The DI’s list of “Darwin doubters” analyzed

| 146 Comments

On Facebook (yeah, I’ve got an account that I look at occasionally), Genie Scott calls attention to David Bailey’s analysis of the Disco ‘Tute’s list of “Scientific Dissent[ers] from Darwinism,” which is now up to 854 signators by my count. There were 840 names on the list when the analysis was performed last April. I quote from Bailey’s conclusion:

In short, no matter how one objectively compares these lists, it is a fair conclusion that several hundred times as many well-qualified professional scientists accept the main precepts of evolution as dissent from them.

Add to that the wishy-washy wording of the “Dissent,” and one has mush.

146 Comments

The Dishonesty Institute’s list of Darwin dissenters was started in 2001, and several signatories have since died. Do they remove those names, or keep them?

Paul Burnett said:

The Dishonesty Institute’s list of Darwin dissenters was started in 2001, and several signatories have since died. Do they remove those names, or keep them?

It depends: did said signatories make deathbed recantations or conversions upon their demises?

I don’t think it practical to expect the DI to routinely verify that everyone on their list is alive. Likewise for the NCSE and its list. If anyone sees a list of hundreds of people that was started in 2001 and does realize that many of them are likely to have died then they are profoundly stupid.

As for debunking the DI list, one should point out that large numbers of the signers of the DI list do accept common descent though the list is often used to attack “evolution.” Someone asked them in the early part of the last decade.

Pretty much any evolutionary biologist could sign the DI statement if they failed to comprehend what the list’s real purpose is. After all, things other than natural selection and mutation clearly do affect evolution. Consider the asteroid that took out the non-avian dinosaurs. Also the mitochondria’s origins includes an event that does not fit what most people call a “mutation.”

It is traditional that the DI retain the signatures of dead people as they are capable of communicating with the dead through their spiritual contacts. I recall too that some people had changed their minds and requested removal of their names from the list, but the DI rejected their requests.

I wonder if their list is similar to an older one they had which turned out to be joke. See the video critique of the sham below as it’s very interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty1B[…]feature=plcp

The list footnotes several who have died since they signed.

Paul Burnett said:

The Dishonesty Institute’s list of Darwin dissenters was started in 2001, and several signatories have since died. Do they remove those names, or keep them?

Didn’t strike me as much of an analysis, and not very useful.

Yes, of course since this is a creationist PR exercise, what these people agreed to bears very little resemblance to what they are represented as having agreed to. But how many of the signers really were legitimately tricked by this? Any? I’ve heard rumors of one or two, which isn’t many.

So maybe another approach is to examine the religious orientations of the signers. How many can be associated in one way or another with fundagelicism? It seems clear to me that correlating the signers with religious position would be FAR more informative than correlating them with relevance of their specializatons.

Really, how important is it that 60% of the Steve List are in closely related fields, and only 30% of the DI list? Wouldn’t we learn a LOT more if we found that 1% of the Steve List and 99% of the DI list were creationists? (And there’s always going to be 1% who don’t understand what they’re signing).

Of course, trying to pin down the religious orientation of 840 people isn’t an armchair task - it’s going to require some serious legwork. At least serious enough to require funding. And who would fund such a task?

I did a short item on why Darwin could have signed the “Dissent from Darwin” statement: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]-darwin.html

And, we should bear in mind that people have tried to leave the Disco’tutes list. Even people named Steve!: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]rk-side.html

Gary_Hurd said:

I did a short item on why Darwin could have signed the “Dissent from Darwin” statement: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]-darwin.html

And, we should bear in mind that people have tried to leave the Disco’tutes list. Even people named Steve!: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]rk-side.html

This comment intended as a friendly expansion on the topic.

“Artificial” selection is a form of natural selection. Humans are 100% natural and 100% animals. That’s a point that atheists and people with traditional religious beliefs, as opposed to freakish right wing dystopian reality-denying hyper-ideologues, can all accept as obvious. “Artificial” selection is just one animal’s behavior impacting on the evolution of other species it interacts with in the common environment.

