The reaction to Bush’s statements

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In response to George W. Bush's statement that he supports teaching Intelligent Design creationism in our public schools, I wrote my own reply, and also volunteered to collect links to other people's criticisms.

It was a little bit overwhelming. My site got 12,500 visits yesterday, and I was sent over 159 179 links to weblogs (I culled out some; if the post wasn't specifically addressing Bush's ID comments, but was instead more of a generic anti-Bush complaint, I didn't include it). More were still coming in this morning, but I've had to draw the line and stop updating, unless that's all I wanted to do for the rest of the day.

These entries come from all over the political spectrum, left and right, and even includes one Intelligent Design creationism blog that disapproves of Bush's "premature" (yeah, that's right, keep waiting and waiting…) announcement. Most of them are not generally about science, but again come from all over the spectrum of people's interests: blogs about politics, humor, social concerns, feminism, economics, literature, or just plain writing about life. They all have one thing in common: they agree that George W. Bush's attempts to stuff bad theology into our children's educations is a stupid idea.

Since these are all weblogs that are mostly on the informed side of the creation-evolution debate, I'm echoing all those links here on the Thumb.

The Panda's Thumb
Doing Things with Words
Stranger Fruit
Thoughts from Kansas
From the Rachel
The World-Wide Rant
Yowling from the Fencepost
My Corner of the Universe
Unscrewing the Inscrutable
the tife and limes
Applied Theology
Dharma Bums
Chris C. Mooney
The dubious biologist
Cosmic Variance
The rude pundit
Science and Sarcasm
Leiter Reports
Newton's Binomium
tongue but no door
Leaves on the line
The Polite Liberal
Song of Myself
Betty the Crow
Kele's Atheistic and Evolutionary Journey
Dynamics of Cats
10,000 Monkeys and a Camera
Philosophy of Biology
A Man with a Ph.D.
Ramblings from the Desert
Obsidian Wings
Stephanie's Sweet Blog
Backseat driving
The blue bus is calling us…
…of Cabbages and Kings
The Huffington Post
The Drunken Lagomorph
De rerum natura
Stephen Laniel's Unspecified Bunker
false cognate
Stoopid Stuff
Cider Press Hill
Hank Fox
The Light of Reason
Andrew Sullivan
Father Dan
Power Liberal
Politburo Diktat
The Van Halen Radiation Belts
Project Morningstar
Nomadic Thoughts
Mike the Mad Biologist
A Voyage to Arcturus
Sadly, No!
Philosophy, Practice, and Politics
Frothing at the Mouth
About Atheism
Wolverine Tom
Brown Bag Blog
Jones Alley Magazine
Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal
Marginal Utility
Sandt's Observations
Balloon Juice
Crooks and Liars
Quantum Pontiff
and meanwhile, gregor mendel labored in obscurity
Whiskey Bar
The Continuing Adventures of Starman
She Flies With Her Own Wings
Broken Nails
The Sleepy Sage
Corsair the Rational Pirate
Nathan Newman
Upon Further Review…
Left I on the News
Proceed at your own risk
reality based
Shakespeare's Sister
No More Mr. Nice Guy!
Mixing Memory
Language Games and Miscellaneous Arbitrary Marks
Telic Thoughts
Gay Orbit
Don Surber
Right Wing Nut House
Changing Places
Ah Clem
The Devil's Robot
Abnormal Interests
The Liberal Avenger
Living the Scientific Life
The Carpetbagger Report
Decrepit Old Fool
The Examining Room of Dr Charles
The Loom
Minnesota Politics
Three-Toed Sloth
Cinematic Rain
Evolving Thoughts
Pooflingers Anonymous
Strange Doctrines
Tiberius and Gaius Speaking...
Poor Richard's Anorak
Universal Acid
Peace Tree Farm
Desert Rat Democrat
Byzantium's Shores
Sappho's Breathing
God is for suckers!
Lance Mannion
The Boxter Babe Blog
The Quality Control Alliance
Blog, Jvstin Style
Opinions you should have
Cosmic Log
Uncertain Principles
Daily Kos
Ruminating Dude
History of Science
The Uncredible Hallq
Church of the Front Porch
Dump Michele Bachmann
10,000 Birds
I'll explain it when you are older
Immanuel Rant
Blog of the moderate left
The Cardboard Box Mansion
Science and Politics
The Binary Circumstance
The Corpus Callosum
skippy the bush kangaroo
Bad Astronomy Blog
Respectful Insolence
Solipsistic Scribbling
Dubbings and Diversions
Roger L. Simon
Right Thoughts
Bitch Ph.D.
Buridan's Ass
Big Brass Blog
Steve Gilliard's News Blog
Threading the Needle
Ancarett's Abode
Amicus Rationis
Infidels of Every Denomination
Creek Running North
Axis of Evel Knievel
The Raw Story

