Angry astronomy and sad creationism

By Phil Plait | July 28, 2008 9:04 am

I’m on travel today, so posting will be light. Hopefully I’ll have time to write more later.

Jon Voisey writes the Angry Astronomer blog (I suspect he’s no more angry than I am bad which makes him more disgruntled) and it’s a pretty good read. It’s on my feed reader.

He has a real-life creationist commenting on his post about star birth. It’s amazing to read. I’ve posted one or two comments myself, and it’ll be very interesting to see how (or if) he responds. Note: If you want to comment, please be polite there. Be firm, but don’t be a jerk. A little snark is probably OK.

I’ve had one or two creationists commenting here, but tellingly, they tend to get so mean-spirited they violate my commenting policy (which is patterned after Wil Wheaton’s, and is simply "Don’t be a jerk"). Ironic, given that whole Sermon on the Mount thing — which, for my money, is the best thing in the Bible. I don’t agree with all of it (the meek won’t inherit the Earth, though the geeks might) but the majority of it is pretty fine advice. To bad so many people who claim to follow it haven’t had it really sink in.

Comments (211)

  1. serenity

    Why the frick are they talking about evolution as if it had ANYTHING to do with *stellar* evolution? Are they really that lost? ;)

  2. Celtic_Evolution

    The thing that always amazes me in these conversations is the inability to accept when you are in over your head. Now, that may come across as arrogant, but it’s really not intended as such. I consider myself fairly intelligent, but I would never go to a physics website and attmept to argue advanced concepts and theories of physics with the admittedly basic understanding of phyics I have… I’d end up looking foolish, and frankly not learning anything. What would be the point?

    One of my favorite sayings is: “Know thy limitations”. This guy clearly does not, and it happens all too frequently with Creationist types… and i gather it’s the knee-jerk reaction to having basic beliefs questioned. The point is the defense for them, I suppose.

  3. It’s just as sad to see religous people argue bad science as it is to see scientists argue bad religion (see Richard Dawkins). Both sides are getting polemical.

    It leaves little room for people like me who love science, and laugh at young-earth creationism (as well as the fraud called “Intelligent Design”). I have to make peace with religious people who don’t know science very well, as well as with scientists who don’t know religion very well.

  4. Phil, love the blog (especially the YouTube videos you do).

    The people you talk about, the ardent creationists, they bother me, too. They make me angry, they make me sad, they embarrass my faith, frankly.

    I love science and I love Jesus. These are passions that speak to different realms of experience and different epistemologies, and it saddens me to see a group of people throwing out science and throwing out Jesus’ attitudes at the same time, just so they can read an ancient narrative poem as a textbook.

    So yeah… I agree :)

    dan

  5. the meek won’t inherit the Earth, though the geeks might

    You just need to read the Bible in the original Hebrew. King James’s translators simply made a typo. Sort of like how Michelangelo’s Moses ended up with horns. :-)

  6. Celtic_Evolution

    @ MarkP

    This discussion came up in an earlier thread, but I’ll say it again… science, in my experience, rarely if ever tries to directly insist itself upon religion. In and of itself, science could care less about religion. It’s when religion begins insisting itself as science when the real issues begin… this example is a case in point… some religious guy came in to a science-based site and asserted his religiously based views in a science-based thread… and did so poorly.

  7. I agree with both Celtic Evolution and Mark P. That post sounded like someone just opened their mouth and words came out. Unfortunately, those words made no sense whatsoever.

  8. MattGS

    Huh, I’d love to read it but all that white text on a black background is killing my already messed up eyes :(

  9. Roy Batty

    MattGS, you could highlight it all to reverse the polarity :) I do that sometimes & find it helps.

  10. Bunk

    That’s the “Blessed are the cheesemakers” speech, right?

  11. Cheyenne

    Science, religion, and politics don’t ever seem to mix well.

  12. Cheyenne

    Completely unrelated – BA- You should check out Wired.com’s newest article – “Nasa: 50 Years of Towering Achievement”. Cool stuff!

  13. Normal Dude

    All we need in that discussion now is a Happy Astronomer and a Good Astronomer.

  14. Celtic_Evolution

    Science, religion, and politics don’t ever seem to mix well.

    Perhaps not… which is why it’s so frustrating that one of those three continues to try and force its way into the other two…

  15. Smatt

    It’s not meant to be taken literally… it refers to all producers of dairy products.

  16. KC

    I’m an Old Earth Creationist, believing that God created the entire universe. I wasn’t aware that I had violated posting policy.

    Shrug. I have no problem with the idea that stars formed through the gravitational collapse of clouds of hydrogen. I have no problem with the idea of solar systems and second generation stars condensing from the remains of 1st generation stars. I don’t know any old creationists who are. And there are Young Earth Creationists who believe it happened this way as well, just something’s funky about the time.

    Whatever.

  17. L Fuller

    Unfortunately, there is an off-shoot of my family that would feel very comfortable with Anon’s arguments… any attempt at a scientific explanation on my part is totally ignored and ridiculous rote arguments spew forth (such as the “gas only expands” argument and the mis-applied 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) like methane from an organic waste orifice. All it boils down to though is that such people feel their faith shaken by the logic behind science and therefore don’t really want to try to understand it at all. Give them a few good one-liners as a defense mechanism, and they will use them like blinders on a race horse and bolt ahead ignoring all other evidence to the contrary.

    Also, I agree that the frameworks of religion, politics and science are not compatible and get really frustrated when people try to integrate them. That being said, I do think politicians should base policies on good science instead of creating policies to try to shape science into tools of politics.

  18. MattGS

    @Roy Batty:
    Thanks, but Firefox on my Mac turns that into white on a light blue background. Not much better :)

    I can print a PDF from the page but I’d much rather that people would just stop using white text on a black background instead of me having to use tricks to make the text readable.

  19. Todd W.

    You know, Anon started out seeming merely misinformed and arguing from ignorance, but not necessarily wacky. But that post about “If less and less doesn’t equal nothing, what does it mean” bit…just…wow.

    The thread was like watching a car crash in slow motion.

  20. RL

    I have only so much time for a lunch break, so I didn’t get to read everything completely (it was starting to get repetitive anyway), but could Phil or someone else speak to a point that was raised in that blog.

    Have we ever observed a star come to life? Are there any observed stars (almost) now that astronomers think are forming?

    I was thinking that perhaps a star birth might be analagous to smoldering kindling that eventually bursts into flame, but I don’t think that is right. Supernovas obviously are spectacular, but I’d expect that the start of a fusion reaction would be noticable too.

    Its not that I doubt the theories of how stars form. Its just that it struck me as odd that we don’t see them form (at all?) nearly as much as spotting them die.

    Any explanation would be appreciated.

  21. Pop

    Well BA, I think the meek SHALL inherit the earth. Reason? The brave, the explorers, the far visioned, the curious, all will be leaving this old earth as soon as we are able to do so. The only ones left behind will be the meek and timid, the ones afraid to “seek out new world, and boldly go where no one has gone before.” The new world explorers of old weren’t
    “stay-at-home” types who were content with status-quo. The “Church” of old certainly didn’t support new exploration of any sort whether across the world in within the mind. An example of how the meek are already inheriting is found by listening to the news. Repetedly we heard how we should not resist when a robbery is takinng place. How we should comply with the demands of some A..H… Our nation would never have been formed if our founding fathers were afraid to stand up to, and go against then popular rule. A nation of sheep is what we are turning into. Whiners, all. “Well, except for some of the folks here on this blog”- he said with a nervous smile and lowered eyes.

  22. It is worth noting that the creationist side of AA’s discussion is a critter who is long banned on Pharyngula for being, well, I’ll copy from PZ’s site:

    =================
    ForTheKids, FtK

    overwhelming creepiness

    Automatically Junked

    I put up with this slimeball for a long time, since she rarely commented on Pharyngula; her wretched insinuations against my daughter, though, were too much. I think her pseudonym of “For the Kids” means she likes to prey on younger people with her lies and innuendo.
    =================

  23. Andy Beaton

    It’s just as sad to see religous people argue bad science as it is to see scientists argue bad religion (see Richard Dawkins).

    Don’t look to Richard Dawkins for subtle discussions of the outcome of the Fourth Lateran Council and it’s repercussions in view of the words of St. Anselm. Look to him for the question “Where is the evidence?”. It may be bad religion, but it’s good science, and good skepticism.

  24. Celtic_Evolution:

    Science, religion, and politics don’t ever seem to mix well.