Certainly, humans are a bit more clever (in this specific context) than even our highly intelligent primate, canine, cephalopod and feline fellow travelers. We’ve selected for animals that voluntarily live within our grasp, whereas all foxes have ever selected for, highly intelligent though they are, is animals that are better at getting away from foxes (or good at being parasites on foxes, but in that respect, we’re more equal). Although Darwin did the British thing of separating between “artificial” and “natural” selection, it’s fairly clear that he understood that they are basically the same thing.

Often associated with the DI petition and its growing length is the statement that “scientists increasingly doubt evolution” Scientific literature shows to the contrary that support for evolution continues to increase.

I’d guess that artificial selection would tend to reduce the number of variables involved, or at least the impact of variables that the people involved consider irrelevant.

But that’s a difference of degree, not a difference in the basic principles.

Henry

The LIST is a reply to accusations NO scientists agree with creationists ideas and criticisms of many conclusions in origin issues. It should be that any claim made in ‘science” is sustained by the evidence alone. however in these matters it quickly turns to a head count of degree-ed people agreeing or disagreeing with this or that. In fact a favourite criticism of us is that authority is invoked instead of good old fashioned proof. I would say its strange but it proves to me the lack of evidence and confidence in evidence of evolutionists. They instinctively smell their case is very light if pressed for evidence. In “other” science subjects invoking head counts to back up assertions never happens. They don’t need too. The evidence is there and not realizing it is a reflection on those who don’t. Say no more.

Origin issues are always difficult to prove. They are about past and gone events and processes.

The list here shows a great problem with evolution etc. it shouldn’t have such dissent. The dissent here is already proof evolution has failed to be a scientific conclusion and after all this time such dissent is a hint of the future. Evolutionism really was always just lines of reasoning and speculation. We are at the beginning of the end for ToE. YEC was always here but ID and the well degree-ed folks thereof really settleing the thing.

harold said:

Gary_Hurd said:

I did a short item on why Darwin could have signed the “Dissent from Darwin” statement: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]-darwin.html

And, we should bear in mind that people have tried to leave the Disco’tutes list. Even people named Steve!: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]rk-side.html

This comment intended as a friendly expansion on the topic.

“Artificial” selection is a form of natural selection. Humans are 100% natural and 100% animals. That’s a point that atheists and people with traditional religious beliefs, as opposed to freakish right wing dystopian reality-denying hyper-ideologues, can all accept as obvious. “Artificial” selection is just one animal’s behavior impacting on the evolution of other species it interacts with in the common environment.

Certainly, humans are a bit more clever (in this specific context) than even our highly intelligent primate, canine, cephalopod and feline fellow travelers. We’ve selected for animals that voluntarily live within our grasp, whereas all foxes have ever selected for, highly intelligent though they are, is animals that are better at getting away from foxes (or good at being parasites on foxes, but in that respect, we’re more equal). Although Darwin did the British thing of separating between “artificial” and “natural” selection, it’s fairly clear that he understood that they are basically the same thing.

I think that “artificial selection” could qualify as an example of mutualism. Yes, we tend to kill and eat the critters we raise. However, they do better than in the wild for the the time they have, and prize breeders do very well indeed.

Robert Byers said: Origin issues are always difficult to prove.

Since demonstrating confidence that a scientific theory is likely to be correct (science doesn’t deal in “proof”) requires evidence, how about some evidence for your version.

–W. H. Heydt

Robert, did you study the list, how many YEC’s do you find there? Dembski, Behe?

Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

Creationists, both ID and YEC don’t study the evidence; they read the Bible.

Do you study the evidence?

As far as I’m concerned, the real issue is whether there is any interesting criticism which calls into question our basic understanding of evolution. (For example, is there any way of accounting for the tree of life which does not involve common descent?) If there is only one person who has an interesting criticism, then let’s hear about it.

Why has no one produced such an interesting criticism?

W. H. Heydt said:

Robert Byers said: Origin issues are always difficult to prove.

Since demonstrating confidence that a scientific theory is likely to be correct (science doesn’t deal in “proof”) requires evidence, how about some evidence for your version.

–W. H. Heydt

We’ve asked Robert Byers for evidence supporting Young Earth Creationism. At best, we’ve gotten inane handwaves and nonsensical extrapolations, and at worst, and most frequently, Robert Byers denies a need to provide supporting evidence, either ignoring our requests entirely, or directly dismissing our requests, making some half-assed statement about how it’s magically not his responsibility to support his moronic claims.

