Creationist brainwashing

By Phil Plait | August 27, 2007 8:52 pm

It’s funny– when I use the phrase "brainwashing" when it comes to creationism, I never hear a peep from the comments, even though I generally get the usual tired (and incorrect) complaint that I am attacking all religion. Why is that? I’m not sure, but maybe, just maybe, it’s because people understand that teaching creationism to young kids is brainwashing.

Case in point: Answers in Genesis, a group that promotes creationism and has been shown to lie when they want to, sponsored an essay contest for kids. The winner got a scholarship to Liberty University (sort of the Bob Jones University of Virginia).

That should be considered torture. But I digress.

Anyway, the essays are online. They’re frightening. I mean, kids wrote this stuff, regurgitating the horrific nonsense dumped into their innocent brains by creationists. It’s sad.

If you want to read more, then Bay of Fundie is a good place to go. He dissects the winning essay in a polite but firm manner, destroying the premise and showing that this young girl is mostly parroting the garbage she’s ingested over the years.

I am filled with sadness when I see things like this. I’ve been around a lot of kids. I helped at a local Boys and Girls Club when I was in NorCal, teaching them about the solar system, astronomy, and science. I’ve used my own telescope to show Saturn to countless kids. I’ve traveled to schools around the country to talk about the joy, the wonder, the awe of astronomy. When you see that spark, that glow, that moment when a child understands what they are seeing, or even just the potential in their faces as they chew over the nature of reality, of the Universe… the joy that fills your heart is impossible to describe. It’s wondrous.

Creationism and fundamentalist dogma destroy that potential. It’s wrong, and it’s evil.

It’s brainwashing.

ADVERTISEMENT

Comments (132)

  1. Freelancer

    Peep.

    jk Phil. great post.
    PS have you googled “Classic Crackpot” lately?
    Stu’s plan seems to have backfired, like virally.

  2. Rowsdower

    I have a sordid part of my life and that involves reading the Rants & Raves section of the L.A. Craig’s List. Most of the stuff that gets posted there is pure drivel, a lot of it racist, a lot of it trolling. However, sometimes somebody posts some pseudo-scientific nonsense and I feel I just have to respond. For example, one guy spouts this bit of nonsense:

    “There are many things that can not be explained, dark matter and dark energy are just names given to phenomena that defies the laws of physics. String theory is a imagined solution to things that can not be explained. Gravity exists although no one knows how or why.”

    Boils my bunions when I read stuff like that and I am compelled to refute such drivel. I don’t expect to change the mind of the imbecile who wrote that, but I do like to correct the stuff in case I’m able to keep one wayward intellect from accepting such excrement.

    Have to admit, Phil, you’ve inspired me to do a little to support real science in favor of muddled thinking.

  3. tony

    If I hadn’t known that this were a child’s essay, I would have guessed it was straight from the Discovery Institute, it’s sickening.

    It’s a scary thought, also, that most of these people seem to derive their morality only from a god or gods. It’s very telling when they try to say morality should fall apart without an ultimate judge.

  4. rex

    With people thinking like you, brainwashing is not a bad idea.

  5. Dave

    Believing in God and Creation makes more sense then thinking poof the universe exists because of a big bang. Or any other evolution or universe origin “Theory.” Thats what they all are, is guesses as to how it all happened. So don’t bash something just because you dont believe in anything.

  6. Sorry Dave, but you’re dead wrong. The Big Bang is not a guess, it is the logical findings of science once the evidence has been analyzed. Try reading a book other than the bible. You’d be better off believing in the Jug of Milk.

  7. tacitus

    Believing in God and Creation makes more sense then thinking poof the universe exists because of a big bang.

    Maybe the simple answer “God did it” is a comfort to some, but it is deeply unsatisfying to many others since it is a deeply anti-intellectual position to take. As human beings we love to explore and investigate the unknown, and exploring the origins of the Universe is simply one expression of that desire.

    There is little doubt there was an event we now call the “Big Bang” at the beginning of the Universe, but we still have no idea why the Big Bang happened, and we may never get beyond being able to make educated guesses.

    So don’t bash something just because you don’t believe in anything.

    Ugh — what an idiotic thing to say. First, just because someone isn’t a young-earth creationist, doesn’t mean they are an atheist. Tens of millions of devout Christians are quite comfortable with a 13 billion year old Universe that started with a Big Bang, many who are likely to have a faith much stronger than yours. And since when did atheists not “believe in anything”? You demonstrate a profound ignorance of millions of your fellow countrymen and women with that remark.

  8. Christopher O’Brien at North State Science has a nice compare and contrast here. When I read about some of the real science essays that kids are capable of, I can see that there’s hope for our future. When I read the drivel coming out of the creationist camp, I wonder if it’s enough. It seems like a never ending fight against willful ignorance.

  9. Greg

    I have to disagree on the use of the Brainwashing term. Regardless of the _merit_ of its application it has the effect of automatically dividing an audience into three parts: pro; anti; and “I don’t want to get into this”.

    The benefit that those opposing teaching of creation-science have is logical structured defensible argument. Using emotive, dismissive labelling only give the other side something they _can_ attack.

  10. Peter B

    Dave said: “Thats what they all are, is guesses as to how it all happened.”

    Is it a guess if you derive an explanation from various pieces of evidence?

    If so, does that mean that police are guessing when they use pieces of evidence to derive an explanation for a crime?

  11. DavidHW

    It’s a paradox of open societies that sometimes these societies must aggressively take stands against dogma and error that overtly violate historical and scientific truth. Germany does this with Holocaust denial and I believe the U.S. should do the same with creationism — criminalize it. No society, no matter how open and tolerant, is obligated to tolerate forces that would undermine and destroy it.

  12. beno

    amen brother. creationism is utter nonsense

  13. uknesvuinng

    Yes David, censorship is always the right and morally correct choice… Thank you for giving the creationists fodder to use. It’s hard enough convincing them that there isn’t a scientific/governmental conspiracy to suppress creationism when people aren’t calling for it to be illegal. Please kindly move to North Korea and enjoy the “benefits” of an oppressive government. Clearly, you don’t have the wherewithal to handle living in a free society.

    Seriously, open mockery of creationism is called for. Meeting it with derision and clear, rational dismissal is called for. Advocating the criminalization of a belief is far more offensive than the anti-science you want to make illegal. It’s absolutely moronic to believe open societies must criminalize any belief to preserve its freedom.

    It’s my sincere hope you aren’t an American. If you are, you’re an insult to the society that made it possible for you to utter such a stupid statement. I don’t particularly think other nationalities would want to claim you either, though.

  14. PJE

    Phil stick to astronomy and not politics/education

    **obvious troll runs and hides**

    Pete

  15. tacitus

    Criminalizing creationism is not the way to go. Banning it from being taught as science in public schools is the better way to go, though I would wish that was not even necessary. If the creationists played by the same rules our scientists do–i.e. prove their theories have more explanatory power than evolution–then even that would be unnecessary.

    For the long term, there is hope in the fact that each successive generation of Americans is becoming less religious than the last. According to recent surveys, the percentage of young people who do not adhere to a specific religion has risen from around 4% to about 16% in the past 40 years or so. It has also been shown that there is little change in people’s beliefs as they get older, so this is not a case of young people temporarily rebelling against the beliefs of their parents. The change is permanent. So perhaps the US is finally seeing the same transition to a more secular society that Western Europe has seen in the past few decades.

    That doesn’t mean that the death of Christianity at the hands of those evil atheists (as many alarmists would have you believe) but it should mean that the number of ardent creationists will likely shrink into the minority, and eventually a small minority as the 21st century progresses.

    There will be setbacks, of course, and much of what happens depends on how the geopolitical climate pans out over the next few decades. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that conservative Christians (i.e. those likely to be creationists) have been crying “Wolf!” over the impending take over of Europe, and even the US, by militant Islamists. Arrant nonsense of course, but such fearmongering is a great tool for stirring up the faithful to resist the tide of secularism and moderation that is sweeping the nation.

  16. tacitus

    Gulp — sorry about the lack of proof reading in my previous post. It’s getting late… I need to go to bed!

  17. tacitus

    … but just before I go, here are some concrete numbers that support my position that things may be trending away from creationist thought in the longer term:

    Selected findings from the Barna Group:

    http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=Topic&TopicID=38

    “There has been a 92% increase in the number of unchurched Americans in the last thirteen years. In 1991 there were 39 million unchurched Americans compared with 75 million currently. (2004)”

    “More than three out of five (62%) unchurched adults consider themselves to be Christian. (2006)”

    “27% of the unchurched firmly believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches. (2006)”

    So there has been a doubling of the number of “unchurched” people in just the past fifteen years or so, the majority of whom still consider themselves to be Christian (62%). But if you look at their beliefs, they are much less likely to accept the doctrine of inerrancy (27%) and are therefore much less likely to accept young-earth creationism.

    That last number must strike fear into the hearts of the creationists everywhere, because they know that the doctrine of inerrancy is their most potent defense against the science that so flatly and so obviously contradicts the Genesis account.

  18. Smzarba

    As a non-theist I will always believe the best and only course of action is to set a good example as a human being. Shatter their visions of progressives as being evil. Or immoral. Or whatever.

    Of course, if they come at us with pitchforks & torches, ……well……..

    Signed,
    I’m Am Not Sleepy
    (’70 minutes to first hint of shadow’)

  19. Mike J.

    Time to face reality Phil, being the skeptic you are I’m surprised you haven’t already deduced that the “battle” to keep evolution alive and well has been lost..

    Now all your side can do is damage control–

    I suppose it never dawned on you that creationism MIGHT be right.. after all no one can “prove” origins anyways, so why is it being taught at all is my point.

    If you can’t “prove” origins, then there needs to be a seperate “origins” class that kids/adults can take which presents ALL theories, not just yours.

    You must admit that “creationism” IS INDEED a theory, or hypothesis, as is evolution… so to teach one and not the other is unfair. So either create (no pun intended) a NEW science class which deals with theories on origins, or don’t complain when creationism or intelligent design gets stuffed in regular science/biology class like evolution was “integrated” into regular science class and presented as fact.

  20. Bert Cole

    Why must religion and science be mutually exclusive? In the middle Ages there were many great scientists who were Christians, Newton for example, and due to their religious belief in a personal God, believed that the natural world could be explored in order to get a better understanding their God. There were those who started as agnostics, and through their research came to believe that there had to be a “higher intelligence” or GOD, Einstein for example. I would venture to say that the majority of the early “GREAT SCIENTISTS” were people who believed in GOD.

    I am not a great scientific mind, but do not have a problem believing creationism, and understanding that the best expiation that science can come up with to date is evolution. The Catholic Church exiled Galileo because his theory that the earth revolved around the sun was contradictory to the wrong interpretation of scripture that the Catholic Church held. Many modern day scientists would like to use this point to bash those who believe in creationism, but ignore the many false assumptions and theories that have come out of the scientific world.

    I believe that the accounts of Creation in the first chapters of Genesis line up with what the scientific world has discovered about the world that we live in. Scientists have a hard time believing the 7 days of creation because the world is millions of years old, and Creationist hold on to the “Word of God” that the creation was created in 7days. If evolution states that the first life came from water, and the Bible states that the first life was in water, where is the contradiction?

    If Einstein says that if there were twins and one was sent traveling at the speed of light for a minute when he returned his twin would be many years older than him, why can’t GOD say that creations was created in 7 days, when the sun and earth weren’t created until some 2 or 3 “days” into the creation?-(how can one have a day before the earth rotated, when a day is an observation of someone on the earth who sees the sun rise, set and then rise again?) The bible states that to the Lord, “a day is like a 1,000 years and 1,000 years like a day”, does that not seem to explain how time is relative to the one who is observing it. While it was only a minute for one brother, it was many years for his sibling. Sounds impossible, like a billion year old universe being created in “7 days”.

    It is my opinon that both Creaionist and Evolutionsit have correct and incorrect assuptions on how the earth was formed, and the answer can only come from GOD, as he was the only one aroud when he created it!

  21. Cards on table.

    I’m a priest – there, I’ve said it. Doesn’t make me a bad person.

    I’m an astronomer. Got my degree from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (it’s in England and used to be part of the University of Durham – one of the oldest in the world, I believe).

    I believe in the Big Bang. It stands to reason. What with the evidence of galaxy formation/recession, the cosmic microwave background and so on, it would be folly not to.

    I also believe that the Bible is the God-inspired book of life.

    BUT. It’s not a blue-print. Genesis may describe the general “running order” for creation, but I don’t think it is meant to be taken literally. When it was written, no-one could have predicted such things as nuclear fission or fusion so why muddy the water with technical details. It would be a bit like me reading “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building a House”:- “Lay foundations, build walls, add roof”. It doesn’t tell me about how to make (or even source) bricks, tiles – it doesn’t even mention electricity (120V or 240V?). Doesn’t matter – it’s only a guide. The Bible is a guide – and should not be used as proof that creationism is correct.