    Perhaps not… which is why it’s so frustrating that one of those three continues to try and force its way into the other two…

    As this site has shown time and again, for the past 7-1/2 years or so, it’s been two trying to force their way into the other one.

  25. @Pop

    If the meek inherited the Earth tomorrow, how long do you think it would be before someone figured out that he’s surrounded by meek people and can take over and exploit them by being not-so-meek?

    I always wondered why nobody asked Jesus that question.

  26. Todd W.

    @Ken B

    “As this site has shown time and again, for the past 7-1/2 years or so, it’s been two trying to force their way into the other one.”

    How so?

  27. Todd W.

    @Evolving Squid

    Maybe because Jesus was the not-so-meek one speaking to the meek? Saying one thing, but teaching by doing, for those with eyes to see. :)

  28. RL:

    Have we ever observed a star come to life? Are there any observed stars (almost) now that astronomers think are forming?

    The problem, as I understand it, is that stars “come to life” inside a ball of gas and dust. There’s nothing to see from the outside until the solar winds blow away the dust. There are plenty of places where scientists think stars are currently forming. Search for “stellar nursery” for plenty of websites and images.

  29. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Ken B -

    This site’s contents, as far back as I can remember, concerning religion have always focused on those aspects of religion that are aggressively attempting to force themselves into science and politics… particularly creationism.

    Similarly, this site’s contents concerning politics have always been in response to political views and issues that have gone out of their way to diminish science in some way.

    I don’t see those responsive actions in any way as an attempt at forcing itself onto religion or politics…

    If you can cite examples to the contrary, please do.

  30. Bob Brashear

    The meek can have the Earth. The rest of us will go to the stars!

  31. Yeah – I have never really bothered checking, but I am curious about what creationists “experts” say about stars. Do they really think all of the stars in the sky are within 6,000 light years of the Earth? I asked a friend of mine that question, since he is a creationist; he said he was going to get back to me. That was about 6 months ago, I assume he forgot.

  32. Peter

    I usually am pretty disappointed by creationists. I never see religion and science conflicting. I don’t know why people would want religion to be fact so badly. I always remember Indiana Jones saying “Archeology is the search for fact, you want truth go down the hall…”

    to quote the kids in the “internets”: Creationist got Pwned.

  33. Andy Beaton

    Science forces its way onto religion by answering questions like “Are the crystal spheres held in the sky by angels or luminiferous aether?”, or “Did the Ark drop marsupials off in Australia before arriving at Mount Ararat?”

  34. Charles

    “aspects of religion [] are aggressively attempting to force themselves into science and politics… particularly creationism.” – Celtic_Evolution

    Well put, CE.

    This is what bothers me: the idea that religion claims to have all of the answers and derides science for asking questions about how it was all done. It then presumes itself to declare anyone asking questions as being evil. That is nonsense

  35. Celtic_Evolution

    Science forces its way onto religion by answering questions like “Are the crystal spheres held in the sky by angels or luminiferous aether?”, or “Did the Ark drop marsupials off in Australia before arriving at Mount Ararat?”

    Eh? Not quite Andy Beaton… Science doesn not propose dichotomies like that. Science might answer the question: “What holds the sun in the sky”, but will answer that question regardless of its religious implications… science could care less what its conclusions mean to anyone’s belief systems.

  36. Celtic_Evolution

    Why is everything all Italic-like now? Or is that just on my screen? LOL…

  37. Pop

    @Evolving Squid

    My point is that the meek will never leave unless forced to do so. Thus, they will be left after the not-meek depart. And, history is full of those individuals who took advantage of the meek and held oppressive power until some brave, not-meek individual or group of the not-meek kick the oppressor out on his/her butt. The advantage takers, the spoilers, the material possessors will always step in to fill the void and lead the meek around by their noses. Unfortunately, RELIGION has taken advantage of the meek and holds power unrelentingly. I don’t know where all this is going, but it’s a road we’ve been down many times before and will continue to tread as long as we listen and believe distorted “truth” from people who turn away from science. On the other hand science should never become a religion, but many in science fields have made it so for themselves.

  38. Todd W.

    @CE

    Not just you. I’m seeing things in italics, too. Maybe you forgot to put a closing tag on your comment higher up and it’s affecting us all? Infectious leaning to the right.

    Testing a closing tag, in case the previous was italicised.

  39. Todd W.

    Even my closing tag didn’t remove the italics. Weird.

  40. Celtic_Evolution

    Hmmm… let me try…

    I didn’t realize i had that kind of power… Mwaaaahahahahahaaaaa!

  41. Celtic_Evolution

    nope… my closed itals didn’t work either…

  42. Celtic_Evolution

    hmmm…

    I see where I goofed a tag earlier… put a closed ital as (i /) instead of (/i)…

  43. RL

    You know, you shouldn’t go to a religious website to learn about astronomy and likewise you shouldn’t expect an informed conversation about religion at an astronomy website.

    Meek doesn’t mean you don’t speak up. It doesn’t mean be cowardly and stay in the corner. Sheesh. It means be humble. Don’t be pompous. Don’t put on airs. No yourself and know reality. As Dirty Harry once said, “A mans got to know his limitations.” Here endeth the lesson.

    But since someone brought it up, here is more on this. I never tried to insert a link, we’ll see if it works.
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28994

    (FYI: The link is a joke but pretty funny, I think).

  44. I think there’s a dangling Italic, so here’s a few close-italics.

    @Todd
    Interesting… Yes, perhaps Jesus was the non-meek buttering up the meek to be his army of zombie minions faithful followers. Certainly it does seem like the churches of the world behave that way.

  45. Todd W.

    @CE

    Apparently you only have the power to italicize. Only the creator (ahem…Phil, not that other unevidenced one) has the power to normalize.

  46. There are inevitable overlapping regions between science, and religion (ask Galileo), and also between science and politics (ask Hansen); that’s not the issue. The issue is whether we side with science or with politics/religion. Responsible people side with science.

  47. OK, let’s try bold…

  48. Celtic_Evolution

    the bold worked, but everything else is still italicized…

    Dear me… what have I done?

  49. OtherRob

    Okay, everyone, tilt your monitors to the left….

  50. @celtic

    Historically I think science is the most preyed up (pardon the pun) by religion and politics. Religion has been preyed upon by politics. And politics, of course, is the snake swallowing its own tail.

    There needs to be separation between these things. Politics, science, and religion speak to (or should speak to) different things. Even if you think the things they speak to are a load of hogwash. I for one have my problems with politics :)

    dan

  51. Celtic_Evolution

    @ *daniel.

    Agreed.

  52. Quiet Desperation

    “The meek shall inherit the earth” is a Beatitude adapted from the sermon on the mount.

    One also has to remember that they did not speak English back then, and that meek derives from the Greek word praus, which is strength brought under control. It means one who is disciplined.

  53. Quiet Desperation

    Celtic: Dear me… what have I done?

    It’s the End Times!!!!! :-o

  54. Quiet Desperation

    Although even if someone failed to close an HTML tag, any posting software worth its salt should fix that automatically. What say you, Discover Magazine?

  55. Celtic_Evolution

    It’s the End Times!!!!!

    Darnit… I always knew the end-times would be brought about by uncontrollable and leaning to the right… :D

  56. Celtic_Evolution

    *sigh*… nothing ruins a good joke like bothcing the tags (again) and superfluous words.

    That should have been:

    Darnit… I always knew the end-times would be brought about by uncontrollable and leaning to the right… :D

    Hahahahaha…

    get it?

    Ugh… time for another scotch…

  57. Darth Robo

    I think FTK may be trying to compete with Larry Farfarman for interwebz most infamous and insufferable creationist. At AtBC she wouldn’t even tie herself down to saying how old the Earth was because she believes the evidence can be “interpreted either way”. Doesn’t want to upset her YEC and OEC buddies at Uncommonly Dense, I guess.

  58. Peptron

    trying to close tags…[/i]

  59. Duane

    [/html]. (Let’s see if this works)

  60. Peptron

    Yeah, I tried multiple versions of closed tags. The regular “less than” and also the [] and some more… didn’t fix it.

    italics
    bold
    normal

  61. Peptron

    I think that this whole italisation thing serves only one purpose: a reminder that there are things that men should not fiddle with. This time it was italics, but it could have been a portal summoning the elder gods into our world.

  62. Daniel, I don’t think science, politics, and religion necessarily speak of different things at all. Scientists are routinely asked for scientific advice by politicians, and some of the deepest questions about Nature directly clash with religious views.

    I for one would like more involvement of science in policy making, not less, as you seem to argue.

  63. Todd W.

    @CE

    I got it. Hee hee.