8 TrackBacks

Very much has been said about Dubya’s statements to the press the other day that Intelligent Design should be talk in school because “people ought to be exposed to different ideas.” Who knew that our president supported affirmative a... Read More

Bush and Evolution from Political Animal on August 3, 2005 11:49 AM

BUSH AND EVOLUTION....PZ Meyers has a post with links to everyone who's criticized George Bush's recent statement that Intelligent Design ought to be taught alongside evolution in public schools. So how come I'm not on the list? Outrage fatigue, I... Read More

Devolution, Indeed from CardCarryingMember on August 3, 2005 12:02 PM

1. Order your advance copy of Chris Mooney's The Republican War On Science today. Buy a copy for an apathetic friend, while you're at it. 2. Is anyone at all surprised? 3. Brad DeLong is right to suggest that any scientist who stays in the G... Read More

After yesterdays tripartite post, here comes further update on Bush and ID. I'll add to this thread through out the day (time permitting) as further information comes in. Both the American Geophysical Union and the National Science Teachers Associatio... Read More

The Panda's Thumb: The reaction to Bush's statements I can't believe anyone is actually surprised by George W. Bush's support for teaching creationism -- oh, sorry, "Intelligent Design" -- in public schools. For one thing, anti-intellectualism is Bush'... Read More

Word to John West: the public arena of science isn't the newspaper or the courts or the high school classroom.... Read More

okay, from Andúnië on August 6, 2005 11:37 PM

With three weeks left until I report for duty, I would just rather spend more time with my wife than write. That being said, I've two more essays in me before I lock this place down for the season. Read More

dog daze from Andúnië on August 10, 2005 5:35 AM

Which is more damaging to the scientific enterprise—the anti-evolution beliefs of the general public (which, through the miracle of federal funding, have precious little impact on how research is actually conducted), or Read More


President salutes the press - with one finger

His pet war is going badly, his lies are being exposed. His popularity is on the decline. His puppetmaster is under attack. He is looking more and more like a lame duck. maybe Bush just doesn’t care any more what people think of him.

You may have trouble keeping your list up to date. One blog created every second

For those who are straining their eyes at PZ’s gigantic list, trying to guess where the ID blog is, here’s the link:

Telic Thoughts

Don’t forget, Cabbages and Kings at You are complemented.


This is the President, you may remember, who justified lying about having smoked pot as something he did to protect the children.

If that was his real motivation, shouldn’t he also lie about his belief in superstition for the same reason?

Overwhelming perhaps, but still a great service you’ve performed first in contributing your own reply, and second in listing the broad and bi-partisan support for Science Education in America. With luck, the Daou Report or Slate’s Today’s blogs will also take notice.

Regardless, thank you – and everyone else who has contributed.

With luck, the Daou Report or Slate’s Today’s blogs will also take notice

It is noted on the Daou Report, with a link to Pharyngula.

Krauze writes, “So, if there are any critics out there worried that this’ll be the end of science and that their kids will have ID taught to them, they can relax.”

