Louisiana: Doomed

By Phil Plait | November 1, 2007 9:42 am

Lousianans, congrats! You have joined Texas and South Carolina in being able to promote creationism to your kids!

Lousiana just elected Bobby Jindal as governor. He is/was a Congressman, but ran for governor and just won the election.

Why does this doom the state? Because Jindal has made it clear he supports creationism. Very, very clear.

You won’t find this on his website. Oh, no: there he talks about believing that "we must improve our education system so our children have the tools they need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy". He must like chocolate chip cookies and puppies, too.

But if you dig even marginally deep (just like creationism does!) you find far more enlightening facts:

Bobby Jindal participated in a televised gubernatorial forum in Louisiana on September 27, 2007, at which a journalist asked him whether he supports the teaching of intelligent design. Jindal’s answer clearly indicated that this Rhodes scholar and Brown University biology graduate does indeed support teaching creationism.

Read that whole article, it really sheds light on this fine young gentleman. It was written by Barbara Forrest, who was a key witness in the Kitzmiller creationism case in Dover, PA.

Actually, searching Google for "Bobby Jindal creationism" gives you a whole slew of fun facts about his beliefs about how he wants to brainwash children, and how he parrots the Discovery Institute’s talking points about it.

As a Representative he was able to screw up lots of things for this country (take your pick, there’s a lot to choose from on that page — like Constitutional amendments to ban gay marriages and desecration of the flag), but as governer he can stack the board with several members, putting people sympathetic to creationism there (and place even more people there if there’s a vacancy).

Lest you think I am judging him before he actually takes action, read this from the link above, where he says:

… in terms of prayer in public gathering places, I personally disagreed with the federal judge that ruled you couldn’t have prayer before school board meetings because she was worried that children would be actually exposed to prayer.

Yeah, that First Amendment needs to be taken out to the wood shed. Maybe we need to pray for the Constitution.

Do you really think he’ll put good people on the board, or do you think he’ll do what Texas governor Rick Perry did?

Well anyway, Lousianans, you voted for him, you got him. And so, I leave you with this:

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Comments (94)

Links to this Post

  1. sxarts » Louisiana: Doomed | November 2, 2007
  1. Strictly speaking they don’t to promote creationism to THEIR kids.
    They can do that at home.
    They want to promote creationism to everybody else’s kids.

  2. It’s amazing that someone with Jindal’s level of education is such an irrational twit.

  3. Michelle

    Well it’s been said many many times… Education level means nothing. A PHD can often be fooled much quicker than your regular joe – they are so sure that they cannot be fooled that when they are fooled they go “I’m more intelligent and therefore I cannot be fooled! This must be true!”

    Poor Louisiana. But then again, THEY elected him. Their mistake.

  4. drow

    sadly, this is only #102 on the list of ‘why louisiana is utterly frakked’

  5. Dan

    Creationism will be the death-blow to America’s standing in the academic community, I think. America is steadily getting dumber, and I think we should genuinely be embarrassed for allowing this idiocy to take root in our society.

    Creationism brings nothing but ignorance. It bases every single one of its “scientific disciplines” (including History) upon a book scribbled out thousands and thousands of years after the discovery and subsequent establishment of real scientific principles and disciplines in Egypt, the Middle East and Greece, to name a few.

    Calling Creationism science is like putting boots on your hands and gloves on your feet before going out to shovel the snow off your sidewalk. It’s backwards, it’s crippling, and you’ll never get a damn thing done until someone with a more rational mind comes along to point out how wrong you really are.

    Now, the fact that Louisiana is turning to this witchcraft doesn’t really surprise me. That whole state has pretty much hit rock-bottom as a result of federal neglect, and like an AA member or a hopeless jailhouse criminal, when life gets that miserable, the paranormal is pretty much the thing you turn to when hope is lost. After all, Religion is, if nothing else, the last resort for damaged and desperate souls.

  6. Doc

    Ok, I’m going to go off on a really weird tangent here (surprise, surprise) – BA mentioned the attempted constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Now let’s say for a moment that we set aside all religion-based arguments on this issue for one moment and consider the full legal problem of banning gay marriage.

    I simply can not figure out how it can be done without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Seriously, it becomes an issue of the definition of gender, which is not as clear cut as most people would believe. Every year there are a substantial number of children born (I don’t have any numbers on hand, but I’ve read that it’s around 2000) who are of indeterminate gender. Sometimes they’re assigned a gender, sometimes not, sometimes their “deformity” is surgically corrected. There are even cases where a child is raised as one gender, but suddenly changes at puberty.

    If marriage is defined as a bond between one man and one woman, how do we treat these individuals? Do we say that they simply can’t marry? Do we go with their officially defined gender, in which case can someone have their gender legally redefined? Do we go with their apparent physical gender, in which case are sex changes allowed to marry? Do we go with their chromosomal gender, in which case how are cases like XXY chromosomal abnormalities dealt with? Do we go with how the individuals define themselves, and wouldn’t that pretty much completely defeat the purpose of the whole “one man, one woman” thing?

    Ohio currently defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, yet nowhere in the laws of the state is there a definition of “man” or “woman”. As close as I can tell, it’s based on what’s on your drivers’ license (which I suppose could be changed with a quick visit to the DMV).

    They might as well have passed a law that makes pi = 3 or says the color of the sky can only be “splungleppp”. On a logical level, I can’t see how it can work.

  7. Stark

    Ok Dan, I agree with you… but you really shouldn’t call creationism witchcraft.

    It’s unfair to the witches.

    While they are noticeably reality challenged they are also, in my opinion, considerably less looney and more importantly far far less dishonest and slimy than the ID/creationist crowd. Also, all of the witches I know (3 currently) accept that evolution is real. Not exactly a good sample size but I work with what I have. 😉

  8. Greg

    Ahhhh Creationism. At this point, why not just start teaching Scientology in class too!

    *listens to What A Fool Believes*

  9. Dan

    #
    # Starkon 01 Nov 2007 at 10:48 am

    Ok Dan, I agree with you… but you really shouldn’t call creationism witchcraft.

    It’s unfair to the witches.

    While they are noticeably reality challenged they are also, in my opinion, considerably less looney and more importantly far far less dishonest and slimy than the ID/creationist crowd. Also, all of the witches I know (3 currently) accept that evolution is real. Not exactly a good sample size but I work with what I have. 😉

    Well, I do apologize for offending anyone. However, the thing is, appealing to the supernatural for guidance, enlightenment, protection, and even education is, to me, witchcraft. The Christians and their creationist pieces of baggage are just using a more socially acceptable form of witchcraft. Which, although oddly acceptable, is also unbelievably backwards from the much more sensible Wiccan rede of “An it harm none, do what you will.” Lots of other religious folks could learn a lot from that.

    Christians and creationists are all about harming everyone with an IQ above room temperature. I think they want our colleges’ standards dumbed-down sufficiently to accept their poor, indoctrinated children who intellectually don’t stand a chance in the real world beyond their homeschool doorstep.

    I mean, they seem to want creationism as an adjunct to every academic discipline, and if that happens the only college students benefiting from such a thing would be *surprise* the religiously homeschooled or brainwashed, hate-filled Fundy-spawn.

    After all, a degree from Liberty University (and whatever the name of that chamber of horrors Pat Robertson built is) only goes so far in the real world as a result of indoctrinating students into a “My Christian god is the only god, and I don’t need to know no others” mindset.

    Now, if someplace like Harvard adopts this stultifying Biblical dreck beyond its divinity and theology classes, suddenly, these kids can now major in anything and not have to learn a damned thing. After all, there’s no work to creationism. The “answer” that the magic man did it can be used for every single question.

    How could you not ace that class with such a convenient solution as that? I mean, how tough would it be to get a PhD so long as a logical fallacy and an appeal to ignorance is now an acceptable answer?

  10. DesertFox82

    Well, _I_ didn’t vote for him, so it isn’t my fault. I will have to figure out how to raise kids in this God-fearing, God-forsaken state. Odd thing is, our state is a majority Catholic state, and our last pope was a pro-evolution pope (though this one doesn’t seem to be). So even our most predominate church tells us evolution is okay (not that I needed the help), and there is still this level of ignorance surrounding the subject.

    My state has a lot going for it (believe it or not), and I’m a very proud Louisianian. But God do we act dumb sometimes.

  11. klcthebookworm

    Yeah, we’re doomed. We’re doomed because of two hurricanes and no leadership in recovery. We’re doomed because all the kids who manage to get an education run for the border as soon as they can. We’re doomed because we can’t pay teachers, we can’t pay workers, we can’t even come up with roads and health care system that works for everyone. We’re doomed because of unethical politicians.

    I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. I am proud to be a Louisianan, and I voted for Bobby Jindal. Because compared to the others running for governor, I think he stands the best chance of turning the state around.

    And THAT was his platform. And that BETTER be what he concentrates on. And if changing curriculum comes up, then I will bug my representatives about it.

    Did you even check to see what the other candidates stances on creationism is? Or what that platforms were (going to get rid of state income tax and tax all oil companies refining oil here, yeah right that’ll work)? Politics today is yelling loudly at who has been elected and often compromising who to elect when the time comes.