  64. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Pieter Kok

    Hmm… I see what you’re saying… but do you advocate science going out of its way to force itself into political policy?

  65. glued

    meh. still italicized huh..

  66. Thomas Siefert

    Test

    YEEEEHAAA

  67. @CE: Within the appropriate constitutional limits, yes: more input from science probably benefits policy making, in the sense that you will have better informed decisions.

  68. Chris

    this is a test

    (tap, tap tap – is this thing on…)

  69. Chris

    Wow – this thing is really broken. Anyone know of a good forum mechanic?

  70. Thomas Siefert

    We know BA have policies on jerks but what about italic vandals?

  71. CE just turned it up to 11. The other blogs only go to 10, you see…

  72. Thomas Siefert

    Pieter Kok:

    I for one would like more involvement of science in policy making, not less, as you seem to argue.

    And a lot less religion.

  73. Todd W.

    “As this site has shown time and again, for the past 7-1/2 years or so, it’s been two trying to force their way into the other one.”

    How so?

    I was thinking that the Bush administration (ie: “politics”) has been trying to control science, such as censoring science reports. But, I can see that this could probably be better described as Bush pushing his religious beliefs into politics, and using that political power to control science.

  74. Todd W.

    @Ken B.

    Ah…that’s what I suspected, after thinking about it a moment. My knee-jerk reading was that you meant science and politics trying to force their way on religion. Talk about being mentally primed for an argument that isn’t there.

  75. glued

    About Anonymous’ comments..

    Don’t we have evidence that we have observed different stars on different stages of their life cycles? From birth all the way to death? I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere.. :(

  76. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Pieter Kok

    Within the appropriate constitutional limits, yes: more input from science probably benefits policy making, in the sense that you will have better informed decisions.

    I agree with this in principal, 100%… but I think ideally that input would come at the behest of politics (government), not forced upon it… but I see you’ve qualified that with your point about “within the appropriate constitutional limits”.

  77. Wow, that was astounding. I’ve never seen blinkers that size before (I think that should be “blinders” if you’re in the U.S. though I can’t remember the exact translation – I mean the things over horses’ eyes).

    HOWEVER: I have a question about the linked animation on APOD. The explanation says: “Analysis of the stellar motions indicates that over one million times the mass of our Sun is somehow confined to a region less than a fifth of a light-year across. Astronomers interpret these observations as strong evidence that the center of our Galaxy is home to a very massive black hole.”

    A million Solar masses in a fifth of a light year doesn’t actually sound that dense to me. OK, it may be dense enough to make a black hole, but wouldn’t it subsequently collapse to a much smaller radius than that? After all, a million times the VOLUME of the sun would be a sphere a hundred times its diameter, which is MUCH less than 0.2 light years, isn’t it? I’m a bit confused now…

  78. Celtic_Evolution

    Ah…that’s what I suspected, after thinking about it a moment. My knee-jerk reading was that you meant science and politics trying to force their way on religion. Talk about being mentally primed for an argument that isn’t there.

    Yikes… I did the same thing. Apologies, KenB… next time I’ll try asking for clarification if I’m not sure.

  79. Todd W.

    My knee-jerk reading was that you meant science and politics trying to force their way on religion. Talk about being mentally primed for an argument that isn’t there.

    While I may play Devil’s Advocate :-) at times, I’d never troll.

    Don’t worry about it.

    And “ditto” to Celtic_Evolution. (I wouldn’t want to antagonize anyone with such influence over the gods of italics.)

  80. Celtic_Evolution

    And “ditto” to Celtic_Evolution. (I wouldn’t want to antagonize anyone with such influence over the gods of italics.)

    hehe… That would be wise… with a wave of my magic keyboard I could render all your posts to 6 pt. gothic condensed…

    Apparently.

  81. Gary Ansorge

    Read the entire posting at Angry A and from Anons repitition of its previous entries, I expect it’s just a trolling ;bot, perhaps some ones’ idea of a Turing test. Hey, what better way to arouse conversation from a generally intelligent group than going to a rationalist site and positing non-sense?

    GAry 7

  82. Andy Beaton

    Eh? Not quite Andy Beaton… Science doesn not propose dichotomies like that. Science might answer the question: “What holds the sun in the sky”, but will answer that question regardless of its religious implications… science could care less what its conclusions mean to anyone’s belief systems.

    I may not have made my point clear. My point was that science forces itself upon religion by providing evidence-based answers to questions incompatible with previously existing religious dogma. As an additional for instance: science has made it clear that the earth orbits the sun, in contradiction of the biblical verse claiming that the sun stood still at Joshua’s command.

  83. Are we all italicized now? Cool!

  84. @Celtic_Evolution
    Note that I was criticizing “scientists argue bad religion”, not science itself.

    To the degree that a religion makes testable claims, it should be examined by scientists. If they’re not testable, then they’re not science.

    Dawkins goes overboard in his condemnation of religion–he actually gives Ben Stein credibility (though “Expelled” is a joke) when stein calls him the High Priest of Atheism.

    I like James Randi’s approach to skepticism. He directly approaches all testable claims, but I’ve never seen him go beyond that.

  85. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Andy Beaton

    OK… I see where you are coming from… but I still would say that science doesn’t really answer these questions in an attempt to change religion… it answers them despite religion. And that’s I think where I needed to make the distinction in your example. Religion’s goal is to change science (I would have put that in itals but… well, you know) with its own pre-conceived answers. Science has no such interest.

  86. @Andy Beaton
    However, the verse claiming the Sun stood still doesn’t say that the Sun orbits the Earth. Only that to an observer it appeared that the Sun stood still. Were the Earth to halt in its rotation, that would appear that the Sun stood still.

    Now, there is no way this could happen according to known physical laws. It would require a miracle, like walking on water or changing water to wine.

  87. “the meek won’t inherit the Earth, though the geeks might”

    The meek will indeed inherit the Earth. The rest of us will go to the stars. (I think that was Heinlein.)

    Quiet Desperation: “… meek derives from the Greek word praus, which is strength brought under control. It means one who is disciplined.”

    It’s actually a reference back to Psalm 37:11, in which the Hebrew word means “poor, humble, afflicted, weak”. The word Paul translates it as, means “prefers to bear injuries rather than return them”.

    The point of all that is that it is the way the Church kept a little hope in miserable people (99% of the world’s population), promising them a glorious afterlife if they just grinned and beared it in this one. The Indian philosophy of fatalism is much the same: this world is based on suffering, so the ideal toward which we should all strive is annihilation (nirvana).

    I’ll try another close-italics, but it probaly won’t help.

    Glued: “Don’t we have evidence that we have observed different stars on different stages of their life cycles”. Absolutely right. See “Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram”.

    Back to the thread: sometimes it seems as if the religious fundamentalists are fighting the atheists as narrow-mindedly as the atheists are fighting the R.F. crowd.

    This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, if only each would listen to the other side once in a while. And if the R.F. crowd would learn a little more science, and the anti-religious crowd would realize that religion (to paraphrase Galileo) is not to teach us how the heavens go, but rather how to go to heaven.

  88. Good thing I’m in a good mood, or else I’d invoke the gods of really big words. But, since I’m feeling generous, I told them to stick around for a few words. :-)

    Interesting bug in the font rendering regarding italics. And bold. And font sizes. (Or is it a bug in the HTML specs?)

    (Hopefully, those few words did come out big, or everyone will go “huh“.

  89. Sir Struggle

    OtherRob Says:
    July 28th, 2008 at 12:14 pm
    Okay, everyone, tilt your monitors to the left….

    It’s always good when your first laugh of the day lasts for 5 minutes. That was funny.

  90. Andy Beaton

    MarkP-
    I did my Bible reading, thanks. i dug it up again here:

    Joshua 10:12-13
    Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

    “And the sun stood still”. Not “The sun appeared to stand still”. Call it a miracle if it makes you happy, I call it a myth, written by people who hadn’t seen stellar parallax or aberration of starlight.

  91. Jose

    i { font-style: normal}

  92. Jose

    Woops. I got rid of all the italics.

  93. Celtic_Evolution

    style command, Jose? You shrewd devil… :)

  94. Jose:

    Woops. I got rid of all the italics.

    Yup, you got rid of all the italics on this page.

    Seems like the blog software needs a little tweaking before someone invokes the gods of really ugly text. (Hmm… 37-point Comic Sans, anyone?)

    Andy Beaton:

    Note, too, that the quoted verse not only says “the sun stood still”, the statement “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon” means that this is a commandment (small “c”) directed at the Sun, and it was the Sun that obeyed by standing still.