Excuse me, but who are you to bring any relief to the critics of the ID movement? Especially for a President whose political influence regularly surpasses the Separation of Powers? Are we to take seriously your pretense that Telic Thoughts represents the majority view of ID supporters?

Sorry, but I find your denouncement of teaching ID just as disingenuous as the DI’s denouncements. Y’see, we know that whereas the DI supposedly rejects “teaching ID” they favor “teaching the controversy.” But, in reality, the two are synonymous. For them, it has never been about promoting a positive theory of design. Rather it is exactly about teaching pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution in the hopes of discrediting it. In the same vein, you advocate teaching other “interesting controversies in biology” to expose students to different schools of thoughts. For those critics who have been exposed to Creationist rhetoric, this sounds exactly like the proposals to “teach the controversy” for its characteristic features: the proposal singles out biology; it favors vague notions of “interesting controversies”; and it specifically suggests dubious pedagogical ends.

The similarities do not end there. There’s also this vague appeal that if the “scientific community” *requests* the teaching of design, then it is now legitimate. But, that also has been part of the Creationist rhetoric. What is the DI’s list of 400 scientists, but a growing “request” to teach ID? The YEC’s have a similar list too. The troubling part of this criteria is that IDists are well-known to reject mainstream notions of science, especially as a well-established means of empirical knowledge. Thus, it becomes meaningless for any ID proponent to say that ID isn’t a scientific theory, or to use that criteria as a means of justifying why some discipline should not be taught as science. Once again, the point for the IDist isn’t that ID is not a science, but that *evolution is also not a science*. The rhetorical device then cleverly forces the issue back upon the proponents of evolution why they are not as honest or forthright about the non-science of evolution as IDists are about ID. Clever, but transparent. Notice that in his blog, nowhere does Krauze explicitly state that evolution should be taught to children.

Finally, Krauze comforts himself in the safety net of the Internet as an alternate route for students to learn about ID. After supposedly declaring ID “not a science”, he still would rather imagine students defying teachers on taboo academic subjects (like how to have sex with a virgin, or how to build a bomb) and rush to that great Library of Truths that Mankind has invented. Why the double standards? It only goes to illustrate that the label “not a science” is meaningless for ID advocates. It is devoid of content, and has no value for the person paying it lip service, other than serving up convenient rhetorical devices. Is Krauze not ashamed to be serving pseudoscience on the greatest invention of Mankind much like pornographers serve up free sex? At least, he should be sad to know that between them, one will more likely be the subject of an Internet search.

Teaching ignorance is an act of fraud.

Using public funds to teach ignorance should be criminal.

Superstition-as-policy is beneath the dignity of our country. .

This would be a good thing to put into the archive.

You missed Left I on the News

If you believe in “teaching the controversy” shouldn’t you also believe in a Holocaust Denial module for history class?

Seriously, we need to wake up and smell the coffee. Why, after fifteen years of ID being revealed as crap theology masquerading as crap science is there a public perception that any controversy exists? Why are we losing the popular battle?

Spinning what the president actually said and grumbling about it on the Internet does little to help the anti-ID movement. All of the angry bloggers wasted their time.

wad of id Wrote:

Sorry, but I find your denouncement of teaching ID just as disingenuous as the DI’s denouncements. 

Come now, I found nothing to complain about in Krauze’s post. Except for the misspelling of “infamous”, but maybe that was a subtle joke a la The Three Amigos.

Come now, I found nothing to complain about in Krauze’s post.

So what? wad obviously did, and explained exactly what, and it all made pretty good sense to me.

To clarify Krauze’s POV, consider this from elsewhere on Telic Thoughts:

Krauze Wrote:

I especially like the first one, which makes the perfectly reasonable point that “To dismiss arguments for ID merely because they have been hijacked by creationists is like dismissing Darwinism because social Darwinism lead to the holocaust.”