    The problem (as 99.9% of readers of this blog have realised) is that some people take it too literally. Word for word. Not a good idea, when, if you do it like that, there is much that would be contractictory (“Eye for eye and tooth for tooth”, versus “Love your enemies” being an obvious one).

    It’s the same with morals. The book is a guide – but it isn’t 100% relevant to today’s society (otherwise we would have no women doctors, teachers etc). It has important messages, but they need interpretation.

    I have, in the past, fallen foul of Dr. Phil’s observation of him generally getting “the usual tired (and incorrect) complaint that I am attacking all religion”. I was wrong in making that assertion. But others can be wrong too.

    Creationists. You are so wrong in such a literal interpretation of the Bible (and even what you have is probably an English translation of the Vulgate which was a translation of the original.) Use the Bible, as it was originally intended – a tool, a set of standards. And then live by them.

    Astronomers 1 – Creationists 0

    Sermon over. Oh, but the Bible does does describe the Big Bang. “Let there be light”. :-)

  22. P.S. Bert.

    The world was created in six days, not seven. God rested on the seventh.

    Methinks you need to re-read your Bible.

  23. Quiet Desperation

    >>> It’s actually a fairly sober essay and therefore
    >>> doesn’t lend itself to my usual snide comments

    Too bad, because that works so well otherwise. (Sarcasm mode off)

    When will my fellow skeptics learn that acting like jackasses IS NOT ACCOMPLISHING ANYTHING? This sort of grade school heckling only drives people into the other camp. Will you PLEASE learn this already?

    >>> Believing in God and Creation makes more sense
    >>> then thinking poof the universe exists because of
    >>> a big bang… Thats what they all are, is guesses
    >>> as to how it all happened.

    It was the collision of two branes (inflationary theory blows, IMNSHO). The math works out rather precisely. It’s NOT guesses. It’s based on many years of accumulated obversation and making predictions of what the subsequent observations will be.

    I’m giving you a reading assignment:

    http://tinyurl.com/2p7s3d

    and

    http://tinyurl.com/2zuygb

    For a peek at the actual observational work:

    http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/

  24. Quiet Desperation

    >>> The world was created in six days, not seven.
    >>> God rested on the seventh.

    No, on the seventh day he created Led Zeppelin. :)

    At least that’s what my T-shirt said back in high school.

  25. Bert Cole

    The seventh day of work was observing the creations and declairig that it was good, but you point stands Selina Morseon, I do need to re-read my Bible. Thanks for the tip!

  26. Quiet Desperation

    >>> In the middle Ages there were many great scientists
    >>> who were Christians, Newton for example…

    They simply didn’t have the information to know any better. I mean, c’mon… Newton lived in an era when the discovery of *gravity* was still up for grabs. :)

    >>> There were those who started as agnostics, and throug
    >>> their research came to believe that there had to be
    >>> “higher intelligence” or GOD, Einstein for example.

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” – Albert Einstein

    And when did “GOD” become an acronym? Did He recently incorporate or something? Will there be an IPO? :)

    >>> If Einstein says that if there were twins and one
    >>> was sent traveling at the speed of light for a minute
    >>> when he returned his twin would be many years older
    >>> than him,

    More like the twin in space traveled at (near) light speed for many years and perceived only a very short time passing.

    >>>why can’t GOD say that creations was created in 7 days,

    Because time dilation is a directly observable effect, and THAT right there is the difference between science and religion. It’s even observable on the scale of your example with particales from space that have fairly short lifespans, but manage to reach us from light years away because of time dilation.

    >>> how can one have a day before the earth rotated,
    >>> when a day is an observation of someone on the earth
    >>> who sees the sun rise, set and then rise again?)

    This is just weird. A “day” is just a period of measured time that grew out of the Earth’s current rotational period. If you wish, we could define a day as some multiple of one of the international time standards based of the fundamental frequencies of various atoms.

    >>> and the answer can only come from GOD, as he was the
    >>> only one aroud when he created it!

    I think that might be a tautology.

    And the echoes of the Big Bang can be measured today, you see, and they tell us a story.

  27. Nigel Depledge

    Bert Cole said:
    “It is my opinon that both Creaionist and Evolutionsit have correct and incorrect assuptions on how the earth was formed,”

    Well, not to put too fine a point on it, you’re wrong.

    Creationists assume that the Bible is literally true. Since this belief is demonstrably false (theologians have pointed out the many inconsistencies, where different passages contradict one another), it is a dogmatic one.

    Anyone who considers evolutionary theory to be a good description for the diversity of the biosphere is making only one assumption – that it is possible for us to understand the universe based on the evidence we find. This assumption has been confirmed as far as that is possible.

    Evolutionary theory does not describe how the Earth was formed; it describes how different species of biological organism arise from precursor species.

    ” and the answer can only come from GOD, as he was the only one aroud when he created it!”

    Yet, strangely, while there is much evidence remaining in the Earth’s rocks for us to examine, none of it indicates the presence of this “god” whose appellation you seem compelled to capitalize.

    The point you make is utterly irrelevant. We can determine how the Earth formed (at least in general terms) by logical deductions based on the evidence we find and on what we know of the laws of physics. This knowledge is detailed and extensive, so our deductions can be regarded as quite firm and reliable, albeit potentially subject to revision in the face of new evidence. Reality is the only arbiter of truth.

  28. Quiet Desperation

    “Because time dilation is a directly observable effect, and THAT right there is the difference between science and religion”

    There are those who would say that religion is observable. I see people being religious every week.

    What I think you are saying is that science is predictable whereas religion is not.

    Having said that, there are numerous cases (not necessarily documented in the Bible) when religious belief may have been a factor. What is not clear is why it is not consistent (i.e. unrepeatable)…and that is where faith comes in. Not blind faith, mind you. A questioning faith.

    That might not be a response you were looking for. (Oh, but your “day” surmise is spot on), but….

    I think there are some things that appear to be inexplicable. One day they may be explained (but I suspect we will have newer “inexplicables by then”). Many of us see God behind them. To be fair, many see Satan to be behind some of them. Interesting that we have Christians, agnostics and atheists on this blog but no Satanists (as far as I’m aware).

    But I do admit, science does explain a lot. I suspect many believe science one day will explain everything. That is a strong belief – one might almost call it a “faith”.

    Why is that faith any different to mine?

  29. Bert Cole

    I also believe that the Bible is the God-inspired book of life.

    BUT. It’s not a blue-print. Genesis may describe the general “running order” for creation, but I don’t think it is meant to be taken literally. When it was written, no-one could have predicted such things as nuclear fission or fusion so why muddy the water with technical details. It would be a bit like me reading “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building a House”:- “Lay foundations, build walls, add roof”. It doesn’t tell me about how to make (or even source) bricks, tiles – it doesn’t even mention electricity (120V or 240V?). Doesn’t matter – it’s only a guide. The Bible is a guide – and should not be used as proof that creationism is correct.-Selina Morse

    WTF- Sounds like you need a refresher in logic.

    If you “believe that the Bible is the God-inspired book of life”, but it can not be trusted to give us the true account of how the universe/life was created why do you “believe that the Bible is the God-inspired book of life”?
    You are right in that the Bible does not give all of the details that science has provided us, but it does still stand true. I agree that the Bible should not be taken literally on all matters, but science without God is a Religion onto itself.

    “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building a House”- is not a detailed guide, but it is one that will build a house, and it is true.

  30. Oh dear Bert. You have a real problem here.

    I need no refresher in logic, thank you very much.

    I did not refute that the Bible has all the groundwork, but it is not an instruction manual. And if you really want to take me to task, answer the other point I put to you:- that if taken literally it is clearly contradictory. (My example of the “eye for an eye” still stands unanswered in a literal sense.)

    And, let us be fair, since when did the Bible (or religion in general) have any adherence to logic – cause and effect. Shaky ground, methinks.

    If you want to build a house according to my “Complete Idiot’s Guide”, that’s fine. Two of the three little pigs did so too.

    If you think I am hugely mistaken, pray for me. Logic doesn’t come into that.

    But I’ll pray for you too.

  31. Div

    I can’t believe that kids still get taught this crap – it’s wrong. Great post; now subscribing to your RSS feed – thanks ! :)

  32. Bert Cole

    “Creationists assume that the Bible is literally true. Since this belief is demonstrably false (theologians have pointed out the many inconsistencies, where different passages contradict one another), it is a dogmatic one”-Nigel Depledgeon

    Just as the twin that was on earth proved that the twin traveling the speed of light was gone for a minute was proven “demonstrably false” by his apperance of being older! Also as i stated earlier contradictions and inconsistencies do not always mean that one is wrong. It may mean that an opinion is being made without all the data that is needed to make the correct analysis

    “(theologians have pointed out the many inconsistencies, where different passages contradict one another)”-Nigel Depledgeon

    There are scientist who are creationsts, and they point out many inconsistencies in the EVOLUTION Theory. “Darwins Black Box” is an exapmle of a book written by a scientist that disagrees with Evolution, that does not mean that science is wrong, just that the wrong conclusinos were made with the evidence that was avalible at the time.

  33. Bert Cole

    Selina Morse-And, let us be fair, since when did the Bible (or religion in general) have any adherence to logic – cause and effect. Shaky ground, methinks.

    1-God said let there be light, and there was light
    2-God said do not eat of the tree of Life or you will surly die, Adam and Eve ate of the tree and they died
    3-Jesus told the blind man to wash in the river, he obeyed and he recieved his sight

    Selina Morse-Word for word. Not a good idea, when, if you do it like that, there is much that would be contractictory (”Eye for eye and tooth for tooth”, versus “Love your enemies” being an obvious one).

    I stated that every word of the Bible should not be taken literaly, the “Eye for eye” verse was an example of a LAW that was passed down to set the rules for society, and the “Love your enemies” was a statment of HEART from the LORD. The contex matters as well as the overall idea development.

  34. Selina Morse do you still live in the Newcastle area?

    I got my two MSc’s at your university, I was last there in 1994

    On topic

    Why not follow the UK model. Creationism does get a mention, but in humanities and RE classes rather than the science classes. It gets a mention and science teachers are not placed in the kind of position that they were at that School in Dover.

  35. Carakav

    Selina Morse: I very much respect folks like you. Being a avid student of history, it is my observation that the people who make the most difference in this world are those that can tread the fine line of faith and skepticism.

  36. Darth Robo

    “There are scientist who are creationsts, and they point out many inconsistencies in the EVOLUTION Theory. “Darwins Black Box” is an exapmle of a book written by a scientist that disagrees with Evolution, that does not mean that science is wrong, just that the wrong conclusinos were made with the evidence that was avalible at the time.”

    Uh, Bert. That book was written by Behe, who got slaughtered in court over a year ago because of his lack of knowledge of evolution. Since then he’s done nothing except whine about the judge’s decision, and attempted NO science in the meantime to show his scientific ideas are any better. Basically, ignore anyone who promotes the Wedge document.

    Your assertion that science without God is flawed. While certainly science does not rule out a god, nothing can, which makes Him unpredictable. Which is why it isn’t science. Science would not work in any way if God was used as an explanation. Science doesn’t say whether God did it or not. But it can tell us HOW He did it.

    (Hope this goes thru, got a “you have no permission” error when trying on another thread to post from home the other day. Darn computers!) :(

  37. Mazze

    If God made everything, who made God?

  38. jerry

    Much ado about nothing. Since there is cause and effect, and the effect is the universe, there must have been a cause. God, anyone?

  39. SLC

    Re Bert Cole

    Mr. Cole is seriously in error in describing Issac Newton as a Christian. For the information of Mr. Cole, Newton rejected the concept of the Trinity, which is at the foundation of most of Christian Churches of today and virtually all of them in his time. In fact, had his views become known, he not only could have lost his job but could have been confined to the Tower of London for heresy. Newton is best described as a Unitarian.

  40. MattFunke

    Bert Cole: Also as i stated earlier contradictions and inconsistencies do not always mean that one is wrong. It may mean that an opinion is being made without all the data that is needed to make the correct analysis

    True. But if you have many, many, many tests that all appear to be telling you the same thing, and someone who disagrees with you has no evidence at all that supports his position, it makes no sense to act as if you have made an incorrect analysis.

    Better to act as if your current explanation is the best one going, but to always be open to new data that will force you to revise or discard your theory. Oh, wait — that’s science.

    Bert Cole: There are scientist who are creationsts, and they point out many inconsistencies in the EVOLUTION Theory. “Darwins Black Box” is an exapmle of a book written by a scientist that disagrees with Evolution, that does not mean that science is wrong, just that the wrong conclusinos were made with the evidence that was avalible at the time.

    “Darwin’s Black Box” is a collection of the worst sort of cherry-picking (the art of choosing to examine only the evidence that supports your predetermined conclusion and discarding the rest). That book has been dismantled over and over with real scientific findings.

