“Professing to be wise they became fools” (Romans 1:22)

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Michael Mayo at the Sun-Sentinel exposes the real issues behind the opposition to the new Florida Science standards

“Evolution is just another one of Satan’s lies to get people to believe there is no God,” Laura Lopez, a mother of three from West Palm Beach who opposes the proposed new standards, told my colleague Marc Freeman.

As a Christian and a scientist, I find the continued ignorance portrayed by fellow Christians to be painful. How can it be that they have been led so astray that they are willing to undermine Christian faith with their foolish words?

I have quoted from “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” by St Augustine (A.D. 354-430) before

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.

When Christians make foolish comments about issues of science and fact, the repercussions extend beyond the issue of science and affect how non-Christians perceive the Christian faith. Calling it an issue of academic freedom merely serves to hide the underlying ignorance and foolishness.

As Christians we can either allow ourselves to be willing tools or accept our responsibilities.

And yet we see well meaning Christians denigrating evolutionary theory by “playing on lay notions of “theory” (See for instance “Evolution toward Neutrality: Evolution Disclaimers, Establishment Jurisprudence Confusions, and a Proposal of Untainted Fruits of a Poisonous Tree “ by Asma T. Uddin in bepress Legal Series, Paper 1260, 2006)

In his opening statement in Kitzmiller, plaintiffs’ attorney Rothschild stated it as follows

Intelligent design is not identical in every respect to the creation science previously addressed by the Supreme Court in Edwards and other courts, but in all essential aspects, it is the same. Intelligent design really is a perfect example of evolution. Throughout this century, religious opponents of evolution, concerned that evolution contradicts a literal reading of the Bible and promotes cultural decay, have employed varying tactics to denigrate or eliminate the theory of evolution in the minds of young students.

They have tried forbidding the teaching of evolution, promoting creationism or creation science as an alternative to evolution, and singling out evolution for special criticism. Each of those tactics have been found unconstitutional by courts. Confronted with that inhospitable legal environment, creationists have adapted to create intelligent design, creationism with the words “God” and “Bible” left out.

They have promoted a book, Of Pandas and People, that invokes a master intellect that shapes clay into living form and then says, we’re not referring to anyone in particular. This clever tactical repackaging of creationism does not warrant different treatment under the Constitution.

The intelligent design movement has argued and we expect you will hear defendants argue in this courtroom that intelligent design has improved on creationism by developing a scientific argument for design. Defendants’ own experts call it science in its infancy, and if this is true, there is no educational purpose in test-driving it with high school students.

But intelligent design is not science in its infancy, it’s not science at all. You will hear from Kenneth Miller, a biologist; Kevin Padian, a paleontologist; Robert Pennock, a scientific philosopher; and Brian Alters, an expert on teaching science. They will testify about how science is practiced and taught, why evolution is overwhelmingly accepted as a scientific theory, and why intelligent design has no validity as a scientific concept.

and Judge Jones in his ruling elaborated

The purpose inquiry involves consideration of the ID Policy’s language, “enlightened by its context and contemporaneous legislative history[,]” including, in this case, the broader context of historical and ongoing religiously driven attempts to advance creationism while denigrating evolution.20 Selman, 390 F. Supp. 2d at 1300; Edwards, 482 U.S. at 590-92, 594-95 (in addition to “[t]he plain meaning of the [enactment’s] words, enlightened by their context and the contemporaneous legislative history,” Supreme Court also looks for legislative purposes in “the historical context of the [enactment], and the specific sequence of events leading to [its] passage”);

Similarly, the judge in Selman v. Cobb County ruled that:

To the contrary, evolution is the dominant scientific theory of origin accepted by the majority of scientists. While evolution is subject to criticism, particularly with respect to the mechanism by which it occurred, this Sticker misleads students regarding the significance and value of evolution in the scientific community for the benefit of the religious alternatives. By denigrating evolution, the School Board appears to be endorsing the well-known prevailing alternative theory, creationism or variations thereof, even though the Sticker does not specifically reference any alternative theories.

Most recently, the Florida Board of Education is considering adding the same ‘denigrating’ language to their science curriculum to appease a small but vocal group of confused Christians. Unable to argue in favor of scientific theories supporting their religious worldviews, they instead follow the lead of the Discovery Institute, to argue the teachings of the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory. Historically and from a legislative and judicial perspective, this argument amounts to little more than a poorly hidden attempt to denigrate evolutionary theory and has little to do with issues of academic freedom or scientific accuracy.

Historically, creationists have attempted various approaches to introduce their religious viewpoints into the science curriculum. In Scopes, the approach was to introduce statutes prohibiting the teaching of evolutionary theory. While the courts initially accepted the clearly religiously motivated statute as constitutional, it was eventually struck down. Undeterred, creationists continued with a variation on the theme and proposed the “balanced treatment” approach which was eventually struck down in Edwards v Aguillard. Faced with yet another defeat, the creationists continued to introduce ‘evolution disclaimers’ to denigrate evolutionary theory, allowing for the possibility of Biblical Creation. Invariably, one does not have to dig deep, to get to the real motives behind such proposals. Parents, religious people, school boards and legislators are often unable to hide their real motives which invariably point to a religiously motivated foundation. Intelligent Design, which initially arose out of hopes that a scientific theory of Biblical Creation could be formulated in a neutral fashion, failed to deliver and instead returned to the well tested position of ‘fair and balanced treatment’, a position which had been found to be unconstitutional. Despite attempts to argue that Intelligent Design provides secular purposes, the courts have found that such purposes must be genuine and not a sham (Freiler 185 F.3d (“the avowed purposes must be sincere and not a sham”)).