  95. Celtic_Evolution

    Phil… you may want to look into the ease with which we commentors can affect the comments on this page… I wouldn’t want such knowledge falling into the wrong hands. Mwahahahahahaaaaa…..

  96. Jose

    i { font-style: italics}Italics test

  97. Jose

    i { font-style: italic}

  98. Celtic_Evolution

    Darn you, Jose… all my hard work appeasing the gods of italics and you come in with your hethen style sheets commands and now the gods have left us for good. I hope you’re happy.

  99. Jose

    @CE
    You invented a new tag, you should be proud.

  100. Davidlpf

    I remember creationists throwing the big bang into the evolution theory because some place how life came about to this planet to how the universe was created because they think the universe was created just for us.

  101. Jose

    Darn, I give up. I fixed it on my desktop, but my closing tags are being stripped out when I post. Seriously though, I can’t believe I can post a style tag, but my newly invented closing tags that correspond to your newly invented italics tag don’t get through.
    i { font-style: normal}

  102. Mike R.

    Being stuck in italics is probably because someone forgot to close an I tag? Is it ok now?

  103. Mike R

    Being stuck in italics is probably because someone forgot to close an I tag?

    No, the tag is closed. Apparently, the blog software added it just before the final close-paragraph.

    However, it appears that there is a bug either in browsers, or the HTML specs, in that the “self-closing” tag <I /> (I hope that shows up right) isn’t taken to mean an empty italicized node.

  104. Buzz Parsec

    Mike Torr – The 1/5th lightyear size is the maximum size consistent with the data. The object could be *much* smaller than that (and a 1 million solar mass black hole would be), but no bigger.

    A single object that size and mass would collapse into a black hole. No physical substance is strong enough to resist the pressure. A cluster of 1 million solar mass stars could probably exist in a volume that small, but I think this has been modeled mathematically and would be unstable. There would be too many close encounters between stars, that would often result in some stars falling toward the center and others being ejected, which would create a much larger (in size, not mass) cluster with a very dense core. In the core, the stellar encounters would be even more frequent, and any actual collisions would probably result in black holes. So, in other words, if you started out with about a million average stars in that small a volume, you would probably end up with a black hole within a few million years.

    I can’t think of any other way to cram a million solar masses into that small a volume except by a single massive object (which perforce would collapse into a black hole) or as a cluster of stars. Any other possibilities?

  105. Buzz Parsec

    Hey, the last 80% of the posts in this thread were in italics, but when I posted, Safari redisplayed the page and the italics went away! Maybe this means my computer no longer leans to the left?

    BTW, good Spinal Tap joke, Pieter!

  106. BMcP

    Do they really think all of the stars in the sky are within 6,000 light years of the Earth?

    Actually from what I have seen, no modern Creationists will make that statement, in fact I don’t think they believed that in my lifetime. However if you want to see some way out “theories” about what they see as the “Starlight problem”, the idea the universe can only be 6000 years old, yet we can see objects billions of light years away, check out their various ideas. The one with Earth is some sort of Time Dilation Field where six days passed here and billions of years passed out in the rest of the universe is my favorite, it is so Sci-Fi!

  107. *daniel I love science and I love Jesus. These are passions that speak to different realms of experience and different epistemologies, and it saddens me to see a group of people throwing out science and throwing out Jesus’ attitudes at the same time, just so they can read an ancient narrative poem as a textbook.

    An epistemology is a pathway of acquiring true beliefs. I don’t believe “just cuz” counts as an epistemology. Neither do “because I want to believe that”, “I want that to be true”, “a book told me”, “I was raised to believe that” or any similarly nonsensical reason I have encountered over the years as to why one should believe what they believe.

  108. BMcP

    However if you want to see some way out “theories” about what they see as the “Starlight problem”, the idea the universe can only be 6000 years old, yet we can see objects billions of light years away, check out their various ideas.

    The one I’ve heard is “G-d made the universe with the light already on the way to Earth, which is why we can see things farther than 6,000 light years”.

    And I can do italics, too, even if the gods of italics have been cast aside. That is, until Jose rolls a 38+ on a 2D20 and they go away as well. :-)

  109. Dave Hall

    Thanks! Now I have ANOTHER blog to read! I’m running out of hours in the day. Maybe I can get an extension from G_d (That is _Mr. Damnit_, to all you heathen scientists out there!)
    Seriously: Angry Astronomer has a great site, and I look forward to following his posts.

  110. arby

    On a Mac: ctrl+option+apple thingy+8 makes white be black. rb

  111. Ralphie May

    Is there anyone in the Oklahoma City area that wants to start a church with me? I’m unemployed and need some loot. I’m going to run a tithing special (8% of a persons income) to get people in the door, then jack that shiite up to 10% after a year.

  112. Grebion

    @MarkP:

    How, exactly, do you distinguish a “good” religious argument from a “bad” one?

    Is a “good” one such that respects the most popular religion? Or the one that you represent?

    In my experience, all religious arguments are so extremely subjective that it makes them meaningless. There are a lot of people who tend to ask such loaded questions as “do you believe in God?” (usually implying the Christian variation of the Abrahamic, monotheistic God) – when the only answer without subscribing to a particular religion is “which God? How many gods?”.

  113. Steve Morrison

    @MattGS:

    If you’re using Firefox, you could try “View -> Page Style -> No Style” – that was how I made the page readable.

  114. Jose

    @Ken B.
    That is, until Jose rolls a 38+ on a 2D20 and they go away as well.

    You wouldn’t believe the devious thoughts that have been going through my head all day.

  115. Don Snow

    Hi, All -

    Most of you will know what this is about.

    I apologize.

    I make no excuses, I apologize.

    I did not, and do not, come here to agitate.

    Respectfully,
    Don

  116. Don Snow

    Hi, All -

    May I submit a layman’s level opinion, in an unproven historical speculatoin, about religion, politics, and science?

    Respectfully,
    Don

  117. Larry

    @Jose.
    Have you been looking at (admiring) PZ’s T-shirt today???

  118. Don Snow,
    I would just go ahead and submit your comment. I understand that this is a place to post your opinions. Just be prepared to accept the fact that there will be those that do not agree with you. I think that’s the beauty of this type of forum, the free sharing of ideas and opinions. I don’t think there is a need to apologize for your opinion, like I said, just be prepared to be challenged. :)

  119. BMcP

    Ken B says:

    The one I’ve heard is “G-d made the universe with the light already on the way to Earth, which is why we can see things farther than 6,000 light years”.

    That is another old Creationist idea that was long ago abandoned under the idea that God would not do that as it would be deceiving and thus against His nature. Alas by dumping that idea, ironically the simplest explanation, they are forced to attempt to reconcile the fact of our ability to see billions of years back into the universe with their 6000 year old universe belief, causing all sort of bizarre hypotheses to appear in order to somehow harmonize the former with the latter.

  120. Don Snow

    Thank you, Michael L

    Well, my two cents worth goes like this:

    At tribal level, religion began organizing; leaders paid attention to it, because the members of the tribe held it in esteem.

    At city state level, religion is organized, with pantheons of gods in different tribes and cities. Priests attend the gods, impress the people and the leaders heed priests, because the people believe the priests.
    At this point, politics have emerged. There’s relations between city states. Leaders vie for public support among nobles and priests.

    Who knows, when observation of natural phenomena began, with logical analysis of the date? I guess most people reckonize the Golden Age Greek philosophers contributions as among the first in the Western World. I wouldn’t know about Hindu and Chinese contributions. Howevery, in the West I would reckon the Reanaissance marks when information which had seeped into Europe over the centuries started to find men to organize it.

    Let me review, then. Religion goes a long way back, to tribal times. Then, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddism and Jesus presented their teachings to humanking. Later, Mohammed, Zoastor, Joseph Smith and Rev. Moon broght new religions along. Politics grew, and was a major force after the Reformation, in the West. But, science, new kid on the block, didn’t gain recognition until centuries after politics held power.

    All I’m saying with the above, what I conclude, is that some people choose a field of knowledge, go with it, and get caught up in the power struggle between these three fields. Other people find enduring truths in each of these fields, and get drowned out, by the power struggle; but, their findings endure.

    That’s about the best I can put it. I present this as an unproven speculation, from a historical viewpoint.

    Don

  121. Don Snow

    Comment on italics -

    Be glad your browser supplies writing tools, working too much, or not. Mine doesn’t.

    Cheers,
    Don

  122. Science is just a methodology that attempts to explain the world in naturalistic terms. That’s all.

    Religion is an attempt to impose an order over the masses by a “priestly” class using fear of the unknown and the supernatural to attain and retain that power.

