Why it needed saying, UK style

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By Paul S. Braterman
British Centre for Science Education

Michael Gove, UK Education Secretary, has said in as many words that “teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact.” This is progress. The existing curriculum guidelines stated only that creationism and ID should not be taught as science, leaving room for them to be advanced as philosophical or religious doctrines (in the UK, there is no separation of Church and State). In any case, the publicly funded “Free Schools” now being set up are not constrained by the language of the curriculum. Some half-dozen Evangelical church schools with pro-creationism policies have applied for Free School status. We hope, in the light of the Secretary’s words, that these applications will now be rejected.

More below the fold…

“The education secretary is crystal clear that teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact.” (Statement from Department for Education, responsible for education in England). This in response to a letter and memorandum here (this material may be freely copied) from the British Centre for Science Education, a collaborative effort but sent to him (with copies to as many other interested parties as we could think of) over my signature.

Why did this simple statement make the headlines of the Guardian? (Note that education is devolved; “England” here is not shorthand for “United Kingdom”.) Why was it so difficult to obtain this statement of the obvious, and why is it so important to have done so? For readers in the US in particular to understand this, we need to compare the legal framework governing education, and the very different constitutional approaches to religion, in the two countries.

In the US, education is controlled at a variety of levels. Large numbers of Americans reject evolution in favour of various kinds of Bible-inspired creationism, leading as most readers will know to the political exploitation of this issue, especially by Republicans from Reagan onwards. So we have “teach the controversy” or “academic freedom” bills, the latest in a long line of anti-evolution measures at the local or State level. However, all such measures have been thwarted in the courts by defenders of science, invoking the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment. A string of court cases, from McLean v Arkansas through Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, have established that creationism and its Intelligently Designed offshoots are, as far as the law is concerned, religious in nature, and that as a result they have no place in the publicly funded school system. So the strategy of creationists in the US has been to present their material as science, the counter-strategy has been to emphasise the connections to religion, and the matter is in the last resort one for the courts. This strategy has so far proved formally successful, although the reality is that more than half of all US biology teachers avoid a firm commitment to evolution in the classroom, as a result of their own poor grounding in the subject, and their awareness of religiously motivated opposition (From M. B. Berkman, E. Plutzer. Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom. Science, 2011; 331 (6016): 404).

The situation in the United Kingdom is almost a mirror image of that in the US. Outside Northern Ireland at least, creationism is confined to a small minority of the population. These, however, make no bones about the fact that their creationist beliefs are directly linked to the biblical text, and, even more fundamentally, to a particular evangelical view of the Fall and Redemption of humankind. One particular group of literalist Evangelical churches have established about 40 schools in England, outside the publicly funded system, in which all subjects are taught from a Christian point of view, as these churches understand the term. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of students within these schools come to believe in the historical validity of the Bible, with three-quarters of the students thinking that yes, there really was a worldwide flood, while two thirds of the remainder aren’t sure.

The US Constitution was crafted in deliberate contrast to that of the UK, where, so far from there being a separation of church and state, the Church of England is England’s established church, with the Sovereign at its head (harking back to Henry VIII; the situation is different in other parts of the UK). Given the nature of our constitutional monarchy, this means that the person with the last word on who should be head of this Church is the Prime Minister of the day, who may of course belong to any faith or none. That last remark is not merely rhetorical. In contrast to the US, religious scepticism is no bar to election, and of the three main parties, two (Labour and the Liberal Democrats) are led by avowed unbelievers, while David Cameron’s Christianity is thought to be at best lukewarm. There are further absurdities and paradoxes. No potential heir to the throne is allowed to marry a Catholic (but atheists, pagans, Seventh-day Adventists, and Jedi-worshippers are okay). 26 seats in the House of Lords are reserved for Church of England bishops, with, by custom, representation for other major religious groups, and while the powers of the House of Lords are severely limited, this has led on occasion to the rewording of legislation to suit their Reverences’ pleasing.

The Labour administration under Tony Blair established a system of Academies, whose sponsors had to find 10% of initial capital expenses, in return for minimum government interference, and full government funding of running costs. These Academies were, however, required to adhere to the national curriculum. This curriculum required the teaching of evolution, but said nothing about creationism. After a while, it came to light that some schools, sponsored by an evangelically minded used car dealer (I am not making this up), were teaching creationism as the truth, and telling their students that evolution was bogus but had to be studied for exam purposes. In response to the resulting public outcry, the Department for Education issued guidance stating that creationism and Intelligent Design were not scientific theories, and should not be taught as science. Notice, of course, that this left room (and was intended to; Tony Blair described himself as a friend to all “people of faith”) for them to be taught as sound philosophical or religious doctrine. Hence the mirror image situation that I described. In the US, the creationists pretend that creationism is science, and keeping them out of the classroom depends on convincing the courts that it is really religion. In the UK, creationism can be kept out of the school labs because of its lack of scientific merit, but, until the ministerial statement, could still be inculcating elsewhere in the school as a matter of religious belief. (Yes, English schools, especially those associated with a particular denomination, are allowed to teach a particular religion as true.)