From a historical perspective, Intelligent Design Creationism is clearly linked to a religious rather than a secular purpose, as was so well demonstrated in Kitzmiller by Barbara Forrest whose testimony was so devastating that the defense council attempted to have her testimony ruled inadmissable.

The recent developments in Florida and the reactions from Intelligent Design Creationists shows how their efforts have obviously backfired when the board accepted a ‘compromise’ and added ‘theory of’ in front of evolution. Indeed, evolution is and remains the foundation of biology and now the ID movement is faced with that which they so desperately tried to avoid, showing that ID is a competing theory to the mainstream theory of evolution, a task for which it is ill equipped.

It’s now clear that the Discovery Institute was counting on Fred Cutting to further their case in Florida:

Some time ago, Mr. Cutting inquired with us for information about solid evolution education, and we were happy to supply it, along with input on his draft Minority Report. Mr. Cutting has submitted an excellent proposal, which we hope will be considered seriously by members of the Florida State Board of Education.

It seems that the Florida State Board of Education did not consider the alternative proposal to be ‘excellent’, well aware of the history and motivations of the Intelligent Design Creationism.

And while it is clear that the addition of the term ‘theory’ was motivated not by science but by religious concerns, it is also clear that the compromise is considered yet another defeat for Intelligent Design Creationism.

On the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science cintelligent design proponentist Casey Luskin complains that “Florida State Board Tricked into Meaningless “Compromise” to Retain Dogmatism and call Evolution “Scientific Theory””.

But tricked by whom? Certainly not the scientists who proposed the wording of the new standards, and certainly not the scientists who spoke out in favor of the new standards. Somehow the DI insists that this is an issue of ‘academic freedom’ for teachers while ignoring the far more important rights of students to a solid science education. Teachers have a responsibility towards their students to present the best science which means that they should be discouraged from confusing science with their religious beliefs.

Worse however is the conflation of the fact of evolution and the theory of evolution by Casey Lusking

Florida’s biology classrooms will follow the dogmatism of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which recently published a booklet, Science, Evolution, and Creationism, similarly proclaiming that “[t]here is no scientific controversy about the basic facts of evolution” because “no new evidence is likely to alter” it. Contrary to what the NAS and the Florida Science Standards assert, there are fundamental questions among scientists about Darwinian evolution.

Note how the statement by the NAS is about the fact of evolution, a fact which even ID Creationists seem to accept although they argue, without much evidence, that the mechanisms involved should include the supernatural. To counter the NAS’s observation that evolution is by any and all standards a fact, Casey Luskin confuses this with the mechanisms of evolution which include but are not limited to Darwinian evolution. Yes, there are some questions amongst scientists as to the relative importance of Darwinian selection versus other mechanisms but few doubt the reality of Darwinian selection as observed in so many aspects of biology.

Such confusion between the fact of evolution, which as explained by the NAS, is supported by data from many different sources, and the theory of evolution which provides an explanatory framework for said observations. Until ID Creationists can familiarize themselves which these important distinctions, they will continue to argue a strawman argument, feeding the fears and ignorance of those who do not understand the difference between science and religion.

Luskin end with a complaint

No wonder Darwinists confidently declare there is no debate over evolution: they shut down such debate and prevent it from taking place.

But ID is ill equipped for any debate over evolution as expressed by ID proponents themselves

For instance, Young Earth Creationist and Discovery Institute Fellow Paul Nelson observed

Paul Nelson Wrote:

Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory now, and that’s a real problem. Without a theory it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” - but as yet no general theory of biological design.

Source: Touchstone Magazine interview, Date: July/August 2004

Or Philip “Father of ID” Johnson who lamented

Philip Johnson Wrote:

I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.

Source: Michelangelo D’Agostino In the matter of Berkeley v. Berkeley Berkeley Science Review, Issue 10, 2006

these comments mirror the observation by Bruce Gordon who wrote:

Bruce Gordon Wrote:

Design theory has had considerable difficulty gaining a hearing in academic contexts, as evidenced most recently by the the Polanyi Center affair at Baylor University. One of the principle reasons for this resistance and controversy is not far to seek: design-theoretic research has been hijacked as part of a larger cultural and political movement. In particular, the theory has been prematurely drawn into discussions of public science education where it has no business making an appearance without broad recognition from the scientific community that it is making a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the natural world.

Source: Bruce Gordon Intelligent Design Movement Struggles with Identity Crisis Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology. January 2001, p. 9

No wonder that the Discovery Institute’s Intelligent Design Creationists are worried.

292 Comments

At least such people actually have an explanation, however flimsy and ad hoc, for why evolutionary theory exists, which is that Satan told a lie to deceive humanity.