    Politics is the sociology of attaining control and power over the masses using whatever means necessary – secular or sectarian.

  123. Colin

    What gets me is this attempt to use science to discredit science. How does Anon know about the behaviour of gas clouds in space or, for that matter, the existence of gas clouds in space? How do they know about the chemical composition of stars and deuterium/hydrogen ratios? What’s with this whole “thus far and no further” attitude?

    If you’ve got God on your side, what’s the need to go into any of this stuff? There is nothing in science that can disprove that God created the universe X billion years ago. Or that God created an old looking universe 6,000 years ago. Or last Thursday. If I was God and I wanted to make blind cave fish (they probably wouldn’t be high on my list of priorities, but I’d be something of a perfectionist), I’d probably use the normal fish template and just paper over the unnecessary bits. Wouldn’t you?

    I guess it’s all about reeling back the ones who start to doubt. Learn some scientific terminology, write something that looks convincing to someone who doesn’t have any background in the field, then show up its inherent contradictions and claim that this is what “Science doesn’t want you to know.” It’s so bleeding obvious – does anyone get caught by this?

  124. Wow!

    It continues to amaze me when creationists try to wield the sword of science.
    They always pick it up by the blade and cut themselves.

    Richard Drumm the Astronomy Bum
    in Charlottesville as always…

  125. Colin

    This whole “keep science/religion/politics” separate thing is a bit silly. I mean politics doesn’t equal government. All human interaction is politics and you can’t keep it out of anything. Anyone who’s worked in a university knows that there’s plenty of politics in the academic world (or so I’ve heard…).

    @Don Snow: I think your chronology is a bit out. I’d put it more like:

    Life in the ocean > Politics > Life on Land > Homo Sapiens > Religion > …

    I reckon politics in science is part of what gives me “faith” in the scientific method. Theoretically you can look at all the evidence and make your own judgements, but that’s so much work! And not exactly possible for the layman. I’d much rather trust a system, secure in the belief that any statement that is made is going to be picked apart by experts keen to expose any flaws to ridicule and derision.

    Yay politics, and basic primate competition!

  126. I’m an italics skeptic. I’ve yet to see any evidence of all the text on this page italicised. I’ve seen various posts with some italics but there are definitely gaps in the tag record. Until I see an uninterrupted page of italics I refuse to believe that that is possible. That goes for all the kinds of tags including bold, strikethrough and italics.

  127. Ronn! Blankenship

    shane Says:
    July 29th, 2008 at 12:04 am

    I’m an italics skeptic. I’ve yet to see any evidence of all the text on this page italicised. I’ve seen various posts with some italics but there are definitely gaps in the tag record. Until I see an uninterrupted page of italics I refuse to believe that that is possible. That goes for all the kinds of tags including bold, strikethrough and italics.

    – - -

    Me, too. It all looks like normal (upright) Times Roman to me, except for the bold and strikethrough tests. (Your italics test was upright.) I’m guessing that not everyone who was seeing all italics is using the same browser (I’m using Firefox 2.0.0.16) or has anything else in common which the rest of us don’t?

    Personal P.S. — Hi, Don! (I’m presuming you are the one I know from elsewhere. If not, please ignore this postscript . . . )

  128. Ha! To all you italics skeptics: I saw it! I posted in italics! So there! :)

  129. @Richard B. Drumm:
    Hey, that should be your new nickname! Richard Drumm, The Asstronomy Bum

  130. The Bad Astronomer wrote on the Angry Astronomer’s Blog:

    “Um, anonymous, Democritus died in 370 BC, and he came up with the idea for atoms. Are you claiming the Bible was written before the birth of Jesus?”

    Never heard of the Old Testament Phil?

  131. Wow, just a few comments into the discussion and this Anonymous is already incredibly insufferable. I can’t believe the guy actually referred an /astronomer/ to the wikipedia page on interferometry. And

    I have read a lot of bizarre creationist stuff without batting an eye, but this hard to read: I feel sick to my stomach.

  132. Ahryn

    ok I don’t get the creationism thing because lets face it if there was a god couldn’t he create everything including evolution? steller or otherwise I mean why put your deity in a box.

  133. Thony C, according to the Wiki the Torah was probably compiled around the time of Democritus but the main point is where in the bible are atoms mentioned?

  134. Don Snow

    @ Shane

    I go along with your opinions on science and politics.

    I don’t want to argue religion. I would really like to agree to disagree, and let it go, on religion, OK?

    Don

  135. Don Snow

    @d Colin

    Words to the effect, …politics don’t equal government…
    BINGO!

    Re chronology starting in the ocean…that’s one way of looking at it. Actually, I wouldn’t mind putting the deep six on both presidential canidates, to return them to the ocean. But, we don’t start our presidential races over, in the home stretch, so, I’m stuck with these two canidates.
    I’m looking for who to write in. You got a suggestion?

    Politics in science: you’re so right. And, I like peer review, too. If not always accuracy, it does produce consensus. There’s office politics in jobs, too. Politics in education. Politics in religion, instead of walking the talk.

    Politics and competition: anything alive competes.

    Enjoyed your post.

  136. Colin

    It’s a well established phenomenon that people tend to see italics when there aren’t any. It’s called Parallelolia.

  137. Don Snow

    I don’t beeeeeleeeeve in italics. I haven’t seen any on this page. My browser doesn’t have italics.
    Therefore, italics do not exist.

  138. [whispers conspiratorially]
    psst… have you seen bold italics?

  139. quasidog

    I am so over trying to read the massive amounts of responses to ‘creationist vs skeptic’ topics.

    Actually I am so over the subject really. Not because it is not an interesting topic, (as it is close to my heart) but mainly because many people making comments regarding it, continue to think it’s an ‘us vs them’ type of dichotomy. This false thinking makes the entire subject … small, and I don’t want to think about it in small terms. So many people are arguing about stuff they clearly do not understand. You have many bible basher’s pretending to understand how science works when it is obvious they don’t understand the scientific method, and you have many lover’s of science that attempt to debunk creationism based upon a certain interpretation of some parts of Genesis, when it is obvious they don’t understand the bible is a book of spirituality and open to interpretation anyway.

    It almost plays out like an English Major trying to tell a Math Major his maths is wrong, because his English is bad, and the Math guy telling the English guy that his English is bad, because he can’t add up. Waste of time. That is obviously stupid.

    It is really just a sarcastic hate fest for many. It would be really great to see a week of topics that don’t have a hint to do with this ‘creationist vs skeptic’ crap. Just a week would be nice. I know, who am I kidding?

    Here is a topic suggestion. How do we accurately measure galactic rotation within our own galaxy? What methods are used and how precise is it ? How do we do this with unmeasurable parallax shifts ? Red and Blue shift on the spiral arms of distant galaxies is one way, but how do we do the same with our own galaxy ?

  140. Don Snow

    Well, I have chores to do.

    See ya later.

  141. quasidog, by Red and Blue shift you mean Democrat and Republican right coz I don’t think you can impose politics on the galaxy? Maybe if you mentioned galactic rotation from a Buddhist perspective?

    [Ducks and runs]

  142. “It almost plays out like an English Major trying to tell a Math Major his maths is wrong, because his English is bad, and the Math guy telling the English guy that his English is bad, because he can’t add up. Waste of time. That is obviously stupid.”

    That’s an interesting analogy, quasidog. I think it is a false analogy because the debate is about mutually incompatible theories of reality. Creationists aren’t talking about creative writing (ba-dum cha!), they’re trying to say 2+2=5.

    As for that week, well I think maybe it depends on the circles you “move” in. I haven’t seen a lengthy “creationist vs skeptic” thingamajigger for a while–probably not because they’re not there, but because I ignore them.

    And I second that topic suggestion, it sounds like a fascinating problem. I think radio astronomy would be pretty important for those observations, since the galaxy is so “foggy” in the visual, n’est-ce pas?

  143. Deepak

    The scientist, the truth seeking community, should be more patient with other points of view. You can’t convince someone to believe in star birth by being rude, arrogant and sarcastic. The more knowledge you have, the more humble one needs to be. Be more patient and put your theories forward, not the arrogance.

  144. Ok, I must say that while reading the posts I came to your first post and it was like a super hero swooped in and saved the day. It was exciting!

  145. Don Snow

    A bold italic?

    I’ve seen bold. I believe in bold.

    I don’t believe in nothing italic.

    (spoofing zealots of both sides, including televangelists.)

    I’m avoiding defending creationists; because I’m some fundamental, and consider the two first cousins.