Gary_Hurd said:

harold said:

Gary_Hurd said:

I did a short item on why Darwin could have signed the “Dissent from Darwin” statement: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]-darwin.html

And, we should bear in mind that people have tried to leave the Disco’tutes list. Even people named Steve!: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]rk-side.html

This comment intended as a friendly expansion on the topic.

“Artificial” selection is a form of natural selection. Humans are 100% natural and 100% animals. That’s a point that atheists and people with traditional religious beliefs, as opposed to freakish right wing dystopian reality-denying hyper-ideologues, can all accept as obvious. “Artificial” selection is just one animal’s behavior impacting on the evolution of other species it interacts with in the common environment.

Certainly, humans are a bit more clever (in this specific context) than even our highly intelligent primate, canine, cephalopod and feline fellow travelers. We’ve selected for animals that voluntarily live within our grasp, whereas all foxes have ever selected for, highly intelligent though they are, is animals that are better at getting away from foxes (or good at being parasites on foxes, but in that respect, we’re more equal). Although Darwin did the British thing of separating between “artificial” and “natural” selection, it’s fairly clear that he understood that they are basically the same thing.

I think that “artificial selection” could qualify as an example of mutualism. Yes, we tend to kill and eat the critters we raise. However, they do better than in the wild for the the time they have, and prize breeders do very well indeed.

That seems highly reasonable to me.

Robert Byers said:

The LIST is a reply to accusations NO scientists agree with creationists ideas and criticisms of many conclusions in origin issues. It should be that any claim made in ‘science” is sustained by the evidence alone. however in these matters it quickly turns to a head count of degree-ed people agreeing or disagreeing with this or that. In fact a favourite criticism of us is that authority is invoked instead of good old fashioned proof. I would say its strange but it proves to me the lack of evidence and confidence in evidence of evolutionists. They instinctively smell their case is very light if pressed for evidence. In “other” science subjects invoking head counts to back up assertions never happens. They don’t need too. The evidence is there and not realizing it is a reflection on those who don’t. Say no more.

Origin issues are always difficult to prove. They are about past and gone events and processes.

The list here shows a great problem with evolution etc. it shouldn’t have such dissent. The dissent here is already proof evolution has failed to be a scientific conclusion and after all this time such dissent is a hint of the future. Evolutionism really was always just lines of reasoning and speculation. We are at the beginning of the end for ToE. YEC was always here but ID and the well degree-ed folks thereof really settleing the thing.

You are absolutely correct Robert. It should be that any claim made in science is sustained by the evidence alone. Evolution has lots of evidence, creationism has none. That should tell you something. You should never relay on authority and do head counts, that’s what the creationists are doing. Scientists are simply mocking them for doing so, that’s the point of the Steve list, get a clue. The creationist list shows a great problem for creationism, nothing else. Why spend your time making silly lists when you could be in the lab doing real science and getting real evidence, that’s the only thing that will convince any real scientist. Dissent by ignorant reality deniers who offer no alternative and no evidence isn’t a problem for evolution, it’s a problem for reality deniers. If you think that it is somehow a problem for real scientists, then you must conclude that the fact that most of the people in the world don’t accept your religion is a really big problem for your religion. Maybe you picked the wrong one after all.

You can cluck and crow and spout nonsense about the end of evolution all you want to. The fact remains that literally thousands of papers are published in the peer reviewed literature every year providing clear evidence for modern evolutionary theory. Creationists don’t publish in the real scientific literature and apparently they don’t read it either. But keep it up Robert, you are the only weapon we need to demonstrate the hypocricy of creationism.

Robert Byers said:

The LIST is a reply to accusations NO scientists agree with creationists ideas and criticisms of many conclusions in origin issues. It should be that any claim made in ‘science” is sustained by the evidence alone. however in these matters it quickly turns to a head count of degree-ed people agreeing or disagreeing with this or that. In fact a favourite criticism of us is that authority is invoked instead of good old fashioned proof. I would say its strange but it proves to me the lack of evidence and confidence in evidence of evolutionists. They instinctively smell their case is very light if pressed for evidence. In “other” science subjects invoking head counts to back up assertions never happens. They don’t need too. The evidence is there and not realizing it is a reflection on those who don’t. Say no more.