    But this is the second time in so many days that one-sided bashing has made me consider dropping this blog from my blog reading. (Ever consider the reporter turned up the spooky-ghost-volume in a story to get published in October?)

    Dude, I know fighting all those Apollo-was-hoax guys has got you frazzled, but why not stick to something that is actually an issue? The Vitter bill was a real issue people could do something about. Jindal promoting creationism is a windmill at this point, Don Quixote.

  12. Yeah, sorry about that. Here I got all interested that Louisiana had elected the first Indian-American governor in this country and it turns out all we’re doing is outsourcing the ignorance. *sigh*

  13. Dan

    Dude, I know fighting all those Apollo-was-hoax guys has got you frazzled, but why not stick to something that is actually an issue?

    The Apollo was a hoax. It was actually called “Big Buzz’s Wild Ride to Help Him Get Over His Fear of Flying.”

    No?

    Rats…

    Sorry about the threadjack.

  14. xav0971

    We’re losing states one by one. Pretty soon the whole country will be scientifically illiterate. Rational people are slowing becoming a very small minority in this country. We need highly educated and scientifically literate politicians in the system if such people can be found or exist at all. I guess that’s just wishful thinking. Farewell scientific america I’ll miss you. *wipes a tear from his eye*

  15. Michelle

    Jindal may turn your state around in ways you won’t like, Bookworm. It’s not by electing a guy that loves biblical stuff in school that you will help your state’s folks.

    But yes, how about the other folks that were running up for the place? Were they as woowoo? I hope they were because otherwise I’ll just shake my head at Louisiana again.

  16. Shoeshine Boy

    “Christians and creationists are all about harming everyone with an IQ…”

    Well, that’s a pretty broad brush you’re painting with, Dan. Sure, Christians have some pretty odd beliefs, and creationism (especially the young Earth kind) is provably wrong. I’ll even concede that there are some pretty hateful folks who claim to be Christian, but the last time I checked, one of the two basic tenants of Christianity is:

    ‘You shall love you neighbor as yourself.’

    That doesn’t sound like it is “all about harming” to me.

  17. I guess it is my brain’s hard-wiring, but I have never been able to understand how you can get through even an undergraduate degree in a science field and still believe in magic and gods, let alone creationism.

  18. Erik

    Whoa, I thought this was an ASTRONOMY website. Phil, I have enjoyed your website for years, especially your movie reviews, but I could do with fewer political posts.

    Anyway, one thing that always confuses me is the tendency to equate Intelligent Design to Creationism. Aren’t they two different things? Creationism holds that God created the world and everything on it about 5000 years ago, and NOTHING has evolved. Intelligent Design holds that God essentially started the Big Bang, and then guided evolution in a certain direction. That seems like a very big difference to me. (FWIW, I am a Catholic who is slowly slipping into agnosticism/atheism.) Given the choice between the two, I would say Intelligent Design is a step in the right direction.

    If you want to teach a crippled man to walk, do you immediately yank away his crutches?

  19. Michelle

    They’re the same thing. ID is just their new name to sound more techy. And hey both state that evolution is bologna and that the earth is what… um, what was the number again? 5000 or was it 6000 years old? I’m so going to hell.

  20. Brett

    I’m a Louisianan, and i know damned well who Bobbby Jindal is, and who he represents.

    http://www.jindalisbad.com/why-bobby-jindal-is-bad-the-comprehensive-post/

    Blame low turnout and Katrina for his election.

    Jindal got 699,672 and won this year. Back in 1991, David Duke had 671,009 and lost.

    Jindal probably would not have been elected had not Katrina destroyed New Orleans.

    And, yeah, i know that the lack of aid to New Orleans was deliberate, in the sick attempt to play games with electoral votes in 2008.

    Science is a tool against ignorance, so obviously, it must be destroyed too. Dumb voters are good voters for this crowd.

  21. observer

    Just because someone supports creationism does not make him incapable of being a governer.
    It is of NO CONSEQUENCE to anyone if they believe the hard to swallow theory of evolution or the idea that everything was created by magic.. In fact many scientists do no believe in evolution – it does not prevent them from being what they are..

    As long as he does not prevent the teaching of science and mathematics in schools, I see no point in this very silly post.

  22. Michelle

    “And, yeah, i know that the lack of aid to New Orleans was deliberate, in the sick attempt to play games with electoral votes in 2008.”

    …Woah, don’t you think that might be thinking a bit too much?

    And @observer- there’s a consequence when you put such a person in a high post in the government: it’s called supression of science.

  23. Erik: No, Intelligent Design is no different than creationism. It’s merely the exact same thing as Creationism but with “God” replaced with “Designer *wink wink*”.

    Of course, if you bother to listen to ID advocates, they frequently slip up and admit that it’s really the Christian God they’re talking about.

    I’d suggest you get a copy of Barbara Forrest’s Creationism’s Trojan Horse.

  24. Lurchgs

    Picking a bad/stupid/lame/whatever dumb idea to back doesn’t make one automatically a bad (in this case) governor. Of course, having a HISTORY of backing stupid ideas should give one pause.

    Then again, Louisiana has a history of .. well, not doing well when picking governors (and possibly the rest of their giverhment).

    When the President of The United States of American asks you “do you want me to activate FEMA” after Katrina, you do NOT say “Let me think about it”. Nor do you attempt to curry good will by claiming to have lost some property – which is not yours, and never was.

    I’ve not researched it – it’s anecdotal and therefore suspect, but I rather trust the individual who told me “Virtually every governor Louisiana has had since Long has ended in prison”. This does not speak well for the choice making abilities of the constituency, nor of the group from which said governors are chosen.

    One automatic strike against any politician is one who can add “Rhodes Scholar” to his list of accomplishments. I am completely unaware of any single one Rhodes Scholar who wasn’t a methane breather in the extreme.

    (Please don’t take this as a bash against y’all down there. I was completely impressed by the people I met down in NO, BR, and Slidel in the weeks following Katrina. But you folk have worse luck with leadership than my partner does with girlfriends)

  25. observer

    @Michelle
    Some politician who believes in creationsism is NOT equal to supression of science.

    Teaching ‘liberal’ religion in schools is far worse esp since it is ALWAYS done at the expense of math and science.

    This whole argument is silly anyway – all the republican candidates say they believed ‘God created’ and are warmongers ..
    All the Democrats are liars and ideaologues (and Warmongers !)
    — so we have no one to vote for Democrat or republican.

    Ron Paul is the only real candidate so far..

  26. Dan

    #
    # Shoeshine Boyon 01 Nov 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Well, that’s a pretty broad brush you’re painting with, Dan. Sure, Christians have some pretty odd beliefs, and creationism (especially the young Earth kind) is provably wrong. I’ll even concede that there are some pretty hateful folks who claim to be Christian, but the last time I checked, one of the two basic tenants of Christianity is:

    ‘You shall love you neighbor as yourself.’

    That doesn’t sound like it is “all about harming” to me.

    Two things (and I’ll be short):

    First, if Christians followed their religion’s own basic tenets, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. After all, Christians are so quick to condemn people based upon that ala-carte menu they call Leviticus, but how many actually follow the Levitican laws themselves?

    NONE!

    Second, I think a lot of creationists don’t fully realize the harm and damage they are doing to America’s academic progress with this sneaky attempt at granting equal academic status to their mythology. There is absolutely nothing of value in creationism. There is no unknown to pursue through reality with logic. They have their answer in a tidy little bundle called “God.” So, what’s the point of even teaching the gibberish? The syllabus could easily look like the following:

    Creationism 101:
    10:05 — Roll call
    10:10 – 10:11 – The unprovable existence of an all-powerful divine entity created everything.
    10:11:00 – Dismissal (and that’s allowing for a five-minute roll)

    -Final exam: Using Creationist science, date the rock you see pictured here.”

    Yeah. Creationists are sure going to get their money’s worth there when the entire premise of their faulty scheme can be taught in less time than it takes to boil an egg, don’t you think? They will learn what exactly? That domesticated t-rex’s used their teeth and claws for opening coconuts for cavemen?

    So yeah. Go ahead and accuse me of using a broad brush. All Christians are idiots (yes. I said all. Some of you are genuinely nice and amazingly kind and patient people, but you’re all philosophically stunted and fettered), and given the option of either damning this foolish nonsense that is creationism or saving America from a complete and total intellectual and philosophical collapse, they’re going to choose creationism even if they don’t believe it because it is a friendly thing to their figment that they call god, and they need to defend the silly, omnipotent cloud. After all, they are scared of their god a lot more than they are scared of science and their own intellectual shortcomings.

  27. Loaf Of Bread

    Someone correct me if I’m woring. After all, I’m just a Canadian from north of the 49th Parallel who took a political science course on the US system of government when I was in university.

    Anyway, doesn’t your system have some checks and balances in it? Or is that just at the federal level?

    It’s been brought up a couple of times that this Jindal guy wanted to amend the US consititution to ban gay marriage. Well, doesn’t an amendment to your constitution require the amendment pass *both* houses of Congress and (if memory serves me right) get 2/3 support in each house? Then it needs to get past the President. Then it needs to be ratified by 2/3 of the states.