    Remember: a good scientific theory attempts to explain all the available data, not just the ones that make us look “correct”.

    This well-researched list will give you a place to start with the dismantling.

  41. MattFunke

    jerry: Since there is cause and effect, and the effect is the universe, there must have been a cause. God, anyone?

    There’s an unanswered question in your reasoning. Why is the Universe necessarily an effect?

  42. Josh

    I think it’s an overstatement to say that this is “evil.” If anything, it’s misleading and ignorant, but “evil” is a term that I don’t think can be applied. It is definitely a form of brainwashing, but don’t forget that these kids are only trying to conform to the communities in which they live. This type of thing happens all over the world with a variety of belief systems. It’s really no different with female circumcision or any other odd tradition that we generally believe to be harmful, brutal, or ridiculous.

    Fortunately, many of these kids are only doing what’s expected of them, and when they begin to develop a sense of independence, they’ll break free from this nonsense and start thinking more critically. In fact, a friend of mine went to Liberty University, and she now realizes how “scary” it was to go there (her words, not mine). She’s now an incredibly open minded and insightful person.

  43. Wayne McCoy

    Instead of continually debating creationists, why not just challenge them with “Creationism is BS. Please demonstrate otherwise. Quoting Bible verses does not count as a demonstration.”

    Creationists continually whine to be allowed to compete in the marketplace of ideas (e.g. that Creationism be taught in schools). Then they should shouldn’t holler discrimination when it’s shown their Brand X doesn’t meet the Super Explaining Power of New Improved Evo-Lution.

    The problem with letting God into the equations: what if you picked the wrong god? Who can credibly state that it’s the Judeo-Christian god who is behind the curtain pulling the strings. (Ever notice the allegories to faith and reason in “The Wizard of Oz”?)

  44. Ken G

    I think what a lot of people seem to be missing is that the terms “brainwashing” and “evil” were chosen not to attack creationism, which can be done on scientific grounds, but rather to attack the mode of “education” that was being used on those children. I am an educator also, and I feel a great duty not to think for my students, but rather to show them how to think for themselves. Anything less would indeed be brainwashing, whether it is solid science or creationism. Even solid science will need to be questioned in the future by people who think for themselves, not by parrots who can regurgitate past interpretations.

  45. Halidai

    Three words: Flying Spaghetti Monster

  46. Will

    The Arabs were leaders in astronomy and the sciences until religious fundamentalism killed their spirit of wonder. The US is heading the same way and will be a backwater if the creationists get their way. Learning is the enemy of religious doctrine. Ironically in the middle ages it was illegal to have the bible in the local language. “Heaven forbid” the locals should read it for themselves and discover what a lot of rot it was. Better to keep everyone ignorant.

  47. Thomas

    Hi from France,

    Fromhere, we tend to think that USA are filled with religious freaks but you are the living proof many american citizen figh with intelligence for their liberties and so that common sense prevail, not sickening fantasies.
    Congratulations for your post anyway.

    Bon courage!

  48. Ibrahim

    “I helped at a local Boys and Girls Club when I was in NorCal”

    Oh noes! The skeptical atheist scientist Phil Plait has been allowed around children!

    Someone should quickly end this practice lest he actually learn ’em some some of those pesky critical thinking skills, and the children that have been exposed to him should undergo immediate exorcism, then we should plumb them for repressed memories so we can go on Dateline and Fox News.

    Seriously though, I feel really sorry for these children. Regurgitation is not a marketable job skill (unless maybe you’re in fashion, or a jockey). I’m normally in favor of allowing parents to screw their kids up in their own special way, but this is going to impact at least some of their futures in ways that are making me reconsider that belief.

  49. Ibrahim

    @Will,

    Even though you are correct about the Islamic astronomers to some degree, religious fundamentalism was pretty loosely applied in many areas due to the simple logistical issues of covering all that territory and the tribute system. For example Al-Jazari is sometimes cited as a father of robotics, though one of his most prominent inventions was a programmable humanoid automaton designed to to entertain guests at drinking parties (drinking is a big no-no in Islam).

    However religion was also undoubtedly a motivation for many early Islamic scientists. The period of discovery sometimes known as the “Islamic Golden Age” was in some part due to the Abbasid Caliphate’s great faith in the prophetic teaching, “the ink of scholars is holier than the blood of martyr’s”. The Islamic calendar is lunar, which necessitated people observing the night sky.

    Ultimately the death of this era was caused in large part by the rejection of Averroes’s (Ibn Rushd) philosophies. He advocated critical thinking and reconciled religion and science and would later inspire Aquinas and others. After a scandal, the Arab world rejected his philosophies in favor of another (whose name eludes me) who favored more mystical thinking.

    Am I disagreeing with you Will? Not really, I’m just one of those people who have an annoying habit of informing others against their will.

  50. Personally I don’t care what any adult wants to believe and I will never try to steer anyone away from their personal faith. I will of course argue in favour of scientific thinking, but only if pushed. But when it comes to children, I am 100% with Phil on this. I had religion force fed to me from a very young age so I know how much it can distort the intellectual growth of any child. Believe whatever nonsense you want to believe, but please, please don’t infect your kids with it. Give them a chance to grow up and decide for themselves when they are old enough to make their own decisions based on all the evidence. Take religious indoctrination out of schools – ALL of them. It has no place in the classroom. Bring it in as part of history and culture classes for secondary schools (or whatever you call them in the U.S.) but religion should never be preached to under 12 year-olds in schools. Take them to church by all means if it’s your culture to do so – but let’s get religion out of schools where it doesn’t belong. Don’t pray in my school and I won’t teach in your church!

  51. And another thing… why does every comment I make here flag up a message declaring it as “spam”?

  52. bipolar2

    ** It’s the Ideology, stupid!**

    The almighty lords of dualism: Ahura Mazda, Yahweh, God, and Allah are moral equivalents of comic book super-villains. And this pulp fiction enjoys fanatical cult followings.

    Don’t however mistake political ideology for religious belief.

    Wherever ideology reduces to theology, as in the Southern U.S. or its sister region Saudi Arabia, secular politics does not exist.

    The delusional and the deluded project their fears onto the hated others.
    Secularism corrupts. Tolerance capitulates to evil. Only puritanism saves.

    The holy text is merely pretext. Ideology masquerading as religion bamboozles the masses, the media. Telemullahs there, televangelists here.

    Real terrorist threats in the U.S.: undermining the Constitution, trashing biological science, and perverting education to suit a totalitarian ideology of social control and cultural domination, underwritten by the MI complex. [The Bush2 administration represents only a prototype.]

    Home-grown christo-fascists frighten me much more than all so-called Islamo-fascists combined.

    bipolar2
    copyright asserted 2007

  53. gopher65

    I’m sure someone mentioned this already (I didn’t read all the comments), but technically brainwashing involves torturing someone into submission though various tactics.

    I think the word you were looking for is indoctrination (which to me has just as bad a connotation).

    Anyway, I’ve been saying for years that the worst part about the cancer that is religion is the fact that they force their ridiculous beliefs on their kids. People don’t believe in a god because their church told them too, they believe in a god because their parents told them it was true. And Daddy Wouldn’t Lie To Me!

    But why do their parents believe it? Because their parents told it to them. And *their* parents told it them. All the way back to the original creator of religion, who was obviously some power-hungry crackpot who wanted to use this New Thing he had created to control the people of his village through fear and hatred.

  54. Because time dilation is a directly observable effect, and THAT right there is the difference between science and religion. It’s even observable on the scale of your example with particales from space that have fairly short lifespans, but manage to reach us from light years away because of time dilation.

    It’s observable much more easily than that. The clocks on GPS satellites are corrected for relativistic time dilation effects. http://relativity.livingreviews.org/Articles/lrr-2003-1/

  55. Arefiev Mihkail

    Ahahah, zombies in comments alert!
    It’s good that there are bloggers like you who work hard in helping to overcome these stupid medieval concepts and willful ignorance. And it’s bad that in some places there is a policy of bringing in raging obscurantism (sadly, Russia too becomes one of these).
    Thanks for your writing!

  56. PK

    To Bert Cole, who wrote: “Just as the twin that was on earth proved that the twin traveling the speed of light was gone for a minute was proven `demonstrably false’ by his apperance of being older! Also as i stated earlier contradictions and inconsistencies do not always mean that one is wrong.”

    Yes, it does! Do not confuse a contradiction with a paradox: a paradox (like the twin paradox that you so deliciously got the wrong way around) only appears to be a contradiction because faulty logic was used in its derivation. The paradox disappears when you apply the rules of special relativity correctly (the travelling twin who has to turn around stays young). If you can extract real contradictions from your theory, then your theory is logically inconsistent. And an inconsistent theory must be false.

  57. Ken B

    Quiet Desparation:
    >>> If Einstein says that if there were twins and one
    >>> was sent traveling at the speed of light for a minute
    >>> when he returned his twin would be many years older
    >>> than him,
    >
    > More like the twin in space traveled at (near) light speed for
    > many years and perceived only a very short time passing.

    Or, more accurately, one twin traveled at near-light speed for some period of time, which was perceived by the Earth-bound twin to be many years, yet perceived by the space traveller to be but a minute.

    (Time is not absolute. It’s always relative to the observer.)

  58. I have had the same problem my self, dealing with brainwashed people just like this. I am leaving in kentucky (brainwash central) and am trying to get a astronomy degree here, to say the least I have been attacked in every way possible. Since my father sings in a gospel group it is even harder. I told my father I was getting a as a astronomy degree and he kicks me out. I am now living in my car and going to my classes.
    I WOULD RATHER LIVE IN MY CAR THAN LIVE A LIE AND BECOME ONE OF THOSE BRAINWASHED COOKIE CUTTER PEOPLE THAT YOU SEE EVERY DAY. I hope my father will see this but I doubt it, he can’t even spell astronomy let alone study it. But I don’t see why people won’t to ignore the truth of the universe. Isn’t that wht fiction is for……………….

    capt james kirk

  59. Rob Johnson

    I’d just like to sound out my support for this blog as being completely on the mark!!! I grew up being taught that creationism is the only explanation and that evolution is a crack-pot theory (they also abused the word theory as if it were a “hypothesis”).

    Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, in my lifetime was more damaging to my intelligence and my personal growth than religion. My dad was a fundamentalist baptist. The guilt he instilled in me to this day causes me problems.

    However, I’ve broken free of the BRAINWASHING (YES, IT IS BRAINWASHING) of creationism and I now see how awesome and wonderful and amazing this world and universe really are. Creationism is so small and lacking in anything of value.

    I can’t say it any better than that. If you’re a creationist, I beg you to think outside of that tiny little box. The universe is waiting for you and it’s a damn fun and interesting ride!!!!

  60. Roy

    Couldn’t agree more. Love your blog!

  61. Darth Robo

    “Much ado about nothing. Since there is cause and effect, and the effect is the universe, there must have been a cause. God, anyone?”

    Congratulations jerry! You’ve just passed your ‘Creation Science’ exam – with flying colours!!! And as a special treat, you win a day trip to see kent Hovind then visit Ham’s creation ‘museum’, including a special showing of the Adam & Eve video no longer shown to the general public!

    😀

  62. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> There are those who would say that religion is observable.
    >>> I see people being religious every week.

    I’m sorry, but are you being deliberately disingenuous here? Sometimes things get lost in the ASCII.

    >>> What I think you are saying is that science is
    >>> predictable whereas religion is not.

    I think I actually said that somewhere, yes. :) Or rather, science MAKES predictions. Science itself is NOT predictable, and actually welcomes new, contradictory information.

    >>> But I do admit, science does explain a lot. I suspect
    >>> many believe science one day will explain everything.

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t. I think science is a wonderful thing, but I have a growing suspicion that the ultimate nature of the Universe may be beyond the understanding of anything evolved within it. I may even write a book on the topic when I retire from my day job.

    However, I see no reason to stick a God into that gap.

    >>> That is a strong belief – one might almost call it a “faith”.
    >>> Why is that faith any different to mine?

    I honestly don’t know how to explain it any more clearly.

  63. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> Fromhere, we tend to think that USA are filled with
    >>> religious freaks but you are the living proof many
    >>> american citizen figh with intelligence for their liberties
    >>> and so that common sense prevail, not sickening
    >>> fantasies. Congratulations for your post anyway

    I was going to get snarky, but I’ll be nice since you EU folks are starting to have a lot of trouble with religious types, too, albeit imported rather than home grown. Solidarity, brother!

    You have to remember the concept of the vocal minority seeming bigger than it really is. In my 42 years of experience, people are not all *that* religious here. Some large percentage may claim a belief in God, but what does that mean? Some people in a survey paid lip service to it.

  64. Bert

    “I stated that every word of the Bible should not be taken literaly, the “Eye for eye” verse was an example of a LAW that was passed down to set the rules for society, and the “Love your enemies” was a statment of HEART from the LORD. The contex matters as well as the overall idea development.”

