phil, do keep up the good work!

  91. Citizen Of Trantor

    It’s hopeless. There is something wrong with humanity. Maybe it’s memes. Maybe it’s something else. Ideology? Carl Jung called it a blight.

    There is a degeneration occurring in the individual intellects of human beings all over the world. I used to be able to chat about current events with my friends and coworkers, but I can’t anymore. Everyone’s mind is so mired in monochromatic absolutes that they cannot see any shades of grey anymore. The extremists are NOT the fringe any longer.

    Three years ago, a coworker was so patently wrong on one topic I was able to quickly show him several web pages that refuted his ideas. He looked at the page, and I swear I could almost see his mind desperately trying to preserve his original POV. He made comments that clearly indicated that the words on the page were being actively changed/filtered in his mind. It was like some sort of bizarre ideological dyslexia. It was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen. This was an educated man with science and engineering advanced degrees from a prestigious university.

    Since then I haven’t discussed any current events with another person outside a couple friends who are too apathetic to possess strong ideologies.

  92. Irishman

    JPax2003 Says:
    As one of your previous blog entries mentioned the psychological impact of framing and lead you to call your opponents “anti-science�, so may your opponents pick up the opposite and call you “anti-religion.�

    Yes, that is true, but they already equate anyone who supports evolution as being anti-religion, so what’s new there?

    Saying that the statement “religion and science are compatible� is naive is one of those less than clear remarks. There are theologies that claim that a literal reading of Genesis does not support YEC. For some who are both faithful and scientific-minded evolution and physics are the mechanisms of creation. How do you debunk that? Would you debunk that? Why?

    Depends on the context. If we’re talking about science education, then there’s no need to argue with them because they already support science. If we’re discussing justifications for belief in a deity and whether or not I should join their religion, then that’s a different matter.

    If I were you, I would avoid using the term “literal interpretation� as it is framed by YECs. Call it the the YEC interpretation (or misinterpretation) so as to remove their assumed authority over biblical literacy.

    Calling it a “literal interpretation” does not grant any authority whatsoever. “Literal” means “taken at the face value of the words”, as opposed to a figurative interpretation. Biblical literalists do not accept that the creation story might be a symbolic myth, but insist it is an accurate depiction of real events. Some go so far as to state that when Jesus teaches in parables, those parables actually occurred at some time. The word “literal” in that context has no connection to “literary” or “literacy” referring to scholarship and study.

  93. Irishman

    DaveScot said:
    HIV isn’t the cause of AIDS – homosexuals, prostitutes, and intravenous drug users cause AIDS.

    No, homosexuals, prostitutes, and intravenous drug users spread HIV/AIDS. And so do heterosexuals practicing unprotected sex with multiple partners, and the patrons of prostitutes. But the key here is that people do not cause the disease, any more than they cause tuberculosis, or the flu. You get the flu from other people, too.

    You may now return to your regular beliefs that inanimate objects are causes.

    Such as when a tree limb blows in the wind, the wind is an animate object? Wow, I never knew the wind was alive. And when an apple falls from a tree, it’s not gravity that was the cause? Then what/who was the cause?

  94. Irishman

    Avian Said:
    Heh. The crazies never cease to amaze me.

    Careful, that’s bordering on violating Phil’s rules – no name calling.

  95. Irishman

    Roadtripper Said:
    Dave ( IQ153 “write that down�) Scot:
    You’re slipping fast. Get some help. Please.

    That one, too.

  96. Phil, thanks throwing down the gauntlet.

    Over here in the UK – and in Europe in general – we see very little of the “Creationists” (I use this as a generic term for all the deniers of evolution) and their influence on education and legislators is less than insignificantly small. However, the global nature of the www makes their presence and influence in the US extremely visible.

    My own small encounter with the insiduous creep of the “it’s only a theory” disfunctional logic was with a friend who I had always thought to be reasonably intelligent (if a little dogmatic). When I grumbled about how “Creationism” seemed to be everywhere there days (on the www) and wondered at the mental capacity of those who subscribe to those ideas, he said (words to the effect) that “not all intelligent design theories are useless” and “you shouldn’t confuse intelligent design and biblical creationism” and – you guessed it – “evolution is onlly a theory”. My reaction was simply to say that he was talking absolute bull in a tone of voice that suggested, without question, that a debate was not on the cards.

    I don’t know if it’s a good idea to debate “Creationism” versus evolution: such debates only give “them” credibility. I’m glad I don’t have to face people like this very often, it makes me profoundly sad for the human race.

    Keep up the good work.

  97. JPax2003

    Irishman, thanks your your input, but I really wanted Phil’s response.

    The issue with calling the YEC interpretation a “literal interpretation” *is* a matter of granting authority. If that claim is ignored then it is a slap in the face of other believers who feel the literal interpretation is different. The Scofield Study Bible on my shelf claims to interpret genesis literally, and the conclusions are almost diametrically opposed to YEC. Genesis 1:1 is a literal indication that the universe existed before the acts of creation that are later described. The literal interpretation of the 4th creative “day” indicates that there were no previous 24 hour days with which they could be measured before or after, indicating that the YEC argument of “a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day” does not apply to creation. You, the BA and other debunkers would do well to study theology that supports them and opposes YEC. Or are you anti-religion afterall?

  98. HawaiiArmenian

    As an Evolutionary Biologist, I have spent the last 5 years fighting the anti-science ignorance that persists through every avenue of life one looks at. It’s not just religious zealots who distort the truth, but most of the ignorance comes from the lack of science in our educational system.
    There is cause for optimism however, because every once in a while, with enough perseverence, it’s possible to get through to some people. When one comes to realize the benefits that proper scientific reasoning can provide, some may come away with a different point of view.
    Patience is not our greatest virtue, but I believe with enough persistence, we can end this unscientific stranglehold that our current administration, along with countless other institutions have instilled in the general population. The truth is anti-scientists are extremely threatened by proper reasoning and the scientific method.
    Few fundamental changes have occured in a quick and sweeping fashion. It took over 400 years for Americans to begin to consider everyone equal, to grant women suffrage, allow African Americans the same freedom as everyone else, and a host of other things. It’s impossible to expect overnight changes, when the lack of science reaches such fundamental and ignorant levels. We must be diligent and patient; ready to provide our tools, methods, and POVs to those who are ignorant and need guidance. It wasn’t always like this.
    My personal theory on the backwards trend in science is the threat from Nuclear Annhilation that hung over our heads for a half century. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, science was accepted much more readily, considering Einstein’s status, the Space Race, and subsequently the successful landings on the Moon. Everyone was in awe at the capability we posessed with the simple tools of science . However, with the nuclear threat growing, hyped coverage of how our brilliance in science would eventually prove our undoing, and countless other recent shifts, science has garnered an aura of negativity. People fear what they cannot understand — especially true with science. We must be in the center stage reminding the public on the benefits of stem cell research, the greater understanding of our physical world, the positive inmpact on humanity through vaccinations, the improvements of our living standards and quality of life, etc.
    Phil, you are not alone in this multifaceted fight. We (those of us with rational thougths) are the “desciples” of truth, and no faulty reasoning, or illogical persuasion can stand in the way. It’s all a house of cards, and it’s our duty, right, and privelage to topple it.

  99. Phil,

    welcome to the fight. Glad to have you next to us.

    Mike

  100. Outside observer

    Citizen Of Trantor >> Thats the way our mids work. Our cognitive space is separate from the real which has many interesting side effects. The mind filters all input.
    Anyone who has dabbled in photography has probably experienced his/her brain adding a new mode of interpretation to the visual input. The photographer sees, not only the conceptualized image, but a 2d representation, an answer to the question “how would this look as a photo”.
    Artists pratice drawing nudes to overcome this. To learn to recreate the visual input rather than draw what the mind knows is there. Thats why its hard. Google for “The ghost not” (with quotes) for an interesting example of this effect at work.

    We all suffer from this effect, which is why peer review is a cornerstone of science.

  101. Kassad

    “and HIV causes AIDS. Right. Got it.”

    HIV : Human Immunodeficiency Virus
    AIDS : Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I tend to think there’s some connection.

    Needless to say, I agree wholeheartedly with the Bad Astronomer.

  102. sfurules

    Mike Said:

    “I think religion is a bunch of hoopla designed to make miserable ignorant people sleep better, but stay miserable and ignorant, while giving 10% of their money to way-of-life wonks who don’t know how to acutally work for a living…”

    That’s fine that you believe that Mike…but at least try to keep your religions straight. The only religion I can think of that has a 10 percent tithing would be the Mormons. Your fight isn’t with them (or me), but with other groups that are indeed blinded to anything that Science (I capitalize because science is God to some here) has discovered and elaborated upon. Mormons are very strong in science and many other studies, so leave them out of it. Also, Mormons do not have a payed clergy. Everything that is done is done by volunteers, so the remark about “not knowing how to work” shows some obvious ignorance about religion, which undercuts your whole ability to argue against it. As a Mormon I too am appalled at the ability of some people to completely deny what science has found. Of course the earth is more than 6000 years old…its more like 7 or 8 thousand years (it’s a joke people….try laughing).

  103. Irishman

    JPax2003 Said:
    > Irishman, thanks your your input, but I really wanted Phil’s response.

    Hey, you get what you get. I can’t make Phil respond. 😉

    > The issue with calling the YEC interpretation a “literal interpretation� *is* a matter of granting authority. If that claim is ignored then it is a slap in the face of other believers who feel the literal interpretation is different.

    Interesting. I was unaware there were other “literal” interpretations. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    >You, the BA and other debunkers would do well to study theology that supports them and opposes YEC. Or are you anti-religion afterall?

    That’s really two different issues. Being aware of other interpretations is of interest to some extent. As for whether I’m “anti-religion”, depends on what you mean by that. I value reality and truth. I find religions, at best, to be more interested in describing the world the way they wish it were rather than how it is. The mythologies of religion can be intriguing for story value and for exemplars of moral lessons, teaching tools, etc. But religions push their myths as truths, and that I don’t agree with. I find religions (in the organized sense versus the personal belief sense) to be more concerned with control – control of individuals, control of societies, control of power and wealth. However, I don’t go around calling people idiots for being religious. I try to practice tolerance – you can believe whatever you want to believe. But if you try to push that belief on me or hold it up as superior, be prepared for me to point out the flaws I see.

  104. MattusMaximus

    HawaiiArmenian is right… with persistence, we will win this fight. There may be minor setbacks here and there, but we’ll win.

    Case in point, the national debate on embryonic stem cell research. Five years ago, a majority of the population would’ve easily supported banning all such research in our country, and the radical religious fundamentalists were pushing hard in that direction.

    But cooler heads prevailed, scientists, medical researchers, and patient advocacy groups all organized together to educate the public about the science behind embryonic stem cell research. The result? Now the majority (well over 60% – including a majority of conservatives) support expanding the federal funding for the research. Even the House of Representatives passed legislation on this…

    We’ve come a long way on this issue, and we have further to go. I feel strongly that the organization between scientific societies, teaching groups, and concerned citizens is the beginning of a similar movement on the issue of evolution & creationism. And, like the issue of stem cells, we will, over the long term, have a similar effect — that is, science will win.

    Keep fighting the good fight! :)

    Cheers — MattusMaximus

  105. DaveScot

    Heh! Not a single person that jumped on me for saying homosexuals etc. cause AIDS quoted me in context.

    I began that comment by saying that HIV probably causes AIDS the same way burning jet fuel caused the collapse of the World Trade Center. I then went on to say in another sense, it’s terrorists that caused the collapse of the World Trade Center. Never being one to under analogize something I went on to say that hammers aren’t the cause of nails holding boards together and guns don’t kill people.

    Hammers, jet fuel, guns, AND HIV are mere objects. It requires affirmative action by people to cause them to do things. I’ll admit that HIV is a bit more animate on its own recognizance but I stand by the assertion that without homosexuals, prostitutes, and intravenous drug users spreading HIV there wouldn’t be an AIDS epidemic today.

    I freely admit I made that comment to rile up the bleeding heart liberals just for the sport of it.

  106. DaveScot To Phil

    Astronomy rules, dude. For the past 400 months when I get my Scientific American in the mail if there’s an article on astronomy or cosmology in it I turn straight to it before anything else. After reading that I usually go from front to back reading everything else. I can’t pay a higher compliment to your profession than that. If there hadn’t been a lot more money in computer science and a Mt. Palomar scope the size and cost of an Apple II 25 years ago I’d be an astronomer today. I even took an astronomy course in college, didn’t drop it, and got a 4.0 unlike almost all the rest of the class. By that time of course there was nothing in an introductory astronomy text I hadn’t already learned by age 10.

    I gots a question for ya. I’m an agnostic when it comes to religion but it sure looks to me like there’s intelligent design in the machinery of life. I don’t who or what was responsible but the design jumps right off the page into your lap if you don’t rule it out on ideologic grounds. I’m a retired computer design engineer with a patent portfolio and everything so I knows design when I sees design. My question for you is what on about ID (Michael Behe’s type of ID which acknowledges a 14 billion year old universe and a universal common ancestor) do you think threatens astronomy? I’m a huge fan of SETI, astrobiology, space exploration, Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and all that Star Trek generation stuff. If you separate out the concept of intelligent design from the religious beliefs of bible thumpers I think you’ll find it has no bones at all to pick with astronomy. Evoluntionary biologists might rightly feel threatened but no one else should.

  107. DaveScot To CR

    Your double rainbow story reminds me of one I saw.

    About 8 years ago me and a couple other engineers from Dell’s advanced products division in Texas were driving from the Portland, Oregon airport out to an Intel facility in the boonies to meet with an Intel VP and staff about some technology initiative Intel was pushing at the time. As we were approaching the Intel facility a beautiful, full double rainbow appeared arching directly over the road in front of us. As I was marveling at it (I’d never seen one before) one of the other engineers in the rental car deadpans “Intel people are such showoffs…”

  108. sfurules

    DaveScot To Phil…that is a great question.

  109. JPax2003

    Irishman, no offense intended. However, the question wasn’t rhetorical either. Some people do appear to be anti-religion, and want to squash ID or YEC or other ideas about creationism specifically because they dislike religions or christianity specifically. Organized religion *is* about control, but the better interpretations are about self-control rather than external state control. However, I think we might agree that state-sponsored creation evangelizing is a bad idea. I’m in support of only-science in the classroom, and religion only as it happens to relate to history or sociology.

    While the YECs are currently perverting science, religions did not always do so. Theology was the critical thinking of it’s day, once upon a time, although it no longer has the most accurate description of the cosmos. Yet as a collection of histories that may be true and that teach a moral lesson, I think the Bible still has value. Perhaps Science can more accurately answer the question of how, yet perhaps religion may be better suited to answering, or at least pondering, the question of why.

    I think there is a problem in organized religion, specifically christianity but possibly others, called Legalism. Church doctrines seem to have regressed from New Testament “love your neighbor” back toward old testament law. This is relevant because I think it is this mindset that sets YECs off on an adversarial campaign to squash sciences that deny even a small, doctrinally unimportant, aspect of their theology. The YECs see science not only as a set of incorrect data, but the Scientific Method as an interpretive filter in opposition to their own. However, there are some people who do think that the big bang and evolution are true, and yet think it was all a product of the mind of God without needing to twist data through ID or whatnot. These people could be your allies in debating against bad science and bad theology.

  110. Chet Twarog

    “DaveScot To Phil” from Chet
    Dave,
    Why do you seem to confuse your own “intelligent computer designs” as a retired engineer to some mythical “ID”? Your patents have an author and an inventor–YOU. You exist (though I will probably never meet you personally). There is no evidential “proof” for any extra-terrestrial intelligence or any supernatural deity–NONE.
    The “ID” people also confuse Homo sapiens created Mount Rushmore or mousetraps or motor boat engines as a “proof” of intelligent design for complexity within the Cosmos. They are only proof of our existence only.
    A stone arch bridge does require a scaffold to support it until the “keystone” is placed and the scafflding is removed and it seems “magical” that the stone arch bridge supports itself.
    I have mentioned some books within this blog. Why don’t you read some of them: “Climbing Mount Improbable” by Richard Dawkins; “Science and Eath History–The Evolution/Creation Controversy” by Arthur N. Strahler; “The New Science of Evo Devo–Endless Forms Most Beautiful” by Sean B. Carroll; “The Life of the Cosmos” by Lee Smolin.
    We created religion as well as science–science resolves and solves/religion divides and slaughters; science requires intelligence and critical thinking/religion requires obedience and submission. Compare the two thousand years of Christianity with the four hundred years of Science–which one has been the most beneficial to all of us?
    Finally, from Richard Dawkin’s “The Ancestor’s Tale” page 549: “This (intelligent design theory) is the ancient ‘Argument from Design’, also called the ‘Argument from Paley’s Watchmaker’, or the ‘Argument from Irreducible Complexity’. I have less kindly called it the ‘Argument from Personal Incredulity’ because it always has the form: ‘I personally cannot imagine a natural sequence of events whereby X could have come about. Therefore it must have come about by supernatural means’. Time and again scientists have retorted that if you make this argument, it says less about nature than the poverty of your imagination. The ‘Argument from Personal Incredulity’ would lead us to invoke the supernatural every time we see a good conjuror whose tricks we cannot fathom.”

  111. sprocket

    “Heh! Not a single person that jumped on me for saying homosexuals etc. cause AIDS quoted me in context.”