The IDists, by contrast, have no way to explain why biologists accept MET. I mean, how are we even imagined to have come up with such a notion, given that supposedly it makes no sense? So let’s see, what we say is that we’re utilizing normal evidence, and not presupposing that similar evidence (say, between microevolution and macroevolution) comes from dissimilar causes, when we and they lack any evidence for such claims.

That is to say, not only don’t the IDists explain the evidence, they don’t tell us how we’ve been faulty in our inferences from the evidence–they just have their pseudo-mathematical numbers that are meant to tell us that contrary to all of the evidence backing MET, it nevertheless didn’t happen in that way. Prediction borne out by the evidence means nothing, which is convenient from the other direction as well, considering that they have no predictions borne out by the evidence.

So that by comparison, I’d say that the notion that evolution is merely Satan’s lie and that we’re all just deceived, is a simple and rational explanation. The only problem being that there is no evidence for this assertion, and it leads only to propping up a priori biases rather than to understanding. Still beats ID, though, since all of its “arguments” only lead to propping up a priori biases and not to understanding, but the supporting dishonesty and ignorance is far more complicated and based on demonstrably bad thinking.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/3yyvfg

Oh! You hit the nail on the head here!

“ But tricked by whom? Certainly not the scientists who proposed the wording of the new standards, and certainly not the scientists who spoke out in favor of the new standards. “

29 of the 30 writers of the standards did NOT approve of the changes that the BoE made themselves!

PvM,

Thank you for a thorough and thoughtful post. If you aren’t one already, might I suggest that you sign up to be a scientific consultant for the Clergy Letter Project? We need people who are well versed in both science and Christian faith to help combat the false dichotomy between evolution and religion.

Thanks PvM, quite a detailed post you wrote there.

“Evolution is just another one of Satan’s lies to get people to believe there is no God,” Laura Lopez, a mother of three from West Palm Beach who opposes the proposed new standards, told my colleague Marc Freeman.

Apalling ignorance. Ms. Lopez would have to add astronomy, geology, paleontology, history, physics, anthropology, basically all science to her list of satan’s lies. All of which also contradict her bronze age mythology.

If everyone adopted her viewpoint, we would still be living in the Dark Ages.

The fundie attack on science is a suicidal attack on the basis of our civilization. Below is an old post of mine discussing this issue.

The USA is the world’s last superpower, economic engine and so on. So what is our edge? A. Is it natural resources? No, we have our share but the former USSR has more.

B. Climate? No. Europe is also temperate.

C. Population? No. China and India have the cheap skilled and unskilled labor niche with 2.3 billion people between them.

D. Is it science and technology? The USA spends between 1/3 and 1/2 of the total world R&D with 4.5% of the world’s population. Our edge is being the world leader in R&D. That coupled with a relatively free political system and an entrepreneurial capitalist economy gives us…us.

Science + freedom + capitalism = prosperity.

The cultists Xians want to kill science while flushing our freedoms into the sewer. This is stupid and suicidal.

One of the pro science speakers at the board meeting I think it was Dr Jonathan Smith from the Florida Citizens For Science mentioned the “Wedge Document” and gave some very damming quotes.In a room full of people who tried to pretend that they had no religious motivation for what they were doing (surreal because everyone knew they were there for precisely that reason) Smith and Martinez forced the point that they were doing it for religious reasons.

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From the creationists I’ve spoken to face to face, most of them don’t want to go back to living in a time where the leading causes of death were disease, famine, diarrhea and speaking one’s mind (one of them just didn’t care). They have simply blinded themselves to the painful, yet subtle fact that the literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis (and the literal interpretation of certain sections of the rest of the Bible) is scientifically sterile.

Julie Stahlhut:

“Evolution is just another one of Satan’s lies to get people to believe there is no God,” Laura Lopez, a mother of three from West Palm Beach who opposes the proposed new standards, told my colleague Marc Freeman.

One of the things I’ve never understood about fundamentalist Christianity is its caricature of God and Satan as squabbling, petulant six-year-olds.

Then again, since quite a few conflicts among adult humans seem to deteriorate into exactly the same thing, perhaps it’s just projection on a cosmic scale.

Thank you for this wonderful piece! Creationists of various sorts are trying to use evolution as a way of distracting the devout from all the things the Bible says are important (like social justice and concern for the poor) that they are neglecting. It is so sad to see how many people, in their ignorance not only of science but the Bible, fall for it. From a Christian perspective, as well as a scientific one, young-earth creationism and intelligent design are dishonest, offensive, and immoral. The day will come when Christians in the future will look back on this as yet another blemish in the history of things Christians have done in the name of their faith.

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have no advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites

— Thomas Jefferson in “Notes on the State of Virgina, 1781–2.

PvM, thank you for this post. It echoes my sentiments exactly. I sent Mr. Martinez a thank-you email last night and apologized for the behavior he has had to endure at the hands of believers. It’s shameful, really.

James, I appreciate the Clergy Project as well. Thank you for your work on it. I am willing to offer my services if desired, but I am certainly not a “name brand” scientist - just a young PI at a primarily undergraduate, evangelical Christian university (in Canada).

