Richard Dawkins, Accommodationist

By Chris Mooney | October 2, 2009 10:48 am

Josh Rosenau found this amazing Newsweek interview with the top “New Atheist,” in which he sounds, well, very accommodating:

Are those incompatible positions: to believe in God and to believe in evolution?No, I don’t think they’re incompatible if only because there are many intelligent evolutionary scientists who also believe in God—to name only Francis Collins [the geneticist and Christian believer recently chosen to head the National Institutes of Health] as an outstanding example. So it clearly is possible to be both. This book more or less begins by accepting that there is that compatibility. The God Delusion did make a case against that compatibility in my own mind.

I wonder whether you might be more successful in your arguments if you didn’t convey irritation and a sense that the people who believe in God are not as smart as you are.

I think there is a certain justified irritation with young-earth creationists who believe that the world is less than 10,000 years old. Those are the people that I’m really talking about. I do sometimes accuse people of ignorance, but that is not intended to be an insult. I’m ignorant of lots of things. Ignorance is something that can be remedied by education. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

Wow. No more denouncing the “Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists”; rather, Dawkins now stands up for Francis Collins!

Rosenau has more discussion of whether or not this represents a real change of position–but assuming Dawkins is being quoted correctly, then it appears he is espousing the basic stance that we, and NCSE, have long been arguing for.

Certainly, if Richard Dawkins is moving to this ground, there’s reason to rejoice.

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Comments (147)

  1. Erasmussimo

    Talk about pulling the rug out from underneath the Red Guards! Ouch!

  2. Jon

    Sounds like the adults finally took office at Oxford…

  3. Sadly, Richard Dawkins has perhaps taken it too far in that he’s become quite accommodationist with an advocate of quackery and anti-vaccine views:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/10/here_are_those_inconvenient_questions_fo.php

  4. I can see how it’s taken that way, since nobody bothers to define what “compatible” means. Everyone and their pet goat agrees that they’re cognitively compatible. However, many of us go on to say that they’re epistemically incompatible.

  5. foolfodder

    I saw Dawkins on a video recently where he said something to the effect of him being an accommodationist monday, wednesday and friday, and not the rest of the week.

  6. This is nothing new for Dawkins. From a interview in 2005:

    http://www.beliefnet.com/News/Science-Religion/2005/11/The-Problem-With-God-Interview-With-Richard-Dawkins.aspx?p=2

    Q: Is atheism the logical extension of believing in evolution?

    A: They clearly can’t be irrevocably linked because a very large number of theologians believe in evolution. In fact, any respectable theologian of the Catholic or Anglican or any other sensible church believes in evolution. Similarly, a very large number of evolutionary scientists are also religious. My personal feeling is that understanding evolution led me to atheism.

  7. Sorbet

    One might also note that the Dawk’s most recent book which I am reading is an excellent account of the evidence for evolution with very little about atheism and religion. The examples are fascinating (especially the one about Michigan State University bacteriologist Richard Lenski’s E. coli experiment) and the book is eminently worth reading. The book should hopefully go some way in drawing people’s attention away from his atheism and recognizing him for what he has always been, one of the best science writers of our time.

  8. Dave Morris

    I think you’re reaching for some indication of agreement (or at least a closer sympathy) with your stand that is not actually there. Dawkins did NOT “stand up for Francis Collins”; he simply pointed out that an obviously intelligent individual believes in both evolution and God. So, by anyone’s accounting, the two views are not incompatible for everyone; as he says, it is possible to “be both”. The tone is definitely less combative than what we’ve heard from Dawkins in many contexts – mostly, those that get the most attention from those hard-liners that want to hold him up as the epitomy of absolutism, and the softies that want to point to him as a problem. Stop treating him as some kind of monolith – the man is capable of nuanced consideration.

  9. Woody Tanaka

    Where in those two answers is Dawkins “espousing” anything? I think you are REALLY reading something into this that is not there.

  10. gillt

    All Hail Dawkins!

    If only Mooney could convince the New Atheists that one of their celebrities has changed his mind about something they would fall like dominoes right in line with him.

    Buahahaha!

    Or is this an attempt to incite division among the ranks? Either way, it sounds sniveling. Orac has presented a much better reason for getting miffed at Dawkins.

  11. Peter Beattie

    Yay, Richard Dawkins is one of us! We still don’t have any arguments and certainly won’t get into a serious discussion about “compatibility”, but at least we scored a propaganda victory! Hooray!

  12. Skeptic

    Here’s how it works (and this is not directed at Mooney specifically)

    A. Start with a a straw man: R. Dawkins is the quintessential big bad bigoted New Atheist whose thinking is the very definition of unyielding and mono-dimensional. Anything that he says must by definition be wrong. Simply ignore all his statements which sound moderate and conciliatory.

    B. Spend the next couple of months pummeling this straw man to oblivion.

    C. As if it were a momentous revelation, suddenly acknowledge that R. Dawkins is actually capable of some nuanced and moderate thinking. Then rejoice that R. Dawkins is actually “one of us”.

    D. If ploy fails, go to back to A. and repeat. If ploy succeeds, announce victory over all New Atheist commenters who R. Dawkins has apparently now sadly deserted.

  13. Unedited piece

    It’s quite simple really. Some people prefer to not carry the thought of eternal disappeance from life and prefer the belief that life is forever one way or another. Anybody can choose what they perceive as ‘the truth,’ but it takes a genius to be happy in the face of all the so called authority view on our stark beginnings and ultimate end. It would be hilarious if an angel floated into our midst and said, “Mr. Dawkins, you are a kill-joy, what, you are starved to be noticed? Poor little man, you’re one of God’s children, relax, be happy, sleep tight and tomorrow wake up and see life as forever, I assure you, you will be better off.” Of course, we know that isn’t going to happen, but one does have to ask, why do we rub our noses or rub other people’s noses in unhappy thoughts? Mr. Dawkins so called accommodating style is a kind of apology for being yet another bearer of ‘bad news.’ When one goes to Amazon or the library of Congress or any large metropolitan library, it’s amazing how many people have opinions on everythign under the sun. Why, it seems we’re so busy writing about life we’ve lost our ability to appreciate it. I sometimes wonder if anyone who writes is truly connected to reality, that is, real life. I’m not, and I’m fighting to return to life. To appreciate an attractive woman, to walk in quite places, to allow the rain to dampen my head, the wind to chill me and seek shelter, the clean water to drink, real food to eat rather than that horrid stuff food processors are killing us with, and someday, to die, in a quiet setting with loved ones saying, “We’ll meet, Daddy, on the other side.” and then at peace knowing I lived a life and did my best as the sweet faces of my children fade from view. “Goodbye, my darlings, till we meet again.”

  14. Sven DiMilo

    Dawkins: “The God Delusion did make a case against that compatibility in my own mind.”

    That’s unambiguous. Dawkins acknowledges the shallow sort of cognitively dissonant “compatibility” that you and Collins champion, while pointing out the deeper philosophical incompatibility that everybody else is talking about. *shrug*

  15. Erasmussimo

    “Everybody else”? You sure are a lot of people, Sven.

  16. Anthony McCarthy

    That’s unambiguous. Dawkins acknowledges the shallow sort of cognitively dissonant “compatibility” that you and Collins champion, while pointing out the deeper philosophical incompatibility that everybody else is talking about. *shrug*

    We’ll see whose work lasts longer. One suspects that Collins, with some physical basis to it, will last a lot longer than much of Dawkins’ claim to fame.

    I feel like dope slapping people who talk about “cognitive dissonance” in other people as if they are better able to tell someone what they’re experiencing than they are, them self. “Dissonance” doesn’t have an objective definition that is fixed, even in music. It’s an experience not something that can be objectively identified by a second party.

  17. John Kwok

    Prior to 9/11 Dawkins did express such “accomodationist” sentiments, if my memory of a talk he gave around 2000 at a New York City Barnes and Noble is correct. Hopefully in his latest book, he does recognize that there is some utility in adopting an “accomodationist” stance, if only to confront the real enemy, religiously zealous evolution denialists.

  18. John Kwok

    I wonder what Coyne, and especially, Myers – who likes to remind everyone that he is Dawkins’s best American buddy – are thinking about these passages now.

  19. Sven DiMilo

    Seriously, no snark. You can be a scientist–do science professionally, use a scientific method to answer questions, apply rigorous standards of evidence–and you can believe in god(s), but you can’t do both simultaneously without a full retreat to deism. It cannot be done; the belief is fundamentally ascientific. Dissonance (1a), and I’ll withdraw the “cognitive” before I get dope-slapped!!!

    Collins and his fellow theistic evolutionists and religious scientists successfully do both; there is no doubt about that. That’s the shallow version of “compatibility.” They do it by compartmentalizing, so they only do one at a time. NOMA. It works for them; method and belief are “compatible” in the same way that two shortstops are compatible on a 9-position team if they are platooned.

    I (and, I’ll venture, nearly all others) have no problem with whatever personal beliefs anybody platoons in their private minds. The problem arises when, say, Collins insists on breaching his own compartments and starts talking about and publishing books and websites about his personal religious beliefs in the context of his standing as a scientist.

    Those of us who prefer not to platoon, but to stick with the trusty right-hander of science no matter who’s pitching, are bothered by that.

  20. Erasmussimo

    Sven, your notion of logical consistency defies human experience. Some sage (Voltaire?) once observed that the true measure of intelligence was the ability to appreciate two mutually contradictory ideas. And indeed, every human being possesses a mass of internal contradictions. How, for example, do we reconcile our empathy with our selfishness? Sure, I feel for the poor people across the world, but am I going to sell my computer and donate the money to buy food for them? Hardly. Yet there is no logical way to resolve that inconsistency. Do you love your spouse? Of course. But do you not in some small ways surreptitiously do things that aren’t so loving? Again, how can you reconcile the two?

