Francis Collins on evolution and altruism

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This is a guest appearance by Gert Korthof. I have not contributed a single word to this essay and post it as a courtesy to Gert.

Despite the title of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God - A Scientist presents evidence for belief, Collins delivered a superb defense of evolution based on data from genomics and an unambiguous rejection of YEC and ID. He does not claim a supernatural origin of life. His Theistic Evolution is a more science-friendly form of religion then YEC and ID, because it reduces supernatural intervention to a minimum. However Collins still has strong disagreements with the Darwinian explanation of altruism. He needs to rethink his Moral Law argument, which is not a coherent argument and ignores animal behaviour research.

Continue reading Francis Collins on evolution and altruism on Talk Reason.

96 Comments

Another review of this and three other books by scientists on religion, by George Johnson, is in the Oct 2006 issue of Scientific American.

Thanks for posting this quite thorough review…

It’s quite a good review, both of Collins’ excellent pro-evolution arguments, and his strange exceptionalism regarding human biology and relatedness to chimps and other primates whose actions are so reminiscent of our own.

It might be worth noting that Collins claims to have taken up religion because of the moral perspective, and the hope that we are something more than just animals acting out our genes. Then again, you’ll get enough non-theistic evolutionists who think there’s something “special” about humans as well.

Quite arguably, bonobo chimps are the more moral of the great apes/humans, unless you have some moral revulsion against their rampant sexuality. Compared with injunctions to go off and slaughter the enemies in the Bible, bonobos rarely kill each other at all, and I have not heard of their engaging in warfare.

One should notice well how Collins is quite orthodox in his area of specialty, deviating from science and causality where he lacks a strong grasp of other relevant sciences. Thus “cosmological ID”, which has been well called an “observation” and not properly a conclusion, appeals to him.

And he will not look at evolved genes only to conclude that they were designed, but he will look at evolved morality and call it “designed” or some such thing (he may have the decency to not label god a designer, in fact).

Why is this? Does he think that causality reigns in biology, as we consider it to necessarily do in the classical sciences, only for causality to disappear when we get to the ten commandments/torah/new testament? Do the precursors of the “Law of God” mean nothing to him? Are we to think that Hammurabi’s Code had no influence upon Biblical Morality, that Greek concepts did not evolve into New Testament morality?

In principle, Collins’ fight against ID is the same thing as our fight to show that morality has evolved and been shaped by cultural/economic factors, not to mention our evolved tendencies. He has to be blind to the purposes and precursors of Xian morality for him to suppose that it came pristine from God, much as the “hypothesis” of the “design” of humans has to ignore all of the evidence against it (as well as the lack of evidence for it).

There is, however, an inherent strangeness to morality in today’s society, which is that it has nearly to be portrayed as if it did come down from God without development, to be followed without question. For how else is it to be binding upon us? And still in the scientific sense we have to understand that morality is simply an idealization of our primate behaviors, which might suggest that Roman religion is closer to human form than is our secularization of Xianity in modern society.

The two tendencies are at odds with each other, much as the judiciary’s belief in “free will” is at odds with science’s recognition that we are animals whose behaviors are caused by nature and nurture.

It seems that we need the kinds of fictions in our society which cannot be supported by good science.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

Or tribal “necessity”, or jingoism, or fear of “the other”. Really, there is no shortage of ways to get “good people” to do “evil things”. Religion is a frequent tool for getting “good people” to do “evil things”, but propaganda, concern about “contamination”, nationalism, and “superiority” based upon any number of contrivances will also do.

Nazis, yes, but very many others as well, used various “reasons” for superiority to inure their agents to the suffering of others. The Japanese seemed to use both nationalism and a kind of military code (which we did not follow) to decide that captured American soldiers were lesser beings, not worthy of respect. And of course America has its racism and other “-isms” that have served similar purposes.

McCarthyism did not rely upon religion, except in a kind of negative sense (“godless communists”), to make the communist out to be a person deserving less than other folk. This pales against Stalin’s ideological/nationalistic “reasons” to treat various people with less respect than he did the animals.

No, there is no reason to set off religion as uniquely evil like some would, any more than it should be considered uniquely good, as Collins would.