    You did say that every word should not be taken literally (although you didn’t refer to my Eye for an eye statement at the time). However, if you accept that every word should not be taken literally, why do you then take it literally that it was six solar sojourns that the universe was created?

    I have never said that the Bible speaks falsely (I would be breaking my ordination vows if I did). But I do think there is a lot of metaphor in it. Jesus said “I am the door” – that’s metaphor.

    When it comes to context, as I tried (perhaps not too clearly) to say, Genesis was written with a nomadic, largely unscientific nation at heart. Why assume that it was literal when there is much evidence to the contrary?

    The three examples you state – I have no problem with. Where I draw the line is when the Bible is used out of context or erroneously to prove an argument. Remember, God gave us the intellect to work out the mechanism by which He created the universe (the mechanism is called the Laws of Physics). Please, I’m not anti-Bible at all. But I don’t like seeing it used incorrectly.

    Of course, it may be that I’m wrong. But I am confident that St. Peter will still let me in.

    Sticks. No, I don’t live in Newcastle any longer. Left university in 1989 with a BSc and MSc (maths). Picked up a BA and a few engineering credentials since. Now live in the lake district.

  65. SLC

    Re Revolving Squid

    Time dilation was first observed some 55 years ago in the decay of muons produced in a synchrotron. It was easily observed that fast muons are much longer lived then slow muons.

  66. Gary Ansorge

    Evolution will win, in the end,,,

    This (discussion) is a classic example of evolution in action. An older way of responding to the environment(albeit the changing environment is initiated by growth in human knowledge) is dying, as those who have the skeptical gene continue to replicate. In time, those most suited to this new environment(of techno knowledge) will be more successful at surviving(in the techno market place) while those incapable of acquiring techno knowledge will be increasingly marginalized. Don’t you think the creationists know that? Which is why they try so hard to hang on to power.

    Jerry:
    Cause and effect is applicable in this “local” universe, on the macro-cosmic scale. On the quantum scale, stuff happens willy nilly. Time runs backward, effects precede causes, etc. From the point of view of an “external” observer, if such even be possible, this universe could well be no more significant than a sub atomic particle, and as we have already observed, particles can arise from the false vacuum spontaneously(but always in opposite pairs). We can ignore for the moment the dissolution of one of those “virtual” particles as it crosses an event horizon. Thus we have no necessity for a “CAUSE”,. Universes just happen,,,hey, we’re talking eternity here, where ANYTHING can happen(if you wait long enough) for no reason at all,,,

    Reason there are no satanists here is because, as noted in the bible, satan was the one who freaking “LOST THE WAR” in heaven. Who would want to worship a LOSER?
    On the other hand, I really like the Persian myth of Shaitan, wherein Shaitan was unable to break his word(to bow to no other in all eternity) to god. This is often given as an example of ultimate love, ie, being willing to go to hell for your love. It is, of course, metaphorical,,,

    Gary 7

  67. Quiet Desperation

    Sorry, didn’t mean to sound disingeneous. I was really just pointing out (bluntly, it seems) that language can cause us problems.

    I agree with you entirely on your statements about science allowing predictions to be made. Again, my clumsy use of language let me down here. I think I was trying to draw a distinction between science and religion in that science allows cause and effect predictions to be made. And they are repeatable. And they always come up trumps.

    Religion’s effects cannot always be put down to a cause. We’re talking miracles here.

    Now one day, it may be that they will be explicable through science. In fact, that would be wonderful because it would reinforce some of the stories in the Bible.

    But, I believe, we will have newer inexplicables to explain by then.

    I am also sceptical that we will ever have a Theory of Everything (unless it’s “42”), but it seems many people do believe it’s only a matter of time.

    And you are right, you don’t need to use God to plug the gap. I do (for other reasons). I am coming from the original blog post involving teaching erroneous theories (creationism) and using the Bible to back it up.

    I hope that’s cleared it up.

  68. Shalamar

    I’m still waiting for evidence of Creationism.

    None yet, huh?

  69. KaiYeves

    It is absolutley possible to be both religous and scientific, and I consider myself to be both. However, I completely agree with Dr. Plait that these obsessive literalists are dangerous, not to mention creepy. I feel very sorry for that girl. I once read that the word “brainwashing” comes from Chinese. Is this true? The following sentence is in caps, but I am NOT a CT. BRAINWASHERS BEWARE! Don’t you dare come to New York and touch my young(er) friends! I was recently a councilor at a one-week camp with a space theme, and I taught several 1st and 2nd graders the planets, in addition to telling jokes and juggling. Happiness is having a seven year old hug your leg, call you cool and recite the planets with you. I also took a poll of 24 five-to-eight-year-olds in June and May and got these results: Six knew that Mars was red
    6 knew that Mars does not harbor ETI
    5 knew that robots have explored Mars but people haven’t
    Individual kids told me that Mars was colder than Earth, had ice but no liquid water, may contain bacterial life, had no atmosphere and the stories of Lowell and the War of the Worlds broadcast.
    3 knew what a conspiracy was
    12 knew that there was a Transformers movie coming out, but only 3 had seen the Beagle 2 trailer
    All knew not to believe what you see in a movie
    One little girl told me “People think there are little green men there, but there aren’t.”
    And, finaly, six said yes to wether or not they would someday like to visit the Red Planet, and three said maybe.
    There’s hope yet.

  70. Nigel Depledge

    Bert Cole wrote:
    “There are scientist who are creationsts, and they point out many inconsistencies in the EVOLUTION Theory. “Darwins Black Box” is an exapmle of a book written by a scientist that disagrees with Evolution, that does not mean that science is wrong, just that the wrong conclusinos were made with the evidence that was avalible at the time.”

    Oh, dear. How many times does this one need to be refuted before it will go away?

    There are precisely zero inconsistencies within evolutionary theory. It is wholly self-consistent and it agrees with all of the available evidence.

    There may be scientists who are creationists, but (a) these are a trivial minority; (b) only 1 has any claim to have expertise in biological science*; (c) most of the rest of them do not have any expertise that is relevant to the debate over evolution; (d) this is irrelevant to the strength or otherwise of evolutionary theory. When the theory was first expounded, many people opposed it. They were just as wrong as the few who oppose it today, but they had a good excuse. None of this changes the fact that modern evolutionary theory is the best description we have for the appearance of new diversity in living organisms.

    *Michael Behe (author of Darwin’s Black Box)has expertise in chemistry and biochemistry. However, he supports the weakest form of creationism of any of the ID/creationist authors. He accepts common descent. He accepts that evolution has occurred slowly and over billions of years. He accepts all of modern evolutionary theory except for random mutation. His latest version of Irreducible Complexity is basically stating that multiple simultaneous mutations are (a) needed for a protein to evolve a new function, and (b) extremely unlikely to occur without intervention from the designer. However, (a) has been disproved by experiment, and his axioms from which (b) iare not necessarily relevant to real life.

  71. Rand

    I think it’s awesome that you consider a scientist destroying a child’s essay as some sort of victory. Maybe you should correct the grammar to make it a double win!

  72. ccpetersen

    Selina and all who use the word “believe” when you should be saying “think” please go read my blog entry on “Scientists Believe… ”

    http://www.thespacewriter.com/2007_08_01_thespacewriter_archive.html#6793430516458497861#6793430516458497861

    Using the correct grammar and language helps define the differences between trusting in faith and understanding the role of facts in science. There’s a big difference.

  73. Ibrahim

    I think you may be missing the point Rand. People lamented more than once the fact that they felt they had to dissect it. Ultimately however, the girl is offering us things that have been spoon-fed to her that are blatantly false. This in and of itself is one thing, after all a child writing about Santa Claus is easily tolerated without comment. However many adults accept this as fact, and it becomes important to knock down the information proffered, regardless of its source.

  74. ccpetersen

    An elegantly constructed article. You are right. I do try to limit my use of the word “belief” as I know there are some who would misconstue it. I checked back through my pieces today and the only instance I cound find when I erroneously used belief/believe was in an item I penned early this morning when I stated “scientists believe in the Big Bang”. You are correct that this was in error – scientists know there was a Big Bang would have been more accurate.

    By the way. I also know that there was a Big Bang. That Prime Event happened about 14 billion years ago.

    I happen to believe in God. It doesn’t cause me a problem.

    One question which arises is, what do we mean by a billion? 1000 million or (the British) 1 million million?

  75. tacitus

    A billion is almost universally taken to be 1,000 million these days, even in the UK. It’s a much more useful definition.

  76. Skepterist

    Selina,

    You are well-spoken and extremely polite in your conversations regarding faith vs. science. You are a a credit to people of faith.

    I think that 14 billion is 14,000,000,000 years, but as an American, I’m not supposed to know or care that other countries exist, much less realize they use different units of measurement. 😉

    In your expert opinion, how does one know which passages of the bible should be taken literally, and which ones should not?

    Mike J:I suppose it never dawned on you that creationism MIGHT be right.. after all no one can “prove” origins anyways, so why is it being taught at all is my point.

    You must admit that “creationism” IS INDEED a theory, or hypothesis, as is evolution… so to teach one and not the other is unfair. So either create (no pun intended) a NEW science class which deals with theories on origins, or don’t complain when creationism or intelligent design gets stuffed in regular science/biology class like evolution was “integrated” into regular science class and presented as fact.

    Mike, why do you keep posting the same old tired and INCORRECT arguments? Creationism has no proof. It has no explanation outside of the book of Genesis. Evolution has proof, from thousands of experiments tested for more than a hundred years. And read this carefully: Biological evolution does not try to explain the creation of the universe. It explains how life formed on this planet, based on the evidence that we have. It is not a hypothesis, it is a Theory. Just like the one that explains gravity. Just like the one that explains electromagnetism. To question the validity of evolution is like questioning gravity or electricity. They are facts. Not fiction.

    Yes, I can see how teaching evolution and not creation in a science class may seem unfair to creationists. Just like teaching that the earth is round would seem unfair to someone who believes in a flat earth. But creationism has no place in a science class, because, simply, it is not based on scientific evidence. It belongs in a religious studies or philosophy class. To make a “NEW science class” that doesn’t teach observational-based learning would no longer be a “science” class. Wouldn’t you agree that it doesn’t make any sense to teach particle physics at your church on Sundays? Religion and science should not be taught in the same class.

    Teaching anything in such a way that the person is to refuse to believe any contradictory evidence is brainwashing. Teaching creationism to children in this manner is brainwashing. Brainwashing children is wrong.

    You can teach children religion in a church or in your home, but not in public schools. The constitution says that the state cannot impose a religion upon the people, and as long as the public schools are run by the state, they cannot teach religion.

    B-)

  77. Will. M

    I think both “indoctrinate” and “brainwashing” are accurate descriptions. The former has to do with acceptance without critical thought and the latter with using methodology which allows for only the desired conclusions – either for political or religious aims.

    And I also agree that to do this to kids is really a tragedy.

    There are enough examples of the results of this kind of “teaching” behavior involving kids that abound; the inculcation of religious dogma is only one such. There are countless parents who are members of home-grown hate groups which are using the same tactics to ensure that their children have the same bigoted beliefs that they hold. There is hope, however.

    It was my experience as a public school teacher that kids who had an erroneous idea about the world sooner or later saw the fallacies in their belief once they came into contact with the rest of us. It is the sheltered kids, those who never see what the rest of us are up to, those who remain enclosed by their church or their clan or their narrowly-drawn social set who took the longest to become disabused of their fallacious ideas – and some never did, of course. And they are the hardest to convince otherwise, because they’ve held their erroneous belief often into adulthood, with no critical challenges to contradict them and generally no way to critically examine an alternative idea.

    So it is at these “die-hards” which these repetitive and often redundant messages must continue to be directed. It is critical to not let any fundamental error go unchallenged, to maintain the pressure on the “unconvinced,” so that they don’t become convinced that they’ve “won” by default, and that those who might be unsure of the difference between reality and fiction aren’t left without a rebuttal to ponder.

  78. Avon

    Since millions of people believe in creationism then it is worthwhile investigating why they believe as they do.

  79. Miranda

    People, the “child” we are talking about here is 20 years old! An adult, by all reasonable standards, and should be well equipped to handle the feedback/criticism she should be expecting to receive having written this essay (however I admit that I myself was unable to read past the part where she insinuates that atheism was behind the lack of morality and thus the underlying cause of Columbine).

    To Phil’s point, however, I agree that this sort of brainwashing of children (who grow up to write award-winning creationist essays at 20 years of age) is frightening and maddening. And I think “brainwashing” is an appropriate term. What else do you call it when children are told to believe in God or “burn in the pits of fire”, or “spend eternity in hell” or “be denied entrance to heaven, where your loved ones will be”? At least, that’s what I was taught at the church I went to. Is this not coercion, to a child? Possibly to lots of adults as well?