    The human mind is not a computer. It consists of a disparate set of mental modules that sometimes produce contradictory answers. We cannot separate logic from emotion. And so we all bumble along, making the best compromises we can. Each and every one of us makes such compromises every day. To condemn others for doing so is hypocrisy.

  21. John Kwok

    @ Sven -

    Maybe your “sound” advice hasn’t reached the ears of devout Roman Catholic scientists like Ken Miller and Jesuit brother – and Vatican astronomer – Guy Consolmagno, who have asserted in public that, as working scientists, the only considerations they think of are their scientific training and views, not their personal religious beliefs. Moreover, your advice may have some trouble explaining why Ken has also said that those who belong to religious faiths that are hostile to science should terminate their memberships in such faiths immediately.

  22. Jon

    but you can’t do both simultaneously without a full retreat to deism. It cannot be done; the belief is fundamentally ascientific.

    You don’t have to be a deist. What about a pantheist or a pan-entheist? You can be a scientist and not think that a strictly physical explanation for everything suffices. You could be a physical scientist and a philosophical idealist. You could be a scientist and a Karl Jaspers fan.

    And as for Sven in 15, if this was just a philosophical issue we could all have discussions about the German vs. English Enlightenment, about different philosophical assumptions other than empiricism, then the Bertrand Russell fans among us could get in a snarky (but civilized) one liner or two, and we could all finish our coffee, agree to disagree, and go home.

    But it’s not just philosophical. The reason why this whole discussion has juice that it has is that it’s also *political.* And if it’s political, we have to realize there are stakes involved, so we have to get a sense of proportion and not let a *philosophical* discussion–between people who should be allies–bubble over into something we don’t like. (My bet is that Dawkin’s colleagues had a talk with him about this.)

  23. Anthony McCarthy

    Seriously, no snark. You can be a scientist–do science professionally, use a scientific method to answer questions, apply rigorous standards of evidence–and you can believe in god(s), but you can’t do both simultaneously without a full retreat to deism. It cannot be done; the belief is fundamentally ascientific. Dissonance (1a), and I’ll withdraw the “cognitive” before I get dope-slapped!!!

    Gee, as my friend the math professor once told me, in mathematics, when they can’t come explain a seeming paradox they don’t automatically discount one half of it on that basis but assume a higher, yet undiscovered, synthesis that contains both.

    Considering that science exists as a way to explain those phenomena of the natural universe which are susceptible to its contemporary abilities and methods, but that any proposed supernatural would be of no knowable susceptibility to those methods, your assertion is not dissonant, it’s nonsensical. Many scientists and others aren’t as unreflective as that and do not experience a conflict they know doesn’t exist. Those “compartments” are the blocked alleys of the maze you’ve made of a problem that doesn’t exist. Don’t be surprised when you find some biblical and other fundamentalists roaming around in it while you’re in there.

    Dissonance is a term in music that has changed drastically over time to the point where intervals and melodic progressions once held to be dissonant and even painful are now taken full dose with little to no problem. And, as it’s a personal experience, a lot of people can stand up to any level of “dissonance”.

    There is one school of thought, based in actual testing, that believes the perception of a dissonance is related to the ability of an untrained person to distinguish whether or not they’re listening to one or two notes played simultaneously. Maybe what you take as someone else displaying what you take as “dissonance” is just the result of their greater acuity of perception.

    I really, really wish that behavior and cog-sci folk would leave musical terminology alone. Literary men might get one of of two words they write about music wrong, behavior sci are batting zero. Don’t get me started on “fugue state”. It wouldn’t be pretty.

  24. Bryan

    I thought the “Accommodationism” debate was about the compatibility of science and religion. These quotes from Dawkins and Newsweek mention neither. He is talking about belief in God and belief in evolution.

    Isn’t the non-accommodationist position more about the epistemology of religion being incompatible with the epistemology of scienctific inquiry?

    The theme of Dawkins’ quotes here are certainly related, and probably worth discussion, but I think there is a bit of bait and switch here by Rosenau and Mooney.

  25. bilbo

    Well, Bryan, that’s what we would all hope it would be. But it’s been changed into “you’d better not be a scientist and not be a New Atheist, too” by people like Coyne and PZ who like to get attention more than they do have thoughtful discussion. (see Myers telling scientists who think it’s OK to be religious and accept evolution too to “shut up” and “fuck off” as just one of many, many examples. I guess he’s also talking to Dawkins, too?)

    In all honesty, though, I don’t think people like PZ and Coyne REALLY think this way. I think they instead get overly passionate about boneheaded creationists (and justifyably so!!) and get a little too roped up in boradbrsuhing what would otherwise be an excellent arguing point across those to whom it really doesn’t apply.

  26. Constant Mews

    Bryan is correct: the post is disingenuous, since it does not address the central issue faced by M&K: evolution and religion are in fundamental and irreconcilable conflict; the belief in religion and the acceptance of evolution are not.

  27. Anthony McCarthy

    25, 26, 27, illogical, inaccurate and rather childish.

    Show me one place where Chris Mooney or Sheril Kirschenbaum have told anyone to “shut up” and “fuck off”.

    — The theme of Dawkins’ quotes here are certainly related, and probably worth discussion, but I think there is a bit of bait and switch here by Rosenau and Mooney. Bryan

    See, that, everyone. You are absolutely not to deal with more than one narrowly defined line of thought. You may not deal with nuance, you must not note contradictions or, perhaps, intellectual growth?

    Chris, how dare you notice this and post on it.

  28. @ Orac

    I personally don’t recall RD ever taking an accommodationist stance toward anti-vax. In fact, I believe it’s quite the opposite. And, according to Josh Timonen (RD’s webmaster):

    The AAI committee (of which Richard is not a member) chose Bill Maher to be this year’s recipient, especially because of his film, ‘Religulous’. Some commenters have raised objections because of Bill Maher’s stance on other issues, related to medicine.

    Honoring the creation of ‘Religulous’ does not imply endorsement of all of Bill Maher’s other views, and does not preclude Richard’s arguing against them on future occasions. It is simply showing proper appreciation of his brilliant film.

    So, I’m not sure what might really be there, but it doesn’t look like what you’ve made it out to be.

    As for the rest, so what? No inconsistency that I can see.

  29. Matt Penfold

    Rosenau is confusing one type of claim for the incompatibility with science with another.

    Dawkins has never denied that people can be scientists and be religious. No one that I am aware of has claimed this. It is quite obviously true. There are numerous example of religious scientists, including some truly brilliant ones.

    The incompatibility Dawkins and others talk of is, as Bryan and others have pointed out, about epistemology. They ask how is belief in an interventionist deity compatible with the scientific view that phenomenon have naturalistic explanations. Belief in a virgin birth is incompatible with science, as it demands the rules by which the universe work are set aside. Likewise belief in the resurrection, or the the efficacy of prayer in curing illness are also incompatible with science. Belief in an interventionist deity demands acceptance that events occur for which there is no naturalistic explanation. Acceptance of science as methodology requires that non naturalistic explanations for events are rejected.

    I have asked Mooney how he gets around this problem. Other than saying it was an interesting question, he has failed to answer. I have also asked Rosenau, and he has gone a bit further. He just plain refuses to answer. I suspect because he knows he can’t.

  30. gillt

    Dawkins responding to Mooney’s and Rosenau’s manufactured controversy.

    “How utterly ridiculous. All I was saying is that it is possible for a human mind to accommodate both evolution and religion because F. Collins’s mind seems to manage the feat (along with lots of vicars and bishops and rabbis). I also needed to make the point that TGSOE [The Greatest Show on Earth] is not the same book as TGD [The God Delusion] because many interviewers who are supposed to be interviewing me about TGSOE have simply ignored it and gone right back to assuming that it is the same book as TGD.

    I sympathize with politicians who have to watch every syllable they utter for fear it will be misused by somebody with an agenda.”

  31. Hansen

    With this post you have stopped to the level of dishonest apologetics like John Lennox. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, watch this segment of a talk by Dawkins called “Lying for Jesus”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1XgqSR7WRE

  32. MadScientist

    “Dawkins now stands up for Francis Collins”

    Really? Where? I only see Dawkins as being quoted as saying that Collins is religious and a scientist. Jerry Coyne has brought up the “compatibility issue” numerous times: It is trivial. Religion and science are compatible only in that there are religious scientists. I don’t see Dawkins getting into apologetics either. He never says we should be telling people that science will not kill off their Young Earth delusions – after all, that is the only accommodationism that matters, isn’t it? The majority of people in all other christian religions believe in evolution.

  33. MadScientist

    @Orac: So attack the quack, not Dawkins. I don’t see anything to be gained with “Oh no, Dawkins seems to like Maher!”

  34. Michael Kingsford Gray

    That Dawkins is able to recognise that some otherwise intelligent folk are able to possess a cognitive dissonance so profound that they, like Collins, are able make false claims of compatibility, is in no way an approval of such a poverty of thought.
    This would be akin to blaming Newton for someone falling off a cliff.

    For you, or Josh, or anyone to suggest that if Dawkins can see this kind of theistic mental gymnastics occurring, that he somehow agrees with it, is so utterly and starkly bizarre that I am dumbfounded to understand your strategy.

    For I am confident that neither Josh, nor Chris, nor Sheryl are so sodding dim that they could not spot this logical chasm almost immediately.
    You must be dissembling for some other reason.
    Are you able to inform the world of this reason, please?

  35. Anthony McCarthy

    I think I’ll just enjoy the puffed up sense of outrage that his unholiness has been slighted and leave it at that for now.