I’m wondering if it might be a good time for some of of us who care about this issue to work on some evolution / theistic evolution materials for the Christian school / home-schooling system. From time to time I meet homeschooling parents who, in the absence of any other materials, simply swallow AiG stuff without question, or use materials from Bob Jones University. Same thing for the Christian school system. They don’t really have any other options at present, except for the brave who teach from “secular” materials (not likely).

Imagine a scenario where a concerned, educated parent at a Christian school could point to Christian educational materials that employ sound evolutionary science - science vetted and approved by secular institutions, but presented in a framework that is non-threatening to Christian faith. Imagine the students learning what real science is all about, instead of being indoctrinated with pseudoscience. Imagine those students, inspired by what they have learned, going on to careers in science. Imagine those students, twenty years from now, standing up for a sound education in science for their own children.

I wonder if the NSCE would be interested in exploring such a venture?

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Julie Stahlhut:

“Evolution is just another one of Satan’s lies to get people to believe there is no God,” Laura Lopez, a mother of three from West Palm Beach who opposes the proposed new standards, told my colleague Marc Freeman.

One of the things I’ve never understood about fundamentalist Christianity is its caricature of God and Satan as squabbling, petulant six-year-olds.

Then again, since quite a few conflicts among adult humans seem to deteriorate into exactly the same thing, perhaps it’s just projection on a cosmic scale.

Stanton:

From the creationists I’ve spoken to face to face, most of them don’t want to go back to living in a time where the leading causes of death were disease, famine, diarrhea and speaking one’s mind (one of them just didn’t care).

Yes, that is noticeable. They will rail against science for hours. Then when you suggest they grab a spear and go live a hunter gatherer lifestyle in the outback, they never do so.

The creos want a 21st century lifestyle based on science. They also want to destroy the science that provides that standard of living. This could be called hypocracy but it is more like just plain stupidity.

We will know if they succeed when the lights go out and the death rate goes up.

Whoops, make that the NCSE, of course.

raven:

Stanton:

From the creationists I’ve spoken to face to face, most of them don’t want to go back to living in a time where the leading causes of death were disease, famine, diarrhea and speaking one’s mind (one of them just didn’t care).

Yes, that is noticeable. They will rail against science for hours. Then when you suggest they grab a spear and go live a hunter gatherer lifestyle in the outback, they never do so.

The creos want a 21st century lifestyle based on science. They also want to destroy the science that provides that standard of living. This could be called hypocracy but it is more like just plain stupidity.

We will know if they succeed when the lights go out and the death rate goes up.

It’s as if, when you interrupt them while they’re taking potshots at the goose that’s laying the golden eggs to tell them that once the goose is dead, we’re going to be poor again, they’ll just say, “don’t concern yourself with such a trivial detail”

Dennis, if there’s any way I can usefully be involved in the project you’re suggesting, let me know - I’d do so enthusiastically!

Dennis,

As a biology department chair at an evangelical Christian university, you are eminently qualified to be a Clergy Letter Project scientific consultant. There are nearly two dozen consultants at Canadian colleges and universities. Bear in mind, too, that’s it about being “on call” as a resource, as well as just publicly standing in solidarity with other scientists ready to aid the cause.

I suggest that you contact the head of the CLP, Michael Zimmerman ([Enable javascript to see this email address.]), who, like James McG, would also be a great resource for the Christian school/home-school materials you are proposing. It is definitely worth contacting NCSE about it as well. Good luck!

James & James,

Thanks for the input. I’ve emailed Michael Z. to offer my assistance with the CLP. James McG, thanks for the email.

If anyone else is interested in kicking around ideas for home school / Christian school materials, drop me a line, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

dennis.venema[at]twu.ca

Thanks for the post, Pim. It’s great to hear this balanced approach towards both science and Christianity. If more people took this reasonable approach (both theists and atheists) the whole war over creationism would be on its way to resolution. There’s a lot that needs to change among many theists (think Ken Ham) and many atheists (think Richard Dawkins). For all Dawkins knowledge of evolutionary biology, his ignorance and distaste for theology is driving a wedge between the worlds of science and faith. The same is most certainly true of people like Ken Ham, whose highly selective version of young-earth Christianity and antagonism towards true science are widening the chasm immensely.

The world needs a few more open-minded thinkers (regarding science and theology) – thinkers like Ian Barbour, John Polkinghorne, and from the other side, Michael Ruse.

A textbook project that would present mainstream science from a Christian perspective would be a great step toward producing the type of thinkers that make Christianity relevant in a scientific age. I remember the topic came up on the email discussion group of the American Scientific Affiliation a year or so ago. It would be a great idea indeed.

gabriel (Dennis R. Venema, Trinity Western University) Wrote:

Imagine the students learning what real science is all about, instead of being indoctrinated with pseudoscience.

Some thought might also be directed toward the techniques that pseudo-scientists use to gain the trust of people of faith. For example, Joseph W. Newman uses religion to attempt to gain credibility with certain naive audiences.

Newman is also discussed in Robert Park’s book, Voodoo Science, as are some other charlatans.