Origin issues are always difficult to prove. They are about past and gone events and processes.

The list here shows a great problem with evolution etc. it shouldn’t have such dissent. The dissent here is already proof evolution has failed to be a scientific conclusion and after all this time such dissent is a hint of the future. Evolutionism really was always just lines of reasoning and speculation. We are at the beginning of the end for ToE. YEC was always here but ID and the well degree-ed folks thereof really settleing the thing.

Thank you for the morning laughs, Booby. You never fail to crack me up!

I seem to recall that Richard Dawkins has stated that he, in good conscience, could sign such a statement.

Gary_Hurd said:

I did a short item on why Darwin could have signed the “Dissent from Darwin” statement: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]-darwin.html

And, we should bear in mind that people have tried to leave the Disco’tutes list. Even people named Steve!: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]rk-side.html

SLC said:

I seem to recall that Richard Dawkins has stated that he, in good conscience, could sign such a statement.

Gary_Hurd said:

I did a short item on why Darwin could have signed the “Dissent from Darwin” statement: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]-darwin.html

And, we should bear in mind that people have tried to leave the Disco’tutes list. Even people named Steve!: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/20[…]rk-side.html

Maybe we should do that, and take the opportunity to explain why the statement itself is meaningless regarding the validity of evolutionary biology, and what a fraud the Disco’tute is.

W. H. Heydt said:

Robert Byers said: Origin issues are always difficult to prove.

Since demonstrating confidence that a scientific theory is likely to be correct (science doesn’t deal in “proof”) requires evidence, how about some evidence for your version.

–W. H. Heydt

For YEC the bible is our claim for what happened. then we take on anything thrown against this. We debunk our oppositions evidence. Thats all we have to do.

For explaining things we speculate with the best of them. Evidence for our side is simply interoperating data in the field more accurately.

Rolf said:

Robert, did you study the list, how many YEC’s do you find there? Dembski, Behe?

Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

Creationists, both ID and YEC don’t study the evidence; they read the Bible.

Do you study the evidence?

I have in the subjects I care about studied the best they got for why they make their conclusions. I find it fails in evidence or proper scientific investigation. The latter because investigation in origin subjects is difficult and repeating process, to demonstrate process, non existent.

Robert said:

I have in the subjects I care about studied the best they got for why they make their conclusions.

Please give an example of “the best they got” that you have studied. To name just a very few,like Ernst Mayr, Sean B. Carroll, Neil Shubin, Jeffrey K. McKee, Richard Dawkins, S.J. Gould, Willima F. Loomis, Mark S. Blumberg or Jonathan Weiner (Beak of the Finch), Ted Nield,Iris Fry - even Elaine Morgan, I presume?

With a keen interest like yours, you must have quite a library at hand. Those are just the few books I have on my own bookshelf. Add to that those I have given away, library loans - and yet there are hundreds of books that I wish I had read.

I also read all the science news I can find time to browse on the Internet.

Now, honestly tell us whether you are a conscientious student of evolutionary biology or just the crackpot creationist we find in your writings. I think you are lying, you do not speak the truth like a Christian is obliged to.

You have not made a honest effort of learning the facts from the people who knows, the scientists themselves. Prove me wrong.

Robert Byers said:

For YEC the bible is our claim for what happened. then we take on anything thrown against this. We debunk our oppositions evidence. Thats all we have to do.

For explaining things we speculate with the best of them. Evidence for our side is simply interoperating data in the field more accurately.

Do you agree with the Bible that the Sun goes around a stationary Earth? Or do you allow naturalistic evidence and human reasoning to influence your interpretation of the Bible to accept a heliocentric model of the Solar System?

For something like 2000 years (500 BC to AD 1500), everybody agreed that the Bible said that the Earth was fixed. Since then, almost everybody came to accept modern science. That includes most YECs, who do not “take on everything thrown against this”, but rather accommodate to modern science.

