Did Rick Perry just admit to violating the US Constitution?

By Phil Plait | August 18, 2011 2:58 pm

To say I am not a fan of Rick Perry, Republican Presidential candidate, is to seriously underestimate my antipathy toward him. He is anti-science in almost every sense of the word, and his stance on nearly every issue on which I’ve heard him speak is the exact opposite of where I stand.

But then something like this comes along, and shows just how far outside of reality he is. In this video, a little boy asks him how old the Earth is, and Perry then gives an astonishing answer:

After equivocating about the age of the Earth, Perry — a man who, if elected President, will swear to uphold the U. S. Constitution — says, "In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools."

This is a jaw-dropping assertion. I find it difficult to interpret this as other than him saying he supports blatantly violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by teaching religion in public schools. Gawker does take a different tack saying, " Texas does not, in fact, teach creationism, or anything like it." But even if that’s true, it means Perry is — at the very least — woefully out of touch with his own state’s school system, and — at the worst, which is where I think we stand — he is unfamiliar with the very first amendment of the document upon which all the laws of the United States of America are based.

I could go on and on — though apropos of this it’s worth reminding you that Perry appointed creationists to be the head of the Texas State Board of Education three times in a row. It’s very clear that this man has no concern at all for science (like, say, global warming, about which the Washington Post strongly implies he’s a liar) or for doing and saying whatever it takes to push his religious agenda.

Every day, it seems, Perry says something similar to this, and it’s very early yet in the campaign process. Yet, incredibly, he’s leading in the Presidential candidate pool among likely Republican voters in the primary next year. We have a long, painful election journey ahead of us.

Tip o’ the Burgess Shale to Ken Plume.


Related posts:

- Update: reality wins for sure in Texas!
- Sorry Texas, you’re still doomed
- Texas creationist McLeroy spins the educational disaster he created
- Texas State Board of Education confirms irony is dead
- Michele Bachmann needs to check her ID

Comments (173)

  1. Wow… either way (teaching creationism or being out of touch with school system) is terribly, terribly damning. I may disagree with many of his political policies, but he just seems like an ignorant person all around. Come on, Republicans… please find someone more deserving of the most powerful job on Earth… please.

  2. Razorgeist

    Didnt we learn our lesson from the last Texas republican governor who was president?

  3. Ewwww! On the bright side with so many crazy comments in the past few days hopefully his campaign won’t get too much traction.

    Just wondering though, am I the only one who was cringing a bit at listening to the mom telling her child to ask this and that? Obviously I’m pro science agenda, but using a kid as a prop like that makes me cringe for any agenda I guess.

  4. Phrank

    I have to say I really don’t care for the mom prodding the kid, especially the second snarky question. If she’s got these questions, why doesn’t *she* ask them herself? Because kids are cute youtube fodder.

    Sometimes kids have insightful and interesting questions that they come up with all by themselves, and it’s good and inspiring when they have the opportunity to ask them. This just looks like his mom wants a puppet.

  5. Jesso

    Dang, the video was pulled down, I guess? I just get a “video no longer available” message (after the ad plays, naturally).

    I really kind of hate being a Texan at times like this. The state catches a lot of flak, and deservedly so, but I always want to point out that not EVERYONE in Texas is an ignorant, science-hating buffoon.

  6. JD

    “He is anti-science in almost every sense of the word, and his stance on nearly every issue on which I’ve heard him speak is the exact opposite of where I stand.”

    You see eye to eye on vaccines. He pushes them and tried to force Gardisal on school girls like Merck was a big contributor to him or something.

  7. OtherRob

    My political ideas tend to fall on the conservative side — “libertarian conservative” not “social conservative” — and sometimes the worst thing about that is all the other people who call themselves conservative…

  8. Crazy8s

    I am a public school parent in Texas. My kids do not learn creationism in school. In fact, their science curriculum is fairly good (we’re only to the 8th grade, can’t speak beyond that), in spite of our current governor’s efforts to tear it down.

    And Rick Perry’s agenda is Rick Perry.

    He’ll say anything and then change his tune in a heartbeat if he thinks that’ll win him an election, campaign donations or money for his little slush funds.

    And if you thought appointments were bad under Bush, they’ll be 10x worse under Perry. Every agency and appointment will be of the Michael Brown-FEMA caliber. Hopefully that scares everyone enough to keep him from becoming president.

  9. Brandon

    I agree with Yvette and Phrank. I am completely for science and against these morons, but it is kind of sad hearing a mom tell her kid “ask him why he is against science, ask him why he is against science”. It is a shame that the adults can not talk about these issues without it interfering with their political campaign. Just sad. Not that these are actual issues, I just wish that politicians said what they actually believe so that the public can make an informed decision.

  10. His campaign has already lost its bloom to the GOP. Why else do insiders still want Paul Ryan or Christie? http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2011/08/rickperry-gop-buyers-remorse.html

  11. Skip Huffman

    Read My Lips! No New Texans!

  12. doctor_doctor_doctor

    Bad bad bad southern GOP governor. What’s really sad is that Perry’s response actually represents an improvement on the how-old-do-crazy-Republican-candidates-think-the-earth-is issue. Remember Huckabee’s 6000 years? Like, pretty close… What’s six orders of magnitude anyhow?

  13. Keith Bowden

    It’s just sad. And scary.

  14. VinceD

    What I find equally ridiculous is the woman (his mother?) telling him exactly what to say. If she wants to find out his stance on science she can ask him, or if the kid had a legitimate question of his own that is wonderful, but to use a child as an intermediary just to frame a news clip is absurd. Lose-lose interaction there…

  15. Preston

    Huntsman just said he believed in Evolution and trusted the scientists on global warming.

    http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/18/jon-hunstman-i-believe-in-evolution-and-trust-scientists/

  16. Gravee

    It’s scary how much traction he and Michelle Bachman are getting. Even Romney is out there. The more extreme you are, the better your chances of getting the nomination. But in the end, it is all of us who end up losing.

  17. DataJack

    Agreed – it was deplorable how that woman used the child as a prop.

    That being said, Perry is a very bad person, in a lot of ways. However, if you are anti-global warming, anti-evolution, anti-old-Earth, and anti-science in general, as well as pro-inserting scripture (and prayer!) into school, you then have an enormous (and mobilized) base just waiting to support you.

    We should not forget – McCain lost because he was not RWNJ enough for many of the RWNJs.

  18. QuietDesperation

    And people wonder why I’m looking seriously into retiring overseas.

    McCain lost because he was not RWNJ enough for many of the RWNJs.

    1. If anything McCain’s team was overly fixated on the base. Rove got Bush #2 elected twice using a very minimalist approach on that front.

    2. Ms. Palin. For one thing, she took away any ability of McCain to challenge Obama’s experience level.

    Eh, me head hurts.

  19. BJN

    Video just played for me.

    I also don’t care for parents using kids in this way. But I can’t believe that another swaggering, bible-thumping, male Texan is getting any traction while we’re still cleaning up after the prior one’s disasters.

  20. Bill

    That mom sucks. Ask the questions yourself, lady!

  21. roymcm

    Mom should have just asked her own questions instead of using her son as a proxy. One more piece of theater.
    Also, your title contained more hyperbole than substance.
    Both made me cringe more than listening to Perry say dumb things. We should not seek to emulate those we oppose, we should be better.

  22. Jason

    While I dislike Perry, it is unfair to say that he admitted violating the constitution. He stated “In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.” First, this is false. Only evolution is taught in Texas schools. He is, it seems, mistaken about the curriculum in Texas.

    Second, he does not set the curriculum, so even if this was correct, he wouldn’t be the one in violation of the constitution. School board members are voted by district and approve the curriculum without gubernatorial approval. Any challenge to the curriculum would be resolved by the court system and not the governor’s office.

    Third, this would not be a 1st amendment violation. It would be a 14th amendment violation.

  23. Keith Bowden

    @BJN
    But all those problems are actually Obama’s fault, don’tcha know.

  24. Randy Owens

    When I read him saying, on the subject of global warming, “[y]es, our climate has changed. It has been changing ever since the Earth was formed,” I was wondering how long he thought that was. I guess we now know.

  25. I was explaining a graph taken from a Greenland ice core to some students and when I mentioned that the Eemian was 125K years ago, a student suddenly said- I have been told not to listen to anyone who says the Earth is older than 6,000 years.

    Yes, it’s that bad.

  26. Gabriel

    Perry is a disgusting human. I don’t believe that he actually believes any of this. I think he is using it in a cynical attempt to gain power. He is a horrible person who will do anything to gain power. He is so unpopular in Texas that he didn’t even declare he was a candidate in Texas. He is utter slime.

  27. Shatner Basoon

    Surprised you posted this Phil, the coaching by the mother, for political gain, is uncomfortable and distasteful

  28. Keith Bowden

    @Gabriel
    I think he completely believes all of it. AND he is using it in a cynical attempt to gain power.

  29. Jeremy

    While I agree that Perry is dangerous and creationism is nonsense, your analysis that this is some type of violation of the First Amendment is inaccurate. The First Amendment says nothing that prohibits teaching religion in public schools. The First Amendment says two, and only two, things about religion: a.) that Congress cannot pass laws which establish an official state religion, and b.) that Congress cannot prohibit people from practicing religion. Teaching religion in a public school would not qualify as either of these things, so it technically would not be a violation of the First Amendment. It WOULD be a violation of legal precedent in the way that certain courts have interpreted the First Amendment, but it would not be a violation of the Constitution itself.

  30. Andrea A

    He doesn’t think anybody knows how old the Earth is? Wow.

    Personally, all the current Republican candidates scare the crap out of me, Rick Perry included.

  31. A willingness to ignore the Constitution is, unfortunately, a requirement for getting the job. The only candidate for either faction of the ruling Boot On Your Neck Party with a track record for actually supporting the Constitution is Ron Paul, and the mainstream media has been doing its best to stuff him down the memory hole.

  32. OtherRob

    RWNJ? Republicans With Nifty Jowls?

  33. CB

    @ DataJack

    We should not forget – McCain lost because he was not RWNJ enough for many of the RWNJs.

    Uh, no. McCain lost because the persona he put forth in order to appeal to the Republican base and win the nomination, and his choice of running mate designed to further mobilize the base, did not appeal to the majority of the American public. It was because he tried to appeal to the RWNJs that he lost many moderates and independents, and ultimately that’s a much more important group to get than the NJs of either side. You might as well try to win the vote of the Che Guerva t-shirt-wearing WTO protestor at the expense of everyone else.

    This current situation reminds me of that, only ten times more. As someone who would prefer four more years of Obama to any of the current Republican candidate pool, this works out just fine for me. But I was honestly hoping for a compelling Republican candidate (like McCain seemed to be, until he sold out to the ‘base’) and so in that sense it’s depressing seeing them fail to learn the lessons of the past.

    @ roymcm:

    A little hyperbole and some theatrics are more cringe-worthy than flagrantly anti-science and anti-Constitution statements from a Presidential candidate? I think your sense of perspective is broken.

  34. Jim

    As much as I agree with your assessment of Perry, I also have to agree with most of the commenters here. The ridiculous behavior of the mom in the video completely took the air out of it.

  35. Shalev

    The only comfort regarding the Menace of Idiocy that is the Sideshow Rick Perry candidacy, is that when the rest of the country gets a look at him, they’re going to laugh him out of the room. His schtick won’t play beyond the borders of the so-called “heartland”.

    I live in Texas, and there’s a lot of things I like about living here, but the ignorance and the religion are two things I could do without. It’s hard to get people here to understand that there’s a big, wide, non-Stupid world outside of Texas which will look at this guy and spit-take.

  36. Chief

    You guys should pass a new amendment targeted towards texas (and maybe a few northern neighbours… hint), that persons running for the office of president are required to have a firm background in the humanities and science, a degree in economics would be a big help. Lawyers need not apply. This on top of the ones already in place, ie age and residency.

    Or. a 50 year wait on electing a person from the same state or family. (this will give some “forgotten” states a real say in the politics of the nation)

  37. noen

    The American aristocracy, the Koch brothers, Pete Peterson etc, want the masses dumb and religious because they think they can control them better. So they are actively working to destroy public education and are bringing back segregation and Jim Crow.

    Rick Perry is aligned with the Dominionists along with Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. Be very afraid of the Dominion movement. They openly advocate for a theocracy.

  38. Frank

    We should all be very worried that Perry is being taken seriously. He makes W look like a genius. He acknowledged this when he said he was different from W because he went to T A&M but W went to Yale. Perry is W with “a few gaps.”

  39. Thomas

    I don’t think he knows what’s true, and also doesn’t care. He’s insulated enough, financially and through connections – at least for now. I suspect he believes truth, honesty, and reality really aren’t all that important anyway, if they conflict with his goals.

    If he doesn’t think climate change exists, with Texas experiencing their worst drought since the ’50s, how does he feel about people in his home state scooping water out of mudpuddles? Sounds rather Third World to me.

  40. noen

    “The only comfort regarding the Menace of Idiocy that is the Sideshow Rick Perry candidacy, is that when the rest of the country gets a look at him, they’re going to laugh him out of the room.”

    People should get their heads out of the sand. Extremist conservative groups have long known that they are in the minority. They have a plan for how political minorities can overthrow a majority culture. There is in fact a great deal of literature in their community on the theoretical strategy for defeating the majority culture. They know what they are doing and are working hard to take away our democracy.

