Unholy row over university lecture event

| 37 Comments

Unholy row over university lecture event

Second-year dental student Emily Mackie said the university’s decision to call its inaugural Dundee Christmas Lecture “Why Evolution is Right … and Creationism is Wrong” is badly timed and insensitive to Christians.

The lecture is being given by Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College, London, who claims that all biologists support the theory of evolution and that “intelligent design”—the belief that life was created as part of a divine plan—is wrong.

Steve Jones presented a similarly titled lecture “Why creationism is wrong and evolution is right” at the Royal Society in 2006

Why creationism is wrong and evolution is right - Professor Steve Jones

Prof Steve Jones Science is about disbelief. It accepts that all knowledge is provisional and that any theory might in principle be disproved. Some theories are better established than others: the earth is probably not flat, babies are almost certainly not brought by storks, and men and dinosaurs are unlikely to have appeared on earth within the past few thousand years. Even so, nothing is sacred in 1905 classical physics collapsed after a seemingly trivial observation about glowing gases and the same is potentially true for all other scientific theories. Many biologists are worried by a recent and unexpected return of an argument based on belief by the certainty, untestable and unsupported by evidence, that life did not evolve but appeared by supernatural means. Worldwide, more people believe in creationism than in evolution. Why do no biologists agree? Steve Jones will talk about what evolution is, about new evidence that men and chimps are close relatives and about how we are, nevertheless, unique and why creationism does more harm to religion than it does to science.

Other presentations by Steve Jones include Why Intelligent Design is Stupid (Hay - 2007)

in The evolution of clots Steve Jones argues that

Intelligent Design is the logic of ignorance - complex life, such as the machinery of blood clotting, can be explained by Darwinism, …

37 Comments

Oh good grief, it’s science that doesn’t methodologically care one whit either way about religion, while ID is what tells us that Baby Jesus made the malaria pathogen to kill the little children of the world.

Extremely sensitive ignoramuses like the one portrayed in the article need to learn who’s making Baby Jesus cry, which, from all of the evidence, is not those telling us that malaria simply evolved to pass on its genes.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

“There will be a question and answer session at the end of the lecture where people will be able to—and undoubtedly will—challenge Mr Jones’ point of view.”

Evolution is not a point of view. It’s a scientific fact.

“insensitive to Christians.”

Who cares? If some people are insensitive to facts, that’s their problem.

Many Christians accept science, but evolution-denier Emily Mackie is very typical of American Christians. Only about 15% of Americans accept evolution without invoking God, while every biologist doesn’t need the God hypothesis to explain the diversity of life. In my opinion the obvious way to solve the problem of ignorance about evolution is throwing out Christianity. In the 21st Century it’s disgraceful there are so many people who would rather believe in an invisible man who lives in the clouds, than accept scientific facts supported by massive evidence.

Sheesh! This looks almost like taking gratuitous offense. Is someone gunning for a fight?

Why indeed should I or anyone else have any more respect for any religion than for any other idea or ideas.

“Oh good grief, it’s science that doesn’t methodologically care one whit either way about religion, while ID is what tells us that Baby Jesus made the malaria pathogen to kill the little children of the world.”

All I can add to that very good statement by Glen is: Amen, brother!

If ID is right, then Baby Jesus designed the lung cancer that killed my father, and indeed, Baby Jesus is the culprit behind most of the death and destruction in the world. No matter how much you debase yourself and plead with him, the Holy One is gonna kill you thru one of his designed agents.

It’s time for people to call religion what it really is: Bullshit designed to cow people into being submissive, brain-dead donors of their hard-earned money to manipulative and crooked clergy.

I note that Steve Jones uses “Darwinism” to stand for “evolutionary biology”. Generally, this seems to be a British habit: over here in the U.S. and A., the D-word is almost always a red flag that you’re dealing with a creationist. That’s been my impression, anyway — what do other people think?

Wait, strike the first sentence of my previous comment: the D-word only appears in the Telegraph headline, which was most likely written by somebody else.

Interesting how Miss Mackie self-consciously equates Christianity with ignorance in her statements. If you find reality offensive, eat that cake yourself. I look forward to Mr. Jones’ responses to the ‘challenges’ mentioned in the Courier article, which bluntly asserts that there are arguments from the pathetic crea/ID community and implies the old ‘dissent in the biology departments’ canard.

Waldteufel said: “It’s time for people to call religion what it really is: Bullshit designed to cow people into being submissive, brain-dead donors of their hard-earned money to manipulative and crooked clergy.”