How exactly is a point “perfectly reasonable” when it so radically misrepresents why “the arguments for ID” are dismissed?

The thread on Charles Krauthammer does not accept comments, but since Krauthammer is a conservative who disagrees with Bush on this issue, it’s somewhat relevant here:

On ARN, Tom Magnuson wrote:

[Charles] Krauthammer is a well-known and respected (by many) commentator. He is supposed to give intelligent, well though out insights with regard to culture debates. Yet, his characterization of ID as a ‘God of the Gaps’ religious enterprise shows his ignorance, perhaps self-imposed, of the true debate. His idea that ID is nothing more than plugging the ‘holes’ in scientific theories with the divine is just silly. His inability to recognize Darwinism/atheism as a philosophical worldview, based on a good deal of blind faith, is inexcusable. And, his lack of knowledge regarding Kansas standards, which do not even mention ID, is baffling.

Rather, ID can simply be characterized as a ‘whodunit’ investigation, based on legitimate forensic (scientific) investigation.

How much in denial can these people be???

Krauthammer makes it clear that ID, if anything, undermines religion. In a classic ID double standard, Magnuson feels qualified to play the religion card with “Darwinism/atheism.” Magnuson’s fantasy of “Darwinism/atheism” may be a religion or worldview, but evolutionary biology is not. And whatever ID, and the designer-free education standards and lesson plans “designed” to misrepresent evolution (and indirectly pitch ID), are, they are not science. After many years, the “legitimate forensic (scientific) investigation” has not only failed to determine “whodunit,” it is even retreating from saying what the “it” is.

I read several other knee-jerk reactions to Krauthammer’s article, and they too offer the lame, unsupported assertion that Krauthammer doesn’t understand ID. In a perverse way, though, the authors have a point, because ID is one big bait-and-switch scam, and no one can do it justice in a short article like Krauthammer’s. But the panic is real, folks, because yet another conservative is revealing the well-kept secret that anti-evolution pseudoscience is no friend of mainstream religion or mainstream conservatism. And of course, no friend of science or education.

Hi Steve,

“Except for the misspelling of “infamous”, but maybe that was a subtle joke a la The Three Amigos.”

No, that was a genuine, bona fide spelling error. Although the telegraph sceen from The Three Amigos actually did flick through my mind as I wrote it…

Krauthammer’s article is surprisingly good, except for his standard-issue BS in his first paragraph about “The half-century campaign to eradicate any vestige of religion from public life”. Of course it isn’t about “public life”, but rather about public monies, public property, the color of government authority, and the establishment clause. All of which is relevant to the battle over ID. Every inroad made by the theocrats, from school vouchers to putting John Roberts (the religious right’s dream – see on the Supreme Court, helps “the wedge” dig deeper.

If there’s anything that might cause me to give ID serious consideration, it would be Krauthammer* inveighing against it. It still comes up empty, though.

*(I take that back. If Robert Novak takes a whack at it, I’m joining my local IDEA club).

It should come as no surprise that W. is trying to undermine genuine knowledge in Biology by claiming that he wants people to “hear both sides” about the Evolution Controversy. Substitute any pair of words consisting of (a) a scientific discipline and (b) an issue it informs for the italicized terms above. For example, we could try the following to start:

a————– b

Climatology - Global Warming Geology - Fossil fuel Conservation, Epidemiology - Safe Sex, Developmental Biology - Stem cells,

And so on and so on and so on… It is doubtful that any President in history has been more ignorant of how science works…

I am pleased that President Bush and my own Senator Rick Santorum have voiced their support for the teaching of “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolution in our public schools. This is because I, myself, have an alternative explanation to a scientific “theory” that I believe should also be considered for inclusion in the public school curriculum.

It has been apparent to me for some time that the sun revolves around the earth and not, as many scientists contend, the other way around. We can observe the sun circling around us in the sky everyday, yet the scientists stubbornly contend that this is because the earth is spinning as it orbits the sun. Surely, if the earth were spinning so rapidly we would be able to detect its motion. Yet I can stand perfectly still and I cannot detect any motion whatsoever.