    I’m not familiar with the state government in Louisiana per se, but that doesn’t prevent me from asking other posters here from Louisiana what kinds of checks and balances they have built into their state government. Like, can Jindal really appoint whoever he likes to the state education board? Or does it have to be ratified by someone(s) in the state legislature? I think we need to get some answers to things like this before we continue with this “the sky is falling” session.

    While I can understand a concern with someone who accepts something that has no basis in scientific fact being in a position of power, I figure if we did a bit more digging than we accuse the creationists of doing, we’d find the situation isn’t as bleak as “Louisiana – DOOMED” would lead us to believe. It may be bad, but I’m sure the sky isn’t falling.

  28. Michelle

    @Observer:

    I don’t have a problem with his beliefs. I have a problem with the fact that he can assign three of his little creationist buddies to the SCHOOL BOARD. You don’t put an outspoken creationist in the driver seat when they can do that because creationists DELIGHT in the idea of loading a school board with creationists so they can get ID in schools.

    If he does not do that, I don’t care about him being governor. But just voting for him was hazardous.

  29. Dan

    # observeron 01 Nov 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Just because someone supports creationism does not make him incapable of being a governer.
    It is of NO CONSEQUENCE to anyone if they believe the hard to swallow theory of evolution or the idea that everything was created by magic.. In fact many scientists do no believe in evolution – it does not prevent them from being what they are..

    (I hope Phil doesn’t boot me for all my screeching.)

    I’m thinking that the only reason why the theory of evolution is “hard to swallow” for you is simply because of your own personal, petty arrogance that humanity is too damn good and special to have been descended from primates. Get over yourself. You’re a walking mammal. An impressive, complex animal, but an animal nonetheless. Stop being such a raging specie-ist. Our species isn’t all that and a bag of chips simply because we have thumbs and the ability to appreciate the music of Wayne Newton (another monkey).

    The fact is, a scientific approach to the origins of life should always be considered a heck of a lot more valid than something yanked out out of a mythology written by a collection of Bronze-Age itinerant goat-herders whose academic credentials are based upon how many times one should bang a couple of rocks together when making fire.

  30. I certainly do hope the use of the word ‘speciesist’ was done at least partially in jest, lest it lead to the slope of ‘animalist,’ ‘multicellularist,’ ‘eukaryotist,’ so on and so forth.

    So he’s a wahoo. Who generally defines policy in republican (small-r) institutions? Small, angry, loud minorities. What demographic constitutes, by fair or unfair report, a minority in New Orleans? Rational people. All they need to be is angry and loud and any threat by their new governor to ram the Bible down kids’ throats is emasculated.

  31. motrbotr

    I love reading your blog. As long as you stick to astronomy. Once you begin putting down someone for what they believe, you bore me. The United States has been going down hill morally ever since prayer was banned in schools. No one was forcing kids to pray! Everyone wants to take God out of everything, out of the pledge, off coins, cant put up nativity scenes on government property. But dont let the libs catch anyone putting down a muslim, dont racial profile even though every terrorist attack against United States interestest have only been committed by arabs! Dont say anything offending to them or the jews or whatever other religious affiliations you belong to. Creationism is not the end of Louisianna. I am sure you will be sorry to see that they will all be there tomorrow and the day after and the day after…They will be just as smart as or dumb as they were yesterday. Your remarks have offended me. No, I am not from, nor do i live in Louisianna. But i know you dont care that I am offended as long as its not you. So whatever.

    Oh, and the big bang fits quit nicely into my view of creationism. Thank you very much.

  32. Part of my problem with the whole evolution vs. intelligent design debate is that I have yet to see any kind of scientifically-controlled experiment to prove that any part of ID is correct.

    So, having said that, now I’m one of those evil, ghod-hating atheists who are out to repress helpless children and hate anything to do with religion.

    Ben Stein of all people is lending his name to a film called Expelled (released this coming February) which is supposed to talk about how some pro-ID professors and scientists lost their jobs because of this anti-“darwinism”.

  33. Bob H

    After thinking about this quite a bit lately, I have concluded that I would like to see Creationism taught in HS biology class. Now, now put down your pitchforks and let me explain.

    When I took my first astronomy class, the first day was about the history of astronomy. It covered the geocentric model, Copernicus, the heliocentric model, on up to Galileo, and the Shapley – Curtis Debate. These things are an important part of astronomy, and its past. Creationism should be presented the same way as the geocentric model. It is an important past way of thinking that dominated biology for a long long time. Darwin should be treated as Galileo and how he showed a natural explaination for biological diversity that did not need a “God”. It should also be presented as to why it does not fit in with the scientific model and why it retards science (why try to figure out something that is in the relm of God).

    Just my two bits.

  34. Daffy

    “The United States has been going down hill morally ever since prayer was banned in schools.”

    I love that one. When we had prayer in school we slavery, racial discrimination, lynchings, pogroms, genocide of an entire people, military testing of radiation on soldiers, secret assassinations of foreign leaders, wars started to steal another country’s land…

    Boy, those were the days, weren’t they?

  35. Dan

    # motrbotr on 01 Nov 2007 at 1:54 pm

    The United States has been going down hill morally ever since prayer was banned in schools. No one was forcing kids to pray! Everyone wants to take God out of everything, out of the pledge, off coins, cant [sic] put up nativity scenes on government property. But dont [sic] let the libs [sic] catch anyone putting down a muslim [sic], dont [sic] racial profile even though every terrorist attack against United States interestest [sic] have [sick] only been committed by arabs [sic]! Dont [sic] say anything offending to them or the jews [sic] or whatever other religious affiliations you belong to.

    QED.

    God was not banned in school. Never was. Read a book and stop parroting the mindless babble of your favorite retarded hate-mongers, okay? If these are the lessons coming from your favorite pulpit, I think it’s time to find a different congregation. Maybe something more informed, tolerant and considerably less toxic and antisocial? Have you tried Wicca?

    Oh, and I think you’re forgetting about Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh when you say every terrorist attack being committed by them thar dang hootin’ Ayyyy-rabs.

  36. Will

    teh Astronomy only ftw! No politiking, or I’m leaving and you’ll miss my presence! I don’t like you posting your own opinions on your site, phil.

    Stick to teh astronomy science boy, or we’all leave!

  37. Michelle

    Daffy, you forgot homophobia’s #1 cause is religious beliefs.

    Cause #2 is fear of difference of course. But religious difference is in the lot.

    By the way, the world was just as morally wrong back when there was prayer. It’s just that women did not dare say they were raped, drugs were not much of a crime, and driving drunk wasn’t illegal yet (When there was cars that is). And GOD FORBID if a child dared say a priest touched their wee wees. Religion does not make a society morally right – common sense and justice does. And don’t go up telling me that our laws are based on the 10 commandments. Most of the commandmants (the non-religious bits that is) are just ideas and rules developped by thousand of years of living as a society. You could call some of them “common sense”.

  38. tacitus

    Anyway, one thing that always confuses me is the tendency to equate Intelligent Design to Creationism. Aren’t they two different things? Creationism holds that God created the world and everything on it about 5000 years ago, and NOTHING has evolved. Intelligent Design holds that God essentially started the Big Bang, and then guided evolution in a certain direction. That seems like a very big difference to me. … Given the choice between the two, I would say Intelligent Design is a step in the right direction.

    If you listen to the disciplined IDists (i.e. when they remember not to slip in their religious leanings) then all they claim is that some intelligent designer had a hand in creating life some how, at some time. That *could* lead people to think IDists accept “theistic evolution” under their “big tent” (as they describe it) except for the fact that they despise and attack evolution (even theistic evolution) every chance they get. Meanwhile IDists have no problem accepting full-blown creationists into their fold.

    So, no, ID is not a step in the right direction, and has a strong (if sometimes uneasy) alliance with creationists. The only reason it for its existence today is that the courts prevented full-blown creationists from teaching their stuff in schools. ID is nothing more than an attempt to sneak creationism into schools through the back door.

  39. Stephen

    In case anyone is still reading, I’ll just try to clarify the ID/creationism thing.

    There are numerous varieties of creationism. There is young-earth creationism which holds that the earth is a few thousand years old, and old-earth creationism which accepts the age given by geologists. Some varieties reject evolution completely; some accept “micro-evolution” within a species but deny that evolution can produce species; some accept that evolution can produce species but only within the confines of a ‘kind’ (where ‘kind’ is never well defined). There is Christian creationism which states that Jehovah is the creator and that the Bible is the ultimate authority on the matter, and there is Islamic creationism which says something else.

    Now, you might be able to identify differences between ID and any one variety of creationism. (This could actually be tricky because ID advocates are often very unclear about what they actually do believe, but never mind). Nonetheless there is no doubt whatever that ID belongs within the constellation of beliefs known as creationism.

    Arguing that ID is not creationism because it differs in minor details from any one variety is about as meaningful as arguing that Uranus is not a planet because it has a different mass from any of the others.

    Hope this helps.