    You know DaveScot you could injure your hamstring backpeddling like that.

    Perhaps you should choose your words a little more carefully. 😉

  112. Give ’em hell Phil 😉

    And everyone else here, remember these words of timeless generic wisdom:

    Nice guy + internet + anonymity + audience = ****ing ***hole

  113. Irishman

    DaveScot Said:
    >Heh! Not a single person that jumped on me for saying homosexuals etc. cause AIDS quoted me in context.

    What, do I have to quote whole paragraphs to quote you in context? Another Phobos, James Hanley, and I each specifically addressed your comment about inanimate objects not being causes with regards to HIV.

    Like I said, human action is not the cause of AIDS, any more than it is the cause of tuberculosis or the flu. It is the cause of the spread of disease. The distinction is not trivial.

    > I’m an agnostic when it comes to religion but it sure looks to me like there’s intelligent design in the machinery of life. I don’t who or what was responsible but the design jumps right off the page into your lap if you don’t rule it out on ideologic grounds.

    Evolution is a cummulative process. It builds in small (and sometimes not-so-small) steps. It may take prior existing items and change them to use in new ways. Later changes may partially erase the earlier structure/form, so that looking at the snapshot now does not explain how it got that way. Good design practices that humans discovered through trial and effort may, in fact, be included in evolutionary steps, also through trial and error.

    What the ID proponents fail to answer is if the Designer was so perfect, then what about the numerous examples of bad design. Such as the human eye, where the optic nerve grows on the inside of the eyeball and then through the wall, causing a blind spot. However, sheep eyes have the optic nerve growing outside the eyeball and don’t have that flaw. Why are sheep eyes better than human eyes? Were humans the designer’s first attempt, and he got better on sheep eyes?

  114. Irishman

    JPax2003 said:
    > However, there are some people who do think that the big bang and evolution are true, and yet think it was all a product of the mind of God without needing to twist data through ID or whatnot. These people could be your allies in debating against bad science and bad theology.

    Yes, I agree.

  115. DaveScot wrote:
    I stand by the assertion that without homosexuals, prostitutes, and intravenous drug users spreading HIV there wouldn’t be an AIDS epidemic today.

    Yes, there’s plenty of evidence of widespread drug use and prostitution among west African chimpanzees and mangabeys, and everyone knows that only homosexuals get blood transfusions. And clearly the universe was designed to be that way.

  116. JUST IN CASE YOU DON’T THINK THESE FUNDIE FOLKS ARE A THREAT, HERE’S SOMETHING FROM ONE OF THEIR LEADERS:

    “Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost,” Kennedy says. “As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors — in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”

    – D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Ministries

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/_/id/7235393?rnd=1113034924500&has-player=true&version=6.0.12.872

  117. Irishman

    Yes, DaveScot keeps talking about the AIDS epidemic here in this country. He is not looking at the situation in Africa, where 1 in 4 people have the disease, where some governments are promoting the “HIV doesn’t cause AIDS” premise because it is politically convenient for them, and where ignorance runs rampant, helping spread the disease. For instance, common belief is that the cure for AIDS is unprotected sex with virgin. !!!

    But hey, it’s those prostitutes who are at fault.

    DaveScot, no one on this board seems to be advocating the position that the actions of people are not without consequences, and not contributing to the spread of HIV and AIDS. You, however, seem to be promoting the premise that AIDS is the fault of three groups you dislike. You seem to be trying to blame some parties, but not others – like promiscuous teenagers and 20 and 30 yr olds who cruise bars regularly. Like married men who run around with other women – prostitutes or not.

    Blood transfusions are still a source of risk, but not nearly as large now with screening techniques implemented than during the ’80s, before we knew what it was and so there was no screening at all.

    And I have to wonder why you’re so worried about getting AIDS from homosexual men. Or prostitutes and IV drug users, for that matter.

  118. Flex

    To DaveScot,

    One of the best examples I know of to show how evolution operates, and to indicate that there is no intelligent designer is the problem we have with vitamin C.

    Most animals synthesize their own vitamin C. It is well known that human beings need vitamin C to prevent scurvy. It seems to be less known that many primates have the same problem.

    Why would a designer remove a fully functioning biological process necessary for the development of the being? Did mankind make a mistake and we are all being punished? Did the monkeys?

    It seems to be clear that about 60 million years ago a mutation occured in primates which eliminated the ability for those primates to synthesize vitamin C. Why didn’t they die out? Because of masking. The primates which survived, and there may be many which were wiped out, ate a good deal of fruit and received the necessary vitamin C in their diet.
    Thus those primates survived. Different primate lines evolved from these primates giving rise to a group of species, mankind among them, which cannot synthesize their own vitamin C.

    Our genes provide evidence that evolution has occured. This is one of many, many pieces of evidence.

    But you may not be convinced because you seem to imply that you believe that causes are only due to intelligence. Thus AIDS/HIV is caused by intelligent people either deciding to spread AIDS/HIV or using their intelligence to ignore the warnings about spreading AIDS/HIV.

    Let’s look at your Intel rainbow for a moment. Intel certainly didn’t cause the rainbow, and your presence to witness the rainbow didn’t cause it either. The prism effect of the rainbow would be present regardless of if anyone was there to witness it.

    What caused the rainbow? There is a rational, tested, scientific explaination for your rainbow. There are also plenty of non-scientific explainations for your rainbow. This plurality of causes is not equal. The rational, tested, scientific explaination for your rainbow does not require any intelligence for it to occur. It is caused by a combination of physical phenonema all very well understood.

    On the other hand, one of the many non-scientific explainations for your rainbow is that it is given by God as a reminder of one of God’s many covenants. In this case, a promise to not flood the earth again. In this explaination, there is a guiding intelligence causing the rainbow.

    The hurdle that many people fail to overcome is that intelligence is not necessary to cause change. This is getting harder for people to see in today’s world as more and more of the world is directly controlled by human intelligence. Certainly more and more of the population of the world are never exposed to non-intelligent causes aside from the weather.

    This makes it easy to claim that intelligence is necessary for every change. The theory of evolution by natural selection says differently. The core of the theory of evolution by natural selection is that given enough time, changes in the relationship between a species and it’s enviroment will result in changes in the species, without a guiding intelligence.

    Species will evolve to an amazing level of complexity, but will also exhibit flaws which any guiding intelligence would have removed.

    Just as the Intel engineers didn’t cause your rainbow, no intelligent direction is necessary for the vast differsity of life.

    -Flex

  119. Charlotte

    The Discovery Institute’s tactics recounted here are very familiar to me. Few of your readers may know this, but another Howard Ahmanson-funded operation has been trying for several years now to take over control of the Episcopal Church’s assets, using homosexuality as a wedge issue. (Remember the “Gay Bishop”? That’s what that kerfluffle was all about.)

    This group has given themselves several names over the past few years (“American Anglican Council” is one; “Network” another), but their MO has remained constant. It’s just about identical to the one presented here — stealth, distortions, spin, misleading information fed to the press, relentless pressure on the holdouts.

    No surprise; both groups have their funding and ideology in common. Howard Ahmanson funds them, and they are Dominionist organizations — their ultimate goal is to make “Biblical law” the law of the United States. “Biblical law” here means: slavery is legal; homosexuals get the death penalty; children may be executed for disobedience to their parents.

    Why care about a Dominionist attack on the Episcopal Church? The Episcopal Church is very wealthy — one of the unkind nicknames for us in the old days was “the Republican Party at prayer.” Seizure of the church’s assets would make the Dominionist movement very wealthy indeed, and that is something to fear.

    We could use your help, folks! And we have long accepted the theory of evolution as scientifically well-established, leaving further discoveries in biology to the biologists whose job it is to make them. That might be a further reason for this Dominionist attack.

  120. JPax2003

    For your amusment I have an alternative definition for ID. Instead of meaning “Intelligent Design” we can reference the theories of catastrophism with “Intelligent Destruction/Demolition.” So, God lets things go along all by themselves except for occasionally blowing stuff up in order to re-direct it’s evolution (e.g. the flood). Let the YECs and IDers deal with the dark side of God for a while. But then again, I suspect they would pick it up and believe it in short order, even though I mean it as a joke. *sigh*

  121. Tom

    As a Christian I am concerned about the direction ID and literal creationism is taking. Note that I do believe in the existence of God. Yet, I am also a firm supporter of science and scientific evidence. I am one of those who think that science and religion are compatible, at least to a degree.

    From my often unique perspective, I believe that it is generally irrelevant whether one believes in a literal Genesis creation or not I view the Christian responsibility as that in sharing the Gospel and convincing others of the truth of Jesus Christ, and the message of salvation. Anything that causes someone to be an “enemy” of the gospel should be avoided, and that is what the ID and YEC groups are doing; trying to force the mindset of others to their view. I feel the same way about Christianity and politics. While I would dearly love to see “biblical morality” practiced, I am totally against its legislation.

    It’s all been blown out of proportion, and it’s going to hurt a lot of people on all sides. I guess I am “fundamentally unfundie”, as I like to say…

    BTW, I think I am one of the longest irregulaly posting members on the BABB with the “Bad Newbie” moniker. And I ain’t nevahHHH mentioned religion.

  122. TomC

    I submit that DaveScot is a troll. Nobody else could be so silly.

    I’m also a computer programmer, as D.S. claims to be. However, I wonder if D.S. is aware of evolutionary computing, which *evolves* computer programs, rather than designs them (Google on it; I’m too lazy to link). Most of the code “evolved” by these systems is rubbish, but occasionally an algorithm is designed that is very good. Once in a while, an “evolved” algorithm is better than anything humans have been able to come up with (what springs to mind are some novel solutions to the “traveling salesperson” problem).

    And this is all due to random chance and fluctuation — just like the supposed cause of actual biological evolution. What ID’ers always leave out is that random chance and genetic fluctuation *coupled with* a “ratcheting” process like heritable genes are *perfectly capable* of producing the diversity of life we see today. Any explanation that leaves out part of the equation in order to be easily disprovable is just a straw man argument.

  123. Although this is the first time I have read your website ( I was hunting up websites for herbals..go figure), I found it very informative and the rebuttals both funny and informative. I ran the gambit of emotions from outright laughter to fuming anger.
    I am a Pagan and have been most of my life. What I choose to believe in is my choice and no one elses, as it should be. I believe in science as well for without it the many conviences (such as say.. computers for instance) we now enjoy we wouldn’t have. I don’t force what I believe on others and I allowed all of my children the freedom to choose as I was given.
    Religion does NOT belong in our schools. School is/should be a place where our kids can go to learn skills, not how to worship something they may not even believe to be true. Next thing you know, we will have book burnings ( yes I know this is still going on in a few places) all over the states in name of religion and whats *right*.
    I avoid talking about religion for the most part because people who are religious think the whole world is wrong and only *they* are right. Maybe you should read Ann Rice’s Memnoch (think thats how its spelled but oh well) The Devil. Its a good read and gives a whole different outlook on religion. Yes its pure fantasy, but I think it hints at a belief as well.
    For myself, I appluad anyone who stands up to any orginization trying to take away my freedom to believe as I wish to believe.
    One last thing: a) Humans are fallable. The bible states in the next to last paragraph I believe that nothing may be taken or added to the book or suffer the concequenes. In every language (or so Im told) there are words non-translateable. If this is so, then I do believe they( and you know who you are) are up a certain creek without a paddle so to speak. b) The bible was written by both men and women yet the catholic church chose to remove most of those written by women as being *unnecessary*. Makes you wonder doesn’t it?
    And by the way… Please feel free to correct me if I have the last two things wrong. I’m open minded enough to take it.

  124. Little Cat: That was from Revelation 22:18-19 and refers only to the book of Revelation. The Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible are a collection of books and were compiled from a larger library after a great deal of discussion, examination of tradition and critical review of the books. The Catholic version of the collection was “finalized” late in the 4th century (which is not to say they didn’t use that set of books before finalizing) and the only change has been the dropping of certain books of the Old Testament when the Protestants splintered off (The Holy Bible of the Catholics is unchanged, the Protestants made the changes).

    jbs

  125. Just thought I’d add my 2 cents:

    Anyone who hasn’t read the Bible and fully understood it (the Bible actually debunks several of the false beliefs you like to attribute to religion) should stop bashing it, IMO. Imagine if creationists didn’t give a crap and didn’t even bother to read what evolutionists claimed to be true… Extend the courtesy please!

  126. Thomas Siefert

    To Isaac,
    This is not about debunking the bible, it’s about stopping people from trying to debunk science by using the beliefs expressed in the bible as evidence of ID (I normally hat abrivation but I’m not sure I can spell Intelligent….:-) ).

    There is plenty of evidence for evolution and none for that the bible should have been written by ohter beings than humans.

  127. Michelle Rochon

    http://www.shirtmax.com/shirts/darwin.htm

    They even make T-Shirts for their cause.

  128. CR

    I partly agree with Isaac while partly disagreeing with him…
    I’ve always encouraged knowing about a topic of discussion/debate when talking to people… for example, I tell people to learn a little about something even if they disagree with it, for the sake of being able to make informed comments about it.
    Specifically regarding religion versus evolution, though, a lot of creationists I’ve spoken with don’t bother to extend the same courtesy. I’m not saying that ALL creationists don’t study evolution, nor that all evolutionists research the bible or whatever religious text is being discussed. But the trend is there.
    I guess, though, that both sides could make sure that they are making informed comments about the debate, and be able to cite appropriate documents if necessary. Then again, isn’t that what anyone is supposed to do during any formal debate about any topic?
    By the way, try having a similar debate with, say for example, Christians regarding other religions in the world. They can be just as dismissive of and ignorant about those other religions as they are about evolution. (For the record, I’m not just bashing Christianity here! I simply live in a predominantly Christian area, so that’s what I’ve experienced. And sadly, I have seen an occasional pro-science person get a bit haughty about science, but that’s been the exception rather than the rule in my experience.)

  129. Paul in CT

    I’m a Catholic and have a deep faith in God. I’ve seen and experienced too many things for people to try to tell me that He doesn’t exist. Sorry, but that’s my stance and I ain’t moving. But to those that take the Bible’s account of Creation literally, I say to them, lighten up! But I also say to the pro-science people, how about we teach both ideas of creation and let the parents/children be exposed and learn for themselves. None of us know what really happened as none of us were there. I tend to trust science more than a book obviously, but since I wasn’t there when the Big Bang occured, I can’t give a “rock-solid” answer to who, what, when or where. I choose to belive in one thing or another based on gathering all the facts present. Blindly following one ideology or another is sad.

    I have a friend who is an athiest and he challenged me one day to ask why do I belive in God. I answered with a stern “Why not?”. Think about it, believing in God and a paradise beyond mortal death isn’t such a bad thing to believe in. If I die, my belief system says I will go to Heaven because I kept God in my heart. If an non-believer dies, they don’t…maybe. So I ask this, what is there to lose. If I die and there’s nothing, I’ve lost nothing by believing. But what if I’m right? Then those who don’t believe have everything to lose.

    Needless to say, my friend never challenged me again on my beliefs. Ha. Ha.

  130. DaveSnot

    DaveSnot to DaveScot:
    You state that inanimate objects can’t “cause” anything, using the example of “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” You should get in touch with your fellow conservatives (see today’s news) in the Wisconsin legislature, who declare that the morning-after pill causes promiscuity.

    Also, since you are hot on the topics of causality, AIDS, HIV, homosexuality and terrorism, you should be be grateful to those of your ID fellow-travelers who pointed out, after the 9-11 atrocities, that the ultimate cause was the Intelligent Designer’s unhappiness with homosexuality and abortion in the US.

  131. Steven Laskoske

    Isaac said:
    “Anyone who hasn’t read the Bible and fully understood it (the Bible actually debunks several of the false beliefs you like to attribute to religion) should stop bashing it, IMO. Imagine if creationists didn’t give a crap and didn’t even bother to read what evolutionists claimed to be true… Extend the courtesy please!”

    You seem to be confused with the difference between the claims of the Bible and the claims of the religious groups. These groups may base their cliams, nominally, on the Bible but they certainly don’t agree entirely to the letter in many cases.

    And, it seems that the creationist DON’T bother to read the evolutionist research. Otherwise, they wouldn’t keep using all of those discredited arguements.

  132. Actually, at this point, I’m more interested in hearing more about what IDsters think about cosmology. For example, does a young earther think that everything beyond 6000ish light years away is actually a sticker on the inside of a really big balloon? Where does the expansion come from? Is the Divine Deceiver still blowing up the balloon? Maybe that’s what background radiation is: puff puff puff!

  133. HawaiiArmenian

    Isaac, you are extremely misguided if you think that those of us, agnostic, or atheist alike don’t know anything about the bible. Many of us were brought up Christian, went to Sunday School (against our will of course), and eventually came to realize the strength and logic of science. I’m not claiming to know more about the Bible then theologists who study it daily, and interpret it in vastly different ways. However, I know enough to realize how contradictory the parables and stories can be when taken literally.