  36. Wes

    Is the distinction between psychological compatibility and epistemic/philosophical compatibility really that hard to grasp?

    No one, not even the so-called “new atheists”, denies psychological compatibility.

    Of course it is possible for some individual to believe any to given propositions. Compartmentalization of our thinking is something we all do to some extent (and some more than others). No one denies that. Many scientists in Muslim countries believe that Muhammad road a flying horse to Jerusalem. The two beliefs are psychologically compatible.

    What “new atheists” deny is philosophical compatibility. They deny that the claims of modern science and [insert supernatural religious claim here] can both be true at the same time. Philosophical compatibility is only tangentially related to psychological compatibility. And it has nothing to do with whether or not Francis Collins is a good scientist. It in no way denies the fact that someone could compartmentalize their thinking and do good science while also being a member of [insert religion or cult here].

    Address the real claims that people are making, not the trivial claims that no one is concerned with.

  37. Matt Penfold

    Dawkins has commented.

    How utterly ridiculous. All I was saying is that it is possible for a human mind to accommodate both evolution and religion because F. Collins’s mind seems to manage the feat (along with lots of vicars and bishops and rabbis). I also needed to make the point that TGSOE [The Greatest Show on Earth] is not the same book as TGD [The God Delusion] because many interviewers who are supposed to be interviewing me about TGSOE have simply ignored it and gone right back to assuming that it is the same book as TGD.

    I sympathize with politicians who have to watch every syllable they utter for fear it will be misused by somebody with an agenda.

    The comment from Dawkins comes from an email he sent to Jerry Coyne. The post by Coyne which quotes it is here

    This does not reflect well on Rosenau, Mooney or Kishembaum.

  38. Raiko

    I really would understand if someone who is ignorant enough to have never heard of Richard Dawkins would misunderstand ‘some people do believe in both religion and evolution’ for ‘I think it is perfectly reasonable to believe in both religion and evolution’ – in other words, mistake a factual statement about a matter for an opinion on said matter. However, you’ve written a book in the field and from what I’ve read in this blog and the previous one on scienceblogs, you know Dawkins’ views well enough. Since I don’t think either of you is incredibly dense or dumb, I am currently left to assume that your misinterpretation was a deliberate action for the benefit of your personal views on the science-vs-religion matters. Of course you’re free to convince me that you’re just stupid.

  39. swences

    The point you’re trying to make is childish and irrelevant.

    Rosenaeu & others must be desperate, this is a new low.

    Dawkins’ reaction?

    “How utterly ridiculous. All I was saying is that it is possible for a human mind to accommodate both evolution and religion because F. Collins’s mind seems to manage the feat (along with lots of vicars and bishops and rabbis). I also needed to make the point that TGSOE [The Greatest Show on Earth] is not the same book as TGD [The God Delusion] because many interviewers who are supposed to be interviewing me about TGSOE have simply ignored it and gone right back to assuming that it is the same book as TGD.

    I sympathize with politicians who have to watch every syllable they utter for fear it will be misused by somebody with an agenda.”

    What’ll be yours? (Apology? Denial? Obfuscation?)

  40. Anthony McCarthy

    I’d rather hear some religious scientists talk about their experience than some ideologically motivated professional atheist talk about an experience that he doesn’t have.

    And just because one religious scientist has an experience doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same for all of them. But categorical thinking and Dawkins don’t seem to have any trouble co-existing, in fact, they would seem to be almost identical.

  41. NewEnglandBob

    Where is the apology, Chris, Sheril and Josh?

  42. articulett

    I’m sure that Dawkins would state that God belief is as compatible with science as fairy belief or demon belief. These are all unfalsifiable. But he and many scientists disbelieve in all such invisible immeasurable entities equally.

    Carl Sagan referred to science as “a candle in the darkness” of a demon haunted world, and you can’t rid of the demons without putting angels, gods, and invisible saviors at risk of disappearance under the same light.

  43. Jon

    These are all unfalsifiable.

    Actually, any time you make claims that are not empirical, you are saying things that unfalsifiable. By that measure, not just St. Augustine’s, but Spinoza’s, Hegel’s, or even Kant’s claims are “unfalsifiable.”

    The problem is that the set of propositions that the New Atheists see as deserving of respect is so narrow.

    It’s as if when you’re a scientist, you can’t be a good one unless you believe scientific materialist explanations are the only ones with validity on any subject. And as if the Bible were intended as a mere technical manual for how the universe works–in the sense that Newton’s Laws of physics were. And since that “technical manual” is false, it must have no value, the things written about it have no value, and the people who live by them must be excommunicated from intelligent, respectable society.

    That’s not what Carl Sagan believed.

  44. Jon

    It looks like now that the High Priest of Oxford has spoken, your Regularly Scheduled Screeds can now resume…

  45. Wow, that’s amazing. Good for Dawkins. I wonder what PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne think about this? I recall a blog by Myers that implied that Francis Collins was not qualified to run the NIH. Of course he said a “systems biologist” would be a better choice but of course one doesn’t have to read between too many lines to conclude the disqualification in Myers mind was Collins’ theism. Either a much softer Dawkins or a retired Dawkins would do the Evolution-creation debate a lot of good.

  46. gillt

    Arguments from authority, be it Sagan or Jesus, are sad and weak.

    Some people actually believe the Bible is a technical manual; others don’t. The latter like to call themselves moderate as if this means moderately less delusional. Thing is, they still don’t see the bible as a work of fiction, of metaphor and analogy. The Bible is the sacred word of God ciphered through mortals, or some such nonsense.

    If a majority of religious people considered the Bible like they do Aesop’s Fables we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  47. Jon

    If a majority of religious people considered the Bible like they do Aesop’s Fables we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    If you read freaking Aquinas, he tells you not to read everything in the Bible literally.

    Your problem is with one group of religious people. To transpose this to all “religious people” (who don’t all even read the Christian Bible) is, frankly, bigotry.

  48. Jon

    If a majority of religious people considered the Bible like they do Aesop’s Fables we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Personally, my prescription for scientists getting popular and credible in America is for them to mock everyone’s religion and tell them Jesus and Peter are interchangeable with the Tortoise and the Hare, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, etc. –Such an incredible understanding of human nature, not to mention such thorough reading and research on the texts themselves.

  49. Vindrisi

    –Such an incredible understanding of human nature, not to mention such thorough reading and research on the texts themselves.

    What do you expect? Deliberate ignorance and misunderstanding are among the best tactics to maintain the delusion that one is absolutely correct. Given how these so characterize many creationists, folks like gillt are good exemplars of the old moral that it is all to easy to become like those one hates.

  50. Raiko

    There’s no high priest of Oxford, just a scientist who reacted to being told people with an agenda, like Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, are (most likely deliberatly) misrepresenting his words. But that he’s now aware of it and has reacted does not mean we should pretend the authors of this blog are perfectly honest people, or never said anything about the Newsweek interview in the first place. Who spoke up and who didn’t does not influence my opinion on this blog entry (and consequently its authors) – and when I’ll say so.

  51. At Uncommon Descent (http://www.uncommondescent.com) they seem to have the same discussion: recognizing that pornography exists, wether you like it or not, does not mean you approve of it.

  52. magistramorous

    We have to be accommodating in order to change people’s minds. Although I am pretty much a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic leaning toward materialism, I routinely promote theistic evolution as an alternative to young-earth creationism. I realize atheism and skepticism are not for everyone and, even if everyone could be made skeptics/atheists, it would take many years to win over each person. Although many at the atheist convention this weekend in Burbank derided me as an apologist, accommodationist, hypocrite, etc. for saying so, I believe this is the only way to save our “scientific soul,” in the words of Dr. Kenneth Miller. Just ask any well-seasoned politician and she/he may tell you in private that hypocrisy can be useful! LOL, J/K, kind of…

  53. Matti K.

    “Certainly, if Richard Dawkins is moving to this ground, there’s reason to rejoice.”

    I think this is an attempt of an argument from authority. Personally, I would check the argument itself. I think the following argument sucks:

    Collins is truly religious
    Collins is a competent scientist
    Therefore, religion and science are compatible.

    And as it turns out, Dawkins did not argue in that way.

    How naive can Mr. Mooney get?

  54. Michael Kingsford Gray

    How naive can Mr. Mooney get?

    I don’t assume that he is naive at all.
    His outrageous dissembling appears to be quite deliberate, if perhaps not all that well thought-out.
    “magistramorous” may have given us the clue, when suggesting that he/she is perfectly comfortable, nay willing: to tell flagrantly willful bald-face short-term lies for a will-o-the-wisp non-existent long-term goal.
    And not only that: boasts about lying to those whom he/she considers educationally inferior!

    It would be a laughable comedy, were it not so tragically egotistical yet ineffective.
    Just look at how far the accomodationist stance has got us in the last two or three millennia.
    Absolutley Nowhere.
    No advance since the putative Socrates was condemned to death for perverting youth via his questions.
    Not a jot.

    Now look at how far the so-called ‘New Atheists’ have got us** in the last 2 or 3 years.
    Further than the faitheists have managed in a thousand times that temporal extent.

    I just wish that Mooney might respond substantively to his critics.
    I do not expect that to occur, as he knows that he has backed himself into a corner from which the only escape is to admit fault. And, it seems that his pride exceedeth his honesty.
    I should respect him as a stout human being, should he ‘come clean’ and admit that his strident accommodationist stance is a mistake, unless his long term goal is to encourage churches to rape the globe.

    ______________
    ** By ‘us’, I mean those who care more about truth, and results, than the Uncle Toms who kow-tow to the religious parasites.