  40. Skepterist

    To Erik and motrbotr and all the others who feel the need to complain about Phil’s blog:

    If you don’t like the topic of discussion, don’t read it. Just skip it and go on. If you say you’re going to quit this blog, please shut up and do it. Nobody is going to miss you.

    @Loaf of Bread,
    There are checks and balances at both the state and federal levels, however powers of the states do differ in many ways. For example, in Texas, Governor Perry has done exactly what many have feared, which is appoint a known creationist to Head of Board of Education. The man’s beliefs are not the issue. What is the issue is that Perry and his cronies want to include Creationism or ID or whatever you want to call it into Biology classes as an alternative “Theory” to evolution. Not only is this wrong scientifically, its wrong constitutionally. There are groups that are fighting this, but because Creationism/ID has some ties to Christianity, there are many more people in favor of this than one would hope.

    B-)

  41. @Erik,
    I know the (non) difference between Creationism and ID has been described already, but I thought you might like to know the name for what you thought ID was. It’s called Theistic Evolution.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theistic_evolution
    I too used to be confused about the beliefs and intentions of the ID crowd, but now I am convinced that that it is not only bad science, but bad theology. It’s bad science because it makes no testable claims (among other reasons, I’m sure there’s plenty of ammo others can lob its way). It’s bad theology because it sets up a “God of the gaps”. If you only ascribe supernatural design to certain aspects of biology, then what happens when those aspects are explained naturally? You paint God into a corner until there’s nothing left for him to “design”.
    Theistic evolution contends that God is behind everything from the Big Bang onwards, but that he accomplishes His design through the natural laws we are busy discovering (which He presumably created as well). Some will say “What’s the difference between a God that hides behind natural laws and no God at all?” A fair question, to which I can only answer, “Choice”. If we believe that God gives us free will and therefore does not force us to believe in him with proof, then this is the ONLY theology that makes any sense. Any fair-minded atheist or agnostic should agree that they have also made a choice regarding the existence of God without proof as well. Some find the absence of evidence sufficiently compelling, and I respect that, but all else being equal I choose the path that also addresses the non-falsifiable questions (the one’s I call the “why” questions rather than “how” questions).

    @ The non-theists,
    You are always complaining that “moderate” Christians don’t seem interested in fighting Bad Thinking. Well, I’m one and I do what I can every day to foster rational, reality-based thinking in those around be (Christian and otherwise). I’ll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all the non-theists and agnostics against ID and Young Earth Creationism etc, just don’t stab me in the back with all of your hatred of theists and then wonder why more aren’t standing with you.

  42. Daffy

    Michelle,

    Mine was definitely an incomplete list.

    Although I do think the main cause of homophobia is the person’s own latent (or not so latent!) homosexual tendencies. Religion is simply the convenient excuse for expressing such fear and hatred.

    Btw, the same book of the Bible that is used to persecute homosexuals (Leviticus) also says it is a sin—punishable by death—to wear clothes made of 2 different fabrics (like a cotton/polyester blend). We never hear those knotheads mentions that one, do we?

  43. Your country support Bush, Obama and Clinton. Why not support Creationism? It’s very, very LOGICAL!

  44. Dan

    #
    # Daffy on 01 Nov 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Btw, the same book of the Bible that is used to persecute homosexuals (Leviticus) also says it is a sin—punishable by death—to wear clothes made of 2 different fabrics (like a cotton/polyester blend). We never hear those knotheads mentions that one, do we?

    *gasp* Are you trying to tell me that the Bible isn’t an ala-carte menu?

    Rats…

    And here I was going to try those grilled, bacon-wrapped prawns. They look tasty, but I’m not going to pay an eternity in the fiery pits of hell to have them.

    Maybe if I have a Kosher pickle on the side… Hmm…

  45. Daffy

    “…grilled, bacon-wrapped prawns…”

    LOL! But now I’m hungry…

  46. "Idiot Christian"

    I’m religious. I’m Christian. I believe God created Man in his own image. Does that make me an idiot? Possibly. According to some, there’s no possibly about it. I just want to put this out there to all the atheists. If I’m wrong, nothing happens… I lead a good life. I did my best to an honest, hard working citizen. I was faithful to my wife. I was happy for I had hope that there was someone out there looking after me and my family. I die, and cease to exist. Will I say at that point, “I guess I was wrong.” Nope, because I don’t exist. Whatever. But if I’m right… what happens to the atheists out there when God asks them how they lived their life? Will their rebutal be “I don’t believe in you, because you can’t/don’t/won’t prove that you exist.”

    It’s a fifty/fifty shot. Personally, I like being “an idiot”. But I also like finding stuff out about the cosmos, so I come here, and usually skip over the political / anti-creationist blogs, because I don’t agree with them. Should Phil stop writing them? Nope… it’s his right to voice his opinion, just as it’s my right to voice mine. Do we have to agree for me to enjoy the astronomy parts of his blog? Nope. I actually found this site because I really liked his movie reviews.

    Oh, and Dan? You can call me an idiot, but you’re also calling Gene Kranz an idiot. His autobiography stated that he believed in God, felt God’s presence, prayed to God. I don’t think he’s an idiot. He’s one of the most Genius men I’ve ever read about, and he had room in his life for God.

  47. Oh, and Dan? You can call me an idiot, but you’re also calling Gene Kranz an idiot. His autobiography stated that he believed in God, felt God’s presence, prayed to God. I don’t think he’s an idiot. He’s one of the most Genius men I’ve ever read about, and he had room in his life for God.

    Same boring old ‘appeal to authority’ argument. Christians are so mesmerised by authority. It’s no wonder you can’t think for yourselves.

    Anyway, sorry Phil. I’ll stop ranting now.

  48. Mike R.

    Hey Phil,

    I’m curious to find out what you think about Hugh Ross. If you haven’t heard of him you can check out his site at http://www.reasons.org. He’s a creationist that doesn’t support Intelligent Design either.

    I think a debate between you and him would be incredibly interesting.

    Thanks!

  49. magista

    “Idiot Christian”, what you have described is known as Pascal’s Wager, and is very much not a 50/50 shot. After all, how do you know you’ve even picked the right god? If it’s really Zoroaster, you’re screwed.

    I think ID and creationism should be taught. And whenever possible, pointed out as what they are, which is religion (or philosophy, if you’re being generous). What Phil and many others of us rightly object to is that they be included in a science class, which they clearly are not, having failed Karl Popper’s test of falsifiability (to pick just one example, not entirely at random).

  50. Dan

    # “Idiot Christian” on 01 Nov 2007 at 3:38 pm

    I’m religious. I’m Christian. I believe God created Man in his own image. Does that make me an idiot? Possibly. According to some, there’s no possibly about it. I just want to put this out there to all the atheists. If I’m wrong, nothing happens… I lead a good life. I did my best to an honest, hard working citizen. I was faithful to my wife.

    Well, if you need a false-dilemma to help you sleep at night, good for you. Of course, you’re still living your life in a constant contrived fear. Personally, I am not a hypocrite, nor am I an offense to any god since I don’t believe in it, and therefore I do not run the risk of believing in the wrong god. If I’m wrong, god would probably say something like “A little light on the worship Dan, but I’ll let you in since you were such a good person –even after that all-you-can-eat shrimp night at Red Lobster.”

    I’m glad you’re faithful to your wife. I’m sorry that your marriage is so bloody weak that you need some sort of metaphysical threat to keep you faithful.

    Are you foolishly trying to assert that, as an atheist, I am incapable of leading a good life, of being an honest, hardworking citizen, or that I am unfaithful to my spouse? If you are, you’re using a rather silly metric to determine the value of a person’s character since there’s a good chance I am just like you without the unnecessary god-baggage.

    Now, I am glad Krantz “the Most Genius” had room in his life for god. I suppose there’s always room to entertain fairy-tales, but believing in them and living your life in accordance to these archaic “philosophies” (and I use that word loosely), kind of leaves one missing out on a lot of the potential of humanity. After all, it wasn’t god who kept the Apollo 13 astronauts alive. It was an incredible, brain-shredding amount of human contribution and achievement, and giving credit to some non-existent deity truly does cheapen an amazing accomplishment and the heroics of those involved.

    Aside from that, if we’re all created in your god’s image, why does everyone look different? Why do people have allergies? Does god have allergies? Why doesn’t everyone have the same allergies as god?

    And what about all those brown people we treat so dreadfully? I don’t look like any of them.

    And, what about the Chinese? They don’t look anything like me. Did god not create them?

    Are you just drawing that line at two-arms, two-legs, one-head and sundry bits of man-plumbing and stopping there? I mean, if that’s the case, then gorillas, Koala bears, and very hairy Italians were created in god’s image too.

  51. Daffy

    Dan, you bring up a good point. Who is better? An atheist who is a good person because it is the right thing to do? Or a Christian who is a good person only because of fear of divine punishment?

  52. SLC

    Apparently, Mr. Jindal is a graduate of Brown Un., majoring in biology. It would be interesting if he ever took a course from Ken Miller and if so what Prof. Millers’ impression of him was.