  134. Oh, there are always people on both sides who have read and understood the Bible, yet choose not to follow its teachings (for example liberal Christians, even though I would not call them ‘Christian’).
    I’ve always had a firm belief that you interpret science through the Bible. Guess what – evolutionistic ways of thinking (and some others), are the only ones at odds with the Christian view of an intelligent creation. This is because evolutionism is in itself a belief expressly designed to try to elbow God out of the way…
    I also don’t agree with your somewhat naive view that all those arguments are discredited – to my way of thinking evolution has been discredited from day one when Darwin himself said it was only a theory.
    And yes, the trend is there where people on both sides don’t look properly at the arguments from both sides – it’s a human thing. Sorry about the generalisation in the previous post – I just had to say something quick. :)

  135. Don McLaughlin

    I have to agree with HawaiiArmenian. I was brought up Roman Catholic and therefore had a great of bible study pressed upon me. I have grown up since then and I am no longer either Catholic or Christian. I would say that it is actually my knowledge of the bible and its teachings that makes it impossible for me to believe in Christianity.

  136. Because people started speaking about the Catholic Church, I feel I must make a few corrections:

    The Catholic Church never held a literalist approach to the Genesis. Any claims that it’s a cop-out are false, and this can be extensively proven. Saint Augustine, a Catholic and Orthodox Saint, Theologian, Philosopher and Scientist was strongly opposed to that, and, in fact, if I’m not mistaken, wrote something on biological evolution more than a millennium before Darwin, in the early 400’s.

    Science in general and evolution in special are utterly irrelevant to Catholic Theology. Any claims otherwise is plain bad science and bad theology.

    As for the debate in specific:

    Bad Astronomer, everyone wants to fit the universe on the preconceived notions. Both sides on this debate, at least.

    Allow me to elaborate on this: The real debate is not between creationists versus science, but creationists versus materialists. Let’s get real; materialists have been using ‘science’ to masquerade materialism, which is a philosophy. That’s bad science. Creationists are fighting back with more bad science. Fire with fire.

    Alas, any philosophical materialistic claims are necessarily philosophical and unscientific. The claim that natural science is the only beacon of truth are unscientific per se, and can’t be proven scientifically.

    Let’s not forget that materialism is a philosophical system constructed under the science of matter and motion. It has not evolved beyond cosmetic updates. Like astrology, it’s based on an ancient and scientifically wrong cosmic view. And it’s not science.

    Once, there was a materialistic approach was of a stand-still universe without origin. Newton’s theory of gravity was deemed unscientific by ‘enlightened’ minds for it dealt unknown energies other than simply matter and motion.

  137. ZaphodBeeblebrox

    One of My Favourite Authors, David Brin, in his Paper, [url=http://www.davidbrin.com/neotenyarticle1.html]Neoteny and Two-Way Sexual Selection in Human Evolution[/url], described how Combining Neotenism in Adult Women, with The Male Desire for Youth and Health:

    [quote][b]Not only[/b] are human females compelled to compete for mates, something uncommon in most species, they appear also to have been the sex [b]most[/b] changed (at least in outward appearance) by runaway sexual selection in [i]Homo sapiens[/i], making women the least primate-looking of all higher primates. In comparison, males have been left relatively untouched.

    Moreover, there is a predictable and tragic consequence to the development of neoteny as an emblem of adult female attractiveness. Consider it this way. Sexual selection requires two partners in order to work, first the sex under competitive stress (normally males, but in this case women) among whom a certain fraction are “chosen.” If some trait has a high correlation with reproductive success, the prevalence of that trait will increase in the next generation. And true runaway will accelerate even faster if the [b]choosers[/b] change as well — becoming ever more critical and demanding of that trait. So if paedomorphism was women’s runaway trait, there’s every reason to picture [b]men[/b] growing ever more attracted to paedomorphism in women, at a matching pace. Obvious enough, so far.

    But paedomorphism [b]means[/b] resemblance to children! Consider the bizarre dilemma, then. In order to attract quality mates — protector types — women began taking on the external features of the objects of the protective impulse — children. This was rewarded, presumably, with reproductive success. But it also meant that men began associating with sexual desirability the very outward traits which are most directly associated with childhood!

    The calamitous sickness of sex with pre-pubescents is one of the nastier features of our species. It is denounced by the majority, yet persists at low levels in all cultures, posing a dilemma for those contemplating a better tomorrow for our descendants. But now we might suggest one possible explanation of the origin of this dysfunction. It may derive, at least in part, as an aberrant offshoot from the two-way cycle of runaway sexual selection just described. If ever there was proof that evolution is not planned, this is it. An undergraduate could have predicted the tragic consequences.[/quote]

    In Other Words, Either Evolution is a Real and Stated FACT, or G-d, has been Enabling Child Molesters!

    You just Take your Pick …

  138. It seems my site has posted the wrong part of my blog as a trackback on this discussion. The excert for the track back above should have read

    …These are the same people that claim Crime Rates have increased since the teaching of Evolution began in schools. Which would normally be laughed at and forgotten, only their claims are disturbingly taking hold in the US. That article was from 2002 and I havn’t heard whether the ban is still in place or whether it was appealed, either way, I wish Philip all the best in his quest to rebute the claims of “Creationistsâ€?…

  139. HawaiiArmenian

    Isaac, have you actually read any of Darwin’s works? How can you possibly bring up Darwin’s name without actually having a decent idea of what you’re disagreeing with. At least with the Bible, I read it, analyzed it, disagreed with it, and used something called critical reasoning (you should try it sometime) to disassociate myself from those beliefs and conjectures.
    “Darwin himself said it was only a theory” is a common arguement among Creationists and Science-deniers in general. Just because something is postulated as a theory does not mean it’s a weak statement. A theory is part of the scientific process, and in order to fully understand a concept, and conceptualize it, there must be logical progression. Darwin, along with Wallace, were just starting on the road to a comprehensive evolutionary theory. Since then, much has been observed and tested, meticulously analyzed, through scientific channels and reasoning. Unlike the belief in God, which is impossible to directly (or indirectly) prove, evolution is testable, and observable. What possible tools do you expect us to have to accept religious belief? Faith? That’s a pretty weak arguement. I could say I believe in green lemurs, but that doesn’t necessarily make it so.
    There can never be an equitable debate with Creationists, and most religious folk in general, because Faith, and Reasoning are two vastly different concepts.
    Which brings me to Delance’s arguement on Materialism vs Creationism. There is a theory put forth, that our quantum mind creates the universe that we observe. Without humans wondering and thinking of the universe itself, there would be nothingness (this theory kind of blurrs the line between what you call Materialism and Creationism). Now, Materialism is not a concept to be taken negatively. Of course we’re materialists in that sense, because we believe that there are no metaphysical concepts realized, such as God, Heaven, etc. The physicaly processes of the universe can account for every observable thing. Just because we don’t understand a concept, or a certain function of the Universe does not invalidate our beliefs.

  140. Patrick

    Do back HawaiiArmenian up a little bit. The word ‘theory’ is not used by scientists the same way it is used in every day usage. Wikipedia has a better way of saying it than I. uh hmm.

    “In the sciences, a theory is a model or framework describing the behaviour of a certain natural or social phenomenon. Theories are formulated, developed and evaluated according to the scientific method.

    In physics, the term theory generally is taken to mean a mathematical framework derived from a small set of basic principles capable of producing experimental predictions for a given category of physical systems. An example would be “electromagnetic theory”, which is usually taken to be synonymous with classical electromagnetism, the specific results of which can be derived from Maxwell’s equations.

    The term theoretical may be used to to describe a certain result that has been predicted by theory but has not yet been observed. For example, until recently, black holes were considered theoretical. It is not uncommon in the history of physics for theory to produce such predictions that are later confirmed by experiment, but failed predictions do occur. Conversely, at any time in the study of physics, there can also be confirmed experimental results which are not yet explained by theory.

    For a given body of theory to be considered part of established knowledge, it is usually necessary for the theory to characterize a critical experiment, that is, an experimental result which cannot be predicted by any established theory.”

    and…”n common usage a theory is often viewed as little more than a guess or a hypothesis. But in science and generally in academic usage, a theory is much more than that. A theory is an established paradigm that explains all or much of the data we have and offers valid predictions that can be tested. In science, a theory can never be proven true, because we can never assume we know all there is to know. Instead, theories remain standing until they are disproven, at which point they are thrown out altogether or modified to fit the additional data.

    Theories start out with empirical observations such as “sometimes water turns into ice.� At some point, there is a need or curiosity to find out why this is, which leads to a theoretical/scientific phase. In scientific theories, this then leads to research, in combination with auxiliary and other hypotheses (see scientific method), which may then eventually lead to a theory. Some scientific theories (such as the theory of gravity) are so widely accepted that they are often seen as laws. This, however, rests on a mistaken assumption of what theories and laws are. Theories and laws are not rungs in a ladder of truth, but different sets of data. A law is a general statement based on observations.

    Some examples of theories that have been disproved are Lamarckism and the geocentric universe theory. Sufficient evidence has been described to declare these theories false, as they have no evidence supporting them and better explanations have taken their place.
    [edit]

    Characteristics

    There is sometimes confusion between the scientific use of the word theory and its more informal use as a synonym for “speculation” or “conjecture.” In science, a body of descriptions of knowledge is usually only called a theory once it has a firm empirical basis, i.e., it

    1. is consistent with pre-existing theory to the extent that the pre-existing theory was experimentally verified, though it will often show pre-existing theory to be wrong in an exact sense,
    2. is supported by many strands of evidence rather than a single foundation, ensuring that it probably is a good approximation if not totally correct,
    3. has survived many critical real world tests that could have proven it false,
    4. makes predictions that might someday be used to disprove the theory, and
    5. is the best known explanation, in the sense of Occam’s Razor, of the infinite variety of alternative explanations for the same data.”

    Now we can all be on the same page and use the same vocabulary.

    And to Delance: I don’t think any scientist would claim that science is the ONLY beacon of truth. But that’s a whole other discussion.

  141. Yeah, I really don’t like it when people are so pompous that they immediately assume people who believe in creation don’t actually apply critical reasoning. For a good Christian, good critical reasoning should be a way of life, otherwise how would we be able to accurately present our faith?
    I also find it somewhat funny when evolutionists speak of creationism as a faith (in the sense that evolution isn’t) – you also ‘believe’ in evolution to some extent. Because it isn’t proven, you have to believe that it happened, and have faith in your belief. Also, I take issue with your statement that evolution is testable or observable. Just because you can see something doesn’t necessarily mean that your conclusion drawn from what you see/observe is true.

  142. Scott Mooney

    Welcome to the war, Phil. Now that Planet X is all but dead, and the Lunar Hoax people have been reduced to a handful of raving loons who discredit themselves with every word they say, now is the time to take on the biggest woo-woos around…IDists and Creationists. I have long regarded you as one of the “Big Guns” when it comes to teaching science and promoting education, and I am glad to have you in the trenches of this particular battle.

  143. Sorry Isaac, it sounds like you’re at no position to take issue with anything being said here, at least regarding to the theories at hand. Nor have you given us any indication that you could argue theology.

    “Imagine if creationists didn’t give a crap and didn’t even bother to read what evolutionists claimed to be true… Extend the courtesy please!”
    Hahah. Things wouldn’t be so different. Creationists obviously read the stuff- whether or not they understand it is another issue entirely. If you hope to represent them as a whole, it’s clear they do not.

    “Oh, there are always people on both sides who have read and understood the Bible, yet choose not to follow its teachings (for example liberal Christians, even though I would not call them ‘Christian’).”
    What’s this? Your political commentary? On an astronomy forum? I’ll respond. A “liberal” Christian should by definition be considered closer to Christ than a “conservative” one. Christian morals are liberal. Huh, silly you. Were you thinking the teachings of the Bible were all hellfire and wrath? lolz

    “Guess what – evolutionistic ways of thinking (and some others), are the only ones at odds with the Christian view of an intelligent creation.”
    I like this. What’s your point? How does this invalidate a scientific theory? What are some others, and for that matter, what’re “evolutionistic ways of thinking”? “Evolutionistic” isn’t a word and we’re supposed to guess what you consider a “way of thinking”. I think your “way of thinking” is pretty much crazy.

    “This is because evolutionism is in itself a belief expressly designed to try to elbow God out of the way…”
    By your logic, does it follow that heliocentralism was expressly designed to elbow God out of the way? It’s a theory that takes issue with blatant Biblical statements. Bah.

    “I also don’t agree with your somewhat naive view that all those arguments are discredited – to my way of thinking evolution has been discredited from day one when Darwin himself said it was only a theory.”
    Back to your “way of thinking”, I see. It’s already been stated, but I hope you do understand that all scientific knowledge today is considered basically theoretical. If, for instance, someone could create a reproduceable, consistent experiment that defied the laws of thermodynamics, we’d just have to invalidate them and start from scratch, wouldn’t we? Let’s all hope no one gets smart on the world and comes up with a perpetual motion machine. That would be a setback in more ways then one. xD

    “I also find it somewhat funny when evolutionists speak of creationism as a faith (in the sense that evolution isn’t) – you also ‘believe’ in evolution to some extent. Because it isn’t proven, you have to believe that it happened, and have faith in your belief.”
    You’re not making a valid point. I generally believe that when I walk outside gravity isn’t going to fail on me. I won’t be sent flying off the Earth. You mention that evolution isn’t “proven”, which goes hand and hand with your misinterpretion of the concept of a “theory”. That is… nothing is ever proven.

    I apologize if I seem a little up-front about my taking serious offense to how you appear to have completely ignored the thoughtful and clearly-written responses by Patrick and HawaiiArmenian. Troll.

  144. Gentleman, this is a debate about beliefs, not science. To accept evolution as a valid scientific theory requires little faith. To claim it somehow validates a specific philosophical worldview is, indeed, a matter of faith.

    Now, for a more cultural-oriented approach, both Evolution and Genesis (not creationism) are creation myths, every culture has those. Not myth in the sense of being false, but an explanatory story that answers the question about where we came from.

    But they do so in such different ways there’s no way to compare them directly. The Genesis is not a scientific work, and, in fact, scientific language and thought didn’t exist by the time it was written. Just the fact that it’s a mytho-poetic work should be enough to explain this.

    To claim the Genesis is false because it’s not science (or not literal) is just like saying all poetry (or figurative language) is false, what doesn’t make sense.

  145. “Sorry Isaac, it sounds like you’re at no position to take issue with anything being said here, at least regarding to the theories at hand. Nor have you given us any indication that you could argue theology.”
    Agreed – I haven’t really argued, just presented my position.

    “Hahah. Things wouldn’t be so different. Creationists obviously read the stuff- whether or not they understand it is another issue entirely. If you hope to represent them as a whole, it’s clear they do not.”
    A bit cynical – my leaning is towards http://www.answersingenesis.org. I don’t really follow any other creationist movement. (I like this one cause it’s scientific).

    “What’s this? Your political commentary? On an astronomy forum? I’ll respond. A “liberalâ€? Christian should by definition be considered closer to Christ than a “conservativeâ€? one. Christian morals are liberal. Huh, silly you. Were you thinking the teachings of the Bible were all hellfire and wrath? lolz”
    I believe in absolutes, nuff said. In the Bible it warns people not to be ‘lukewarm’ or liberal.

    “I like this. What’s your point? How does this invalidate a scientific theory? What are some others, and for that matter, what’re “evolutionistic ways of thinkingâ€?? “Evolutionisticâ€? isn’t a word and we’re supposed to guess what you consider a “way of thinkingâ€?. I think your “way of thinkingâ€? is pretty much crazy.”
    Heh, I know it’s not a word but i like using it anyway. By ‘way of thinking’ I mean every school of thought that removes a basis for biblical thought.

    “By your logic, does it follow that heliocentralism was expressly designed to elbow God out of the way? It’s a theory that takes issue with blatant Biblical statements. Bah.”
    Point taken – I really need to be careful with generalization. (But it makes it so much easier than having to worry about stepping on people’s toes.)

    “Back to your “way of thinkingâ€?, I see. It’s already been stated, but I hope you do understand that all scientific knowledge today is considered basically theoretical. If, for instance, someone could create a reproduceable, consistent experiment that defied the laws of thermodynamics, we’d just have to invalidate them and start from scratch, wouldn’t we? Let’s all hope no one gets smart on the world and comes up with a perpetual motion machine. That would be a setback in more ways then one. xD”
    Not all. I know what you’re getting at (theory of relativity, yada yada). I just launched my little attack because i was somewhat annoyed with previous statements that didn’t give creationism the respect it deserves. If evolution is a theory, so is creationism.

    “You’re not making a valid point. I generally believe that when I walk outside gravity isn’t going to fail on me. I won’t be sent flying off the Earth. You mention that evolution isn’t “provenâ€?, which goes hand and hand with your misinterpretion of the concept of a “theoryâ€?. That is… nothing is ever proven.”
    Yeah, so stop bashing creationism and saying that evolution is proven.

    “I apologize if I seem a little up-front about my taking serious offense to how you appear to have completely ignored the thoughtful and clearly-written responses by Patrick and HawaiiArmenian. Troll.”
    Takes two to tango. Seriously though, I haven’t been thinking at all hard with my previous answers, so I do apologize. Yes, they are very thoughtful responses – at removing God from the equation.

  146. Patrick

    I don’t even know where to start with some of this. I think the statements asserting that science requires faith etc are a straw man, I’m not going to take the bait. If someone else wishes to, feel free. Make sure ya’ll are using the same definition of faith.