  55. Raiko

    Clap, clap, Erasmussino – comparing contradictive human feelings (empathy vs. selfishness; love vs. not-so-loving?) to contradictive facts/ideas – or the incompatibility of a cognitive idea with the real world as you know it! You drove your argument-van right into a wall.

    Yes, we’re being critical about people performing the mind-stunt of taking an idea for reality that is inconsistence with the facts around them, especially when at the same time, they’re acknowledging these facts for what they are (reality).

    This isn’t really comparable to our dissonance concerning contradictive feelings or unreasonable actions BECAUSE of feelings (jealousy, anyone?), or different feelings in different places. However, it is somewhat comparable to someone believing a radio is receiving information in the form of measurable waves that are transformed into sounds – while they also believe a little, invisible man is sitting inside the box talking to us.

  56. @John and Vindrisi,

    Hopefully you’ve had your spin on the high horse and would be interested to know that your points while terribly funny (ok, no, not really), are totally and woefully beside the point.

    “Personally, my prescription for scientists getting popular and credible in America is for them to mock everyone’s religion…”

    The charge of mocking religion is highly overused. To the people trying their damnest to dismantle scientific education in the U.S., even a sideways glance at Ray Comfort appealing to a human bred Cavendish banana as the definitive proof of God’s work is considered to be an insult bordering on blasphemy.

    And yes, people like Comfort and Cameron use their religion to shield themselves from very rightful ridicule for their asinine statements. If we don’t point it out bluntly and clearly, we’re creating the paradox of becoming so tolerant that we tolerate intolerance. When arrogant, self-absorbed ignoramuses lash out on those who actually have an idea of what they’re talking about, why shouldn’t we point out how their religious convictions are encouraging their vicious mangling of the facts?

    And what do we do when they lash out at atheists calling them evil, arrogant, immoral, stupid and selfish?

    “Such an incredible understanding of human nature, not to mention such thorough reading and research on the texts themselves.”

    You can read holy texts all you want and take apart their history, mechanics and ancient allusions and metaphors. In fact there are a lot of scientists who do this, like historians, anthropologists, sociologists and archeologists.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that the text themselves do not support what their ardent believers say they do. To keep trying to shove someone’s nose back into the text when they point out a major inconsistency between the text and the real world is known as the Courtier’s Reply. No matter how many books you write on the Emperor’s new jacket or silken boxer shorts or how big and beloved those books are, in reality, he’s still naked.

    “What do you expect? Deliberate ignorance and misunderstanding are among the best tactics to maintain the delusion that one is absolutely correct.”

    Right. And this statement is especially applicable to texts about magical spirits written by religious pundits over thousands of years for which there’s no evidence and which had some 1,500 years to show evidence for their grand claims and failed to do so time and time again…

  57. Anthony McCarthy

    —- Actually, any time you make claims that are not empirical, you are saying things that unfalsifiable. By that measure, not just St. Augustine’s, but Spinoza’s, Hegel’s, or even Kant’s claims are “unfalsifiable.” Jon

    This might be as excellent a point as I’ve seen raised on any blog when dealing with this issue. What it covers is only the largest majority of human experience. You can see that when you consider it. This discussion is motivated by the idea that we ought to favor what our experience of empirical evidence over what other kinds of experience tells us is, in itself, which is ultimately unfalsifiable empirically. Eddington once pointed out that “ought” is entirely outside of science. So, by the new atheist dogma, all “ought” statements are unreliable.

    And I wonder where that leaves those things within science which are accepted as being a reliable explanation but which , in subsequent understandings, are superseded. Which accounts for a great deal of what is accepted as science within any generation. It’s only one of the proud but inaccurate claims of new atheism that science internally corrects itself while religion doesn’t. Within that boast is the recognition that even fully established science can be over ridden by future knowledge and understanding. And that’s not getting to the stuff that never is quite really established empirically such as Dawkins own work dealing with unknowable behaviors even more permanently unavailable than possible, though it would now seem very unlikely, observable behaviors of “other life” that developed on other planets. About which Dawkins has felt himself quite free to speculate about rather grandly attributing mechanisms of Earth bound evolution to them, universally.

  58. Anthony McCarthy

    —– There’s no high priest of Oxford, just a scientist who reacted to being told people with an agenda, like Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, are (most likely deliberatly) misrepresenting his words. Raiko

    For the new atheism, I’d say he was more like Pius IX to Harris’ Pius X.

    I think what we’ve seen here is Chris Mooney pointing out an irony, a contradiction or a change of emphasis in something Dawkins said. And the panicked denials by some Dawkinsites here, mixed with some rather confused and worried seeming diminution of the statement are demonstrating what would seem to be the habitual practice of the new atheism, on which they share with their fundamentalist cousins, not reading all that well. Consider this:

    —- Wow. No more denouncing the “Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists”; rather, Dawkins now stands up for Francis Collins!

    Rosenau has more discussion of whether or not this represents a real change of position–but assuming Dawkins is being quoted correctly, then it appears he is espousing the basic stance that we, and NCSE, have long been arguing for.

    Certainly, if Richard Dawkins is moving to this ground, there’s reason to rejoice. Chris Mooney

    A conditional statement at the end of a comment about Dawkins’ past and clear low blow “Neville Chamberlain”, Dawkins’ and his acolytes statements about himself and his co-blogger and the NCSE in regard to insufficient intolerance.

    I’m not going to put words in his mouth but it wouldn’t surprise me if Chris Mooney’s long experience with the new atheism, and perhaps of having observed Dawkins, didn’t lead him to suspect that any more reasonable and tolerant attitude was likely a transient phenomenon which wouldn’t last longer than a minor fad in the behavioral sciences.

  59. Anthony McCarthy

    —- Arguments from authority, be it Sagan or Jesus, are sad and weak. gillt

    Anytime anyone accepts something which they have not verified themselves they are accepting an authority. If they incorporate that idea into an argument they are making, they are accepting that unverified argument on the basis of authority. Scientists, just as every single other person involved in any activity human beings do, continually accepts and makes arguments from authority.

    There are differences in the quality of those arguments and those authorities, but the grand statement that gillt made, is, in itself, a rather poor example of the thing it purports to speak authoritatively on.

  60. Anthony McCarthy

    Scientists, just as every single other person involved in any activity human beings do, continually accepts and makes arguments from authority.

    This should read “Every scientist, just as every single other….

    Editing, either you go too far or you don’t go far enough.

  61. “It’s only one of the proud but inaccurate claims of new atheism that science internally corrects itself while religion doesn’t.”

    What’s inaccurate about that? Science is a method of acquiring and updating knowledge. It assumes that as new discoveries are made, our knowledge will be revised accordingly. Religion is a collection of dogmas many of which are said to be totally unshakable and disagreeing with them generally condemns one to eternal suffering in the afterlife.

    When was the last time the Bible was revised? When was the last time anyone took an official Bible and excised a chapter or a story because it was found to be wrong based on a newly found artifact? Or clarified a chapter based on current evidence?

    “such as Dawkins own work dealing with unknowable behaviors … of “other life” that developed on other planets”

    Since when has Dawkins been a dedicated astrobiologist? He just gave a few talks asking if all life in the universe could follow the same principles and leaving that open to investigation.

    “I think what we’ve seen here is Chris Mooney pointing out an irony, a contradiction or a change of emphasis in something Dawkins said.”

    Um, no. Dawkins just said that you can hold contrarian views in your head like Francis Collins does. That’s all. How is this a reversal of his stance?

  62. Raiko

    “For the new atheism, I’d say he was more like Pius IX to Harris’ Pius X.”

    We all know popes are elected by a majority of high church officials and supposedly appointed by god. Nobody appointed or elected Dawkins. His recognition stems from his work (like his very lucid popular science writing) and from uttering views that many people can relate to and understand. He has no absolute authority, nor does he think so (unlike popes!) and we “new atheists” (what a silly term) are happy to criticize him where we see fit.

    It seems it is quite difficult for many people to grasp the difference between recognition and deserved respect and idolization.

  63. Anthony McCarthy

    Nobody appointed or elected Dawkins.

    You mean like Napoleon? I’ve argued a lot with the new atheist crowd on the blogs. I know more Catholics who are server critics of the Pope than I do new atheists who can tolerate the slightest criticism of Dawkins. Just look at what this mildly ironical blog post has led to.

    If you think “new atheists” is a silly term, go lecture Jerry Coyne about using it, more people read him than me.

    — What’s inaccurate about that? Religion is a collection of dogmas many of which are said to be totally unshakable and disagreeing with them generally condemns one to eternal suffering in the afterlife. Greg Fish

    What’s inaccurate about the idea that religion doesn’t practice internal criticism of its own behavior and practices within the area of its interests? Only the clear fact that it does, though imperfectly as science imperfectly corrects itself within a much simpler field of activity.

    I’ve mentioned this here before. Isaiah and the Hebrew Prophets were largely concerned with criticism of the practices of the rulers and religious authorities, and the people within their religious tradition. Isaiah went so far as to say that due to their rejection of justice, The Temple was a mockery and useless. Jesus told the contemporary equivalent of scriptural fundamentalists in his time that prostitutes and tax collectors would be saved before they were. Paul took on Peter and James, Jesus’ brother for their inconsistencies and hypocrisies. And all of this was is as internal as criticism can get, it’s embedded into the scriptures of these religions. There are other internal criticisms in other religions.

    As you follow the typical new atheist practice of lumping all religions together and saying something false about them, how would you account for the huge disparity and ever fracturing sectarianism of religion, in general, except as a result of internal criticism and attempts at correction.

    If your answer is that that’s something that’s wrong with religion, you can say the same thing about democracy, politics in general, certainly the behavioral sciences, such as Dawkins used to be involved in. Do you think that the existence of diverse view points held about Sociobiology and Evo-Psy disqualify Richard Dawkins from intellectual respectability?