May 2010, and the collapse of public confidence in Labour led to the return of a government dominated by a Conservative party with a strong ideological objection to “government interference,” even in such matters as the provision of public education, by definition a government responsibility. This has led them to invite proposals to run what they have called “Free Schools”. After all, who could object to freedom? These will be completely government funded, subject to inspection, and required to follow a broad and balanced curriculum, but will not require any start-up contribution from their organisers and will not need to follow the national curriculum. One organisation that has applied to run such a school is the Everyday Champions Church. This Church is everything that you might fear from such a name. Evangelical, Pentecostal, talking in tongues, biblical literal infallibility, a social hub with its own Starbucks, the lot. Hard on their heels are around five schools from an organisation calling itself the Christian Schools Trust, which includes 40 or so schools run by a loose coalition of evangelical churches. At present, CST schools are generally very small, and dependent on student fees, but Free School status would remove this financial constraint (small irony; the apostles of market forces will have liberated them from the discipline of the market), as well as, by implication, validating their programs.

What will those programs be like? Regarding Everyday Champions, I cannot do better than quote Pastor Morgan himself: “Creationism will be embodied as a belief at Everyday Champions Academy, but will not be taught in the sciences. Similarly, evolution will be taught as a theory. We believe children should have a broad knowledge of all theories in order that they can make informed choice.” In case there is any doubt as to the meaning of “all theories”, someone called John Harris (qualifications unknown), who lectures on these matters at the church and runs the website http://www.creationscience.co.uk/, has enlightened us both on his website and in an ongoing discussion thread in the Times Education Supplement. There you will learn that the Grand Canyon was carved out by Noah’s flood, that it is an open question when (or indeed if) dinosaurs became extinct, that the flood was able to cover the mountains because the mountains, some 5000 years ago, had not yet attained their present height, and that we have “Uneducated, dogmatic, close minded, humanistic, evolutionists trying to impose their false religion on mankind! What’s worse, is that they deceitfully call it SCIENCE. It is nothing but a religious worldview that has NOTHING to offer to science or humanity other than lies.” My own contribution to the TES thread drew this no doubt well merited rebuke, “Sorry, I tried to ignore PaulBraterman comments about proof of evolution but I just couldn’t. I cannot help not react to LIES! There ought to be a law against those who mislead and deceive other people.”

The Christian Schools Trust, we should be clear, is formally committed to the teaching of evolution. Indeed, their statement on how they propose to do this (Sylvia Baker, PhD Thesis in education, Warwick University, 2009, Appendix 3, available here) is a model of how to teach material in such a way that it will not be believed. A false dichotomy is presented between Christianity and evolution, and a parade of prominent pre-Darwinians (including Newton!) presented as Christian creationist role models. The overwhelming pro-evolution consensus among scientists is diminished to “many, perhaps most”. Perhaps, indeed. The science itself is misrepresented, although we cannot tell whether this is informed strategy, or simply a failure of understanding. Thus evolution is said to ascribe change to the operation of chance, a demonstrable impossibility, whereas the reality is that selection is what drives change, with chance mutations merely providing fresh material for selection to work on. Evolution is also described in morally repugnant terms, as requiring “the deaths of countless billions of mutants.” So it does, since, given the error rate in replication, all of us are mutants, and countless billions have died. Finally, CST prides itself on the fact that its graduates are “surprised at the ignorance, on this topic, of their peers who have been educated in a secular context.” This ignorance consists, evidently, in their being unaware of the existence of a non-existent controversy.

CST is politically savvy and well-connected. One of its leading spirits, Sylvia Baker, even serves on the body that examines faith schools on behalf of the schools inspectorate. We strongly suspect that CST is also responsible for a website, The World Around Us, that describes itself, with no mention of creationism, as an educational resource. Students using this resource will indeed learn about evolution and, at the same time, geology. They will learn about polonium halos as evidence for sudden creation, Baumgardner’s background carbon-14 as proof of the youthfulness of coal deposits, flash floods as evidence of catastrophism, the cross-linked web of life as proof of its very opposite, separate creation, the lot. (Don’t take my word for it, visit the site, but remember to take your blood pressure medication first.) This site claims to be presenting the latest scientific developments, and of course does not mention its own creationist nature. Nonetheless, it is impossible to conceal the connections between the CST schools and the churches who run them, biblical literalists all of them, adhering to a theodicy that blames human sinfulness for the loss of the Edenic paradise. This, even more strongly than the plain word of Genesis, requires belief in the historicity of Noah’s flood, Adam’s rib, and a lost golden age. A time when the glory of God’s work was still untarnished, when human disobedience had not yet brought sin and death into the world, and when lions were vegetarians.

Such are the doctrines of the would-be organisers of this round of Free Schools. So, for this reason, even more importance may attach to the second sentence of the ministerial statement, than to the first, with which I opened this piece : “Ministers have said they will not accept any proposal where there are concerns about the people behind the project.”

158 Comments

One of the instructional techniques I have used over the years in order to disabuse people of ID/creationist “concepts in science” is to contrast those “concepts” with what science actually says.

If there is any kind of “bright side” to having to deal with ID/creationist misconceptions, it might be their use as a foil against which to clarify the real concepts in science.

I would hasten to say, however, that I would not do this unless prompted by a student’s misconceptions that have been derived from ID/creationism. One can teach scientific concepts and iron out misconceptions without having to ship in all that crap from the ID/creationists.

But I have often suspected that the influence of ID/creationism on any school curriculum is a sort of “canary in a coalmine” warning that the real science is not very well taught in the school system.

That has implications not only for hiring practices, the availability of quality teachers, and the general working conditions for teachers in any particular community, but it may also suggest that misconceptions are not being addressed adequately in the college and university courses that prepare students to teach.