    Delance, you spoke the truth here:

    “The Genesis is not a scientific work, and, in fact, scientific language and thought didn’t exist by the time it was written.�

    That is correct. I agree with you. However, the scientists, science teachers, and school boards of the country aren’t the ones elevating Genesis and the rest of the bible to scientific fact. The ID proponents, creationists, and Teach the Controversy peddlers are. They say they deserve equal footing in the class, that creationism/ID is on the same level as the theory of evolution, as our theories of cosmology, etc. One side is based on scientific theory (see above posts for distinction) and the other side is based on poetry, non scientific thinking/writing. We’re (the scientific side of this debate) aren’t trying to compare them directly.

    You were good with that quote. After that, you fell back into logical fallacies.

    I’ll take you up on one more point. The culture oriented approach. Ok. We have two competing myths and stories here. I’ll accept that. Both evolution/cosmology/science in general and Genesis/creationsm/ID/xtnty present different stories to explain where we came from, where we’re going, how the world works, etc. These are important questions. These are very different stories and hard to compare directly. They use different standards for truth, support, etc. What can we compare them against? Usefulness. I mean this is the pragmatic sense as proposed by John Dewey, Charles Sanders Peirce, Richard Rorty, William James, et al. Which story helps humankind understand and interpret its environment and allows it to make predictions going forward? What are the consequences of the different stories? Now, we can’t say that everything useful is true. truth (deliberate lower case t)is subject to verification and practice. Our needs as people change over time and inquiry and thought should change accordingly. In order to call something true, it has to stand up to verification and practice.

    Which of these stories as survived tests of verification and practice? Which myth has allowed humankind to move forward and better cope with its environment and understand the world around it? I’m going to go with the scientific story here. It makes predictions, we understand the world better than we ever have, human knowledge is growing faster that we can catalog it, and we have made amazing leaps in technology. When it comes to truth, I’m going there. But again, there are no absolutes here. truth changes based on our needs as we continue to write this crazy human story. The explanations science gives us make the most sense right now. These explanations are not claiming to understand everything, they freely admit to not explaining everything. Does that invalidate the whole process? I’m gonna stop there as I’m digressing a little bit.

  147. Someguy

    “To claim the Genesis is false because it’s not science (or not literal) is just like saying all poetry (or figurative language) is false, what doesn’t make sense.”

    What? Perhaps you missed what this whole topic is about. Creationist’s do not consider it to be their mythology or poetry, they consider it REALITY, which, based on all of the evidence, it is not. And could you please explain how evolution is a matter of faith? It’s not a “philosophical worldview”, it’s a scientific theory, which is a collection of evidence that suggests a certain model of how the world (or some aspect of it) works.

    Until we find real evidence to the contrary, that’s how we know that things happened.

    What are we putting faith in? What, do we have faith that faith is wrong? That there isn’t some big floating guy covering up his tracks and planting evidence for some odd reason? And I suppose it’s faith that we consider the guy sitting in a padded cell crazy because he’s sees little pink elephants dancing around in front of him? Faith is belief without evidence.

    faith
    n.

    1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
    2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.
    3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
    4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
    5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
    6. A set of principles or beliefs.

    Science is belief with evidence.

    the·o·ry
    n. pl. the·o·ries

    1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
    2. The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice: a fine musician who had never studied theory.
    3. A set of theorems that constitute a systematic view of a branch of mathematics.
    4. Abstract reasoning; speculation: a decision based on experience rather than theory.
    5. A belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment: staked out the house on the theory that criminals usually return to the scene of the crime.
    6. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.

    Evolution is not “creation myth”. Unless you have some damning evidence to the contrary that you are hiding from the rest of the world you are wrong my friend.

    If they consider it a metaphor for something or just a fairy tale or some work of fiction, then yes, I suppose it’s fruitless to sit here and argue it’s false, because it wasn’t meant to be true, but that is not what’s happening here. What’s happening here is a group of people are attempting to turn this work of fiction into an accepted reality and get rid of this “godless, atheistic theory of evolution” that us “bleeding heart, anti-american, child-molesting, faggoty, satanist, liberal scientists” came up with.

  148. Someguy

    In regard to what Patrick said, I don’t think that he meant for it to be a straw man of science, just a misunderstanding of evolution, because he says

    “Gentleman, this is a debate about beliefs, not science. To accept evolution as a valid scientific theory requires little faith. To claim it somehow validates a specific philosophical worldview is, indeed, a matter of faith.”

    Which to me, suggests that he doesn’t consider science itself to be faith, rather the theory of evolution being a valid scientific theory to require faith, meaning he doesn’t think it meets the standards for a valid scientific theory, but I’ll let him tell us what he meant, because people don’t always say what they mean. So you never know.

  149. Someguy – you hit the nail on the head.

  150. Someguy

    “Someguy – you hit the nail on the head.”

    Huh? On which part? From reading your above posts I was under the impression you’d disagree with me. I am now officially confused. *scratches head*

  151. RJM

    For all those that are saying that the moderate religious folks are not the enemy, I’m afraid I must disagree. Any sort of god-belief is at odds with science and simply encourages anti-scientific thought.

    The entire ID argument is fallacious and only requires 1 simple thought exercise to defeat. The basic ID premise is that life (or some other aspect of the Universe) is too complicated to arise on it’s own – it must be designed. Well, I assume that the ‘designer’ must also be too complex to arise on its own and so must also be designed. As you see, we are caught in an infinite series. The entire design argument is ridiculous. They can only explain complexity by postulating existing complexity. BS!

  152. MattusMaximus

    >>># Michelle Rochon Says:
    >>>June 17th, 2005 at 5:11 am

    >>>http://www.shirtmax.com/shirts/darwin.htm

    >>>They even make T-Shirts for their cause.

    Yeah, well our side has them as well…

    http://www.evolvefish.com/fish/product343.html

    And to all those arguing with Isaac, let me pose a question to ponder (to Isaac as well) – if there’s ‘no evidence’ for evolution, then why has this science been so successful in developing treatments & cures that battled various diseases over the decades? We are all immune to smallpox, polio, etc as a direct result of the science of evolution, and the same science is being applied to more modern plagues like HIV. When was the last time that ‘scientific creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’ actually developed a vaccine or did something besides go woo-woo-woo in the corner?

    Last, but not least, some would argue that the Bible does teach evolution…

    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/interp/evolution.html

    I figured that would be a nice link to add to the discussion :)

    Cheers — Mattus

  153. Patrick,

    Thanks for your answer.

    Creationists elevate the Genesis to a scientific level, but they are not the only ones. A materialist who claims evolution disproves the Genesis does exactly that. It there’s no scientific material in the Genesis, science can’t ever prove or disprove it. So to say such a thing is, ironically, to agree with the Creationists on that.

    These are very different stories and hard to compare directly. They use different standards for truth, support, etc. What can we compare them against?

    “Both evolution/cosmology/science in general and Genesis/creationsm/ID/xtnty present different stories to explain where we came from�

    That’s not correct. Creationism is Science + Religion, and the result is as scientifically correct as it is religiously correct. Creationism has as much to do with Religion as it has to do with Science.

    There is no incompatibility between the creation myths of evolution and the Genesis. I know this for a fact because science can’t say a non-scientific work is false, and because the theologians of the Church have said so even before Darwin was ever born. The concept of biological evolution is quite old, what happened was that it became more presentable.

    “What can we compare them against? Usefulness.�

    They can’t be compared against, because there’s no need to choose between them. Besides, utilitarianism is invalid as a means to make a comparison, because it’s a choice on itself. Not that it matters, anyway.

    “Which of these stories as survived tests of verification and practice? Which myth has allowed humankind to move forward and better cope with its environment and understand the world around it?�

    The Genesis, which has been around from the dawn of civilization and is the foundation where the civilization who created the tools to come up with modern evolution in the first place. There’s no dichotomy, and no one is forced to choose between either.

    The cultural superiority of the Genesis and the religious status it holds don’t harm evolution from a scientific point of view. Likewise, the scientific merits of evolution likewise don’t harm the Genesis. The problem happens when some group claim they do.

    Best,
    Delance

  154. Someguy,

    I’ll gladly explain.

    The scientific method was designed to create a body of knowledge of things we can know for sure. Therefore, for as long as Evolution fits the criteria, it’s party of that. It doesn’t require faith of beliefs you can’t scientifically proof, except for the basics, like that the universe is not an illusion.

    However, to claim evolution supports a specific philosophical worldview is a wildly different thing. And since it can’t be proven scientifically it’s not science. It’s anti-science, because it makes people resentful to science for something doesn’t do.

    Materialists using evolution to give a false scientific status to their beliefs have done more damage to the role of science on society than any creationist group could ever dream of. It’s a disservice to the cause of science.

    And to make it clear, not talking about scientists here, but on individuals who claim they have scientific proof of something they don’t.

    As for the straw man and similar fallacies, it works both ways. Nearly all anti-religious arguments present a straw-man of what religion is. And a very poorly done one, at that. But, most importantly to the subject here, they are not scientific in nature.

  155. CR

    “The Genesis, which has been around from the dawn of civilization and is the foundation where the civilization who created the tools to come up with modern evolution in the first place.” –Delance’s June 19th post above

    Well, the Genesis story has been around since the beginning of Christian civilization. But other civilizations/cultures existed before Christianity, and had their own creation myths. (Some of those cultures & their myths are still around today, for that matter.) Perhaps I’m inferring the wrong thing, but Delance’s comment seems to imply there is no civilization outside of Christianity. This could degenerate (devolve?) into a theological debate, rather than a theology-versus-science debate. If that happens, we could see each side claiming it’s the “one true” side, and nothing will move ahead.

    I thought I had more to say, but it’s late where I am & I lost my train of thought; I guess I made the main point I wanted to, though, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

  156. CR:

    I think you don’t fully understand Christianity. It was called such after the followers of Christ, but has its roots in the Jewish books of the Bible (Old Testament). These books talk about how people were following God from the very beginning. Thus Christianity (or people who follow God) has always been around, and other cultures have copied the stories, or just memorized what happened.

  157. Rich

    Isaac’s posts are a great example of one of the stellar and oft-repeated misrepresentations and misunderstanding of how science works.

    Other’s have tried to point this out, but let me try it in less dictionary terms:

    A “Theory” (as far as the term is used for evolution or gravity) is a proposed explanation for established facts and observed phenomena. The facts are that evolution occurs… there is no (read “zero” 0) scientific debate about that. Every shred of evidence from biology, geology, anthropology, and numerous other fields demonstrates quite conclusively that this is the case. The “theory” of evolution is simpy about how evolution occurs, the processes and mechanisms through which evolution works. There is still some debate about that part. Just as there is still a great deal of research and debate about the “theory” of gravity. We all know that gravity works. We can demonstrate it quite clearly from our own personal experience as well as the motions of planes, satellites, and other bodies in our own (and now other) solar system. The “theory” of gravity is about the processes and mechanisms through which gravity propagates. That the “theory” is still a work in progress makes gravity no less of a solid irreversable fact. That evolution occurs and it is how every living thing on the planet got here, about this there is simply no debate. It is incontravertable fact and there is no need for any rational person to be apologetic about it.

    As for science or any part of it being a belief system…. no more so than a hammer can be a “belief system”. Science is a tool for separating what might be true from what definitely is not true, for determining what works from what doesn’t work. It is a tool, just like a hammer. Science can no more be a “belief” than a hammer can be a “belief”. Unless you seriously and maliciously conflate belief to a ridiculous degree e.g. “I believe that a properly weilded hammer will almost always drive a nail into wood… therefore I ‘believe’ in hammers.”

  158. Someguy

    Oh ok, that clears a few things up, I was just a little confused by the way you said it. But I don’t think that most scientific people argueing against religion make straw man arguements, it’s true some do, but read some Carl Sagan’s last book and though he doesn’t directly argue against religion, he does warn that there are some dangers of accepting it without critical thinking and in the face of contradictory scientific evidence.

    And maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying again, but you’re saying that it’s materialists trying to back up their philosophical worldview, correct? I’m alittle confused by this arguement, “materalists” (I’m sure I would be considered one) don’t back up their “philosophical worldview” using evolution, us “materialists” back our “view” up with the fact the spiritual worldview has been consistantly wrong in their predictions and beliefs about the way the world works and the fact that all of the claims can be explained with much more likely materialistic explainations, and the fact that that when people see “visions” or feel “divine presence” and such can also be explained materialistically, because the mind it created by a material thing called the brain which can malfunction.

    And we aren’t really materialists, that suggests that we have an agenda to push and that we want the world to be “material” no matter what, that’s not true, it’s just that evidence weighs in favor of a material world, if we found evidence of a non material phenomenon at work, we would be all over it, it could revolutionize the way we look at the universe, and it would be an exciting (but chaotic time, I would hate hearing all of the bible thumpers going “toldja so” and scientists trying to explain that we just found a non-material phenomenon, but that there was still no evidence for their beliefs and and there bible still made lots of logical contradictions as well as contradictions to itself, but I imagine a popular arguement amond religious people going something like “they were wrong about there being no ethereal things, that means they’ve lost all credibility!!”) but there is no evidence for it and no reason to believe that it must exist, because the current model of the universe works fine without a god or supernatural activity or beings.

    I don’t really feel like getting further into this, so this may or may not be my last post. Check out http://www.twopercentco.com/ and http://www.csicop.org/creationwatch/ if you want to get a good idea of the goings on in this topic, they can explain things better than I ever could, also check out panda’s thumb (type it in on google if you don’t already know the url). they don’t just give the sort of general statements and ideas like on here, they can go into great detail about very specific parts and animals that have evolved, also check out this article http://www.csicop.org/si/2003-11/intelligent-design.html

    and

    http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-09/design.html

    they give good idea about the topic.

    Sorry if I misunderstood what you were saying again Delance. But I suppose this needed to be said anyway.

  159. CR,

    To clarify, I meant specifically civilizations founded on religions that followed the Genesis, what includes Judaism, Christianity, Islam and a few others. As Isaac kindly noted, such Myths (explanatory stories) are the basis of several civilizations, in a way or the other. The Scientific Method and the Theory of Evolution were created by civilizations that either were based on or embraced one of these religions. Of course there are other civilizations and Myths, and they certainly are around. A lot of myths seem to have things in common, like a flood or a Tree of Life. Why it is so is subject of study. But I digress.

    The Creationism issue is not one of theology vs science. Creationism is not theology. What would such a debate deal with? Natural Science and Theology deals with completely different questions. It’s impossible to apply the scientific method to a theological issue.

    Outisde,

    Oh, Einstein failed in Math. And I most certainly am against relativism, that self-contradictory concept. You have a point that Evolution is not a doctrine and it’s not a philosophy. When it was treated as a justification for political regimes and social engineering it was a major disaster. But as a useful tool for study, that’s a different question. Thanks for the distinction.

    Rich,

    “Science can no more be a “belief� than a hammer can be a “belief�.

    Well said. Anyone who uses religions as a belief system, philosophy or social doctrine is doing something extremely weird. At best it’s superstition. Results are invariably bad. It’s more a belief than a hammer, and evolution is not more theology than plumbing (to use alt.origins example)

    This whole mess is in great deal the result of groups using things in the way they are not supposed to.

    Bearcastle,

    Evolution doesn’t contradict Religion, unless you accept the fundamentalist literalist interpretation which has never been the one of the Church. And, if you are not a Fundamentalist, why would you do that? To make a straw man attack. That’s not science, that’s a fallacy, and it’s that simple.

  160. Someguy,

    Of course not everyone arguing for science is doing that. I argue for science, and I’m not an atheist. I argue for religion, and I’m not a fundamentalist. Not everyone has to be on a trench gunning for each other.

    What I said is that there are some that are arguing not for science but for pushing their philosophical worldview as science. The point I’m trying to get across is that Science is not a belief system, and it requires none.

    I’ll give you an example. “Only things that can be proved by Science can be considered true� is a philosophical statement, not a scientific one. It can’t be proven scientifically, because it assumes things that are impossible to inquiry with the scientific method. In fact, it deals with the philosophical nature of truth, outside the boundaries of science.

    Carl Sagan’s book is of interest to me. It has been greatly used as a tool to attack religion. I’m not sure if it was designed and intended to work that way. And, honestly, basically all materialistic attacks on religions – including the ones on these comments – easily fall under what this book describe as fallacies. Often they are the result of one or more kinds of Cognitive Distortions.

    For example, individuals tend to use fundamentalist groups to attack religion, what is an
    Overgeneralization. A Mental Filter prevents the same individual from acknowledging information that contradicts they point.

    Christianity doesn’t make predictions about how this world works because it’s not very concerned about how this world works. Scientific questions are left to scientists. Things that can be scientifically researched are of little theological significance. Just be because some religious individuals might have messed up concepts in the past or present doesn’t mean it’s a religious thing. Usually it’s bad theology and bad science.

    Moreover, materialism did make predictions about the nature of this world and have failed numerous times. Materialists once believed that everything was matter and motion, with no random or invisible forces. On this ground, materialism once rejected the theory of gravity and quantum physics. To this day, philosophical materialists reject the Big Bang theory on the sole base that feel it’s overly religious.

    And I know of studies that try to understand how religious meditation works, and others that try to understand the role of religion on evolution, or how mankind ended up with a hard-wired need to search for God and the ability to be religious. No such study, of course, has anything to say about the validity of the beliefs. Claims otherwise are not scientific.

