Be a scientific consultant for the Clergy Letter Project!

| 78 Comments

By now, regular readers will probably be familiar with The Clergy Letter Project spearheaded by Michael Zimmerman. Formulated in part to respond to the framing of the evolution controversy as a battle between science and religion, the letter now boasts more than 10,700 signatures from clergy, and have sponsored Evolution Sunday events for the past 2 years.

Well, Zimmerman has a new project now:

Our latest initiative is to create a list of scientists around the world who are willing to answer scientific questions posed by clergy who are supportive of modern science in general and evolution in particular (Link). In just a bit over three weeks, we already have over 200 scientists signed up to help out. I hasten to add that the information these scientists will be providing will be solely of a scientific nature and thus their personal religious inclinations are absolutely irrelevant.

In addition to creating a useful resource for clergy, I am hoping for the list to make a major political statement: religious leaders and scientists can work together – despite what religious fundamentalists claim. I also would very much like to have more names on this list than the number of scientists the Discovery Institute has on a list it trumpets of scientists claiming to “question” evolution.

(Emphasis mine). If you’re interested, drop an email to Michael ([Enable javascript to see this email address.]) and include your name, title, address, area(s) of expertise, and email address–and spread the word!

(Cross-posted at Aetiology).

78 Comments

Why in the world should we support further compartmentalization of the minds of believers. We shouldn’t be trying to have religion and science “working together”. We should try to have an end to religion, period. We shouldn’t tell people that religion and science can work together. They can’t unless you just compartmentalize them.

I responded on Aetiology as well, but to add here, it seems then that you’re suggesting making religious beliefs a litmus test for scientific outreach. There certainly are people out there working to end religion–and their record of success isn’t exactly stellar. In the meantime, I prefer to try to bring science education to anyone who will listen, be they atheist, Christian, Jew, pagan, whatever. What they do with it after regarding compartmentalization isn’t as much my concern.

In believing in evolution, one would have to assert the very distinct possibility, that other planets have evolved creatures beyond our own human capabilities.

The meterologic community has already PROVEN that extrateressial life did or does exist with the discovery of meterorite(s) that have fossils of crustacean life forms.

Since our solar system is not very old in comparison with the age of the universe, and since science has shown that there has to have been, and there has to currently be, countless other planets with evironmental changes and atmospheres similar enough to our own as to create life: Who could dispute the idea that more evolved creatures than ourselves have probably existed?

Since our evolutionary tree of life has recently shown us that we did evolve from just one man - and just one woman - we are jumping the gun if we believe we have all of the basic questions of life answered - since our genetic Adam and Eve lived over fourty thousand years apart from each other.

Modern science contends that we all had a common female ancestry: Genetic Eve. The common scientific theory states that there were others; however, all of the others’ lineages were halted, except for that of Genetic Eve’s.

Okay, I can buy that. There weren’t alot of us around at the time.

Then modern scientific theory states that anywhere from 47 thousand to 100 thousand years later, all but Genetic Adam’s lineage was killed off.

Well, that is, all but Genetic Adam’s lineage who had Genetic Eve as their biological mom, grandmom, great grandmom - you get the picture.

This is where I start to get skeptical.

The once popular, and very logical-seeming idea, that modern man evolved from different types of hominoids in different parts of the world, is no longer a popular theory - since our study of the genetic code has told us otherwise.

Couple this with the fact that we are now discovering (like at extreme ocean depths & in volcanic ash) that there are life forms that exist here on this earth, that are outside of the regular carbon-based life forms that we had thought - only until recently - could not exist: Then the chances of other, different types of intelligent life forms having evolved before us - and beyond us - is all but a given on other older planets far, far away. (Or maybe not so far away.)

Taking into account that evolution is a given, then why couldn’t a more advanced species have influenced life on this Earth, relatively recently?

This would account for the common basis that many of our religions are based on.

This would also account for things such as the large ancient drawings that can only be seen clearly from very, very high up in the sky.

This could also account for Genetic Adam and Eve having lived so many thousands of years apart.

I believe, that to completely scoff at this possibility, is akin to scoffing at evolution itself, because by its own tenets, life should have blossomed all over the universe. Well not everywhere; by far, but on a countless number of planets, given the number of planets in the universe, and the number of years for the combinations to take place.

Then look at our own advances in the past 200 years. Our industrial and technological revolutions are astonishing! How can the slow progress of evolution explain the last few thousand years - or ten thousand years, at least. Especially the last few hundred years. Wow!