  146. Don Snow

    @ Deepak

    THANK YOU!

  147. Don Snow

    Correction

    Since I consider Creationists first cousins to Fundamentalists (me fundie),
    I had been jumping in, to their defense. I’m avoiding that, while some folks bash Creationists.

  148. Richard Hoagland says he has seen underlines bold italics!

  149. JokerR

    MarkP Says:
    “@Andy Beaton : However, the verse claiming the Sun stood still doesn’t say that the Sun orbits the Earth. Only that to an observer it appeared that the Sun stood still. Were the Earth to halt in its rotation, that would appear that the Sun stood still.

    Now, there is no way this could happen according to known physical laws. It would require a miracle, like walking on water or changing water to wine.”

    (NB. Quoted text should be in italics lets see ..)

    Hmm .. Mirage or local atmospheric distortion anyone? Get a really big mirror in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) position it just so .. & well I reckon you could do it.

    Mind you the bit I really object to here is that “God” – supposedly an all-powerful, all-seeing, all-loving Fairy in the Sky would go to all that trouble in order to decide the outcome of a battle between very similar groups of ground apes… The whole thing of “God” being partisan and discrimating only in favour of race / tribe X when She was meant to have created everyone just seems too silly for words. :- (

    OTOH Playing Devils advocate for a sec with the 6,000 ly radius cosmos issue – Would it not be fair for “God” to tell “White Lies” (literally using white lights) just like Jesus uses parables rather than actual people in his example?

    That said, I think not only are Creationists foolish in trying to fight science on science they ‘ve actuallymissed the point of what religion is supposed to about – its meant to be all about ethics or a code for hgoe to live better and a relationship with something beyond ourselves NOT a textbook explaining how everything meant to be. Or to (again?) paraphrase the person who paraphrased Galileo :

    “Religion tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.”

  150. Don Snow

    @quasigog!

    Didn’t see your complete post the first time.

    Read complete post, this time.

    The hate fest is the part that scares me, especially from Creationists. (Took to heart earlier reprimand about, in so many words, talking Jesus and quarrelling.)

    Measuring our own galactic rotation surprises me. I once mulled over writing a scifi story, where in time was given in of Galros: galactic rotation. Recgonized I didn’t have the math.

    I don’t have the math to participate, but I have the interest to second your suggestion. Would we have to start with relative motion? Someway to recognize and tabulate motion, regardless of perspective? Am I making sense? Not sure how to verbalize what I see, and don’t have math to form formulae to state it.

  151. StevoR

    Ken B. Says on July 28th, 2008 at 11:14 am

    “RL:

    Have we ever observed a star come to life? Are there any observed stars (almost) now that astronomers think are forming?

    The problem, as I understand it, is that stars “come to life” inside a ball of gas and dust. There’s nothing to see from the outside until the solar winds blow away the dust. There are plenty of places where scientists think stars are currently forming. Search for “stellar nursery” for plenty of websites and images.

    (Oh-k-aaay. Bold works but italics don’t .. Argh! Computers aren’t they frustrating!)

    Its already been covered somewhat but astronomers do know of a number of very young stars incl. T-Tauri (& it is one of a whole class of similar variables see also under RW Aurigae variables), Epsilon Eridani the famed nearby orange dwraf with exoplanet, even the first magnitude (brightest) stars Vega, Fomalhaut and the slightly dimmer Beta Pictoris toname just a few. We also have the star-forming nebula noted like the Orion nebulka, Rho Ophiuchi cloud and stacks more …
    We know anumberof

  152. Deepak, with some people it does not matter how often and how polite you put your theories forward, they will not listen to your reasoning. Anonymous here is a case in point. Usually, and certainly on this site, when new commenters ask questions they get a polite and informed response at first. Only after their comments reveal an unwillingness to engage in an honest exchange of ideas do people get dismissive and impolite.

    Furthermore, in blog comments one sometimes has to be rude when there is no polite way to tell a troll to go away. Banning IP addresses should be the last resort, as it can be construed by some parties as censorship.

  153. Don Snow

    @ Michael L

    Did Hoagland see those on Mars or on the Moon? (tongue in cheek): That’s important, so very important.

  154. StevoR

    D’oh! Sorry it continues here …
    —————————
    We know these stars are young for a number of reasons :

    1) Chemical composition -younger stars are more “polluted” or enriche din elemenst beyond Hhydrogen (H) & Helium (He)

    2) Young stars (eg. Beta Pictoris, Vega, Fomalhaut) are often surrounded by protoplanteary disks – material condensing into planets. This shows upbrightly in intfra-red lightand wasfirst detected by the IRAS space observatory in 1983.

    3) Stellar activity – the youngest stars tend to have alot more sunspots (or starspots!) spin more quickly, and are even often variable intheir light output as they swallow more material and eject stong stellar winds eg. T-Tauri, RW Aurigae, that energetic young red dwarf in Lacerta thgat PhilPlait posted on ages ago. (Anyone remember? “The Red Dwarf that Roared’ I think that thread was called.)

    Distilled down, for a number of very good reasons (& there are more than those 3 I’ve listed too – such as stellar lifetimes calculated and so forth) we know with very confidence about a lot of very young, even practically new-born stars.

  155. Haha, yeah I’ve been watching that thread for a while now. Kind of comical really.

  156. Ray M

    MattGS Says:

    Huh, I’d love to read it but all that white text on a black background is killing my already messed up eyes

    I have the same aversion, but discovered that page styles are my friend. In Firefox: View -> Page Style -> Basic

  157. Ray M

    Oh rats… not only was I repeating advice, but I did it incorrectly! If only there were a way to delete my own comments.

  158. @ Michael L:
    I think it already is my nom de plume, so-to-speak, but it only has 1 “s” in it! :lol:
    Gots to be clean and family friendly, you know!
    R D T A B

  159. haha, that was a good read. man, it’s pretty frustrating to read someone so blatantly wrong.

  160. Well, I must say that was an amusing read. Anonymous seems to have a mental block that doesn’t allow him/her/it to understand logic, science, common sense, high school physics, etc. I know someone who talks like he knows everything about anything, and a friend of mine and I can easily refute everything he says. I’m not sure if he’s making it up, or if he really believes it.

  161. Shane:

    [whispers conspiratorially]
    psst… have you seen bold italics?

    I’ve not only heard, I’ve actually seen them!

  162. StevoR:

    (Oh-k-aaay. Bold works but italics don’t .. Argh! Computers aren’t they frustrating!)

    Well, you can blame Celtic_Evolution for turning the entire page italic, and Jose for then disabling all italics.

    Of course, those of us in the know can still get italics, if we want. :-)

    I think I can disable Jose’s “fix”, but since that would just turn then entire page back to italics, I haven’t bothered trying.

  163. viggen

    The scientist, the truth seeking community, should be more patient with other points of view. You can’t convince someone to believe in star birth by being rude, arrogant and sarcastic. The more knowledge you have, the more humble one needs to be. Be more patient and put your theories forward, not the arrogance.

    I’m of two minds about this:

    It is would be nice to think that everyone can sit down and converse to a high level and that all parties involved will ultimately, through such discourse, agree on the truth in some matter.

    However, how do you have intelligent discourse with someone who is willfully and arrogantly ignorant about the subject at hand? Arrogantly ignorant to the point of denying even the basic axioms of the topic. If you tell such a person that they are wrong nicely, they will come back with ten reasons why they will ignore your rationale for why they are wrong, even though it does not change the basic fact that they are still wrong. In the scope of such discourse, there are then two possible forward courses of action, abandoning the discussion as a lost cause because no headway can possibly be made toward a truth, or hammering flat the nail which sticks up. At some point, the participants are no longer arguing over the truth at hand, but over whether or not the odd party member is allowed to have an opinion that does not reflect even the basis of the topic.

    This is what science is constantly dealing with: people who do not care what it actually says and are willing to embrace some simple, irrational opinion that does not faintly reflect the reality. People have a freedom and a right to believe whatever they wish to believe, but does that freedom extend to believing that the stove element which is clearly hot will not burn you should you set your hand on it? In my opinion, this is quite a quandry because there is a fundemental lack of freedom in what reality actually is regardless of what freedom of thought or imagination a person would like to believe they can entertain. To give a direct example, the creationist arguing at the Angry Astronomer’s place does not even want to accept that Stellar Evolution is different from Biological Evolution. That willful blindness is so cartoonish that it prohibits the participants from having a productive discussion that finds any truth about either stars or life. How many ways can you tell such a person that they are wrong politely before it simply becomes a waste of time?