    Also, it’s impossible to use the scientific method to study the questions that Christianity deals with. We are talking about things outside space and time, bound by no laws that rule this universe.

    And, to clarify, I was not defending Intelligent Design as a science, or as philosophy.

    While we are at it, I’d like to quote the pro-evolution Talk Origins:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA602.html

    “Evolution is no more atheistic than biochemistry, farming, engineering, plumbing, art, law, and so forth.�

  161. G. Tingey

    May I suggest a word of physics could be useful here?

    The activity of a radioactive deposit is measured at time = present as Ap

    This is equal to the original activity Azero multiplied by e to the power mius lambda times t the time elapsed.
    Using this very simple equation backwards and forwards gives the ages of items once-living (Carbon-dating) and of other always inanimate objects, such as Uranium ores.

    This gives a set of consistent verifyable data as to the age of the Earth.
    If the YE loonies are right, then god is lying!

    BTW – we in England have these nutters over here as well.
    They are not nearly as bad as in the USA – YET.
    What with them, our Appeasement of religious nutters bill, which T. B-liar is trying to get through Parliament, and yhe spread of American “gospel” churches here, some of us are getting worried.
    We are afraid tha when the US goes Evangelical-fascist in 2016 (disputed election / Reichstag fire/ suspension of the constitution/ Handmaids Tale in USa, that we will becom “Airstrip One” for this nasty creed.

  162. John Lasley

    Wow! Was looking for a good science blog site. Guess I’ll keep looking.

    There’s nothing in science from all that I’ve read that refutes creationism. Creationism doesn’t give a timetable, mechanism, or process of how the universe came into being. It only says that it was designed by God. I am a creationist, but I don’t expect to find God’s magic blueprint. It is simply a matter of faith.

    I’m opposed to creationists using science only to uphold their religious beliefs, and equally opposed to naturalists and atheist using science to hold up their (anti-) religious beliefs. Your beliefs may bias your assumptions, fine. But your arguments to frequently fall into elitist, grandstanding insults.

    Creationist and atheists are all reasonably rational people. Stop giving science a black-eye.

  163. Irishman

    Paul in CT said:
    > But I also say to the pro-science people, how about we teach both ideas of creation and let the parents/children be exposed and learn for themselves.

    It is not a matter of what we should and should not teach, it is a matter of what is the proper venue. There is a place for learning about religious beliefs – it’s called Church (temple, synagogue, mosque, etc). What the pro-science people are advocating is that science class should be the place to learn about science. Genesis (any interpretation) is not science.

    Science classes seek to explain the methods and interactions of the natural world. Evolution (as a theory) is a descriptive model of how living organisms develop, change, spread, survive, adapt, and even how they get killed off when that happens. It provides insight into the inner workings of our own bodies from down to the cellular level and up to, in some respects, social interactions. None of that has anything to say about whether or not there was a metaphysical “first cause”. What it does say is that life is more than just *poof* there’s a donkey.

    > I have a friend who is an athiest and he challenged me one day to ask why do I belive in God. I answered with a stern “Why not?â€?… So I ask this, what is there to lose. If I die and there’s nothing, I’ve lost nothing by believing. But what if I’m right? Then those who don’t believe have everything to lose.

    Pascal’s wager. Old hat. Tell me again, which god is it I’m supposed to believe in just because it might be true? Zeus? Odin? Pan? Krishna? Which god am I supposed to butter up by not critically examining, on the off chance he’ll like me for it and allow me into his playground after I’m dead? Which afterlife is it that I’m supposed to believe in and look forward to because if I don’t and it is true I’ll miss out? The one with clouds and harps, the one with 72 virgins all my own, or the one where I sit around in a banquet hall surrounded by warriors telling tales of past heroic deeds? Oh wait, no, I’m supposed to believe in reincarnation, because if that’s true and I don’t believe in it and act as if it’s true I might come back as a cockroach or something, and I’d really hate that. See the problem yet? They cannot all be true, so how do I decide? And those gods tend to be a bit persnickety when it comes to who you decide to worship. Something about being a “jealous God” comes to mind.

    As for the “If I die believing and it’s not true, I’ve lost nothing,” argument, that’s false, too. What about the time and energy dedicated to a lie? What about the money spent to build cathedrals and churches and pay ministers their salaries or house and feed the priests and nuns, often from the people who can least afford to give their 10% (or whatever)? And that’s without considering the crusades and jihads and inquisitions and stifling of free expression and free actions that come with the mindset that “God wants it this way and I’m the hand of God!” And if you think I’m exaggerating or looking to the past, consider the actions of abortion protestors who murder abortion providers and bomb clinics in the name of doing right. Or the 9-11 hi-jackers and their religious justification for destroying the twin towers and part of the Pentagon. Or look at Israel’s place in the Middle East, and how socio-political problems are being fueled by religious zealotry.’

    Paul in CT said:
    > But I also say to the pro-science people, how about we teach both ideas of creation and let the parents/children be exposed and learn for themselves.

    It is not a matter of what we should and should not teach, it is a matter of what is the proper venue. There is a place for learning about religious beliefs – it’s called Church (temple, synagogue, mosque, etc). What the pro-science people are advocating is that science class should be the place to learn about science. Genesis (any interpretation) is not science.

    Science classes seek to explain the methods and interactions of the natural world. Evolution (as a theory) is a descriptive model of how living organisms develop, change, spread, survive, adapt, and even how they get killed off when that happens. It provides insight into the inner workings of our own bodies from down to the cellular level and up to, in some respects, social interactions. None of that has anything to say about whether or not there was a metaphysical “first cause”. What it does say is that life is more than just *poof* there’s a donkey.

    > I have a friend who is an athiest and he challenged me one day to ask why do I belive in God. I answered with a stern “Why not?â€?… So I ask this, what is there to lose. If I die and there’s nothing, I’ve lost nothing by believing. But what if I’m right? Then those who don’t believe have everything to lose.

    Pascal’s wager. Old hat. Tell me again, which god is it I’m supposed to believe in just because it might be true? Zeus? Odin? Pan? Krishna? Which god am I supposed to butter up by not critically examining, on the off chance he’ll like me for it and allow me into his playground after I’m dead? Which afterlife is it that I’m supposed to believe in and look forward to because if I don’t and it is true I’ll miss out? The one with clouds and harps, the one with 72 virgins all my own, or the one where I sit around in a banquet hall surrounded by warriors telling tales of past heroic deeds? Oh wait, no, I’m supposed to believe in reincarnation, because if that’s true and I don’t believe in it and act as if it’s true I might come back as a cockroach or something, and I’d really hate that. See the problem yet? They cannot all be true, so how do I decide? And those gods tend to be a bit persnickety when it comes to who you decide to worship. Something about being a “jealous God” comes to mind.

    As for the “If I die believing and it’s not true, I’ve lost nothing,” argument, that’s false, too. What about the time and energy dedicated to a lie? What about the money spent to build cathedrals and churches and pay ministers their salaries or house and feed the priests and nuns, often from the people who can least afford to give their 10% (or whatever)? And that’s without considering the crusades and jihads and inquisitions and stifling of free expression and free actions that come with the mindset that “God wants it this way and I’m the hand of God!” And if you think I’m exaggerating or looking to the past, consider the actions of abortion protestors who murder abortion providers and bomb clinics in the name of doing right. Or the 9-11 hi-jackers and their religious justification for destroying the twin towers and part of the Pentagon. Or look at Israel’s place in the Middle East, and how socio-political problems are being fueled by religious zealotry.

  164. Irishman

    John Lasley, it depends on what you mean by “creationism”.

    If you define creationism purely as the belief that the universe is the act of God, but don’t put any restrictions on how or when, then you are correct.

    However, most Creationists do base their arguments on specific timetables and descriptions and mechanisms. They argue Genesis 1 is a literal description of events. Some even argue for a young Earth. The findings of science do refute this type of creationism.

  165. Outside observer

    Creationism as a concept does not imply a time table, but the versions being argued against here do. This debate has a context.

  166. Outisde,

    That’s true, and that also means that the refutal of the versions of Creationism being argued here don’t imply on an refutal of all versions, like the one John Lasley was talking about.

  167. G. Tingey

    John Lasley said …. [SNIP]

    It only says that it was designed by God. I am a creationist, but I don’t expect to find God’s magic blueprint. It is simply a matter of faith.

    BUT we are talking about EVIDENCE … which does not require faith – use Occams’ razor, please….

    I’m (JL that is) opposed to creationists using science only to uphold their religious beliefs, and equally opposed to naturalists and atheists using science to hold up their (anti-) religious beliefs.
    What beliefs?
    That physical events have physical, rational, explainable causes?
    As opposed to (insert name of invisible friend here) working a “miracle”?

    Creationist and atheists are all reasonably rational people. (said JL)
    150% wrong.
    Creationists are manifestly not rational, or they would accept rational evidence.

    One thing I, and I suspect a lot of others have noticed, is the running together of creationist “arguments” against “Darwinism”/evolution and the age of the universe or Earth, and the origin of life on Earth, and the “Big Bang”
    All of which are, in fact four separate theories.
    Interestingly, the shakiest is the Big Bang – it is recognised to have faults, but we do not have a current better model.
    The age of the Earth and the experimentally proven and observed fact 9as far as anything can be) f evoultion and the age of the Earth are at the other end of the certainty spectrum – I would rate them as better than 99.99%

  168. Irishman

    Isaac said:
    > Guess what – evolutionistic ways of thinking (and some others), are the only ones at odds with the Christian view of an intelligent creation. This is because evolutionism is in itself a belief expressly designed to try to elbow God out of the way…

    Actually, to some extent Evolution was developed as a way to explore God’s methodology. However, you do have a valid point that early proponents of Evolution argued strongly against the existence of God, based upon the explanations Evolution provided. Laying fault is a little difficult, though. At the time, there was no scientific basis of understanding of origins – origins of life, origins of the planet, and origins of the cosmos. The predominant view was a creationist view, in large part because there was nothing else to go on, and it was assumed that the Bible had some accuracy. Evolution provided the beginnings of a something else. Of course this left Evolution proponents in the unenviable position of proposing a scientific theory against an existing religious explanation, and finding the two did not mesh smoothly.

    > … to my way of thinking evolution has been discredited from day one when Darwin himself said it was only a theory.

    Seems to me some misunderstanding of the word “theory”, and how science works.

    To put it bluntly, Plate Tectonics is only a theory, but that doesn’t mean earthquakes aren’t real. That tsunami that devestated Indonesia and much of the Indian Ocean basin was a pretty real effect from “only a theory”.

  169. Irishman

    Isaac said:
    > I also find it somewhat funny when evolutionists speak of creationism as a faith (in the sense that evolution isn’t) – you also ‘believe’ in evolution to some extent. Because it isn’t proven, you have to believe that it happened, and have faith in your belief. Also, I take issue with your statement that evolution is testable or observable. Just because you can see something doesn’t necessarily mean that your conclusion drawn from what you see/observe is true.

    This also appears to be confusion over the use of the words “faith” and “belief”, as well as misrepresentation/misunderstanding of how science works.

    From the religious sense, faith is belief without evidence. Some might go so far as suggest that faith is belief in spite of the evidence against it, but I think that crosses the line into obstinance. But a second definition of faith is trust, confidence in, and that is the more applicable form of the word as applied to our “faith in our beliefs” of evolution.

    What about belief? Some people have come to view that word with suspicion because of the connection to faith and the implicit assumption that the premise may be false. This leads some science proponents to push for using “know” instead of “believe”, to avoid that confusion. While laudable to avoid miscommunication, the word believe is not itself at fault. What if I “know” that I went to the bank yesterday, but in fact it was two days ago that I went to the bank? While my certainty may be the same, my understanding is now merely a belief – what I think – not knowledge of a factual event. If in my conversations I acknowledge the possibility I might be in error, this does not mean I concede my conclusions are without basis. The dichotomy in question is not always one over the surety of the answer, but rather one over the basis for the premise.

    Evolution is a scientific theory. It is grounded in examination of how the world behaves, structured by the results of experimentation, and tested by critical examination, prediction, and falsification. Evolution is believed not because of 100% trust that it can’t be wrong, but because it is the conclusion drawn from the evidence available. It is a cohesive explanation that ties together vastly different situations, events, and pieces of evidence. It provides a description of how things works, and provides guides to what should be expected to happen and what shouldn’t happen – called prediction.

    Creationism is not science. It is grounded in religious revelation, in poetic scripture, in historical tales not concerned with recording a detailed, step-by-step factual description, but in providing a sense of purpose, of creating a common story to create social identity, and to answer unanswerable questions. People can believe in creation and not expect the Bible to be a literal description of that creation.

    Intelligent Design is not science. It is religious belief wrapped in a shroud of science to give it legitimacy as a counterpoint to science so the philosophical underpinning of creationism can ride in on the coattails. It is born from sense that science, especially Evolution, is destroying the foundation for accepting the beliefs in creation because it erodes the “suspension of disbelief” in the premise of the creation story that formed the backbone to that social identity mentioned above. It is a political action in part a response to the actions of those who drew philosophical conclusions about the world from the results they were getting from examining the world. It is born of the fear that knowledge of how life developed would erode belief in the need for a cause to that development. While there is some justification for that fear, the solution of pushing their ideology is not the best response.

    ID is a belief in search of evidence, not a conclusion draw from evidence.

  170. Materialism is belief in search of evidence as well. There were materialists before Darwin, which have championed evolution ever since with what can only be described as religious fervor.

    Evidence don’t point to either ID or Materialism. Both can’t be subject to inquiry via Scientific Method.

    The true question here is purpose. Is there a purpose to the universe? Science can’t answer this q

  171. (cont)question.

    It two groups are making bogus claims of scientific evidence about questions outside the scope of scientific body of knowledge, both are wrong. It doesn’t matter that you like and agree with group A, and dislike and disagree with group B. Most are willing to give credit to the one they like and discredit the one they don’t solely based on their bias. But that’s just the mental filters kicking in.

    Questions about purpose and meaning are outside the realm of Science. Choose an answer or choose none, but don’t try to pass your personal belief or lack thereof as scientific fact.

    Alas, I have an excellent article on this very subject.

    http://www.stnews.org/articles.php?article_id=592&category=Commentary

    “Consequent on this, science cannot answer the major questions about meaning and purpose of the universe and of our lives that are fundamental to every one of us, including religious issues such as the existence or non-existence of God. Neither can philosophy answer these questions with certainty; indeed there is a profound ambiguity of the universe relative to these issues. Science cannot solve them, and neither can philosophy give an indisputable answer. This is not to say one cannot make strong cases one way or another, or attain viable viewpoints as a basis for living. However intellectual certainty is unattainable.

    This ambiguity was known to Hume and Kant, who both realized that no certainty can be reached by human reasoning regarding the existence or non-existence of a deity, or the nature of any deity there may be. According to Gaskin, Hume “adopted a species of ‘mitigated scepticism’ which is inconsistent with any positive assertion about God’s nature, existence, or nonexistence.â€? Thus “any conclusion as confident and positive as atheism would have been inconsistent with the skepticism expressed by Hume in his philosophical works.â€? Similarly, according to Fischer, after many years of thought and study, “Kant determined for all time and for all who follow that it is impossible to prove the existence —or the non-existence—of God, and as a consequence of this situation Kant expressed the standing plea that no one should in the future bother him with further attempts of this sort.â€? “

  172. G. Tingey

    The previous poster said ….
    “…science cannot answer the major questions about meaning and purpose of the universe and of our lives that are fundamental to every one of us, including religious issues such as the existence or non-existence of God. ”

    Wrong again.
    Even allowing for the problems exposed by Kant & Hume, of which I am aware ….

    Here is a scientific postulate, which can be experimentally tested:

    Even if god exists, god is not detectable.
    Not detectable either directly or indirectly.
    If god exists and is speaking to his/her/its/their followers, that message will be detectable.

    Unless and until this postulate is disproven by experimental test, then the safe assumption is that god does not exist (because not detectable)

    Science deals with how, not why, but here is a good test of how.
    Will religious believers in their invisible friend(s) now either put up – and falsify the proposed tests, or shut up?

  173. Outside observer

    Interesting note in the context:
    Christianity was preceded by a plethora of other religions that also featured a son of god, born around midwinter with 12 underlings under various lables. This is believe to stem from an early egyptian faith centered the sun and the moon. The birth of gods son represents the fact that the sun “returned” after midwinter. The 12 disciples represents the lunar cycle.

  174. G. Tingey,

    Arguing about “existence” and “detctability” is a non sequitur. The terminology simple doesn’t apply. That’s not a scientic postualte, that’s atheist humbug.

    Outisde,

    Maybe Dan Brown can use that on his next work.

  175. Irishman

    I never know what someone means when they say “materialism”. I also find there to be much disagreement over the meaning of the word “atheist”.

    I find that most atheists use the word in this sense: there is no proof for the existence of god. The evidence is slim and subjective and unverifiable. Now when confronted with any other existence belief where the evidence is slim and subjective and unverifiable (like Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny, or Krishna, or a Ming dynasty vase trapped in stable orbit between the Earth and Mars, or the ubiquitous invisible pink unicorn), most people choose not to believe without positive evidence. I am perfectly accepted for saying “there is no Ming dynasty vase trapped in stable orbit between Mars and the Earth” until someone provides positive evidence to that proposition. But if I state “there is no God” because I don’t have positive evidence to that proposition, I’m immediately labeled by believers as being unfair and how can I really know since his existence can’t be disproven and where’s my evidence for my conclusion. Yet these same believers are perfectly willing to state that they themselves don’t believe in Odin or Zeus or that same Ming dynasty vase in orbit between Mars and Earth based on the same lack of evidence, stating their belief exactly as conclusively.