Robert Byers said:

The LIST is a reply to accusations NO scientists agree with creationists ideas and criticisms of many conclusions in origin issues. It should be that any claim made in ‘science” is sustained by the evidence alone. however in these matters it quickly turns to a head count of degree-ed people agreeing or disagreeing with this or that. In fact a favourite criticism of us is that authority is invoked instead of good old fashioned proof. I would say its strange but it proves to me the lack of evidence and confidence in evidence of evolutionists. They instinctively smell their case is very light if pressed for evidence. In “other” science subjects invoking head counts to back up assertions never happens. They don’t need too. The evidence is there and not realizing it is a reflection on those who don’t. Say no more.

Origin issues are always difficult to prove. They are about past and gone events and processes.

The list here shows a great problem with evolution etc. it shouldn’t have such dissent. The dissent here is already proof evolution has failed to be a scientific conclusion and after all this time such dissent is a hint of the future. Evolutionism really was always just lines of reasoning and speculation. We are at the beginning of the end for ToE. YEC was always here but ID and the well degree-ed folks thereof really settleing the thing.

Then WHY DIDN’T THEY ASK ABOUT ORIGINS OR EVOLUTION? The statement that was actually signed said that the signer (often NOT a scientist) was skeptical of Darwinism (which is variation plus natural selection) explaining ALL biological features, nad and that evidence should be evaluated (which creationists rarely do). There was nothing in it that can be construed as “shows a great problem with evolution”.

Robert Byers said:

W. H. Heydt said:

Robert Byers said: Origin issues are always difficult to prove.

Since demonstrating confidence that a scientific theory is likely to be correct (science doesn’t deal in “proof”) requires evidence, how about some evidence for your version.

–W. H. Heydt

For YEC the bible is our claim for what happened. then we take on anything thrown against this. We debunk our oppositions evidence. Thats all we have to do.

For explaining things we speculate with the best of them. Evidence for our side is simply interoperating data in the field more accurately.

You’re still cracking me up in the morning, Booby!

Robert Byers said:

Rolf said:

Robert, did you study the list, how many YEC’s do you find there? Dembski, Behe?

Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

Creationists, both ID and YEC don’t study the evidence; they read the Bible.

Do you study the evidence?

I have in the subjects I care about studied the best they got for why they make their conclusions. I find it fails in evidence or proper scientific investigation. The latter because investigation in origin subjects is difficult and repeating process, to demonstrate process, non existent.

Booby,

Here is a fact for you:

You know absolutely, positively, and unequivocally (you may need to look up that last word, “unequivocally”) nothing at all, whatsoever, in any way, shape, form, or manner about any branch, or sub-branch, of any science that begins with any letter of any alphabet – no ifs, ands, or buts about that at all! You are completely, thoroughly, totally, utterly, and profoundly clueless of any science at all. Now, are you going to be honest with yourself and accept that fact?

You are good for a morning laugh (sometimes), though – so that is a plus I suppose. But, the humor is waning – I think Rolf is right; you are just another lying creationist crackpot. Lying is not very Christian of you. Indeed, prove Rolf wrong. If you do that, then maybe you can help me with a couple of physics problems I am having some slight trouble with that I anticipate will be on an exam next week. Can or will you do that?

My prediction, Booby: Crickets chirping. Give us some of that evidence “…our side is simply interoperating data in the field more accurately.”

Yes, we should stop feeding the Booby troll.

Will Byers ever get around to reading Endless Forms Most Beautiful (a popular level book about evo-devo) and then to “enlightening” us about all the geology that is supposedly part of evo-devo?

Will Byers ever get around to explaining why the particular Designer he seems to believe in would intentionally put broken genes (such as the Vitamin C pseudogene and hemoglobin pseudogene) in the same places in humans, chimps, bonobos, gorillas and other primates? We especially want to know why these defective genes often have exact matching defects (in both humans and other primates). As geneticists have discovered, the hemoglobin pseudogene has six defects. This includes a particular defective stop switch in middle of the pseudogene that is a triple-copy; these six defects (including the particular off switch which is, again, a triple-copy defect) are in the exact same places in humans, chimps, bonobos, gorillas.

Will Byers ever tell Biology-online.org (click here for indirect link) to remove anatomy, ethology (the study of animal behavior) and biogeography from the list of sub-fields within biology?