It’s worse than that: Religionists are also being conned into supporting intelligent design creationism. Here’s a story:

In another forum, I noted that another correspondent had mentioned “If you take the whole quote “Shapiro of the University of Chicago, who stated in 1996: “There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system…you get page after page of IDiots repeating this same thing over and over…”

I decided to test this hypothesis by asking Google to find the line:

Shapiro “There are no detailed Darwinian accounts”

Google had _98_ hits on that search item, and indeed most if not all of them are pro-creationist / anti-Darwin websites. The hypothesis was correct.

I clicked on one of the top-rated sites and found the quote from Shapiro in a work on Intelligent Design by one William A. Dembski, titled “The Vise Strategy: Squeezing the Truth out of Darwinists” on a website (http://www.4truth.net) that also says “This Web site is part of NAMB’s major mission objective committed to sharing Christ.”

NAMB is the “North American Mission Board,” “A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®.”

“Through gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®, these missions personnel are enabled to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Because every dollar given to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® goes to direct support of missionaries and their ministries, Southern Baptists are confident offering gifts are an investment in eternity.” (http://www.anniearmstrong.com)

These pious frauds are soliciting pennies from Sunday School kids (and dollars from Sunday School adults) who are told they can buy their way into Heaven. And their money is not for foreign missionaries, but to spread the Word about Intelligent Design!

Can you imagine the ground swell of dismay and betrayal that may already be building amongst the True Believers in this country when a significant number of them realize how badly they have been scammed?

I think our culture is insensitive to cannibals.

As a Christian, I’m offended that Emily would claim that this lecture supporting evolution is inherently offensive to Christians. Where’s she get off deciding what we believe?

claim that this lecture supporting evolution is inherently offensive to Christians

It’s not just the subject of the lecture, it’s the timing of it. How dare anyone do anything on Christmas that some Christian somewhere finds offensive. Obviously Steve Jones is in the forefront of the war on Christmas.

badly timed and insensitive to Christians

This is another case where I have to wonder how much sincerity to credit these yahoos with. Do they really believe they own Christianity? Or is that just political posturing, along the lines of “say it often enough and loud enough and people will start treating it as if it’s true”? And I ask this even as an atheist who generally doesn’t have much patience with the “that’s not the true Christianity” stuff moderate Christians like to trot out at these embarrassing moments.

I do have to say that Steve Jones is more or less wrong about one thing:

Worldwide, more people believe in creationism than in evolution. Why do no biologists agree?

As we know all too well here, there are a (relative) few biologists who do. What’s more important is that, biologists though they may be, they can’t muster any evidentiary support for their belief. But if Jones is going to say something like this, all a creationist has to do is point to a couple examples of creos who are trained biologists, and he’s instantly proven wrong on a major point. It would be more accurate to say “almost no biologists agree.”

If you’re on the vital public outreach front of this fight, why get such a simple thing wrong when it’s so easy to get right?

Riddle me this.

1) God is all powerful. 2) God is unconditionally loving and ethical. 3) Bad things happen.

It’s nice to see that the university didn’t back down. They probably would have here in the United States

Maybe somebody should point out that Creationism is neither the owner nor the boss of Christianity.

Henry

Observer:

It’s nice to see that the university didn’t back down. They probably would have here in the United States

Actually, I think most universities wouldn’t, although plenty of high schools would, if they’d even bother to invite such a speaker.

On the other hand, they’d be likely to follow Dundee University in including mealymouthed assurances that they were too providing “both sides” of the “debate.”

Has it gotten so bad that we’ll give credit to an institution of higher learning for just sounding vaguely apologetic to the lone whiney fanatic but not actually knuckling under to her?

Henry J said:

Maybe somebody should point out that Creationism is neither the owner nor the boss of Christianity.

They may though, be it’s downfall. Most Xians worldwide are fine with evolution. The exceptions are mostly cults from the South Central USA.

The correct response would be to point out that Emily is a voluntarily ignorant religious bigot who is wrong on both science and Xianity and let it go at that.

Jedidiah Palosaari:

As a Christian, I’m offended that Emily would claim that this lecture supporting evolution is inherently offensive to Christians. Where’s she get off deciding what we believe?

I’ve looked at the statistics all kinds of different ways. They cut different ways depending on who you ask and how you ask. But to first order, half the biologists in the US believe in god, and about 95% of them believe in evolution.That’s thousands and thousands of scientists who have no problem reconciling christianity with evolution. So I would say to Emily, “How come thousands and thousands of christian biologists can accept evolution, but you can’t? What do they know, that you don’t?”

In terser form, my friend Tom says to them. “Oh, yeah. Because god doesn’t have the brains to create through evolution, right?”

If the subject of the lecture offends Ms. Makie, why did she obtain a ticket? Surely the dental school isn’t requiring her to go.

Scott:

If the subject of the lecture offends Ms. Makie, why did she obtain a ticket? Surely the dental school isn’t requiring her to go.