Then attention needs to be turned to other charlatans such as those at the Discovery Institute, at AiG, and the Institute for Creation Research. The tactics of these pseudo-scientists need to be analyzed and understood so that people can assess where truth is likely to reside and when dishonest tactics are being used to simulate truth.

The vetting process, called peer-review, in science needs to be understood as an intense crucible of skepticism that is a routine part of science instead of cruel psychological abuse brought to bear on people who don’t subscribe to “Darwinian dogma” or the “prevailing scientific world view”. If people want to be genuinely a part of science, they should understand that skepticism will be a major part of their life, and they will not be handled with kid gloves if they make controversial claims. They will be expected to defend and supply evidence, and they should not expect that responsibility will be dumped onto others.

This is an excellent review-and-summary post. Thanks.

David Buller:

For all Dawkins knowledge of evolutionary biology, his ignorance and distaste for theology is driving a wedge between the worlds of science and faith. The same is most certainly true of people like Ken Ham, whose highly selective version of young-earth Christianity and antagonism towards true science are widening the chasm immensely.

I suspect that without the strident proselytizing of people like Ham (“Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations” whether they want to be or not), there would be no motivation for people like Dawkins.

Bill Gascoyne -

I suspect that without the strident proselytizing of people like Ham (“Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations” whether they want to be or not), there would be no motivation for people like Dawkins.

I partly agree with, yet this is the intellectual bone that I have to pick with Dawkins.

If he has a problem with bad behaviors, which could affect him, he should criticize those behaviors directly. Some bad behaviors are associated with religion, but many religious behaviors are harmless, and many harmful behaviors are not in any way religious.

The problem with the creationist woman described above is that she is an advocate of violating everyone else’s constitutional rights, and harming science education. The problem is not that she is “religious”. Some non-religious people would advocate similar rights-violating and harmful changes in public school curricula, albeit for different reasons (eg holocaust revisionism etc, etc, etc). Many religious people defend strong science education.

The problem is not even that she is a “creationist” in belief. It is that she is an active proponent of bad policy. There are a fair number of traditional sects which are heavily religious, and officially creationist, yet which do not get involved in school curriculum politics. I wish that they would change their beliefs to non-denial of science, of course, but this is a free country, and until they do something that impacts me or my fellow citizens in a relevant way, their private beliefs are not my business.

Yes, it’s relevant to note the religious underpinnings of her particular bad behavior, because this makes its unconstitutional nature especially clear, given the particular legal structure of the United States. But the problem is the bad behavior, not the ill-defined quality of “religiousness”, and in my view, that’s what we should focus on.

(A completely separate issue is whether every single religious belief whatsoever is somehow factually wrong, and should be opposed for that reason, regardless of the adherents’ behavior. It is everyone’s right to engage in that dispute. It is a dispute I have little interest in personally, but far more importantly, it is a dispute which is surely beyond the purview of science.)

I must confess that I’m still looking for “The God Delusion” in paperback, but from what Dawkins I’ve read, I think part of his complaint has to do with the fact that society seems to give freer rein to such bad behavior if it is motivated by religion than if it is motivated by something else. Thus the attack is on the behavior indirectly via that which seems to persuade society to tolerate it.

They get these opinions from reading the “primary literature” (that is, Jack Chick tracts). I remember coming across a “Christian” graphic novel that revealed that evolution was dreamed up by Satan and his minions at the Tower of Babel.

gabriel (Dennis R. Venema, Trinity Western University):

Imagine a scenario where a concerned, educated parent at a Christian school could point to Christian educational materials that employ sound evolutionary science - science vetted and approved by secular institutions, but presented in a framework that is non-threatening to Christian faith.

While the sentiments expressed seem noble, the flaw here is that science cannot be *made* nonthreatening to any faith. If a religious belief is structured in such a way that scientific explanation contradict and threaten it, then it’s not science’s responsibility to reformat.

Science and faith can only coexist without conflict if the faith-based beliefs are flexible enough to accomodate scientific discovery. It’s not the science that needs to adjust, it’s the faith.

Bill Gascoyne: I must confess that I’m still looking for “The God Delusion” in paperback,

Saw it Costco 2 weeks back at 9.99$

Ravilyn Sanders:

Bill Gascoyne: I must confess that I’m still looking for “The God Delusion” in paperback,

Saw it [at] Costco 2 weeks back at 9.99$

I had heard it was coming out in January. I haven’t been looking very hard, I guess.

Bill Gascoyne:

David Buller:

For all Dawkins knowledge of evolutionary biology, his ignorance and distaste for theology is driving a wedge between the worlds of science and faith. The same is most certainly true of people like Ken Ham, whose highly selective version of young-earth Christianity and antagonism towards true science are widening the chasm immensely.

I suspect that without the strident proselytizing of people like Ham (“Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations” whether they want to be or not), there would be no motivation for people like Dawkins.

hmmm…would you not consider “The God Delusion” “strident proselytizing”? Frankly, when it comes to tactics (misrepresenting the other side, stawmen, making the worst look like the norm) I really don’t see a difference between the two Fundamentalists.