The danger of religion comes from its valuation of non-empirically based concepts, indeed, its exaltation of non-demonstrable beliefs over what can be shown (some religions have diminished this aspect of their religion, yet it may be that none have eliminated it). As such, both religion and quasi-religious cults (nazism, stalinism) could use the religious proclivities of their subjects to support similarly ill-evidenced and emotional reactions to “enemies”.

So I am not altogether disagreeing with Weinstein’s assessment of religion. It’s just that humans are fairly non-rational beings whose prejudices can be appealed to in many ways to “do evil”. Religion is just one of them, and we are disarming ourselves against human evils if we assume that there is only one phenomenon which can make “good people” do “evil things”.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Glen wrote:

“Compared with injunctions to go off and slaughter the enemies in the Bible.…”

There is no such “injunction” in my copy of the Bible (Hebrew Old Testament) and I strongly doubt it exists in any other version.

“Are we to think that Hammurabi’s Code had no influence upon Biblical Morality, that Greek concepts did not evolve into New Testament morality?”

Again, my copy of the Bible reveals not a trace of such influence, from either source. As a matter of fact, they are very much on opposite ends of the spectrum on many fronts, such as the treatment of slaves, idolatry, the role of the human body, etc.

Yes, Carol, I’m sure that’s true of your Bible.

Fortunately, there are many “Bibles” and commentaries which reflect no need to bring tribal squabbles up to modern standards of morality, nor which deny the primacy of Hammurabi’s concept of coding the laws (nor the similarities of eye-for-an-eye justice found in both Bible and Hammurabi–was anyone claiming a literary or “literal” dependance, Carol?).

Beyond that, Lenny’s question.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

His Theistic Evolution is a more science-friendly form of religion then YEC and ID, because it reduces supernatural intervention to a minimum.

This must be some new definition of “minimum” with which I am not familiar.

Glen,

“Fortunately, there are many “Bibles” and commentaries which reflect no need to bring tribal squabbles up to modern standards of morality, nor which deny the primacy of Hammurabi’s concept of coding the laws (nor the similarities of eye-for-an-eye justice found in both Bible and Hammurabi—was anyone claiming a literary or “literal” dependance, Carol?).”

On the one hand you do not want to get into “squabbles” but then, in the same paragraph, you proceed to pick one that you think supports your statement. Now, make up your mind, which is it?

A few brief points, if I may.

(1) You are wrong. There is only one Bible. The others masquerade as such and people in the know, well, know the score.

(2) Sure, in the superficial sense of organizing some sort of code, the Bible contains elements that are similar to that. But what about the content of those codes? Why don’t you check them out?

(3) The oral tradition that came with the one Bible, as recorded in the Talmud, interpreted the biblical “eye for an eye” as referring to the “value of an eye for an eye” and this interpretation goes back thousands of years ago. It represents one of the five elements of compensation the Bible expressly mandates that the perpetrator be made to pay the victim (by the court). They are: NEZEK - monetary damage, such as loss of income, TZAAR - pain and suffering, RIPU - cost of medical treatment, SHEVET - monetary damage and loss due to the treatment and pain, BOSHET - embarrassment. The “eye for an eye” is merely the first of these five.

Carol Clouser wrote:

Glen wrote:

“Compared with injunctions to go off and slaughter the enemies in the Bible.…”

There is no such “injunction” in my copy of the Bible (Hebrew Old Testament) and I strongly doubt it exists in any other version.

Seriously, your Old Testament doesn’t have Moses ordering the slaughter of the golden calf worshippers: http://www.thebricktestament.com/ex[…]ex24_12.html

Or the slaughter of the Midianites? http://www.thebricktestament.com/th[…]6p31_02.html

Or other slaughters listed here: http://www.thebricktestament.com/th[…]s/index.html

“Are we to think that Hammurabi’s Code had no influence upon Biblical Morality, that Greek concepts did not evolve into New Testament morality?”

Again, my copy of the Bible reveals not a trace of such influence, from either source. As a matter of fact, they are very much on opposite ends of the spectrum on many fronts, such as the treatment of slaves, idolatry, the role of the human body, etc.

Well, the ten commandments are shorter and vaguer. The Hebrews kind of went backwatds socially.