Will Byers.….…oh, never mind.

(but if per chance Byers does get around to these questions, they perhaps would be better posted in the Bathroom Wall)

https://me.yahoo.com/a/KirCgV93wJhL[…]I4xKqx#26847 said:

what is interesting to me is how is this different from the climate denialism phenomenon. Is it different? The bible is out there as a ‘prediction’ of sorts, but i can’t see anything that is equivalent to climate change beliefs.

It’s an interesting question. The climate denialist version of the Darwin Dissent List is the Oregon Petition, with the same fatal problems. Anti-evolutionists tend to argue from a position that if evolution were true they would have to give up believing in their religion; this same mindset comes through even more sharply with climate denialists, who will more or less tell you that they reject the basis of the science because the consequences (government-level regulation and intervention in the markets) can’t be squared with their political ideology. I’ve already written up a big post here on PT about how Roy Spencer embodies both forms of denialism and seemingly uses the exact same fallacies to support them. In his case, there is both an explicit religious AND political element to his rejection of the AGW problem.

It seems that both denialist positions are driven by an extremely powerful Appeal to Consequences of Belief type of thinking.

I wonder, is there a list of those who choose not to believe in continental drift because that would mean that millions would die in earthquakes? Is there a list of those who refuse to believe that a meteor could impact the earth because that would mean mass extinction? IS there a list of those who don’t want to believe in germs because that would mean that epidemics could happen?

Tenncrain said:

Malcolm said:

Just in case any of the other YECs out there decide to take up Tenncrain’s challenge: You also need to explain why guinea pigs have a completely different broken gene stopping them from producing vitamin C.

Guess there were no takers.

Actually, guinea pigs have the same broken Vitamin C gene (the GULO psuedogene) as humans, chimps, monkeys, etc. But humans and other primates with GULO psuedogenes have a very interesting feature: their GULO pseudogenes are broken in the exact same spot. BTW, most primates have the broken GULO gene. But more distantly related primates like Lemurs have fully functional GULO genes and thus like most mammals can make their own Vitamin C.

However, the guinea pig GULO psuedogene is broken in a completely different location than humans, chimps, monkeys, etc.

When you look at the big picture, this all of course again shows a nested hierarchy and again suggests common descent.

Oops! What I meant was that guinea pigs have a totally different break in their gene.

I can only put it down to typing while drunk.

DS said:

Tenncrain said:

Richard B. Hoppe said:

I mostly leave Byers in because he so beautifully illustrates the creationist mindset, one I’m familiar with from extended local experience. Let me say it plainly: Byers is not an aberration, not an outlier. In spite of being Canadian, he represents a non-trivial segment of the U.S. creationist population, and is a clear refutation of the notion that if only they were better educated in science they’d abandon their anti-science and anti-evolution positions. Not a few folks on ‘our’ side believe that, but for those in the Ken Ham presuppositionalist camp–where Byers resides–it’s plainly false. And he is not alone.

I’m also familiar with this mindset. Indeed, try having many of your relatives and close friends as YECs - after you become an ex-YEC.

To be sure, I and a few friends/relatives have shed our YEC beliefs, so more science education does work for some (although I struggled for about a year even if mainly for spiritual reasons not scientific ones). But most friends/relatives still remain YECs at all costs and they display many of the eccentric mannerisms of the trolls here at PT. One individual YEC - who combined both the stupidity of Byers and the taunting of FL - tried to be particularly nasty. Guess this is the price an ex-YEC can pay for mutiny.

Been there, done that. Keep the faith brother (or lack thereof). I have been told everything from dinosaur infants on the ark (which makes no sense at all), to dinosaurs are still being caught today (they are just released to prevent them from suffering so there is conveniently no evidence), to all professors are all out to brainwash you (for some unknown reason, but apparently they are all gay so I guess that is sup[posed to explain it). Holidays, when the whole family gets together, can be a real trip that’s for sure. And it doesn’t matter how hard you try to avoid conflict or be peace maker, ironically enough the Jesus loves me crowd always seems to be out for blood.

Thanks, DS.