    Right wing conservatives like Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and others clearly state that they do not believe in democracy. They want a military government, an authoritarian leader and single party rule. This is no secret. It is openly stated in their literature, radio broadcasts and TV shows.

    Alex Jones, right wing paranoiac and constitutional extremist, has experienced a massive expansion of followers. He regularly has 3 million listeners a day and has expanded into web TV.

    These people should not be taken lightly. They are very dangerous.

  41. Bryan D

    Perry seems the odd man out in this, we already have the business/establishment guy with Romney and we already have the zany outsider/social guy or gal in this case with Bachmann.

    Is he trying to be zany-ier to stand out? He should try to be business-ier right now, that would make sense. :P

  42. Mike

    I have a couple of very naughty words for Rick Perry… and half the Republican field this year. I’ll refrain from using them in this venue but I do have to admit that this year scares the heck out of me with how much legitimacy these candidates are getting. This could be a very depressing election next year.

  43. Darth Robo

    @31, Jeremy

    Actually, yes, teaching creationism in public schools WOULD be a violation of the First Amendment. The important words we both refer to are thus:

    —”Congress shall make no law respecting ESTABLISHMENT of religion, nor restricting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis mine)

    This means that teaching any one religion in PUBLIC school classes (funded by the Government) would be akin to *establishment* of religion, and by logical extension *would* RESTRICT the free exercise of other religions. The ONLY way around this would be to teach ALL religions EQUALLY. Of course it goes without saying that such a class should be a comparative religions class and not done in science class. I myself would even support a comparative religions class, but I doubt that many fundies would.

    But the reason the courts have consistently interpreted the First Amendment in such a manner is because they understand it, as well as the logical consequences of allowing the teaching of any one religious view.

    .

    As for the issue of whether Rick Perry is actually violating the Constitution here, I think it’s fairly semantic – if he’s not violating it by openly supporting creationism in public schools, he is openly admitting that he WOULD happily violate the Constitution if he got into power.

  44. Darth Robo

    And for when the inevitable fundies turn up, perhaps they could tell us what no other ID/Creationist so far has not? What exactly IS the “scientific theory” of ID/Creationism?

    Poor David on the previous thread openly admitted that it’s Goddidit with magic. Because fundies can’t help but shoot themselves in the foot.

  45. Julie Worley

    Search “A Violent Education” report issued 8/20/08 to U.S. Government officials by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch that found that in Texas and Mississippi children ranging in age from 3 to 19 years old are routinely physically punished for minor infractions such as chewing gum, talking back to a teacher, or violating the dress code, as well as for more serious transgressions such as fighting. Corporal punishment, legal in 19 states, typically takes the form of “paddling,” during which an administrator or teacher hits a child repeatedly on the buttocks with a long wooden board.

    Corporal punishment violates international human rights standards binding on the U.S., including norms prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and protecting the right to dignity. The report shows that, as a result of paddling, many children are left injured, degraded, and disengaged from school.

    School faculty members are required by law to report suspected child abuse, yet they are allowed, by law today in 19 U.S. predominantly Southern “Bible Belt” States, to inflict physical Pain as punishment on school children with legal impunity and absolutely no safety standards, training, testing or certification to protect students!

    Governor Perry recently signed TX HB 359 Giving Parents the Right to Prohibit Corporal/Physical PAIN as Punishment of Their Children in Schools!
    Corporal/Physical Pain as Punishment is Illegal in Schools in 31 U.S. States and All U.S. Prisons.

    School paddling is discriminatorily applied to boys, minorities, disabled and low income students. Hitting a non-consenting adult with a wooden paddle on the buttocks is sexual assault.

    If school employees hit students with wooden paddles in public, they’d be arrested for assault as would any parent, police officer, lawmaker or U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

    School paddling injuries result in several thousand students seeking emergency medical treatment annually and puts school districts at risk of lawsuits paid for by taxpayers in those communities.

    Please add your voice to the National Campaign to End School Paddling of Students at Unlimited Justice dot com founded by Billionaire Fashion Designer and Education Reformer Marc Ecko.

    Check out free online resources for all child caregivers ­”Plain Talk About Spanking” at http://www.nospank.net/pt2011.htm , sparethekids.com and dontbeatblackkids.com.

  46. James H. (south of Dallas)

    I teach in Texas, and this statement by Perry is a 100% lie. We do NOT teach creationism alongside evolution. In the private schools, they probably only teach the former, but look at the TEKS for science in Texas and nowhere will you find creationism. This man is a complete liar and a fraud. Phil, you really need to post something every day about his crazy comments, this man is not only nuts, but he is dangerous. He cut 4 BILLION, yes BILLION from public schools this year. He is anti science, anti women, anti….well everything! He’s antimatter! We’re all gonna blow up if he gets the high office!

  47. mike burkhart

    Phil I figureed you put this on the blog.Take it easy I think his chances at the Oval office just went down. Next time he makes a campaing stop some one ask him about the Big Bang.

  48. Noel

    Just throwing my voice in with the rest saying how disgusted I am to see a mother use her son as a political tool. As a Texas-born Canadian (with dual citizenship) I don’t agree with the republican’s agenda, but this video makes Democrats look just as disgusting. Ethical conduct seems to be seriously lacking on both sides.

  49. Greg M

    I am not a Rick Perry supporter, nor a young earth creationist. But it is simply a fact that there is way more scientific evidence that points towards a creation/ID origins of life than there is for the folly of an idea that life on this planet came from unguided molecular chemistry related forces.

    Go ahead, stick your fingers in your ears and by choice be blind, claim “science” points to evolutionary life origins, but it simply is not true.

    Let’s consider the human:

    There are 45 miles of nerves in the human body, all routed to the appropriate places and carrying signals using an incredibly complex process to the brain where the data is translated in an organ that is strategically designed and programmed, and is made up of 100 billion neurons. (100 billion!)

    The finger has joints that transition bone to flexible cartilage, fingerprints on the fingertips that are unique to the individual and are relatively chemical resistant; the back side is made of flexible soft skin. There is temperature regulation and detection, full damage repair mechanisms for soft tissue and bone, and pain and pressure sensors. On top, there is a fingernail which is produced by a special set of cells that produce the hard nail which peels off to preserve length. It both protects the fingertips from crush damage and provides certain dexterity advantages. The bone marrow produces blood cells; there is waste removal and cell regeneration according to set time periods. Fluid transit is accommodated using the lymph system and the blood vessel system is pumped via the heart and the vessel valve system.

    There are 60,000-100,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body, all of which route to the appropriate places and which transition to capillaries at the appropriate places. Ligaments hold the joints together and joints are fashioned according to function.

    And this is only the tip of the iceberg in the human alone. And consider that this all springs forth and builds itself in a female womb that is obviously designed for a human child to grow in and be nourished by, from two single cells, a sperm and an egg.

    Of course, things are even more complex at the cellular and atomic level.

    The DNA molecule is a programmed biological database made up of over 8 billion atoms. (8 billion!) Even so, by itself, it is worthless, but can only produce biological growth if placed into a living cell with the appropriate biological structures. The haploid human genome has over 2.9 billion base pairs. It is estimated there are between 20,000 and 25,000 protein coding genes.

    The DNA instructs other cellular mechanisms how to make different types of proteins so they all fit together and fold up into different biological forms. It is not random. In Darwin’s time, they thought that amoeba were simple life forms since they were single celled. But we have found that they are not simple and the processes required to make an amoeba are amazing and complex.

    Everything evidentiary screams design from top to bottom. Some of the most complex and interdependent designs are the genetic aspects of life-forms, the mechanisms that are required for “natural selection”. How life has incredible diversity within species without species falling apart and extinguishing themselves genetically is not due to chance, but rather redundant design. There is no way whatsoever that life on this planet came about through unguided chemical processes. That natural selection and genetic selections occurs is obvious, but ancient people knew this to be true even though they did not understand the processes. Animal breeding for traits has been going on since animals have been domesticated.

    Darwin’s observations are interesting, but he had no clue as to how complex and interdependent the processes he was looking at actually were. The question is not are there genetic adaptation mechanisms in life forms, everyone pretty much agrees on those things, but whether life itself and the genetic codings and biological structures that make the diversity of life on this planet possible could have come about through unguided chemical process or not.

    The answer to that is simple and obvious to anyone who looks at the evidence. It was designed.

    That survivability of characteristics are part of the development of species over time is obvious, but coded biological databases did not come about by chance, nor did the data they contain, or the structures needed for them to make even a single simple celled creature.

    An amoeba dubia has around 670 billion base pair DNA units; the amoeba proteus has 270 billion. Get a clue; it didn’t just “happen”.

    Argue with the 6,000 year time frame that some Christians pose as a time window if you want, but regardless of time frame for species development, life on this planet was, indeed, designed.

    And that conclusion is based on such a vast amount of evidence, the only reason a scientist cannot see it is because they are trying not to.

  50. Robin

    I think it’s obvious that Rick Perry has not violated the Constitution. Phil, such a claim would be expected by media hounds, but I never would have expected it from you. The video DOES show that Perry doesn’t respect the Constitution and perhaps harbors significant antipathy toward it and toward the idea behind it.

    What the mom in the video did with the kid was repulsive. It’s ironic because she used a fringe move to out a fringe tilt to Perry’s ideas.

  51. Darth Robo

    Greg M

    —”Go ahead, stick your fingers in your ears and by choice be blind, claim “science” points to evolutionary life origins, but it simply is not true.”

    The theory of evolution does not rely on explaining the origin of life, for the exact same reason that the theory of gravity does not rely on the origin of mass. All the theory of gravity needs is for mass to exist. Mass exists, so the theory works. All evolution needs is for life to be here. Life IS here. Life evolves. Facts. In order to demonstrate otherwise, you need to demonstrate that life is in fact NOT here.

    —”Let’s consider the human: COMPLEXITY blah blah”

    So what you’re saying is that the complexity of life baffles you that you cannot comprehend the existence of life without invoking an “intelligent entity”? At which point you fall foul of infinite regression, and will need to have an excuse as to why humans are created but your “intelligent creator” was not.

    —”The DNA instructs other cellular mechanisms how to make different types of proteins so they all fit together and fold up into different biological forms. It is not random.”

    And no-one claims it to be. In fact it would be rather stupid to call a biochemical replication process “random”, so why on Earth are you equating such a word with evolution?

    —”The answer to that is simple and obvious to anyone who looks at the evidence. It was designed.”

    How so? Again I ask: What exactly IS the “scientific theory” of ID/Creationism? Who or what is the designer and how can we tell? What mechanism did it use to do whatever it is you think it did and how can we tell? When and where did it do it and how can we tell? How is “design” quantified/measured in an objective manner via the scientific method? What scientific observations can be made in regards to ID/Creationism? How exactly is “Complex Specified Information” (CSI) quantified/measured, and how exactly was the demarcation line between designed and non-designed determined in an objective manner via the scientific method? Why is this (allegedly all-powerful universe-creating) designer apparently incapable of evolution and how were these limits determined scientifically? What useful scientific predictions does ID make? How can it be tested? How can it be falsified?

    Or to put it short: Why is “Something intelligent did something intelligent!” a better “explanation” than the theory of evolution?

    —”Argue with the 6,000 year time frame that some Christians pose as a time window if you want, but regardless of time frame for species development, life on this planet was, indeed, designed. And that conclusion is based on such a vast amount of evidence, the only reason a scientist cannot see it is because they are trying not to.”

    Really? If that’s the case then you should have no problem in presenting said evidence, rather than just saying “Wow, everything’s so complicated! It MUST be designed!!!” I look forward to you being the first person to EVER answer the questions I have presented above, since even the DI themselves have openly admitted to not even having a viable scientific theory of Intelligent Design.

  52. Robin

    @ Greg M (#51): Actually, Greg. You did not provide one scintilla of scientific proof of creation or ID. Your entire screed rests on the assumption that things are just two complex to have happened randomly. Unfortunately for you (and the ID crowd) there is no physical support for the idea. None. There’s not any theory, reasoning, or evidence that even hints at maximal complexity parameters. In fact, it’s absolutely wrong to think of things as such.

    8 billion atoms in a DNA molecule? So what? That’s inconsequential as many components of a DNA molecule are similar and are themselves made up of many molecules. Replication and mutation of those analogues quickly adds many molecules to arrive at your 8 billion. Given the 3.8 billion years that have passed since the first prokaryotes came into existence, that allows a lot of time for mutations to occur and evolution to proceed. How long? Well to use the “Tool of Large Numbers” that you use, prokaryotes came into being over 119 quadrillion seconds ago! That’s an astoundingly long time. Heck, even if we look at that time in terms of years, 3.8 billion is much longer than we can really conceive of.

    When you can actually provide proof please do so. By proof I mean actual physical proof or actual testable hypotheses (hypothesis isn’t necessarily proof, but it starts us down the line toward proving or disproving).

  53. Jeremy

    @Darth Robo: No, a TEACHER establishing religion in a classroom is not CONGRESS establishing religion nor restricting its practice. Unless CONGRESS ITSELF passes a law that says you must teach a specific religion in school, there is no Constitutional violation. If a random public school teacher decides to teach religion in class, it is illegal, yes, but NOT unconstitutional. If the Texas School Board were to require teachers to teach a certain religion in the classroom, that too would be illegal, yes, but not unconstitutional. The Constitution is very clear: CONGRESS – and Congress alone – is restricted from establishing (and restricting) religion.