“Since then, religions have given the world stonings, witch burning, crusades, inquisitions, holy wars, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers, gay bashers, abortion-clinic gunmen, child molesters, and mothers who drown their sons so they can happy be reunited in Heaven…”

These are horrible arguments. You can’t blame an ideology simply because there are individuals who do wrong in the name of that ideology. If a certain sect of atheistic “Darwinians” decide to start killing off everyone with HIV/aids so as to strenghten the human population as a whole, you can’t blame evolution for their actions. Survival of the fittest, right?

“The Bible describes infanticide: Exodus 1:16 tells us Pharaoh commanded Shiphrah, Puah, and other Hebrew midwives to kill all male children at birth. Much later King Herod “sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all its borders from two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16)…”

Is this a joke? This is the worst case of quote-mining I’ve ever seen. How about a little context… the Bible isn’t promoting infanticide in either case. In the first case Pharaoh gave those orders to “thin-out” the population, as he felt they were becoming too numerous. He saw them, as foreigners in his land, as a threat. In the second case Herod ordered children two and under killed because he was trying to kill Jesus. He had heard that Jesus, the “King of the Jews,” had been born. He, like Pharaoh, ordered these slayings as he perceived a threat to his throne. Obviously neither of these were promoted as moral acts in the Bible…

infamous wrote:

“Since then, religions have given the world stonings, witch burning, crusades, inquisitions, holy wars, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers, gay bashers, abortion-clinic gunmen, child molesters, and mothers who drown their sons so they can happy be reunited in Heaven…”

These are horrible arguments.

I agree. He forgot to list all the passages where stonings, witch killing, slaughtering and torturing enemies, holy wars, dying for your religion, gay bashing, child molestering, and such are specifically advocated.

You can’t expect believers to have actually read the Bible.

How about a little context… the Bible isn’t promoting infanticide in either case. In the first case Pharaoh gave those orders to “thin-out” the population, as he felt they were becoming too numerous. He saw them, as foreigners in his land, as a threat. In the second case Herod ordered children two and under killed because he was trying to kill Jesus. … Obviously neither of these were promoted as moral acts in the Bible

Right! That was out of context. It teaches to “Do good to those who hate you.”: http://www.thebricktestament.com/th[…]k06_27b.html

So be a true Christian: http://www.thebricktestament.com/th[…]9_11-12.html

“For me this animals-are-inferior-view is another deep (emotional) reason to reject Christianity”

…such argumentative force that I am overwhelmed.

If anything, this guy is no philosopher.

What I liked with this review is that it seems to fill in gaps from Collins’ book that other reviewers do not touch. (Note: I have not read the book.)

But it also seems to be a reaction to those other reviewers. In so doing it goes far in criticising their concentration on a central part, Collins nonstandard use of science. For example, the comment that Harris review “is ill-considered, and unbalanced” is not well supported IMO.

The cosmological and teleological arguments of Collins is on the other hand mentioned here by being explicitly embedded into theistic evolution. The problems with such arguments, which all rely on a subset of possible cosmologies, have of course been discussed any numbers of times before. Considered over all cosmologies natural creation/noncreation and finetuning is now evidence (Collins’ term) against beliefs, Barrow and Tipler notwithstanding.

I also have a few nitpicks. I believe the notes references comes askew by insertion of the unused (?) note 10. And (being nonbiologist) I have to ask if not claiming “DNA between genes is non-functional, so-called junk-DNA” is wrong? I seem to remember discussions where some junk-DNA have been suspected or found directly (regulatory?) or indirectly (stability) to have non-proteincoding functions.

I listened to Collins’ book as an audiobook last week on the way to and from a meeting. I was encouraged by his vigorous opposition to YEC and ID, but I, too felt his discussion of altruism was just not consistent with current animal data and a variety of well thought out ideas. In genera, I got a little tired of the way in which Collins presented a criticism of faith/religion and then argued against it using C.S. Lewis. To a large extent the book could have been subtitled “How C.S. Lewis might apply to modern science.” In any event, I do want to reiterate that he strongly denounces ID as not being science and being bad theology for all the right reasons.

Glen,

“Fortunately, there are many “Bibles” and commentaries which reflect no need to bring tribal squabbles up to modern standards of morality, nor which deny the primacy of Hammurabi’s concept of coding the laws (nor the similarities of eye-for-an-eye justice found in both Bible and Hammurabi—was anyone claiming a literary or “literal” dependance, Carol?).”