There is a quote that is in the bible that is found in two places, the quote ends in two different ways.

The popular quote I am referring to is, “God did not want man to eat from the tree of the knowledge between good and evil …”

Does anyone know the rest of this sentence, where this part of the phrase is mentioned the second time in the Bible (in Genesis)??

It it is such a popular phrase from the Bible; how does this sentence end??

Anyone??

The full sentence reads, “God did not want man to eat from the tree of the knowledge between good and evil, BECAUSE THEN HE WILL EAT FROM THE TREE OF LIFE AND LIVE FOREVER, LIKE US.”

Just food for thought, guys, that’s all.

I would like to see a new modern “religion” based on the study and manipulation of Telomerase, myself. Make Telomerase the Head, and then the resultant genetic interactions affecting the shrinking (and possible lengthening) of Telomerase, the Body.

In this way we could construct an actual working model to accomplish the immortality inherent behind all religious beliefs.

;)

This might have gone through, but it doesn’t show up. So I apologize if it’s a duplicate, I just want to make sure that it’s posted:

Since our evolutionary tree of life has recently shown us that we did evolve from just one man - and just one woman - we are jumping the gun if we believe we have all of the basic questions of life answered - since our genetic Adam and Eve lived over fourty thousand years apart from each other.

Modern science contends that we all had a common female ancestry: Genetic Eve. The common scientific theory states that there were others; however, all of the others’ lineages were halted, except for that of Genetic Eve’s.

Okay, I can buy that. There weren’t alot of us around at the time.

Oh please, go off and learn something. We’ve already discussed that today on the “Let’s talk junk (again)” thread, and I’m not going to repeat what I wrote there.

Suffice it to say that by no means were all the others’ lineages halted, it’s just that we are said to descend from one contributor of mitochondrial DNA, which along with the y-chromosome is the predominant genetic material which doesn’t undergo recombination (a small amount of the the y-chromosome does). Other women contributed a whole lot to the rest of our genome, just not to mitochondria.

Taking into account that evolution is a given, then why couldn’t a more advanced species have influenced life on this Earth, relatively recently?

For the same reason why ID is crap, because there are no marks of design in organisms’ genomes that we ourselves are not responsible for. There is no evident obvious purpose to any life (aside from the last caveat), and no bypassing of the usual processes of evolution, as far as we can observe.

Is that so hard to comprehend?

Glen D http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

I responded on Aetiology as well, but to add here, it seems then that you’re suggesting making religious beliefs a litmus test for scientific outreach. There certainly are people out there working to end religion—and their record of success isn’t exactly stellar. In the meantime, I prefer to try to bring science education to anyone who will listen, be they atheist, Christian, Jew, pagan, whatever. What they do with it after regarding compartmentalization isn’t as much my concern.

Exactly, why refuse the pulpit if the preacher is asking you to take it?

Even with restrictions (the clergy are going to leave out whatever might conflict with doctrine, at least in most cases), so long as the science is honest, the opportunity is worth taking.

Glen D http://www.geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Glen,

Okay. Has the mapping of other mammalian species genomes traced the mitochondrial DNA back to just one female contributor of their mitochondrial DNA, also?

Thank you for answering.

Learn to read the responses you receive.

Popper’s Ghost explained to you on that other thread that there is nothing unusual about this result, unfortunately termed “Mitochondrial Eve.” It’s a logical necessity that such an individual exist in any sexually reproducing lineage. The mapping is irrelevant to the result. It’s of interest only for the purpose of assigning a date to the last common ancestor.

Glen,

Okay. Has the mapping of other mammalian species genomes traced the mitochondrial DNA back to just one female contributor of their mitochondrial DNA, also?

Thank you for answering.

I don’t know if this has been attempted very often. I cannot suppose that there are any vertebrates that can’t be traced back to some mitochondrial Eve or other. At each point where a clade diverges, a mitochondrial Eve would at least be likely.

As I said on the “junk” thread, humans appear to have gone through a bottleneck. This probably is at least related to the relatively recent “mitochondrial Eve” in our lineage, though the bottleneck and this “Eve” need not actually coincide.

Anyway, I haven’t bothered with the question of “mitochondrial Eves” in other organisms, but I did find this interesting bit:

By studying the mitochondrial DNA of 979 domestic and wild cats from Europe, Asia and Africa the researchers concluded that the origins of the species – what O’Brien calls a feline Adam and Eve – developed between 130,000 and 160,000 years ago. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to child.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/natio[…]l?source=rss

So yes, the so-called “mitochondrial Eve” and “y-chromosome Adam” have been detected in cats, as well as in humans. I don’t have the primary reference for this, but it is said to be the journal Science.