The best antidote to ID/creationist junk science is a solid conceptual understanding of real science. That contrast with ID/creationism makes the ID/creationists and their political activities look that much stupider.

Good grief.

Cue FL’s “Christianity is nincompoopable incompatible with evolution” in 3…2…1…

Cue FL’s “Christianity is nincompoopable incompatible with evolution” in 3…2…1…

Thanks, Robin, for your invitation to discuss the incompatibility of evolution and Christianity with specific reference to Sylvia Baker’s PDF paper (or, more accurately, PDF book.)

I’m still checking out Baker’s paper, trying to find out where Baker offers any rational support for Paul Braterman’s claim:

A false dichotomy is presented between Christianity and evolution…

If you happen to see which page(s) explains and defends that specific “false dichotomy” claim, please mention the page numbers.

Thanks in advance!

FL

FL said:

Cue FL’s “Christianity is nincompoopable incompatible with evolution” in 3…2…1…

Thanks, Robin, for your invitation to discuss the incompatibility of evolution and Christianity with specific reference to Sylvia Baker’s PDF paper (or, more accurately, PDF book.)

I’m still checking out Baker’s paper, trying to find out where Baker offers any rational support for Paul Braterman’s claim:

A false dichotomy is presented between Christianity and evolution…

If you happen to see which page(s) explains and defends that specific “false dichotomy” claim, please mention the page numbers.

Thanks in advance!

FL

Why do you keep saying that Evolution is incompatible with Christianity, yet, keep refusing to explain why the last 3 Popes disagree with you, along with a very large majority of Christians world-wide? This suggests that either, a) your claim of Hell or Stupidity in Christ suggests that you want to decide who can and can’t go to Heaven, or b) your observations on theological matters are as utterly worthless as your inane lies about science.

Furthermore, why do you insist that Evolution is incompatible with Christianity, yet, also insist on using all of the products made available through the understanding of Evolution, including commercially grown food, vaccines, plastic, and petroleum products? To rail against Evolution, yet, permit yourself to use its products shows you to be a hypocrite. Like those TV mega-evangelists who rail and wail against the evil, soul-eating gays and lesbians, then spend all of their congregations’ tithings on male prostitutes.

Once again, FL: “incompatibility” between Christianity and evolution exists only in your mind and those of a few others, all of them fundamentalist bibliolators.

That “incompatibility” consists of your delusion that your personal list of the metaphors in Genesis is the only acceptable one; that you know perfectly the mind of God and the minds of the people who wrote it.

That is, you believe you have perfect knowledge, and that your authority is absolute. That’s it. That’s all of it. There’s nothing more.

Of course, to believe that, your hubris has to be monumental. In your own terms, you have grievously blasphemed by abrogating to yourself the attributes of God Almighty. If I were like you, a sectarian loon, I’d fear (unctuously, with secret rejoicing) for your soul.

Not even hubris like that will damn you in your own sense, unless God’s a monster. But it damns you (metaphorically!) here.

But by all means march on, FL. Demonstrate your towering arrogance for everyone to see. If there’s a God, and if He has purposes, it might be that you are fulfilling His for you: to act as a bad example.

FL said:

Cue FL’s “Christianity is nincompoopable incompatible with evolution” in 3…2…1…

Thanks, Robin, for your invitation to discuss the incompatibility of evolution and Christianity with specific reference to Sylvia Baker’s PDF paper (or, more accurately, PDF book.)

I’m still checking out Baker’s paper, trying to find out where Baker offers any rational support for Paul Braterman’s claim:

A false dichotomy is presented between Christianity and evolution…

If you happen to see which page(s) explains and defends that specific “false dichotomy” claim, please mention the page numbers.

Thanks in advance!

FL

You are so blind and bigoted that you cannot give any rational support for your own positions, let alone seek rational points from others.

I’ll ask you once more: If you are so sure Christianity and evolution are not compatible, why be a Christian? Because denying reality as you do is the ultimate hypocrisy.

Stanton said to the Foolish Liar:

Why do you keep saying that Evolution is incompatible with Christianity, yet, keep refusing to explain why the last 3 Popes disagree with you, along with a very large majority of Christians world-wide? This suggests that either, a) your claim of Hell or Stupidity in Christ suggests that you want to decide who can and can’t go to Heaven, or b) your observations on theological matters are as utterly worthless as your inane lies about science.

Furthermore, why do you insist that Evolution is incompatible with Christianity, yet, also insist on using all of the products made available through the understanding of Evolution, including commercially grown food, vaccines, plastic, and petroleum products? To rail against Evolution, yet, permit yourself to use its products shows you to be a hypocrite. Like those TV mega-evangelists who rail and wail against the evil, soul-eating gays and lesbians, then spend all of their congregations’ tithings on male prostitutes.

Because he is a pathological liar and blasphemer, like all others who claim the Bible is the infallible Word of God. He has no basis for this claim, just as there is no basis for believing the Earth is flat and at the center of the universe, beyond blindly held prejudices.

Maybe FL should join the Ku Klux Klan. They are just as stupid as him!

DH, you take him too seriously. He’s silly.

Dave Luckett said:

Of course, to believe that, your hubris has to be monumental. In your own terms, you have grievously blasphemed by abrogating to yourself the attributes of God Almighty. If I were like you, a sectarian loon, I’d fear (unctuously, with secret rejoicing) for your soul.

Not even hubris like that will damn you in your own sense, unless God’s a monster. But it damns you (metaphorically!) here.