    Seems to me I have the virtue of being consistent in my position.

  176. Irishman

    Delance, materialism may or may not be “a belief in search of evidence as well”, but that’s not really the point. The point is what are we teaching as science.

    I will agree with you that if teachers present a conclusion about God’s non-existence as conclusive, they are stepping over the line. That doesn’t have any place in science classes, either. However, I have not witnessed that to be the case. Most science educators do not go into conclusions about that at all. Rather, they focus on the science, which discusses the hows of evolution and cosmology and Earth science. Speculations as to why, for instance, the Big Bang occurred are presented because it does no good to say “Because of God”. That is no more explanation than “Because I said so” or “Because I’m your mother/father”. Talking about quantum fluctuations and virtual particles and such does address what caused it by addressing how it happened.

  177. Irishman,

    I agree that the definition of atheism is confusing. Romans called Christians atheists, for they denied the existence of their pagan gods. But let’s stick to the modern definition, which is someone who makes a positive affirmation that God doesn’t exist. That’s fine, and everyone is entitled to do it. What they can do is call that a proven scientific fact, what is a fantasy.

    Pink unicorns and eastern bunnies are extremely shallow fallacies intended to ridicule and discredit the opposition, and that only reveals a weak and insecure position. The ability to make up a false argument is not evidence against a supposedly similar one. It’s the same as saying that astrology makes astronomy false, or that the Pitdown man makes evolution a hoax. Or even the urban legend professor that drops a chalk to disprove religion.

    If you want to wage a war against theology (natural and Revelation), do so honestly, but don’t pretend you know for sure all of it is made up stuff just because you happen not to believe in it. As mentioned before, not being SCIENCE doesn’t mean something it’s false.

    The question proposed has far too many problems. First there has to be a framework.

    What conception of God are we talking about? Einsetein’s God believed in Spinoza’s God. If God makes the universe lawful, and the universe is lawful, there is a God, even if He is not concerned with the fate of humans. That is not, obviously, a scientific affirmation. None on this subject matter is. But at least it makes sense.

    We also have the Christian God. If one is willing to say every Christian is a nut-job who produced pseudoscience, I strongly encourage them to promptly stop accepting every such pseudoscience based on, say, priests and monks. Like, you know, Copernicus and Mendel. Who needs modern astronomy and genetics, anyway.

    Now, “existence� is even more problematic. Existence as we understand it requires being contained in time and space, being bound by the rules of the universe, etc. If God created this universe, He obviously isn’t contained or bound by it, is outside scientific observation and proof. Therefore asking for proof doesn’t make any sense at all, as it is conceptually impossible to provide any.

  178. Irishman,

    Materialism or Naturalism can mean two different things, a method used in scientific investigation, and a philosophy. The first one is used by every scientist regardless of personal belief. The later is and old belief system ever in search for evidence.

    Confusion between both, either by honest mistake or deliberate misconception, is one of the primary sources of the current mess.

    Mankind’s age-old question about the purpose of the universe has two philosophical answers: there is or there isn’t. A nice, simple dichotomy. When you say there isn’t you’re a materialist. Make T-Shirts. Buy a coffee mug.

    Now, of course you are right that “Because of Godâ€? can be used as an answer to almost any question like “Why there was a Big Bangâ€?, and even if it’s true doesn’t further our knowledge. It’s not particular useful for scientific inquiry. This doesn’t mean one excludes the other.

    Alas, the questions about purpose and meaning are unscientific and philosophical in nature. Science and illuminate the issue with evidence, but can’t provide an answer.

    The Conflict Model between religion and science is a radical view that which violates the Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Religion. Look at the great scientific minds and at the great theologians (some of which are both), and you’ll see they never overstep boundaries.

  179. CR

    I’m interested in the last thing Delance said: “If God created this universe, He obviously isn’t contained or bound by it, is outside scientific observation and proof. Therefore asking for proof doesn’t make any sense at all, as it is conceptually impossible to provide any.”
    So if for all intents and purposes, God (or whatever) is outside the realm of the universe, why care at all about the existense of God? Or the non-existense? It’s irrelevent, as far as the day-to-day happenings of the universe go. The universe develops, progresses, evolves on its own; our awareness of God’s (or whatever’s) existense can be speculated but never observed.
    So what’s the problem with describing the universe’s development AS WE CAN OBSERVE IT, since that’s all we’ve got? How can what we observe be limited to what one particular human religion (or for that matter, what ANY particular human religion) says is right or wrong? If a religion says that Earth is the center of the universe, that is clearly proven wrong by simply observing the universe (specifically, our own solar system). The specific mechanics of evolution may not be completely knowable, but the idea is one that fits what we can observe.
    Science, the scientific method–just plain finding things out–shouldn’t be considered wrong or criminal. Finding out about our universe, and our place in it–no matter how large or small–is part of who we are… put another way, we are a part of the universe, as much as it is a part of us. Finding things out about one allows us to find things out about the other. Enlightenment, if you will. Understanding. What’s the crime in that?

  180. G. Tingey

    Delance seems to be confused, and I’m not sure about his ability to think logically …

    He said:”Arguing about “existenceâ€? and “detectabilityâ€? is a non sequitur.”
    No it isn’t – we can detect electrons and even neutrinos, and very faint stellar signals.
    Why not detect some existence of this god thing?
    And if the god thing is outside this universe, then from our point of view, it doesn’t exist anyway – thank you for handing the argument over completely ….

    He also said:” The terminology simple doesn’t apply. That’s not a scientific postualte, that’s atheist humbug.”
    The terminology does apply, and it is not humbug – as a trained engineer, with a physics background, I can tell you that I have carefully phrased a proposition for a falsifyable test – inless, of course …

    Does Delance believe that all scientiosts are atheists, because rational, demonstrable causes must always be invoked for physical events, and that the rules do not change?
    These are in fact the underlying assumptions behind all science and rational enquiry.
    The rules don’t change.
    Miracles are not allowed.
    Physical events have physical causes.

    Note, this does not prohibit scientists from being religious believers – but that’s a separate argument. And mocking the “tooth fairy” and “mystical invisible pink unicorn” arguments does not undermine their validity – see the previous poster on the orbiting Ming Vase (I though it was a teapot, actually, but never mind)

  181. Irishman

    Somehow I morphed a China teapot into a Ming dynasty vase. Deal with it. 😉

  182. Irishman

    Delance said:
    > But let’s stick to the modern definition, which is someone who makes a positive affirmation that God doesn’t exist.

    I don’t accept that God* exists not because I have proof that he doesn’t, but because I do not have proof that he does. Thus I have no justification to believe. Is that a positive affirmation that God does not exist?

    > Pink unicorns and eastern bunnies are extremely shallow fallacies intended to ridicule and discredit the opposition, and that only reveals a weak and insecure position.

    Incorrect. They are shallow fantasies used to make the logical argument precisely because they can be agreed as shallow fantasies and non-existent. It does less good to choose as an exemplar for the logical argument something else that is in strong debate. If we don’t agree on the second example, then it isn’t a good example.

    > The ability to make up a false argument is not evidence against a supposedly similar one. It’s the same as saying that astrology makes astronomy false, or that the Pitdown man makes evolution a hoax. Or even the urban legend professor that drops a chalk to disprove religion.

    I am not saying, “The Easter Bunny does not exist, therefore God cannot.” I am saying, “The evidence for the existence of God is no better than the evidence for the existance of the Easter Bunny.” They are independent claims being evaluated independently, I am just comparing the type and amount of evidence for each claim.

    > What conception of God are we talking about? Einsetein’s God believed in Spinoza’s God. If God makes the universe lawful, and the universe is lawful, there is a God, even if He is not concerned with the fate of humans.

    I agree the concept of the God in question is an issue. Thus my *. However, some of what you get into is definitions. For instance, I maintain that the Pantheist “God” is really a deliberate adulteration of terms intended to confuse rather than clarify. Pantheists take nature as a whole to be “God”. I do not dispute the existence of nature as a whole, though I do dispute anthropomorphizing it. I also dispute “worshipping” it in the sense typically conveyed by religion. That does not take away from the sense of wonder and amazement that I feel for nature.

    So is your statement, “God is the thing that makes the universe lawful,” which is a statement of definition, or “God does make the universe lawful,” which is a declaration of intent, or “God is required for the universe to be lawful,” which is an assertion? Each of those statements is addressed differently.

    > If one is willing to say every Christian is a nut-job who produced pseudoscience, I strongly encourage them to promptly stop accepting every such pseudoscience based on, say, priests and monks. Like, you know, Copernicus and Mendel. Who needs modern astronomy and genetics, anyway.

    Now that’s a strawman. You start with an absolutist statement that the opposition does not make. I would agree with you that every Christian is not a nut-job, or produced pseudoscience. There’s also the logical fallacy of asserting that if christians produce pseudoscience, then everything ever produced by christians is pseudoscience.

  183. CR,

    Once again, I welcome the opportunity to talk to you.

    “So if for all intents and purposes, God (or whatever) is outside the realm of the universe, why care at all about the existense of God?�

    Short answer: Because He cares about us.

    Long answer: Mankind has always searched for meaning and purpose. As to why we do it, that’s an entirely different question. This search leads to a wide variety of beliefs, like Deism, Theism, Pantheism, Agnosticism, Atheism and others, all of which are not really scientific in nature. Well, maybe weak agnosticism.

    “It’s irrelevent, as far as the day-to-day happenings of the universe go. The universe develops, progresses, evolves on its own; our awareness of God’s (or whatever’s) existense can be speculated but never observed.�

    Let me ask you this: why would an all-powerful God create a universe that requires His constant attention and micromanagement?

    This may come as a surprise, but I agree with you. Our awareness of God by the observation of the universe, natural theology, is very subjective and can only get you so far. And I also agree we can’t truly reach God by just observing the universe. That’s consistent with my religion, based on Revelation. God comes to us, for we can’t reach Him by our own means.

    “How can what we observe be limited to what one particular human religion (or for that matter, what ANY particular human religion) says is right or wrong?�

    Of course what we observe shouldn’t be limited by what a specific religion says. As I said before, this notion is based on the flawed conflict model. Scientific observation is secular in nature, and should have no religious limits to it.

    I understand religious individuals intended to limit observation of the universe based on religion before. It was wrong from a theological standpoint.

    “Science, the scientific method–just plain finding things out–shouldn’t be considered wrong or criminal. What’s the crime in that?�

    There is no crime in that. I never said there was. I have nothing but complemented Science and the Scientific Method on my comments on this thread. There’s nothing wrong with Science at all.

  184. G. Tingey,

    If God created the universe, it’s not part of the universe. Therefore scientific observation as we know has nothing to say about this subject. This is such a well established point in the philosophy of science that it’s amazing someone is disputing it.

    “as a trained engineer, with a physics background, I can tell you that I have carefully phrased a proposition for a falsifyable test – inless, of course …â€?

    Oh, the appeal to authority. How nice. I can do that, too. I just gave you a link to a text by a George Ellis, a reputable cosmologist, who unequivocally demonstrates your position is wrong and unscientific. I can easily find numerous other sources of undisputable scientific minds, like Albert Einstein.

    But why do that? My point stands well alone.

    “Does Delance believe that all scientiosts are atheists, because rational, demonstrable causes must always be invoked for physical events, and that the rules do not change?�

    No I don’t, and I have made a long statement explaining how methodological materialism is a requirement for scientific method. This alone shows you didn’t even read my posts. It has nothing to do with personal belief.

  185. Irishman,

    Happy to reply.

    “I don’t accept that God exists not because I have proof that he doesn’t, but because I do not have proof that he does. Thus I have no justification to believe. Is that a positive affirmation that God does not exist?�

    Of course not. A positive affirmation is to claim you have proof either way.

    Besides, the phrase “I Believe in God� has two meanings. One might simply accept that God exists because that’s the way he feels the evidence leads. Another has a religious faith in Him.

    “They are independent claims being evaluated independently, I am just comparing the type and amount of evidence for each claim.�

    But when it comes to religion it’s all too subjective. Theists and Desists claim God created the universe. The universe exists. There’s your evidence.

    I really don’t know what kind of fingerprints you’d be expecting. I don’t know how it could be any more or any less evidence that God created universe. What’s the framework, and what are we comparing the universe with? What are the models for the universes that were created, and the ones that weren’t?

    Let me give you an example. I can look at the sunset and say that God created a beautiful sunset. I assure you I’m fully aware of the natural explanations to that natural event, and that doesn’t prevent me from admiring it. When we call a new life a miracle, that doesn’t mean we think it’s an unexplainable event. Just because there’s natural explanation to an event means it was not intended by a higher power. Same goes with the existence of immutable laws ruling the universe. They can be seen as evidence to either position, depending on how they are interpreted.

    So just to make it clear, my argument was not against the Scientific Method, but its use on purpose and meaning.

    “Now that’s a strawman.�

    Yes it is, and it was intended as such, to prove my point, and I’m happy that we agree. Alas, producing pseudoscience is not the monopoly of any belief system.

  186. RJM

    ‘…based on Revelation.’ There’s just no arguing with this stuff. ‘Logic’, ‘proof’ – these are meaningless concepts to believers. They believe because they have ‘Faith’. In other words, they believe because they believe! Beautiful.

    I also love the ‘better to be safe than sorry’ argument. Don’t want to miss out on the wings and harps!

  187. G. Tingey

    Delancy said … “Because He cares about us.” (Meaning this god thing)

    Well, let’s see some evidence that god cares for us.

    Yet again, put up or shut up.

    God cared very well for the people around the Indian Ocean rim on 26th Dec. last year didn’t he?
    And all the victims of terroism and state murder over the past years?
    And for the crap “design” of the Human body?

    He also said:
    “Our awareness of God by the observation of the universe, natural theology, is very subjective and can only get you so far.”
    Nowhere, in fact, because it is subjective – you are projecting your own vapourings onto a tabula rasa….

    ” And I also agree we can’t truly reach God by just observing the universe.”
    Why not?

    ” That’s consistent with my religion, based on Revelation. God comes to us, for we can’t reach Him by our own means.”
    Okay, we are back to where we started from –
    HOW does god “come to us” – the (god’s) message must be transmitted somehow, to be recieved by our senses, therefore, that message MUST be detectable.
    And it isn’t detected, and hasn’t been detected, and I maintain cannot be detected.

    Show how, or detect it.
    Put up, or shut up.

  188. Everyone,

    Sorry for the long message, but the spam-bot don’t like multiple posts.

    Bad Astronomer,

    “If your religion cannot be reconciled with that reality, then your religion is wrong (and I would certainly say the same thing about any science which incorrectly describes reality). Perhaps not all religions contradict reality, but certainly creationism does, as does Intelligent Design.�

    Well, I hope a contrast model in which all subjects that can be scientifically observed are left to science, including the investigation on the workings of the universe, is suffice to fit your expectation of a religion that is compatible with science. It’s not such much reconciliation as different set of questions and answers.

    ***

    Irishman,

    Happy to reply.

    “I don’t accept that God exists not because I have proof that he doesn’t, but because I do not have proof that he does. Thus I have no justification to believe. Is that a positive affirmation that God does not exist?�

    Of course not. A positive affirmation is to claim you have proof either way.

    Besides, the phrase “I Believe in God� has two meanings. One might simply accept that God exists because that’s the way he feels the evidence leads. Another has a religious faith in Him.

    “They are independent claims being evaluated independently, I am just comparing the type and amount of evidence for each claim.�

    But when it comes to religion it’s all too subjective. Theists and Desists claim God created the universe. The universe exists. There’s your evidence.

    I really don’t know what kind of fingerprints you’d be expecting. I don’t know how it could be any more or any less evidence that God created universe. What’s the framework, and what are we comparing the universe with? What are the models for the universes that were created, and the ones that weren’t?

    Let me give you an example. I can look at the sunset and say that God created a beautiful sunset. I assure you I’m fully aware of the natural explanations to that natural event, and that doesn’t prevent me from admiring it. When we call a new life a miracle, that doesn’t mean we think it’s an unexplainable event. Just because there’s natural explanation to an event means it was not intended by a higher power. Same goes with the existence of immutable laws ruling the universe. They can be seen as evidence to either position, depending on how they are interpreted.

    So just to make it clear, my argument was not against the Scientific Method, but its use on purpose and meaning.

    “Now that’s a strawman.�

    Yes it is, and it was intended as such, to prove my point, and I’m happy that we agree. Alas, producing pseudoscience is not the monopoly of any belief system.

    ***

    G. Tingey,

    If God created the universe, it’s not part of the universe. Therefore scientific observation as we know has nothing to say about this subject. This is such a well established point in the philosophy of science that it’s amazing someone is disputing it.

    “as a trained engineer, with a physics background, I can tell you that I have carefully phrased a proposition for a falsifyable test – inless, of course …â€?

    Oh, the appeal to authority. How nice. I can do that, too. I just gave you a link to a text by a George Ellis, a reputable cosmologist, who unequivocally demonstrates your position is wrong and unscientific. I can easily find numerous other sources of undisputable scientific minds, like Albert Einstein.