Every scientist I’ve talked with about my explanation disputes my contention, and talk about how their “theory” of planetary motion successfully predicts or explains numerous phenomena (the turn of the seasons, space flight, eclipses, and blah blah blah); however, I believe it is critically important that both sides of this argument be heard in our public schools. The education of our children deserves no less.

I soon plan to write to President Bush and Senator Santorum to seek their support for my alternative explanation to the “theory” of planetary motion. Given their track record of supporting alternatives to teaching science in our public schools, I am quite hopeful that my views will be favorably received.

Krauze apparently felt that his rejection of teaching ID was important enough to single out amongst the entire list posted above, and cited the link to it twice. Why? ts got it right. Krauze is a poseur performing the standard Creationist routine – namely to flip evolution by attacking it from a political perspective and try to gain some credibility points in the process. Thus, Krauze’s credibility problem is the same as any other IDist. I am merely exposing the emptiness of Krauze’s rhetoric, and draw the parallels with the playbook that Creationists know so well. That Krauze finds discomfort with my justified characterization of it seems beside the point. Rather it points out vividly that the true impediments to Krauze’s credibility problem are his political allies in the ID movement. After all, Krauze couldn’t very well complain directly about the Creationists and other more visible IDists for having so thoroughly discredited ID in the scientific mainstream. That would simply take too much intellectual honesty. And God knows, doing that would draw fire from both sides. Poor Krauze might not be able to take all that rejection. Rather, Krauze tries to blame the critics for his fellow IDist mistakes and political fumbles. Imagine that.

As I write this, it turns out that Krauze has replied to me from the safety of his own board. I won’t bore the readers with a detailed rebuttal of his page long whining, nor turn this thread into an interblog discussion. Suffice it to say, Krauze confuses the potency of Wedge-centrism. Wedge-centrism continues to work precisely because the IDists continue to engage in its tactics, and because no supporter of ID has conceived of denouncing its tactics. We see this all over Krauze’s page. On the one hand they pretend to denounce ID teaching, on the other they speak ID in the idiom of anti-evolutionism. They systematically engage in evolutionist bashing, but curl up on the floor in fetal position whenever the same sort of criticisms are reflected back at them. They throw all that energy at the politics and yet could not exert the same effort towards actual scientific research. For instance, of TT’s 16 categories of blogs, which has “science” or “research” in its labels? One, called the “Nature of Science.” Does anyone think that blog category is brimming with scientific data? To be fair, there is another called “intelligent design”, but Krauze warns us not to expect much there (he’s right!). TT has nearly 200 blog entries: how many of them would the readers care to guess are actually about science, data, or research pertaining to design? But wait, the IDists don’t believe in natural sciences, right? This is the real irony in Krauze’s citation of Paul Nelson for his own defense. Y’see, Paul Nelson should explain to his DI Fellow Steve Meyer that there is really a problem that ID doesn’t have a theory (note: “scientific” is not a necessary qualifier for Paul), y’know a theory like modern evolutionary biologists have. We should all picture Neslon dripping with jealousy as he makes the complaint. Come now. Let’s think like an IDist: would it be easier to do science, or would it be easier to redefine science and pretend not to know what the critics mean by the word?

Here’s the discrepancy. Krauze admits not to knowing of an ID theory (no matter that nobody seems to know what an “ID” theory is supposed to look like). Yet, TT, only several months old, is brimming with thousands of words per blog… exactly about what, pray tell? The reality is that wedge-centrism is alive and well in TT. Yet, apparently the only source of Krauze’s problems come from the critics. No, Krauze cannot be criticized for being a Wedge-centrist, because by golly, why else would he be accusing critics of it?