    I agree with Elwood Herring, our goal should be to teach children to think for themselves, ask questions, research answers. Science should (is?) a way of approaching the world, and learning and discovering how it works. It makes me sad that so many children are denied the wonder of this process!

    I also agree with Gary 7 — evolution will win, in the end.

  80. Mick

    @Selina Morse:

    Nice to have a reasonable theist on here debating this stuff for a change, those bible literalists are so depressing. I think your logic is faulty though.

    —————————
    Selina Morse wrote:
    “What I think you are saying is that science is predictable whereas religion is not.

    Having said that, there are numerous cases (not necessarily documented in the Bible) when religious belief may have been a factor.”
    —————————

    Such as?

    —————————
    Selina Morse wrote:
    “What is not clear is why it is not consistent (i.e. unrepeatable)…and that is where faith comes in. Not blind faith, mind you. A questioning faith.”
    —————————

    By “questioning” I assume you mean checking to see if a belief is justified, or more valid than some contradictory belief. How do you do that other than by looking for reliable evidence? If you’ll only accept it with the support of evidence then it’s not really “faith”, is it? If you don’t need evidence then surely it’s blind faith. I’d be interested to know of any good evidence you’ve found to justify your belief in a god.

    —————————
    Selina Morse wrote:
    “I think there are some things that appear to be inexplicable. One day they may be explained (but I suspect we will have newer “inexplicables by then”). Many of us see God behind them. To be fair, many see Satan to be behind some of them. Interesting that we have Christians, agnostics and atheists on this blog but no Satanists (as far as I’m aware).”

    “But I do admit, science does explain a lot. I suspect many believe science one day will explain everything. That is a strong belief – one might almost call it a “faith”.

    Why is that faith any different to mine?”
    —————————

    Ah, the old “science is just another faith” argument :)

    But first:

    What makes your faith any different to the faith of the Cargo Cults, or people who wholeheartedly believed that lightening bolts and volcanoes were literally the god(s) displaying their anger? Or even Satanists, seeing as you mentioned them?

    We know that humans have a strong natural tendency to attribute supernatural causes to things they don’t understand. As we gain more knowledge we look back and see how ridiculous those supernatural beliefs were. What allowance have you made for that? Without evidence, how do you know that your faith isn’t just another example of that all too common tendency? What makes you so special that you can rely on your instincts when we have a huge amount of evidence that shows that in other people those same instincts are hopelessly unreliable?

    You may well be right that some people believe that science will ultimately explain everything, and if that’s an article of faith to them then you’re also right that their faith is no different to yours. In fact it would be unscientific to make such a claim as it’s impossible to know whether it’s true or not. But, so what? It just means that those individuals are wrong to make that claim, it doesn’t undermine science itself as science isn’t about the beliefs of individuals. Of course there must be many more who just have a feeling that science can explain everything while being aware that the feeling could be wrong, but that’s not faith, it’s just a reasonable hypothesis. As for myself (and, I suspect, many others) I admit that I just don’t know. Our souped-up monkey brains have done amazingly well so far at understanding the universe, especially when you consider that our ability to inquire and understand is just a by-product of our genes’ survival strategy! But there’s no reason to suppose that will continue until we finally get to the bottom of things, and of course there might not even be a “bottom”. It could be that as we get ever deeper things get so bizzare that we don’t have the tools to model them. Still doesn’t make religion any more plausible.

    I often have discussions with religious folk and it’s amazing how often the argument follows this same pattern. If they’re reasonable people they are eventually forced to admit that there’s no plausible evidence for their beliefs and it all comes down to unsupported faith, so then they trot out the “science is just another faith so it’s no better” line. But all that shows is that they don’t understand what science is. We then go through how science isn’t some kind of special magic that you have to believe in for it to work, it’s simply the application of rationality. Their last line of defense is that not everything can be explained rationally, which brings them back to explaining why their particular brand of irrationality is better than all the myriad contradictory versions if there’s no way of assessing their relative validity. Some of them start getting cross then.

  81. JackC

    Of all the comments read so far, I am truly astounded to see only one that even BARELY hints at the opposite – the teaching of Evolution as a “competing theory” in church. And I mean taught – in the same manner that the nutters feel ID needs to be “taught” in a Science class.

    I have never yet heard ANY proponent of teaching the bunk of creationism in school continue the offer with “…and I will GLADLY begin teaching the alternative throries of evolution within my church services….”

    Like THAT would ever happen. To me, it is a prerequisite of honesty.

    I once invited a Jehova’s Witness into my house – not for me or him, but because he had a youngster along- perhaps about 10 or so and probably his son. I brought out my books – Einstein, Feinman, many others – and went head-to-head with him – all the time talking to the young’un. My only thought during the entire session was “Maybe I can save one….”

    I respect the comments of Selena Morse and note that many of my good friends have been of a religous bent. In general though, it is when they understand the bible to be as Selena Morse has noted it – and NOT as a “literal truth” that the relationships work out.

    Anyone – ANYONE – that says the bible is a literal truth needs to do a LOT more research. Of course, they won’t. That is anathema.

    And anyone who cannot understand how and why some poor child would write such an essay – also needs to do quite a bit more research. Following that, link arms with the BA and stand against the rush of indoctrination.

    JC

  82. Ken B

    Skepterist:
    > Biological evolution does not try to explain the creation of the
    > universe. It explains how life formed on this planet, based on
    > the evidence that we have.

    Not to nit pick, but Evolution doesn’t explain “how life formed”, but rather “how life evolved, once it had formed”. Just as Evolution doesn’t try to explain the creation of the universe, it also doesn’t try to explain the initial creation of life itself.

  83. Wow. Some elegantly argued points.

    Skepterist

    “In your expert opinion, how does one know which passages of the bible should be taken literally, and which ones should not?”

    I am not an expert.

    There are many experts who have, through the centuries, looked very closely at the Bible – particularly at the original texts – and have reasoned that, some of the writings must have other meanings than a literal one. I quoted the example of Jesus saying “I am the door” – he clearly wasn’t physically a door.

    In the context of this blog, clearly science has much to teach us. If science, with its demenstoble facts, proves a fact, then either the Bible is wrong, or there is a hidden meaning there.

    So can the Bible be wrong?

    Yes.

    I await the gasps of shock and horror from the fundamentalists.

    But, and it is important to remember that we are talking about a heavily translated text. It may be inspired by God, and, indeed, I believe it is. But pathetic men have written it down. Sometimes they made mistakes. There was at least one version of the book of Exodus produced with the commandment “Thou shalt commit adultery”.

    And don’t forget there are other books which were “left out” of the Bible in 327 A.D. (I think that was the year – no doubt someone will take me to task over this).

    In many ways it is up to us to choose which bits are literal and which are metaphor (or mistakes). Carefully choosing my words, I believe that the correct choice and understanding only comes through the influence of the Holy Spirit – the third part of the Trinity. That may sound like a cheap get out, and in some ways it is. But faith in God and his Son, is something that language doesn’t allow accurate articulation. I might as well try to say why I love someone, or find beauty in something. Words are inadequate.

    In the end, the honest answer is – I don’t know. I believe I’m right and if I’m shown to be wrong I will alter my belief. And if I am wrong in the first place… I’m sure God will forgive me.

    Mick – I’ll address your points later.

  84. Irishman

    gopher65 said:
    > I’m sure someone mentioned this already (I didn’t read all the comments), but technically brainwashing involves torturing someone into submission though various tactics.

    > I think the word you were looking for is indoctrination (which to me has just as bad a connotation).

    The terminology is a bit colloquial, but I think there is a slight distinction. “Brainwashing” is a term about indoctrination via altering a person’s perceptions and beliefs. It can be done through torture, but it also can be done through domination of the person’s time, limiting outside influences (isolation), and inundating them with personal attention. That’s not torture per se, but achieves a similar result, usually some form of submission, though the purpose of that submission may be different (give up information, serve as a clandestine agent, or worship). “Brainwashing” is a stronger word than “indoctrination”. It implies that the act is done against the will of the recipient, often at odds with reality and at odds with the recipient’s best interests. It is a value laden term, and very perjorative. “Indoctrination” is less severe, which can include more neutral conditioning, though does have some negative context to our liberty-minded culture.

    Ken G said:
    > I think what a lot of people seem to be missing is that the terms “brainwashing” and “evil” were chosen not to attack creationism, which can be done on scientific grounds, but rather to attack the mode of “education” that was being used on those children. I am an educator also, and I feel a great duty not to think for my students, but rather to show them how to think for themselves. Anything less would indeed be brainwashing, whether it is solid science or creationism.

    This is an important observation. I was a bit concerned with Phil’s use of the word and its applicability, but I think you are correct. It is the method of teaching that is being scrutinized as much as what is being taught.

    tony said:
    > If I hadn’t known that this were a child’s essay, I would have guessed it was straight from the Discovery Institute, it’s sickening.

    Well, the Discovery Institute is a bit more lenient with respect to interpretations of Genesis and “creation”, whereas Answers In Genesis is a Young Earth creationism advocacy site, so this article is a bit more selective than DI tends to be. But in a way, it was essentially like being written by DI (or at least AIG), because it was essentially a regurgitation of statements from AIG without any independent evaluation.

    Mike J. said:
    > You must admit that “creationism” IS INDEED a theory, or hypothesis, as is evolution… so to teach one and not the other is unfair. So either create (no pun intended) a NEW science class which deals with theories on origins, or don’t complain when creationism or intelligent design gets stuffed in regular science/biology class like evolution was “integrated” into regular science class and presented as fact.

    Evolution is a explanatory description of biological processes. Cosmology is a study of the history and mechanisms of the development of the universe. “Creationism” is an amalgam of a philosophy (theism) drawing upon a mythology to reach conclusions about propositions about the development of life. Those propositions are inconsistent with the data about life and the results of biological study. The “science” elements are incorrect (do not agree with data), and the philosophy and mythology elements do not belong in a science class.

  85. veritas36

    A scientist who had gone to Bob Jones University and earlier fundamentalist schools was transferred into a group of NASA geologists. His advanced degree was in mathematics. He began asking the geologists
    “What is the evidence that the earth is more than 6000 years old?”
    They answered in relays, explaining various data for 6 weeks. Then he conceded:
    “Okay, the earth really is older than 6000 years. But I won’t believe I am descended from monkeys!”
    Good thing I wasn’t present to answer, “yes, and worms as well.”

  86. Ok, let’s start the next batch (I really should write a book: you can all pull it to pieces but (a) I’ve already written half of it, (b) it’ll pay more than I currently get, and (c) there’s always the chance for the sequel!)

    Mick

    Thank you for your compliment: “reasonable theist”. I also used to be a reasonable astronomer.

    I believe the statement about items not recorded in the Bible where religion has played a part is referring to prayer. Now, this will get us onto a whole can of worms because, prayer has absolutely no scientific grounding and also disregards the second law of thermodynamics. But I’ve seen ill people make astounding recoveries. Whether prayer or not played a part I don’t know. Certainly there are documented accounts of healings at shrines such as Lourdes in France which medical science could not understand.

    Your second point. If I had evidence in God then I’d make a ton of cash, churches would be full and we wouldn’t be having this dialogue. By “questioning” I am suggesting that the words of the Bible should be tested against known facts. If they don’t fit, why not. Hence the problem with creationists belief in a young earth.

    Third point. I was NOT saying science is another faith! Far from it. Science is dealing with fact. I was talking about the elusive quest for the Theory of Everything; which, even noted scientist Prof. Stephen Hawking no longer believes exists. I was saying some believe it might exist (we don’t know). That is faith. When it becomes fact, we will all rejoice (apart from creationists).

    Now to the brunt of your writing (sorry if I annoyed you by the way).

    Is my faith any different to others? Yes. I believe (careful use of word) that I’m right.

    “As we gain more knowledge we look back and see how ridiculous those supernatural beliefs were. What allowance have you made for that?”

    I believed that I was saying that. I also believe that (as history shows)more knowledge brings greater mysteries. What allowance have you made for that?

    I have never disputed science. You are misreading me (other bloggers, back me up on this). I was merely saying that some scientists believe we will get to the bottom of things. Some don’t. Q.E.D.

    I hope you read all of the items I posted today (and on previous days). If so you would realise that I have degrees in science, trained as an astronomer and also have a faith. I wonder what your credentials are and why you simply use the term “religious folk”.

    BUT, as I have stated before, I’m not here to try to convert you. Far from it (wouldn’t know where to begin). I was only replying to the original blog entry about creationism and how it’s all prallocks.

  87. Jack C

    I do teach evolution to kids. And I do it in a church context. Indeed, I teach the 14 bilion (thousand million) years of the Universe.
    In fact, I have used it in church magazines for the adults to show what the “six days of creation” is all about.

    But, the majority don’t know or don’t care, alas.

  88. Irishman

    Bert Cole said:
    > I am not a great scientific mind, but do not have a problem believing creationism, and understanding that the best expiation that
    science can come up with to date is evolution.