  54. Dan I.

    @ 55. Jeremy:

    As an attorney I can tell you that you are wrong. First of all, the 1st Amendment has been incorporated to the states via the 14th Amendment. So you’re wrong on the “only applies to Congress” front, it applies to Federal and State governments.

    If a teacher were to, on her own, bring creationism into the schools that would be a violation of the 1st Amendment. If a school board were to institute a Creationist curriculum, even absent action by the state, that would be a Constitutional violation.

    Now the school might NOT be subject to suit if they immediately removed such a teacher from the classroom, but if the school was or SHOULD HAVE BEEN aware of the issue and takes no action that are subject to a federal Civil Rights lawsuit for violations of the 1st Amendment.

  55. Jeremy

    @ Dan: And also as an attorney I can tell you that I am absolutely correct. There is a difference between interpretation of the Constitution and the Constitution itself. The 14th Amendment does not extend Congress’ Constitutional requirements to individual local teachers or school boards.

  56. Steve

    Thank you Greg M for an accurate scientific assessment. All the evidence points to a Creator, none at all to undirected natural processes. All of the purported transitions from one species to a new one are completely unsupported. I have never seen “proof” of evolution that made any sense at all. It is all smoke and mirrors. Just look at the odds of first life forming from chemicals- no one has even come up with a plausible concept of how it could happen. Read Romans 1:20- anyone is inexcusable to miss the obvious implications of nature.

  57. VinceRN

    Violating that portion of the first amendment is one of the main planks of his campaign. However, it’s really irrelevant as he has about the same chance of getting the nomination as Dr. Plait does.

    One interesting thing is that really no one likes him on this issue. I looked around on a few creationism and intelligent design web sites and they seem to blame him for appointing the people who recently shot down their efforts.

    I would guess that Romney is the likely nominee, and on this issue at least he is OK. His own beliefs seem to be a weak sort of intelligent design, but he is against teaching even that in schools. In general he seems to have a pretty good understanding of the establishment clause, at least judging by his words, and is actions as Governor of Massachusetts. I’m only talking about this isolated issue, I’m not a Romney supporter at all.

    Also, Texas absolutely does not teach creationism. They had a few clowns on the TEA that wanted to, but they failed, and I imagine if they had succeeded there would have been a mass revolt of science teachers.

  58. Ribi

    Kitzmiller v. Dover: the actions of a local school board in pushing intelligent design were found to be a violation of the 1st Amendment, inter alia. The Lemon Test applies equally well to creationism in Texas’s state curriculum. Under Lemon,

    1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;
    2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
    3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    Creationism (or intelligent design) in a public school biology curriculum does not serve a secular purpose, save base appeasement of campaign contributors. It indisputably has the primary effect of advancing Christian religion, and excludes other outlooks. And, not least because it puts a school board in the position of interpreting which Scripture is to be considered evidential in the science classroom, it absolutely results in excessive government entanglement.

    See also, McLean v. Arkansas BOE and Edwards v. Aguillard for creationism-specific language. See Peloza v. Capistrano USD for the same argument as applied to a single teacher acting independently. The public school system, from the US DOE to every last teacher, is a governmental agency, and as such, it must comply with federal law.

  59. Paul

    Hmm… When I watched the video, I said to myself, ‘Good for you, mom!’ Anything that gets this garbage known is good. And if she had simply asked her own questions, his responses would not have had the impact they did as when spoken to a child. His responses may not have been as clear, either. I think the kid in the video probably means this gets more play in the media.

    Also, I have a son around this age. I can envision him wanting to ask these questions of this…person, but not being quite brave enough to do it without some encouragement. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here (it doesn’t really seem like it), but it could be true. We don’t know if this was a deliberate act on her part.

    The important question is: What was Perry thinking when he said that they teach both evolution and creationism? If he really believes it, he’s completely out of touch with reality. If he just said it because he wants it to be true, or somehow wanted people to think it’s true, that’s bizarre, too. Is he not aware that he is now being recorded non-stop?

  60. Pat

    Teaching creationism violates the establishment clause. Last I checked that was in the first amendment, not the fourteenth. It’s government – it’s established by case law that a public school (which didn’t exist when the constitution was written) is an arm of the government, and as such is subject to the same strictures as any other arm of the government regarding favoring a religion.

    And it /does/ happen in Texas. Maybe not in “big city” Texas, but in New Braunfels, I had to take up my younger sister’s education after her science teacher blew off the entire evolution curriculum and refused to answer her questions, regarding the whole thing with an air of distaste and disdain. I answered what I could, but I know it hurt her education, and she actually came home crying several times over the way her curiosity was treated.

  61. Perhaps Jeremy needs to read the 14th amendment again, esp. this bit: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    This amendment extended the protections of the Bill of Rights from the Federal level to the State level.

  62. Jeremy

    @ Ribi: Exactly. You’re talking about the so-called “incorporation doctrine,” which is a _court interpretation_ of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment itself contains no such wording that specifically applies the 1st Amendment to local school boards or individual public employees like teachers. Now, the courts have _interpreted_ the 14th Amendment thusly in recent years, yes – though I should point out that the courts have not always had this interpretation.

    Again, there is a difference between what’s IN the Constitution, and what courts have INTERPRETED the Constitution to mean. Court interpretations are ever-changing, and what is doctrine in one era may be gone in the next.

    In any case, we’re off-topic. My only point was that there’s not a court in the country that would declare Perry to be in violation of the 1st Amendment because he (inaccurately) told a kid that Texas teaches creationism.

  63. Jeremy

    @Todd: As I pointed out, that wording says nothing about local school boards nor individual public employees.

  64. Beau

    As a Texas science teacher, I can tell you we DO NOT teach creationism in our school. He’s outright lying (not that that’s anything unusual for a politician). He also made statements recently about how global warming is nothing but lies from scientists manipulating data.

  65. dethkat666

    Please, America, do not vote for Gov. Perry at any time for any reason. He has about destroyed Texas, where I live and was born.

  66. Grand Lunar

    Coincidently, I read an article in my local paper (yes kiddies, a physical paper, not an electronic medium; the old fashioned method is still around) in which Perry gives his views on climate change, offering the usual brand of logical fallacies.

    A spokesman, whom I suppose spoke for the Republican party, was quoted saying something to the effect of “We don’t want to be known as the anti-science party”.

    To which I say, “Then stop getting people in who are anti-science!”

    Perry seems to excel in making certain his anti-science stance is held.
    I can only hope this is considered when it comes election time.

  67. noen

    Greg M said “There are 45 miles of nerves in the human body, all routed to the appropriate places…

    There are 60,000-100,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body, all of which route to the appropriate places…”

    Where else would they go, to the wrong places? Organisms that are structured in a way that puts blood and nerves in the *wrong* places do not survive.

    “The DNA molecule is a programmed biological database “

    Question begging. There is no reason natural processes can not also result in functional DNA.

    Let’s just cut to the chase

    Evolution IS a Blind Watchmaker

  68. Sam Foster

    This is coming from a man who suggested during his last reelection campaign that Texas should secede. If that doesn’t reek of treason I don’t know what does.

  69. Stephen

    Phil, as a born and breed Texas I am ashamed that Perry, or as I like to call him”Governor Good Hair”, is the public face of my home state. I didn’t vote him and will never vote for him. He is bad for Education and Science. The People of Texas have a bad rep as a bunch of gun-loving, bible thumping backwoods racist hicks. Creationism is not taught in Texas schools. Most Texas Science Teachers would rather pick up trash for a living than teach a lie to the Children of Texas.

  70. Michael

    It isn’t the mother’s fault Perry will only have a conversation with a child.

    He didn’t admit to violating the constitution. He just said his state violates it, implying that he plans to continue doing so.

    This is an interesting article about Perry’s beliefs. Scary to think of what he might actually stand by.

  71. Steve

    I am so disappointed, I can’t even come here to get away from politics.

  72. Daniel J. Andrews

    Greg, as pointed out already, your arguments boil down to argument from complexity, argument from incredulity, and argument from ignorance (i.e. we don’t know why x so therefore “designed”–or usually more accurately “I don’t know why x…).

    Read The Blind Watchmaker by Dawkins, or if you don’t trust an atheist, read something by a person of faith, Only a Theory by Miller (or was it Finding Darwin’s God by Miller….meh, read both), and/or The Language of God by Collins. They all easily show why your arguments are logically flawed. Personally, I believed similarly to you at one point…it was Dawkins’ book that was my watershed moment that clarified many things I’d been struggling with.

    As for nerves all routed to the appropriate place, I take it you haven’t heard about the laryngeal nerve? Google that nerve + giraffe. It is routed to the appropriate place…eventually.

  73. HvP

    Jeremy,

    Well, since you are so interested in what the Constitution says, it says:
    Article III. Section I.
    “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts…”
    Section II.
    “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution.”

    In other words, the Constitution quite clearly says that the Supreme Court gets the power to interpret controversies raised by the Constitution itself. Not you. The Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has already gone on record saying that Teaching Creationism in public schools violates the Constitution.

    You are of course welcome to dispute that interpretation, but don’t try to tell us that a ruling made by the constitutional authority of the Supreme Court is somehow not constitutional. No matter how circular it may seem, any ruling by the Supreme Court is automatically constitutional because that is exactly what defines constitutionality.

  74. Shawn

    Maybe someone pointed this out already, but why is the video (produced by ABC news) entitled ‘Perry Faces Kid’s Evolution Question’ when the question was obviously not about evolution?

  75. VinceRN

    @ #62 Pat – The reason that it’s the 14th amendment is that the first amendment reads “Congress shall make no law….”. The state of Texas is not congress, so under the first amendment by itself Texas can make laws establishing religion or preventing the free exercise there of. The state of Connecticut had a state religion until the 1830s I believe, in no violation of the 1st amendment at all. The due process clause of the 14th amendment is key here because it has been interpreted by the courts (though it does not specifically say so) as making the Bill of Rights applicable to the states.

  76. Jeffrey in Texas

    He’s about the worst bloviator in American politics since Joe McCarthy.

  77. Messier Tidy Upper

    The bad news is that Rick Perry is, indeed, a prominent early candidate for the Republican party nomination for the US Presidency – and, yeah, having him spout that creationist nonsense is a worry. :-(

    However, the good news will be (I hope! I expect.) that he won’t win and will go down in history as an obscure footnote like say whatstheirnames that ran for the Republican nominations in 2008 before losing to John McCain. Who then lost to Obama.

    I’m tipping Mitt Romney to win the 2012 Republican nomination beating Perry, Bachmann and tehother extremer rightwingers and then Obama to win the 2012 Presidential election. I do think most Americans are more moderate and more pro-science than idiots like Perry make them appear.

  78. Azkyroth

    Oh, come on. The Constitution lead him on! Did you see what it was wearing?

    And believe me, it enjoyed every minute of it.

  79. Darth Robo

    Jeremy 57

    —”No, a TEACHER establishing religion in a classroom is not CONGRESS establishing religion nor restricting its practice.”

    But as public schools are funded by the Government and teachers are employed by said schools, they are considered agents of the Government. And by teaching any one religion over another they are NECESSARILY restricting the practice of ALL OTHER religions. Therefore religion CANNOT be taught in public schools unless ALL religions are taught EQUALLY. If you believe otherwise, then by all means argue your case in court. You will lose. It’s why the Creationists have lost every single court case since 1925. It’s part of the reason why John Freshwater got himself into a bit of a pickle.

    Steve 58

    —”Thank you Greg M for an accurate scientific assessment. All the evidence points to a Creator, none at all to undirected natural processes.”

    It was not accurate, as argument from incredulity does not constitute positive evidence of Creationism. So then perhaps you would be able to tell us exactly what the “scientific theory” of ID/Creationism is? Didn’t think so.

    —”I have never seen “proof” of evolution that made any sense at all.”

    Is DNA able to accurately determine parentage of an offspring? If so, you accept evolution.

    —”Just look at the odds of first life forming from chemicals- no one has even come up with a plausible concept of how it could happen.”

    Abiogenesis is a separate area of research. But the theory of evolution does not rely on explaining the origin of life, for the same reason the theory of gravity doesn’t have to explain the origin of mass. All evolution needs is for life to be here. Life IS here. Life evolves. Facts. In order to falsify this you need to demonstrate that life is in fact NOT here. Good luck.

    —”Read Romans 1:20- anyone is inexcusable to miss the obvious implications of nature.”

    I thank the fundies once again for demonstrating their “scientific alternative” is nothing more than religious apologetics and nothing to do with science.

    Jeremy 64

    —”In any case, we’re off-topic. My only point was that there’s not a court in the country that would declare Perry to be in violation of the 1st Amendment because he (inaccurately) told a kid that Texas teaches creationism.”

    But he would be if he supported such a move. And by openly endorsing this view as a representative of the Government he is walking a thin line.

  80. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 79. Azkyroth : LOL. The Constituition was just wearing ink and paper right? ;-)

    2012 election predictions~wise, I guess in fairness, I should note that for the last US election I’d have tipped a Rudy Guiliani (R) versus Hilary Clinton (D) contest. I still think they were probably the best out of the bad bunch on offer & wonder how different things might be now had either of them won.