According to FL’s own rants, he is either an apostate, or a liar drunk on imaginary power.

I mean, in one post, he ranted about how science classrooms are actually churches (and how Evolution is worshiped as a god there), but in another post, he also claimed to have taken science classes to learn about Evolution and Science.

And, as usual, FL refuses to admit which is supposed to be the falsehood.

But by all means march on, FL. Demonstrate your towering arrogance for everyone to see. If there’s a God, and if He has purposes, it might be that you are fulfilling His for you: to act as a bad example.

Yes, FL serves as an excellent example of a Bad Christian. Remember how his evil helped march nmgirl away from Jesus Christ, and how FL laughed about doing so?

Dale Husband said:

I’ll ask you once more: If you are so sure Christianity and evolution are not compatible, why be a Christian? Because denying reality as you do is the ultimate hypocrisy.

He wants power, and he thinks can achieve power by lying about having the ability to determine who can and can not go to Heaven.

Dale Husband said:

Maybe FL should join the Ku Klux Klan. They are just as stupid as him!

If FL’s claims of being African American are true, then that is, sadly, not an option for him (in one thread, he claimed that Evolution is the root of all racism, including the institution of slavery, while poo-pooing the role of the concept of “the Curse of Cain” had). Ironic, given as how the KKK are all Creationists, and have fought hard to prevent Evolution from being taught in schools in the southern United States.

That’s his opinion. let the people hear the facts and attacks on the facts and the processes of investigation and creationism will be content. Creationism can do in the schools what it does in the public right now. We make a case based on the same principals of investigation, save for YEC with a Genesis presumption, that any one does in anything. We say evolution is not a fact or proven fact and take it on. Just saying its a settled matter doesn’t make it so.

Again there is no such thing as a science. Science is just a word to indicate investigation of a high standard and so a high confidence in its conclusions. The investigation itself and its conclusions are challenged , very well, by creationism(s). Words don’t prove anything. If evolution etc is a fact then why the fear of questioning it in public education like in the public period??? Its good that once again the increasing pressure, even in Britannia , forces a establishment to dig its heels. This is making a great movie.

Robert Byers, there are no facts that support Creationism, and you are a moron to claim that “there is no such thing as a science.”

By what process do you think the Internet or plastic were invented through? Magic?

And it is totally unreasonable to challenge the teaching of science simply because you are a religious bigot who worships stupidity.

Dave Luckett said: Once again, FL: “incompatibility” between Christianity and evolution exists only in your mind and those of a few others, all of them fundamentalist bibliolators.

The incompatibility between Floyd’s and Robert’s narrow fundamentalist Protestant brand of Christianity and evolution exists because evolution says (in so many words) Adam and Eve didn’t actually exist – which means there’s no such thing as “Original Sin” – which means Jesus died for a fairy tale that wasn’t true.

For Jesus’ sacrifice to be meaningful, Original Sin has to exist, which means Adam and Eve had to exist - which means evolution must be false.

Therefore all “good” Christians (Floyd, Robert, Ham, Hovind, Dembski, et al) must oppose evolution.

Right, Floyd? Right, Robert?

It doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with science. It’s all about religion, specifically Floyd’s and Robert’s narrow fundamentalist interpretation of religion.

Paul Burnett said:

For Jesus’ sacrifice to be meaningful, Original Sin has to exist, which means Adam and Eve had to exist - which means evolution must be false.

Therefore all “good” Christians (Floyd, Robert, Ham, Hovind, Dembski, et al) must oppose evolution.

And they are free to oppose it through any means possible, preferably through lies, slander, fomenting strife, perpetuating stupidity in place of piety and intelligence, threats and murder.

Right, Floyd? Right, Robert?

Those two do it all the time.

It doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with science. It’s all about religion, specifically Floyd’s and Robert’s narrow fundamentalist interpretation of religion.

FL and Robert Byers pride themselves on being so bigotedly stupid that they can not tell the difference between science and religion.

I mean, look at Byers’ moronic claim that “there is no such thing as science.”

They pride themselves about how stupid they are, and yet, when their stupidity is pointed out to them in gory detail, they whine about how mean everyone is for not worshiping their stupidity.

Paul Burnett said: The incompatibility between Floyd’s and Robert’s narrow fundamentalist Protestant brand of Christianity and evolution exists…

I posted the above and then dropped over to Pharyngula and found a link to http://www.plosone.org/article/info[…]pone.0017349 - “Death and Science: The Existential Underpinnings of Belief in Intelligent Design and Discomfort with Evolution” - “The present research examined the psychological motives underlying widespread support for intelligent design theory (sic), a purportedly scientific theory that lacks any scientific evidence; and antagonism toward evolutionary theory, a theory supported by a large body of scientific evidence.

This appears to be an excellent, if long, article. I wonder what Floyd and Byers and IBIG will make of it. I would solicit your input, guys.

Robert Byers said:

That’s his opinion. let the people hear the facts and attacks on the facts and the processes of investigation and creationism will be content. Creationism can do in the schools what it does in the public right now. We make a case based on the same principals of investigation, save for YEC with a Genesis presumption, that any one does in anything. We say evolution is not a fact or proven fact and take it on. Just saying its a settled matter doesn’t make it so.