On the one hand you do not want to get into “squabbles” but then, in the same paragraph, you proceed to pick one that you think supports your statement. Now, make up your mind, which is it?

Why can’t you read properly, Carol? Where in God’s name did I say I didn’t want to get into “squabbles”? Try reading again for comprehension, then think, then ask yourself why you, as a “literalist”, have such a marked tendency to misquote and misrepresent the written word?

A few brief points, if I may.

Well, I certainly didn’t ask you to come in with your strawmen, your ill-informed statements, and your apparent lack of comprehension of what I was writing about.

(1) You are wrong. There is only one Bible. The others masquerade as such and people in the know, well, know the score.

Yes, and they differ with your claims.

(2) Sure, in the superficial sense of organizing some sort of code, the Bible contains elements that are similar to that. But what about the content of those codes? Why don’t you check them out?

Because that wasn’t what I was writing about. You’re simply trying to pick a fight over your issues, when I was writing about the development of morality through time.

(3) The oral tradition that came with the one Bible, as recorded in the Talmud, interpreted the biblical “eye for an eye” as referring to the “value of an eye for an eye” and this interpretation goes back thousands of years ago.

Was I faulting the eye for an eye concept? I brought that matter up because of the similarities between Hammurabi and the Biblical laws, not to fault it.

See, I know what drives all of this tangential blather. I make a simple comparison with the slaughters in the Bible with the bonobos, and you think I’m criticizing your tribal religion (other than tangentially–I am doing that, yes). Whatever. I didn’t bring up the slaughters, Gert Korthof did. If you are in a tizzy about it, address his words. I was just using the well-known atrocities ordered in the Bible that had already been brought up in the link in order to compare those with the relative saintliness of the bonobos.

You don’t really care about what I was discussing because you only want to defend your religion from real and imagined insults. However, you’d be wiser to defend against someone who is more intent on faulting yours and others religions than I am myself (I disagreed with both Korthof and Weinberg on the supposed unique ability of religion to cause “good people” to “do evil”, which probably escaped your reading comprehension, much as what I actually wrote about “squabbles” did). And you’d be wiser not to deny the atrocities that Norm brought up, as well as the Amelikite genocide.

It represents one of the five elements of compensation the Bible expressly mandates that the perpetrator be made to pay the victim (by the court). They are: NEZEK - monetary damage, such as loss of income, TZAAR - pain and suffering, RIPU - cost of medical treatment, SHEVET - monetary damage and loss due to the treatment and pain, BOSHET - embarrassment. The “eye for an eye” is merely the first of these five.

Again, a whole lot of irrelevancies that began with your lack of comprehension of what I was writing, and why. You would do well to try to learn how some other people do think, rather than taking everything as if it were somehow addressing your religious concerns.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Duhrkopf Wrote:

In any event, I do want to reiterate that he strongly denounces ID as not being science and being bad theology for all the right reasons.

I think that Collins should be credited for this, and his (and others’) complaints that ID/creationism are bad theology ought to be taken seriously. Sometimes religion and science are considered to be more opposed than they were and are, although I do think they make strange bedfellows today.

Many of us who argue against ID and creationism have religious backgrounds. And though we do dislike the lies told in the name of religion, it is not as if we gave up the lies inconsistent with our religious training. The fact of the matter is that, taken without a heavy overlay of interpretation, Xianity would suggest to us that we ought to be truthful about the geological column, about the evidence for evolution.

Many Xian denominations understood that the Bible would be informed by science and the evidence, not the other way around. Evolution, particularly, was more difficult to make compatible with their sacred texts, however it was no great revolution for many denominations to understand “God’s first book” via “God’s second book” (nature). God doesn’t lie, they say, and truth is where you find it (note that Carol’s re-interpretation of the Bible is hardly new–strained non-contextual “literalist” interpretation has often been used to preserve the text).

Nietzsche, of all atheists, did credit Xianity with its book for the adherance to truth and honesty in the practice of science. Historically he certainly has a point (though I hardly think that it was Xianity alone–one could simply rely on Plato and Aristotle sans Xianity for good science ethics), even if science is something of a self-propelled wheel at the present time.

Of course there are problems between religion and science, one of which I mentioned previously on this thread. But those who would prefer to drive a wedge between science and religion have to ignore the aspects (notably the injunctions against untruthfulness) of religion which could push religionists toward science.