  81. Messier Tidy Upper

    BTW. Perry~wise, *this* via Pharnygula is :

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/do_we_need_another_dumb_texan.php
    is kinda scary too. :-o

    I honestly can’t see the majority of Americans voting for Rick Perry – or, for that matter, Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin either – but if any of those three get to be president then Flying Spahghetti Monster help us all!

    Or .. given I’ve heard elsewhere in past discussions on this blog that the US president is relatively powerless would it really be so apocalyptic after all?

    This non-American observer (I’ll admit I’m not so familiar with the US govt system which, frankly, seems a pretty odd and ineffective way of doing things to me!) is curious to know what if the Worst (& leats likely) case scenario actually happened and Perry somehow got elected POTUS what could he actually do? Could he actually overthrow the constituition and force science classes to teach evolution or would that just be blocked in Congress / Senate and get him impeached? How much damage could he really do before he’d be stopped?

    Really hoping that remains hypothetical and we don’t find out in reality.

  82. Messier Tidy Upper

    Oh & also this via PZ Myers and Rachel Maddow :

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/rachel_maddow_will_give_me_nig.php

    makes scary and freakshow like viewing too. :-o

  83. JT

    “Ask him why he’s against knowledge and logic, ask him why he’s against knowledge and logic.” Actually, MSM, I’m talking to you. Please do ask him this.

  84. What 82 (just prior to this) said.

    Also: It’s POSSIBLE the mom is prompting the kid to ask questions he himself wanted to ask, but got shy about. That happens.

    As to first amendment: If Perry speaks honestly here and THINKS Texas is teaching creationism, then he is, as Phil says, either consciously thinks he’s presiding over a violation of the first amendment or doesn’t know about it.

  85. Lawrence

    Hopefully, during the national Republican debates, at least one of the moderators will ask the tough questions on their stances on Church & State, plus Scientific education.

  86. I’m not sure if the mom put the kid up to it or once the kid was done she started to feed him additional questions. My son would probably ask something exactly like the kid did because he asks questions exactly like that. Perry probably decided it was safe to field a question from a kid since he has to play dodge-ball with questions like that from adults. He got zinged. :P

  87. Svlad Cjelli

    31. Jeremy – I get that it only concerns congress, though I’m not sure what kinds of authority congress has otherwise. But about teaching religion in schools, if it’s a mandatory teach-as-true course, isn’t it a de facto state religion, loopholes aside?

  88. John

    I am the opposite of a fan of Rick Perry, and he will have his judgment day (pun intended) but this mom is equally despicable for using her son to push a political agenda. THAT is the kind of crap that is wrong with both sides.

  89. @48 James H (South of Dallas)

    “He cut 4 BILLION, yes BILLION from public schools this year.”

    Obviously that can’t be a coincidence. He must believe that budgets can only go up to $6000 lol

  90. @Jeremy,

    Teachers in public schools are effectively government employees. As such, they are acting on behalf of the government and are constrained by Church/State separations the same as any government agency is.

    If a teacher began teaching creationism in class without the support of her principal/school board, he/she would quickly find themselves in trouble for going off-curriculum. Given the parental complaints that would inevitably result (why would I want my Jewish child taught the Christian creationism story? What about a Hindu, Muslim or Atheist child in that class?), there *would* be parental complaints and the teacher would wind up being 1) forced to stop teaching creationism or 2) disciplined if he/she continued to teach it.

    Of course, if the school board approved a curriculum teaching creationism they would be brought to court (as some have been) and would be forced to remove the creationism teachings (as some have been).

    All of this doesn’t count if the teacher is in a private school. A child sent to a Catholic school can be taught that God created the Universe by saying “Let There Be Light” 6,000 years ago and parents wouldn’t have any grounds to object. (Beyond threatening to pull their child from the school, of course.)

  91. @51. Greg M

    Basically, all the waffle comes down to you listing a bunch of big numbers, at which point you claim design. That is wrong.

    Design leads to simplicity, not complexity. If life on Earth was designed, it was designed by a moron of the highest order. Ever choked on your food? Still want to claim that we were designed?

  92. Astrogarden

    I can’t help but think that this sort of pandering to the christian right will not work as well as he may think. It offends as many people as it impresses.

    Indeed, such rhetoric may be irrelevant to the outcome of the 2012 election as most elections turn on the economy far more than on issues such as church and state. What happens with the economy in the next 14 months is what matters for the election. All the more illogical as the president has little real effect on the economy.

  93. Nigel Depledge

    Jeremy (31) said:

    While I agree that Perry is dangerous and creationism is nonsense, your analysis that this is some type of violation of the First Amendment is inaccurate. The First Amendment says nothing that prohibits teaching religion in public schools. The First Amendment says two, and only two, things about religion: a.) that Congress cannot pass laws which establish an official state religion, and b.) that Congress cannot prohibit people from practicing religion. Teaching religion in a public school would not qualify as either of these things, so it technically would not be a violation of the First Amendment. It WOULD be a violation of legal precedent in the way that certain courts have interpreted the First Amendment, but it would not be a violation of the Constitution itself.

    What utter rubbish!

    First, your point is only valid if all religions are taught equally (and this means tghere would be no time at all for teaching anything, y’know, worth knowing).

    Second, the teaching of one or just a few religions in publically-funded schools represents an endorsement of that (or those few) religion(s), which is where you come into conflict with the first amendment. Letters written by the Constitution’s authors make it plain that the function of the first amendment is to keep government out of endorsing or supressing any particular religion or religions.

    I suppose you could claim to be right in a very narrow and technical sense, since Congress is not passing a law to determine what is or isn’t taught in schools. But Congress allocates funds to public education, and this is the key point.

  94. Nigel Depledge

    Of course, there is a broader point here.

    Perry is a symptom of the current state of education in the USA, and of the election system that turns every presidential election into a simple popularity contest. People don’t vote for the guy they trust the most, or for the guy they expect to best represent the USA on the international stage – they vote for the guy who says the kinds of stuff that they agree with. (And then seem mostly not to notice when he fails to follow it through).

    If such a thing were to happen in the UK, you’d have any number of learned societies immediately pointing out how wrong this guy is.

  95. Daniel J. Andrews

    Here’s a spoof of the issue from the folks at Gin and Tonic.
    http://friendsofginandtonic.org/files/7791d79c70f15323fc9afd347b735885-382.html

    GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry told New Hampshire voters that he does not believe in the existence of a God who can directly intervene in human affairs, calling it a religious theory that has not been proven.

    “I think we’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, theologians that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that a supernatural entity is what is causing events here on Earth,” the Texas governor said on the first stop of a two-day trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state.

    …..

    Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney — who all at one point supported steps to curb the takeover of fundamentalism, for example by supporting the teaching of science in US schools — have since tempered their stances. But unlike Perry, both Romney and Huntsman acknowledge the existence of ‘science’.

  96. @ greg, et al:

    Go back to the old A Win for Reality in Texas post by the BA. All your circular non-arguments were barfed up there…repeatedly. And not a one of them got beyond the “evolution is wrong because the Bible sez…” stage.

  97. Jason B

    I recall seeing a good post here a while back that did a nice job of taking apart climate deniers arguments.
    Can anyone provide a link to this post or anything along those lines.
    I cant find it myself and am in need a refresher.

    Thanks a bunch

  98. jennyxyzzy

    Oh Jeremy… The First Amendment requires (to use your own words) ” that Congress cannot pass laws which establish an official state religion,”

    The 14th extends this to state governments. Now, somewhere along the way, the state in question will have passed a law creating schools, a Board of Education and so on. If any organisation so created then acts in such a way as to establish a religion, then it is doing so as a consequence of the law that created it, and hence that law falls foul of the First. Think of it this way – if schools start teaching a religion, then by the First, there are two remedies – strike the laws establishing schools, and hence close the schools, or stop the schools teaching religion. The first remedy is politically unavailable, so the net result of the 1st Amendment is that schools can’t teach religion.

  99. Lawrence

    Whomever the Republicans ultimately put up against Obama is going to be faced with the problem of having to have been so “conservative” for their base (and the Tea Party) that they will find it awfully hard going when they try to reach across the aisle to attract minorities, women or left of center voters.

    The Republicans are finding themselves with an energized base which forces them into political positions that are unsustainable in the face of the national electorate.

  100. Messier Tidy Upper

    @100. Jason B asks :

    I recall seeing a good post here a while back that did a nice job of taking apart climate deniers arguments. Can anyone provide a link to this post or anything along those lines.

    Well this :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/tag/climate-change/

    gives you all the BA blog articles tagged climate change so that might hopefully help if you scroll through them all.

    This one :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/12/15/comic-takedown-of-global-warming-denial/

    is one linked series of somebody else (Daryl Cunningham) taking down climate contrarians in comic form whilst this one :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/02/climate-denial-crock-of-the-week/

    was my personal introduction to a *very* informative and entertaining Youtube series back in the days when I was still a Climate Contrarian and which played a role in changing in my views on that along with arguing ’bout it on this blog.

  101. Messier Tidy Upper

    (Cont. – a can’t have too many links in the one post post.)

    The whole of that last series mentioned in that last link can also conveniently be found here :

    http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/climate-denial-crock-of-the-week/#sense

    Plus there’s

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/10/26/climate-change-the-evidence/

    Which is the BA’s (& NASA linked) main page of evidence for the evidence favouring Human Caused Global Overheating.

    Also maybe you’re thinking of this site :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    when it comes to debunking all the Climate Contrarian arguments, perhaps?

    Are any of these the one you had in mind? If not, can you add any further details that may help in tracking it down?

  102. Greg M said:

    blah, blah, some invisible all knowing and all powerful guy in the sky who also just can’t seem to manage his finances, damns me to hell but loves me. Yeah, you’re on the wrong forum.

  103. Does anyone remember how the Doctor (David Tennant) brought down a British PM with just six words?

    (Click on my name for spoilers for that.)

    Well, I reckon seven words will bring down Michelle Bachmann* :

    Zvpuryyr Onpuznaa jnagf gb ona cbeabtencul. Frevbhfyl.

    Cut’n'paste into this :

    http://www.rot13.com/index.php

    to see what they are. ;-)

    (Lrnu, rira tvira ubj gur angvba bapr ernpgrq gb cbbe Wnarg Wnpxfba’f “jneqebor znyshapgvba” vapvqrag. Juvpu jnf npghnyyl zber Gvzoreynxr’f snhyg VZUBA.)

    Meanwhile, just five words should suffice to deny the fringe Presidential candidates on the extreme sides of the political spectrums both left and right wing politics~wise :

    Don’t those ideas sound crazy?

    I really don’t think the USA will elect those that are a long way from the political mainstream. I really don’t.

    Indeed, given how far to the Left Obama is, I’m amazed they elected him.

    ———

    * Yes, I know we’re talking Perry NOT Bachmann here but there’s similarties aplenty and we are talking the US Presidential race 2012 so it seems fair to include her here.

  104. truthspeaker

    Messier Tidy Upper Says:
    August 19th, 2011 at 3:35 am

    BTW. Perry~wise, *this* via Pharnygula is :

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/do_we_need_another_dumb_texan.php
    is kinda scary too. :-o

    I honestly can’t see the majority of Americans voting for Rick Perry – or, for that matter, Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin either

    Unfortunately, the presidency is determined by a majority of electoral votes, not a majority of American voters. That’s how Bush got elected in 2000 (even assuming no fraud in Florida).

  105. noen

    Jason B said – “I recall seeing a good post here a while back that did a nice job of taking apart climate deniers arguments.”

    This is very good.

    How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic – Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming

  106. GrogInOhio

    As Perry babbles on and on, I keep telling myself that perhaps, just perhaps, he’s not quite as goofy as he’s pretending to be. Perhaps he’s just trying to sway some low information voters on the FAR, FAR right. Then I think… but he’s digging himself an incredibly deep hole that he’ll have to dig out of come general election time.

    Can he honestly be this goofy in earnest??

  107. TheBlackCat

    There are 45 miles of nerves in the human body, all routed to the appropriate places and carrying signals using an incredibly complex process to the brain where the data is translated in an organ that is strategically designed and programmed, and is made up of 100 billion neurons. (100 billion!)

    Depends on how you define “right place”. For instance the pharangeal nerve goes from the head to the neck…by way of the heart! That adds meters to the trip in giraffes, for instance.

    Also, if you look at how the spinal nerves are routed in the human, they form nice stripes…except at near the head and legs. There, they get all twisted and distorted. That doesn’t make much sense, until you put the person on all fours. Then the stripes suddenly go from nose to tail (or what’s left of our tail). In other words, our neurons are wired for a four-legged animal even though we are two-legged.

    Also, mis-wiring of neurons both in the body and in the brain is an extremely common problem. Numerous disorders result from it, some very debilitating.

    And the brain starts off with about 10 times as many neurons as it ends up with, but most of those are sent to the wrong places or otherwise screwed up. Most of the messed up ones are killed off, usually. So rather than it being a case with careful, directed development, it is more a process of “lets throw everything at the wall and see what sticks”. It is extremely wasteful.