Again there is no such thing as a science. Science is just a word to indicate investigation of a high standard and so a high confidence in its conclusions. The investigation itself and its conclusions are challenged , very well, by creationism(s). Words don’t prove anything. If evolution etc is a fact then why the fear of questioning it in public education like in the public period??? Its good that once again the increasing pressure, even in Britannia , forces a establishment to dig its heels. This is making a great movie.

Ah, Byers. OK, I’m all for it. Let’s teach the kids all about creationism. All the inaccuracies, the lying, the sleazy deception, the fact that EVERY claim of YEC has been falsified, with all the details of how the creationists claims aren’t just wrong, but shockingly ignorant. Then we can go through and teach the kids the exact details on how creationists quote mine, misrepresent claims, omit data, and on and on and on. Then of course point out that it all is in the name of Jesus. It will serve as a nice counterpoint to underscore what is and is not science, and also illustrate how ideology often makes people distort the world to support their views. That should allow the kids to make an informed choice about the truth of the Bible and the integrity of Creationist Christians. Obviously, you are all for it, right?

Paul Burnett said:

The incompatibility between Floyd’s and Robert’s narrow fundamentalist Protestant brand of Christianity and evolution exists because evolution says (in so many words) Adam and Eve didn’t actually exist – which means there’s no such thing as “Original Sin” – which means Jesus died for a fairy tale that wasn’t true.

For Jesus’ sacrifice to be meaningful, Original Sin has to exist, which means Adam and Eve had to exist - which means evolution must be false.

Therefore all “good” Christians (Floyd, Robert, Ham, Hovind, Dembski, et al) must oppose evolution.

Right, Floyd? Right, Robert?

It doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with science. It’s all about religion, specifically Floyd’s and Robert’s narrow fundamentalist interpretation of religion.

Of course it’s all about their narrow fundamentalist interpretation of religion. It was never about anything else. You’re absolutely right.

But that narrow fundamentalist interpretation of religion relies not only on a particular interpretation of text, but also on an underlying assumption: that that interpretation, their interpretation, is the only possible one consistent with Christianity. It isn’t, and it is worth spelling out, for Christians, why it isn’t.

(I should stipulate here that I no more subscribe to the following analysis than I do to FL’s interpretation of scripture. I am NOT arguing that the following is true, only that it is consistent with Christian doctrine.)

Consider an alternative interpretation of text, simply by recognising an obvious metaphor.

Adam and Eve are the personification - a common, indeed universal literary device - of humanity itself, which at some point became self-conscious, and able to empathise - and hence comprehend general welfare, not only personal gratification. (The point in time when this first occurred, where in our evolution it happened, is an interesting question, but irrelevant here.)

Note that A & E recognised their nakedness at the same time as they gained the understanding of good and evil - a neat and powerful device. The writer of Genesis is enunciating a great truth: that human beings are, so far as we know, uniquely able to reflect on their own actions, which automatically carries with it the responsibility for doing it. But nothing that humans do is perfect. Neither is that.

“Original sin” consists, therefore, not of some specific act performed by some specific person or persons in the remote past for which we must all pay forever, unless redeemed. Indeed, to say that is to accuse God of monstrous injustice.

No, it consists of the capacity to sin which we all fulfill. Adam is everyman. Every day we sin, and we would know what we do if we would perfectly examine ourselves, but we can do nothing perfectly. Jesus died for that imperfection, our imperfection - that our sins be taken away, including the sins that we do not notice, cannot acknowledge, don’t understand, can’t comprehend. Sins that may be perfectly plain to everyone around us, but not to ourselves.

For example, FL’s boundless hubris reeks to the observer’s eye, but in his own, he’s a humble enunciator of truth. Never mind that he can’t and won’t see that for what he says to be true, he must assume that only his interpretation of Genesis is perfect, and that the necessary assumption behind that is that only FL knows perfectly the mind of the writer of Genesis, the exact process by which the text was transmitted (and nobody knows that) and the mind of God who “breathed” it to the writer. Hubris indeed.

I don’t know the exact meaning of the Genesis text. I have studied, and in common with many who have, I have become aware of how little I know, and of how much is unknown to anyone. But I know this: Christians are not required to take Genesis as literal fact. The doctrine of Original Sin does not rely on an ancient couple eating something forbidden. Jesus did not die for such an act.

My own personal beliefs about why the Romans executed Jesus - assuming that he existed and that they did so - are not acceptable to the Christian church. That is irrelevant. The theology and interpretation of Scripture given above is acceptable and squarely in Christian tradition. It is FL and the fundamentalists whose foolish insistence on literality (except, of course, where they say otherwise) who are not.

FL wants chapter and verse on my claim that Dr. Baker presents evolution as incompatible with Christianity. It would be more accurate to say that she presents it wherever it occurs in her thesis as incompatible with her own brand of Christianity, as taught in the group of schools that she is studying (and helped found and direct). See for example the discussion of theodicy on page 168, the schools’ teaching (P170) on Noah’s flood, the Fall, and (in the schools’ policy on teaching evolution, P354 on, which Dr. Baker as scientific adviser presumably helped draft) the intervention of “the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to save both them and all of creation from the devastating effects of rebellion against God”, and the subsequent parading of various worthies (including Newton!) as examples of Christian creationists.