Glen D http://

This discussion seems headed in the same direction as the previous one with Paul Nelson. Trace some trait in a purely linear fashion back to a single individual.… It’s reminiscent of the song Dem Bones. The foot bone connected to the ankle bone, etc. all in a nice linear fashion and all ending in “hear the word of the Lord”. For some, a nice neat easily digestible package.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Me, Myself and I -

We shouldn’t be trying to have religion and science “working together”. We should try to have an end to religion, period.

Who’s “we”? How do you define “religion”?

Why should you try to “have an end to it”?

How would you go about this? Can you describe some of the specific steps you would recommend for “having and end” to some example religion, such as Judaism or Buddhism?

We shouldn’t tell people that religion and science can work together. They can’t unless you just compartmentalize them.

What are your qualifications for making this statement? Specifically, what scientific credentials and what credentials in comparitive religion, philosophy, or some similar field do you have?

Even if some people “compartmentalize”, what is that to you? Why should you care? Please don’t say that you “care about the truth” or some such thing, that doesn’t answer the question. What makes other peoples’ private mental life your business?

There are a lot of nasty behaviors, such as killing, torturing, discriminating, and the like, which are sometimes justified in religious terms. However, why not just argue directly against those things themselves? After all, non-religious killing is worse than religious daisy-picking.

I can’t say that I ever gave much thought to “ending religion”, but I did used to have some friends and acquaintances who claimed this goal in varying states of intoxication, and that may be why these questions occur to me so readily.

I like this idea as a political statement. It reminds me that I’m not against all Christians, just the willfully ignorant ones.

Religion needs more ways like this to separate itself from the crazy people.

In believing in evolution, one would have to assert the very distinct possibility, that other planets have evolved creatures beyond our own human capabilities.

I would agree that most (if not all) scientists would conclude that there is a possibility that more advanced creatures have evolved on other planets.

The meterologic community has already PROVEN that extrateressial life did or does exist with the discovery of meterorite(s) that have fossils of crustacean life forms.

This is news to me. I am aware of some scientists (such as Professor Richard Hoover) claiming that they have found fossils of extraterrestrial bacteria on meteorites, but even these claims are hotly disputed among scientists. Please provide me with a reference for your claim that fossils of extra-terrestrial crustaceans have been found, as I would be very interested in reading about this discovery.

since science has shown that there has to have been, and there has to currently be, countless other planets with evironmental changes and atmospheres similar enough to our own as to create life

The best that science can currently show is that based on the vastness of the universe and the countless galaxies, there is a good probability of life existing outside our solar system. This is only an educated guess, and does not rise to the absolute certainty that you implied, particularly where are entire data set for planets comparable to ours consists of one planet (our own).

Taking into account that evolution is a given, then why couldn’t a more advanced species have influenced life on this Earth, relatively recently?

It could have, but we have zero evidence for that happening, so what good is that assertion?

This would account for the common basis that many of our religions are based on.

Or, how about man’s evolution of self-awareness and imagination and the desire to answer the question of “where did we come from?” and “where do we go when we die?”

This would also account for things such as the large ancient drawings that can only be seen clearly from very, very high up in the sky.

Or, how about the fact that the creators of these ancient drawings believed in gods that lived in the sky and the best way to communicate and get the attention of a god living far away is to create a really big message.

Then look at our own advances in the past 200 years. Our industrial and technological revolutions are astonishing! How can the slow progress of evolution explain the last few thousand years - or ten thousand years, at least. Especially the last few hundred years. Wow!

Nothing about evolution forces it to be particularly slow or fast. A study of the history of evolution on earth shows that there can be long periods of stasis or short bursts of rapid evolution. Evolution doesn’t require change, it simply accounts for change. Theoretically, if life evolved on another planet, there is no reason why the life forms on that planet couldn’t have been comfortably existing at a complexity level equivalent to bacteria for billions of years without ever advancing. On the flip side, a new life form could have surpassed humans within a few millions years and presently be leaps and bounds beyond humans. Additionally, the progress of humans the past several hundred years wouldn’t really be classified as biological evolution. I doubt there would be a significant genetic difference between a human born today and one born in 1500. If anything, I would conclude that the biological evolution of humans is slowing down because we are currently responding to environmental stressors, not by adapting our genetic code, but by artificial means that do not propogate through the gene pool.