    Once again, I think there is a terminology issue. “Creationism” is not a simple synonym for “theist”. There are plenty of theists that accept Evolution. “Creationism” is a word that means the doctrine of separate origins of life forms, and static life forms. YEC involves instantaneous life form origins (the *poof* notion for 6 day Creation). These statements are in direct opposition to common descent and change over time, both of which have inordinate amount of evidence to support them. Ergo, Creationism is wrong. The problem is that the label “Creationism” is sometimes taken to mean “God was responsible”, so many theists apply the label to themselves even when they accept Evolution. This is an error that causes much confusion. Please understand how the term is meant when used by “Evolutionists”, and you will see you do not have a complaint.

    Selina Morse said:
    > There are those who would say that religion is observable. I see people being religious every week.

    That is an equivocation of terminology. The act of being religious says nothing about the factuality of the beliefs held.

    Sticks said:
    > Why not follow the UK model. Creationism does get a mention, but in humanities and RE classes rather than the science classes. It gets a mention and science teachers are not placed in the kind of position that they were at that School in Dover.

    The problem for that type of use is the difference between teaching that certain beliefs are/were held and their effects on society or philosophy, and advocating that belief. The trick for U.S. primary and secondary education is to present any material on religious beliefs neutrally, not advocatively. This can be a problem when large segments of the population (parents) and even teachers have decided opinions about the value of certain beliefs. There is pressure for advocacy. Believers don’t like to see their beliefs taught as equivalent to other belief systems or mythologies.

    JAMES KIRK said:
    > I am leaving in kentucky (brainwash central) and am trying to get a astronomy degree here, to say the least I have been attacked in every way possible. Since my father sings in a gospel group it is even harder. I told my father I was getting a as a astronomy degree and he kicks me out. I am now living in my car and going to my classes.
    I WOULD RATHER LIVE IN MY CAR THAN LIVE A LIE AND BECOME ONE OF THOSE BRAINWASHED COOKIE CUTTER PEOPLE THAT YOU SEE EVERY DAY.

    My sympathies for being placed in such a difficult predicament. It is a testament that you have the strength to hold for such integrity. Best wishes for solving your difficulties.

    Avonon said:
    > Since millions of people believe in creationism then it is worthwhile investigating why they believe as they do.

    Some of them are making the mistake I documented above about confusing the meaning of the word. Some of them hold to indoctrination they learned growing up and can’t break free of. Some find comfort and meaning from their beliefs, and thus cannot scrutinize their beliefs because that would subject themselves to doubt about their own lives. Statements from the essay demonstrate the attitude that morality can only come from God. That belief instills a strong fear in the believer that to question God is to question morality itself, and their own sense of choosing right from wrong. They fear they will lose the ability to make moral decisions.

  89. MattFunke

    Selina Morse: If I had evidence in God then I’d make a ton of cash, churches would be full and we wouldn’t be having this dialogue.

    True. That would also relegate Christianity to the realm of scholarship and not of faith. If there is scientific proof out there that God exists, whether we know what that proof is currently or not, you’d learn a certain amount and then either proceed with acceptance of God or else live in denial.

    Logic alone tells us that if there really is such a thing as an omnipotent, omniscient being that exists outside of spacetime, He can remain (if He wishes) forever impenetrable to the scientific method. He can see any test for His existence coming, and blip out of our ability to observe Him within the cause-effect chain any time He chooses.

    Since science is about observable, repeatable results, it can’t hope to apprehend such a being without His allowance.

    On the flip side, many systems of belief (including Christianity — see Hebrews 11:6) say that faith is a requirement to come to God. If it is indeed a requirement, then scientific proof of Him cannot exist.

    It would seem that both sides — logic and religion — agree that the domain of one side is not wholly covered by the other.

    If you care, I believe that a personal God exists. I cannot prove it, though, and don’t believe that I ever could.

    I also believe that we ought to trust our senses. It is perhaps an inevitable part of the human condition that we are doomed to be ignorant or wrong — individually and collectively — about a great deal, simply because new data is always being discovered. However, to argue on that basis that our conclusions are unreliable is a fallacy; just because we can’t understand it all doesn’t mean that we can’t understand some.

    Simply, I believe that God gave us opposable thumbs and the ability to reason abstractly. Refusal to use these gifts is tantamount to blasphemy.

  90. Wayne McCoy

    If evolution is “only a theory,” then God is at most an uninformed opinion.

  91. JackC

    Selina Morse

    You, However, are not one of those demanding ID in classrooms – at least, I do not see that from your (thoughtful) posts here. And more specifically, demanding it to the virtual (or literal) exclusion of all else (meaning that derrived through the study of “what is”).

    I appreciate your posts here and find you much more thoughtful of these issues than most – and particularly of the group of priests I know. I would have no issue with any priest, should they all behave as you have indicated here. You meet my personal understanding of an “honest person”. Frankly, I owe my current “Atheism” to a priest – though that certainly was not his intent!

    Long ago, I came to understand what one person calls “God” another may understand in a different light – and in the light I stand in, I understand that concept to be those influences of the human mind of which we are not, perhaps, immediately aware, and most particularly, historically. When one performs this conversion, one can see that the same things may be said from either side, and retain truth. I once startled both a mystic and Realist with that claim – and only the Realist came to me later and said that she understood – after much thought – that I was right. The mystic nod doubt simply dismissed me.

    When a human is raised without the insight of questioning and reasoning, they cannot reach beyond their fear of what they do not know, nor even – many times – the fear of that they do know. When questioning and reasoning are not just restricted, but punished, you get essays such as that which originated this post. Frankly, I do not find it surprising.

    I do find it sad.

    JC

  92. Ken B

    Selina:
    > There are many experts who have, through the centuries, looked
    > very closely at the Bible – particularly at the original texts

    You should check out the Talmud.

    Basically, over the centuries, scholars researched the Hebrew Bible (aka “The Old Testament”) and made notes about interpretations, opinions, and the like. Over further centuries, others studied these, and made notes/interpretations/opinions about them. (“Meta notes”?) I do not know whether these notes-about-notes have notes about them as well.

    While hardly definitive, Wikipedia has a comprehensive page to start with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talmud

    > – and
    > have reasoned that, some of the writings must have other
    > meanings than a literal one.
    […]
    > But, and it is important to remember that we are talking about
    > a heavily translated text. It may be inspired by God, and, indeed,
    > I believe it is. But pathetic men have written it down. Sometimes
    > they made mistakes.

    I am a member of another discussion group (non-science, non-religious) where, several years ago, one member insisted on the literal interpretation of the Bible, to the extent of calling it the literal “Word of G-d”, and totally unwilling to concede that, even if the original had been written by the infallible hand of G-d himself, it has since been copied and translated by humans. The current version was to be treated as the literal word of G-d. (He also claimed ignorance of the origins of the horns on Michelangelo’s Moses — a result of a mistranslation from the Hebrew to Latin, as I recall.)

    I, and the rest of the group, never did determine whether he really felt the way he did, or simply liked playing a part.

    On a side note (and, honestly, I am not implying anything by this), his name was “Grant”. :-)

    > In the end, the honest answer is – I don’t know. I believe I’m right
    > and if I’m shown to be wrong I will alter my belief. And if I am
    > wrong in the first place… I’m sure God will forgive me.

    If there is a G-d, do you really want him/her/it to be the type who would hold a grudge for all eternity?

  93. Ken B

    Never mind the Grant comment. Blog overload.

  94. flak

    I’m an avid reader of this site, though I rarely post comments on it. There are people normally either more intelligent or more empassioned then I who normally cover anything I”d have chosen to say anyway.

    That being said I think Selina Morse is possibly the most reasoned, reasonable, and polite ‘opposing viewpoint’ I’ve ever seen post here. As I’m sure BA (a man who’s opinion I respect) will surely post more science/religion topics in the future I hope also to find Selina’s comments there as well. I think she’s proven to be worthy of all of our respect as well. You are a breathe of fresh air Selina, and you represent your viewpoints exquisitely in a potentially hostile environment. Kudos to you.

  95. I realise I am in danger of hi-jacking Dr. Phil’s blog here and I really do not want to do that.

    Irishman – language is important.

    MattFunke – Any God who teaches truth and then lies about His/(Her) position in the universe is hypocritical -(sorry, that probably didn’t come out right but I’ve been on the go for 19 hours)

    JackC – I am saddened that a priest brought you to your disbelief. I rejoice that you still feel able to talk with one. And you are right in everything you say.

    Ken B – Why do you think I haven’t read the Talmud? Or the Qur’an for that matter? I know (and if you’d read all my texts you would have seen that I acknowledged this) that there is a huge problem in translation. Hence Michelangelo’s confusion (due to the omittence of certain vowels in ancient Hebrew) which render the word for “veiled” become the same as “horned”.

    And I don’t know who “Grant” is. Google me if you have a problem (although you might find that not everything written is literally true).

    Oh and as for God holding a grudge? I doubt it. Otherwise I’m in big trouble.

    But I doubt that too.

  96. flak

    Oh no! I am not putting an “opposing viewpoint”. My stance is that the Bible and science actually agree.

    From the position of the original blog post – we were talking about creationism in schools. I keep trying to get back on topic but get sidetracked.

    Thank you for your compliments. But I am not “the opposition”.

  97. Grand Lunar

    Aside from not having any evidence to support it and being unscientific in nature, creationism has another flaw.

    What makes them so sure it’s THEIR god that created everything?
    There have been many religions in human history. Why is it that this ONE deity is the one that is responsible for existence?
    Do creationists even consider other possible alien civilizations in existance that have their own religions? If so, why isn’t THEIR god responsible?

    This close minded attitude that creationists show is staggering.

    And indeed, I do see as little different than brainwashing. The kids that fall for it are going down a path into the Dark Ages.
    Scientists of the past struggled greatly to finally be accepted and to no longer let preconceived notations dominate thinking.
    What creationists are doing is taking a great leap backward.

  98. Sergeant Zim

    Selina:

    Reading your comment above about the very real possibility that the Bible can be wrong in some cases called an old joke to my “flypaper mind”.

    Many years ago, in a remote monastery a new monk (who was exceptionally fluent in languages) was given the task of translating the Bible from the original into English, starting with the oldest copies in existence. He labored for many years, and finally completed his task and presented the finished product to the Abbot. The Abbot thanked him silently, of course, and began reading. Several hours later, the Abbot summoned the new monk to his office, closed the door, and said, “My son, I know it our vow to remain silent, but I have come across an issue with your translation that I felt must be cleared up – even though we must speak. Do you understand?”
    The monk nodded silently, a worried expression on his face.
    “Are you ABSOLUTELY certain you translated everything accurately?”
    The monk nodded again, tears beginning to form in his eyes.
    The Abbot slid a certain page across the desk, and pointed to a single word. “And are you CERTAIN this is the correct word?”
    The monk barely whispered, “Yes, Father.”
    The Abbot leaned back in his chair, a look of agony on his face, and said, “This changes EVERYTHING! All because of a single missing “R”!”

    100 bonus points to the first one who gets the joke… (Janie, I’m counting on you…)

  99. JB of Brisbane

    Tony said ” It’s very telling when they try to say morality should fall apart without an ultimate judge.”

    Ayn Rand, perhaps?

  100. JackC

    Selina Morse

    The priest did not “cause” my disbelief – he merely exposed his methods plainly – and for those able to see and understand, made it clear that all was not what it should have been. It was merely a stepping stone.

    He exposed himself as a monger of fear – and I was not of fear. You will deny this. but his – and many, many others – “stock in trade” is fear in many (if not all) respects. I rejected that, and it set me on the course I find myself steadfastly anchored to today. That is – oh – some 38 years, I suppose. I am forever grateful :-)

    Nor do I see you here as so much an “opposing viewpoint” – but I understand what flak means. I would say however not that the bible and Science “agree” so much as they are not about the same things – as I feel you have pointed out. To the extent that the bible – in any of its incarnations – purports to “explain life, the universe, and everything” (to rejoin your earlier possible answer being “42” ;-), it does so in a manner, distorted heavily by time and shifts in understanding, which would have been understood to the mindful of the time.

    Which is to say, it was not at all any attempt to be what we would today call “scientific” – but merely an attempt to explain given the ability of the time – and of other times as it changed. There is far, far more to it of course, but that is the gist.

    If it were possible for those that thump it to state things plainly, they would say what you have said – that this is a reference that may allegorically give some guidance. As truth, fallible or otherwise, it cannot stand, but that hardly matters for someone convinced that it does.

    JC

  101. George E. Martin

    Phil said:

    “…Liberty University (sort of the Bob Jones University of Virginia).” Or maybe the Bob Jones University could be called the Jerry Falwell University of South Carolina. But I guess that Bob Jones is older.