  53. Dan

    #
    # Daffyon 01 Nov 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Dan, you bring up a good point. Who is better? An atheist who is a good person because it is the right thing to do? Or a Christian who is a good person only because of fear of divine punishment?

    Well, Daffy, a lot of Christians (like that odious, little prat Dinesh D’Souza) will tell you that the only reason you know how to be a good and moral person is because of Christianity, and that’s pretty much absolute bull. I mean, all you have to do is look at the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, various pagans and a heap of other successful pre-Christian cultures to prove that one wrong.

    So, really, Christianity is hardly the source of all that it is good in humanity. In fact, I’d say it’s the opposite with its elitism, entitlement, and self-righteous sanctimonious nonsense that can literally turn neighbor against neighbor based upon an interpretation of a silly old mythology.

  54. observer

    >>An atheist who is a good person because it is the right thing to do? Or a Christian who is a good person only because of fear of divine punishment?>>
    Pretty silly question. An atheist has to figure out good from bad and this moral principle is not easy to attain..most never figure this out

    Besides there really is no good or bad really – it depends on who is defining it and what point of reference you are using.
    Christians can determine good or bad from their interepetation of the bible.
    Most ‘atheists’ read the NY times or some other mainstream media for this.

    Quite clearly, it is almost infinitely harder to determine good and bad if you constantly have to adjust and re-adjust your views depending on your information. This is why Christianity is being replaced with the new religion: Liberalism which has nothing to do with being liberal.

    If you really believe evolution then realize this: it is in the biological nature of man to seek god . (or to make one up ) . So being an atheist is not fulfilling unless you are well tuned to many semi-religous/philosiphical ideas.

    As a general rule: humans are born to follow – only a few will choose their own path. Religon is hardwired and comes in many forms.

  55. Dan

    # observeron 01 Nov 2007 at 4:47 pm

    An atheist has to figure out good from bad and this moral principle is not easy to attain..most never figure this out

    Besides there really is no good or bad really – it depends on who is defining it and what point of reference you are using.
    Christians can determine good or bad from their interepetation of the bible.
    Most ‘atheists’ read the NY times or some other mainstream media for this.

    So, that whole Inquisition was a “good” thing? And, the crusades and the KKK are examples of good Christian morality, huh? And, well, you’ve really not been reading the news lately to see what your Christian morality is doing to the world, have you?

    I’d honestly need to develop a pretty serious drug problem for that bit of tortured logic to wash, and I’m not even going to touch that steaming little nugget of strawman madness about the New York Times. I’m laughing a little too hard.

  56. Michelle

    @Idiot Christian: (You call yourself that! Not me.) Now I’m reminded of a South Park episode.

    KYLE
    But the guys said if I don’t confess my sins and eat crackers, I’m gonna go to hell.

    KYLE’S MOTHER
    Oh noooo, that’s just Catholics. Us Jews don’t believe in hell.

    KYLE
    We don’t? But what if we’re wrong?

    KYLE’S MOTHER
    Well…, Kyle…, they could be wrong, too.

    KYLE
    Yeah, but if they’re wrong, no big deal. If we’re wrong, we burn in hell.

    IKE
    Oh, no.

    KYLE’S FATHER
    Kyle, it’s all about being a good person now! You see, Christians use hell as a way to scare people into believing what they believe. But to believe in something just because you’re afraid of the consequenced if you dont believe in somethingis no reason to believe in something. Understand?

    IKE
    No-o-o.

    KYLE
    Well, you guys can do what you want! I’m going down to that church to confess my sins and eat crackers! And I’m taking Ike with me!

    You know, think what you want of south park but there’s a lot of words of wisdom in that show.

    Now, what if I were to start my own religion? I’d have a great view of afterlife. I’d say “Whatever you wanna your afterlife to be, you’ll have it. But all you have to do is worship me and give me 20000 bucks”. (Because I’m broke and I want a 360!) What are your chances NOW? I could be right! Any religion could be right. Any could also be wrong. Believing in something because you think you will be punished if you don’t is NOT belief, faith and enlightenment! It’s FEAR. While I believe from all I read of the Bible that this God is a terrorist (Read the old testament and prove me wrong.), I’m not sure that’s what Jesus has been saying you know…

    Mind you, I got a LOT of religious friends and it doesn’t stop me from respecting them. Just so you know. One of my friend is a muslim (a woman and a HAPPY one, not a terrorized one or whatever the stereotype is), another is hindu, and I even have a buddhist friend. And we all get along.

  57. observer

    @dan
    I am sure that at this very moment you are supporting even if indirectly the mass murder of at least 1000s.
    If Christianity were my morality I would not have told you that there was NO good or evil.
    Christians and other thesists believe in good and evil. So do most athests who delude themselves in thinking that their ideology is not a poor mans substitute for religion.

    Its quite obvious that Mr. Bad Ast is a member of the above club with his constant tirades against Christianity etc . For gods sake this guy thinks Hilary should be president ..even though Hilary=Bush

  58. Michelle

    Hey Observer, if it was muslims he’d do the same. It just happens that it’s fundamentalists Christians that are the problem right now.

  59. Grand Lunar

    I bemused that people are still complaining that Phil doesn’t always stick to straight science subjects, and go political.

    In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an entry on this, people! There’s even a link, at the top of the page! Hello!

    Now that I’ve got that out of the way…

    It seems to me that creationists want revenge on science.
    There was a program on TV, I forget which channel it was (could’ve been Discovery, Science Channel, or National Geographic), but it showed when science began to gain a foothold in the public mind.
    Geology, biology, ect, all began to grow once people looked beyond what it was they were being taught just by religion.

    Now it seems steps backwards are being encouraged.

    It’s one thing to practice your faith. It’s another thing to use your faith in place of science to explain the world around you.

    In addition, creationism appearently only focuses on the christian god.
    What of the other gods, past and present? What makes them mere myth, and the christian god not part of myth as well?

    It also does no good to even have creationism taught as an alternative to evolution.
    Think about it. What sounds more appealing to a child in science class;
    A) Humans evolved from a common ancestor to the apes
    B) Humans were created (or had their evolution influenced) by a supernatural entity

    The latter would undoubtedly make the class feel that humanity is very special, and so seems more appealing a choice.
    And THAT is where the damage is done.

    Humanity must grow up. Religion is a mere security blanket against our own feelings of inadequatecy against the scale of the universe.

    But we needn’t feel that way. Though we are small, we are still, very much, a part of this universe. And in a way, it is a part of us; let’s not forget that the elements that make us up once came from supernovae.
    To me, THAT is more impressive than believing in a creator.

    The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can take our place amongst the stars.

  60. Dan

    #
    # observeron 01 Nov 2007 at 5:06 pm

    @dan
    I am sure that at this very moment you are supporting even if indirectly the mass murder of at least 1000s.
    If Christianity were my morality I would not have told you that there was NO good or evil.
    Christians and other thesists believe in good and evil. So do most athests who delude themselves in thinking that their ideology is not a poor mans substitute for religion.

    Its quite obvious that Mr. Bad Ast is a member of the above club with his constant tirades against Christianity etc . For gods sake this guy thinks Hilary should be president ..even though Hilary=Bush

    The death of thousands, huh? Are we talking abortion? Do keep in mind that the Bible defines life as something having breath breathed into it from god (I’m too lazy to look it up, but if you need to, go right ahead). So, how is it possible to extinguish a life when it’s not even a life by Christian standards?

    Aside from that, yes. We are criticizing Christians here because it is Christian creationists who are trying to muddy up our already troubled education system. If this were Muslim creationists, I’d probably be saying the same things.

    Phil Plait is trying to save education from the comical, anti-science drivel that is creationism, and he’s using his blog to do so from time to time. He should be applauded for his efforts since it’s crystal clear that creationism is the furthest thing from an actual, legitimate science and it has no place in our schools.

    Now, Christians can wail and bleat on about the sanctity of life and all that other ridiculous contrived gibberish, but Phil Plait, and people like him are trying to save the most important part of a child: their minds.

    I wonder if any Christian out there can truly say that they value the natural world and cosmos in which it sits half as much as the proprietor of this blog and website. I doubt it since their sense of wonder and awe at the mysteries of the universe are destroyed by a comical and horribly erroneous mythology which encourages censorship as opposed to discovery through free thought.

    So, maybe I am responsible for killing thousands. I don’t see how since I am not the one making that choice. But, at least I am not responsible for the dumbing down and outright stultification of America’s innocent children who, as result of Christian meddling, will never be qualified to compete, much less perform, in the inevitable global workforce.

  61. Darth Robo

    Here we go again. Phil highlights another problem with creationists and it turns into another atheists vs Christians fight.

    Observer – Phil has NEVER bad-mouthed Christianity as a whole that I’ve ever seen. Creationism, yes.

    Atheists against Christians – I seem to recall some Christians fighting AGAINST ID in the Dover trial.

    There’s nothing wrong with being religious (or not) as long as that worldview ain’t forced onto others. It’s very rare that creationists fall into that category. And if atheists like to criticize religion as a whole, may I recommend the Dawkins forum?

    (breathes sigh of relief)

    There. That was MY rant.