The full sentence reads, “God did not want man to eat from the tree of the knowledge between good and evil, BECAUSE THEN HE WILL EAT FROM THE TREE OF LIFE AND LIVE FOREVER, LIKE US.”

I’m not sure how this passage relates to any of your other points. Anybody can write a story about aliens, and that alone does not make it true, even if it was written a long time ago.

In addition to creating a useful resource for clergy, I am hoping for the list to make a major political statement: religious leaders and scientists can work together — despite what religious fundamentalists claim.

So basically, all religions are welcome, except the ones that are skeptical of unguided evolutionism.

By the way, why would clergymen who already support evolutionism be making questions to Darwinian scientists?

Seems to me that Michael Zimmerman has a lot of time in his hands.

What would be interesting is if clergymen who support science BUT are skeptical of unguided evolutionism were given time and space to post questions to Darwinian scientists.

I wonder if Michael Zimmerman would be happy to spearhead that initiative..?

By the way, why would clergymen who already support evolutionism be making questions to Darwinian scientists?

Because, despite the delusions of IDers and creo-kooks, all communication on the subject need not be in service to “the controversy,” pro- or anti-.

Some find, when they ask honest questions, that they actually learn from the answers.

I understand that this is likely outside of your experience, since, clearly, you already know better.

So basically, all religions are welcome, except the ones that are skeptical of unguided evolutionism.

What’s the point of answering the “questions” of intellectually dishonest clergy?

Isn’t honesty supposed to be one of the virtues of the clerisy? If that can’t live up to that, there is little purpose in dialog with them.

Glen D http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Mats Wrote:

So basically, all religions are welcome, except the ones that are skeptical of unguided evolutionism.

Glen D Wrote:

What’s the point of answering the “questions” of intellectually dishonest clergy?

I wouldn’t necessarily equate skeptical clergy with intellectually dishonest clergy. The large majority of ordinary clergy are probably not very well educated in biological and physical sciences. You can’t really say someone is intellectually dishonest until they’ve had the opportunity to review the relevant evidence and continue to make dishonest arguments in the face of that evidence. I would give everyone the benefit of the doubt at first until they prove to be intellectually dishonest. Otherwise, you’ll give the appearance of simply categorizing anybody that disagrees with you as being “dishonest.”

I wouldn’t necessarily equate skeptical clergy with intellectually dishonest clergy. The large majority of ordinary clergy are probably not very well educated in biological and physical sciences. You can’t really say someone is intellectually dishonest until they’ve had the opportunity to review the relevant evidence and continue to make dishonest arguments in the face of that evidence. I would give everyone the benefit of the doubt at first until they prove to be intellectually dishonest. Otherwise, you’ll give the appearance of simply categorizing anybody that disagrees with you as being “dishonest.”

Blah, blah, blah. Christ, is there any chance that you could understand a question as meant in context, rather than making a whole ridiculous charade that you have to “correct”?

I might have said much the same things if an honest question had been asked, and not one that tried to make the denialists out to be “skeptics”. I’m sick to death of the IDiots claiming the title of “skeptic,” but I guess if you want to support their little fraud, you can. But quit twisting what other posters mean in order for you to make your excruciatingly dull points.

Glen D http://www.geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Learn to read the responses you receive.

Popper’s Ghost explained to you on that other thread

They aren’t the same people. The other person was named Pam, had some very basic misunderstandings about mutation and inherited traits, and was under the impression that A&E were mates and that their children must have mated with each other or with A&E. I don’t know if she believes in space crustaceans.

So basically, all religions are welcome, except the ones that are skeptical of unguided evolutionism.

There’s no such thing as “evolutionism”. But basically, yes, this is a project for clergy who don’t reject mainstream science.

There are two reasons why clergy might reject mainstream science. Some do it because they hold to rather rigid traditional interpretations of religious texts. I don’t agree with that, but I don’t have a big problem with it, as long as they respect my rights.

Some do it as a coded way of supporting an authoritarian and somewhat sadistic social and political ideology, frequently refered to as “the conservative movement” (but not representative of all “conservatives”), that has nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity, and fantasizes about a harsh, inefficient, Dickensian laissez-faire economy, a complete lack of public goods such as education, wholesale destruction of the environment, constant war, and last but not by any means least, over-the-top barbarian punishments for consensual and harmless sexual behaviors between adults. Like you, I’d be willing to be a good deal.