It helps that one of my siblings has joined me in being an ex-YEC. Also, my partner grew up in a church that strongly teaches evolution in their private schools. Like other moderate theists, it’s been somewhat of an effort for her to fathom YECism.

It’s as if some people judge the accuracy of an argument by how they feel about the conclusion.

Esp. with global warming - I for one certainly don’t like its conclusions. But unfortunately, that’s not one of the criteria.

Henry J said:

It’s as if some people judge the accuracy of an argument by how they feel about the conclusion.

To be fair, everybody does that sometimes. We just train ourselves (or let ourselves be trained by others) not to do it all the time for everything.

Henry J said:

It’s as if some people judge the accuracy of an argument by how they feel about the conclusion.

To be fair, everybody does that sometimes. But as we go along, we just train ourselves (or let ourselves be trained by others) not to do it all the time for everything. The biggest sticking point is to be aware of the tendency and catch yourself doing it.

The biggest sticking point is to be aware of the tendency and catch yourself doing it.

But I don’t like that conclusion, therefore…

At one time there were some scientists who were highly skeptical of continental drift, even as late as the 1960s. For example, George Gaylord Simpson was one of them.

DS said:

I wonder, is there a list of those who choose not to believe in continental drift because that would mean that millions would die in earthquakes? Is there a list of those who refuse to believe that a meteor could impact the earth because that would mean mass extinction? IS there a list of those who don’t want to believe in germs because that would mean that epidemics could happen?

SLC said:

At one time there were some scientists who were highly skeptical of continental drift, even as late as the 1960s. For example, George Gaylord Simpson was one of them.

DS said:

I wonder, is there a list of those who choose not to believe in continental drift because that would mean that millions would die in earthquakes? Is there a list of those who refuse to believe that a meteor could impact the earth because that would mean mass extinction? IS there a list of those who don’t want to believe in germs because that would mean that epidemics could happen?

Precisely. What convinced them was the evidence, not their wants and desires, not their fairy tale versions of reality, not the fear of the consequences. The evidence is all that matters. Funny that creationists don’t seem to want to get any. They can doubt all they want, but unless they actually spend some of their money to actually study nature, they are never going to convince anybody. They can scream about morality, they can threaten eternal damnation, but in the end denial of reality is what really has consequences.

A Swedish TV journalist and tv personality, Robert Aschberg, recently was interviewed on TV. He told that he’d been tricked out of 20 million SEK, hard earned and what was left after the IRS had done their job. With open eyes this skeptic, realistic and intelligent person had been into the lure for several years before finally wisening up.

Which goes to prove that the placebo principle works at all levels of human activity. The tales told and the promises made by TV pastors and all other kinds of tricksters, snake oil salesmen and what have you got - we are all vulnerable to them. If you have been indoctrinated (you can do it all by yourself too!) from an early age, you will have a hard time if ever you are to get out from whatever spell has been cast on you.

I grew up like a savage and had to find my own way, and decided the best bet was to go with science. Never regretted it.

Religious indoctrination from an early age programs and corrupts the brains of innocent children.How can they learn skepticism and respect for evidence and scientific thinking?

Dave Luckett said:

It is only very rarely, if ever, that the Biblical Hebrew and Koine can be closely enough pinned down in translation as to be unequivocably caught out in an absolute error of everyday fact. As Helena Constantine says, the Hebrew words do not actually mean “insect” or “bird” or “leg” as we mean them. The celebrated passage in 1 Kings 7:23 onward describing the “sea” of Solomon, the great bronze vessel in the first Temple, which appears to say that the circumference is exactly three times the diameter of a circle, is also loose enough to allow for it to be accurate. The Hebrew word describing the vessel’s shape probably means “round”, not “perfect circle”. An ellipse is round, in this sense. Or the language does not make plain whether the measure of the rim was inside or outside, and ditto for the diameter.

If the size and capacity of the thing is actually factual, and not a brag, the bronze would have had to be several inches thick at the rim. No wonder the writers thought it was something wonderful - that would have required enormous resources and wealth, in the ninth century BCE. In fact, the Bible devotes a great deal more space to a detailed and approving description of Solomon’s sea than it does to proscribing homosexuality. How come fundamentalist churches don’t go in for showy bronze objects, I wonder, since the Bible writers thought they were so important, and all?