    — Since when has Dawkins been a dedicated astrobiologist? He just gave a few talks asking if all life in the universe could follow the same principles and leaving that open to investigation. Greg Fish

    Well, the evolution of life on Earth might be entirely unlike life evolving on any other planets or planetoids. “Leaving that open to investigation,”? Well, if they get here someday, since it doesn’t look like we’re likely to get there before we destroy ourselves, he’s pretty safe to include that safety hatch in case someone notices that this, as in every assertion he and others make about entirely lost behavior in the unrecorded past, is entirely a matter of imagination.

    His good buddy, Daniel Dennett, doesn’t seem to think it’s quite that speculative, in fact, he goes way, way farther out on the limb to the utter silence of the self-appointed devotees of empirical evidence.

  64. Jon

    His outrageous dissembling appears to be quite deliberate,

    Unfortunately, this is typical. You people can’t write two paragraphs without impugning the motives of anyone who disagrees with you.

  65. @ Matt Pennfold:

    The incompatibility Dawkins and others talk of is, as Bryan and others have pointed out, about epistemology. They ask how is belief in an interventionist deity compatible with the scientific view that phenomenon have naturalistic explanations. Belief in a virgin birth is incompatible with science, as it demands the rules by which the universe work are set aside. Likewise belief in the resurrection, or the the efficacy of prayer in curing illness are also incompatible with science. Belief in an interventionist deity demands acceptance that events occur for which there is no naturalistic explanation. Acceptance of science as methodology requires that non naturalistic explanations for events are rejected.

    Matt,
    Then problem you seem to be overlooking is that religion is NOT JUST about expalining the natural world. If that were it’s only purpose you MIGHT be right. But as I have previously pointed out:

    Why is this falicious thinking? Because religions exist first and foremost to create and propogate moral structures within a society. Those structures in turn create communities of like minded people, who can, if they choose, work to a higher collective good using the moral tennants they have been taught. Seen in this context, the Creation story in the Christian Bible (which just hapens to be in the Jewish scriptre and the Koran as well) is as much an instruction to humanity to care for nature, as it is a “literal” explanation of how the world came to be.

  66. Costanza

    I think Anthony McCarthy has hit the nail on the head and he is absolutely right. Science is no more an authoritative way of knowing about the world than any other. Science deals with a limited set of methods, approaches and viewpoints just like religion or philosophy do. Even the philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend once quipped that “science is an anarchic enterprise”. Even science finally has to bow to some authority, just like religion does; as Anthony notes, to that extent it does not claim a monopoly on “truth” and is ultimately no more valid than any other way of knowing. I am in complete agreement with him and others here who have been arguing so long against the “special” authority of science.

  67. Jon

    I think science is excellent at explaining the physical world. If you insist that that is the only thing worth explaining, then you have yourself a dogma.

  68. Sorbet

    -such as Dawkins own work dealing with unknowable behaviors even more permanently unavailable than possible, though it would now seem very unlikely, observable behaviors of “other life” that developed on other planets

    However, this speculation is grounded in what we know about life on this planet. Science deals with reasonable, best case scenarios. In this case, the best case scenario is for life on other planets to have also evolved due to natural selection and random drift. Many people, including today’s Nobel Prize winner Jack Szostak have done research indicating a common basis for evolution on earth and on other planets.

  69. gillt

    “Anytime anyone accepts something which they have not verified themselves they are accepting an authority.” McCarthy

    If that’s your description of how science works then you are, as usual, unschooled on how science works.

    My “grand statement” was in reference to another post. Pay attention to context.

    Costanza: “Science is no more an authoritative way of knowing about the world than any other.”

    Let’s get a show of hands on who here agrees with the above statement so I can adjust my mocking accordingly.

  70. Sorbet

    -Anytime anyone accepts something which they have not verified themselves they are accepting an authority
    So then according to your definition every scientist without exception is subscribing to dogma since he has not verified everything he has studied first hand. What an admirable understanding of science and scientists! Why don’t we just abolish textbooks then and have every student of science verify every scientific principle that has been discovered since antiquity by doing his or her own experiments?!

    It should also be noted that McCarthy who thinks himself competent to criticize Dawkins’s opinions on exobiology has no idea about any of the actual literature on the topic. As usual he knows virtually nothing about how real science is done. For more information on his ignorance of the topic see the following thread:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/06/24/responding-to-sean-carroll-what-if-there-had-been-a-camera-at-the-resurrection/

    -Costanza: Next time you get a bacterial infection, how about faith healing instead of antibiotics? After all antibiotics should be just “another way of treating”

  71. Peter Beattie

    » swences:
    What’ll be yours? (Apology? Denial? Obfuscation?)

    They will simply ignore it. Mooney has been doing that with virtually every serious, critical question asked of him in the last months, and Rosenau is doing the same thing with regard to the points Jason Rosenhouse has made in response to Kevin Padian’s silly statements.

  72. Anthony McCarthy

    — If that’s your description of how science works then you are, as usual, unschooled on how science works. gillt

    OK, gillt, without going to look it up, come up with the proofs of all of the mathematics you use in your work. Right now, before I can suspect that you’re cheating.

  73. Jon

    I think science is authoritative on the subject of the physical world. Oliver Wendell Holmes got it about right: “Science gives us major answers to minor questions, while religion gives us minor answers to major questions.”

  74. gillt

    I’ve been exposed to the proofs of the simple maths I use in the lab, why should I re-remember them now? They haven’t changed.

    @Jon. Religions gives us big answers but it has a big problem with accuracy.

  75. Sorbet

    Here’s the difference; the basic principles of science have been verified millions of times by thousands of scientists working independently of each other and doing rigorous, controlled experiments. The results of these experiments are in complete agreement with each other. If you want to call the acceptance of such results without personal verification as acceptance of “authority”, then you clearly have your own unique and warped definition of the word.

  76. Anthony McCarthy

    Oh, good grief, not that exobiology canard again, Sorbet.

    I plead guilty to the charge that I’ve pointed out that exobiologists have not the first example of “other life” to study and so what they discover within that frame is of no presently knowable relevance to “other life”. I furthermore plead guilty as charged to pointing out that given the distances involved, that it is extremely unlikely that this first example of “other life” will ever be available to compare it to the science which is done under that frame and, perhaps, funding excuse. And that considering the distance to the second possible example of it’s purported focus, that even if the first one was available for actual study, the second one would be unavailable to us any time soon.

    Whether or not attaching some pretty impressive knowledge about earth borne biology, organic chemistry and physics to those speculations and conjecture about the presently entirely unknown, possibly non-existent “other life” are all that far advanced from other kinds of speculations about “other life” make what is said about it more reliable, is of no presently determinable probability. Making statements about natural selection being the universal rule for the development of life on other planets is, for someone with a radically adaptationist agenda, rather prone to the suspicion of being self-serving and rather negligent as genetic drift and other explanations are already known.

    I seem to recall noting somewhere, that if those alien folks came here, perhaps overturning much of what Carl Sagan said about the extreme unlikelihood of them getting this far, that they might be able to give us a bit more to work with. But as we seem to be having a really hard time visiting Mars or discerning if one of the planetoids of our system could hold life, that any such speculations are not based on the actual study of the natural universe but of conjecture. I doubt that even a well-traveled alien species could have knowledge of more than a tiny fraction of locations in the known universe so they might not have all that much more knowledge than we’ve got now.

    I think that’s about all I said about it, I think I said that as long as the science funded under that is productive, it doesn’t especially bother me if that’s what they put on their applications.

    And, you might notice, I never said that the exobiologists and the natural selection dogmatists might not be entirely right, just that we don’t have any way of knowing NOW.

  77. Jon

    Here’s the difference; the basic principles of science have been verified millions of times by thousands of scientists working independently of each other and doing rigorous, controlled experiments.

    Yes, but not everything in life is about the scientific method. I keep linking to this Isaiah Berlin essay, but apparently no one likes to read anything longer than a blog post:

    http://berlin.wolf.ox.ac.uk/published_works/ac/divorce.pdf

  78. Sorbet

    I agree that NS may not be the only possible mechanism operating on extraterrestrial life. Random genetic drift would be another one. As for conjecture, a well founded conjecture has more credence than an ill founded or non-existent one.

  79. Jon

    As David Bowie said, “is there life on Maaaaaaaaaa-rs!!?”

  80. gillt

    I just have a hard time taking seriously an opinionated piano teacher deciding what is and isn’t considered good and proper science.

    Conversely, I don’t bother trolling music blogs populating them with my uninformed opinion on music theory. Jazz shmazz

  81. Anthony McCarthy

    Well, gillt, if what I said is that wrong it should be easy for a geneticist-tutor-human guinea pig such as yourself to overturn it instead of relying on your usual and intellectually impotent recourse to non-empirically based, logic free derision in the face of the assertions of a mere piano teacher who took a few courses in math in college rather seriously.

  82. Raiko

    Nobody appointed or elected Dawkins.

    You mean like Napoleon? I’ve argued a lot with the new atheist crowd on the blogs.

    I am surprised they argued with you in the first place – what a waste of time with someone who cherry-picks quotes and ignores half of your argument. And how boring.

  83. Anthony McCarthy

    – what a waste of time with someone who cherry-picks quotes Raiko

    I’m really curious about this question. How much of someone do you have to quote before you can’t be accused of “cherry picking”? Where’s the rule about that or is it, as I suspect, it’s merely a dishonest dodge to be leveled by new atheists against their opponents when they don’t have any answer to what they said?

    I don’t believe you quoted the post in its entirety, did you?

  84. ponderingfool

    A more recent interview with Dawkins

  85. “How much of someone do you have to quote before you can’t be accused of ‘cherry picking’?”