Paul Braterman said:

FL wants chapter and verse on my claim that Dr. Baker presents evolution as incompatible with Christianity. It would be more accurate to say that she presents it wherever it occurs in her thesis as incompatible with her own brand of Christianity, as taught in the group of schools that she is studying (and helped found and direct). See for example the discussion of theodicy on page 168, the schools’ teaching (P170) on Noah’s flood, the Fall, and (in the schools’ policy on teaching evolution, P354 on, which Dr. Baker as scientific adviser presumably helped draft) the intervention of “the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to save both them and all of creation from the devastating effects of rebellion against God”, and the subsequent parading of various worthies (including Newton!) as examples of Christian creationists.

Thanks for your excellent guest post, Paul. I am curious in hearing as to how prevalent Fundamentalist Muslim rejection of evoluion is in the United Kingdom, having read of how a Muslim imam in London - I believe - was castigated by his flock after he told them that biological evolution was sound mainstream science.

Paul Braterman said:

FL wants chapter and verse on my claim that Dr. Baker presents evolution as incompatible with Christianity.

Hypocritically, FL refuses to state which chapter and verse the Bible specifically proclaims evolution as being incompatible with Christianity.

John Kwok said:

I am curious in hearing as to how prevalent Fundamentalist Muslim rejection of evoluion is in the United Kingdom, having read of how a Muslim imam in London - I believe - was castigated by his flock after he told them that biological evolution was sound mainstream science.

He was not only castigated by his flock, but his superiors blackballed him, kicked him out of the mosque, declared him an apostate persona non grata, made a social outcast, whereupon he recanted, eating his words in a pitiful attempt to apologize and hope that the people who sent him all those death threats wouldn’t follow through.

Stanton said:

John Kwok said:

I am curious in hearing as to how prevalent Fundamentalist Muslim rejection of evoluion is in the United Kingdom, having read of how a Muslim imam in London - I believe - was castigated by his flock after he told them that biological evolution was sound mainstream science.

He was not only castigated by his flock, but his superiors blackballed him, kicked him out of the mosque, declared him an apostate persona non grata, made a social outcast, whereupon he recanted, eating his words in a pitiful attempt to apologize and hope that the people who sent him all those death threats wouldn’t follow through.

Almost exactly the same thing happened to Bill Dembski - except it was a Baptist Theological Seminary. See, for instance, http://pandasthumb.org/archives/idc[…]-as-science/

How about a little Byers vs Byers:

Robert Byers said:

We say evolution is not a fact or proven fact…

…Words don’t prove anything.

Science is just a word to indicate investigation of a high standard and so a high confidence in its conclusions.

…there is no such thing as a science.

Who will prevail? Byers? Or Byers? Stay tuned until next week, same batshit time, same batshit channel.

Science Avenger said:

How about a little Byers vs Byers:

Robert Byers said:

We say evolution is not a fact or proven fact…

…Words don’t prove anything.

Science is just a word to indicate investigation of a high standard and so a high confidence in its conclusions.

…there is no such thing as a science.

Who will prevail? Byers? Or Byers? Stay tuned until next week, same batshit time, same batshit channel.

Don’t you just love it when Creationists demonstrate their own stupidity through self-contradiction?

The moron Byers is trying to whine that, if Creationist can not be taught as a science in a science class, then neither can Evolution or the rest of the Sciences.

Robert Byers said: We make a case based on the same principals of investigation, save for YEC with a Genesis presumption, that any one does in anything.

Being able to explain anything is why it is not science.

Science Avenger said: Who will prevail? Byers? Or Byers?

Win? I predict both parties in this duel score a head shot.

Oh, people trying to argue with RB again.

He comes to PT because this is likely the only place in the world where people actually pay him enough mind to argue with him.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Eh, study the politics of the past and it looks much the same in terms of quality. I’ve learned a lot about the FDR administration over the past few years and the political environment was much the same tune, just with slightly different lyrics. Think of Father Coughlin or Lindbergh (who people are STILL trying to apologize for).

Dale Husband said: Most people who beleive in the Biblical God are merely ignorant. In FL’s case, I suspect he is the pastor of a cultlike church of a few dozen members and he comes here to polish up his rhetorical skills for use against his own flock later to keep them in line. There is no way he could sincerely beleive most of what he says.

I don’t think FL is the pastor, and he has never claimed that. Here’s a link to the church he says he attends unless he’s changed congregations since I first noticed him a few years ago. He’s not the pastor, but could well have a position of leadership and/or leadership within that congregation.

Meh … “leadership and/or influence” …

SWT said:

I don’t think FL is the pastor, and he has never claimed that. Here’s a link to the church he says he attends unless he’s changed congregations since I first noticed him a few years ago. He’s not the pastor, but could well have a position of leadership and/or influence within that congregation.

OK, I look at that and already see a lot wrong with that.

We believe the Bible to be the inspired and only infallible Word of God. We believe That there is One God, eternally existent in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit

So they beleive in a God that is a liar and a lunatic as well as their Lord. What a pity.

We believe in the Blessed Hope, which is the rapture of the Church of God, Which is in Christ, at His return.

Which is nonsense, since everything in the New Testament was based on the idea that Christ would return before the generation that was contemporary with him died. That would have been around AD 100-120. After that, the prophecies of Christ’s return would be falsified. Why expect something that clearly won’t happen?

We believe that the only means of being cleansed from sin is through Repentance: faith in the precious Blood of Jesus Christ and being baptized in Water. We believe that regeneration by the Holy Ghost is absolutely essential for Personal salvation.

So anyone who lives and dies without ever hearing the Gospel is doomed to damnation. Nice. But that violates the basic principle of justice.

We believe that the redemptive work of Christ on the cross provides healing for the human body in answer to believing in prayer.

How many innocent children have died because their parents scorned medical treatment because of their faith? That’s child abuse!

We believe that the baptism in the Holy Ghost, according to Acts 2:4 is given to believers who ask for it. We believe in the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling, the Christian is enabled to live a Holy and separated life in this present world Amen.

Yes, because Christians are by nature superior to others. No further comment.

Well I suppose when you ignore all of the evidence your beliefs can easily be divorced from reality. FL refuses to read even one scientific paper. He spouts nonsense that is obviously wrong in order to condemn evolution, all the while ignoring the hypocricy and blatant dishonesty of his illogical position. He and his flock of sheep are free to believe anything they want to about whatever fairy tales strike their fancy. They are even free to reject anyone who doesn’t agree to go along with the routine if they so choose. What they are not free to do is lie to everybody else and think they can get away with it.

Anyone can easily determine that FL is willfully ignorant and expects everyone else to just go along with it. How else can you explain his absolute refusal to confront the evidence? How else can you explain his dishonest representation of science? He better hope is is wrong about the existence of such a vengeful and petty god, otherwise he is in big trouble.

If FL shows up again with yet another irrelevant drive-by barrage of ignorance, it’s time he was banished to the bathroom wall. He can threaten everyone with hellfire there.

FL the delusional babbling Afro-American mendicant IDiot barked:

Well, let’s go a bit further, starting with John, Dale, and Stanton, and then Dave tomorrow.

***

John wrote,

I strongly beg to differ with your analysis Floyd since Tyson regards himself as an agnostic with regards to his religious views.

Hey, already knew about that from previous googling. But it does NOT erase the fact that Tyson clearly argued against the existence of “a benevolent anything” on the video link that Mrg provided.

You can’t whitewash (no pun intended) that kind of anti-God video merely by saying “Well, Tyson’s agnostic.” Nope, you can see in the video that Tyson is enjoying his Atheism-Lite way too much there.

Tyson’s got that anti-God monkey on his back, just like the famous Hadean sockpuppet Richard Dawkins (with whom Tyson has collaborated some, not surprisingly.) Tyson’s got a lively, humorous speaking style, of course, but he’s done messed up all the same, just like Dawkins.

Meanwhile, Tyson’s line of argument (“Dysteleology On Steroids”) simply isn’t cutting the mustard with the American black churches. Just not buying it. That’s the deal John.

(Side note: I haven’t done any reading on Samuel Delany other than Wiki, but if he’s “an agnostic or an atheist” as you say, then HE better git his fanny back online with God as well, before he winds up becoming Purina Demon Chow someday!! And tell him to BURN those two idiot porno novels he wrote!!)

***

Dale wrote,

Yep, Stanton gets it! Indeed, one of the wonderful things about evolution is how it DEBUNKS racism, the absurd idea that one’s skin color makes one superior to others of a different skin color.

Stanton got it? Nope, Stanton DIDN’T get it. First of all, “The Descent of Man” makes absolutely clear that one’s race can make one superior (in fact superior enough to eliminate another race off the planet in the name of natural selection), because after all you’re merely talking about natural selection and evolution. (Remember what Rudolf Hess said, Dale? “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology.”)

After all, “the higher civilized races” (ie Whitey), simply evolved from the ape-like “common ancestor of humans and apes” at a faster, higher rate. The losers (ie Blackie) were simply the slowest out of the evolutionary gate, of course. In fact, according to Darwin’s book TDOM, the next step down from “Negro”, just happens to be “Gorilla”.

And make no mistake: the Euros and Americans accepted it all, wholesale, as SCIENCE.

(Keep in mind that evolutionary theory’s “common ancestor” claim of human evolution DOES allow for the possibility of different sets of humans evolving at different rates from the apelike ancestor. Evolutionists never really refuted this argument on its own terms. Even now, the best you evos can do is to deflect the issue by pointing to modern genetic studies and saying “See there? All the races are equal, case closed,” as a way to avoid getting cornered in debate.)

***

Meanwhile, nobody has stated that “Charles Darwin founded the ancient institution of Slavery”, as Stanton puts it.

But here comes The Kicker: Those pro-slavery supporters who may have found themselves being influenced by Darwin’s arguments, discovered that it actually didn’t cost them ANYTHING to accept Darwin’s evolution-based inferiority arguments instead of their previous positions. Darwin actually made a way for them to KEEP, not abandon, their racism and their enslavements.

In the end, (Josiah Clark) Nott came to accept Darwin’s theory of man’s common descent. Indeed he claimed nothing of what he wrote on the race question was negated but simply refined, and who was not to say that even in Darwin’s world races might not be “permanent varieties” (n. 6).

The point, of course, isn’t whether or not any of this is true — it is obvious nonsense and most of Nott’s contemporaries recognized it as such – but whether Darwin’s defeat of polygenist theory and its replacement with his common descent really had any difference in the end toward establishing a science of brotherhood is doubtful.

Brace, Nott, and many others could enbrace common descent precisely because it suggested nothing close to racial brotherhood.

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]ill-enslave/

So that’s just something to think about. Stanton and Dale, if you’ve noticed that Black Americans usually do NOT celebrate or preach about Charles Darwin during their Juneteenth Celebrations, nor credit Darwin with the dismantling of the American slavery horror show.…well now you know why.