By the way, why would clergymen who already support evolutionism be making questions to Darwinian scientists?

To learn more about the intricate and beautiful world of life, rather than wallowing in ignorance.

Seems to me that Michael Zimmerman has a lot of time in his hands.

Seems to me that you have no rational basis for this embittered little remark.

What would be interesting is if clergymen who support science BUT are skeptical of unguided evolutionism were given time and space to post questions to Darwinian scientists.

If their skepticism is the result of innocent misinformation, this would be interesting and valuable.

On the other hand, if they’re merely authoritarian right wingers who use “religion” as a justification, as I suspect you are, and I haven’t been wrong yet, it would probably be a waste of time.

There are probably clergy who fit in each of these categories.

I wonder if Michael Zimmerman would be happy to spearhead that initiative..?

I think merely putting the lie to the likes of you and showing that many clergy don’t object to mainstream science is enough.

I don’t know if she believes in space crustaceans.

Well, looking up space crustaceans in google images I find a link to the usual. It’s all the apparently the same.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Re: space crustaceans.

I seem to remember a move to shorten their name to “spacestaceans,” or something like that.

But NASA had a concern that the nickname for these loveable critters would sound too much like “Space Stations.” In which NASA had already invested a lot of stationery, letter-heads, graphics, etc.

So then the congressional subcommittees and the unlisted alphabet agencies got involved, the black helicopters were dispatched, and that was, effectively, the end of that.

Which is why it’s heartwarming to learn that the existence of space crustaceans hasn’t been entirely erased from the fossil record, merely due to an unfortunate resemblance to a NASA program.

Conceited man- would you rather have religious people who will listen or religious people who won’t. Those are your two options. If we can win people to science, let so be it.

Louis challenges:

[W]ould you rather have religious people who will listen or religious people who won’t.

That is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? Differentiating those who are interested from those who are not. Those who are more interested in generating controversy, boosting ego, misleading others in the pursuit of their own agendas from those who do not understand the topic.

If you found the report of my findings from a google search and the resulting word play is offensive that is unfortunate. The range of beliefs presented on this forum sometimes dictate further investigations and use of the intelligently designed google search engine is the best method to rapidly sort through available information on the web. The resulting parodies only highlight the outliers in the range of beliefs found in the population.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

harold

By “we” I mean atheists, or non-believers in general.

As for how to have and end to it, I don’t know how it is possible. But it still needs to be attempted.

What makes people’s private mental life my business? Nothing. On the other hand if people want to believe foolishness, I have every right not to support them, and moreover to try and change their minds.

As for “specific behaviors” that is precisely want religious people want you to do. Once you start doing that, they will start with the “Oh, but true [insert religion here] doesn’t advocate THAT”.

Glen

Why refuse the pulpit? Why refuse a debate with a creationist? Because you don’t want to give them any ammo. The idea that you can have religious people and scientists working together against other religious people sens the message that SOME religious beliefs are ok.

Tara

I am not suggesting that we should make religious beliefs a litmus test. I am saying that the only involvement science should have with religion is opposition. Yes, from a practical standpoint the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Emma Glosser wrote:

The meterologic [sic] community has already PROVEN that extrateressial life did or does exist with the discovery of meterorite(s) [sic] that have fossils of crustacean life forms.

While others have touched on the absurdity of Emma’s claims of ‘spacetacean’ fossils, I’m still trying to figure out why meteorologists would be examining meteors instead of weather satalite data.…

Well Done! At long last, someone has had the amazing forethought to have science and religion come together in a way that is conducive to both parties. Since the clergy are looking for scientific answers, the beliefs of the authority don’t matter, as long as the answer is put into context as being “this is what the majority of the scientific community has come to understand up to this point”.

“Me Myself and I asked: How can religion and science ever work together?”

Raven: This is silly beyond belief. 82% of the US population identifies itself as christian. 6% is other religions, 11% atheistic. Yet a large share of the world’s science (roughly 50%) is done in the USA and we are so far the acknowledged leader. If science couldn’t coexist with religion this wouldn’t have happened. The US would be some backwater banana republic.

The scientific revolution started in Europe among a population much more religious than it is now. Many great scientists were religious, Newton, Maxwell, Copernicus, and so on.

The serious attack on science in the USA is from a few cults in the south central part. Not the mainstream protestants or catholics, the great majority.