    The finger has joints that transition bone to flexible cartilage,

    You mean the same cartilage that lacks a blood supply and thus cannot regenerate very much, leading to arthritis? Yeah, brilliant design there. What about the nerves to the fingers going through a useless loop of tendon, leading to extremely debilitating pain if the tendon gets inflamed?

    fingerprints on the fingertips that are unique to the individual

    That is actually a case of poor design. The reason they are unique is because the body doesn’t go to any great lengths to regulate their formation, so they just form randomly. Same with all the other biometric stuff we use, it is different in each person because it is poorly-regulated and ends up being more or less random.

    and are relatively chemical resistant;

    Relative to what? A lot of lethal chemicals soak right through, as does water. And while I am at it, this “well-designed” skin on ours palms sweats, leading to a poor grip.

    the back side is made of flexible soft skin.

    You mean like the entire rest of the body? That is hardly exciting.

    There is temperature regulation and detection,

    Within certain ranges. But when the temperature gets too cold, the body stops heating the extremeties, the very parts of the body that are most essentialy for getting you out of the cold.

    Also, we have two temperature receptors, one for hot and one for cold. But our cold receptor also responds to hot temperatures, temperatures even hotter than the hot receptor can sense. So the highest temperatures, the ones that are most dangerous, actually feel cold.

    full damage repair mechanisms for soft tissue and bone,

    No, there is no soft tissue or bone that can fully repair after receiving damage. Some, like cartilage or nerve, can hardly repair at all. Others, like skin or bone, can repair to some degree but the repaired tissue is invariably functionally and mechanically inferior to the original.

    and pain and pressure sensors.

    Pain sensors that get more sensitive the more pain you have, which means chronic pain only gets worse.

    On top, there is a fingernail which is produced by a special set of cells that produce the hard nail which peels off to preserve length. It both protects the fingertips from crush damage and provides certain dexterity advantages.

    We also have tonails that do nothing.

    The bone marrow produces blood cells;

    Which means broken bones can lead to major, even lethal blood loss.

    <blockquotethere is waste removal and cell regeneration according to set time periods. </blockquote
    The waste removal system is far from perfectly efficient, it loses a lot of important substances such as water and electrolytes.

    There are 60,000-100,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body, all of which route to the appropriate places and which transition to capillaries at the appropriate places.

    Not really, much of the routing is fairly random. It also does not regenerate perfectly after injury, is prone to clogging in multiple ways, and is prone to mechanical failure. Also, we only need the lymphatic system in the first place to carry all the water back after it leaks out of the extremely leaky blood system. Once again, hardly efficient.

    Add to that the fact that the heart lacks any sort of redundancy in its blood supply, and damage to one part tends to send the whole thing into a frenzy. This means a small clog is often lethal. Also, the wiring of the heart is prone to failure, and it doesn’t regenerate well at all.

    The aorta, which is the artery leading out of the heart to the rest of the body (except the lungs), is flexible, which it needs to be, but it lacks any sort of capsule to prevent it from expanding to far. When it does, which is not uncommon, it will continue to expand until it explodes, spilling the victim’s entire blood supply into the chest cavity. If it is caught early, we can go ahead and install our own capsule to prevent this. Just goes to show we can design a better blood flow system than the one we have.

    Also, it is not unusual for the wall between the two major parts of the heart to not form fully, if at all. This condition ranges from lethal at an embryonic stage to greatly reducing your endurance.

    Ligaments hold the joints together and joints are fashioned according to function.

    Our joints are often highly inefficient. Our knees are extremely prone to wear out cartilage because of the strange way they rotate. It isn't a hinge, it twists as it turns. We found this the hard way in the early days of knee replacements because the early devices used ordinary hinges, which humans cannot learn to use properly.

    Our shoulders are extraordinarily unstable, leading to easy dislocations, and the tendons and ligaments, once stretched out, will not return to their previous state, meaning once you get a disolocation you are much more likely to get another one.

    Also, we have far more tendons and ligaments than is needed, lots of them are redundant. These aren't redundant, if one fails the whole joint fails, but they are also not optimal. They also don't have good blood supplies, meaning they don't heal well.

    And this is only the tip of the iceberg in the human alone.

    Same here.

    And consider that this all springs forth and builds itself in a female womb that is obviously designed for a human child to grow in and be nourished by, from two single cells, a sperm and an egg.

    Right, that is why the birth canal goes down, meaning woman need much stronger muscles to hold the child in than other mammals, making the birth extremely long, difficult, painful, and dangerous even compared to other mammals (which have relatively difficult births to begin with). If the birth canal went out through the belly it would eliminate all of these problems.

    And what about the issue with the eggs having to pass through a gap before going down the filopian tubes, meaning that many of them are lost? Or the issue where embryos can implant in the filopian tube, leading to a condition that is often lethal to both the mother and embryo? Or the numerous, sometimes lethal conditions that arise from disorders of the placenta?

    Of course, things are even more complex at the cellular and atomic level.

    And more inefficient.

    The haploid human genome has over 2.9 billion base pairs. It is estimated there are between 20,000 and 25,000 protein coding genes.

    That is over a million base pairs on average for each protein, yet the average length of a protein is about 1000 base pairs (so about 1/1000th that). A lot of that DNA does nothing, we know this because it can change without having any effect.

    The DNA instructs other cellular mechanisms how to make different types of proteins so they all fit together and fold up into different biological forms.

    Amongst other things, sometimes. Actually most DNA is transcribed incorrectly, and the resulting RNA is either destroyed or the proteins destroyed. Once again, the process is highly inefficient, failing more often than it succeeds. Sometimes this degredation doesn’t happen, which can lead to lethal disorders (like mad cow disease).

    It is not random.

    Actually it is highly random. The binding of biological molecules is not deterministic, it is probabalistic. It fails a lot, and it binds in the wrong way a lot. It succeeds enough that it is useful, but it is nevertheless very random and very inefficient.

    Everything evidentiary screams design from top to bottom.

    If it is a designer, he or she is criminally incompetent. No human would ever make the bone-headed design decisions your designer supposedly did.

    How life has incredible diversity within species without species falling apart and extinguishing themselves genetically is not due to chance, but rather redundant design.

    Tell that to someone who just had a heart attack, or someone with cancer, or someone with AIDS, or someone with diabetes, or someone with aphasia (an extremely common disorder where someone cannot speak because they had a stroke in the speech center of the brain, which lies right next to a major artery), etc.

    There is no way whatsoever that life on this planet came about through unguided chemical processes.

    You so far have not provided any evidence to support this conclusion. “This just seems so complex” is not an argument.

    That natural selection and genetic selections occurs is obvious, but ancient people knew this to be true even though they did not understand the processes. Animal breeding for traits has been going on since animals have been domesticated.

    And they can lead to massive changes in a species in a very short period of time, or the formation of new species.

    Darwin’s observations are interesting, but he had no clue as to how complex and interdependent the processes he was looking at actually were.

    If he did he would not have been so hesistant to publish his work, life looks nothing like any design we know.

    The question is not are there genetic adaptation mechanisms in life forms, everyone pretty much agrees on those things, but whether life itself and the genetic codings and biological structures that make the diversity of life on this planet possible could have come about through unguided chemical process or not.

    We know they can, because we have seen it happen. We have seen complex biochemical structures, such as ion channels, evolve (such as in corn).

    That survivability of characteristics are part of the development of species over time is obvious, but coded biological databases did not come about by chance, nor did the data they contain, or the structures needed for them to make even a single simple celled creature.

    Blanket assertion with no evidence.

    And that conclusion is based on such a vast amount of evidence, the only reason a scientist cannot see it is because they are trying not to.

    Let me ask you this: what would you expect life to look like if it wasn’t designed?

  108. Nigel Depledge

    PayasYouStargaze (94) said:

    Design leads to simplicity, not complexity. If life on Earth was designed, it was designed by a moron of the highest order. Ever choked on your food? Still want to claim that we were designed?

    Yes. This.

  109. Nigel Depledge

    @ The Black Cat (105) -

    Yes, that pretty much sums it all up.

  110. Nigel Depledge

    @ Greg M (51) -

    Seriously? That’s your “argument”?

    All you have there is one very long argument from personal incredulity. There is no single sentence where you actually make an argument to support the conclusion of design.

    First, you assume that your argument from incredulity has the same weight as actual logic, which it does not.

    Second, you assume a false dichotomy (“not evolution, therefore design”).

    Third, you ignore the facts that The Black Cat points out, that all of your examples of “design” are – if they exemplify design at all – examples of incompetent design.

    Fourth, you actually state that some of your examples are “obviously designed” without even attempting an argument to support your claim. That is not reason, it is bald assertion. To clarify – (a) no, it is not “obviously designed”, that is merely your interpretation, based on a rather inadequate understanding of some cherry-picked facts; and (b) at no point do you define how you identify “design” in a thing without reference to knowledge that is external to that thing.

  111. Mike Lorrey

    This election is going to come down to deciding between a man who doesnt understand science, and a man who doesnt understand economics. Which do you think is more important to our lives and well being?

  112. Nigel Depledge

    Grog In Ohio (104) said:

    Can he honestly be this goofy in earnest??

    No, I don’t believe so. But I do believe he is saying what he thinks will win him more votes.

  113. Nigel Depledge

    Mike Lorrey (109) said:

    This election is going to come down to deciding between a man who doesnt understand science, and a man who doesnt understand economics. Which do you think is more important to our lives and well being?

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Mike, but most economists don’t understand economics. How else could the banking and trading systems be so screwed up?

  114. Nigel Depledge

    Jennyxyzzy (101) said:

    Think of it this way – if schools start teaching a religion, then by the First, there are two remedies – strike the laws establishing schools, and hence close the schools, or stop the schools teaching religion. The first remedy is politically unavailable, so the net result of the 1st Amendment is that schools can’t teach religion.

    I guess there is (in principle) a third way – teach all religions equally. But there simply cannot be enough timetable available for this to work.

  115. Nigel Depledge

    Steve (58) said:

    Thank you Greg M for an accurate scientific assessment.

    Erm … Steve, Greg’s post is a whole string of logical fallacies, with not one jot of scientific reasoning in it.

    All the evidence points to a Creator,

    If you want to take this tack : if we assume (for the sake of argument) there is a creator, the evidence confirms that said creator is either (a) criminally incompetent, or (b) a committee.

    In fact, there is no evidence that any such creator exists, nor any evidence that a creator is necessary to account for the diversity of living organisms we observe. In principle, such evidence could easily exist (for instance, forms of life on Earth that are clearly not related to any other forms of life). The fact that we do not see such evidence is actually support for evolutionary theory being the correct explanation.

    none at all to undirected natural processes.

    Go on, then, answer me this : what mechanism can prevent natural selection from effecting change in the face of a selection pressure?

    All of the purported transitions from one species to a new one are completely unsupported.

    * Yawn *. Same old, same old. This strawman was refuted around 1960, I think. Are you still trotting it out? In fact, speciation events have been observed to occur; and we have pretty good sequences of transitional forms, not merely from one species to another, but from one order to another (that’s three taxonomic levels higher than the species).

    Come to think of it, the species-to-species transition is probably the hardest one to identify clearly because it gets us mired in the whole muddle of what constitutes a species in the first place. And if you feel like arguing against this one, first of all talk to a botanist about how to distinguish a variety from a sub-species and a sub-species from a species, or talk to a pigeon breeder about where we draw the line between a breed and a species.

    I have never seen “proof” of evolution that made any sense at all.

    For which read: I have never understood biology. This does not constitute an argument.

    It is all smoke and mirrors. Just look at the odds of first life forming from chemicals- no one has even come up with a plausible concept of how it could happen.

    This is plain wrong. There is now every reason to believe that the first forms of life involved RNA for both encoding heredity and catalysing biochemical reactions. There is, as yet, no final proof one way or the other, but it is very, very plausible.

    All that aside, evolution will occur irrespective of how life began anyway. If you had read On the Origin of Species, you would know this – Darwin himself assumed that life on Earth began with one or a few events of special creation.

    Read Romans 1:20- anyone is inexcusable to miss the obvious implications of nature.

    Irrelevant.

  116. TheBlackCat

    Read Romans 1:20- anyone is inexcusable to miss the obvious implications of nature.

    So the Bible claims that the Bible is perfect and anyone who can’t see this is stupid so it doesn’t actually have to provide anything to back itself up. How convenient.

    If that is all it takes to convince you, can I have $10,000? I will give you a million in a week. You should believe me because I said it is true.

  117. Holly

    My husband used to be a science teacher at a Texas public school and is now an assistant principal at a Texas public school. Creationism is not taught but their science books were titled “Texas Science”. No word yet on how this differs from other science.

  118. onshay

    Phil – I am totally with you regarding Rick Perry. the fact that he’s come this far within our political system is astounding (and shameful). However, I think its questionable how this mother is using her son to push her views and make a statement. If the situation were reversed we’d be all over her for using her son as a tool.

  119. Wzrd1

    When *I* went to school, creationism WAS taught, along with every OTHER theory that was given any significant amount of attention. We were also taught about Hindu beliefs on the creation of the world and even some Native American beliefs. Just for historical perspective.
    That said, it was to teach us that there were other views, even IF those views are misguided in the extreme. It was NOT taught as fact, any more than any other theory was taught as fact, only as theories and which were the prevailing and closest to observed facts.

    THAT said, UNLESS creationism is only taught as a view of a group, which does not meet current and past observations and science, teaching it IS unconstitutional.

  120. It’s far worse than anti-science. He is part of a rising cult that makes the Bush years seem mild: http://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/rick-perrys-army-of-god

  121. Greg in Austin

    The only good thing I can say about Rick Perry is he’s a runner and is a big supporter of physical fitness.