    I opened my mouth over there twice and I will not say anything else because it is plainly obvious to me that that person is not pursuing truth, but is pursuing strife in a forum. That person is a troll: there is no civilized high minded argument that will “correct” him or her and the only argument that can exist involving that person is one that will ultimately either terminate on a note of impassibility or descend into divisiveness.

  164. It’s been several hours with no one posting here. Perhaps they’ve moved do the hall to “green stars”?

    So, with that in mind, I call upon the gods of italics to make them reappear.

    Jose, be gone!

    i { font-style: italic;}

    Are they back?

  165. Nasikabatrachus : “Creationists aren’t talking about creative writing …, they’re trying to say 2+2=5.”

    So maybe it is, for sufficently large values of “2″.

    About that “galactic rotation” thing. The question is, relative to what?

    Could we up the ante and ask if the Universe is rotating? (And what can we do about it? More taxes on spinning things? Spinning credits, so that China (for instance) can trade clockwise credits with Europe for counterclockwise credits? How about the Aussies? Are there enough CounterClockwiseDownUnder spins to balance things out? I call for a Global Rotation Conference, preferably headed by that august body, the UN.)

  166. BA: I would strongly recommend you contact TPTB at Discover Magazine and make them aware of the powers they have bestowed upon us mere mortals. If these powers were to fall into the wrong hands, imagine the havoc they could wreak on this blog. Imagine all these comments in 37-point Comic Sans, and italics replaced by bold underscore.

  167. Okay, one more experiment, and I’m done. ( For now :-) )
    p { font-style: normal}

  168. DrFlimmer

    I SEE DEAD MEN!!!!

    or italics….

    I’ve seen them! They are here! They have come!

  169. Jose

    Why am I back here?

    Ken B.
    Try <em></em> instead of <i></i>

  170. Jose

    You know what, I wanted to fix the entire page from being italics so I could read the comments. Turns out all the comments were about the page appearing in italics. I think that’s known as grammatic irony. God, I find myself so funny.

  171. Jose:

    Try <em></em> instead of <i></i>

    Shh… That’s how those of us “in the know” got italics after you cast your “italics be gone” spell. Now everyone knows.

    I find myself so funny.

    Well, I suppose someone has to. :-)

    And let’s not forget to thank Celtic_Evolution for starting this whole thing. :-)

  172. Jose

    Don’t worry,
    We can disable <em> as well. There ar other ways.

  173. Jose

    And I totally said “ar” on purpose.

  174. Jose:

    We can disable <em> as well.

    Sure, but then we always have <glorp>, which gets us this type of text. glorp { font-family: cursive; font-weight: bold; font-size: 150%; } :-)

  175. It’s funny how IE6, FF3, and Safari all respond to Celtic_Evolution’s typo the same way, leaving the rest of the document in italics. Is this a bug in all three browsers, or is this the way the HTML specs say it should be? Is his typo invalid syntax? Why does <i> act this way, but <glorp> does not?

  176. My favorite “meek” quote is from A. Whitney Brown. He said: They say that the Meek shall inherit the Earth… but who cares. They’re meek! We’ll just push them down and take it back again.”

    Followed closely by Malcolm Reynolds’ “There’s more than 70 Earths spinning about the Galaxy, and the meek have inherited not a one.”

    What really gets me about that whole argument is Anonymous’s insistence on denying any kind of evolution. He (or is it she, who can tell) seems to think that to deny biological evolution, he must deny any kind of evolution. So, he picks another form of evolution that happens on fathomless time scales so that he can say “nobody can witness it, therefore you can’t know it’s true.”

    Well, what about Linguistic evolution? Language evolves constantly, and in time scales that humans can see occurring. We have detailed records of written language going back centuries dramatically showing that language evolves through use. It’s not an intentional or guided process, it’s actually reasonably predictable and falls into natural patterns.

    So, how would he refute that?

  177. amphiox

    For the creationists, it’s a Pavlovian response, I think.

    They hear a word that begins with “evo” or something that sounds like that, and an automatic chain of physiological reactions is initiated reflexively, culminating in the reactivation of rabies in the one neuron left in their brain. (There’s only one. They each have to sign it out, in turn.)

  178. Well, what about Linguistic evolution?……. So, how would he refute that?

    Americans have always spoken American. Regardless what that heretic Mel Gibson would have you believe, Jesus spoke American. Just like the English speak English and the French speak French. There is no intermediate stage between American and French for example. They are both fully formed. There is no such language as Amerofrench.

    BTW, I am now an Italics believer. It is italics all the way down. Praise the tag gods.

  179. Hmmmm. Not much by way of verifiable, scientific (as in knowledge) evidences talked about. Sounds like a bunch of different faiths.

  180. Wow, this is a busy thread! Just wanted to thank Buzz Parsec (if you’re still reading) for the black hole comments – very interesting, cheers!

  181. Buzz Parsec

    Hi Mike, I’m just glad I managed to make a useful contribution for once and not just succumb to italopunfascism! Oh noes, the Italians (at least, some of them) really were fascists! Arghh, I think I just Godwin’ed myself :-(

  182. Deepak

    Dear Viggen, I think the Angry Astronomer unnecessary criticized the Anonymous of not knowing basic science, high school science etc. That Anonymous seemed to know a lot of science and he was posing some very interesting questions. Instead of talking some good things out the question and pondering over it, the Angry Astronomer lost his way and went to high school, middle school, kindergarten etc. The replies of Anonymous were cool too..!! May be worng…But he did manage to through some insights.

  183. Deepak, doesn’t matter how insightful a comment is if it is wrong it is wrong. Actually no, if a comment is wrong it is just wrong and can’t be insightful.

  184. Al

    Vous n’ecoutez pas de Franglais, Shane? C’est un language tres simple!

  185. Radwaste

    “That Anonymous seemed to know a lot of science and he was posing some very interesting questions.”

    Nonsense. Especially if you have, indeed, attended a decent high school.

  186. Darth Robo

    Sorry people, but Deepak has a bad habit of sticking up for religious folks who make incorrect assertions about science. We must always be polite to religious people, even fundies who willfully attack science based on their theological objections.

    Deepak, I think you should read viggen’s post again, as it was spot on the money.

  187. IMForeman:

    Well, what about Linguistic evolution? Language evolves constantly, and in time scales that humans can see occurring. We have detailed records of written language going back centuries dramatically showing that language evolves through use. It’s not an intentional or guided process, it’s actually reasonably predictable and falls into natural patterns.

    So, how would he refute that?

    By bringing up the old “a dog is still a dog” argument.

    English is still English. French is still French. Spanish is still Spanish. Sure, you have “American English” and “South American Spanish”, but those are just dialects, like different breeds of spaniels. You don’t see new languages appear, unless you count “intelligently designed” things like Esperanto.

  188. Deepak

    Hi Darth Robo, Good to hear from you. It is not a question of sticking up to anyone. It is a question of how tolerant we are of other view points. The poor Anonymous guy was just telling that God exists. He didn’t say that ‘science’ doesn’t exist. He infact appreciated science and the new things that he has learnt from the Angry Astronomer. Whereas the scientist, our angry astronomer, blasted him left-right-centre for no reason.

    Finally it was like, ‘its my way or highway’. If you don’t agree with what we scientist are saying then you are creationist, kindergarten kid etc. etc.

  189. TheBlackCat

    English is still English. French is still French. Spanish is still Spanish. Sure, you have “American English” and “South American Spanish”, but those are just dialects, like different breeds of spaniels. You don’t see new languages appear, unless you count “intelligently designed” things like Esperanto.

    English is not still English. After the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century the English language was completely changed over a period of a few hundred years. I’ve read some Old English, or at least looked at it since it is indecipherable to someone who has only learned Modern English. The spoken language changed just as much, if not more. Here is an example (note that it doesn’t even use the same alphabet):
    http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/resources/IOE/aelfric.gif

    Similar things happened with the Roman invasions, where the local languages in places like those that are now France and Spain were completely reworked to make them more similar to Latin (but still contained distinctive elements from the original local languages). Even Italian is no longer the same as Latin, nor has it been for a millennium, despite them being from the same geographic area. France, Spanish, and Italian are most definitely not Latin, but they are also most definitely not the local languages that were spoken at the time of the Roman invasion either. They are descended from a mix of the two, which then substantially changed over time and due to later invasions. Modern French, for instance, is not the same language as the one that arose out of the Roman invasion, since later invasions and isolation over time led to further changes.

  190. TheBlackCat

    He infact appreciated science and the new things that he has learnt from the Angry Astronomer.