Surprise, fundamental atheists can be just as dogmatic and fanatical as fundie xians. What next a fundie atheist fatwa, crusade, or shrine somewhere? LOL

MMI again:

I am not suggesting that we should make religious beliefs a litmus test. I am saying that the only involvement science should have with religion is opposition. Yes, from a practical standpoint the enemy of my enemy is my friend. [bolding added by raven]

I already addressed MMI on Tara’s thread. Science is about studying the universe around us using methodological naturalism. Opposing religion isn’t even remotely within its area of study. If MMI thinks religion is a social or political problem, social and problems are solved by social and political institutions.

To reiterate my other point, science and religion have coexisted especially in the USA for hundreds of years and we are the world leaders. The current attack on science is by a minority of cultists. It is always a mistake to overgeneralize from the DIs, Ham’s, and Hovinds to a whole large group of people.

Besides which, there are only around 1/2-1 million scientists, the vast majority who have no interest in opposing religion actively and many who are in fact religious to one extent to another. The small number of scientists who wish to “oppose religion” are a bit outnumbered by the 270 million US citizens who self identify with a religion. They also depend on those 270 million one way or another for funding to do science. Science is expensive. Very expensive.

Even scientists are allowed to have hobbies and causes outside of work. But don’t expect the 270 million to pay much attention. No one is going to drop deeply held core religious beliefs because some guy with a Ph.D. says they are stupid.

The equation science=atheism is both false and makes no sense. It is neutral and totally disinterested.

Finally, I’ve dealt with a few fundie creos cultists here and there over the last few months. It is why I got involved in defending science and evolution. They are a mixed bag. A lot of the least educated and not exactly brilliant rank and file are becoming fanatic and extremists because they are scared witless. With better communications such as the internet, they see society and the world especially changing around them in ways that threaten their world views. If someone thinks they are being attacked, they will do what humans are evolutionarily predisposed to do. Attack back.

Mats Wrote:

So basically, all religions are welcome, except the ones that are skeptical of unguided evolutionism.

No. All religions are welcome, period. Members of various religions who abuse their religion to promote unreasonable doubt about evolution, e.g. by caricaturizing it as “unguided evolutionism,” are not welcome.

I would agree that most (if not all) scientists would conclude that there is a possibility that more advanced creatures have evolved on other planets.

I’m not a scientist, but it seems to me that the concept of “more advanced” is not something meaningful in today’s evolutionary biology.

They both claim to view it as nothing more than a collection of simple-minded superstitions that will be abandoned if adherents are not kept ignorant.

You think so? My reading is that the most dismissive atheists regard those parts of those religions that cannot survive the light of knowledge as what will be abandoned if good science education is universal. At the very least, education should call into question faith in things demonstrably contrary to reality, and make people wonder about claims not falsifiable on paper yet clearly not descriptive of anything - you know, stuff like gods and demigods and miracles. But no amount of education is likely to make people abandon a sense of right and wrong.

Michael Roberts Wrote:

is science the most important thing or getting rid of any kind of religion?

That wouldn’t be the usual linguistic XOR by any means, would it? Championing knowledge and debunking superstition isn’t by any means incompatible. :-P And religion (practiced or idealized) has a lot problems with both, as this project can attest to.

But at the same time you are wrong in thinking that science as an endeavor has any interest in the workings of religion as far as it is not hindering education and promoting anti-science. Hence projects such as this, where scientists who has no problem with supporting religion has freedom to participate.

(For myself, I draw the same conclusion as FL, the general available material and support is enough for laymen of any walks of life. The special problems of religion is nothing that outsiders can or should solve.)

Neo-Anti-Luddite wrote in Comment #188583:

Emma Glosser wrote:

The meterologic [sic] community has already PROVEN that extrateressial life did or does exist with the discovery of meterorite(s) [sic] that have fossils of crustacean life forms.

While others have touched on the absurdity of Emma’s claims of ‘spacetacean’ fossils, I’m still trying to figure out why meteorologists would be examining meteors instead of weather satalite data.…

While it is always funny to see the ignorance on display it would be even better to know if she cut and pasted, or at least paraphrased, that from some creationist website.

Flint -

You think so? My reading is that the most dismissive atheists regard those parts of those religions that cannot survive the light of knowledge as what will be abandoned if good science education is universal. At the very least, education should call into question faith in things demonstrably contrary to reality, and make people wonder about claims not falsifiable on paper yet clearly not descriptive of anything - you know, stuff like gods and demigods and miracles. But no amount of education is likely to make people abandon a sense of right and wrong.