Krauze tries to blame the critics for his fellow IDist mistakes and political fumbles

Aye. Consider this, from

Krauze Wrote:

Since [MikeGene]’s just made all the points I wanted to, let me just add some more about the Darwinism/eugenics analogy. James Watson writes of a scientist who had such difficulties getting funds for his politically hot research that he had to seek support from a eugenics organization: […]

Might something similar apply to ID? Imagine a scientist who has stumbled across some clues of design, and, hearing all the rhetoric about lack of evidence being the only thing that holds ID back, decides to test his suspicions. But he quickly discovers that no one wants to fund what is seen as a ploy to bring down science and institute a democracy, so he goes to a conservative organization with ties to the Christian Reconstructionist movement, even though he don’t think his research supports such a sociopolitical agenda.

How might critics of ID interprete this, if not as another piece of evidence that ID is just repackaged creationism? And when the researcher denies having Reconstructionist views himself, he’s probably hiding his real motivation under of them Trojan Horses.

See, it’s all our fault that those poor IDists who think that aliensmighthavedoneit have to associate with the IDists who think goddidit.


“It’s what I’ve been pushing, it’s what a lot of us have been pushing,” said Richard Land, the president of the ethics and religious liberties commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Land, who has close ties to the White House, said that evolution “is too often taught as fact,” and that “if you’re going to teach the Darwinian theory as evolution, teach it as theory. And then teach another theory that has the most support among scientists.”

I am at a loss what this other “theory” supposedly is. Krauze? Paul Nelson? Ethically speaking, should Richard Land be admonished in such blatantly Wedge-Centric strategies?

Any idea how many of the blogs listed are conservative? I see Andrew Sullivan there, but that’s the only one I can ID by name, compared to the number that have “blue” or “liberal” in the title.

Does anyone have a feel for the number of prominant conservative blogs that are expressing outrage over this incident?

My pessemistic fear is that none of them will touch the topic with a 10 foot pole.

An obvious candidate is “Right Thoughts”, which links to “Instapundit” (also listed above), which links to “Right-Wing Nuthouse” and “The Politburo”.

swbarnes2 Wrote:

My pessemistic fear is that none of them will touch the topic with a 10 foot pole.

Political sites are not much on science. While liberal sites may endorse evolution or criticize anti-evolution positions, they have little to lose, even if the argument is poorly presented. But unless conservative commentators can speak intelligibly about the science they are usually hesitant to “open up a can of worms” by being misinterpreted or misrepresented. Only the extreme authoritarian or fundamentalist commentators unabashedly defend anti-evolution pseudoscience. Another common, but little-advertised, conservative position is where the commentator admits personally accepting evolution, but argues that students should learn “the other side,” presumably to find out for themselves how it fails. That was my position ~8 years ago. Actually it still is, but now I agree that it must be made clear that “the other side” is not science, but a misrepresentation of it.

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hey Data Monster, it’s been PROVEN that the earth DOES revolve around the sun. It is physically IMPOSSIBLE for the sun to revolve around the earth. The sun has a much larger mass than the earth and a much larger gravitational pull than the earth.

As for every scientist who has detested you, i applaud them. perhaps you arent listening to them.

As for writing to the president, good luck. He will most likely laugh in your face.

ts Wrote:

Actually, your source doesn’t say that at all: “… the Son, while divine and like God …”

I was trying to be brief. Perhaps not eternal would have been better.

I find it fascinating that people have managed to link the cult of Isis via an Egyptian Jesus to the cult of John the Baptist via Arius and the Visigoths to the Cathars, notable for having a crusade launched very successfullty against them.

Anyway, the point is who knows what Newton’s inner beliefs were; his own private writings are equivocal. It’s easy to marshall him to either side of an argument as we can’t ask him now.


I beg to differ. It is abundantly clear from Newton’s writings and pronouncements that he believed in the existence of God. He even stated that a key motivation for his looking into the motion of the planets was to find a pattern and thereby reveal to all the hand of God at work. Do some research into this and get an education before you criticize.