    Last fall Richard Dawkins went to Lynchburg Virgina to give a lecture at Randolph Macon Woman’s College. He had this to say about Liberty University:

    The host institution here is the Randolph Macon Woman’s College — a
    proper university, unlike the ill-named and ill-favoured “Liberty
    University”, founded by the infamous Jerry Falwell, which shares the
    same town. It seems that some official body, somewhere, has seen fit
    to grant accreditation to “Liberty University” — a “University” which,
    in all seriousness, teaches its unfortunate students that the world is
    less than ten thousand years old. I briefly visited “Liberty University”
    this morning. Knowing how many tax-free dollars had been donated or
    tithed to this “University” I thought at least that it might have nice
    buildings. Remarkably, they are spectacularly ugly, an architectural
    disgrace on the outside to match the educational disgrace of what is
    taught inside.

    http://richarddawkins.net/tourJournal (The 23 Oct. entry)

    George

  102. Oh Zim …

    I’ve Heard That Joke Before …

    DAMMIT, it Says, “Celebrate!”

    D’OH!

  103. Peter B

    Nike J said: “I suppose it never dawned on you that creationism MIGHT be right.”

    It certainly could be. The test of whether it is right is what the evidence says. Sadly for creationism, the evidence rules against it.

    “After all no one can “prove” origins anyways, so why is it being taught at all is my point.”

    Again you’re right in the trivial sense, that you can’t “prove” anything absolutely. In the same way, the police can’t “prove” that suspect X was responsible for a crime. Instead, in each case, the best we can do is see where the preponderance of the evidence points for the most likely explanation.

    “If you can’t “prove” origins, then there needs to be a seperate “origins” class that kids/adults can take which presents ALL theories, not just yours.”

    If that’s so, then what about all the other creation stories – the ones which are proclaimed by other religions and cultures?

    “You must admit that “creationism” IS INDEED a theory, or hypothesis, as is evolution… so to teach one and not the other is unfair. So either create (no pun intended) a NEW science class which deals with theories on origins, or don’t complain when creationism or intelligent design gets stuffed in regular science/biology class like evolution was “integrated” into regular science class and presented as fact.”

    And if you’re going to insist on teaching all the creation stories, then what about all the other alternatives to other subjects? Should chemistry students be taught how to use alchemy to make gold? Should trainee pilots be taught how to levitate with Transcendental Meditation? Should meteorologists be taught to predict the weather using tarot cards?

  104. bad Jim

    As regards SGT Zim’s old joke, being celibate entails never marrying, whereas abstaining from sex is being chaste (which can, in some circumstances, result in being chased).

  105. Peter B

    Jerry said: “Since there is cause and effect, and the effect is the universe, there must have been a cause. God, anyone?”

    How would you determine that this was correct? If “God” is the answer, would you leave it at that, or would you investigate further?

    And this is one of the most oppressive things about using God as an explanation, such as is suggested by Intelligent Design proponents – that no further explanation is needed. That’s the path to ignorance.

    By contrast, a scientist sees a problem, and continues to investigate it until s/he finds an explanation. As a consequence of the explanation, we all learn a little more about the universe.

  106. Peter B

    Avon said: “Since millions of people believe in creationism then it is worthwhile investigating why they believe as they do.”

    Are you suggesting that there might be something in creationism, on the grounds that many people believe it?

    You might want to be careful how you use that argument – it could be used to support any popular argument.

  107. Daffy

    Grand Lunar, the answer to your question is “faith.”

    In other words, believing in something with no evidence to support it. It can’t be argued or reasoned with because it is an utterly unreasonable position to take in the first place.

  108. sathish

    One of the major faults with creationism is its association with Christianity. They simply dont take into consideration that there are other religions apart from Christianity (Islam and Hinduism are the next two in line).
    What if it so happens that the concept of creationism goes completely against the principles in Islam and / or Hinduism. Does that mean that believers of each religion were created differently? Or is it that Islam and Hinduism are just plain wrong?

    Creationism sponsors the kind of narrow-mindedness that I see only leading to trouble. Secularity is quite essential in all branches of governance, including education.

  109. Jack C.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s a guide, not a Hayne’s manual (sorry, my fault. Sorry, I don’t know if Haynes is known worldwide. It shows you how to take a car apart, step by step, and put it together again).

    ((Sorry, again. I’m so sorry. For car, read automobile.))

  110. Sergeant Zim,

    Looks like ZaphodBeeblebrox and bad Jim beat me to it.

    Sorry I was late, Zim.

    I was a little…

    tied up.

    😉

    Kisses

  111. Mick

    @Selina Morse:

    Apologies if my reply came across as harsher than intended, I’ve never been much good at hitting the right tone in internet posts. If it’s any comfort I was challenging the ideas, not the person.

    It might seem that I’m going off at a tangent as the thread and your posts have mainly been about creationists, but you have posted on a public forum stating your religious beliefs and using science and reason to attack the beliefs of the creationists (and rightly so!). It therefore seems only fair that your own beliefs should be subject to the same scrutiny. What’s sauce for the goose, etc. As you are a scientist I would expect you to welcome the chance to argue your point of view. If Phil doesn’t want the discussion to branch in this direction then I’m sure he’ll say so.

    ——————-
    Selina Morse wrote:
    I believe the statement about items not recorded in the Bible where religion has played a part is referring to prayer. Now, this will get us onto a whole can of worms because, prayer has absolutely no scientific grounding and also disregards the second law of thermodynamics. But I’ve seen ill people make astounding recoveries. Whether prayer or not played a part I don’t know. Certainly there are documented accounts of healings at shrines such as Lourdes in France which medical science could not understand.
    ——————-

    But from your scientific training you must know that’s all anecdotal, it’s not evidence. And it’s already been debunked. There have been numerous studies of the effectiveness of prayer, faith healing etc. and it’s been shown that they’re no more effective than placebo. On the other hand it’s well documented that people are very susceptible to belief in magical cures even when perpetrated by frauds and tricksters. And the placebo effect is real, thinking you are being given beneficial treatment can actually make you better. Where’s the evidence to back up your belief?

    ——————-
    Selina Morse wrote:
    Your second point. If I had evidence in God then I’d make a ton of cash, churches would be full and we wouldn’t be having this dialogue. By “questioning” I am suggesting that the words of the Bible should be tested against known facts. If they don’t fit, why not. Hence the problem with creationists belief in a young earth.
    ——————-

    Questioning the bible is a good start and you’re right to do so to attack the creationists, but that’s not questioning your own faith in the existence of a god. If your faith isn’t truly being questioned then it’s blind faith and you’re no better than the people you’re challenging.

    ——————-
    Selina Morse wrote:
    Third point. I was NOT saying science is another faith! Far from it. Science is dealing with fact. I was talking about the elusive quest for the Theory of Everything; which, even noted scientist Prof. Stephen Hawking no longer believes exists. I was saying some believe it might exist (we don’t know). That is faith. When it becomes fact, we will all rejoice (apart from creationists).
    ——————-

    Ah, I misunderstood you, although saying something might exist isn’t faith, it’s supposition.

    ——————-
    Selina Morse wrote:
    Now to the brunt of your writing (sorry if I annoyed you by the way).
    ——————-

    Not at all, there was no personal animosity intended and I admire your willingness to join the fray in such a civilised manner. However, I do get somewhat exasperated by the way so many people of religious faith seem reluctant to honestly question their own beliefs, often while claiming the moral high ground over other believers and atheists, and that probably shows through in my writing.

    ——————-
    Selina Morse wrote:
    Is my faith any different to others? Yes. I believe (careful use of word) that I’m right.
    ——————-

    But that’s no difference. I’m sure that vast numbers of people of different faiths past and present have believed just as strongly as you that they’re right. What makes you more right than them? Are you infallible? There have been societies that believed that ritually sacrificing children would end a drought, but however strongly they believed that it doesn’t make it true.

    ——————-
    Selina Morse wrote:
    “As we gain more knowledge we look back and see how ridiculous those supernatural beliefs were. What allowance have you made for that?”

    I believed that I was saying that. I also believe that (as history shows)more knowledge brings greater mysteries. What allowance have you made for that?
    ——————-

    I’m not sure whether you’ve genuinely misunderstood the question or you’re avoiding answering it. My apologies if it’s the former, I’ll try to rephrase it:

    As a scientist you must be aware that there could be a number of different explanations for a phenomena. It’s possible (although highly unlikely) that a god exists and your faith is indeed divinely inspired. An alternative explanation is that you are just displaying a very common human foible by assigning a supernatural cause to things we don’t yet understand. The evidence strongly supports this second option. What steps have you taken to ensure that isn’t what’s happened in your case?

    I can’t answer your question as I don’t understand your point. Increased knowledge often uncovers mysteries that we weren’t previously aware of, certainly, but I don’t see how that’s relevant. Surely we just look for evidence and develop theories that will explain them in their turn, which may or may not reveal yet more mysteries. What sort of allowance should I be making?

    ——————-
    Selina Morse wrote:
    I have never disputed science. You are misreading me (other bloggers, back me up on this). I was merely saying that some scientists believe we will get to the bottom of things. Some don’t. Q.E.D.

    I hope you read all of the items I posted today (and on previous days). If so you would realise that I have degrees in science, trained as an astronomer and also have a faith. I wonder what your credentials are and why you simply use the term “religious folk”.
    ——————-

    I’ve only read the items you’ve posted in this thread, and they are what I’m replying to. Sadly, my academic credentials are limited to a handful of ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels, and that was 40 years ago. However, I was hoping I would be judged purely on the strength of my arguments. Religious belief is one of the subjects that interests me along with a general interest in science, astronomy, cosmology etc. I’ve done a fair amount of reading over the years and I indulge in discussion now and then. Something I’d particularly like to understand is how intelligent, educated people with a scientific background manage to handle the contradiction between rationality and religious faith.

    I think I’m entitled to challenge your beliefs as you were quite open about them and you have been attacking the religious beliefs of others, not just their indoctrination methods. By “religious folk” I simply meant people who hold religious belief, I’ll use another term if you prefer it. I do view any kind of religious belief as a delusion (albeit a very common one) and so I see less difference between the different flavours of religion than someone who belongs to any particular sect might do. I realise that to you the creationist belief is misguided and wrong while yours is right, but to me it’s just a difference in the detail.

    ——————-
    BUT, as I have stated before, I’m not here to try to convert you. Far from it (wouldn’t know where to begin). I was only replying to the original blog entry about creationism and how it’s all prallocks.
    ——————-

    It is indeed prallocks, but if you’re going to say that about other people’s faith shouldn’t you also consider the possibility that the same might apply to your own? Given your science credentials I find it surprising that you aren’t more rigorous in the examination of your own beliefs. In fact people of “milder” religious faith generally seem to get a fairly easy ride, presumably because the greater enemy at the moment is the fundamentalist movement and it’s obvious political influence.

    Don’t get me wrong, people should be free to believe whatever seems reasonable to them (as long as the expression of their belief doesn’t negatively impact others) but if they proclaim that belief in public then they should be prepared to defend it. For historical reasons an ethic has become established that religious beliefs should be allowed special privilege and it’s somehow wrong to point out the holes in the arguments. Due to the excesses of fundamentalist believers in several cultures there does at last seem to be a growing movement to challenge that ethic, but it shouldn’t be limited to questioning the fundamentalist beliefs when the more mainstream beliefs are just as rooted in superstition and just as insidious in their own way?

  112. It’s sad to me when someone who claims to base themselves in science and reason can’t tell that the wonder and beauty of the universe, and it’s origin, are two mutually exclusive topics.

    The fact that you can’t separate the two is YOUR flaw, not theirs.

  113. MattFunke

    Ken B: If there is a G-d, do you really want him/her/it to be the type who would hold a grudge for all eternity?

    Chilling thought: if there really is a God, who says that our preferences about His/Her/Its personality make any difference whatsoever?

    Selina Morse: Any God who teaches truth and then lies about His/(Her) position in the universe is hypocritical -(sorry, that probably didn’t come out right but I’ve been on the go for 19 hours)

    Okay. I suppose that’s true. But how does that relate to what I said?

  114. Grand Lunar

    Daffy,

    ___________________
    It can’t be argued or reasoned with because it is an utterly unreasonable position to take in the first place.
    _____________________________

    Sounds like the Terminator.

    Indeed, it is unreasonable to accept ONE faith’s idea of creation stories over others simple on what is appearently a popularity count.

    Adam Savage’s infamous quote applies very well to the ideas of creationism and ID.