    But why do that? My point stands well alone.

    “Does Delance believe that all scientiosts are atheists, because rational, demonstrable causes must always be invoked for physical events, and that the rules do not change?�

    No I don’t, and I have made a long statement explaining how methodological materialism is a requirement for scientific method. This alone shows you didn’t even read my posts. It has nothing to do with personal belief.

    ***

    RJM

    “There’s just no arguing with this stuff. ‘Logic’, ‘proof’ – these are meaningless concepts to believers.”

    Ad hominem attack. Besides, Asking for scientific proof of something outside scientific observation is illogical. If anything your argument lacks logic and proof, what contradicts you whole assertion.

    “They believe because they have ‘Faith’. In other words, they believe because they believe! Beautiful. I also love the ‘better to be safe than sorry’ argument. Don’t want to miss out on the wings and harps!”

    Straw Man. This is not why people believe at all, but merely a cliché and distorted version. It’s really easy to refute a misrepresented and twisted argument. We all choose to believe or without any evidence, unless we are agnostic and therefore unsure. You don’t seem unsure.

    ***

    G. Tingey,

    “Nowhere, in fact, because it is subjective – you are projecting your own vapourings onto a tabula rasa….”

    Being subjective doesn’t mean it won’t leave anywhere. Debates based interpretations on purpose and meaning cannot reach a consensus because all sides adapt their views to suit their preconceived beliefs. That doesn’t mean there’s no truth.

    “â€? And I also agree we can’t truly reach God by just observing the universe.â€?
    Why not?”

    Already explained. If something is outside what can be scientifically observed, we cannot scientifically observe it. How clear do you want me to state this?

    Science has very defined limits and boundaries. Science doesn’t posses omnipresence, omnipower and omniknowledge. Unless you treat Science like God, and then we have a much more complicated issue.

    “Okay, we are back to where we started from –
    HOW does god “come to usâ€? – the (god’s) message must be transmitted somehow, to be recieved by our senses, therefore, that message MUST be detectable.”

    There’s no way we can detect it on a science lab. Any philosophical system that requires testable and falseable scientific proof to validate a belief, therefore, will be agnostic. That’s not where Faith is based upon. I know you don’t accept it, but that won’t prevent you from understanding the concept. So, if you bear with me, I can answer your question. (Warning: explanation about religion ahead)

    Why do you think Catholic and Orthodox Churches have as one of their primary purposes to keep the Word of God? Because it’s so precious and rare. Perhapes you can make an effort to understand it on an abstract level. Of course I’m fully aware of your reservations on this subject. But at least you could understand the basic concept of it. I think you can fully agree with Saint Paul’s assertion on Christianity: if Christ is not risen, vain is our faith. We believe He is risen.

    I understand Hume’s argument for an a priori assumption against miracles, but I find it to be meaningless, for if miracles were possible, they wouldn’t be miracles, and what make them miracles is the fact that they are impossible. To merely state that mircales are impossible from a natural scientific point of view is consistent with both positions, for if they were not impossible, this would also conflict with them.

    Besides, we have already been established that science can’t deal with such data, therefore methodological materialism would impose a presumption of natural causes for any event, what makes any philosophical system strictly bound to scientific proof to be agnostic in nature, making the debate pointless.

    “And it isn’t detected, and hasn’t been detected, and I maintain cannot be detected.”

    You are missing the point when you ask for evidence. It’s not that there’s no evidence, but EVIDENCE ON SUCH MATTERS ARE UNNATAINABLE.

    But what you must keep in mind is that the idea that Science is the only beacon of truth is itself a Philosophical one, not scientific.

  189. CR

    Toward the end of my last post, I think Delance (and probably many other readers) thought I was accusing Delance of being anti-science…
    CR (me): “Science, the scientific method–just plain finding things out–shouldn’t be considered wrong or criminal. What’s the crime in that?�
    Delance’s response: “There is no crime in that. I never said there was. I have nothing but complemented Science and the Scientific Method on my comments on this thread. There’s nothing wrong with Science at all.”

    I like your response!
    Just for the record, I wasn’t accusing Delance of saying science was a crime. I had started the post with a quote of Delance’s to show what had inspired me to make the post in the first place. I was speaking more in general terms of my own beliefs than toward a specific invidual, but I can see why no one would have understood that. Sorry for the confusion.

    On the other hand, I do have a specific response to a question…
    Delance said: “Let me ask you this: why would an all-powerful God create a universe that requires His constant attention and micromanagement?”

    I don’t think he/she/it WOULD. That’s kind of why I don’t believe in any particular human religion, especially when they have so many rules that contradict things we can observe, and sometimes even contradict each other. Not only that, but their scope doesn’t seem to encompass the wondrous & vast universe we are a part of.

    Let me try to clarify my own personal standpoint: Obviously, I’m poro-science, and pro-learning… I wish I could live to be 300 or so, just to learn (and experience) more stuff than one lifetime will allow! I don’t think that science and education has driven me away from religion, though; religion itself had as much to do with it. I’m not completely opposed to the POSSIBILITY of there being something greater than we can understand at this level; I’m against the PROBABILITY of it (if it exists) being anything like what various religions describe. At this point, I’m comfortable accepting that, even though I may want there to be something more. And I’m comfortable accepting that IF it exists, it isn’t an active part of our lives (micro-managing, as Delance suggested). Which ties back to my first June 14th 2005 post about viewing the universe as it is.
    To some, that may sound like a cop-out (either for or against religion, depending upon your point of view), and I apologize for that. I’m simply trying to be up front about my own beliefs, which include a small desire for there to be something more, but a knowledge (at this point) that there may not be such a thing. As I said back on June 14th, that makes life even more precious to me.

  190. Irishman

    Delance said:
    > Let me ask you this: why would an all-powerful God create a universe that requires His constant attention and micromanagement?

    [Facitious remark] Because he’s god, what else has he got to do? It must be pretty boring to be there outside the universe, so why not make a toy to tinker with? Many people enjoy tinkering with and micromanaging their hobbies, why not god? And it’s not like he needs to eat or sleep or go to the bathroom. Or have sex.[/facitious remark]

    Irishman: “I don’t accept that God exists not because I have proof that he doesn’t, but because I do not have proof that he does. Thus I have no justification to believe. Is that a positive affirmation that God does not exist?�

    Delance: Of course not. A positive affirmation is to claim you have proof either way.

    But I am an atheist – I do not believe in god, and state that gods do not exist – based on a lack of proof of existence.

    Delance: Besides, the phrase “I Believe in God� has two meanings. One might simply accept that God exists because that’s the way he feels the evidence leads. Another has a religious faith in Him.

    I’m not sure what your point is.

    Irishman: “They are independent claims being evaluated independently, I am just comparing the type and amount of evidence for each claim.�

    Delance: But when it comes to religion it’s all too subjective.

    Uh, thanks for making my point. Without objective evidence, there’s no reason to believe. Choosing to believe is a choice, but don’t expect others to agree with you.

    Delance: Theists and Desists claim God created the universe. The universe exists. There’s your evidence.

    Nope, you can’t use the mere existence of something as proof of how it came to happen. That’s just as silly as saying, “The universe spontaneously sprung from my pocket. The universe exists, that’s the proof.” Or more realistically, “Humans are the degenerate offspring of aliens who colonized the ancient Earth. Humans exist, there’s the proof.” (Yes, I’ve seen that argument.)

    Delance: I don’t know how it could be any more or any less evidence that God created universe. What’s the framework, and what are we comparing the universe with? What are the models for the universes that were created, and the ones that weren’t?

    Seems to me that argument is running backwards. You have to prove the existence for a god before you can prove he created the universe. And that is highly dependent upon the definition of god that you begin with.

    And that’s where the ID crowd tries to play loose with the facts. They argue (in public at least) that they are looking at the evidence from the universe itself for characteristics of design, ignoring for a moment what that designer might be like. They wish to identify design, and then from there postulate what the designer must be like. But their philosophical basis for looking for design is based on having a specific designer in mind, and the arguments they use to justify design are based upon misrepresentations of science.

    Delance: Let me give you an example. I can look at the sunset and say that God created a beautiful sunset…

    Why? Why not say a beautiful sunset occurred? Why place god there when he isn’t required?

    Delance: When we call a new life a miracle, that doesn’t mean we think it’s an unexplainable event.

    And that’s sloppy word usage. When used that way, one is trying to emphasize the beauty and wonder of the event by wrapping it in mystical language. It creates “more heat than light”, to make an analogy.

    Delance: Just because there’s natural explanation to an event means it was not intended by a higher power. Same goes with the existence of immutable laws ruling the universe. They can be seen as evidence to either position, depending on how they are interpreted.

    If events cannot be explained naturally (and that proven conclusively 😉 ), then that is evidence for a higher power. The natural explanation, or existence of immutable laws ruling the universe, makes the higher power unnecessary. The existence is not disproven, but we can fall back on Occam’s razor. You could argue for the existence of said higher power, but the natural explanation or immutable laws does not serve as support.

    Irishman: “Now that’s a strawman.�

    Delance: Yes it is, and it was intended as such, to prove my point, and I’m happy that we agree. Alas, producing pseudoscience is not the monopoly of any belief system.

    I don’t see how you proved your point. Perhaps I missed the point you were trying to make. Were you describing a situation where someone might make the assertion that all christians are nut-jobs? Have you witnessed that situation, or was this hypothetical?

    RJM: “There’s just no arguing with this stuff. ‘Logic’, ‘proof’ – these are meaningless concepts to believers.â€?

    Delance: Ad hominem attack.

    No. It is perhaps an overstatement and a bit absolutist, but it is grounded in direct statements by believers.

    RJM” “They believe because they have ‘Faith’. In other words, they believe because they believe!

    Delance: Straw Man. This is not why people believe at all, but merely a cliché and distorted version.

    Perhaps poorly stated. Many christians proudly proclaim that the true essence of christianity is to have faith, to believe not because of evidence but rather without it. “Saved by faith through grace,” is a common refrain. In fact, the Bible itself teaches that one is not to seek proof, to demand miracles of God. Christians are supposed to believe because they are told to, because they “have heard the good word”. That’s hardly a strawman, it’s coming straight from the believers themselves. At most it’s an overgeneralization.

    Delance: We all choose to believe or [not] without any evidence, unless we are agnostic and therefore unsure.

    I choose not to believe in leprechauns without any evidence for leprechauns. That’s not the same as accepting belief in leprechauns without evidence for leprechauns. The two conditions are not the same. Before ever learning about leprechauns, I did not believe in leprechauns (because I had never heard of them). Then I heard about them. I chose to retain my previous lack of belief in leprechauns because I did not have evidence to change my position. Yet with God I should change my mind and believe without evidence?

  191. Irishman

    Roman Catholic Church Cardinal weighs in on side of Design, against Evolution!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/09/science/09cardinal.html
    [quote]
    An influential cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, which has long been regarded as an ally of the theory of evolution, is now suggesting that belief in evolution as accepted by science today may be incompatible with Catholic faith.”

    The cardinal, Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, a theologian who is close to Pope Benedict XVI, staked out his position in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Thursday, writing, “Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense – an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection – is not.”

    Mr. Ryland [vice president of the Discovery Institute of Seattle], who said he knew the cardinal through the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria, where he is chancellor and Mr. Ryland is on the board, said supporters of intelligent design were “very excited” that a church leader had taken a position opposing Darwinian evolution. “It clarified that in some sense the Catholics aren’t fine with it,” he said. [/quote]

    Cardinal SCHÖNBORN’s Op-Ed
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/07/opinion/07schonborn.html

  192. G. Tingey

    Delance said: ““Okay, we are back to where we started from –
    HOW does god “come to usâ€? – the (god’s) message must be transmitted somehow, to be recieved by our senses, therefore, that message MUST be detectable.â€?

    There’s no way we can detect it on a science lab. Any philosophical system that requires testable and falseable scientific proof to validate a belief, therefore, will be agnostic.”

    IF a message comes to a human, it MUST be in a detectable form.
    It could be seen (writing) heard or otherwise detected by our own senses, or more recently by our more wide-ranging and sensitive science/technology-based detectors.
    If we have not detected a message, any message, then we have not recieved any message – even if one has been sent – because we have not detected it – it has passed us by.

    Therefore, “god”, or god’s messages must be detectable, if they exist.
    How are you going to detect these messages outside a science lab in a non-agnostic manner?
    A workable definition would be a good idea here.

    So, stop evading the point.
    If Delance cannot get this very simple and basic point, then he is either a liar or a fool, I’m afraid ……

  193. Phil,
    I was first attracted to this web site because of the fine job you have done in debunking the Moon landing hoaxers. In that endeavor I am wholeheartedly with you.
    However, I must part company with you on this eternal debate. On one hand you are right. There is and has been no room for a proper debate and intelligent argument. Phil, In spite of the fact that you are wrong, you are just as wrong headed and stubborn about your position, as you state that we are. You take no prisoners. From what I have read here, the only thing that you will except from a Bible believing Creationist is … unconditional surrender. Surrender in the schools, surrender in the public forum, surrender on the TV and other news media. If you had your way, we would all likely be muzzled, chained and deported. How dare you? You want undisputed, unconditional access to our children so that they can be brain washed with this ridiculous theory of evolution.
    You will win battles, but God will win this war. And it is a war. It will be won by His power and for His glory only. I and others like me, will be but a foot note. By the way, there are a lot more like me, than frustrated scientists like your self. Scientists come and go. Theories come and theories go. But God is eternal. He will be here tomorrow, and the next day, and so on. I wonder what new “quaint theory” will be playing on the “science channels” then? Go fight your battle Phil. You are only hurting your self. Maybe, if scientists didn’t spend so much time concocting such long winded drivel, then it might be easier for the masses to understand what you are trying to sell, you might find more believers. Since you only shoot for the higher educated few, and leave the rest by the way side. Which is OK. we will gladly care for the rest of the “IDiots” that you have so self righteously condemned. I wish I could think of a way to show you the error of your ways, but you have so welded your mind shut that I fear it may be impossible. Unless you can touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, see it, then bag and tag it with a label on in a jar full of formaldehyde, it has no reality for you. How sad. I will pray for the Lord to open your eyes to see the truth.
    I will also pray for your success in slaying the dragons of the Moon landing hoaxers. See, even we can have common ground on something! Imagine the news flash: Hard shell scientist, skeptic and evolutionist and a wild eyed fundamentalist, Bible believing Creationist agree on something! That should be good for a FOX News Alert.
    I had the privilege to have known Jim Irwin. I believe that he did indeed walk on the moon. But Jim spent the rest of his life sharing that it was more important that Christ walked on the Earth, then it was for a man to have walked on the Moon. I am also mindful of Charles Duke who does believe in the Creation account of Genesis, and other such “IDiots” whom you are so quick to dismiss. I pray that the God of James Irwin will reveal Himself to you in a way that you can except. James B. Irwin Apollo 15 Lunar Module Pilot, who believed enough in the Genesis account to put his reputation on the line and actively search for Noah’s Ark. I wonder what your opinion is of him?
    A hard shell skeptic like you can be saved. The creation account is not just in the book of Genesis, it is woven all through out the Bible, In Psalms, in the books of the New Testament as well. I don’t pretend to know exactly how creation happened. All I do know is that creation responded to the spoken word of God. Simple Faith. Not simple mindedness. Simple faith. People of faith have just as much right to the media, the air waves, the public square, and yes, the public schools. It must be that you are so terrified that your pet theory could not hold up in the fair marketplace of ideas as well as In the public schools. Knowing full well that It would fold up like a deck of cards. You want to have, no, you need to have the exclusive right to indoctrinate the faith of secular humanism and evolution to the masses. That is unconstitutional, it is wrong and you should be ashamed. It would be the only fair way that you could win. Hide the truth, then divide and concur. Well, may you have a long life in good health and prosperity. And I pray that the good Lord knocks some good unpolluted sense into you.

    MarsHill 2001

    “Believe in evolution if you want to; just don’t try to make a monkey out of me.

  194. “From what I have read here, the only thing that you will except from a Bible believing Creationist is … unconditional surrender.”

    Uh, yes, of course. I was very clear in my statements about this.

    When someone says something that is completely and utterly wrong, something that flies in the face of everything we understand about the Universe, something that is directly contradicted by nature itself: then yes, I will accept only surrender, especially when you try to teach my children your incorrect beliefs. I suspect, given their tactics, that creationists feel the same way about science.

    My advantage is that science and nature are not belief systems. They are real. I will not allow someone’s belief system to be taught as real, ever, in our public schools. I will fight that for as long as I am able, and for when I am no longer able I will leave behind enough information for others to pick up and maintain that fight.

    I hope that clarifies my position.

  195. Ed Beck

    Phil,
    Thank you for responding.

    “From what I have read here, the only thing that you will except from a Bible believing Creationist is … unconditional surrender.�

    Uh, yes, of course. I was very clear in my statements about this.

    I never doubted you for a moment. I believe I was clear about that.

    When someone says something that is completely and utterly wrong, something that flies in the face of everything we understand about the Universe, something that is directly contradicted by nature itself: then yes, I will accept only surrender, especially when you try to teach my children your incorrect beliefs.

    OK, if you insist. I accept your surrender.
    But seriously, why are you so terrified of having your beliefs challenged?