    That being said, I beat him if we’re in the same race. Every chance I get.

    8)

  122. Darth Robo

    —”When *I* went to school, creationism WAS taught, along with every OTHER theory”

    Creationism is a THEORY now?

    When the heck did that happen? (shrug)

  123. Grand Lunar

    @124 Daniel,

    Concerning that article, it may be more appropiate, from a reality standpoint, to call that Perry’s Army of Darkness! :)

  124. Patricia

    There are many commenting on the mother prompting her son with questions, but there is a very valid reason why she did so. Watch how fast Perry gets away from her and the camera when he overhears her prompt her son to ask him if he “believes in science”. Perry knows that a poorly educated populace is HIS best bet in any election.

    And really, does anyone want to elect someone who’s college GPA was lower than dubya’s?

    Listen to and follow Molly Ivins’ very wise words: ‘The next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president, please pay attention!’

  125. Nigel Depledge

    Aaarg!

    I just noticed that a hole set of my posts referring to other comments now have the wrong references, as other posts have emerged from moderation and shifted the numbers.

    Curse you and your URLs, MTU!

  126. Nigel Depledge

    Wzrd1 (123) said:

    When *I* went to school, creationism WAS taught, along with every OTHER theory that was given any significant amount of attention.

    But was this taught in a biology class, or in some kind of comparative religion class?

  127. mike

    But does Perry really believe much of the hogwash he espouses, or is he just playing to the crowd?

    It really doesn’t matter, in many ways, because its difficult to decide which would be worse, the deliberate falsification of ones beliefs to get and remain elected, or deliberately keeping one self ignorant of certain scientific facts.

    The former seems to be an every increasing problem with politicians of many stripes, but it seems worse, much worse on the right. Perhaps because they are being prodded along by Fox News, an organization that specializes in falsifying facts of all kinds.

    Things may get worse before they get better as many people on all sides of the political spectrum more and more focus their attention strictly on information sources that reinforce their current views.

    One thing Fox does have right, is there is indeed a culture war. But its a war started by extreme religions and political factions who want desperately to drown out opposing points of view. Notice Texas and the deliberate change of school text books for both religious and political purposes.

  128. Nigel Depledge

    Mike (130) said:

    But does Perry really believe much of the hogwash he espouses, or is he just playing to the crowd?

    My suspicion is that he’s just playing to the crowd.

    . . .

    One thing Fox does have right, is there is indeed a culture war. But its a war started by extreme religions and political factions who want desperately to drown out opposing points of view. Notice Texas and the deliberate change of school text books for both religious and political purposes.

    Religious fundies have been trying to get evolution out of science curricula for decades. I’m not sure when this activity reached its height, but I think the Dover trial decision marked the beginning of a decline of creationist activity – which is not to say that they won’t come back in a few years’ time with some different form of breathtaking inanity.

  129. Nigel Depledge

    Greg M (51) said:

    I am not a Rick Perry supporter, nor a young earth creationist. But it is simply a fact that there is way more scientific evidence that points towards a creation/ID origins of life than there is for the folly of an idea that life on this planet came from unguided molecular chemistry related forces.

    Wow, this contains several misconceptions, all in one easy-to-babble sentence.

    First off, are you a creationist or a design-proponent? If the former, why do you consider the latter position to be wrong, and vice-versa?

    Second, I’d be interested to know what you think evolutionary theory actually says.

    Third, what is the ID “origins of life”? Do you consider this or the creation origin of life to be correct?

    Fourth, given that evolution is an inevitable consequence of a selection pressure on a population in which variation is heritable, what makes you think that the origin of life is relevant here?

    Go ahead, stick your fingers in your ears and by choice be blind, claim “science” points to evolutionary life origins, but it simply is not true.

    Well, since you have yet to formulate an actual argument, and all of your examples of “design” have been shown not to be so (i.e. either they are examples of incompetent design or they are mere arguments from personal incredulity), there really isn’t any call for any of us to stick our fingers in our ears.

    Notice, BTW, that The Black Cat has addressed every point you raised. This is not the behaviour of someone who refuses to listen. He (I think TBC is a “he”) has considered what you state, and points out where it is flawed.

    Finally, what do you think evolutionary theory has to say about the origin of life?

  130. Gunnar

    @nigel #133

    Fourth, given that evolution is an inevitable consequence of a selection pressure on a population in which variation is heritable, what makes you think that the origin of life is relevant here?

    This may be the strongest point of all. No one can deny that variation exists, and only a complete idiot would deny the heritability of these variations or that organisms possessing advantageous variations would have a greater probability of surviving long enough to pass them off to their offspring. Given these facts, how could evolution possibly not be an inevitable consequence of them?

  131. TheBlackCat

    @ Gunnar: because evolution can’t cause changes above the “kind” level. There is no known mechanism that could prevent it, and the only definition for kind I have seen is “the level above which evolution cannot occur”, but nevertheless it is impossible.

  132. Gunnar

    Right, TBC! Thanks for pointing out once again the inherent circularity and therefore invalidity of one of the main creationist arguments against evolution. :-)

  133. mike burkhart

    I got a better question for him :Is the world flat or round?Is the Bible perfect?Yes if you think its a book(in fact a libaray of books)on religon witch it is and not science,its some interpations that are in eror.Off topic: I’m reading a book on ancient astronomy so far its informative but Im not done with it yet.I have had an intrest in the monuments and insterments used by acient astronomers since reading about Stonehenge.

  134. noen

    “Is the Bible perfect?”

    Only fundamentalists and atheists think that for religion to be valid the bible must be interpreted literally.

  135. Jason B

    Thank you very much Messier Tidy Upper!

  136. #93 Techy Dad:
    I have one nitpick with your otherwise valid argument. There is no such thing as a Christian child, Muslim child, etc. ( or an atheist child, for that matter ); they are simply children of Christian, Muslim, etc. parents. A child doesn’t have a religion, until he reaches an age of responsibility at which he is able to make up his own mind about what he does or doesn’t believe.

  137. noen

    There is no such thing as a Christian child

    False. The word Christian in the above is modifying the noun ‘child’ in order to indicate the faith they are born into. It is intellectually dishonest to try to score debating points by refusing to take common usage into account.

    “A child doesn’t have a religion

    Sure they do. Children can profess belief, religion is one sort of belief, so children can indeed be religious. People can belong to groups without their knowledge or awareness. Your argument is excessively legalistic and tedious.

    Internet lawyers shouldn’t try to reason philosophically.

  138. #51 Greg M:
    ID supporter: “This is all far too wonderful and complex to ‘just exist’! It must have been created by a super-intelligent creator!”
    Scientist: “OK, so where did your ‘super-intelligent creator’ come from?”
    ID supporter: “Well, nowhere – he just exists!”

    That pretty well sums up the utter stupidity of your entire non-argument. You refuse to believe that life on this planet arose spontaneously, but claim that it’s all the work of some super-intelligent “creator”, which in turn either arose spontaneously, or has just always existed. Also, by definition, your “creator” must be even more complex than that which it “created”, mustn’t it? That’s called an infinite diverging regression.

    Others have provided plenty of examples of how, if we were indeed designed, then the designer was grossly incompetent – but I’ll add a couple more.

    1. Please explain why your super-intelligent, infallible “creator” decided to give us redundant body parts, which are not only useless, but worse than useless. The most obvious is the appendix, which serves no purpose when it’s healthy, and kills you when it becomes infected.
    ( Evolutionary answer: it’s the remnant of a digestive organ which our distant herbivorous ancestors had, which we no longer require. )
    And how about the coccyx, which again serves no purpose when it’s healthy, but can cripple you, or cause you a lifetime of pain, if you fall on it. I did exactly that 25 years ago; the resultant back injury causes me varying degrees of pain to this day. But I’m one of the lucky ones; I can still walk!
    ( Evolutionary answer: it’s the remnant of the tail which our primate ancestors had. )

    2. Why are we humans so vulnerable to back pain and spinal injuries, such that we can be crippled by apparently trivial accidents?
    Answer: because our skeleton evolved over 100 or so million years, to be horizontal and quadropedal, not vertical and bipedal!!! The basic configuration of bones in our skeleton is identical to that of every other mammal, from a mouse to an elephant to a whale. Any half-competent “designer” would have designed us a custom-tailored skeleton for the purpose of walking upright, instead of simply taking the “generic mammalian blueprint”, and upending it 90 degrees!
    ( The evolutionary answer to why our ancestors upended their skeleton is because the survival advantages of being bipedal, and freeing our hands to use tools, outweigh the aforementioned disadvantages. )

    3. I can’t resist the obvious one… Why did your “designer” give us testicles on the outside???
    ( Evolutionary answer: they have to be maintained at a lower temperature than the body core. )

  139. #141 Noen:
    Utter drivel! My whole point is that no-one is “born into” a faith; everyone has the right to decide for themselves what they believe, when they are old enough. “Believing” what is pumped into your head as a child, before you’re old enough to decide for yourself, doesn’t count. If you teach a four-year-old child to “believe in God”, then he will “believe” – but it doesn’t mean anything, any more than his belief in Santa Claus. When he becomes old enough to decide for himself, he may or may not choose to follow the “faith” of his parents.

  140. noen

    My whole point is that no-one is “born into” a faith

    People are born into families. Families decide matters of faith. Even in families where the partners profess different beliefs they will choose to raise the child in one or the other. Children are certainly capable of rejecting that belief for another even before they reach legal adult status. The default in common usage is to assume that a child born into one belief is to be considered a member of that belief until there is a reason to think otherwise.

    These are just normal human social practices.

    everyone has the right to decide for themselves what they believe

    I never claimed they didn’t.

    “Believing” what is pumped into your head as a child, before you’re old enough to decide for yourself, doesn’t count. If you teach a four-year-old child to “believe in God”, then he will “believe

    So you admit that children tend to believe what their parents believe. You just don’t want to acknowledge it. Thanks for conceding. I win.

    it doesn’t mean anything, any more than his belief in Santa Claus

    I didn’t say that because a child believes in Santa he must be real. I said that a child who believes in Santa (or Christ) believes in Santa (or Christ) and, if we had such a word, would be referred to as a Santa-ian (or Christ-ian) child.

    When he becomes old enough to decide for himself, he may or may not choose to follow the “faith” of his parents.

    Which doesn’t change the fact that in our language we refer to the child of Christian parents as a Christian child unless there is some reason to believe otherwise.

    Do you often have trouble understanding how normal social cues work?

  141. 138 neon:

    Only fundamentalists and atheists think that for religion to be valid the bible must be interpreted literally.

    Christian fundies, yes. Atheists, no.

    I can’t speak for all atheists, but I know that very few will think that. My few is that for a religion to be “valid”, it must say things that are valid. Every religion has some sort of irrational belief that at least can’t be confirmed, if it is not plain false.

    Edit: What I originally wrote here isn’t really fair. Instead I will say that you clearly have a misconception of what many atheists believe, or perhaps more accurately, don’t believe.

  142. #144 Noen:
    Do we label children as “Republican children” or “Democrat children” ( or “Labour children” or “Conservative children” in my country ), according to their parents’ political affiliations? No, we don’t. Do we talk about children being “born into” a political affiliation, and regard them as being Republican, Democrat, etc., until they are old enough to decide for themselves? No, we don’t.
    So why do we do this with religion? I accept that “common usage” uses those terms in the way in which you say; my point is that “common usage” isn’t always correct. This “common usage” infers that a person’s religion, or that of a child’s parents, somehow “defines” them as a person – which it doesn’t.
    I didn’t concede anything. I didn’t say that children tend to believe what their parents believe; I said they “believe” what their parents ( and other adults, e.g. Sunday school teachers ) teach them to believe, and that such “belief” is meaningless until they are old enough to understand it and make up their own minds. It’s meaningless, precisely because it’s usually taught at an age when children “believe” anything an adult says.
    End of subject.

    BTW you accuse me of “trying to score debating points”, and then use phrases like “I win” in your own response. I wasn’t trying to “win” or “score points”; I was simply stating my opinion, and don’t really give a monkey’s whether or not you agree.

  143. …and yet I still didn’t spot my mistake saying “my few” instead of “my view”. Oh well.

  144. noen

    PayasYouStargaze said: — “I can’t speak for all atheists, but I know that very few will think that.”

    Atheist criticism of religion is pretty consistent in it’s demand that theists live up to a literal interpretation of their sacred books. The demand that one’s sacred books be interpreted literally is the very definition of fundamentalism. So the atheist critique of religion is it’s failure to adhere to a fundamentalist understanding. The only difference then between you and a fundamentalist is that you correctly see that it must fail.

    I have been told many times by atheists that the Westboro Baptist Church is the only true or honest church. To the extent that you believe the only true Christian is a fundamentalist that is what makes you a fundamentalist.

    “My few is that for a religion to be “valid”, it must say things that are valid. Every religion has some sort of irrational belief that at least can’t be confirmed, if it is not plain false.”

    The belief that the only legitimate statements are those which can be shown to be logically true is philosophical positivism. The only way anyone today can assert positivism without being laughed at is either through their utter ignorance at even the most sophomoric level or through willful denial. Religion isn’t a science hun. Religion/philosophy attempts to answer the question “How should we then live?”. Science can only answer factual questions, it cannot tell us what should be, only what is in fact the case.