    Are you serious?

    If you have to ask how much of someone you have to quote, you’re clearly behind on the concept of reading comprehension.

    Selective quote mining designed to create strawmen and grossly misrepresent someone’s argument is cherry picking. The length of your quote is irrelevant. It’s what quotes you choose to address and how that matter.

  86. bilbo

    Come come, silly people. The argument here isn’t about the distinction between an operational accommodation between science and religion and philosophical one, because those lines have been drawn. Dawkins – and Mooney, for that matter – clearly understand this.

    But when people like PZ and Coyne say things like “fuck off!!!” to religious scientists and not just those promoting philosophical compatability (that’s a direct quote, mind you), the line Jerry draws in his “retort” is very much blurred, if not eradicated.

    Dawkins isn’t talking about philosophical compatibility here. Of course he’s not! But neither are Jerry and PZ when they slander scientists for purely being religious. I think that’s Chris’s point: people like Jerry and PZ are directly contradicting Dawkins when they get mad at others for NOT denouncing religious scientists. So, in essence, they should be angry at him too.

    I wonder why not????

  87. magistramorous

    @ Michael Kingsford Gray: Have people ever revealed the full truth to you about anything all at once? For me, accepting the scientific method took many years and involved watching science programming, reading, and philosophizing. Why would you expect anyone without that background to be skeptical of everything, like I assume we both are? There’s a great line from the movie, Fools Rush In, where Matthew Perry’s character says that dating is all about hiding the ugly truth until you finally have to. He goes on to denounce the whole process, but would you really reveal right away that you’re an atheist to a potential date? I made that mistake last night and never will again.
    The long-term goal is to get people to become more like Francis Collins or Robert Wright, because at least they’re not young-earth creationists. With regard to the claim that I consider myself educationally superior, I don’t. After I graduated from college, interviewers told me time and time again that I either didn’t have enough experience or didn’t have the right kind and, over time, I have come to see the wisdom of their thinking. I was wasting my time with the wrong type of education, when I could have acquired the kind of practical, real life experience that could land me a job.
    Regarding the supposed lack of progress of accommodationism since the time of Socrates, this is patently false. Plenty of people criticized the church during the 60′s for its racist views without asking that it be completely dissolved. While I believe people would have become less racist over time anyway, without the church, you cannot deny the power Martin Luther King Jr. and other religious leaders had to shape public policy and awareness.
    Sincerely,
    Magistramorous

  88. Raiko

    You’re still boring, so I’ll make it quick:

    1) Cherry picking is when you take a quote out of context and reply to only that quote, ignoring any further elaboration that would be relevant to your reply.

    2) Your question makes no sense. If you cherry-picked a quote once, anyone is free to call you upon it – if you do it repeatedly, they’ll probably call you on it more often or more likely.

    3) Again, learn to understand what cherry-picking actually means (see 1) and you’ll realize why I didn’t quote the rest of your post.

  89. Raiko

    Forgot one thing: Feel free to have the last word. I venture the guess that you’d like to have it. :)

  90. Sven DiMilo

    when people like PZ and Coyne say things like “fuck off!!!” to religious scientists and not just those promoting philosophical compatability (that’s a direct quote, mind you)

    A direct quote from whom? “People like PZ and Coyne”?
    And directed toward whom? “[All] religious scientists”?

    citation needed, to say the least!

  91. gillt

    Initial Mooney: “Needless to say, I’m glad of the choice. It elevates to new prominence someone who merges top tier science with religion–a powerful way to show that you really can have both in your life.”

    Later Mooney: “It seems to me that Scott is just making the blunt empirical point that a lot of people reconcile the two in some way–which is undeniable…”

    So according to Mooney, you can be religious and still do quality science, but the science and religion are not philosophically compatible (other than deism, perhaps), hence the need to force the two incongruities into reconciliation, albeit superficial and inconsistent.

    Basically, Mooney’s in agreement with the New Atheists the first Tuesday of every month and with the Accomodationists the rest of the time.

    hat-tip to OB

  92. Anthony McCarthy

    — If you have to ask how much of someone you have to quote, you’re clearly behind on the concept of reading comprehension. Greg Fish

    Oh, so it’ s something you’re just supposed to know. Where does this knowledge come from? It’s odd but in my long life of reading stuff I’ve never come across the rule laying out the threshold past which you’re quoting a relevant passage of something and exempt from this charge of “cherry picking”.

    — Selective quote mining designed to create strawmen … Greg Fish

    If you’d thrown in “Occam’s Razor”, “Philosophical Naturalism” and “epistemology” you’d have pretty much exhausted the rhetorical kit bag of blog atheism.

    —– and grossly misrepresent someone’s argument is cherry picking. Greg Fish

    Well, as it was Raiko who made the accusation at #86, you might want to go find out what he was asserting. I’m not finding it easy to figure it out as I don’t believe I quoted Dawkins at all but was talking about what my experience of the reverence blog atheists of my acquaintance hold him in, it was my argument that was being misrepresented by him, after he made an assertion about CM and SK’s dishonesty without any supporting quote at all.

    — The length of your quote is irrelevant. It’s what quotes you choose to address and how that matter. Greg Fish

    You will notice in my challenge of Raiko, at #62, which apparently got his pinafore in a twist, I quoted exactly the assertion he made, fully, and I refuted it with a long quote from the post. In Raiko’s comment at # 53, where I took his quote, he didn’t provide any supporting quote for his accusation of dishonesty of CM and SK.

    So, what’s it called when a new atheist makes a totally unsupported accusation? I’d guess “brilliance” if it’s another new atheist who is reading it.

    —- 1) Cherry picking is when you take a quote out of context and reply to only that quote, ignoring any further elaboration that would be relevant to your reply. Raiko

    See the two sentences proceeding this quote from you.

    As to me being boring, well, sometimes reasoned argument is hard but not everything that is important is entertaining and diverting. Imagine how some of us feel hearing the same old new atheist boiler plate over and over and over again. If you can.

  93. Jon

    bilbo: I wonder why not????

    It’s because they are presenting an (essentially political) united front in spite of any philosophical differences they have.

    Now, why can’t they present the same kind of united front with religious scientists in defending science? Because they have different priorities. Namely, leading us with their kindly visages into our great New Atheist Utopian Future. Where the 80% or so of Americans who identify as religious give up their religion, or some such similar crack pipe smoking.

  94. Costanza

    Hats off to you Anthony. I have to say I admire your patience in taking on the New Atheist mafia cabal. I would have given up long back, but you endure and have emerged as one of the very few people on this blog who have a firm grip on logic and reason. All I can say again is that I agree resoundingly with your take on the limitations of science. When will these people understand that science is not everything??

  95. Anthony McCarthy

    Thank you, Costanza.

  96. Anthony McCarthy

    — If you want to call the acceptance of such results without personal verification as acceptance of “authority”, then you clearly have your own unique and warped definition of the word. Sorbet

    You don’t think that a scientist speaking about their work, say, work to people who haven’t read their papers and gone through the evidence themselves, is speaking authoritatively? You don’t think that if the person they describe it to asserts its reliability on the basis of the earned reputation of the scientist is arguing on the basis of that it comes form an authoritative source? Most relevantly to the work of Chris Mooney, you think that a Senator or congressman or member of an executive department who has to come up with a political decision but who consults expert scientific advice instead of their generally non-existent ability to comprehend the science isn’t taking that advice on the basis of authority?

    No, Sorbet, my definition is entirely within the accepted meaning of authority and is in no way warped.

  97. @Anthony McCarthy,

    Let me put this to you bluntly. You’re rather long winded and after writing a lot, you manage to say very little. You asked for what makes for cherry picking and you were given an explanation which noted that your phrasing was based on a faulty premise. Doesn’t matter how long of a quote you used to “refute” something. If you read something that wasn’t there into it, you were misrepresenting the quote, plain and simple.

    I’ll leave you and Constanza to strenuously pat each other on the back, discuss the values of jamming magic into objective reality and call yourself highly enlightened for doing so.

  98. Anthony McCarthy

    — You asked for what makes for cherry picking and you were given an explanation which noted that your phrasing was based on a faulty premise. Greg Fish

    To put it bluntly, you made an assertion that I was “cherry picking” quotes. You didn’t specify what quote I was supposed to have “cherry picked”, why that quote was an example of this horrible charge, and how your vague, nebulous, and self-serving definition applied to it.

    You also didn’t address my point about your fellow neo-atheis raiko making an accusation against the authors of this blog without backing it up .

    You are a practitioner of the new atheist double standard, a standard they have to adopt since their cult is entirely dependent on not having to live by the rules it sets for other people and holds their opponents to.

    There, that short enough for you?

  99. Anthony McCarthy

    G.F. Let me put this to you bluntly, you are intellectually dishonest, inconsistent and addicted to new atheist cliches wielded with no interest in whether or not they are accurate. See my last comment to you for examples.

    I don’t think I’ve ever referred to myself in those terms. I doubt much of anyone does.

  100. “To put it bluntly, you made an assertion that I was “cherry picking” quotes.”

    Where? Have you been actually reading the comments or just going in to type off something fiery because you want to show up another one of those new atheists that twist your knickers in a knot?

    You asked what constitutes cherry picking based on an incorrect premise. I answered. There’s not a word about you actually doing any cherry picking in my comments. So how about you get mad about something that was actually said rather than chasing your own tail while foaming at the mouth?

    “You also didn’t address my point about your fellow neo-atheis [sic] raiko making an accusation against the authors of this blog without backing it up.”

    Throwing around terms like “atheist” to poison the well and adding a prefix to score points for pseudo-intellectualism, doesn’t show your argument in the best light. It really doesn’t. Especially when you’re demanding I do something that had nothing to do with any of my comments or your other debacles.