The sole extent of our disagreement seems to be our characterization of how the “most dismissive” atheists characterize “religion”.

I can’t read minds, but based on what I’ve seen, I tend to think that some atheists, whom I’ve described as the “most dismissive”, have a view of “religion” that I see as oversimplified.

I’m sure the vast majority of thoughtful atheists take the view you describe. That’s why I qualified my comment with “most dismissive”. This thread provides evidence that the distinction I make is a valid one.

Self-identified “atheism” is neither a sufficient, nor in my view, necessary condition to render someone a thoughtful or reasonable person. Certainly many thoughtful and reasonable people are atheists; it’s possibly even the case that thoughtful and reasonable people are more likely than people chosen at random to be self-identified atheists. But not all atheists are thoughtful and reasonable.

harold,

Yes, I’m aware that there is a subset of atheists who focus on the nonexistence of gods rather than on protocols for unifying social structures through shared systems of values. And who furthermore don’t take the nonexistence of gods as the default pending evidence to the contrary, but rather as a philosophical position impervious to evidence. But even these people don’t seem to be taking the position that Buddhism results from intellectual child abuse! So I see them as basically overreacting to the pious arrogance of Christian absolute certainties, by substituting pious certainties of their own.

But not all atheists are thoughtful and reasonable.

Got that right. Some have made atheism their religion and are just as fanatical and unreasonable as any xian cultist.

The last great atheistic quasi-religion was communism. The movement promptly splintered like any religion into a number of sects. Marxist-Leninist, Trotskyite, Maoist, Gang of 4, anti-Gang of 4, Stalinist, Titoist, Albanian, Czechoslavakian, plus a number of minor cults. They didn’t get along all that well and occasionally some brutal sectarian violence ensued.

The way some atheists act, if there were ever enough, they would set up shrines, issue fatwas, and canonize some saints, Dawkins, Russel, etc.. And then splinter into a bunch of sects over obscure theological points that no one else cares about.

But even these people don’t seem to be taking the position that Buddhism results from intellectual child abuse! So I see them as basically overreacting to the pious arrogance of Christian absolute certainties, by substituting pious certainties of their own.

I would add that -

1) In fact, there are some forms of even Buddhism which can be characterized by pious arrogance, and I would argue, some forms of Christianity that are not. It’s a complex world.

2) Currently, Christianity in general is getting a lot of bad press, since both the current pope and prominent English-language fundamentalists have made public obsession with narrow, sex-associated issues and expressions of intolerance for other sects, the face of the entire religion.

3) It’s interesting that there is a strong social bias in favor of claiming to be religious in the US. It’s often assumed that this means that Americans embrace bigoted fundamentalism more than Europeans, since the most ostentatiously and publicly religious are usually fundamentalist hypocrites of the Ted Haggard variety.

However, I suspect the opposite. I suspect that the civil rights movement and the Vietnam era peace movement, as well as, to a lesser degree, the association of religion with dissidence in the Soviet Union, were central in creating the US public impression of religion as something that drives people to “sacrifice” for “good”. Europe didn’t experience the civil rights or peace movement, of course, and was to some degree in less direct conflict with the Soviet Union.

Indeed, it’s my personal belief that right wingers took up fundamentalist religion in the post-civil rights era defensively, having felt burned by the lack of mainstream religious support for segregation and discrimination, and looking for a “religion” that would reliably claim that “the Bible” supported their policies. Tolerating a little science denial and sex obsession was an acceptable compromise.

Note that Americans don’t actually “act” religious much more than Europeans or Canadians, they are merely more likely to claim in surveys that they are religious.

My guess is that, although the social bias that equates self-proclaimed religion with “goodness” is strong, the public example of sex-obsessed, science-denying fundamentalists is gradually harming the image of religion, not the other way around.

harold,

You may be interested in Kevin Phillips’ view of this. I think it’s fairly persuasive.

The parts of religion that “cannot survive the light of knowledge” as one poster put it, is basically every part that makes religion something other than morality. Supernatural beliefs? Gone. The ability to be judgemental and arrogant because after all, you are only God’s messenger? Gone. Vengeance in the name of God? Gone.

Sure, morality would remain. Morality that is based on something other than Imperial edict.

Also, as atheism doesn’t depend on revealed knowledge, but careful, rational thought, I do not think that we would canonize anyone. The whole idea is pretty much ridiculous.

The Clergy Project is not “scientific outreach”. What the clergy project does, is enable some clergy to show that some religious beliefs are “ok”. That is false.

raven Wrote:

The last great atheistic quasi-religion was communism.