    You also have irrational beliefs that cannot be confirmed. You’d better take care of that beam in your eye before you go around hectoring people about the spec in theirs. I accept the fact that life is irrational, that a fully rational account of the world cannot be given. Indeed, I believe that irrational faith is humanity’s greatest achievement.

  145. Mike

    I’m sorry, but if you have a problem with the guy don’t use your child. Grow up and ask yourself. That’s all I could take away from this video is that the kid didn’t even understand what was going on. Sheesh.

  146. @148 neon

    Atheist criticism of religion is pretty consistent in it’s demand that theists live up to a literal interpretation of their sacred books. The demand that one’s sacred books be interpreted literally is the very definition of fundamentalism. So the atheist critique of religion is it’s failure to adhere to a fundamentalist understanding. The only difference then between you and a fundamentalist is that you correctly see that it must fail.

    Wrong. I doubt there is a single atheist who demands that a theist lives up to a literal interpretation of their holy book. I think you’ll find it is quite the opposite. We will applaud any theist who will question what their holy books state, because that is being open minded and intellectually honest, both good traits.

    I have been told many times by atheists that the Westboro Baptist Church is the only true or honest church. To the extent that you believe the only true Christian is a fundamentalist that is what makes you a fundamentalist.

    I doubt that. I think most atheists will condemn that bunch of crazies and I would go so far as calling them a cult. There are few true or honest churches, and the WBC is one of the least honest out there by forcing themselves to defend their book of nonsense.

    The belief that the only legitimate statements are those which can be shown to be logically true is philosophical positivism. The only way anyone today can assert positivism without being laughed at is either through their utter ignorance at even the most sophomoric level or through willful denial. Religion isn’t a science hun. Religion/philosophy attempts to answer the question “How should we then live?”. Science can only answer factual questions, it cannot tell us what should be, only what is in fact the case.

    No. Science is a method of finding out about the universe around us. Religion does not attempt to answer any questions about anything, and only demands “how should you then live”. Religion is not a search for knowledge. Philosophy is not really relevant to how we actually live. It is purely a thought exercise. Science cannot tell us how to live our lives, but with greater knowledge, we can make better decisions on the matter.

    You also have irrational beliefs that cannot be confirmed. You’d better take care of that beam in your eye before you go around hectoring people about the spec in theirs. I accept the fact that life is irrational, that a fully rational account of the world cannot be given. Indeed, I believe that irrational faith is humanity’s greatest achievement.

    Of course I have irrational beliefs, thoughts and feelings. I’m human. But I do not expect others to pay attention to them. I don’t see why a rational account of the world cannot one day be given. Science marches on and we understand more about the universe around us. Why would you believe that anything could be beyond our knowledge? But irrational faith is probably humanity’s greatest curse, as it prevents us from actually searching for truth and facts. It is certainly not an achivement, though you could call it a trait of our nature.

  147. noen

    Neil Haggath said —- ” Do we talk about children being “born into” a political affiliation?”

    Well yes, most people do assume that one’s children will more or less follow their parents and that’s a pretty good rule of thumb. But the question “Should the marginal tax rate be raised to 38%?” has hardly been a matter of utmost importance through all of human history the way that religious matters have.

    I don’t recall hearing anyone using the phrase “Christian children” in my life but I do know that it is a common assumption for people to make that one’s children will more or less believe what their parents believe. You are of course free to say that we shouldn’t always make that assumption and I would agree with you. But you didn’t make that argument. You made a different argument. You didn’t make an argument about what we ought to do, you made a factual argument about what children *are*. That argument is invalid.

    This:
    “children tend to believe what their parents believe”

    and this:
    “they “believe” what their parents ( and other adults, e.g. Sunday school teachers ) teach them to believe,”

    Are the same claim. This:
    “such “belief” is meaningless until they are old enough to understand it”

    Is false because people (3rd person, people in general) decide what is important to them, not you. You don’t get to tell other people what their values ought to be. Trying demand that others believe as you do simply on your say so is considered rude and arrogant. This is why people react so strongly to the arrogance of the New Atheists, because you are. You (3rd person, New Atheists in general) seem to be unaware of interpersonal boundaries. I think you would be better served by using a different tactic. One that does not involve being a prick. Telling people that raising one’s child in one’s faith tradition is child abuse is taking dickishness to a whole new level.

    “BTW you accuse me of “trying to score debating points”, and then use phrases like “I win” in your own response.”

    Sarcasm, have you heard of it? People use it when someone is being a jerk in order to deflate their ego.

    “I was simply stating my opinion

    No you weren’t. You were stating your opinion as though it were a fact, which it is not. You stated as a fact the claim that children do not have a religion until they are adults and that any belief they express is meaningless. It is not the case that children do not profess to believe. It is not the case that others do not find such statements meaningful. You are free to wish it were not so and you may lobby for your belief but what you may not do is instruct others that they must do as you say. This is why the efforts of New Atheists like Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens have been an utter failure. That you are unable to even imagine a strategy other than theirs says a great deal about your (3rd person) maturity level.

  148. noen

    PayasYouStargaze said:
    “I doubt there is a single atheist who demands that a theist lives up to a literal interpretation of their holy book.”

    Well, my experience is different.

    “I doubt that.”

    You are not free to tell me what I have or have not experienced. It is a simple fact that I have had atheists use those exact words.

    “I would go so far as calling them a cult.”

    Most atheists make no such distinction. The New Atheist critique of religion is that they are all cults.

    “Science is a method of finding out about the universe around us.”

    True, science attempts to answer “what” questions. Religion/philosophy attempt to answer “why” questions. You are in agreement with me.

    “Religion does not attempt to answer any questions about anything, and only demands “how should you then live”. “

    Yes, that is what I said. That you choose to devalue “how we should then live” is your private affair.

    “Religion is not a search for knowledge.”

    True, but knowledge of mere facts is not everything.

    “Philosophy is not really relevant to how we actually live.”

    When I use the term religion/philosophy I am referring to a person’s world view in general. When you discount another’s life world, “that which gives one’s life meaning”, and claim an exclusive privilege for your own, that is itself a world view. What one deems meaningful is a personal private affair. If one wishes others to drop their beliefs and take up yours you are going about the wrong way. Religious fundamentalists could not have a better partner than the New Atheists.

    “Science cannot tell us how to live our lives, but with greater knowledge, we can make better decisions on the matter.”

    This is a laughably bad argument. Really? Do you really want to say that science cannot tell us how we should live but that if we had more knowledge then it could tell us how we should live? If you pause to reflect a bit I am confident you’ll see how silly this is.

    “I don’t see why a rational account of the world cannot one day be given.

    I see that you are a man a great faith. Welcome!

    “Why would you believe that anything could be beyond our knowledge?”

    Because I agree with David Hume’s general skepticism on the possibility of our knowing everything.

    “But irrational faith is probably humanity’s greatest curse, as it prevents us from actually searching for truth and facts.”

    Well, that’s like, your opinion, man. Facts are of course important and science can fix facts, but they are not everything. Those who have tried to say that facts are all there is have failed miserably. You are free to repeat those failures. Faith is simply the human capacity to take the reasons for why a thing cannot be so as proof that it must be so. It does not of course apply to scientific questions. It does apply to how one conducts one’s life. Why? Precisely because we cannot know how we should live. Those who would try to tell others how they should live are universally despised. Why one would choose such a path is beyond me.

  149. @152 neon

    Well, my experience is different.

    OK, but understand that you’re not dealing with a representative group.

    You are not free to tell me what I have or have not experienced. It is a simple fact that I have had atheists use those exact words.

    I am free to doubt your claims (that’s what being a sceptic is about). But OK. If that’s true, then you’ve come across an unfortunate group that don’t represent ALL atheists.

    Most atheists make no such distinction. The New Atheist critique of religion is that they are all cults.

    Again, most atheists will make distinctions. I can’t speak for “New Atheists”. I don’t know what they are because I’ve only ever seen that term used by anti-atheists who don’t like certain prominent atheists.

    True, science attempts to answer “what” questions. Religion/philosophy attempt to answer “why” questions. You are in agreement with me.

    No. Religion is not an attempt to answer “why”. It is an attempt to dictate “why”. It does not search for why, it claims to know why. That is why is is both dishonest and not very useful.

    Yes, that is what I said. That you choose to devalue “how we should then live” is your private affair./blockquote>

    You are again misunderstanding me. I don’t choose to devalue the question of how we should live. But I will not be told how to live by someone’s favourite fairy tale.

    True, but knowledge of mere facts is not everything.

    But it is the only thing we can KNOW.

    When I use the term religion/philosophy I am referring to a person’s world view in general. When you discount another’s life world, “that which gives one’s life meaning”, and claim an exclusive privilege for your own, that is itself a world view. What one deems meaningful is a personal private affair. If one wishes others to drop their beliefs and take up yours you are going about the wrong way. Religious fundamentalists could not have a better partner than the New Atheists.

    Again with the “New Atheists”. I’m not sure what they are, but most atheists are nothing like religious fundamentalists. We are usually on the opposite side. Now, I certainly support trying to educate people so they do not base their lives on irrational nonsense and blatant falsehoods. But that is not an attempt to foist any kind of world view on anyone.

    This is a laughably bad argument. Really? Do you really want to say that science cannot tell us how we should live but that if we had more knowledge then it could tell us how we should live? If you pause to reflect a bit I am confident you’ll see how silly this is.

    I will clarify, because you obviously didn’t understand. Lets science find out the facts. Then we can use the facts to determine how we should live. The more we know, the better our decisions will be. It’s not that with more knowledge that science can tell us how to live. It’s that with science we can have more knowledge to improve our ideas of how to live.

    I see that you are a man a great faith. Welcome!

    No. I am just not willing to abandon our quest to discover how and why are universe works on the basis of believing it can’t be done. Science has discovered so much that I have trust, not faith, in it.

    Because I agree with David Hume’s general skepticism on the possibility of our knowing everything.

    Fine, I agree that we might not ever know everything, but to give up would be a disgrace.

    Well, that’s like, your opinion, man.

    Sure, but considering how much we learned through science, and how little we have learned through faith, it is a justified opinion.

    Facts are of course important and science can fix facts, but they are not everything. Those who have tried to say that facts are all there is have failed miserably. You are free to repeat those failures.

    What are those failures? We have facts and then what? Show me what else there is and how it is useful to us.

    Faith is simply the human capacity to take the reasons for why a thing cannot be so as proof that it must be so.

    How is that of any use? It holds us back because we go on believing in the impossible, even when we know it is.

    It does not of course apply to scientific questions. It does apply to how one conducts one’s life. Why? Precisely because we cannot know how we should live

    We cannot KNOW how we shoud live, so we need a system to figure something out. What’s better? KNOWLEDGE or fairy tales? The former seems to be a better bet.

    Those who would try to tell others how they should live are universally despised. Why one would choose such a path is beyond me.

    Now that’s laughable. Why? Because it’s the religous leaders who are top of the list in telling others how to live, and a good majority of religious types do too. People love to be told how they should live, as long as it comes from someone who they agree with. It appeals to human laziness. Meanwhile, I don’t tell anyone how they should live. I encourage people to decide for themselves, and to not use fairy tales but actual facts and knowledge to do so.

    Point is neon, you have apparently had a bad experience of atheists, and have decided that we are all the same. We are not, and are only loosely unified by the lack of belief. That’s why I picked up on your comment in 138.

  150. #151 Noen:
    “You don’t get to tell other people what their values ought to be.”

    Sorry, but isn’t that exactly what religion – at least, the organised kind – is all about???!!! Pot, meet kettle!

    I certainly don’t consider myself a “New Atheist” – just an atheist. Like PAYS, I don’t even know exactly what “New Atheist” means; I’ve also only seen the term used in a derogatory manner by religious types.

    You will notice that nowhere in my comments have I resorted to name calling! I’m not sure whether your insults are aimed at me personally, or at atheists in general, but it makes no difference.

    Children “believing what their parents believe” and “believing what their parents teach them to believe” are NOT the same thing! There is a subtle difference; maybe it’s too subtle for you! To illustrate that difference, look no further than Santa Claus again; young children believe in Santa Claus, because their parents teach them to, i.e. their parents teach them to believe in something completely false. The difference, of course, is that Santa Claus is a harmless fantasy, which children grow out of, while religion is a harmful and sometimes dangerous one, which in some cases can screw up people’s psychological well-being for life.
    Note also that I never used the term “child abuse”. However, it can’t be denied that in some cases ( again, I’m saying “in some cases”, not “always”! ), it amounts to exactly that. If you do deny this, then I strongly urge you to read Chapter 10 of Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

  151. @124. Daniel :

    It’s far worse than anti-science. He is part of a rising cult that makes the Bush years seem mild: [Link snipped - Texas Observer, " rick-perrys-army-of-god"article.]

    Good article link – thanks. :-)

    This one from the same source :

    http://www.texasobserver.org/forrestforthetrees/rick-perrys-anti-science-streak-is-nothing-new

    makes interesting reading too.

    @129. Nigel Depledge :

    Aaarg! I just noticed that a hole set of my posts referring to other comments now have the wrong references, as other posts have emerged from moderation and shifted the numbers. Curse you and your URLs, MTU!

    Sorry Nigel. Unfortunately, sometimes the links are really interesting / useful / worth including I think – which I agree makes it confusing when they appear out of moderation and change the comment numbers.