  115. anthrobabe

    My most recent experience with children and the light in their eyes occured at a recent open house at my university (I’m a senior Anthropology/Psychology student). Among the visitors to our table (anthro club) was a mother and two children– home schooled children– and I was so happy to meet her and her children. Here is a mom exposing her children to the universe. The girl was about 12 and the boy about 7 and he was just totally wide open and ready to recieve input! I’m a mom and kids are born like this – like Johnny #5 – “more input!”
    I went around the table to show him our display-skulls,artifacts,acheulian (replica alas) hand ax, orangutan handprint in plaster (huge compared to an adult hand and amazing as he fit his tiny one to it), some small relicas of the terra cotta army,etc. And the kid was totally sizzling on all circuits- just alive and drinking in all this stuff and asking questions and exploring as his mother and my professor talked about possibly having some anthropology students come and talk to the group of home schoolers that they are a part of.
    Then as I happened to look up- as my professor was discussing some of the things we could give “talks” about and he came to evolution- the light fell out of the mothers eyes, her face dropped, she became wax-like- turned and took her son by the hand and led him away with this thought- “we don’t teach our children non-biblical ideas- we teach them how to spot and recognize falshoods like evolution”.
    I cried- another light snuffed before it can really kindle.
    Brainwashing is too nice a word for this!

  116. KaiYeves

    Cookie-cutter, James Kirk? I think the correct term is Pod People. Especially if they’re always listening to their iPods, like some people I know. Like I mentioned in the Texas article, how about signing up for an all Bad Reader expedition to Europa, before you go live in your car. By your name, it sounds like you have some space travel experience. 😉

  117. JackC

    ZaphodB – Thanks MUCH!! That was driving me nuts! I was trying to think of all the “biblical” concepts I could that would benefit from either addition or subtraction of an R – I never thought of THAT one!

    Selina M: As it happens, I am QUITE aware of the Haynes series and its superiority to almost all other manuals of the type. Chilton, for instance, cannot hold a candle to it, however, for the Volkswagen, there is none better than the Bentley manuals.

    Now – to bring this back around to faith….

    Haynes is quite good – but they don’t cover all vehicles. You cannot find one (or – at least, not a few years back when I needed it!) for a Subaru Impreza. It just isn’t there. For the Golf in the year I was interested, it was there, but insufficient. It lacked detail.

    The bible is – to my manner of thinking – the same. Pick one, by the way – I don’t care to express a preference, however note that “versions differ” – as with auto manuals. Some are “more detailed” than others, some have more “pictures” than others. Some are just written in some other language.

    All to me, though, are more closely related to a Chiltons guide – it seems as if the descriptions contained within were created without benefit of the vehicle being at hand!! The bible experiences the very same characteristic.

    However, for any of the GOOD manuals, you can find a reference directly to something you can touch. With a Bentley, you can actually do some pretty serious work – however, there remain exclusions (such as where to precisely find the knock control computer on an 86 Golf GTI…) – so you are left to your devices – and a screwdriver – from there.

    Does one REQUIRE a manual to do this work? No – sometimes, experience is even better. Such it is with works as the bible.

    To my mind, the bible no more portrays any “truth” than a Chilton – and much less than a Haynes. It no more extends any truth to any existance of ANY non-physical, transcendental being than the Haynes for a Subaru Impreza. It is singularly like using something that is “relatively close” to what you are working on to resolve all issues – sometimes, it just is not appropriate. You can, however, “infer” the existence of an automobile from a Chilton’s, as you can a “god” from the bible.

    There is a stage a mechanic may go through where they no longer need a manual at all – for most things. For those things they DO need a manual for, they need specifics. If the specifics are not sufficiently offered, they go on discovery and, perhaps, write an addendum that IS specific – if the rest of us are lucky. Otherwise, the rest of us find we need to do that discovery ourselves.

    And it is that discovery that is valuable to us. We can now KNOW where the issue lies, regardless of whether this book or that tells us something different. This, in essence, is Science, as I know you are aware.

    It is when we have a less-certain, but more insistent mechanic come along and inform us, with all certainty, that we are most definately WRONG that we find conflict. It only remains to address whether our particular atitude is up to the task of maintaining our certainty in the face of uninformed competition.

    When an ill-informed mechanic comes to us for “enlightenment” and we can show her the way, not by reference to something that cannot be touched or seen, but by the laying on of hands – then she benefits and we have passed on knowledge.

    If we have not actually done any discovery and quote from the Chilton’s, and that quotation is passed along without benefit of the observation that it is completely out of step with what we can touch, it may gain popularity, but it is no less incorrect.

    I just love analogies to cars!

    JC

  118. JackC

    Anthrobabe – do not despair. It is probably a long-shot, but having your influence in there just may – someday – be enough to sow those seeds of doubt. It will be a difficult road, but we can hope that the child will have that brick in their foundation, and that brick will support others built upon it, eventually. It was for that very reason that I chatted with the son of the JW I mentioned earlier in this thread. We can only hope.

    We cannot take any of these people by the hand and correct their thinking. We must do it by appeal to reason and demonstration, just as you did. Those of us here that do that as regularly as we can are, as I said before, linking arms with Phil and standing against the tide of non-reason.

    Once, I was a computer service technician – and I had occasion to have a service call at “Guideposts” in Carmel NY – yep – the printing firm begun by Norman himself. I can’t easily express how nervous I was entering that building!

    I was asked to check out a printing error, and we were looking at a long list of books put out by the organisation. The person I was working with pulls out the printout, reads a few titles – one of which was “Children are Wet Cement” – to which he says “Can you BELIEVE that people READ this S…!”

    I knew I was among friends.

    JC

  119. Wow.

    I don’t know if this thread is still active but there are a lot of points I would sincerely like to discuss with a number of you.

    I keep saying that faith should be questioned. I think the problem with many of the discussions here recently is that they have got bogged down with creationism.

    And so, if anyone is still reading this thread then let’s have a discussion. You can get me at selina.morse@virgin.net

    Oh, and by the way, I am so glad to read someone else use “prallocks”. Because I invented it. 😉

  120. Mick

    Selina Morse wrote:
    “I don’t know if this thread is still active but there are a lot of points I would sincerely like to discuss with a number of you.

    I keep saying that faith should be questioned. I think the problem with many of the discussions here recently is that they have got bogged down with creationism.

    And so, if anyone is still reading this thread then let’s have a discussion. You can get me at selina.morse@virgin.net
    —————————

    Personally, I would prefer to continue on an open forum so that others can join in. Would Phil object if it carried on here? It may be a little off topic, but I think the whole questioning of faith thing is very relevant to creationist beliefs.

    —————————
    Selina Morse wrote:
    “Oh, and by the way, I am so glad to read someone else use “prallocks”. Because I invented it. ;-)”
    ————————–

    I suspected as much, and a fine word it is too. I meant to congratulate you on it when I used it back :)

  121. KLA2

    “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
    Commencement address, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (11 June 1962) -John F. Kennedy

    Unfortunately, creationism cunningly interweaves both lies and myths.

  122. Randall Adsit

    Phil, you are 100% right on the mark with your comments.
    I noticed that a few people left comments objecting to your use of the word “brainwash”. My dictionary states — brainwash: make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure : “the organization could brainwash young people” | “they have been brainwashed into conformity and subservience.”
    This fits what happened to those poor kids, except that they didn’t “adopt radically different beliefs” — they adopted a first set of beliefs. But the “systematic and forcible pressure” is a good desrciption. Telling an impressionable child that if they don’t believe they will go to hell is “forcible pressure.”
    Many fundementalists (of any religion) have incredibly WEAK convictions. Their faith is too fragile to withstand any questions. Using this feebleness of faith as an excuse to brainwash innocent children is despicable.
    And by the way, I have questioned my faith in Christianity, and the basic assumptions of science. It is a painful process, but I am happier and more secure in my faith because of it.

  123. CLS

    I have been reading some of the comments that have been posted here. After years of thinking about creation, i have come to the conclusion that there is a God and he/she is very cool. I also believe in the big bang….just don’t know what happened before that. When I look at how different life forms have evolved and adapted, I feel as though we…..this wonderous planet…..the universe…..are a joyful project of someone or something really amazing. From simple bacteria to ameboas to dinosaurs….very cool indeed! I guess I believe in a blending of theories, that a higher power started things going and checks the progress, tweaking things from time to time, letting species adapt to survive or die out. One needs only to look at the formation of an embryo, any embryo, to see evolution in action. From a single cell to something that looks like a fish, then a bird, not differentiating till nearly the end of the gestational period. Life must evolve to adapt and survive, and life is very cool.

  124. JackC

    CLS – yes, a lot of folks have pretty much the same concept as you – the first I heard of it personally was about 1980 on a fishing trip with my boss at the time.

    Science posits that not only do you not know what happened before the Big Bang, you CANNOT know what happened before the big bang. It is like division by zero – you can think about it all you want, but if you try to actually DO it, all poker hands are equal and no one wins. Or looses, I guess. Events prior to the Big Bang are, mostly by definition, undefined.

    If you choose to call this “god” – then happy Sunday. The thing is, it is not REQUIRED. And don’t go to war over it.

    I find personally that when people use this kind of idea to “define” the beginning, it is because they are having an ever-increasingly difficult tijme wrapping their head around the physics required for the understanding of the events in question. I know I have that kind of problem. I am just not as quick to jump into the “I don’t understand it, therefore God Exists” mindset.

    You probably will find quite a bit of dissent amount the more orthodox as well. Of course, it is that dissent that is the real problem.

    JC

  125. Dan

    It’s a good thing there is no Darwinistic brainwashing. Maybe if the scientific elite allowed opposing views to be heard, we might hear a little more from the Intelligent Design/Creationist crowd.

    Even if you believe in Evolution, you should be for allowing scientific debate on the subject of origins instead of blatant censorship.

    Mainstream science automatically excludes all research that might suggest a designer. Science is supposed to allow for all the possibilities, not artificially protect a theory by not allowing anyone to question it.

  126. Darth Robo

    “Even if you believe in Evolution, you should be for allowing scientific debate on the subject of origins instead of blatant censorship.”

    Then all the creationists have to do then, is come up with some, ya know, actual SCIENCE. Who is censoring them? They are still free to preach, pray, build churches, hire a hall, write and sell books full of pseudoscientific nonsense, build websites, heck, you can’t get fundies to keep quiet! :p

    So perhaps instead of whining and playing the martyr card, the creationist/IDers could actually do some scientific research? THEN maybe they would be able to have a scientific debate.

    “Mainstream science automatically excludes all research that might suggest a designer.”

    WRONG. It simply hasn’t found any evidence of it yet. Unless uh, YOU could show us some? NOTHING in science says whether or not a creator “didit”. There is nothing wrong with believing in God AND accepting evolution. But the reason why creationism is ruled out specifically, is that it is scientifically flawed and not only conflicts with the science of evolution, but many other sciences as well. Creationists have been using the same old “scientific” arguments for over forty years and have yet to offer something new. So they resort to appealing to peoples emotions and sense of “fair play”, and make out that those “mean old Darwinists” are um, mean. While at the same time, they offer NO useful science themselves and are quite happy to violate the separation of church and state and teach creationism in schools, teach poor scientific arguments against science they don’t like, even trying to push religion into schools by taking it to court on numerous occasions. It seems that the rules of “fair play” don’t apply to them.

    Oh, and Dan, nice try at getting the last word in on what looks like a thread everyone else seems to have left, thereby any ‘googlers’ happening on this thread months later will see your pained pleas of suffering against the “evil Darwinist agenda to suppress religion”. A common tactic with fundies around here, it seems.

    But hey, if you do have any scientific “revelations” to share that give credence to creationism, I’m all ears. :)

  127. JackC

    Not ALL of us have dropped this yet :-)

    Dan – thanks for the laugh. I needed it this morning. What Darth Robo said.

    If in the mood, I would normally ask someone “What constitutes a ‘proof’ in your mind.? What constitutes a ‘reasonably good theory’?” I find that most people either have a dramatically different idea than I do – or they just really don’t know. It seems to come down to “I believe it, therefore it is true.”

    That just doesn’t cut it in the world of Science. Heck – the world of general Knowledge is much more rigorous. A teensie bit of research will show you where Scientists with data fought for their positions – and won against the current “mainstream thought”. We could start almost anywhere, but the easiest is, of course, Galileo.

    Dan – if you want to believe in ID and Creationism and all that – you go right ahead. If you want to TEACH it – as a LEGITIMATE science, you had better have more to show for yourself than “blatant censorship” and “brainwashing”. That tends to go nowhere fast.

    Have at it all you want in Sunday School – but not in my school.

    There is also that nice old phrase regarding not having your mind so open that your brains fall out.

    Believe me. If you – or ANYONE – possessed the merest SHRED of evidence that anything regarding ID, etc. was REMOTELY reasonable, even possible, it would be examined and, if it had merit, it would eventually become mainstream.

    However, sadly, it does not. Or maybe happily. I personally move for Happily – because ID is – as BA has said over and over – just simply too small and weak and unimpressive when compared to all the grandeur that is our Universe.

    JC

  128. annymous

    Has it ever occured to you that kids in public schools are taught only evolution? Wouln’t that be considered “brainwashing” too? Somebody is right and somebody is wrong, and when these kids are older, they can make decision fr themselves.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+