  62. Daffy

    “So, really, Christianity is hardly the source of all that it is good in humanity. In fact, I’d say it’s the opposite with its elitism, entitlement, and self-righteous sanctimonious nonsense that can literally turn neighbor against neighbor based upon an interpretation of a silly old mythology.”

    True, Dan.

    Psalm 137:9: “Blessed is he who dashes the babies against the rocks.”

    The Bible in no way instructs me on morality…in fact, it often is not up to my standards at all.

  63. SirJonah

    Wayne on 01 Nov 2007 at 2:50 pm

    If we believe that God gives us free will and therefore does not force us to believe in him with proof, then this is the ONLY theology that makes any sense.

    Really? What about Satan? Does he have free will?

    According to Christian theology, he is a creation of God, yet he rejects Him… AND he has *certain* proof that God exists — no faith or belief required. How can Satan then have free will? In your view, isn’t he more akin to God’s puppet? And isn’t God then the TRUE source of evil in the world ala Isaiah 45:7?

    Satan has no choice but to be evil because God has unambiguously revealed Himself to him and free will can only be obtained *without* proof of God’s existence, e.g. as you have stated above, free will involves God “not forc[ing] us to believe in him with proof.” And according to you this is “the ONLY theology that makes any sense.”

    With all due respect, I think your theology is far from sensible.

    Consider Epicurus’s old riddle:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

  64. Ordinary Radical

    Well, three hours after the last post, I’ll put in my two beans.

    Phil – keep posting whatever you feel like. While I don’t like to see all the prejudice and hatred that shows up whenever the talk turns to religion, you are fair, honest, and respectful in your posts. You explain why you feel the way you do. If you’re wrong you admit it and apologize. You’re a rare commodity on the interweb.

    Not *all* Christians are idiots, or intolerant, or homophobic, or wish to involuntarily convert others to Christianity. Not *all* atheists are latent believers, or are sanctimonious, or immoral. As is typical, the vocal few extremists manage to taint others’ view of the majority.

    Unfortunately, since the Enlightenment, many people have been conditioned to believe dualistically; that everything is either/or, one/the other, yes/no, black/white. The tolerance for gray has been drummed out of us.

    I don’t accept the argument that believers don’t *want* to investigate the world or learn how it works. This is not true historically and it isn’t true today. Uncovering the way the universe works in no way diminishes the respect, awe and, yes, “fear” of our God. (“Fear”, as was used in the King James translation meant “respect for a greater power” at that time. The language has changed a lot since the 17th century.)

    On the topic of the Bible. There are several different parts of the Bible, each with their own history. You can’t treat it as a single document, like a Tom Clancy novel. Biblical scholars note there were at least five authors of the first few books of the Old Testament. These were stories of creation and how things came to be. They were written down after many generations of oral history. (I’ll argue for the accuracy of oral history at another time.) These stories were never intended to be accurate depictions of history or science. Their literary style is not the same as historical texts of that time. It pains me to hear Christian apologists, amateur and professional, who use the Bible as a history or science text. Or cherry-pick the things they’ll fight to the death over. If homosexuality is such a huge issue, don’t you think Jesus would have said something about it? He had a lot to say about sinners, but never talked about gays. (Paul’s letter to the Romans included his remark about homosexuality because he was pointing out their inability to rein in their lusts and desires.)

    Because of this, I don’t believe Creationism/Intelligent Design (for all intents, the same thing, just different terms) should be taught in science classes.

    (Wow! He sure took his sweet time getting to his point, didn’t he? Well, you know, he probably has some repressed issues and such…) Actually, reading everyone else’s replies got me thinking, so it’s all your fault.

    Peace

    The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, “I was wrong.” – Sydney J. Harris (1917–1986)

  65. Mike R.

    Consider Epicurus’s old riddle:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    Answer:

    God did not create evil and will not tolerate it forever.

    So He is able, but not willing. Why must He be malevolent?

    Evil is a result of free will. Love is only possible with free will. God wants us to love Him (the greatest commandment).

    Evil grows when love decreases.

  66. SirJonah

    Mike R. on 01 Nov 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Answer:

    God did not create evil and will not tolerate it forever.

    So He is able, but not willing. Why must He be malevolent?

    Evil is a result of free will. Love is only possible with free will. God wants us to love Him (the greatest commandment).

    Evil grows when love decreases.

    Notice that you said “God did not create evil” and “Evil is a result of free will.”

    Let me ask you, who created free will? Did God create it? If God created free will and evil is a result of the existence of free will, then — at the very least — God created a situation where evil must, by definition, exist.

    If you agree that God is able to prevent evil, but not willing (even at present) then he is still malevolent. Ask yourself: what would you think of a person who sat idly by and allowed someone else to be harmed when that person could easily prevent it?

    I humbly ask you to apply this situation to God and realize that it is He who has allowed evil to grow and love to decrease in your particular model of reality.

  67. Michelle

    If god created the universe he created free will, love and evil, okay? It goes with the package. Evil may be the absence of good as cold is the absence of warmth but he created everything and thus he also created the lacks.

    Mind you, I think that god killed a LOT of folks in pretty evil ways.

  68. Inertially Guided

    Wow, Phil–you can start off the most amazing “discussions” (read: arguments, battles, wars, riots) with great ease. I could almost hear the gnashing of teeth!

    Guys, BA can say whatever he wants on his Blog for just that reason–it IS his Blog! We all have the right to disagree, and even post comments disagreeing with him on various issues, but PLEASE let’s try to keep it civil and clean. There has been at least one “F-Bomb” in this thread–and that’s too many!

    By the way, Freedom of Speech is pretty special, isn’t it?

    Keep it up, Phil–you rock!

  69. Dan

    Now, I may be a little weird here, but I actually kind of like reading those bits of Phil’s writing that don’t have anything to do with astronomy.

    When Phil writes about something that genuinely affects him on a deep emotional level, and when it inspires such rage as I see in posts such as this, I’m always in awe at how easily he can articulate his emotions while also keeping his calm. I wish I could somehow pull my punches in such a way as he does.

    Besides, I’d be worried if he didn’t step away from that eye-piece once in a while to read the news.

    So, yeah. I second IG’s statement that you should keep it up, Phil. Of course, as for you rocking? Well… I have yet to see the limits of your rockage. You may pebble… But, the jury’s still out on the rock. However, if you can take your rocking all the way to boulderosity, I might name my first born after you.

  70. Mike R.

    SirJonah –

    Keep in mind I’m just an average guy. My college degree is in computers, not theology. Great Christian thinkers have wrestled with the problem of pain and evil for 1000’s of years. If you’re really interested in reading more you might want to check out C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain (http://www.amazon.com/Problem-Pain-C-S-Lewis/dp/0006280935/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-0707919-9904058?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193973716&sr=8-1).

    Some points that come to my mind:

    Don’t you think free will is a gift? Evil didn’t have to exist, it wasn’t a must. But that kind of side steps the issue because God knew evil/pain/suffering would come of free will.

    God as Christ also experienced evil/pain/suffering. Were not talking about an uninvolved outide party here.

    God has not allowed evil to grow unrestrained. He as worked to limit its growth through the ages. That’s part of the reason he’s killed a LOT of folks. And everyone dies. It’s not an if, but a when.

    God wanted free will so people could choose to follow him. Mindless robots can’t enter into a relationship freely.

    All the pain/suffering/evil will bring about a greater good that will be worth it – it’s not pointless.

    You may want to read a bit more about the subject here: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/evilandsuffering.html

  71. Scott G.

    The amusing and surprisingly-unmentioned thing in all this debate is that the ad that Google’s AI (that which truly runs the world now) chose to place on this page is for a Christian Singles connection service. I wonder if the AI has creationist leanings…

  72. Wow, Dan. Found yourself a new place to rant, did you? Geez, are we gonna go hungry back at “Wisdom” because you’re spending all your time here?

    On the topic of whether or not Phil should write about things other than astronomy, I say: it’s Phil’s blog. He can write about whatever the hell he wants. If you don’t like it, find some other blog to read. Nobody here is even gonna notice you’re gone.

    No, Dan, I wasn’t talking to you, there.

  73. @SirJonah,

    Wow. I wasn’t trying to start some sort of deep debate about free will, and I wasn’t saying that MY theology was the only one that made sense. If you look at the first part of the statement, I qualified my “only” with “IF we believe”. My point is that anyone who claims “proof” of the divine or supernatural has implicitly stated that we have no free will, which usually contradicts that person’s own philosophy. In a lot of ways I have more in common with the atheists than the YECs and IDers, I simply find that belief in an overall purpose to existence preferable to not believing so. If you like to spend your time creating logical mobius strips, that’s fine, but I don’t find them particularly appealing or productive. I’m not lazy or uninterested, but I’ve already been through that sort of thing myself and come to a theological position that I’m satisfied with.

    I think for the most part the BA does a pretty decent job of limiting his attacks to particular beliefs rather than faiths in general, I just wish that the comments were as fair. The whole point of “faith” is that it can’t be proven or disproven, so let’s just agree to disagree and concentrate on those beliefs that are damaging and dangerous.