It would be dishonest to claim that there is no conflict between religion and science, however it would not be fully truthful to state that there are serious theological problems caused when people refuse to acknowledge the truth about “God’s world”. Collins is being partial in portraying an easy match of science with religion, yet the mismatch of truth caused by rejecting science creates a serious problem for religionists.

Probably it would be best for science if a number of people would point out the problems between science and religion (the religionists already know about these, there’s no hiding them), while a good many others point out the problems for religion in rejecting honesty in science. It should not be all or none in our push toward our primary goal, the acceptance of science by the public.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Patricia Pearson reviews Collins’ book along with Dawkins’ for the Toronto Star, and seems rather more convinced by the “Moral Law” argument than Korthof (or myself).

This sentence is a bit crap:

However, contrary to Dawkins’ selfish pitiless universe, the actual behaviour of animals towards genetically related individuals can certainly be altruistic and, famously, this has been theoretically derived from Darwinian principles by W. D. Hamilton.

I don’t think Dawkins would disagree with Hamilton. In fact, Dawkins argues that selfish genese lead to apparently altruistic behavior (e.g. the chapter entitled “Nice Guys Finish First”).

This sentence is a bit crap.

Agreed. It completely ignores the main thrust of The Selfish Gene, and if one hasn’t read that book, one has no standing to critique Dawkins. But throwing in a shot at Dawkins is usually more a signal that “I’m not one of those nasty, hostile-to-religion-kind-of-atheists” than any kind of substantive criticism.

And the review neglects reciprocal altruism, which doesn’t require kin selection.

Norm,

(1) A careful reading of the original Hebrew makes it abudantly clear that the incident with the golden calf was associated with general mayhem and violence that included rape and murder. (The word “revelry” has a much more sinister connotation in the Hebrew.)Moses urges the Levites to not spare those guilty of these serious offenses even if they are blood relatives of theirs. That is the context you are ignoring.

(2) The Midianites had united with the Moabites and had declared war on the Israelites. Just as the Israelites were attacked without provocation by the Amalikites at Refidim and the Cannanites at Arad, these and many of the other neighboring kingdoms were out to get the nomadic Israelies. All this is spelled out in the Bible, which you need to read in context.

Glen,

I get your point all too well. You claim that morality evolved over time and religious morality is just another step in the continuum. (If I misunderstand your position, please correct me.) To which I respond that Biblical morality represents a sharp break with the past. The examples I cited served to support my point and simultaneously weaken yours.

You can huff and puff all you wish, you and Norm and others here just do not know a whit about the real Bible.

This sentence is a bit crap.

Agreed. It completely ignores the main thrust of The Selfish Gene, and if one hasn’t read that book, one has no standing to critique Dawkins. But throwing in a shot at Dawkins is usually more a signal that the writer is not one of those nasty-hostile-to-religion-kind-of-atheists, than any kind of substantive criticism.

And the review neglects reciprocal altruism, which doesn’t require kin selection.

But throwing in a shot at Dawkins is usually more a signal that the writer is not one of those nasty-hostile-to-religion-kind-of-atheists, than any kind of substantive criticism.

But praising W.D. Hamilton? Firstly, he was an atheist, and secondly, Dawkins was one of his biggest supporters and friends.

Norm,

(1) A careful reading of the original Hebrew makes it abudantly clear that the incident with the golden calf was associated with general mayhem and violence that included rape and murder. (The word “revelry” has a much more sinister connotation in the Hebrew.)Moses urges the Levites to not spare those guilty of these serious offenses even if they are blood relatives of theirs. That is the context you are ignoring.

He didn’t say that mayhem wasn’t claimed to justify it. He notes the bloodiness of the response. And no, we don’t believe the “justifications” spelled out in religious texts. What part of being non-religious don’t you understand, Carol?

(2) The Midianites had united with the Moabites and had declared war on the Israelites.

Yes, no doubt plentiful justification to kill all the males and rape the virginal females. No one said there weren’t provocations, we note the cruelty and genocide used in response.

Again you sadly set up your strawmen, then attack them. It’s a good tactic, of course, because if people could believe that killing children for their parents’ actions then we might be cajoled into smiling upon their violence.

Just as the Israelites were attacked without provocation by the Amalikites at Refidim and the Cannanites at Arad, these and many of the other neighboring kingdoms were out to get the nomadic Israelies. All this is spelled out in the Bible, which you need to read in context.