By the way, an equally correct (and more modern) translation of Matthew 28:18 there would read “go and teach all nations.” Just the same, neither translation advocates forcing people to convert – neither does the rest of Jesus’ teaching.

David Buller:

hmmm…would you not consider “The God Delusion” “strident proselytizing”?

As I say, I have not yet read it. My speculation was with regard to which is a response to which, not which is more guilty of what. I think we can agree that Christian proselytizing came first.

Frankly, when it comes to tactics (misrepresenting the other side, stawmen, making the worst look like the norm) I really don’t see a difference between the two Fundamentalists.

I have no reason to disagree with you.

By the way, an equally correct (and more modern) translation of Matthew 28:18 there would read “go and teach all nations.”

I was recalling a benediction I heard many times in my youth.

Just the same, neither translation advocates forcing people to convert – neither does the rest of Jesus’ teaching.

I would agree with your interpretation. I confess that the added emphasis was mine, and was my somewhat facetious explanation for the louder-than-words actions I have seen from Christians who do not seem to agree with our mutual interpretation of the passage in question.

Stanton:

Paul has refused to give any evidence

Truth does not hurt: typos hurt.

Actually, Paul, please provide us with your definition of science. Specifically, what are the criteria for distinguishing between science & non-science?

This should be entertaining…

A medieval scholastic (FL’ish) argument that proves any god is less than nothing.

a. God is great. In fact, god is greater than anything we can conceive.

b. Infinity is the greatest thing we can conceive.

c. I = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + … , is an infinite sum that adds up to infinity.

d. 2I is greater than infinity, therefore 2I is G = god.

e. 2I = 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + …

f. Thus 2I = -1 + (1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 +… )

g. Thus 2I = -1 + I

h. Subtracting I from both sides we get I = -1 which is less than nothing.

i. Thus the greatest thing of which we can conceive is less than nothing.

j. But 2I = G = -2 which is even less than nothing.

k. Thus G is less than anything we can conceive.

l. But wait; 4I= 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + … is greater than 2I = G

m. There is another, greater, god!

n. 4I = -1 – 2 + (1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + … )

o. 4I = - 3 + I

p. Therefore I = -1 as before

q. Therefore 4I = - 4 which is even less than nothing than is G.

r. Similarly 5I = -5, 6I = - 6, and so on.

s. Thus, the greater the god, the less than nothing it is.

You prove conclusively to all qualified biologists that it does!

The situation isn’t symmetric, you of poor reasoning skills!

Evolution is an accepted biological theory, comprising 150 years worth of supporting facts. And it is your task to show for biologists that their theory doesn’t work - you made the claim.

I note that you can’t.

You prove conclusively …

Science proves nothing whatsoever. It only confirms or disconfirms to a great or lesser degree, depending upon the weight of the evidence.

The modern theory of biological evolution is decisively confirmed by the weight of the evidence.

Stacy S.:

Something for FL to ponder : The Catholic Church is exactly the same today as it was when Jesus Christ himself introduced into the world.

Jesus himself, being the son of God and all, is perfection. Do you think he would introduce something that is not perfect?

How dare you claim that Catholics are not true Christians …..

“A - Hole” :-)

Stacy S.: You got it Brother. The Bible was around long before Jesus Christ. Jesus INTERPRETED the Bible (explained it) to his followers.

Where on earth are you guys getting your early Christian and Bible history? Arguably, there was no Catholic church until the Council of Nicea. There certainly wasn’t a Christian Bible – that is an identifiable collection of defined books – until well into the 5th century, and the Protestant Bible (which differs substantially from the Catholic Bible) didn’t exist until after Martin Luther’s escapade with hammer and nails. I’ll have to go home to get you the specifics, but in the New Testament, Jesus quotes scripture that isn’t in the Bible! How can that be? Well, because even the Old Testament wasn’t cannon at the time. The bottom line is that anyone who believes the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, literal, complete word of God should be branded a heretic. Even if one grants devine inspiration when the Word was first given to human kind (and that constitutes a major case of special pleading), every subsequent step, every copy – whether by scribes or presses –, every translation, every revision was at the hands of human kind. Look inside the front cover. Do you see God’s name there, or the name of some printing house in Chicago, or London, or Waco, Texas? How fundagelicals maintain this Biblical literalism without seeing how idolatrous and heretical it is, is simply astounding.

My $0.02

MattusMaximus Wrote:

Actually, Paul, please provide us with your definition of science. Specifically, what are the criteria for distinguishing between science & non-science?

This should be entertaining…

I have yet to meet a fundamentalist who is not grotesquely screwed up in his/her education. Every moment of their existence is devoted to corrupting information to fit their dogma.

I suspect that the reason they show up here is to practice their bible argument shtick. They don’t care if it makes any sense to anyone outside their cult; all it has to do is bamboozle rubes and children in their church. Then they can be given some authority by their religious handlers to screw up the learning of children. If the shtick is air-tight enough, and if enough fear can be generated so that inconsistencies are never pursued, then one is well on the way to becoming a leader in the cult.

Where better to practice than here on Panda’s Thumb where they can give the appearance of confounding a whole army of “evilutionists”. It’s the fantasy of all fundamentalist cultists to demonstrate to their followers that they are magnificent warriors for their god. It gains them the worship, adulation and power they crave.