Because she is an attention whore, like most of the morons that post here to argue for Creationism/Intelligent Design.

doesn’t have much patience with the “that’s not the true Christianity” stuff

Yes, it’s starting to sound so hollow, even when it’s not a non sequitur against non-apologetic analysis of practiced religion. This was from London, for crying out loud.

Btw, maybe it’s too early in the morning here. But I can’t remember if I had to use 3 negatives in a sentence before, assuming it made sense at all.

Only for the subject of religion, I presume. :-P

Yes, those scientists are insensitive. But it could have been worse. The conference could have been about the history of the character of Santa Claus, suggesting that he doesn’t really exist. That would have been shocking !

Second-year dental student Emily Mackie said the university’s decision to call its inaugural Dundee Christmas Lecture “Why Evolution is Right … and Creationism is Wrong” is badly timed and insensitive to Christians.

Sigh. Another bleeding heart “liberal” whining about sensitivity and feelings. Actually, there’s no better time to give Christians a healthy reminder of “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

On the other hand, they’d be likely to follow Dundee University in including mealymouthed assurances that they were too providing “both sides” of the “debate.”

To be fair, the ‘other’ side appears to be theistic evolution. ID and creationism aren’t counted as legitimate sides, apparently.

As a Christian Steve Jones wouldn’t offend me. However, if anyone on this forum wants to know where Emily Mackie is coming from then have a look at these three videos of leading UK YEC Paul Taylor’s recent visit to Northern Ireland:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.a[…]Weekend+2007

Taylor has debated (or appeared on the same TV programme) Steve Jones on a number of occasions, each time claiming to have “got the better of him” (Steve Jones). YEC’s in the UK are increasingly becoming better organised and much more vocal now (partly due to the phenomenon of Christian television here, in my opinion). They are a force to be reckoned with and Paul Taylor is not to be underestimated. Expect him (Taylor) to pick-up on this story over the next few days and something to appear on AiG’s website about it. Ms Mackie certainly appears to be a willing pawn in the YEC’s propaganda machine.

Usually, I’m in favor of not offending people, all other things being equal. I’m a far cry from “politically correct”, but usually in cases like this, it’s some right winger acting like a jerk, and then complaining the people are too easily offended.

Here, however, I think that the “offended” party is the offending one. She presumes to speak for all Christians, and declares herself offended over a talk that merely explains an important scientific theory and discredits some pseudoscientific ideas.

But to first order, half the biologists in the US believe in god, and about 95% of them believe in evolution.

No link, but I’ll assume this is accurate.

Actually, the 95% seems extremely low, but it’s possible that “biologist” was broadly defined to include people with masters or bachelors degrees who use their biology training in pragmatic settings, like agriculture or national parks (which is perfectly reasonable, in my view). Anyway, the point is well made.

Now for my linkless assertion (link providers will be appreciated) -

When Americans are asked whether and form of life other than humans “evolved”, a super-majority says “yes”, and it’s around three quarters for plants and microbes.

I’m dismayed that 20-30% of the population denies that modern bacteria evolved rather than being magically created in their present form.

Nevertheless, as I have pointed out a number of times, the “liberal” or “unbiased” media contantly quotes “liberal” or “unbiased” polls that refer to the hot button issue of recent human evolution, in order to falsely show “majority support for creationism”.

Not only that, but the polls invariably crank up the biased and confrontational nature of the questions by including something along the lines of “Humans evolved and God was not involved”. That may not seem like a very controversial statement to to some, but in fact it makes huge assumptions about “God” and religion (a liberal Hindu evolutionary biologist might have trouble choosing that response).

So most polls about “evolution” are blatantly designed to provoke discomfort and “anti-evolution” responses.

The number of people who are “offended” by the actual science of evolution, on Christmas or any other day, is very low. And the number who are reasonably offended is zero.

As a Christian Steve Jones wouldn’t offend me. However, if anyone on this forum wants to know where Emily Mackie is coming from then have a look at these three videos of leading UK YEC Paul Taylor’s recent visit to Northern Ireland:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.a[…]Weekend+2007

Taylor has debated (or appeared on the same TV programme) Steve Jones on a number of occasions, each time claiming to have “got the better of him” (Steve Jones). YEC’s in the UK are increasingly becoming better organised and much more vocal now (partly due to the phenomenon of Christian television here, in my opinion). They are a force to be reckoned with and Paul Taylor is not to be underestimated. Expect him (Taylor) to pick-up on this story over the next few days and something to appear on AiG’s website about it. Ms Mackie certainly appears to be a willing pawn in the YEC’s propaganda machine.