I certainly have read it in context. What you left out is that according to the Bible the Amalikite attacks occurred hundreds of years earlier than the genocide of that tribe. We no longer believe in slaughtering the descendants of people for the “sins” of their ancestors, as these were proclaimed in questionable religious texts.

Glen,

I get your point all too well.

Then why do you have to mis-portray what I wrote? I know that you never apologize for grossly dishonest misrepresentations, however your lack of concern for poor reading comprehension and subsequent misrepresentation is no excuse.

You claim that morality evolved over time and religious morality is just another step in the continuum. (If I misunderstand your position, please correct me.) To which I respond that Biblical morality represents a sharp break with the past. The examples I cited served to support my point and simultaneously weaken yours.

You lack even a clue. The wretched morality spelled out in the Torah, which few Jews practice any more (to their credit), is undoubtedly quite different from Hammurabi’s code, and for many good reasons. I never suggested otherwise. Indeed, I wouldn’t suggest otherwise, for I am more than a little aware of the differences between imperial law codes and those of the hill tribes. It’s what I wrote before about economics and culture, which you again fail to regard or address in your reaction against (largely) imagined slights against your religion.

Now you have forced me to say more against your religion, when I had written with more balance, noting that both Judaism and Xianity have moralities which evolved out of their own contexts. And yes, I wrote of “tribal squabbles” because while I do not like the morality of the Torah in the least, I do recognize that it was no worse than the morality of the surrounding tribes (probably, anyway), and in fact no worse than just about all practiced morality up until roughly the Enlightenment.

That Biblical morality is not obviously much better than the morality of surrounding tribes, from its slavery, to circumcision, and on to the slaughter of innocents for what their ancestors are reported to have done, is evident to any but the dogmatic adherent to such a religion. Do you think that I don’t know that the prohibition against eating pigs, and the requirement for circumcision, happened to largely mirror the surrounding Canaanite religion(s)? Of course these didn’t come from Hammurabi’s Code, and it is only you who think that showing the differences between a set of laws so far separated in time and distance shows some “miraculous” origin for your preferred Canaanite code.

You can huff and puff all you wish, you and Norm and others here just do not know a whit about the real Bible.

Says the one who constantly leaves out the crucial context. I’d say that your knowledge of the Bible, particularly in context, is woefully lacking. I don’t care if you know Hebrew and I don’t, I do know how to treat that book honestly. Your tendentious renderings are denied by Jew and gentile alike, apart from the fundamentalists

Btw, Carol, why aren’t you attacking Korthof, you know, the one who brought up Bible atrocities, instead of me, who simply used what he brought up as a jump-off to what I had to say about bonobos? I really don’t care about your mindless rants that you know so much, or that the Bible is some superior book. You have absolutely nothing to back up your constant claims about the Bible, and endless cant isn’t going to change that fact.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

If a certain sect of atheistic “Darwinians” decide to start killing off everyone with HIV/aids so as to strenghten the human population as a whole, you can’t blame evolution for their actions. Survival of the fittest, right?

the problem with this analogy, as always, is that unlike the thousands of actual case examples linked to religion, you will be hard pressed to find an actual event you can legitimately link to “atheism” to support your attempt at equivalency.

There certainly may be primary or secondary correlates to the behaviors typically associated with religious extremeism aside from the link to pure ideology (and there are likely underlying pathological issues involved). However, you can’t even begin to assume the same for “atheism” as one, it isn’t really an ideology, and two, as mentioned above, there really aren’t a common series of events and behaviors typically associated with the position.

your argument esssentially boils down to the same illegitimate argument used by ID Creationism proponents when they suggest “equal time” be given to alternative theories, when ID isn’t even a theory to begin with!

I keep hearing Carol (save the zebras!) Clouserbot continue to repeat her tired canards of “we all just don’t have the right translation of the bible in hand!”

well, Carol, after all this time, one would think just once, you would have provided, literally, chapter and verse to support your points.

which EXACT version are you using (so anybody interested could follow along), and then you could actually directly quote the passages in question.

oh, that’s right, it would be in ancient hebrew, which only you and Landa could properly translate, right?

and of course, you don’t see the problem with that.

phht.

the problem with this analogy, as always, is that unlike the thousands of actual case examples linked to religion, you will be hard pressed to find an actual event you can legitimately link to “atheism” to support your attempt at equivalency.