A successful strategy seems to be to point out how very un-Christ-like their behaviour is.

fnxtr:

A successful strategy seems to be to point out how very un-Christ-like their behaviour is.

One would think so, but, it seems that the preferred counter-counter strategy for Creationists when confronted with the fact that lying/cheating/bullying for Jesus is un-Christ-like behavior is to stick their fingers into their own ears and pretend nothing is said, or, in the case of blogs and other written media, like Panda’s Thumb, stick their fingers into their own eyes and pretend nothing is typed.

EoRaptor013:

My $0.02

Many good points in your post about Biblical and early Christian history. Unfortunately, too many Christians are just as ignorant of the history of their own religion and holy books as they are of modern science. Rather than study their own religion in its historical context, far too many simply prefer to make up history like they make up science.

FYI, a great book which explores some of these issues (at least in terms of the New Testament) is Dr. Bart Ehrmans’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

I would recommend reading that book, plus pretty much anything by Ehrman, to anyone who is interested in a scholarly & objective reading of the Bible and the history of Christianity.

Mike Elzinga:

It’s the fantasy of all fundamentalist cultists to demonstrate to their followers that they are magnificent warriors for their god. It gains them the worship, adulation and power they crave.

Oh, and don’t forget money. Even though their God is supposedly all-powerful, apparently He always needs money - and He wants them to collect it for them ;)

MattusMaximus:

EoRaptor013:

My $0.02

Many good points in your post about Biblical and early Christian history. Unfortunately, too many Christians are just as ignorant of the history of their own religion and holy books as they are of modern science. Rather than study their own religion in its historical context, far too many simply prefer to make up history like they make up science.

FYI, a great book which explores some of these issues (at least in terms of the New Testament) is Dr. Bart Ehrmans’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

I would recommend reading that book, plus pretty much anything by Ehrman, to anyone who is interested in a scholarly & objective reading of the Bible and the history of Christianity.

Reading it now. Lost Christianities is also an excellent read.

@ EoRaptor013 - You are right - I misspoke - I meant to say OT (you know, the one Jesus was familiar with and was referring - but I think you knew that ) It still doesn’t change the fact that he did not take the Creation account literally (which is the point I was trying to make) As far as the Catholic Church - same thing goes here - it wasn’t CALLED the Catholic Church but if you check the lineage, you will find that it goes directly from Jesus to St. Peter to Victor being Bishops of Rome and etc… until they finally decided to call the Bishop “Pope”. But it is the same church that Jesus established when he was 33.

” The Roman Catholic Church The Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious denomination of Christianity with over one billion members. It claims that it is both organizationally and doctrinally the original Christian Church, founded by Jesus Christ. It also claims unbroken Apostolic Succession from St. Peter and the other Apostles. It is both the largest and the oldest continuously operating institution in existence. “

Source - http://www.spaceandmotion.com/relig[…]c-church.htm

Stacy S.:

@ EoRaptor013 - You are right - I misspoke - I meant to say OT (you know, the one Jesus was familiar with and was referring - but I think you knew that ) It still doesn’t change the fact that he did not take the Creation account literally (which is the point I was trying to make) As far as the Catholic Church - same thing goes here - it wasn’t CALLED the Catholic Church but if you check the lineage, you will find that it goes directly from Jesus to St. Peter to Victor being Bishops of Rome and etc… until they finally decided to call the Bishop “Pope”. But it is the same church that Jesus established when he was 33.

You realize there was a great deal of… tension… between Peter and Paul? By Jesus’s own words (at least as recorded in the NT) his message was for Jews only; his sop to us gentiles was that even a dog would receive the crumbs dropped beneath the master’s table. So, yeah, I suppose RC doctrine may be to trace an unbroken line from Peter to Benedict XVI, but it was Paul who brought gentiles into the fold, thus laying the true foundation for the RC church. Further, before Constantine, there was no foregone conclusion that the church in Rome would become the orthodoxy of the Western world. Looking at the Christian churches in the 1st - 3rd centuries, at least, no one could then predict which flavor of Christianity would become orthodox. As evolution is always, the human religious world back then was overflowing with contingency. A butterfly flapping it’s wings on the Milvian Bridge in 312 CE might well have lead to a completely different outcome.

And one last note, as I said, Jesus quoted, as scripture, passages that appear nowhere in the Bible, old or new. Not even the OT was a done deal in the early 1st Century.

When Torbjörn challenged Paul to back up his statement that evolution fails to be scientific, Paul responded thusly:

Paul: Torbjorn,

You prove conclusively to all qualified biologists that it does! Bet you can’t. Other than dismiss those with different opinions on the same data as either ignorant, stupid or plain evil. Truth hurts eh?

Paul, you (deliberately?) seem to miss the point here. The entire (100.00% to 5 sig. fig.s) science community accepts that evolution happened and that evolutionary theory is good science. While this does not, by itself, prove that evolutionary theory is true, you were the one asserting that evolutionary theory is not science.

You made the assertion - the burden of proof is therefore yours.