It is also widely known that Einstein believed in the God “of Spinoza” which is a real God albeit one who is not concerned with the fate of men. Again, look into it and get an education.

My previous post (#46313) should have been addressed to Stuart. Sorry about that Alan.

hey carol, not that i am any expert on the spirituality of einstein or newton, but since you seem to be such an expert, why not provide references to your source materials for the rest of us to look at, eh?

Carol Clouser:

Most of the scientists I know do believe in God, although by the time some of them are done defining what they mean by God you’re not quite sure exactly what they believe. And some of the greatest scientist, from Newton to Einstein, believed in God. Believing in the Bible as the inspired words of God is another matter entirely, but this too is believed by a decent portion of the scientific community.

The evidence suggests that the vast majority of professional biologists and the vast majority of all top natural scientists do not believe in God in any traditional sense of the word. It is not clear that the God Einstein believed in was anything other than a metaphorical one. And I don’t know what “a decent portion of the scientific community” is supposed to mean, but all the evidence I have seen suggests that Christianity is even rarer amoung scientists than theism.

so.. continuing the request… this IS supposed to be a scientific forum, yes?

I find this argument about the percentage of religious scientists or speculation about the spiritual leanings of dead people to be pretty worthless without some backing resources.

I’m sure these wouldn’t be terribly hard to locate if you all are really that interested in the subjects, but it gets pretty boring watching discussion based on pure speculation bantered about.

anybody as convinced of their positions as the ones i have seen here seemingly are, must have materials they are basing their opinions on.

Is it too much to ask that someone start referencing the materials used to support your argument?

I have hear folks mention newton’s private writings as one source; prove it - let’s see some link to the appropriate resources to see if newton was wishy washy or abundantly clear on his spirituality, eh?

don mentioned that “the vast majority… do not believe in god in any traditional sense…” what is the source of that generalization, don? poll data? cite the source please. I think that kind of poll data may be available, if you don’t already know the source; it shouldn’t be too hard to find and would add volumes of support for your position, yes? at the worst, it would provide a legitimate source of debate over the statistics, how they were gathered, and the conclusions made.

try searching gallup poll data, as a start.

Since avowels of atheism or even religious doubt subject individuals to social penalties, I assume that surveys of the religiosity of scientists are going to over report belief. Has anybody ever tried to estimate the appropriate correction for this obvious biasing effect?

good question. i doubt seriously any standard polling companies (including gallup) do this; you would have to examine specific polling exeperiments done by universities most likely.

otoh, why do you think that simply remaining anonymous doesn’t give one protection from persecution when participating in such polls?

There are many scholarly books out there about Newton and Einstein. Just google either name and, presto, see what comes up! Why do some people here need to be the not only “led to the water” but also “made to drink”?

As to the prevalence of religious belief in the scientific community at large, may I recommend Jastro’s “God and the Astronomers” for starters. And, no, I was not the editor for that book.

Don P,

Since when is “believing in the Bible” synonomous with christianity? You have heard of Judaism? My understanding is that Jews (of all its branches) constitute a significant number of the scientific population, far greater a number than one would expect from their percentage of the overall population. This is certainly true for the number of Nobel prizes issued in the past one hundred years.

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

don mentioned that “the vast majority… do not believe in god in any traditional sense…” what is the source of that generalization, don?

Try this for starters:

A survey of American scientists conducted in 1997 found that 40% believed in a personal God, the same number as was found in similar surveys conducted in 1914 and 1933 (See the article on “Scientists and Religion in America”, in the Sept. 1999 issue of Scientific American magazine.)

Carol Wrote:

It is also widely known that Einstein believed in the God “of Spinoza” which is a real God albeit one who is not concerned with the fate of men. Again, look into it and get an education.

No, it’s not “a real God”, or the term loses all meaning. “Deus sive Natura” – Spinoza equated God to Nature.

Einstein Wrote:

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

Carol Wrote:

Since when is “believing in the Bible” synonomous with christianity? You have heard of Judaism?