    I wonder if there’s a way the BA could set things up so that moderated comments appear in the order & get numbered only *after* they pass moderation and thus aren’t numbered in posting time but in acceptance time instead?

    Afraid, otherwise I can’t see any way around that. My sympathies, FWIW.

  152. @114. Mike Lorrey :

    This election is going to come down to deciding between a man who doesnt understand science, and a man who doesnt understand economics.

    It is?

    Are you seriously thinking Perry will win the Republican nomination or are you meaning it’ll be a Perry-Romney fight for that?

    I very much doubt Perry (or Bachmann or S. Palin) will win the Republican party nomination. There’s a very long way to go before the 2012 election and a lot can and will happen over that time. Of the possible Republican candidates the one who I’d most prefer to win is John Huntsman but the one I think we’ll get is Mitt Romney. Who isn’t too bad science~wise from what I’ve heard & read of him. Not perfect sure but then no politician ever is.

    Then it’ll be Obama versus Romney and that outcome .. well , so much will depend on the economy and general state of things at the time. My feeling is that Obama will likely win and get a second term.

    If that’s what happens then Rick Perry and those of his political stripe are ultimately going to be irrelevant. If, FSM forbid, Perry gets elected -first to be Republican candidate and then President (which is highly unlikely methinks) well, the US political system does have its checks and balances that even a POTUS is limited by. How much damage can he really do? Not that I want us to find out.

    Which do you think is more important to our lives and well being?

    *Both*, durnnit!! Science and the economy are both vital areas. I dunno. If we really *had* to choose I guess science .. no wait, the economy, no wait, science or maybe .. nah. Both those are too critical to everyone’s lives for someone who is clueless and dangerous to either taking power. Of course, there are degrees of incompetence and idiocy in each area too.

    @154. Neil Haggath :

    Note also that I never used the term “child abuse”. However, it can’t be denied that in some cases ( again, I’m saying “in some cases”, not “always”! ), it amounts to exactly that. If you do deny this, then I strongly urge you to read Chapter 10 of Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

    I think Dawkins at least to some large extent – engages in cherry-picking there. Yes, there are some arguable cases where children have been pyschologically traumatised by well-meaning (& themselves brain-washed) parents into literally fearing hell and religion. I do, however, think these are exceptional and that Dawkins goes too far in essentially calling parents who raising a child to follow their religion “child abusers.”

    I think Dawkins argues well and makes a good if very polemical case – but he presents a decidedly one-sided perspective in a much more complex and less simple question. I think Dawkins ignores and oversimplifies a lot of the complexities and uses or at best focuses on only the very worst aspects of religion ignoring the positive side and stronger arguments against his position. So, no, I don’t find him entirley convincing.

    (I’m agnostic FWIW. I don’t believe in organised religion but I don’t rule out the possibility of some grains of truth to religion either. I have friends who are religious and friends who are atheist and think religion vs atheism is a lot more complex and nuanced than most folks probably think. I’ve read widely from many worldviews on the matter and I know I don’t know what the answer is.)

    @146. Neil Haggath :

    #144 Noen: Do we label children as “Republican children” or “Democrat children” ( or “Labour children” or “Conservative children” in my country ), according to their parents’ political affiliations? No, we don’t.

    Or do we?

    I’m not really sure but I suspect in some cases at least we do. Would it be wrong to say that, frex, children in the Clinton family – or Kennedy one – are raised Democrat and children in say the Bush family or the Palin one get raised to be Republican?

    Perhaps the difference is it doesn’t come up so often but I think parents generally try to raise their children in their own political beliefs just as they do the same religious ones. It seems kinda natural.

    As for the way the kid was used here in asking Perry the question, it does make me cringe a little and didn’t look that great. But then I accept that I don’t know exactly what was going on there (appearances can be misleading) and that it is good to have Perry’s Creationist leanings exposed and known. It’s a separate side issue really.

    PS. For Nigel Depledge – and anyone else who’s wonering – yeah, there’s another comment of mine above this one awaiting moderation too. So this is #156 assuming my other comment above this goes through which I expect wll occur. Don’t know if anyone else has left other comments awaiting moderation natch.

  153. tim Rowledge

    I guess there is (in principle) a third way – teach all religions equally. But there simply cannot be enough timetable available for this to work
    Actually there is a solution to that equation; zero time for all of them.

  154. Calli Arcale

    Perry is bad news even ignoring his attitude on science. Violating the US Constitution? Heck, he wants to change it — radically. (As do many of the right-wingers who simultaneously claim that everything needs to be constitutional.) You mention appointments — well, he wants to end election of senators and have them be appointed by governors instead. And he *also* wants to give Congress the power to overrule the Supreme Court. He’s pushing that on a “end activist judges” mantra, which is very popular right now in certain circles, but what it would really do is subordinate judges to Congress, which means he either misses the point that the framers of the Constitution were trying to make, or he gets the point perfectly well but just wants more power available to career politicians like himself.

    Indeed, a dangerous man. Bachmann’s just a looney; I don’t think she seriously stands a chance once things get real (except maybe as a VP candidate brought in to get the crazy vote). But Perry does stand a chance, and he’s . . . well, given his attitude towards our actual government and our actual Constitution, I don’t think much of his American patriotism. He sees our country as an opportunity for himself, not the other way around.

  155. bigdaddyhen

    My comment to Neil would be it is not fair to compare “christian children” to “Political children” is for the most part parents do not attempt to indoctrinate their child early to their political viewpoints, but they do with religion. Religion is something they start imparting on their children early in life, but I would not say the same of their political viewpoints (for the most part). You will always find the exceptions (and I think the video for this post is a small example) where parent will indoctrinate their kids with their political views.

    In both cases, there is a fine line that seperates when kids are actually “believing” in what they are being told, and just parroting what they are being told (I would say this video is an example of parroting). Either scenario does not prevent the child from changing their actual viewpoint later on. But that does not make their previous viewpoint any less valid.

  156. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (138) said:

    Only fundamentalists and atheists think that for religion to be valid the bible must be interpreted literally.

    Not so. You are grossly mischaracterising all atheists with this comment.

    Atheists (AFAICT) generally consider the bible to be irrelevant when it comes to making statements about the world. I am sure, however, that there are many atheists who consider the new testament to be as good a source of moral parable as Aesop’s Fables. The bible has validity in the appropriate context.

    All that aside, this is not the issue. It seems to me you were just taking the opportunity to have a dig at atheism.

  157. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (144) said:

    So you admit that children tend to believe what their parents believe. You just don’t want to acknowledge it. Thanks for conceding. I win.

    No, you don’t win. You have deliberatley misconstrued the point Neil was making.

    Unless you are now going to argue that a child’s belief in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus carries the same weight and significance as your own belief in god?

    No, that one fails from the outset. That children believe whatever their parents tell them is as close to self-evident that it isn’t worth arguing over. That this has the same significance as an adult’s belief (or not) in god is preposterous.

  158. Nigel Depledge

    Neil Haggath (146) said:

    I didn’t say that children tend to believe what their parents believe; I said they “believe” what their parents ( and other adults, e.g. Sunday school teachers ) teach them to believe, and that such “belief” is meaningless until they are old enough to understand it and make up their own minds. It’s meaningless, precisely because it’s usually taught at an age when children “believe” anything an adult says.

    Yes. This.

  159. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (148) said:

    Atheist criticism of religion is pretty consistent in it’s demand that theists live up to a literal interpretation of their sacred books.

    What utter nonsense!

    Many of the fundies that rant away on the internet get accused of breaking that commandment about “not bearing false witness”, brecause they either lie, or repeat the lies of others that they have heard or read elsewhere.

    I’m not aware of any atheist who demands that religious people should live up to every last word of what’s in (for example) the bible.

    AFAICT, the core criticism of religion is twofold – first, it requires the belief in something whose existence is implausible; and second, it propagates this belief, all too often in ways that crush critical thinking.

    The demand that one’s sacred books be interpreted literally is the very definition of fundamentalism. So the atheist critique of religion is it’s failure to adhere to a fundamentalist understanding.

    Wrong, because you are arguing against a strawman. As a functional atheist (by which I mean I do not regularly attend any kind of religious gathering), I can tell you that I have never criticised religion in the way that you claim “all atheist criticism of religion” is based.

    The only difference then between you and a fundamentalist is that you correctly see that it must fail.

    Wrong again. See above for the reason.

    I have been told many times by atheists that the Westboro Baptist Church is the only true or honest church. To the extent that you believe the only true Christian is a fundamentalist that is what makes you a fundamentalist.

    And whoever told you that was wrong. There is no such thing as a “true” church, because all churches claim slightly different things and there is no way to tell which is right.

    If there were any such thing as a “true” church, I think the Anglican church comes closest, because they don’t make any claims that are contradicted by known facts. But they still uncritically accept that god exists.

  160. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (151) said:

    Well yes, most people do assume that one’s children will more or less follow their parents and that’s a pretty good rule of thumb. But the question “Should the marginal tax rate be raised to 38%?” has hardly been a matter of utmost importance through all of human history the way that religious matters have.

    This is disingenuous.

    You know perfectly well that very nearly no-one calls a child a “Democrat” or “Republican” child, whereas “Christian” or “Muslim” are frequently used to refer to the children of parents in that faith.

    BTW, the only way in which religion has been a “matter of utmost importance” is the number of wars that it has caused.

    I don’t recall hearing anyone using the phrase “Christian children” in my life but I do know that it is a common assumption for people to make that one’s children will more or less believe what their parents believe. You are of course free to say that we shouldn’t always make that assumption and I would agree with you.

    But you did not.

    But you didn’t make that argument. You made a different argument. You didn’t make an argument about what we ought to do, you made a factual argument about what children *are*. That argument is invalid.

    No, Neil’s argument is perfectly valid. Irrespective of what most people might call a child, that child’s professed belief in god or Allah or Yahweh or Thor or Zeus is meaningless until the child is old enough and mature enough to make a considered decision. Therefore, there really is no such thing as a “Christian” baby.

    This:
    “children tend to believe what their parents believe”

    and this:
    “they “believe” what their parents ( and other adults, e.g. Sunday school teachers ) teach them to believe,”

    Are the same claim.

    Quite clearly, they are not. Children believe what their authority-figures tell them is so. This is typically what their parents believe, but not necessarily. Additionally, no child believes in any kind of god until it is taught to do so. Thus, Neil’s argument stands, and yours does not.

  161. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (152) said:

    You are not free to tell me what I have or have not experienced. It is a simple fact that I have had atheists use those exact words.

    Right, and from this you extrapolated your personal experience of a few (how many exactly?) atheists telling you something to all atheists everywhere.

    Has it not occurred to you to apologise for behaving like a bigot?

  162. Nigel Depledge

    Noen (152) said:

    True, science attempts to answer “what” questions. Religion/philosophy attempt to answer “why” questions. You are in agreement with me.

    No, PayasYouStargaze was arguing against you.

    “Religion does not attempt to answer any questions about anything, and only demands “how should you then live”. “

    Yes, that is what I said.

    This is insane. You just said (your previous line in the same comment!) that religion answers the “why” questions. And now you are agreeing that religion answers no questions.

    In fact, the latter is correct, religion answers no meaningful questions, it merely claims to do so.

    That you choose to devalue “how we should then live” is your private affair.

    You have not shown that any atheist does this. Is it because you cannot, or because you could not be bothered?

    In fact, I have seen some pretty strong arguments that humanism is far more (heh!) humanitarian than any religion.

  163. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (155) said:

    Afraid, otherwise I can’t see any way around that. My sympathies, FWIW.

    :-)

    No worries, mate.

  164. Nigel Depledge

    Bigdaddyhen (159) said:

    My comment to Neil would be it is not fair to compare “christian children” to “Political children” is for the most part parents do not attempt to indoctrinate their child early to their political viewpoints, but they do with religion. Religion is something they start imparting on their children early in life, but I would not say the same of their political viewpoints (for the most part). You will always find the exceptions (and I think the video for this post is a small example) where parent will indoctrinate their kids with their political views.

    In both cases, there is a fine line that seperates when kids are actually “believing” in what they are being told, and just parroting what they are being told (I would say this video is an example of parroting). Either scenario does not prevent the child from changing their actual viewpoint later on. But that does not make their previous viewpoint any less valid.

    This is correct as far as it goes, but Neil’s point was that no child is “born into” a religion.

    My view on this is that children do not believe in god until they are taught to do so. And that’s the point – religion isn’t something into which a person is born, it must be taught.

    Also, if a child’s “previous viewpoint” is valid, does this mean you would argue that Santa Claus really does exist? Otherwise, how can a belief in Santa Claus possibly be valid for any meaningful use of that word?

  165. matthew

    Lets be honest, the little boy didn’t ask ANY question. His mother was asking them.

  166. Daniel

    We Texans find ourselves in the same position we did in 2000; we very much want to get rid of this idiot of a governor but having him become president is even worse.
    Make no mistake: Rick Perry is Bush Jr. Anti-intellectual, pro-big business, a liar, a manipulator, a schemer and just all-around the perfect example of a bad, corrupt politician.

  167. If Governor Rick Perry didn’t believe in God, would Texas’ constitution have prevented him from taking office? New York Law School’s blog, “Legal as She is Spoke,” investigates. Check it out!

    http://www.lasisblog.com/2011/10/23/in-god-we-trust%E2%80%A6and-hold-office/

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