Trying to shift the burden of proof back to (in this case) Torbjörn) suggests the following possibilities:
(1) That you know damn well that you cannot back up your words with facts and hence were lying;
(2) You believe what you claim, but you are intellectually incapable of backing it up in any meaningful way;
(3) You believe that you have evidence that refutes evolutionary theory but are too scared of criticism to share it with anyone; or
(4) That you honestly believe there exists evidence to counter evolutionary theory but are too lazy to go and find it (BTW, none of the DI fellows has ever actually provided evidence to support ID - it is all arm-waving, wishful thinking and logical fallacies).

I shall ignore (1) because if it is correct, you will ignore anything I write that you dislike.

If (2) is correct, you could at least have the honesty to respect the expertise of the experts in biological scioences.

If (3) is correct, then (a) you are right to expect criticism, but (b) you should be just as critical of the evidence you have as anyone else could ever be. You have made a statement that contrdicts modern science, and have thus taken up the burden of proof. If you can critically evaluate your evidence in the context of what is already known to science, and it still convinces you that MET is wrong, then you can have confidence that at least some scientists will also accept it.

If (4) is correct, then there is a simple answer - GOYA. Get out there and find it.

Of course, all of these scenarios presuppose that you have taken the trouble to acquire an understanding of modern evolutionary theory (MET) in the first place.

Given that your comment reiterates a typical creationist weasel tactic, I doubt very much that you actually do understand MET.

EoRaptor013:

Stacy S.:

@ EoRaptor013 - You are right - I misspoke - I meant to say OT (you know, the one Jesus was familiar with and was referring - but I think you knew that ) It still doesn’t change the fact that he did not take the Creation account literally (which is the point I was trying to make) As far as the Catholic Church - same thing goes here - it wasn’t CALLED the Catholic Church but if you check the lineage, you will find that it goes directly from Jesus to St. Peter to Victor being Bishops of Rome and etc… until they finally decided to call the Bishop “Pope”. But it is the same church that Jesus established when he was 33.

You realize there was a great deal of… tension… between Peter and Paul? By Jesus’s own words (at least as recorded in the NT) his message was for Jews only; his sop to us gentiles was that even a dog would receive the crumbs dropped beneath the master’s table. So, yeah, I suppose RC doctrine may be to trace an unbroken line from Peter to Benedict XVI, but it was Paul who brought gentiles into the fold, thus laying the true foundation for the RC church. Further, before Constantine, there was no foregone conclusion that the church in Rome would become the orthodoxy of the Western world. Looking at the Christian churches in the 1st - 3rd centuries, at least, no one could then predict which flavor of Christianity would become orthodox. As evolution is always, the human religious world back then was overflowing with contingency. A butterfly flapping it’s wings on the Milvian Bridge in 312 CE might well have lead to a completely different outcome.

And one last note, as I said, Jesus quoted, as scripture, passages that appear nowhere in the Bible, old or new. Not even the OT was a done deal in the early 1st Century.

I think you are missing my point - it’s probably my fault for not being more clear - So let me just ask you this … Do you think Jesus accepted Genesis literally?

If yes … see my comment #143856

If no … then we are in agreement :-)

Forgive me if this has been covered already:

FL said:

…if you choose to “Eject the notion that the Bible is accurate”, then not only do you get to throw out the Creation account, you also get to throw out Christ’s Atonement and Christ’s Resurrection on the very same basis. Then you’re not a Christian anymore (if you ever were one in the first place.)

Well, you COULD if you were so disposed but that’s not the point. The point is that you can be a Christian and not believe the Bible is accurate. That should be obvious. Belief that Christ is the risen God is the only requirement to be a Christian.

When you start off by ejecting the notion that the Bible is accurate, that would negatively affect ALL historical claims within the Bible.

Uh huh…So the fact that Atlas Shrugged is fiction means that New York doesn’t exist? A fictional story can have factual historical elements, as should be obvious. Jerusalum exists whether the Bible is true or not, and Jesus was the faithfully executed son of the One True God ™ whether the Bible is true or not.

So if the idea is to show that “Christianity and evolution can coexist side-by-side just dandy”, ScienceAvenger has flat-out failed to do so. In fact, he’s acheived the opposite. His specific way of viewing the Bible actually CONFIRMS that evolution is NOT compatible with Christianity, contrary to his original statement.

Kudos to whoever said FL worships the Bible and not Jesus. You have been confirmed.

I love pandas and they are so cute but they are wild and sometimes dangerous heard that they are mean to people

A number my favorite videos were made like that by Jennifer Lopez. How could i say that? Well, she looks good, that’s a single thing. But she’s tough and real, and I feel her enthusiasm. Selena, The Cell, The Wedding Planner, Angel Eyes, Enough, and Maid in Manhattan. Okay, I’m a guy and I like guy movies – science fiction, action. You realize, the tough stuff. Well, she’s that and far more. My hat’s off to this one extremely talented lady. May well her career carry on growing.

I’ll send you an email of some info that may help

I’m going to save this as inspiration and send visitors from my lens. I have put up additional new ideas too, so I’ll include a link to this article (if OK) on my site?

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 19, 2008 10:25 AM.

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