Have you ever heard of the Torah, Carol?

My father would certainly have claimed that he believed in God had he been asked in a survey, if only to keep my mother happy. (Darwin also finessed things for the benefit of his wife.) In fact my Dad, who was trained as a geologist, was a Spinozist, though he never told me about his beliefs until he was very old indeed. He read Spinoza in college and thought the man simply got things right about Deus sive Natura.

My father would certainly have claimed that he believed in God had he been asked in a survey, if only to keep my mother happy.

Well, that’s the thing about surveys of belief – which violates Leibniz’s Law. Had your father been asked if he believed in a non-natural God, he would have hard a harder time answering honestly and keeping your mother happy at the same time.

In my experience, scientists and mathematicians tend to be rather irenic folks. Most of ‘em aren’t going around looking for a fight. At the same time, they’re likely to be among the most honest or perhaps just the most literal people you encounter. For them, developing an extremely noncommital and vanilla sort of religiosity is one way to avoid arguments without riling up your own conscience too much.

I’ve also noticed that older scientists tend to be less shy about dismissing religious ideas than the young ones, though I don’t know if this is because the mature scientists are further away from the cultural indoctrination they got as children or simply because they are better established and don’t have to give a damn about what people think. And there’s the additional complication that young scientists were born into a period of political and cultural reaction while the 50 and 60 year olds grew up in a more liberal time.


Here are some Einstinian quotes pertaining to God.

“I want to know how God created this world… I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details”

“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists…” (Einstein, the Life and Times, by Ronald W. Clark)

And yes, I have heard of the Torah but why don’t you tell me about it? Not sure I get your point, sine the Torah IS the Hebrew Bible and by extension all that is based on it and the commentaries.

why do you think that simply remaining anonymous doesn’t give one protection from persecution when participating in such polls?

Because it has already been shown not to do so in surveys about sexual habits - another culturally touchy subject. Anonymity wasn’t enough to get people to tell the truth even to a pollster they weren’t going to see again. Men typically over-reported and women under-reported the number of sexual partners and encounters they had had - just as you might expect from cultural double-standards. The researchers had to go as far as strapping people into convincing looking lie detectors to get answers out of them which were plausible. Then the rates of sex claimed by men and women matched up at last. When interviewed afterwards on the nature of the experiment, people admitted to having under- or over-reported before.

Here are some Einstinian quotes pertaining to God.

I already provided the relevant quote that clearly indicates what Einstein meant by God, and the relevant quote from Spinoza. Their “God” was not supernatural.

Not sure I get your point

That doesn’t speak well of you.

sine the Torah IS the Hebrew Bible

Yes, it is the “Hebrew Bible”; it is not, however, “the Bible”, and playing such word games is dishonest rhetoric. “believing in the Bible”, when the term isn’t qualified, always refers to the Christian Bible, and you know it.

I’m not a historicist, but it is very difficult (but not impossible) to fully understand people from the past on their own terms:

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” * L. P. Hartley

That being said, even on his epoch’s own terms, Newton was, to paraphrase Ray Stantz, both a certified genius and an authentic wacko. Today, he’d be a great scientist, a devout religious believer (details uncertain), and thrown off the Home Psychic Network for his lack of intellectual rigor.

TS: I was looking back over the thread to be more specific, when I suddenly realized that I’ve unthinkingly been evaluating these posts the way I would a screenplay, where even a character with a few lines has to be fleshed out as a real, three-dimensional person. I’m going to stay with my statement, but I need to be much more analytical and look over the thread more carefully, which I won’t have time to do until at soonest tomorrow.

Now *this* is ad hominem:

Rusty: “Carol, Your house is on fire, with you in it, GET OUT!”

Carol: “You didn’t say “Simple Simon Says” so Nyer”

Rusty: *shrugs*

Darwin Wins again, in a setting well described by Dennett.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on August 3, 2005 8:17 AM.

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