I don’t think he claimed what you think he claimed:

If a certain sect of atheistic “Darwinians” decide to start killing off everyone with HIV/aids so as to strenghten the human population as a whole, you can’t blame evolution for their actions. [My emphasis]

Which seems reasonable to me. The rest of the post about the Bible isn’t offensive either. It certainly doesn’t make the usual “atheists kill more people than car accidents” argument, which I think you’re refuting with the usual “Xtians kill more people than atheists” schtick.

Carol Wrote:

The Midianites had united with the Moabites and had declared war on the Israelites. Just as the Israelites were attacked without provocation by the Amalikites at Refidim and the Cannanites at Arad, these and many of the other neighboring kingdoms were out to get the nomadic Israelies. All this is spelled out in the Bible, which you need to read in context.

This makes me really quite interested in your opinion, Carol. What exactly does this justify, and what exactly did the Isrealites do? Me, being a humble non-Hebrew speaker, have no insight to share here.

This makes me really quite interested in your opinion, Carol. What exactly does this justify, and what exactlydid the Isrealites do?

Yes, Carol – I too would like to know under which circumstances genocide becomes acceptable.

Do tell.

As for Collins, as long as his religious opinions don’t effect his science, I don’t give a rat’s ass what he believes or doesn’t believe. (shrug)

Didn’t the OT god drown almost all of humanity, including children and pregnant women, in the Great Flood?

Carol:

The Bible I read suggests that Yahweh at one point approves of the genocide of the Canaanites. If this isn’t your Bible, or if I’m mistaken, please explain.….SH

Yes, lack of empathy is commonly associated with OCPD (you can look it up easily enough).

Poking around on the net, it doesn’t seem to be one of the diagnostic criteria.

I have to wonder what sort of poking you did; aside from it being pretty obvious that the rigidity of OCPD tends to clash with empathy, googling OCPD+empathy brings up quite a few “lack of empathy” and “empathy disorder” entries on the first page alone. The very first sentence of the very first entry, from groups.msn.com/OCPD, is “Do OCPDers have the capacity to have empathy for others?”

OTOH, here’s a delightful (and empathy-producing, and educational) article by one person on that list on how he addressed the problem and the results he obtained:

http://groups.msn.com/OCPD/general.[…]essage=17312

If you actually do the google, you may notice that many of those “lack of empathy” instances apply to NPD, not OCPD … in other words, I screwed up. Sorry about that. Still, there are some associations mentioned of OCPD with lack of empathy.

P.S. This site/server/software sucks even worse than it did a month or so ago, sig.

Weird that my last post only shows up when I preview this post, but doesn’t show up on the page otherwise, no matter how many times I refresh. Maybe it will show up if I post this …

Really very odd. The first time I view a thread, I see all of it. If I post something, it doesn’t show up except under ‘preview’ conditions. Others can post, and I don’t see theirs either. By observation, since the server software was changed, the first view of a thread “locks” it so that’s all I can ever see, and all subsequent entries by everyone simply don’t happen. This applies to the main page, and applies to the archives as well.

But if I delete all temporary internet files (not the cookies, just the files), then I can take a new snapshot of each page, which then “locks in” until the next time I delete the temp files. Refreshing the page or returning to it apparently now is told something like “If that page exists in the temp files, use it no matter how old, and never return to the server for a genuine update”.

Most interesting, of all the many many places I’ve ever visited, this is the ONLY one with the problem, yet our Great Site Administrator is telling us that this is OUR fault, and we should switch to Firefox. Instead, I find myself switching to other discussion groups…

It seems that the problem encountered by Popper’s Ghost and Flint (it was experienced by some other commenters as well) can be solved by making the size of the cache as small as the browser allows. On MS Explorer click Tools, then Internet Options, then Setting (in the Internet Temporary Files), and decrease the cache to 1 Mb (it would not go to 0). In other browsers must be also a way to do the same.

Popper's ghost Wrote:

Still, there are some associations mentioned of OCPD with lack of empathy.

Yes, it looks that way. I made exactly the confusion between OCD and OCPD which Sir_Toejam later warned against.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mark Perakh published on October 15, 2006 3:47 PM.

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