    I suspect, given their tactics, that creationists feel the same way about science.

    We have no quarrel with science. It is just how you have hijacked it that concerns us. There are some absolute facts that I would like to share with you.

    The Earth is round. Gravity is real. God made them both. And one day before Him you will kneel.
    This is not a threat. It is an absolute reality.

    My advantage is that science and nature are not belief systems. They are real.

    You are right. Science and nature are not belief systems. How you interpret them does form the basis of your belief system.

    I will not allow someone’s belief system to be taught as real, ever , in our public schools.

    This is one of the most fascist and UN American statements that you could possibly make.
    Do your self a favor and read that one again. YOUR public schools it what it sounds like.
    We all pay for them and WE THE PEOPLE will decide what goes on in OUR schools. Not just you.

    I will fight that for as long as I am able, and for when I am no longer able I will leave behind enough information for others to pick up and maintain that fight.
    I hope that clarifies my position.

    You are free to pursue this goal no matter how wrong you are. That is one freedom that makes our nation great.
    The many people who believe as I do have the same freedom to get your belief system out of our public schools.
    Or at least put it where it belongs, in the philosophy department.

    Now having said that. I think I can safely conclude that neither position is going to back down or surrender.
    Maybe we should try getting down off of our high horses, and see if any kind of compromise can be hammered out.

    By the way, what do you think of the eighth man to walk on the moon? You did not respond to my comments about Jim Irwin at all.
    Just curious as to why not.

    MarsHill2001

  196. Your comment is so chock full of errors I don’t even know where to begin.

    For one, science is not a belief system. Once you understand that you will see that nearly your entire post is based on a false premise.

    I am not unAmerican; in fact, I understand the Constitution pretty well. Calling me a fascist is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard in my life. Godwin’s law, on my own blog. I never thought I’d see it happen.

    This is clear in so many ways, but here is one: the public schools are not for belief systems. We have laws about that specifically.

    As for compromise, how can there be such a thing? When the attack on our schools, on our intellectual heritage, is so real? The only compromise that is possible is the one we already had, the one so criminally savaged by creationists and IDers.

    It is simply this: keep your religion out of the public schools. If you wish to teach your own children — stop me if you’ve heard this before– such obviously incorrect dogma, clearly contradicted by nature — then that’s your right. But not in the public schools.

    Scientists did not start this. Creationist and IDers attack reason and thought full on, and you ask for a compromise, when a perfectly acceptable and reasonable settlement had already been in place?

    Fascism, indeed. You have no idea what real science is about, I think. Scientists want the objective truth to be what sets you free. Not someone’s interpretation of it.

    And as a post script: Charlie Duke and Jim Irwin are entitled to their opinions. It doesn’t make them right. I put no stock in argument from authority, so your comments about them having walked on the Moon is meaningless to me. They are human, and just as likely to be wrong as anyone. Why should their being astronauts make them some sort of higher authority on religion? If I found an astronaut who was an atheist, would that sway you?

    Facts speak for themselves. And here’s another fact for you: I never used the word “IDiots”. Ever. Putting it in quotation marks implies I did. If you meant that to be that someone else said it, fine. But don’t use their words against me, because again it’s the facts that speak, not someone else’s reputation.

  197. Ed Beck

    Phil,
    I really do appreciate you taking the time to respond to me. I didn’t expect to get to dialogue with you directly.

    For one, science is not a belief system. Once you understand that you will see that nearly your entire post is based on a false premise.

    Well, actually, it is a belief system. When any person observes evidence that makes sense to them, they accept it. They hold it as true; there fore they believe in it. If they are really certain about it, the word fact becomes a factor. However, the world of science has former facts that were once perceived to be as carved in stone as you believe that evolution is now. Plus science that is only based on a naturalistic viewpoint is faulty to begin with.

    .

    I am not unAmerican; in fact, I understand the Constitution pretty well. Calling me a fascist is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard in my life.

    *****I withdraw the Fascist remark, please see my apology below.*****

    Clearly you do not see yourself in this light. I understand that. Making you aware of this trait that you are exhibiting is the main point that I am trying to show you.
    What is Un American about your statements and other such activities is that you are forcing your belief system on other people, who do not share your view, and do not wish to have it imposed on them. I am curious as to what your understanding of the Constitution is on this topic. Your participation in a public forum debate and legitimate lobbying is Constitutional. When you insist that there can be no other view except for yours. It is Un American. And I stand by what I have written in that regard only. I must add that one of my wildest dreams would be the complete removal of evolution period. Being mindful of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, you are entitled to share your views as well as attempt to convince others to share that view. I don’t like it. But in order for my view to have a place at the table, I have to acknowledge your right. Why can’t you understand that?

    Godwin’s law, on my own blog. I never thought I’d see it happen.

    I had to look that one up. I didn’t think I could learn something from you. I stand corrected. Fascist was over the top and un called for.

    ***For that I do apologies sincerely too you.***
    I am not shouting. I just didn’t want you to miss that.

    This is clear in so many ways, but here is one: the public schools are not for belief systems.

    Why not?

    We have laws about that specifically.

    What laws? I am not playing dumb. I really don’t know what you are referring to. Would you please tell me where they are?

    As for compromise, how can there be such a thing?

    This is my point exactly. You see no room for any other view.

    When the attack on our schools, on our intellectual heritage, is so real?

    Ah. There is the rub. You govern your world view by your intellect alone. No room for some one who has a faith based view.

    The only compromise that is possible is the one we already had, the one so criminally savaged by creationists and IDers.

    That would mean no compromise at all. That is what I would call criminal.

    It is simply this: keep your religion out of the public schools.

    I don’t want any one Religion to have an exclusive in the Public schools. That goes for yours as well. The general concepts should be explained.

    If you wish to teach your own children
    — stop me if you’ve heard this before– such obviously incorrect dogma, clearly contradicted by nature — then that’s your right. But not in the public schools.

    Funny, I did hear that one before. It hasn’t gotten any better.

    Scientists did not start this.

    No, naturalistic evolutionists did.

    Creationist and IDers attack reason and thought full on,

    Reason and thought according too your belief and naturalistic interpretation of the facts as you accept them.

    and you ask for a compromise, when a perfectly acceptable and reasonable settlement had already been in place?

    Or do you really mean imposed?

    Fascism, indeed.

    I am sorry about the fascism remark.

    You have no idea what real science is about, I think.

    Naturalistic only based science? No I don’t have much use for it. .

    We are using two different measuring sticks.
    On yours, it has to be observable, tangible, tested and replicated under laboratory conditions or it is not real. For everyday issues that works. It cannot be used to answer the question of who we are, and how we got here.
    We, you and I, are more than just a collection of blood, muscle, bones, tissues and organs.
    There is a spark in us that separates us from the animals. It is something that drives you to want to know more, that’s wonderful. But, you handicap yourself when you out right dismiss the spiritual level of the human creature.

    Scientists want the objective truth to be what sets you free. Not someone’s interpretation of it.

    I don’t believe that you can have objective truth on the question of whom we are, and where did we come from, based on a naturalistic view only.

    And as a post script: Charlie Duke and Jim Irwin are entitled to their opinions. It doesn’t make them right. I put no stock in argument from authority, so your comments about them having walked on the Moon is meaningless to me. They are human, and just as likely to be wrong as anyone. Why should their being astronauts make them some sort of higher authority on religion?

    On spiritual truth, yes; on religion, I don’t think anyone is.
    I really was just curious as to what your opinions on them were, since you do such a bang up job on debunking the moon landing hoaxers.

    If I found an astronaut who was an atheist, would that sway you?

    Funny that you should mention that, I have met one. No he didn’t sway me.

    Facts speak for themselves. And here’s another fact for you: I never used the word “IDiots�. Ever. Putting it in quotation marks implies I did. If you meant that to be that someone else said it, fine. But don’t use their words against me, because again it’s the facts that speak, not someone else’s reputation.

    My first blog was a general open letter kind of post. Someone did use that term so I addressed it. I didn’t think that I would get you on the line. When I responded to you directly I continued the thought in error. I was wrong, please disregard that part.

    In closing, I am the grand son of a Baptist preacher. Being long winded is in my genes I guess. Phil, this issue touches us all where we live. It is heated; it is emotional on both sides. I have written some of this in the heat of passion, and was too harsh at times. I would like point out to you that not all creationists are out to get you. I do appreciate what you are trying to do with the Moon hoaxers. We do have some common ground there. You have spoken harshly with passion as well. I am just trying to get you to see that. I can’t change you from what you are. I hate forced conversions, as does the Lord. They are not genuine, and smack of a shot gun wedding. Only God can change your view by revealing Himself too you. I pray that He will. If your search is strictly going to be naturalistic, it would be like trying to detect a solid substance, when a clear gas substance (God) is what you are really looking for. If, for the sake of argument, you don’t accept the existence of clear gas, then guess what?

    Phil, I have enjoyed our discussion. If you have time to continue it I would be happy to do so.

    MarsHill2001

  198. Rich Freberg

    I believe there is a point being missed here as regards the creationists and ID crowd. They believe the Bible when it says people are saved by faith through grace. Consequently they believe the more faith they have the better. The less credible an idea is the more faith it takes to believe it. Consequently they go against the theory of evolution, which is much better documented than such things as the theory of uniersal gravitation, the cell theory of biology and the germ theory of disease. Yes, there are those who believe on alternatives to the above theories. Many Chiropractors challange germ theory, stating that all disease comes from subluxations, and there still is a flat earth society which takes itself seriously. Believing such things takes monumental faith, which at some point begins to parallel and finally intertwine with, naivety.

  199. Ed

    * Rich Freberg Says:
    August 31st, 2005 at 1:27 pm
    and there still is a flat earth society which takes itself seriously. Believing such things takes monumental faith,

    Wow Rich! You believe in a flat Earth? You should get out a Bible, the 40th chapter of Isaiah shows that the Earth is round!

  200. Ed

    j Says:
    October 11th, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    get a life
    ***********
    Ouch.

  201. Damn it, why doesnt god (being the almighty powerful being etc etc) just come out from hiding and tell us the deal??? I mean, you know he causes earthquakes and famines, floods etc against seemingly 3rd world afflicted countries, you’d think if he actually wanted to be nice he would come down and point out all these things wrong in his great book and science, even though science is about how things are so, without prejudice.

    Damn science, always changing the level of what we know and forcing god (the unknown) to be redefined all the time.

  202. RNQ

    Excellent site Phil. Keep up the good work.

    Reading previous posts, I’m reminded of a particular line from the (first?) Indiana Jones movies. Dr. Jones is lecturing the class and he points out that “We’re here to learn facts, not truth. If you want ‘truth’ the philosophy class is right down the hall….”

  203. tom sevigny

    Hello scholars,
    A little stroll down Memory Lane to the 1930s and 1940s when a maniacal fascist dictator named Adolph Hitler with the help uf his henchman Heinrich Himler decided to destroy lesser developed human species to make room for his super Arian race.
    Chancellor Adolph Hitler espoused Darwin’s school of thought and it helped justify his final solution. He believed in natural selection, the survival of the fittest and a hierarchy in the ascent of man. You may say that that was all just science gone bad.
    Hitler spent a lot of money on all of the sciences, whether it was to commission archeologists to try to prove that the Germanic peoples were justifiably a master race or genetic experiments with so called gutter races.
    Do not equate theism or Christianity with the Bush Administration. They are using it for their own gains. Trust me. Our current administration is made up of evil men.
    Tom

  204. You’re kidding, right Tom? Godwin’s law? Well, after 211 posts, I suppose I’m amazed it took this long.

  205. tom sevigny

    Hey Bad Astroman!
    How ya been? Just startin trouble is all. :)
    I don’t blame science. Science for lack of a better word is “good”.
    The concept that man is nothing but another evolved animal that is not acountable to anybody but himself is the trouble.
    You have to admit that a lot of the Nazi scientists were darn good at what they did. If it wasn’t for Hitler’s hatred of the Jewish people and disdain for female scientists he would have had an atomic bomb before we did.
    The thought of a Heinkel bomber dropping a bigun on one of our metropolitan areas would have made a bit of a stir. Don’t ya think?
    You mean it took 211 posts for somebody to come up with an intelligent post? :)
    Tom

  206. tom sevigny

    Hey Bad Astronomer,
    I was really just responding to your Aug. 14 tonguelash of Ed Beck.
    The real problem I see is that anybody who believes in creationism or theism is scorned by proponents of evolution.
    It may surprise you that a lot of scientists do believe in ID and why not?
    Darwin’s theory of evolution is passe, neodarwinists can prove microevolution through genetic mutation (compatible with ID) but macroevolution has not even come close to being proven since genetic mutations either yield neutral or detrimental effects. Macroevolution needs to be proven or evolution in general is not a viable theory. The fossil evidences for the ascent of man and transitional fossils are nonexistent. Radiogenic dating methods are relative to a presumption of how old the lifeforms are.
    Everyday a new find sheds doubt on the reliability of the evolutionist’s theories. The philogenic trees are riddled with enigmas and are subject to change on a weekly basis. For instance, the 164 million year old jurassic beaver find. Evolution is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. It is not the foundation of all biological science either. Science will survive even after evolution as we have had it shoved down our throats from childhood is gone.
    Tom

  207. tom sevigny

    Hey Irishman!
    You’re alright by me man. You have a Guiness draught on ya? Good stuff.

  208. lisa

    I will continue to pray for you all.
    Unless you actually HAVE a relationship with Jesus, it is so so easy to mock.
    A year ago I would have been right up there with you, mocking away at things I didn’t understand.
    Being a Christian IS NOT A RELIGION. Religion is as man made as science.
    Being a Christian means that you have a one to one relationship with Jesus Christ, our saviour.
    It’s supernatural, and believe me…IT IS REAL.
    Go on……what are you waiting for…..or are you too scientifically blinded to want to know the TRUTH?
    READ the Bible, get to know Jesus and I guarantee, you wont have spend the rest of your life “searching for the answer”.
    The answer is Jesus, and through him we have eternal life.
    Don’t leave it until you stand before God and he sends you to HELL for your ignorance.
    Instead of talking to scientists…go and talk to a pastor.
    GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  209. tom sevigny

    God Bless you Lisa. :) maranatha!

  210. Tom, your posts are chock full of long-debunked creationist falshoods. Really, do yourself a favor and research some of these claims before repeating them. For example, take a look at TalkOrigins.

  211. tom sevigny

    Hey Bad Astronomer,
    You keep sending me to talk origins. It sounds like you’re trying to get me to go to an Amwayconvention to see if they can convince me of a great business opportunity. I’ve been to talk origins. Your posts are full of genulecting to men in lab coats. So what’s the diff?

  212. tom sevigny

    Ah yes the plight of the peppered moth. This is still one of the best examples of speciation today? The fact that we cannot mate with chimpanzees is because we have 1 less pair of chromosones because we are mutants? Ever think that was the way we were created? Pretty hard to wrap ones mind around that one…

  213. The diff is, what TalkOrigins say is true, and the lines you’ve been reciting have been wrong for years.

  214. tom sevigny

    Well like I said Bad Astronomer, it is interesting that you would send skeptics of evolution to talk origins. I would too if I were trying to subject someone seeking the truth to a barrage of naturalistic/humanistic propoganda. Talk origins comes off as an atmosphere where you can have an unbiased dialogue about our origins and the origin of life on earth. The definition that is given for evolution to those who disagree is :Biological evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time. Well that is such a generic statement that it is indisputable. Sure, microevolution occurs. So does adaptation. These are universally active. Macroevolution is a boondoggle.
    The lack of evidence of macroevolution is the motivation for evolutionists to continually use microevolution as an example of macroevolution.
    NeoDarwinian evolution is just a more advanced attempt to repackage Darwinian evolution, (which do we at least agree is a failed paradigm?).
    Blackcat, who is working on a phd in microbiology at least had the fortitiude to distance themselves from Darwinism stating that it was no longer a viable theory. Maybe Blackcat had a Freudian slip. I don’t know.
    NeoDarwinism in macroevolution is so close to becoming a metaphysical explanation of our origins that scientists have inadvertantly put it on the same plain as ID or creationism. There is no empirical proof that genetic change is the sole causing agent for the diversity and complexity within an organism or outside of the organism in plant life.
    Until evolutionists can prove that gene mutations through natural selection can produce beneficial results to the organism (which is not the case) you are etiher peddling a philosophy or attempting to perpetuate someone elses.

  215. tom sevigny

    Happy Easter!
    The tomb was empty…

  216. tom sevigny

    Hey Phil,
    Was Werner von Braun an IDiot?

  217. Lithium

    Dear Mr. Plait,

    I am a 17 year old scientist-to-be, sitting in my Senior English class, writing my research paper on the debate between evolution and creation. This is the first time I have read your blog, and I’m glad that I got the chance. I have spent years fighting religious fanatics, not just on a scientific plane, but on moral, sociological, and ideological issues as well. The one thing I can conclude thus far is that they are buried so deeply in their Bibles that they see little else in the world. I have no problem with a persons religion, until it begins to affect their judgement!

    A Brother in Arms

  218. Tao Cha Ching

    Deism or PanDeism can be scientific at least. And Buddhism for most practitioners does not even contradict nature/science.

    I suggest this: if we teach Intelligent Design, we should also teach Somnambulant Design, that is, that we are all part of a dream God is having.

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