  74. StevoR

    Motrbotr said way wa-aay above this on this thread :

    “But dont let the libs catch anyone putting down a muslim, dont racial profile even though every terrorist attack against United States interestest [sic] have only been committed by arabs!”

    Every terrorist attack? Get real mate! Five out of many other examples :

    1) David Koresh & the Wacko Cult (wait was it Waco or Whacko or the Whackos of Waco?) NOT Muslim but a “christian” splinter

    2) Tim Mcveigh & his group that bombed Oaklahoma – NOT Muslim but Christian – a Wrong-Wing pro-gun XNs inspired by Waco if I recall right ..

    3) The anti-abortionist “every-sperm is sacred” doctor-murderers NOT Muslim but Christian – at least in Amercia.

    4) The Unabomber, Ted K-something (forget exact spelling) NOT Muslim but a marxist (?) or was it libertarian (?) nutcase.

    5) A Tamil Tiger (Sikh) funding professor arrested for supporting terrorism in newspaper reports a while ago – NOT Muslim.

    Then there’s the trenchcoat mafia schoolkids of Columbine High, the other schoolyard sicko killers – none Muslim, few if any religiously motivated …

    Moreover international terrorist groups include many non-Muslim but instead Christian or just nationalist organisations such as :

    1) the Catholic IRA (Northern Ireland),
    2) Tamil Tigers (Shikhs who actually first invented suicide bombings I’m pretty sure. Indira Gandhi -Indian PM in notably assassinated this way)
    3) ETA (Basque Separatists)
    4) Shining Path – Peruvian Leninist-Stalinist terrorists
    5) Uganda’s “Lords Liberation Army” that kidnaps kids and uses themas children soldiers & child sex slaves. A brutal terrorist military group that follows some bizarre Christian-derived cult.

    Now if we were really fighting a war against *Terror* (which we’re not incidentally) all those incl. the Wrong Wing Christian fundamentalist militias in the USA would be targeted -bombed, jailed, tortured etc .. rather than just the Muslim governmenst of Afghanistan, Iraq, other Arab and Islamic nations & Al Quaeda – which would be the legitimate target and seems to be the forgotten one.

    I’m not Muslim – nor do I support any organised religion – I’m agnostic verging on atheist if you want to know. I’m not American either and think there’s much both right and wrong with your country. (Your government is one thing very wrong .. In my view.)

    Getting back on topic :

    I do think Lousiana is doomed – because of global warming and the eventual extinction of Humanity and our Sun becoming a red giant star along time hence. In that sense we’re all doomed.

    I don’t think ID /Creationism is right … Idon’t think it helps anyone & it probably impairs education .. & the Governor of Lousiana willbe hurting his people to try and ram it into his states schools.

    However, seriously folks, I don’t think we need resort to hysterical hyperbole over it either. For smart kids or lucky ones who know better, they’ll eitherlaugh it off or learnm fromits faults and ignore it. Most willprobably just not py attention – as most kids do with most subjects.

    For the few (adults or children) who take ID seriously – well, they’ll be hurting themselves but then to be brutally honest they were probably never going to be genius’es anyway …

  75. StevoR

    To clarify when I said :

    “I do think Lousiana is doomed – because of global warming and the eventual extinction of Humanity and our Sun becoming a red giant star along time hence. In that sense we’re all doomed.”

    I don’t necessarily mean that global warming will result in Humanity’s extinction – it may or may not. We may or may not wipe ourselves out throuh our own wars – nuclear & otherwise, technological accidents or pollution too. Orwe may be wiped out alot of otherways which theBAcan explain eg. Gamma rays, nearby Supernovae , attacking aliens, evolution to something else etc ..

    My point is ID in Lousiana ain’t going to “doom” everyone. If it gets in, if tehGuv does decide to impose that nonsense it’ll be embarrassing, harmful, stupid and, hopefully, short-lived but there’ll be & are worse things. NOT that ID is good mind you …

    That’s all.

  76. StevoR

    Except to add :

    War on Al-Quaeda is fair enough. Get Osama bin Laden and his criminal gang and that’s fine by me &well pretty much all the world. Theyattacke dyou that gies you the right.

    But what it doesn’t do is give you the right to invade and attack places and people that are NOT Al-Quaida. Liker Iraq. Or Iran or Syria or anywhere AQ isn’t.

    You can’t just declare an open-ended instantly futile, un~ending “War on Terror” because terror is an emotion not a nation or group. The second Bush Jr did that he – & the USA lost.

    A _real_ “war on terror” would mean locking up Stephen King and banning ghost stories – its plain dumb.

    You can’t even declare a “war on _terrorism_” because terrorism is just a method of warfare, a tactic used by numerous groups arguably incl. your own government.

    Good luck catching Osama if he’s not already caught or killed – or dead from typhoid. Godo luck finisdhing off Al-Quaida -an farmore difficult yet also do-able task.

    But please lets stop the dangerous & nedlessly confrontational fallacy that there’s any supposed “clash of Civilisations” or that “all terrorists are Muslims” because those are both false ideas with very nasty consequences for everyone.

    Such bad judement -like ID /Creationism may not exactrly “doom” us but it sure makes life harder & worse.

  77. csrster

    I agree. How dare Phil use a science blog to defend science. What was he thinking?

  78. If God is perfect…. if God is all-knowing…. then God knows what I’m going to do next which means I don’t have freewill at all.

    Religion is a scourge on humanity. I too know many people whom I enjoy my relationship with and whom I respect but who are religious kooks. As far as I’m concerned trying to be “nice” and “respectful” of the their religion is like saying it’s ok for people to fly airplanes into buildings full of people.

    Religion is the enemy. It has no redeeming value whatsoever. Even if you count the good works they do the problems they cause far out-weighs it.

    We don’t have to be nice about religion. We don’t have to respect any more than we would respect any mass-murderer or any person who supports him.

    While saying all that I don’t rule out the possibility that there is a god. I don’t believe there is a god, but what do I know?

    What I do know for a fact is that every religion is absolutely wrong about who God is, what he wants, etc.

    Any god that could create the universe we live in doesn’t have the ego weakness we are presented with in various religious texts. And that’s jus the tiny tip of what’s wrong with everyone’s view of God.

  79. Sergeant Zim

    @ Wayne, You mentioned creating ‘logical mobius strips’

    Isn’t that what the skepchick does when she undresses???

  80. Sailor

    Michelle: “Now, what if I were to start my own religion? I’d have a great view of afterlife. I’d say “Whatever you wanna your afterlife to be, you’ll have it. But all you have to do is worship me and give me 20000 bucks”. (Because I’m broke and I want a 360!)”

    You could also try Popoff’s trick. Advertise free miracle water. Send tons of it out with letters saying that to please the lord send the recipient should send him (Popoff) money. Now if you send out enough something good is going to happen to someone (something bad too, but we don’t worry about that). They will think the good thing was because of the miracle water and send money. Popoff’s income is in the millions of dollars.

  81. Ordinary Radical

    “If God is perfect…. if God is all-knowing…. then God knows what I’m going to do next which means I don’t have freewill at all.” Cafeenman

    God’s pre-knowledge doesn’t mean he’s directing your actions. He just know what you’re going to do before you do. (Kinda like your mom.)

    Epicurus’s old riddle presupposes this universe can exist without evil. It also assumes no good can come from evil. God created us to love, but we can only love by freely choosing to; that’s what love is. By giving us the choice to love, he had to give us the choice to not love. (At least that’s the best we humans can guess about someone great enough to create this awesome universe.) The “logic” that assumes God couldn’t have created evil, or “should” do something about it doesn’t wash. We can’t see the entirety of this creation, beginning to end, top to bottom, front to back, all at the same time.

    To those blaming religion on evil make it sound like religion is a physical entity that goes around acting on its own. Religion, whichever flavor you speak of, is a belief system used by (some) humans. Some humans will use whatever means available, including religion, to justify their actions and achieve their goals. While there are parts of some religions that don’t, nearly all religions speak of doing good for others, caring for the marginalized, the widow, orphan, sick, poor, imprisoned. Judge the actor, not his motivation.

  82. papertiger

    The fact that this bit of light weight political fluff is leading in the best science blog category is all the proof anyone should need to prove there is no God.

  83. papertiger

    Then again this creationist issue is just a liberal beard, so that you can denegrate a good man, and necessary reform in Louisiana (long overdue) and still run the “I’m not a bigot; my party isn’t populated with racists.”, in your personal mental dialog.

  84. Darth Robo

    Aye, it’s always them nasty old lib’rul meanies, innit?

    (rolls eyes, then nods off to sleep)

    Hey CafeenMan, I guess human beings wouldn’t be able to find other excuses to act like humans if there was no religion then, huh?

  85. Dan

    Well, Paul, as soon as God (and not one of his minions) can beat me in a game of chess, I’ll believe in and respect him. Until that happens, however, he’s dead to me. Dead, I tell ya!

  86. Darth Roboon 02 Nov 2007 at 10:05 pm

    “Hey CafeenMan, I guess human beings wouldn’t be able to find other excuses to act like humans if there was no religion then, huh?”