    He did not appreciate anything he learned, because he did not learn anything. He simply ignored everything everyone else told and just kept repeating the same claims over and over until he was banned.

    Whereas the scientist, our angry astronomer, blasted him left-right-centre for no reason.

    AngryAstronomer had a reason: anonymous just ignored everything everyone told him and kept demanding people answer his objections when they had already answered them several times. That is in addition to the constant stream of logical fallacies, non-sequiters, and outright falsehoods.

  191. TheBlackCat

    According to this site, there is some chromatic aberration but the nervous system automatically corrects for it:
    http://www.telescope-optics.net/eye_aberrations.htm

  192. TheBlackCat

    Oops, that comment was meant for another thread.

  193. I didn’t know about glorp!

  194. Darth Robo

    Okay, this is weird. On this PC (I’m on now) the italics are back. But before, on a different machine they were gone.
    :(

  195. Coal Banks

    Italian never was the same as Latin. Latin from the area of Rome/Roma in Latium? Italian from the South ie Calabria, way back a few ’000 yrs ago.

  196. Anti-Apastate

    Reading the discussion thread on Angry Astronomer has been a real eye-opener to the misconceptions that exist about the nature of our universe among people of faith as well as secular scientists.

    First I would like to address the “evidence” presented by the Angry Astronomer and also by the Bad Astronomer.

    He has made much about the “evidence” and “models” that he and his fellow pencil-pushers have constructed from the barest facts. Proper science, if there is such a thing, is done through observation. In regards to the nature of stars, consider how they derive their “facts.” They gather tiny particles that no one has ever seen, run the results of these invisible particle-strikes through a computer, and voila, they think they’ve peered into the heart of these enormous balls of light. They believe they’ve discovered the nature of stars—objects so large that they stagger the imagination—by taking a sample of an infinitesimally small portion of that star. That’s like taking a single atom of a pasta dish and presuming that you know what ALL the ingredients are and additionally presuming to be able to know exactly how that pasta dish was prepared.

    This is just one example of the hubris of science which has time and time again failed to adequately explain the nature of the universe in a way reasonable people find sensible.

    And it is at this point that I address the posts by the creationist poster Anonymous and to all ID’ers.

    ID’ers, I think you are much closer to the mark, but you keep trying to counter the logic of these “scientists” with your own logic. I have a feeling that you and I share the same view, and that’s that the nature of the universe is in its essence a miracle!

    If anyone doesn’t feel awe at the miracle of nature, then they are seriously deluded. Look at the planets and stars around us, spheres hanging miraculously in the void. Look at life on this planet, all of which is composed of spheres (as in the cells) and strands (our DNA). Everything you see in the universe can be seen as spherical (stars, planets, cells) or strands (DNA, comets, light waves). Anyone with an open heart and an open mind who sees the miracle of existence just gets a sense that it has a creator, and that the creator made it in his own image.

    ID’ers, you are also relying far too heavily on the Bible to get your worldview. Think about it, the world WAS created through MIRACULOUS means in the image of that creator, but what is the nature of a Creator that invents a universe that is made up of strands and spheres? It is a Creator who himself is made of strands and spheres, and that is none other than the Flying Spaghetti Monster (peace be upon him).

    If the Flying Spaghetti Monster (peace be upon him) were to write scripture, I think it would go something like this:

    “And in the Void was the Lord and grand were his spherical meatballs and strand-like noodles. And it came to pass that he reached out his noodly appendage and said: ‘Let Us make the Universe in Our image, according to Our likeness.’ And it was so. And the Lord saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very delicious.”

    I hope that I was able to shine some light on the issue, but I don’t hold out much hope for the souls of either the Angry Astronomer or the Bad Astronomer.

  197. Anti-Apastate

    Hey mods! That snarky FSM post I just put up was meant to go on the Angry Astronomers comment site, so if you want to nix it, please do. I have a feeling that posting the same comment on different websites is some kind of sin!

  198. No, Anti-Apastate, I’m afraid you did not shine light on the issue. Your characterization of science and scientists is deeply flawed. I could write a long comment on how research is really done, but one counter-example suffices: science makes predictions and tests them. When these tests give results that are incompatible with the predictions, it’s back to the drawing board for the theory that produced the predictions. And after some 500 years of this, we have pieced together quite a comprehensive understanding of Nature.

    Creationists and IDers, on the other hand, seem to want to keep their “theory” at all cost, and force the clashing observational evidence into the frame like an oversized carpet in a room. Is that really the appropriate way to celebrate the majesty of Nature (whether is was created or not)?

  199. Darth Robo

    See? The Italics are gone again. Idunno…

    >>>”Anyone with an open heart and an open mind who sees the miracle of existence just gets a sense that it has a creator, and that the creator made it in his own image.”

    Maybe so, but who says that this “creator” is intelligent? And what’s an “open heart” got to do with science? (That is unless you’re going for open heart surgery). You are appealing to emotion, Anti-Apastate.

    And now I’m reading this; you’re a Poe, aren’t you?

    I sincerely hope so, anyway.

  200. Pieter Kok

    i { font-style: normal}

    Let’s try Jose’s trick again…

  201. Anti-Apastate

    I have a feeling that posting the same comment on different websites is some kind of sin!

    Twenty lashes with a wet noodle! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    Pieter Kok:

    I didn’t know about glorp!

    I guess you’ve never heard of gleep, either? gleep { font-family: sans-serif; font-style: italic; font-size: 50%; }

    It’s amazing how much of this thread was generated by a single typo.

  202. Ken B:

    It’s amazing how much of this thread was generated by a single typo.

    And, as a corollary to the law that states any spelling flame war must contain spelling errors, that statement didn’t appear due to my typo. :-)

  203. gleep { font-family: sans-serif; font-style: italic; font-size: 100%; }

    Ah, gleep?

  204. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    If they’re not testable, then they’re not science.

    Dawkins goes overboard in his condemnation of religion

    The second sentence seems to contradict the first – Dawkins main argument in TGD is testable.

  205. Brian

    There are at least two primary kinds of logics that humanity primarily uses today: assuming (assumption) logic and analytical logic. Assuming logic is more right-brain, as it’s the taking of something whole all at a time as what must come next. Analytical logic is more left-brain, as it’s the taking something in parts to figure out what must come next. Often, both Evolutionists and Creationists tend to do overuse assuming logic and define things as fact all too quickly before having something absolutely conclusive. Where am I going with this? Check the next comment…

  206. Brian

    This guy failed to use analytical logic, jumping to conclusions entirely on assuming logic. Some Creationists tend to do this–maybe out of fear of feeling threatened, maybe even out of desperate panic. (There are other sublogics, like emotion-based logic and hypothetical (working idea) logic, and this guy used the emotions to think) But then many Evolutionists are quick to assume theories (which, in any form, proven somewhat true or not, is STILL a working idea) already as absolute fact, and in science, that is a fallacy. No matter how good an working explanation seems to works, it is not approved “fact” until it is 100% proven. Not 85%, not 90%, not even 98%. Why, even with what the evidence seems to overwhelmingly suggest so a fact? Read my last comment…

  207. Brian

    Because the details matter, and even the smallest detail can have a profound effect overall. Take water. Add just one oxygen atom to H20 and you get hydrogen peroxide–enough difference to make you not want to drink that compound. Both sides need better character, because knowledge without character is like a star collapsing on its own great weight due to a core too weak to sustain its own gravity. All the name-callings and many opinions leads them both astray from determining truthful facts, and biases taint their judgment when facts do come their way. Fear, ignorance, and arrogance often presents in their debates. And both sides use their cases as vehicles for their personal views (not just Creationists) instead of just proving facts true of what that object is and leaving them unbiasedly assembled & accessible to the public to think for themselves, to possibly have more facts proven by some mind unshaped by others’ opinions and beliefs. So, where do I stand? Sorry–one more page! ;)

  208. Brian

    I stand in an obscure corner in the debate, in the company of a very few people comparatively (so I’m not just a one-man show!). But this reply section isn’t the best table to have coffee and a chat at, so please feel free to e-mail me so we can simply conversate–a real, unscripted, peer-to-peer conversation (a dying art today). I like to know people individually, not by the group they stand under. I am not the type to do all the talking, but I ask you to not be so, too–this helps the economy of a good conversation! I aim for beneficial, engaging, and friendly conversations, with personal convictions of respect & dignity, self-control with emotions, and good humor. E-mail me at: mangaFox@hotmail.com and I will respond ASAP (and please wait if it’s not next-day immediate–I have over about 20 new e-mails a day and I’m a working student at home!

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
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »