Webcast: The Evolution of Religion

| 348 Comments

Another in an annual series of discussions of science and religion at Ohio State is scheduled for October 5. The announcement:

*The Evolution of Religion*
Wednesday, October 5, 7-9pm
[Enable javascript to see this email address.] Studios, 333 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215

Where do our religious beliefs come from? Have religious beliefs served an evolutionary purpose? Join us in the [Enable javascript to see this email address.] Studios for a spirited panel discussion on the intersection of science and religion, followed by a question-and-answer session. Scheduled speakers include:


- Moderator Neal Conan, host of NPR’s *Talk of the Nation *
- Nicolas Wade, New York Times science writer and author of *Before the Dawn* and *The Faith Instinct*
- Lionel Tiger, Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus at Rutgers University, and author of *God’s Brain*

The event is free but reservations are required. To register, visit this site or call 614.228.2674 for details. Supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

The series is sponsored by public TV station WOSU, by the Center for Science and Industry in Columbus, and by the Department of Entomology at the Ohio State University. I wrote about one such on the Thumb four years ago. They have had a distinctly “accommodationist” flavor, and given the Templeton Foundation’s funding of the series (via Susan Fisher of the Department of Entomology at Ohio State), I suspect this one will carry on that theme. I know little of Tiger’s or Wade’s views on that, so I may be wrong. The entire series of webcasts is archived at this site.

Tom Baillieul, a member of Ohio Citizens for Science, has a background essay on the evolution of religion available here (PDF).

(I can’t resist noting that the Department of Entomology is also home to one of the creationist “scientists,” Glen Needham, who played a significant role in the Bryan Leonard affair at Ohio State.)

348 Comments

I am totally against “accomodationism” and am all for bitter confrontation. I think it should be a case of one side wins, the other side loses.I want the Darwinists to be frank and honest - theism is irreconcilable with their philosophy. You may get by being a Deist, a freemason, a pantheist or non-theist (rather than just an atheist or agnostic), but no true theist or panentheist can support Darwinian naturalism and materialism. People should stop trying to find the “middle ground”.

Atheistoclast said:

I am totally against “accomodationism” and am all for bitter confrontation. I think it should be a case of one side wins, the other side loses.I want the Darwinists to be frank and honest - theism is irreconcilable with their philosophy. You may get by being a Deist, a freemason, a pantheist or non-theist (rather than just an atheist or agnostic), but no true theist or panentheist can support Darwinian naturalism and materialism. People should stop trying to find the “middle ground”.

You’re full of braggadocio, Thiesotclast, full of confrontation and bluster, but when it comes to evidence for your delusions, you can’t come up with a damned thing. All you’ve got is incredulity, denial, repetition - you know, hot air.

Joe Bozorgmehr said -

I am totally against “accomodationism” and am all for bitter confrontation.

So am I (I usually don’t use the word “bitter”). I strongly support everyone’s private right to believe whatever they want, but when creationists try to violate the constitution by teaching select sectarian dogma as “science” in public schools, it’s time for confrontation.

Also, when they try to mislead the public with nonsense books and so on, although they have a first amendment right to do so, the science supporting community should respond, in the interest of an informed public.

Some people call me “accommodationist” because I have no problem with other people being religious, as long as they respect others’ rights, and respect good scientific work no matter who does it. However, I most certainly do NOT accommodate violation of rights or science denying bullshit. By the way, “accommodate” has two “m’s”.

I think it should be a case of one side wins, the other side loses.

It is. Your side lost. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLean_v._Arkansas, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmi[…]ool_District. You have the constitutional right to pretend that you didn’t.

I want the Darwinists to be frank and honest - theism is irreconcilable with their philosophy. You may get by being a Deist, a freemason, a pantheist or non-theist (rather than just an atheist or agnostic), but no true theist or panentheist can support Darwinian naturalism and materialism. People should stop trying to find the “middle ground”.

The theory of evolution is obviously incompatible with your theism.

I don’t personally agree with your statement here. I’m non-religious, but some scientists are religious, and they tell me their religion is compatible with mainstream science. That’s good enough for me.

However, it’s actually irrelevant, at least to me. The evidence shows that the theory of evolution explains the diversity and relatedness of cellular life and viruses on earth, due to evolution from common ancestry over 3.5-3.8 billion years. I personally find it hard to believe that “all religion” is incompatible with this (surely someone could just invent a religion that is not), but if it is, so be it. The facts are what they are.

harold said:

I strongly support everyone’s private right to believe whatever they want, but when creationists try to violate the constitution by teaching select sectarian dogma as “science” in public schools, it’s time for confrontation.

Also, when they try to mislead the public with nonsense books and so on, although they have a first amendment right to do so, the science supporting community should respond, in the interest of an informed public…

And when they make themselves ridiculous in their claims, as they always do, it is our duty to laugh - aloud.

Richard Hoppe wrote (in the OP)

They have had a distinctly “accommodationist” flavor, and given the Templeton Foundation’s funding of the series (via Susan Fisher of the Department of Entomology at Ohio State), I suspect this one will carry on that theme. I know little of Tiger’s or Wade’s views on that, so I may be wrong.

Looking at various web sites I find that Wade’s book is said to argue

(Publisher’s Weekly)

the instinct for religious behavior is an evolved part of human nature because, like other human social traits that have evolved over many thousands of years, the practice of religion conferred a decided survival advantage to those who practiced it.

and Lionel Tiger is described as concluding that “the brain creates religion” (I don’t know what he says about evolution but he has been an avid biological determinist in the past).

I don’t think the discussion will really be about accommodationism – the controversial issue seems likely to be whether an “evolutionary psychology” explanation of religion is valid. Both panel members seem likely to be on the same side on that one. Theories that religions are social constructs for reasons that have to do with their role in present-day or recent societies may get undeservedly short shrift.

Atheistoclast said:

I am totally against “accomodationism” and am all for bitter confrontation. I think it should be a case of one side wins, the other side loses.I want the Darwinists to be frank and honest - theism is irreconcilable with their philosophy. You may get by being a Deist, a freemason, a pantheist or non-theist (rather than just an atheist or agnostic), but no true theist or panentheist can support Darwinian naturalism and materialism. People should stop trying to find the “middle ground”.

So you don’t like any religion that is ok with evolution?

Which religions would you not accommodate? Which of something like 38,000 sects within Christianity would you not accommodate?

What would you do to those who belong to religions that accommodate evolution? Would you like to see capital punishment for infidels reinstated (like what John Calvin did to Michael Servetus)? Do you approve of what was done to Giordano Bruno?

You apparently think there is a “right” kind of religion and that the “wrong” ones are those that can handle real science just fine.

You don’t think it is permissible for people to find their own way regarding religion and deities?

Neal Conan did a follow-up on a report by Barbara Bradly Hagerty over on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” on September 22, 2011.

One can really hear the underlying stress between Daniel Harlow, professor of religion at Calvin College and Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The stakes are apparently high enough for there to be blood.

That report by Barbara Bradly Hagerty over on NPR is here.

Mike Elzinga said:

Neal Conan did a follow-up on a report by Barbara Bradly Hagerty over on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” on September 22, 2011.

One can really hear the underlying stress between Daniel Harlow, professor of religion at Calvin College and Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The stakes are apparently high enough for there to be blood.

That was good, thanks.

harold said: Joe Bozorgmehr said -

I think it should be a case of one side wins, the other side loses.

It is. Your side lost. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLean_v._Arkansas, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmi[…]ool_District.

It’s not just that the creationists lost once or twice - they keep losing, over and over again. They preach that the US Supreme Court and Federal Judge Jones are wrong about creationism. They preach that the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences are wrong about creationism. The only persons and organizations they can get to agree with them are overtly or covertly religious - not scientific, never scientific - persons and organizations. Bozorgmehr is just another name in the long list of pseudoscientists and science denialist buffoons - Behe, Dembski, luskin, Gonzales and others - parading their willful ignorance and scientific illiteracy around, believing it is a virtue.

Atheistoclast said:

no true theist or panentheist can support Darwinian naturalism and materialism

… and no true Scotsman would put sugar on his porridge.

As the Thomas Bailieul’s paper suggests:

Religion becomes dangerous when:

• a set of beliefs become ossified;

• ritual and imposed doctrine/practice become a primary source of individual identity;

• external authority becomes more important than internal reflection and exploration;

• differences (beliefs, rituals) are emphasized over similarities - driving xenophobia; and

• one faith tradition tries to impose its beliefs and practices on people outside that tradition.

This seems to describe Atheistoclast pretty well, yes?

But I looked into the link on Brian Leonard and was wondering what ever resulted from this case. Though it was stupid to begin with, I don’t see how such a dissertation could be accepted and that Leonard was wasting his time. I did see that the dishonesty institute did a lot of dishonest chatter, but I could find no conclusion to the case. Anyone?

I read the BB Hagerty link and, does it seem to others as it seems to me, that DI types should read it with a view to defend all of the academic expulsions? That is, it seems to me that the moment you express doubts of an academic nature, about the robustness of biblical truth, you are flung out upon your ear. These people “Expel” oponents with gay abandon.

robert van bakel said:

I read the BB Hagerty link and, does it seem to others as it seems to me, that DI types should read it with a view to defend all of the academic expulsions? That is, it seems to me that the moment you express doubts of an academic nature, about the robustness of biblical truth, you are flung out upon your ear. These people “Expel” oponents with gay abandon.

In both Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s and Neal Conan’s reports one certainly gets the impression that there has been a great deal of intolerance at Calvin College as well as at a number of other sectarian schools.

Listening to the audio for Neal Conan’s report you can actually hear the intensity in the disagreements between Harlow and Mohler.

And you don’t have to get very far into the stuff at AiG (for example the “Great Debate” series; which I won’t bother to link to) to pick up on the intensity with which Ken Ham and his sycophants come down on “accommodationalist churches.”

And one can certainly sample the tension between the DI crowd and Biologos. And Ken Ham doesn’t like ID.

The biblical literalists seem to be filled with seething angst and hatred of other evangelicals who are seeking to adjust their beliefs about their bible in the light of modern science.

It reminds me of an old Kingston Trio song (written by Frank Jacobs, I believe). Not only does it apply today, but just change the country names to sectarian denominations and it makes equal sense.

They’re rioting in Africa. They’re starving in Spain. There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.

Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch. And I don’t like anybody very much!

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud, for man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.

And we know for certain that some lovely day, someone will set the spark off… and we will all be blown away.

They’re rioting in Africa. There’s strife in Iran. What nature doesn’t do to us… will be done by our fellow man.

Will they have presentations from actual religious ists? To make the case for religion not being from evolution of this or that . Is the audience getting equal time on these conclusions.?

Counter point might be about how ideas on religion evolution EVOLVED!

Its all simple. There is a great creation which leads to a conclusion of a great being with great intelligence. Everyone everywhere always concludes this.

Since there is largely no revelation then elements invest the nature of this being. The winners become the dominant religion.

The only thing to add is that from the beginning there was already serious claims of a God having revealed himself a little. This before mankind broke up. Then a more serious claim of revelation , the bible, brought great conviction and great result to powerful religions.

To talk of the origins of religion without the option of there being a accurate and revealed truth about a higher being is to make a presumption that disqualify’s any claim to discovery of truth .

Atheistoclast said:

I am totally against “accomodationism” and am all for bitter confrontation. I think it should be a case of one side wins, the other side loses.I want the Darwinists to be frank and honest - theism is irreconcilable with their philosophy. You may get by being a Deist, a freemason, a pantheist or non-theist (rather than just an atheist or agnostic), but no true theist or panentheist can support Darwinian naturalism and materialism. People should stop trying to find the “middle ground”.

What are you doing, committing SUICIDE? Because in essence, that’s what will happen. Your position against evolution is based on FRAUD and baseless DELUSIONS and always has been, and that’s why it will NEVER win. Connecting it with religion will only destroy religion. I can assure you that more people have lost their faith because of Creationists and their phony claims than have retained their faith. I know because that’s what happened to me!

Joe Felsenstein said: I don’t think the discussion will really be about accommodationism – the controversial issue seems likely to be whether an “evolutionary psychology” explanation of religion is valid. Both panel members seem likely to be on the same side on that one. Theories that religions are social constructs for reasons that have to do with their role in present-day or recent societies may get undeservedly short shrift.

As if it were bad enough having academics lecture religious folks that their belief in *any* form of creationism is invalid, be it literal or much more nuanced, now we have professors who fully endorse the idea that religion exists solely because it serves some utilitarian function and need in society. Felsenstein’s comment is typical of the condescending attitude that unrepresentative elites have towards just about everyone other than themselves. They defend such a position with their undeservedly “ more-rational-than-thou” attitude. But the Visigoths are coming!..that is all I can say in response:

http://www.arn.org/images2/visigoth[…]sssample.jpg

Btw, I should point out that many philosophers of religion are even more anti-theistic than many scientists. That has been my own experience.

harold said: The theory of evolution is obviously incompatible with your theism.

No. Darwinism is completely incompatible with *any* theistic belief. Darwinists are quintessentially naturalists and materialists. They believe that matter can self-generate into life and evolve into a diversity of forms. They deny any kind of divine intervention in the universe. Any belief in a God has to be restricted to one who exists but does absolutely nothing. That is totally antithetical to religious belief in an almighty Creator who is active and immanent in his creation.

I don’t personally agree with your statement here. I’m non-religious, but some scientists are religious, and they tell me their religion is compatible with mainstream science. That’s good enough for me.

Darwinism is perhaps compatible with Deism - which is the religion of most freemasons and the Illuminati. But it cannot be reconciled to theism. And it is not just a Christian/Muslim/Jewish thing. I was reading a book written by the Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America, a pagan, who attacked the anti-vitalism of the scientific establishment. As you know, most western scientists deny the existence of a soul or a life-force. But this is a fundamental tenet of spirituality in general.

However, it’s actually irrelevant, at least to me. The evidence shows that the theory of evolution explains the diversity and relatedness of cellular life and viruses on earth, due to evolution from common ancestry over 3.5-3.8 billion years. I personally find it hard to believe that “all religion” is incompatible with this (surely someone could just invent a religion that is not), but if it is, so be it. The facts are what they are.

The evidence shows no such thing. The diversity of life and form is due to the creative expression of the Creator - and not to random mutations. There may be some specific instances where evolution does offer a valid explanation, such as why some of us are black and others are white, or why some of us have red hair and blue eyes, but it doesn’t explain the enormous physical and behavioral diversity we witness in the living world. Belief in a universal common ancestry is actually an extreme religious dogma that extends the one that claims all humanity is descended from Adam.

If any religion is incompatible with the reality of evolution, it is a false religion and is doomed to failure. This is true regardless of whether you are familiar with the evidence or not. This is true regardless of the consequences. This is true regardless of your personal needs or beliefs. The legitimate role of science is to explain how such a counter productive and indeed destructive social phenomena could arise and propagate. If you don’t like the conclusions of science, once again, that’s too bad for you. Reality doesn’t care what you think.

In the United States, everyone is free to believe in whatever god they choose, regardless of the evidence, or lack thereof. And everyone is free to actually become familiar with the evidence and to accept reality for what it is. If you don’t have the honesty, courage and decency to do so, fine. But you shouldn’t try to force your views on others, or pretend that you know better than all of the real scientists in the world. Ignoring the evidence won;t make it go away. Evolution will remain an inconvenient truth, no matter how strongly you try to deny it, no matter how you try to demonize it or equate it with religious dogma, no matter how badly you want it to not be true, no matter how how much you hate it. Setting up a culture war pitting the forces of ignorance against the forces of truth and reason can only bring grief and destruction, even if you win.

Evolution is real, it has many lessons to teach for those who are willing to learn. Ignoring those lessons will only cause harm. If your god is too small to exist in a world where evolution occurs, you need to find another god, or not.

phhht said:

harold said:

I strongly support everyone’s private right to believe whatever they want, but when creationists try to violate the constitution by teaching select sectarian dogma as “science” in public schools, it’s time for confrontation.

Also, when they try to mislead the public with nonsense books and so on, although they have a first amendment right to do so, the science supporting community should respond, in the interest of an informed public…

And when they make themselves ridiculous in their claims, as they always do, it is our duty to laugh - aloud.

“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them.” ― Thomas Jefferson

DS said: Evolution is real, it has many lessons to teach for those who are willing to learn. Ignoring those lessons will only cause harm. If your god is too small to exist in a world where evolution occurs, you need to find another god, or not.

I am not an evolution-denier. I have authored 3 papers about evolutionary adaptation. But I do deny the *masssive extrapolation* made when assuming that specific instances of adaptation, often involving a loss of function, can be used to explain the diversity and complexity of life. All creationists accept microevolution and limited speciation. I regard evolution only as the fine-tuning of creation

phhht said:

You’re full of braggadocio, Thiesotclast, full of confrontation and bluster, but when it comes to evidence for your delusions, you can’t come up with a damned thing. All you’ve got is incredulity, denial, repetition - you know, hot air.

Look, Theistoclast, your theism is inconsistent with REALITY.

Here in the real world, THERE ARE NO GODS.

If there were gods, you could come up with instance after instance of testable, empirical evidence for their existence.

But you cannot come up with even a single, solitary bit of evidence.

You refuse to address this central fault of your delusional illness because you cannot. You know that what I say is true, but you just can’t deal with that truth. Your gods are imaginary.

In other words, you’re lying about denying being a science-denier: you’re just pulling excuses out of your ass to justify your science denial and your morbid daydreams of stuffing all of your hated enemies into science concentration camps to die in agony.

I find it interesting, Atheistoclast, that you are unaware of the evolution of your own religion? How it is a syncretic built on a syncretic belief built on a syncretic belief.

For example, if you’re a protestant, your Protestantism includes beliefs that were not part of Christianity pre-reformation. But, in fact, have been taken from other belief systems. Catholicism is, well known, to be a syncretic belief system that incorporates beliefs and functions from paganism.

Judaism is a syncretic belief. It is the marriage of the Israelite POLYTHESITIC RELIGION (El) with the Judean monotheistic religion (Yahweh). Both of which are syncretic, derivative and have precedents in history.

Have you never wondered about the story of Genesis? Have you never noticed that the story itself contridicts itself in the order in which things are made? Did you know the voice talking to God was NOT JESUS as modern Christians assert, but God’s Wife – Asheroth? That Genesis 1:26 was, in the ancient texts, a FEMALE VOICE? That Asheroth was speaking to El (aka El Shaddai)?

I could go on. Make quite the monograph. But I’m sure you’re too hard-headed to accept anything that points out your belief is just the most recent God-Story in a chain of evolving god-stories that go back past recorded history. That it is, in fact, not only nothing special, but well documented in its origins and its evolution which, fundamentaly, falsify the belief-system your relgion holds/incorporates.

Did you know any of that? Of course you didn’t. Because you’ve never bothered to explore the history and evolution of your religion.

Atheistoclast said: They [Darwinists] believe that matter can self-generate into life and evolve into a diversity of forms. They deny any kind of divine intervention in the universe.

How does believing the first sentence necessitate believing the second? Where, exactly, must a “true theist” draw the line between what is accomplished through “natural forces” vs God’s direct intervention?

John_S said:

Atheistoclast said: They [Darwinists] believe that matter can self-generate into life and evolve into a diversity of forms. They deny any kind of divine intervention in the universe.

How does believing the first sentence necessitate believing the second? Where, exactly, must a “true theist” draw the line between what is accomplished through “natural forces” vs God’s direct intervention?

According to religious bigots like Atheistoclast, a “true theist” must draw the line where ever the bigots’ whims dictate.

MosesZD said:

I find it interesting, Atheistoclast, that you are unaware of the evolution of your own religion? How it is a syncretic built on a syncretic belief built on a syncretic belief.

For example, if you’re a protestant, your Protestantism includes beliefs that were not part of Christianity pre-reformation. But, in fact, have been taken from other belief systems. Catholicism is, well known, to be a syncretic belief system that incorporates beliefs and functions from paganism.

Judaism is a syncretic belief. It is the marriage of the Israelite POLYTHESITIC RELIGION (El) with the Judean monotheistic religion (Yahweh). Both of which are syncretic, derivative and have precedents in history.

Have you never wondered about the story of Genesis? Have you never noticed that the story itself contridicts itself in the order in which things are made? Did you know the voice talking to God was NOT JESUS as modern Christians assert, but God’s Wife – Asheroth? That Genesis 1:26 was, in the ancient texts, a FEMALE VOICE? That Asheroth was speaking to El (aka El Shaddai)?

I could go on. Make quite the monograph. But I’m sure you’re too hard-headed to accept anything that points out your belief is just the most recent God-Story in a chain of evolving god-stories that go back past recorded history. That it is, in fact, not only nothing special, but well documented in its origins and its evolution which, fundamentaly, falsify the belief-system your relgion holds/incorporates.

Did you know any of that? Of course you didn’t. Because you’ve never bothered to explore the history and evolution of your religion.

You’re talking about the history of religion and the confluences of thought that gave rise to religious doctrines. What I am referring to is the religious impulse itself. Belief is is an intuitive understanding that the there is a divine agency in this universe that is not itself not material. All religions and spiritual paths recognize this to be the case, irrespective of their particular rites and dogmas. Science regards any belief that is non-naturalistic and non-materialistic as non-scientific…except when it comes to “dark energy”, of course.

John_S said:

Atheistoclast said: They [Darwinists] believe that matter can self-generate into life and evolve into a diversity of forms. They deny any kind of divine intervention in the universe.

How does believing the first sentence necessitate believing the second? Where, exactly, must a “true theist” draw the line between what is accomplished through “natural forces” vs God’s direct intervention?

If I am correct, many Darwinists like Felsenstein state that there may have been divine interventions within the process of evolution but we can’t determine them in any scientific way. More hardline Darwinists, however, regard all “natural phenomena” as necessarily having “natural causes” and deny any kind of divine intervention. They have absolute faith in the power of atoms just as much as the theist has faith in the power of gods. Any creativity is innate within Nature which herself is self-contained and self-governing.

A theist does not deny materialistic and naturalistic causes. After all, the natural laws in place have been set by the Creator. But he does deny that these laws are sufficient to explain the origin of the universe, that of course preceded them, and the origin, diversity and complexity of life. A theist recognizes that our own perception of reality is limited whereas a naturalist stubbornly does not.

Atheistoclast said: Belief is is an intuitive understanding that the there is a divine agency in this universe that is not itself not material.

The sort of belief you describe is a delusion. THERE ARE NO GODS.

You have absolutely, totally, NOTHING to back up your claim except your compulsive fantasies. You can believe with all your might, Theistoclast, but it’s still a fairy tale.

Joe Felsenstein said -

the controversial issue seems likely to be whether an “evolutionary psychology” explanation of religion is valid.

The term “evolutionary psychology” has become controversial, possibly unfairly http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolut[…]y_psychology

However, all human behavior is the result of evolution, directly or indirectly.

Academics often play out the “nature versus nurture” false dichotomy, often, in my opinion, without even knowing that they are doing so.

During most of the twentieth century, the paradigm for explaining individual human behavior was learning/environment. There were major battles between different school of thought about how the environment influenced human behavior (Freudianism, behaviorism, etc). Progressives (full disclosure - I am one) tend to like trying to understand environmental influences, because this approach is potentially useful. We can do things like treat or prevent illnesses and improve education if we find relationships between environment and subsequent behavior.

However, focus on the fact that human behavior is flexible and highly influenced by conscious and unconscious learning can lead to inadequate focus on underlying genetics.

The concepts “genetic”, “innate”, “inflexible”, and “hopeless” are often confused with one another. The claim that such and such a trait is “genetic” is often perceived by both sides of a dialog as an implication that it is inevitably expressed, and that any effort to modify ill effects is a waste of time. However, this “logic” is a non sequitur. In fact, ironically, it’s highly related to the strange human tendency to always read primarily biological explanations as telling us what we “should” do, despite the clear illogical nature of this interpretation.

I would say it’s foolhardy to deny that all behavior observed in the biosphere has strong genetic components, directly or indirectly. Yet it’s equally foolhardy to deny the adaptability, flexibility, and strongly learned nature of much human behavior.

Religion of some sort seems to have characterized at least all agricultural societies, apparently since the neolithic, and is very widespread, although not universal, even among small modern hunter gatherer groups that have been isolated from others for thousands of years.

Ironically, while authoritarian creationists are infuriated by evolutionary perspectives on human behavior, some non-religious academics may perceive such explanations as “defending” religion. There may a bias to deny evolved neurobiological factors, based on unconscious acceptance of the irrational bias that if explanations of behavior include any biological, genetic, or evolutionary component, this amounts to “admitting” that such behaviors are justified or invariant.

Clearly, religion is a social construct, and clearly, which individual religion a religious individual follows is largely related to their environment. Clearly, many modern humans are learning to do without religion, and obtaining whatever benefits is may concur from other methods. Yet it’s also true that religion is a very widespread human behavior, and that all human social constructs are products of the evolved human brain. I perceive a false dichotomy inherent in all “evolved versus social construct” arguments.

Arthuriandaily kept playing games…

If there is a common ancestor, it had to be an ancestor with no other ancestors.

The whole point of my example, which was intended for others, since arthuriandaily is a pure game-playing troll, was that it is difficult and perhaps arbitrary to designate one particular cell or molecule as the definitive common ancestor of life.

It’s true that almost all modern cellular life has many features in common. Narrow common descent is the explanation.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that all modern cellular life could be descended from a single early entity that we would define as a cell. But that cell would be descended from, and probably surrounded by, whatever immediate ancestors we would not quite call cells. And those would ultimately be descended from some other self-replicating system. And those self-replicating systems would ultimately be descended from non-self-replicating molecules. And those molecules would be descended from atoms, whose origin would be in the very early universe.

This is where arthuriandaily deliberately deceives himself (an easy task) and attempts to deceive others. He thought he came up with a great “gotcha” trick. He pretended to himself that narrow common descent implies magical appearance of a common ancestor with no ancestors, into an environment with no resources (and then he thought he would go from there into the triumphant non sequitur that “disproving” abiogenesis “disproves” evolution). That’s why my mouse example bothered him intensely enough to jar him out of cherry picking. Because in a simpler way, it makes this point. The lone pregnant female mouse is, in one sense, the common ancestor. And innumerable genetic methodologies would be able to show that. But she does have ancestors, too.

One question then: In a world where all life is derived from common descent, is it possible for any living organism to be unrelated to any other life form?

No.

Absolutely not; all life on earth is related. You are a type of ape, as are all humans. You are of the same species as all humans, even if you dislike some of them for cultural bias reasons. Any mythology which postulates separate creation of different lineages of modern life is false.

Incidentally, I have answered a number of your questions “yes” or “no”; I believe that all of my answers can be paraphrased as “yes” or “no”.

In fact, “yes”, life shares common descent, and “no”, your model of how this happened, is pretty much what I am saying. (And all of your comments, 100%, are game playing attempts to dissemble about the “no” answer, rather than accept it.)

I elaborate because the concepts are a bit tricky, and I want others, who may have open minds and honest attitudes, to understand my answers.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said: Eric, taking your points in order:

1. Bad analogy

So ignore the analogy and address the point, which is still relevant: there are hypotheses other than “provides an advantage” which could explain the prevalence of religion. I gave an example: pattern-seeking as a behavior could provide a net benefit to the organism even while certain types of pattern-seeking habits are deleterious.

2. Following your logic, we should see an inverse relationship between human knowledge and adherence to religious belief.

Evolutionarily, this is not true at all. If something does not give a survival advantage, that does not automatically mean it is disadvantageous. Most mutations are neutral; its perfectly reasonable to think most or many behavioral variations are neutral towards survival, too. The prevalence of religion could be due to the behavioral equivalent of genetic drift.

Now in fact, there have been some surveys that show an inverse correlation between religious belief and education (i.e. people with higher degrees tend to be less religious). But this trend is disputed and, even if real, I doubt it has anything to do with “fitness.”

3. See my comment above regarding gpuccio’s comments on UD. It is clear there is an advantage in interpreting our observations of what is happening in the genome from an ID standpoint. we are not content to say it is only physics and chemistry when we can clearly see it is not the case.

If by “only physics and chemistry” you mean that we mainstream scientists feel the need to invoke metaphysical forces beyond physics and chemistry to explain current phenomena, this is patently untrue.

If by “only physics and chemistry” you mean that we mainstream scientists are not content to say genome formation is a completely random process, you’re right. This is just the old creationist trope about randomness. Mainstream scientists do invoke nonrandom processes to explain the genome. But those processes, such as natural selection, are perfectly consistent with and fit within mainstream physics and chemistry.

A refusal to understand the genome in terms of information as an independent entity having real effects is detrimental to our understanding of genomic activity.

You have not shown information to be an independent entity, you merely assert that it is. Moreover, IDers continuously waffle on the definition of ‘information’ because the standard definitions (such as Shannon entropy) (1) are not conserved, and (2) can easily arise through natural, non-design processes.

But I’m game to understand the genome in terms of information as an independent entity. So please, tell me your formal, scientific definiton of information, and together we can determine what has it, what doesn’t, and whether natural processes can produce it.

5. Eric, I have never advocated for Catholism as a way to understand biology.

I never even mentioned Catholicism. Pascal’s wager applies to all religions, including IDC. Assuming for sake of argument that religion is beneficial to us as organisms, you still have yet to give me a reason why we should adopt IDC religious beliefs rather than some other religious beliefs.

And as I said in my follow-up post, one very good reason not to acccept IDC is that it runs counter to science. Since there are many religions that don’t, IF it is true that religion in general is beneficial, then the pragmatic thing to do would be to adopt one of the science-consistent ones, not yours.

Thats why I dont get the anti-religious snark on this site.

Some posters here are certainly areligious or anti-religious. But not all. Evolution defenders have a wide range of religious beliefs - what’s not to get?

No, we all want to know just how God did in fact do it. Thats what Newton was after. Thats what Kepler and numerous other scientists were after. ID has in fact done wonders for science in the past and will continue to do so in future.

What IDer has proposed a hypothesis for how God did it? What IDer has tested such hypotheses? Your comment is at best wishful thinking. Your movement has produced maybe 1 math paper and 1 survey paper in the past 20 years. It has produced no patents. No discoveries of any kind. IDers have not done anything for science, let alone “wonders.”

I could grant that ID is correct, and it still wouldn’t be good science because it hasn’t produced squat in the past 20 years. It is not fruitful. In capitalist terms, the return on investment of ID research is extroadinarily low. If I have $1 to spend on research, I am better off putting it into mainstream evolutionary research than ID because, whether its ultimately, metaphysically right or wrong, the evolutionary research returns more benefit. It finds tiktaalik, you find nothing. And so on.

Thats why I dont get the anti-religious snark on this site. It takes superior abstract thinking skills to do science. ID is simply pushing the envelope on abstract thinking and taking it where it logically goes. God is the ultimate abstraction. What is the palpable fear here?

You mistake contempt for palpable fear, Steve P. We have nothing but contempt for your casual, yet whiny dismissal of science, and we have nothing but contempt and annoyance for your persistent lying. Intelligent Design does nothing beyond stopping thinking for Jesus’ sake.

‘How does Goddidit solve anything’ is just a facile, bumper sticker, strawman, spitball. No one is saying Goddidit, okay wrap it up. Time to close the lab.

If that’s the case, then how come there is no great Renaissance of Intelligent Design-themed science? How come no one at the Discovery Institute is making Intelligent Design-themed breakthroughs? How come all Intelligent Design proponents, you included, have done absolutely nothing beyond lying and whining about how great Intelligent Design is, and how wrong and evil Evolution is?

No, we all want to know just how God did in fact do it. Thats what Newton was after. Thats what Kepler and numerous other scientists were after. ID has in fact done wonders for science in the past and will continue to do so in future.

So why isn’t anyone in Intelligent Design doing anything?

We want to know how he is able to embed information in the genome. Does it lead to hypotheses like interactive dimensions as the command and control mechanism of information. Are quantum bits that BA77 likes to rave about the cause of information?

Blah blah blah. Why don’t you do some Intelligent Design-themed experiments, yourself? You always brag about how you know better and know more about science than all those evil, stupid, narrow-minded evil scientists, after all.

Oh, wait, no. You’ve also bragged about how you’re too busy making money hand over fist with your fabric company in Taiwan to do anything. Anything other than troll here with your whining and lying.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said:

Thats why I dont get the anti-religious snark on this site. It takes superior abstract thinking skills to do science. ID is simply pushing the envelope on abstract thinking and taking it where it logically goes. God is the ultimate abstraction. What is the palpable fear here?

Do you still not understand yet that ID/creationism mischaracterizes all of science; physics, chemistry, geology, biology?

Do you still not understand yet that the people who have been deliberately warring against the teaching of evolution in the science curriculum are sectarians?

Do you still not understand yet that this four-part video is pure bullshit?

Do you still not understand that ID was a political morph of Henry Morris’s and Duane Gish’s “scientific” creationism in order to get around the courts?

Do you still not understand that this crap is driven by sectarians of a particularly obnoxious distortion of religion?

If you don’t like the snark, why do you deliberately keep trying to provoke it?

Why are you abusing the posting rules here by using multiple identities? Is this what your moral and ethical standards are?

Don’t go pointing the finger at the behavior of others when you yourself are making use of deception, provocation, and misrepresentation to piss people off.

Look at the link above. Watch all four videos. Wallow in it, roll in it; let it wash over you. Pause it and mull over the words.

Then try to defend putting that crap in the public schools.

Thats why I dont get the anti-religious snark on this site. It takes superior abstract thinking skills to do science. ID is simply pushing the envelope on abstract thinking and taking it where it logically goes. God is the ultimate abstraction. What is the palpable fear here?

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

FL the hypocrite lied:

Thats why I dont get the anti-religious snark on this site. It takes superior abstract thinking skills to do science. ID is simply pushing the envelope on abstract thinking and taking it where it logically goes. God is the ultimate abstraction. What is the palpable fear here?

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

Then, tell us, FL, why is doing nothing but repeat GODDIDIT supposed to be magically more scientific than actual science?

Oh, wait, no, you’re too afraid to tell us.

I also notice that you’re too afraid to tell us where in the Bible Jesus stated that reading the Bible literally is the primary requirement for Salvation.

FL said:

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

Sorry, Flawd, but your delusions don’t scare anyone.

After all, if your gods could do anything about it, wouldn’t they slap me down for my smart mouth?

They aren’t scary because they aren’t real, Flawd. Your gods can’t do shit in the real world. There’s no reason to fear them, because they have no power.

phhht said:

FL said:

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

Sorry, Flawd, but your delusions don’t scare anyone.

After all, if your gods could do anything about it, wouldn’t they slap me down for my smart mouth?

They aren’t scary because they aren’t real, Flawd. Your gods can’t do shit in the real world. There’s no reason to fear them, because they have no power.

Steve P and FL are deliberately blind to the fact that saying GODDIDIT can not do anything, can not explain anything, and they are deliberately blind to the fact that not a single Intelligent Design proponent has done a single, literal damn thing to use GODDIDIT in science, other than to stop or destroy it for Jesus’ sake.

And they are deliberately deaf to the fact we keep pointing these out to them. And they have the hypocritical gall to say we’re blind.

All they do is preen in their invisible finery, and mock us for being so stupid and frightened.

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

Why are advocates of “Intelligent Design” afraid to identify their “Intelligent Designer(s)” with God?

See “The Actual Arguments of Leading ID Proponents” collected by Casey Luskin in his essay “Is Intelligent Design Theory Really an Argument for “God”” http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmg[…].php/id/1341

TomS said:

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

Why are advocates of “Intelligent Design” afraid to identify their “Intelligent Designer(s)” with God?

See “The Actual Arguments of Leading ID Proponents” collected by Casey Luskin in his essay “Is Intelligent Design Theory Really an Argument for “God”” http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmg[…].php/id/1341

A lot of Intelligent Design proponents are not at all afraid of identifying the alleged “Intelligent Designer” as being none other than God as described in the Holy Bible. Like, for example, all of the Creationist trolls here at Panda’s Thumb.

What Intelligent Design proponents really are terrified of is to explain how saying GODDIDIT is science, or it will do science.

After all, you’ll notice that, not once in Steve P’s whiny rant did he explain why Intelligent Design proponents haven’t done anything with Intelligent Design. Aside from lying that they are magically doing science, and deliberately conflating them with the Renaissance and Enlightenment naturalists.

TomS said:

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

Why are advocates of “Intelligent Design” afraid to identify their “Intelligent Designer(s)” with God?

See “The Actual Arguments of Leading ID Proponents” collected by Casey Luskin in his essay “Is Intelligent Design Theory Really an Argument for “God”” http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmg[…].php/id/1341

Exactly.

FL, is that what you’re saying now? That ID is specifically religious?

(Incidentally, Casey mistakenly states that science can’t study the supernatural. Actually, the possible impact of the supernatural on the natural has been studied many times. All rigorous studies are negative to date. For example http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17487575.)

harold said:

TomS said:

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

Why are advocates of “Intelligent Design” afraid to identify their “Intelligent Designer(s)” with God?

See “The Actual Arguments of Leading ID Proponents” collected by Casey Luskin in his essay “Is Intelligent Design Theory Really an Argument for “God”” http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmg[…].php/id/1341

Exactly.

FL, is that what you’re saying now? That ID is specifically religious?

(Incidentally, Casey mistakenly states that science can’t study the supernatural. Actually, the possible impact of the supernatural on the natural has been studied many times. All rigorous studies are negative to date. For example http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17487575.)

FL is such a bigot that he is not going to pass up an opportunity to accuse of us of being evil, God-hating atheists (even those of us who are Christians), even if it means shooting himself in the foot while inserting it into his mouth.

Just making sure you’re awake, Stanton. Don’t want’cha to git bored around here!!

FL said:

Thats why I dont get the anti-religious snark on this site. It takes superior abstract thinking skills to do science. ID is simply pushing the envelope on abstract thinking and taking it where it logically goes. God is the ultimate abstraction. What is the palpable fear here?

You said it yourself: “God.”

Scares ‘em to death every time.

You should know by now that it has nothing to do with deities.

You have been taunting at this site for over 4 years now; and YOU have run away from real science every time.

I’ll run over you with that entropy example again if you like. Squealed like a little piggy on that one, you did. Everybody witnessed it and commented.

A lurker really put you down didn’t he? You mocked him, and he came right back at you. Slapped you right in your smirking, ugly face, he did. And we all watched.

How about Dembski and Marks? Couldn’t handle it could you.

You faked knowledge of the relationship between religion and science didn’t you. Got nailed for it didn’t you. Ran away, you did.

You were given a set of specs for a deity detector 4 years ago. Remember? You have done nothing with it since. Keep changing the subject, don’t you.

Who’s afraid, FL? Who’s afraid of science? Who is afraid of revising his sectarian dogma? Who is afraid of going to hell? Who is afraid of losing his leadership position in his cult? Who is afraid to question? Who is afraid of deities?

You are not a Christian. Everybody can see that but you; but you are AFRAID to admit it. YOU are AFRAID. YOU are TERRIFIED of the truth.

Taunting and macho bravado are FEAR, FL, YOUR fear. We all know it. We keep reminding you. But you keep bluffing.

We learn your sectarian pseudo-science because we are NOT afraid. YOU not only avoid learning REAL science; YOU even refuse to learn your own sectarian pseudo-science.

Wanna go around again with that Dembski and Marks paper, FL? Wanna do the thermodynamics thing again, FL? Wannna get your ass kicked again, FL?

Love it, don’tcha. Makes you a “martyr,” huh. Big hunkin’ hero for Jesus; monster-mashin’ through the “Garden of Infidels.” Macho man! Heap big swagger!

We see who you are. We know. YOU fear US; and YOU fear your deity.

FL said:

Just making sure you’re awake, Stanton. Don’t want’cha to git bored around here!!

Where in the Bible does it say that Jesus approves of Christians falsely accusing other Christians of being God-hating atheists? Is it right next to where Jesus said believing in Evolution, or not reading the Bible word-for-word literally is instant damnation?

Mike Elzinga said:

You are not a Christian. Everybody can see that but you; but you are AFRAID to admit it. YOU are AFRAID. YOU are TERRIFIED of the truth.

If FL really is a Christian, then why does he constantly engage in behavior that Jesus Christ specifically forbid? If FL really is a Christian, why does he lie? Why does he accuse his fellow Christians of being God-hating atheists? If FL really is a Christian, then why does he act like a Pharisee in order to deny Salvation to those Christians who won’t lick his ass?

The only excuse he’s given is that he does these things for his own disgusting amusement. Nevermind that Jesus said such behavior was completely inexcusable for any reason.

Taunting and macho bravado are FEAR, FL, YOUR fear. We all know it. We keep reminding you. But you keep bluffing.

We learn your sectarian pseudo-science because we are NOT afraid. YOU not only avoid learning REAL science; YOU even refuse to learn your own sectarian pseudo-science.

Wanna go around again with that Dembski and Marks paper, FL? Wanna do the thermodynamics thing again, FL? Wannna get your ass kicked again, FL?

Love it, don’tcha. Makes you a “martyr,” huh. Big hunkin’ hero for Jesus; monster-mashin’ through the “Garden of Infidels.” Macho man! Heap big swagger!

We see who you are. We know. YOU fear US; and YOU fear your deity.

We keep pointing this out to FL, but, I think he’s far too afraid of pulling the beams out of his eyes to see.

Love it, don’tcha. Makes you a “martyr,” huh. Big hunkin’ hero for Jesus; monster-mashin’ through the “Garden of Infidels.” Macho man! Heap big swagger!

Gosh Mike, alluva sudden you seem very caliente about things!!! Hopefully my post didn’t strike any, ummm, nerves.

FL

Well, I think this thread has pretty much exhausted the topic(s). It’s been … erm … instructive. Yeah, that’s the word: “instructive.” Thanks for your participation, folks. I’ll be turning off comments as soon as I can get the editor loaded.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on September 23, 2011 4:48 PM.

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