FL

Alas I haven’t had time to reply to FL’s breathtaking inanity until now. First Floyd, I concur completely with Stanton’s and Mary H’s rebuttals to this most blatant example of intellectual chicanery from you. Too bad you seem more interested in quoting Stephen Jay Gould than in seeking to understand what he actually said.

Second Floyd, Samuel Delany is one of our greatest living American writers and has been a favorite of mine since high school, if not before. Only now is he finally getting the widespread recognition that he has been so deserving of for decades.

Third Tyson and Dawkins have had friendly debates over Dawkins’s zealous approach in promoting Atheism. I wouldn’t call them allies.

As for Darwin and his “attempt” at racism, you ignore that he was as much a product of Victorian social mores, especially of the upper classes, as he was a distinguished field naturalist and experimental scientist in his own right. Having said this, however, he was consistently in support of liberal causes throughout his life, with the sole notable exception being his hostility toward the Union during the American Civil War (though that hostility was aimed solely at Lincoln and his administration, not at friends like Harvard botanist Asa Gray). You also ignore that he recognized that humanity’s origins were in Africa, recognizing via comparative anatomy and animal behavior, the close kinship that we humans had with our fellow Great Apes, especially the chimpanzees (All of this has been borne out via substantial paleobiological, anatomical, and behavioral ecological research in the nearly century and a half since the initial publication of “The Descent of Man”.).

The title of this thread is “Why it needed saying, UK style.”

No one here has said it better than this, and thus it bears repeating:

Dave Luckett said on the Bathroom Wall March 22nd, 2011: Here is the fundamental world-view difference between most posters here - including, I think, Malchus, although he is very well able to speak for himself, and I don’t want to put words in his mouth - and IBIG and FL. Rational people know that there is a difference between what you can demonstrate from evidence and what you believe on faith. “Rationalists”, as such, dismiss the latter as worthless, as they have every right to do, but that does not change the point that there is a recognizable difference between the two, that being that the former is demonstrable, but the latter is not.

This difference in property leads most people to a difference in treatment. We “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”, that is, we use evidence and reason from observation of the world to come to conclusions about the world, and if we accept faith at all (and many don’t) we use it to treat matters for which there is no guide in evidence. That is, we use evidence first, without faith, where evidence exists.

But for IBIG and FL, evidence only occurs where there is no faith to lead them. It’s not exactly that faith trumps evidence, not quite. Evidence, for them, doesn’t exist where faith lays down a contrary precept.

Hence, any and all observations of the natural world that contradict a faith principle simply don’t exist for them. This is why they simply ignore them.

For them, the fact that fossils are sorted in strata according to relative difference from modern forms is simply transparent. It has no impact on their perception. Microscopes show that many limestones are composed of the hard parts of tiny marine organisms in numbers that completely destroy the idea that they could be laid down in a single year, or any amount of time less than millions of years, but that fact simply has no reality, to them. The radiometric techniques that date igneous rocks support and confirm each other, and correctly applied, rely on nothing less than the fundamental laws of physics to demonstrate the ancient age of the strata, but this is simply to be ignored, and foolish, mendacious, maliciously spurious distortions preferred, including the invocation of uncovenanted miracles.

And what faith are we talking about, here? Here we run into a further conflation.

IBIG can see no difference at all between the idea at John 3:16 and the idea that the Bible is inerrant and literal. The two are one and the same. He believes the first. He believes the second. They are both faith statements, equivalent to each other. Hence his frustration.

He’s trying to get someone to say (and Malchus, I think you know this very well) that yes, they accept John 3:16. He will then spring what is to him a perfect “gotcha”. “Then why don’t you believe that the Universe was made in six days, and the species separately created? The Bible says both.”

Of course it isn’t a “gotcha”. The statement at John 3:16 is not assessable on evidence. The statement “the Universe was made in six days, etcetera”, is assessable on evidence.

But for IBIG, there’s no difference between the two. He isn’t operating on evidence. Evidence has no meaning for him where faith is operating.

Which means that what we are dealing with is a mind from a pre-modern world. The terms in which we assess reality do not exist, for that mind. IBIG isn’t exactly lying, and he isn’t exactly psychotic, although he does partake of some aspects of actual insanity, in that his internal constructions of reality do not fully line up with outside reality.

Hence, may I propose a change in vocabulary? He isn’t quite lying, although he does transmit obvious untruths. He isn’t quite crazy, although he does believe crazy things. I propose that he is alienated. The world is a strange (and I suspect, terrifying) place to him, for he cannot trust the evidence of his senses. It is an alien landscape to him, but not to us - which implies that we are alien to him, and vice-versa.

In fact, the more I read of IBIG and FL, the more I pity them. It must be a dreadful thing to live in their heads, a continual wretched teetering above a terrifying abyss, a Universe that can only be tolerated by blocking it out.

John Vanko,

Thanks for reposting Dave Luckett’s comment. I concur. It is the most profound, most eloquent, assessment not only of IBIG and FL, but of those as different as William Dembski and Adnan Oktar (aka Harun Yahya) who seek comfort from the chaotic, often never stable, aspects of Modernity by relying instead on their own parochial visions of Jehovah(Allah). Indeed, this is a most apt assessment that can describe best the very thoughts of all creationists, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish or of some other faith; all have embraced their own fundamentalist visions of the Deity(ies) and of Nature in which all of Creation can be seen as the act(s) of some kind of Divine Providence acting willfully without any regard for some kind of Natural Law(s).

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on March 31, 2011 8:26 AM.

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