    You don’t ask random strangers on the street to help you get out of a personal argument in which they never got involved, do you? Why do the same thing on the web?

    “You are a practitioner of the new atheist double standard… There, that short enough for you?”

    Sure it is, but you didn’t actually explain what the double standard was, just called atheists a hypocritical cult without actually bothering to show what they’re so hypocritical about.

    So first you get enraged about nonexistent problems, then lose track of with who you’re debating and about what, and after that, forget to make a point you spend so much time setting up.

    Would you mind paying just a little bit of attention to what you pound into the keyboard? Please?

    “Let me put this to you bluntly…”

    Hey, that’s my line!

    “you are intellectually dishonest…”

    … says the person who can’t be bothered to keep track of what arguments I made and what about…

    “inconsistent…”

    … and who spends a great deal of time trying to get me to tackle imaginary claims or debates with which I have nothing to do.

    “… and addicted to new atheist cliches wielded with no interest in whether or not they are accurate.”

    And those cliches would be? And they were used where again? And by whom? And would you mind making a link to the relevant comments?

    “I don’t think I’ve ever referred to myself in those terms.”

    So what about your gracious verbal curtsy when given fawning adoration for being a brave and smart warrior against those loathsome, icky new atheists? That never happened? I’m just seeing things? You couldn’t have simply ignored it or deflected praise you thought was undue?

  101. Jeremy H.

    I see that no official update or correction, or even acknowledgment has been issued here. Good going, Mooney! Don’t let those pesky facts and statements from the author himself get in the way of a perfectly good quote-mine.

  102. Matti K.

    Jeremy: You forget that Mr. Mooney is a political journalist with an agenda. Sure, he refers himself as a science journalist, but it is ever more difficult to see basis for such a classification.

  103. Anthony McCarthy

    — Don’t let those pesky facts and statements from the author himself get in the way of a perfectly good quote-mine. J.H

    In other words, how dare you notice this discrepancy in what Dawkins and his acolytes have said.

  104. I see that no official update or correction, or even acknowledgment has been issued here. Good going, Mooney!

    Seriously. I mean, I don’t know if the post really qualifies as quote-mining in the classic sense – it could well be a case of a more-or-less innocent misunderstanding of a slightly vague quote in a kinda muddy debate. But if you look at the original ‘Dawkins an accommodationist?!’ post over at TfK, Josh has already added an update mentioning Dawkins’ response and asking for clarification. To be fair, our hosts here seem to have fairly busy lives, and Mooney doesn’t seem to have posted anything after this, yet I’m hoping when he does that he gets around to addressing this. A teapot tempest, true, but y’know, standards . . .

  105. that should be “doesn’t seem to have posted anything after this, yet – I’m hoping . . . “

  106. Woody Tanaka

    “When will these people understand that science is not everything??”

    Exactly! If it weren’t for 4,000 year old goat herders’ myths, why, we might accidentally fail to keep “holy” the “Sabbath” or eat a nice BLT sandwich. And THEN where will we be? Certainly in a pickle that science can’t speak to, that’s for sure.

  107. In other words, how dare you notice this discrepancy in what Dawkins and his acolytes have said.

    I think the problem here is not mentioning that the person quoted strongly disagrees with the way one interpreted their quote. Again, it doesn’t seem that Mooney’s posted anything since, so that’s a partial excuse, at least.

  108. Skeptic

    Dawkins is not being inconsistent. For instance see:
    http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2009/10/is-richard-dawkins-accomodationist.html
    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/richard-dawkins-is-not-an-accommodationist/
    Of course McCarthy with his expertise in ad hominem will instantly dismiss these posts since they are written by the Big Bad Atheists Moran and Coyne. For him substance does not count at all, the only thing that counts is the identity of the person who says or writes something.

  109. gillt

    Like I said, this post is manufactured controversy.

  110. Anthony McCarthy

    – I think the problem here is not mentioning that the person quoted strongly disagrees with the way one interpreted their quote. Dan S.

    And you were doing so well in noting that this is a tempest in a teapot. Noting that someone has said something at varience with something else they’ve said, rather forcefully, is certainly not unfair comment. I’m sure that the range of new atheists from the depths of “Skeptic” and gillt up to the mild-manner of yourself wouldn’t hesitate to note a lapse in tone among your opponents. In fact, I’m sure I could find examples all over the new atheist blogs if I bothered to look.

    What is most interesting is the umbrage and indignation, mixed with a bit of emotional overreaction among the new atheists. That’s also fair comment.

    “Skeptic”, I read the Coyne thing, I’m banned from commenting on his blog, I don’t usually bother with Larry’s PZ lite stuff.

    Dan, surely you can appreciate the irony of “Skeptic” leveling a charge of ad hominem, can’t you?

  111. Anthony McCarthy

    Oh, and Dan, I said this at # 62

    I’m not going to put words in his mouth but it wouldn’t surprise me if Chris Mooney’s long experience with the new atheism, and perhaps of having observed Dawkins, didn’t lead him to suspect that any more reasonable and tolerant attitude was likely a transient phenomenon which wouldn’t last longer than a minor fad in the behavioral sciences.

  112. Sorbet

    People! People! Don’t you understand?? The troll needs to have the last word otherwise he goes into an uncontrollable fit of hiccups and starts convulsing on the floor. Have pity on the poor man! Give him the last word! Do a good deed folks. There Anthony, I took care of it….ROLL ON NOW!

  113. gillt

    New Atheism is a minor fad among Behavioral Scientists? You’re virtually incoherent McCarthy but is this what you’re attempting to say?

  114. Anthony McCarthy

    — New Atheism is a minor fad among Behavioral Scientists? You’re virtually incoherent McCarthy but is this what you’re attempting to say? gillt

    Apparently you are reading deficient because that’s not what it said.

    Notice this boys, gillt, the quintessential new atheist uses the term “New Atheism”, here and at another blog I noted today. You going to scold him and shake your fingers?

    Sorbet, you’re one to talk about getting the last word in. If Dan S. hadn’t shown up I might not have bothered to post another comment here. And as to me trolling this site, no. You, gillt, “Skeptic”, etc. troll this site. Not me.

  115. gillt

    As I said on the other blog the term was thrust on me by you McCarthy, the only person to ever give me the label. I think you need help.

  116. Skeptic

    McCarthy, I just heard from Coyne (I emailed him earlier) and he says he does not recall banning you from his blog. Making up stuff are we? How about some evidence for a change?

  117. Anthony McCarthy

    Gee, “Skeptic”, first PZ now Coyne, must be an epidemic of something I’ve never encountered at other blogs. Not even other new atheist blogs.

    gillt, see, if you were an important new atheist someone could write a blog post about your minor apostasy and then you could pout about it. As I said at the other blog that if I’ve got that power over you, how come I can’t get you to stop misrepresenting what I’ve said.

  118. Skeptic

    No evidence still. Therefore no reason to believe you were banned at Coyne’s blog.

  119. gillt

    What power, the power of name-calling?

  120. Anthony McCarthy

    No evidence still. Therefore no reason to believe you were banned at Coyne’s blog.

    I don’t care whether or not you believe it. I read the bigot and read down the thread, there were 99 comments at the time, the same number as were on this thread at the time.

    124. gillt Says:
    October 6th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    What power, the power of name-calling?

    Oh, gillt, you really don’t expect anyone to believe you didn’t know how to call people names before we first crossed paths last June, do you? You prevaricate with such virtuosity as it is, why gillt the lily?

  121. Kohler

    Dawkins has no particular critique applicable against Pandeism, a subset of deism which plugs the questions raised by deism by incorporating pantheism. Pandeism explains that the motive force is an unconscious and noninterfering Deus, which became — and now silently underlies — the Universe, existing only as the smallest particles of mass and force which combine to make all that we know. Pandeism is the most fundamental theory that simultaneously fully accounts for all scientific and spiri, while having no extraneous or illogical components.

  122. Sorbet

    McCarthy’s God-given power of obfuscation and fabrication. Who can top THAT!

    -I read the bigot and read down the thread, there were 99 comments at the time, the same number as were on this thread at the time
    Uhhh…McCarthy, more evidence of your mounting psychological problems?? Don’t make us pity you, we simply want to point out your idiocy. And your bigoted comments against all atheists here make it clear who the bigot is.

    And how convenient it is to proclaim without a shred of evidence that every NA you disagree with has banned you from commenting.

  123. Anthony McCarthy

    I’m wondering where all these deists are. I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever met a single, professed deist in my entire two score years and can’t recall even one.

    I’m not interested in a God that can’t even be bothered to tend the universe it created.

    Sorbet, what part of “I don’t care whether or not you believe it,” don’t you understand.

    My idiocy. It’s so idiotic that neither you nor Skeptic nor gillt is willing to take it on directly but have to resort to lies and distortions. Coyne apparently wasn’t wiling to take me on directly either, the several times he e-mailed me to encourage me not to post on his blog, before I tried a couple of comments that didn’t post. That never happened at Hemants, or Lippard’s or Alonzo Fyte’s or any of numerous other new atheist blogs I used to bother with. It didn’t even happen when I decided to lay into Austin Cline after I found out he’d misrepresented something I’d said and they don’t come much less humorless than Cline.
    I don’t think Coyne takes contradiction all that well. He called me a “sourpuss”, if you can imagine.

    And, keeping up your record of lying, I’ve always made a distinction between the new atheists and normal atheists who I’ve generally gotten along pretty well with. But, then, more than one of those has told me they think the new atheists are boring fanatics. I believe Chris Mooney is an atheist and I’ve been standing up for him against you guys.