Just a quick note on Christmas and Christianity:

The celebration of Christmas by Christians is not without historical controversy. For example, the Puritans (known to most Americans as “the Pilgrims”) forbade the celebration of Christmas, recognizing that it was in fact an excuse used to usurp the Pagan Yule (winter solstice) holiday when spreading Christianity to northern Europe in the dark and middle ages. Think about it: shepherds in the Holy Lands “abid[e] in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night” to this day, but they don’t do it in December because it’s too cold, and they never have. I have to laugh when I see signs like, “Christ is the reason for the season.” No, Christ is the excuse for the season.

Paul Burnett Wrote:

Can you imagine the ground swell of dismay and betrayal that may already be building amongst the True Believers in this country when a significant number of them realize how badly they have been scammed?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the True Believers want to be scammed. They aren’t just stupid. They are masochists. They wallow in their stupidity. They enjoy feeling persecuted. And exposing the frauds who are screwing them over within their own camp only whips them up ever deeper into their putrid little imaginary sufferings.

Peter Henderson Wrote:

YEC’s in the UK are increasingly becoming better organised and much more vocal now…

So that means more YEC-OEC debates, a la Gish-Ross, right?

Further to Bill Gascoyne’s point about the Puritans refusing to celebrate Christmas, note that it’s Dundee University, and thanks to the Calvinist influence of the Kirk, the winter solstice celebration in Scotland was traditionally Hogmanay. In the 1960s Christmas crept in as a treat for the bairns, and that great celebration of commerce and gift giving now overshadows the traditional New Year celebrations. The Dundee Courier’s publisher D C Thomson & Co Ltd. is famed for the Dandy and Beano, and it made me laugh with the description of intelligent design as “the belief that life was created as part of a divine plan” - bit off message, there.

The spokeswoman’s statement that the university has “featured both sides of the creationism debate in recent months”, with lectures from Dawkins and Robert Winston, implies that the opposite side from atheism is presented by someone who is comfortable with human evolution, and thinks that our earliest ancestors may have gained some evolutionary advantage through an inherited genetic tendency to religious belief. http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/[…]0776,00.html

Bill Gascoyne:

Just a quick note on Christmas and Christianity:

The celebration of Christmas by Christians is not without historical controversy. For example, the Puritans

Pet peeve based on a lost piece of the pie in Trivial Pursuit: the Pilgrims weren’t Puritans, they were Separatists. As the names indicate, the Puritans wanted to “purify” the Anglican church, while the Separatists gave it up as a useles cause, and wanted to form their own church.

David Fickett-Wilbar:

[T]he Pilgrims weren’t Puritans, they were Separatists.

Point taken. I rather suspect that both groups shared the same attitude towards Christmas.

Frank J:

Peter Henderson Wrote:

YEC’s in the UK are increasingly becoming better organised and much more vocal now…

So that means more YEC-OEC debates, a la Gish-Ross, right?

This shtick is getting so tedious.

Here in the US these groups go out of their way to take some gratuitious offense at something someone says or does. When other people push back, these groups scream they are being persecuted and threatened with annihilation (and that in a country that protects their freedom to worship as they please). Freedom of religion is literally taken to mean freedom to proselytize until all other sects are converted or eliminated. Talk about perverted reasoning processes.

Sheesh, some people deserve to be offended. What a crybaby.

Mike Elzinga -

A brief comment at the end of a dead thread…

Freedom of religion is literally taken to mean freedom to proselytize until all other sects are converted or eliminated

Well, I strongly agree with what you mean, but not with the choice of words.

I actually overwhelmingly support the right of creationists (and anyone else) to legally proselytize as much as they like. They can hand out all the fliers, put up all the web sites, pay for all the commercials, etc, that they want. That is their first ammendment right. Of course they, like everyone else, are subject to necessary local laws that prevent extreme disturbances or impediment of traffic or commerce, but the limitations on their free expression of proselytizing messages are few and mild. And that’s just fine with me.

What they want to do that I OPPOSE is what you correctly imply - to misuse the force of law to compel others to obey the arbitrary rules of their own sect, even to the extent of forcing others to publicly deny scientific reality. (And this when they routinely ignore their own rules and indulge in self-destructive decadent hedonism of the side - however, I would obviously oppose their authoritarian efforts even if they were all sincere and lived as they preach.)

Trying to have nuttiness taught as “science” to public school students at taxpayer expense is one example. Numerous other examples of their (sometimes successful) efforts to impact on public policy in an inappropriate way that violates the rights of others and promotes pseudoscience in the name of religious ideology exist. It is THESE actions that I oppose.

As far as attempting to proselytize until the entire world is converted, if they do it legally, that’s their business. I have no problem with that. I strongly support their right to live, believe, and speak as they wish; naturally, I insist on such rights for myself as well.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on November 25, 2007 5:48 PM.

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