Except that it was a political cult, where the atheism was coincidental. (Removed religious power et cetera.) So you are lying this in front of the wrong door.

Especially if you are going to argue that superstition isn’t the (only) defining element of religion. :-) Which, as Flint notes, is a mistake not even most outspoken atheists make.

Except that it was a political cult, where the atheism was coincidental.

One might as well say that the Southern Baptist Convention is a political cult, where the theism is coincidental.

One might as well say that the Southern Baptist Convention is a political cult, where the theism is coincidental.

a not-so-clever twist on words, that is unfortunately, completely wrong.

IF the politics were actually BASED on atheism (how could they be?) then you could use this construct.

now looking at the SBC, their politics is entirely BASED on their idea of theism.

so, no go. You can’t validly project your familiarity with evangelical outreach in the way you are.

One might as well say that the Southern Baptist Convention is a political cult, where the theism is coincidental.

Perhaps. If it is a political party (parties) that overthrow the previous rulers to rule a nation (nations) for several years.

And, which is close to the same point, what ST said (so much better than I).

Except that it was a political cult, where the atheism was coincidental.

One might as well say that the Southern Baptist Convention is a political cult, where the theism is coincidental.

I expect better of you, Coin. The second is false but the first is true – or it would be true if the word were “incidental”. It wasn’t coincidental because Marx explicitly denigrated religion.

One might as well say that the Southern Baptist Convention is a political cult, where the theism is coincidental.

I don’t see this as being false. It’s an oversimplification, perhaps.

There is a political ideology in the US usually known by friend and foe as “the conservative movement”, and the average American can quickly identify the “conservative” position on almost any major issue. Probably 90% or more of Americans would agree that the Bush administration is rigidly committed to the ideology of the conservative movement. An equally high number would easily identify “Protestant Fundamentalism” as the “official” religion of the conservative movement.

Even when minority (within the movement) voices have expressed cautious statements that such and such a Bush policy is not “really conservative”, in the last two years or so, it has usually been “pork barrel spending” or the like, rather than the incorporation of science-denying fundamentalism into every conceivable aspect of government, that has provoked them.

The conservative movement fully incorporates the “religious right”, and vice versa. The religion accomodates itself to the politics, the politics accomodate themselves to the religion. It is a complex feedback loop.

There is just now some splintering; hence the fact that not every single Republican presidential candidate agreed to outright publicly deny evolution during a nationally televised debate(!). The splintering is highly involuntary, is due only to serious external threats to power, and is the cause of much internal debate with the “movement”, more for strategic than ethical or philosophical reasons.

I don’t see this as being false.

Don’t be ridiculous. Even if the Southern Baptist Convention was equivalent to the conservative movement or the religious right (which it isn’t), it would still be absurd to claim that any connection between it and theism is “coincidental”. And Coin’s point was that it is absurdly false – his implication was that it is also absurdly false that any connection between communism and atheism was coincidental. But it’s a terrible analogy, because theism is essential to SBC while it isn’t essential to communism.

P.S. harold: you should take a look this and subsequent posts. A touch of cognitive dissonance, methinks. One way to resolve it is to decide that I really am a bad guy after all. Of course there are other possibilities.

Even if the Southern Baptist Convention was equivalent to the conservative movement or the religious right (which it isn’t), it would still be absurd to claim that any connection between it and theism is “coincidental”.

To the extent that they are political, the doctrines of the SBC fall solidly into the camp generally referred to as “religious conservatives” (government should be as large, expensive, and intrusive as necessary to prevent gay marriage, abortions, disapproved sexual contact between consenting partners, R-rated movies, pornography (and Cosmopolitan Magazine is porn!), and to promote Jesus in all aspects of public life.)

This is distinct from “fiscal conservatives” who want far lower taxes, smaller government, and a balanced budget. Or “libertarian conservatives” who want to minimize regulation, maximize individual scope of legal behavior, etc.

I consider it a sign of how dangerously intertwined religion and (right-wing) politics have become, that someone might regard the SBC as primarily a political body. It is worrisomely the case that the SBC has a clear political agenda, and the Bush administration has a clear theocratic orientation.

Re “tcpyh qmwjxroi pudbk xzflega mtzx zdlbjnao fxobunph”

I wonder, can anybody explain this random letter spam that seems to be a fad nowadays? Can somebody actually somehow sell something that way?

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by Tara Smith published on July 17, 2007 1:35 PM.

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