  124. gillt

    Someone who claims to stand up for gay rights throwing around the word “normal.” How rich.

  125. Anthony McCarthy

    — Someone who claims to stand up for gay rights throwing around the word “normal.” How rich gillt

    You don’t think that gay people have an appreciation of normalcy? How straight. Or maybe, how desperate.

  126. Helioprogenus

    Looks like I’m late to this party. I’m not going to bother reading through all 130 comments, but from the gist of it, we have our typical accommodationists dancing on the rooftops for an imaginary conversation they had with Richard Dawkins.

    It doesn’t matter what Dawkins says, even if he recants non-accommodationist thought. He could become a born again Christian, but it certainly wouldn’t take anything away form his earlier work, such as the Selfish Gene, or the Blind Watchmaker. Don’t you people understand that regardless of how many people you feel come around to your point of view, you’re simply naive and unwilling to discard useless notions of fantasy and supernatural thought. As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, there are two kinds of accommodationists. The agnostic accommodationist is unwilling or unable to completely discard their compartmentalized and indoctrinated notions of fantasy, while the atheist accommodationists believe that confronting religion directly is outside the bounds of science and actually drives would be scientifically literate people away. Well, for the latter, I’ll just say that you don’t necessarily have to be confrontational but you can still maintain a non-accommodationist perspective. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Phil Plait are both non polemics and still maintain a skeptical edge. They’re able to remain pleasant in the face of religion and circumvent those conversations with science. Those atheist accommodationists could learn something from them. As far as the agnostic accommodationists, they’re misguided in applying their limited reasoning abilities towards educating the scientifically illiterate. In fact, both types of accommodationist hope for scientific literacy, but their methods at achieving it are unlikely as they attempt to coddle religion. If you’re going to maintain a semblance of rational thought, then you either ignore religion or attack its implications with science within educational contexts. You don’t treat it as though it’s important, and as important as it is to some people, they’re limited by their archaic notions. In the end, you’re just supporting illogical thought and limiting critical thinking. Great way to reach out to people.

  127. gillt

    I think someone who has made a point of saying he’s battled for gay rights ought to know better than separating people into “normal” and “other.” If you wanted to come off as netural and even-handed you could have said the majority of atheists and New Atheists. Instead you chose to go with normal atheists and new atheists.

    Your hypocrisy knows no bounds and is on display for all to see.

  128. Anthony McCarthy

    — I think someone who has made a point of saying he’s battled for gay rights ought to know better than separating people into “normal” and “other.” gillt

    I’d have thought by now, gillt, that you’d realize that you’re not the boss of me. I’ll be polite to the new atheists when they’ve deserved it, I’m not expecting that day will come any time within this eon.

    My hypocrisy. gillt is giving me lessons in manners and I’m the one who is being a hypocrite. I’m too bored to look, was it this blog or J.R.’s where I credited you with being a virtuoso prevaricator?

  129. E.V.

    I think Anthony McCarthy has hit the nail on the head and he is absolutely right. Science is no more an authoritative way of knowing about the world than any other.
    Empirical data (inductive and deductive reasoning as well) versus a belief in the supernatural? Are you having a laugh? Face it – you wouldn’t know logic or reason if it bit you on the ass.

  130. Fordi

    As I’m sure both Dawkins and the NCSE will agree, it’s really this simple:
    As processes, religion and science are incompatible. Similar to how ice-skating and biking are incompatible. You can’t perform both at the same time and expect to be reasonably successful at either. Rather, you’ll tend to look a bit silly in both cases.

    That doesn’t imply that a person can’t know how to do both. Such an assertion would be… well, it would be, as has been accused, a strawman of a real argument.

  131. Raiko

    Chris Mooney, we’re still waiting for your official apology for misrepresenting Richard Dawkins and by now also for misrepresenting him again despite being called on it several times. The appropriate place for such an apology would be a separate blog post. Of course we’re fine with an apology in the form of: “Sorry, readers, I can’t read.”

    So, here it is very clearly, once again – in the most simple terms possible:

    Dawkins says views like that of Francis Collins exist.
    He says that Francis Collins, in particular, makes a prominent (“outstanding“) example for such a view.
    He does not say views like that of Francis Collins are honorable, good, or positive in any way; he merely acknowledges their existence as he and other atheists have done for years (how could they not?).

    No more nuances or elaboration are needed to read that from the quote, as long as you can read words and meaning properly.

    Your representation “Dawkins now stands up for Francis Collins!” is a gross misrepresentation of the interview, and an even worse misrepresentation of Dawkins’ views based on what you must necessarily already know about him, considering you wrote a book in a field in which Dawkins plays an important role.

    Acknowledge that you’ve been called on a rather stupid mistake: On your lack of an ability to read an interview (not even a single quote from it) properly and objectively before making a statement about it.

    Your sad tries to justify your lack of reading ability in the huffington post are rather pathetic. They’re a shout-out to the world: “Look everyone, I can’t read.” – with evidence, as you quote Dawkins from the interview where it is obvious that standing up for Francis Collins or uttering accomodationist views is not what he is doing and that he doesn’t contradict his earlier notions, either.

    However – the need for a proper apology to your readers, Richard Dawkins, and to others atheists (which have been saying what Richard Dawkins says for years with much elaboration – which makes it even harder to misrepresent those views) becomes even more prominent after your pathetic Huffington post drivel.

    I don’t expect it from you, though – why would you suddenly change your ways?

  132. Anthony McCarthy

    —- Empirical data (inductive and deductive reasoning as well) versus a belief in the supernatural? Are you having a laugh? Face it – you wouldn’t know logic or reason if it bit you on the ass. EV

    What was said by Constanza at #70, was that science was not universally authoritative, in the context of an argument about arguing from authority and the assertion that science can speak authoritatively on those matters which it has not or cannot subject to its methods and tools.

    Logic and reason apparently bit you but couldn’t make up for your lack of reading comprehension, or your own preexisting bias. Context, reading to the end, thinking these can make such a difference.

  133. Costanza

    E.V. I am not trying to contend that astronomy = astrology. But as AM mentioned, even science operates within a sphere of empirical data provision and justification that is naturally limited. In fact those people who say things like “Spiritual experiences fall squarely within the domain of science” are betraying their own principles of making informed estimations based on hard data. Isn’t it better to simply admit that science does not have anything to say about such stuff? Not only would that be modest but it would be the right thing to say. I don’t see why you guys have to take umbrage when someone simply points out some rather well-known limitations of science.

  134. Sorbet

    It’s nice to see a servile admirer of McCarthy who shares his fondness for (jazzhands!) other ways of knowing

    By the way, PZ weighs in
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/10/my_regrets_on_your_traumatic_b.php

  135. gillt

    McCarthy: “I’d have thought by now, gillt, that you’d realize that you’re not the boss of me. I’ll be polite to the new atheists when they’ve deserved it, I’m not expecting that day will come any time within this eon.”

    You actually wrote “you’re not the boss of me”? My suspicions have been confirmed: I’ve been talking to a child this whole time!

  136. Anthony McCarthy

    Servile, Sorbet? Three comments agreeing with someone constitutes servile? You want me to go back through your stuff and see how many times you fawn over Dawkins, PZ and the like?

    – You actually wrote “you’re not the boss of me”? My suspicions have been confirmed: I’ve been talking to a child this whole time! gillt

    I was trying to respond appropriately to your goody-two-shoes, shaking your finger tone. It reminded me of a particularly obnoxious and sanctimonious kid from back when I was in about second grade. He was such a tattle. And just as much of a hypocrite. Only he might have grown out of it by your age.

  137. Sorbet

    Unlike you McCarthy I don’t fawn over Dawkins. I think he carries his adaptationist agenda too far and does not understand a thing about Eastern religions. Compared to his writing on evolution his writing on atheism has been of poor quality. As for PZ his flippant dismissal of Greg Cochran’s work was ridiculous and I have said so on his blog. I have always acknowledged this so think twice before you conveniently label me. It’s you who has always fawned over the New Accommodationists.

    McCarthy to gillt: “Quit constantly making fun of me, piano teacher! You are not the boss of me!” (*bares knuckles and turns red in the face*)

  138. Anthony McCarthy

    Sorbet, you think that gillt’s showing himself to be petty and out of arguments bothers me? Why in the world would it?

    — It’s you who has always fawned over the New Accommodationists. Sorbot

    Clearly defending the authors of this blog against the troll blog swarm sent their way since Coyne, Benson and other neo-athes have called them out constitutes fawning to those very trolls.

  139. I suspect Chris Mooney hasn’t read TGSOE yet which has led to this confusion of Dawkins’s position , the core rationale of the book and points made in promotional interviews.

    Dawkins does make it clear in the book that a wide range of established deist/theist(s) do now accept evolution as fact rather than try to deny the basis for how all life is interconnected through selection mechanisms.

    Dawkins is really giving more information about som amazing evolutionary detail to make it clear why creationist/Genesis type faith is based on ignorance of the facts and denying unambiguous evidence.

    Hopefully, the jaw dropping percentage of Americans who admit to believing in a young created Earth will reduce over time as they rethink whether or not there is an interventionist god directing the primate mammals.

  140. Brian Macker

    Chris Mooney just doesn’t get it. The fact that Christians can do science is not any indication of the compatibility of the two philosophical systems. Christians can steal too, so does that mean the Christianity is philosophically about stealing?

  141. Miles

    Dawkins is British of course he’s anti vaccine, we hate vaccines. Don’t ask why because I don’t know. We just don’t.

  142. Miles

    … like vaccines

    sorry should read through. Anyway I’ll take the damn thing myself if asked, there is no reason to believe the vaccine is dangerous except for the ramblings of people not qualified to make a comment which I can consider worthy of my listening to. .

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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