    They surely would. If anyone thinks that I said that ridding the world of religion would also rid the world of evil then they didn’t get my point.

    There would still be murder, rape, theft, pedophilia, etc.

    When I was in the Army people liked to say, “It’s not the Army – it’s the people in it.” What’s the difference?

    Same with religion.

    The big problem with religion is that it preaches intolerance. Next to that is some people are so stuck on taking their various science-fiction texts (Bible, Koran, etc.) as absolute fact and want to keep us stuck in the bronze age.

    I’d have far less problem with it if they wanted to move into a cave and inflict their ignorance only on themselves but they don’t do that.

    They picket funerals and cause misery to grieving families. They wage wars on people who don’t think like they do. They try to legislate their personal morals on everyone else. They attempt to raise their children to be as ignorant and intolerant as they are.

    And for those religion nuts who don’t agree with the extremists in their ranks, why aren’t you doing anything to stop them???

    Any club I belong to that I actually care about I’m definitely going to say something to anyone whose actions are harmful to my club or make us look like a bunch of nuts before the public.

    Reign in your fellow nut-cases. They don’t have the right to express their rights by infringing on everyone else’s.

  87. I used to take pride in the fact that in the United States, the handicapped–both physically and mentally–could achieve anything. I felt that it was indicative of a highly enlightened society. But then the Forrest Gumps of our nation began rising to positions of power, and I’m suddenly frightened.

  88. rav

    How about exposing the young minds to various viewpoints & help them develop thier ability to think, to discriminate between sense & nonsense & to make informed descisions?

  89. thedevman1

    Another hate mongering Liberal Moron. His blogs start out normal but end up with the usual veiled hatred for those of us who CHOOSE
    to believe in Creationism. Instead he chooses the low road, (as liberalistas SO OFTEN DO) and “belittles” and “Derides” the new governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal for advocating the teaching of creationism in schools. Personally I think he’s just another liberal “Nit” that needs to be plucked from the hair of modern society. He makes a big deal out of working for NASA but if I worked for Nasa I wouldn’t broadcast it! I mean, they can’t even figger out a way to keep giant ice chunks from ripping into the space shuttle! Anyway just another liberal bigot with Diarrhea of the mouth (Big yawn) nothing new here.

  90. Darth Robo

    CafeenMan

    “Religion is a scourge on humanity. I too know many people whom I enjoy my relationship with and whom I respect but who are religious kooks. As far as I’m concerned trying to be “nice” and “respectful” of the their religion is like saying it’s ok for people to fly airplanes into buildings full of people.”

    That doesn’t sound very respectful to me.

    “The big problem with religion is that it preaches intolerance.”

    Then I guess you were promoting tolerance of religion in your post?

    “They picket funerals and cause misery to grieving families.”

    I’ve only heard of the Phelps family doing that, myself. Even other religious fundies think they’re are nuts.

    “And for those religion nuts who don’t agree with the extremists in their ranks, why aren’t you doing anything to stop them???”

    An atheist happens to commit a crime. What are you doing to stop them?

    “Any club I belong to that I actually care about I’m definitely going to say something to anyone whose actions are harmful to my club or make us look like a bunch of nuts before the public.

    Reign in your fellow nut-cases.”

    So religion is a club then. What one does, the responsiblity should be shared by all. Tell all your religious buddies that they are responsible for all crimes commited by any religious nut. See what kind of response you get.

    devman1:

    Considering your views of any “liberal”, you are the last person to claim bigotry. Plus, you think the advocation of creationism in schools is OKAY? You think it’s okay for schools to teach kids to be dumb?

  91. BC

    I have been reviewing this site, from a link to a more professionally toned site, and am amazed by the tone, almost hatred, of Christians. I see they are called evil, which surprises me, wondering what the definition of evil could possibly be to an atheist. If he purports to be a scientist, why the odious attitude? There is no hatred in science, only logic. Why then the hatred?

    Furthmore, I see “Christians” referred to as arrogant and sanctimonious, which I find highly ironic. Indeed, some “Christians” are, but so are some atheists. Indeed, it is the ultimate arrogance of atheists to proclaim themselves above the “religious” fray, when indeed they are a religion.

    Until such time as I see definitive proof that there is no God, irrespective of whatever lack of proof that there is a God may be perceived, atheism too is based on faith, and on this site dogmatically so.

    By the way, how can you definitively prove such a thing until at least you have an idea of everything there is to know? What percentage of the Universe do you think we currently comprehend? 50%? 10% 1%? How much more may we understand in another 1,000 years, 10,000 years… Scientist, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and… everything we know is a little knowledge.

    Gentlemen, it would be more honest to simply say you do not know if there is a God or not than to say definitively that there is not one.

    I grew up being taught that evolution was absolute fact and furthermore that it refuted the existence of God. I never doubted evolution until the past few years. At this point, I am simply not sure of the matter. Regardless, I do not see how it is mutually exclusive of the existence of a God.

    Despite all the rhetorical references to science and how you are based on it, all science is based on faith. We start with the presumption that the universe is understandable. The scientific method is based on faith, performing experiments on the known to discover the unknown. You first start with a hypothesis, which is a guess, and you do that because you have faith you may find more of the truth, the way things are.

    But, in the end, or should I say beginning, where did the Universe come from? How did just the right amount of matter and antimatter come together to create the big bang?

    All this being said, as an admitted Christian, I certainly struggle in understanding Him, his actions, and more so His inactions. I would understand your feelings of His inactions in light of the world’s situation.

    I do not have the time to come in here and get sucked into a fight, I am sorry there will be no rebuttals. I understand the accusations that will probably be leveled. I probably should have left well enough alone, not having the gargantuan time it would take to wage such a battle, but in the end for what? I have too many practical survival items to attend to. I am sorry for this, admittedly, somewhat rude behavior.

    However, I could not pass on being astonished by the level of acrimony leveled against “Christians” by “atheists.”

    Fortunately for myself, I have a better perception of atheists than what I see from those so called on this site.” I have good “atheist” friends, well more of the “I don’t know type.” They simply seek the truth and they are good people. Judging from the harsh, sweeping judgments and prejudgments leveled on the site, I don’t think I could say the same for this site.

    Christians are not “evil” anyway, at least I don’t see how you could honestly label them so. If there is no God, there is no such thing as “evil.” If you use the term, then it is either done knowingly, and I must say devilishly so (pun intended), or ignorantly and contradictingly.

    I would suggest that before you use the term evil, that you define what you think it to be. Then, I would question why you believe that to be so.

    If it is not evil to kill unborn children, why is it evil to “force” a school to teach the possibility that the Universe was created? Why do you care? There is no passion in logic and science.

    Irrespective, whatever your religion, peace.

    xdrnit.

  92. BC, first, are you commenting on me, the author of this blog, or the commenters? Because I have been accused of what you write. But it’s not true; I don’t hate Christians.

    I have never said I do. I’ve never even implied I do. People have inferred it, but they’re wrong.

    Creationism is not the same as Christianity. It is actually a minority belief system. Only a relatively small number of Christians believe in a literal creation 6000 years ago.

    Second, I don’t hate all creationists. Perhaps I need to be more clear when I write. But it’s the promoters of creationism who, in many many cases, are the evil ones. The ones who lie, cheat, and politicize religion are the ones I fight against.

    As far as evil: I think that breaking their own rules, becoming hypocrites, certainly q

  93. BC

    Oh, I’m breaking my own word.

    Glad to hear you do not hate “Christians.”

    I accept your definition of evil as those that lie and cheat. Knowingly spreading that which is not true as truth may surely be defined as evil.

    However, this country was not based on the separation of religion and state, but church and state. It is an important distinction. Church and state can and should be separated, but it is impossible to separate religion and politics. That is because how you see life inevitably affects how you think government should be run. Replacing Christianity with imposed atheism is oxymoronical, it is also against the founders declared and undeclared intentions. This is another argument for which I just don’t have time.

    I’m not sure what you mean by creationism. If you mean in a literal 6,000 year creation, then no I do not believe that. If you mean in figurative time periods, then yes. Frankly, after reviewing many other religions explanation for how the Universe began, I am quite amazed how accurate the creation sequence is, yes I know there are some contradictions in light of current knowledge.

    btw, I’m not sure who I was aiming at, but it was definitely aimed at those who hate on this site, which is pretty clear. I am glad if you, the moderator, are not one of them. In the end, you would only do your cause more harm than good if you did. The truth does not need hate, but it does need passion.

    I do not believe there can be any argument that passion should come from the teaching that men should love one another, and that they should do to others as they would have done to themselves. That is the teaching upon which any democratic government should be based. Without virtue, there can be no freedom. That is because virtue is freedom (the opposite of vice). Self-responsibility would be another example of a prime virtue.

    Whatever teachings promote virtue, promote freedom to varying degrees. The actual Latin translation is power to act; however, I am informed by an “atheist” theologian friend that poten liber and poten libre are also used in some ancient Biblical translations. The question is defining the virtues.

    I have to get to work.

    Thank you for clarifying your position. I would say merry Christmas if I didn’t think it would be taken badly. Peace will suffice.

    xdrnit.

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