Solomon’s sea does not demonstrate that the Bible writers thought that pi=3. (They probably didn’t think that.) But what it does show, and what the fundamentalists can never get into their pointy little heads, is that the people who wrote the Bible thought in terms different to the terms we think in and it is that which we read. The writers of that particular passage thought that the terrific wealth and power of Solomon, and the richness of his Temple, were worth spending a lot of time and trouble to extol. They were not writing down what God told them, they were writing down what they thought in the terms they thought it. “Consider the lilies,” said Jesus, and that is a radically different thought. Actually subversive, by comparison.

Just think: the writers of 1 Kings thought it was really important to convey the sheer impressiveness of the Temple. Jesus plainly wasn’t impressed. The real contradiction, the one that matters, is there, not in the question of what pi is equal to.

So, to sum up your post, the Bible is not inaccurate, because the translations everyone uses are inaccurate, therefore the Bible is accurate.

KlausH said:

Dave Luckett said:

It is only very rarely, if ever, that the Biblical Hebrew and Koine can be closely enough pinned down in translation as to be unequivocably caught out in an absolute error of everyday fact. As Helena Constantine says, the Hebrew words do not actually mean “insect” or “bird” or “leg” as we mean them. The celebrated passage in 1 Kings 7:23 onward describing the “sea” of Solomon, the great bronze vessel in the first Temple, which appears to say that the circumference is exactly three times the diameter of a circle, is also loose enough to allow for it to be accurate. The Hebrew word describing the vessel’s shape probably means “round”, not “perfect circle”. An ellipse is round, in this sense. Or the language does not make plain whether the measure of the rim was inside or outside, and ditto for the diameter.

If the size and capacity of the thing is actually factual, and not a brag, the bronze would have had to be several inches thick at the rim. No wonder the writers thought it was something wonderful - that would have required enormous resources and wealth, in the ninth century BCE. In fact, the Bible devotes a great deal more space to a detailed and approving description of Solomon’s sea than it does to proscribing homosexuality. How come fundamentalist churches don’t go in for showy bronze objects, I wonder, since the Bible writers thought they were so important, and all?

Solomon’s sea does not demonstrate that the Bible writers thought that pi=3. (They probably didn’t think that.) But what it does show, and what the fundamentalists can never get into their pointy little heads, is that the people who wrote the Bible thought in terms different to the terms we think in and it is that which we read. The writers of that particular passage thought that the terrific wealth and power of Solomon, and the richness of his Temple, were worth spending a lot of time and trouble to extol. They were not writing down what God told them, they were writing down what they thought in the terms they thought it. “Consider the lilies,” said Jesus, and that is a radically different thought. Actually subversive, by comparison.

Just think: the writers of 1 Kings thought it was really important to convey the sheer impressiveness of the Temple. Jesus plainly wasn’t impressed. The real contradiction, the one that matters, is there, not in the question of what pi is equal to.

So, to sum up your post, the Bible is not inaccurate, because the translations everyone uses are inaccurate, therefore the Bible is accurate.

Huh?

That is nowhere near to what he said.

phhht said:

KlausH said:

So, to sum up your post, the Bible is not inaccurate, because the translations everyone uses are inaccurate, therefore the Bible is accurate.

Huh?

That is nowhere near to what he said.

Really? That is what his FIRST SENTENCE says and the rest just fleshes it out. His whole post claims that the Bible is not caught “an absolute error of everyday fact” because of inexact translation. What did you think he said?

KlausH said:

phhht said:

KlausH said:

So, to sum up your post, the Bible is not inaccurate, because the translations everyone uses are inaccurate, therefore the Bible is accurate.

Huh?

That is nowhere near to what he said.

Really? That is what his FIRST SENTENCE says and the rest just fleshes it out. His whole post claims that the Bible is not caught “an absolute error of everyday fact” because of inexact translation. What did you think he said?

In his first sentence, I thought he said

It is only very rarely, if ever, that the Biblical Hebrew and Koine can be closely enough pinned down in translation as to be unequivocably caught out in an absolute error of everyday fact.

That seems pellucid to me.

What did you think he said?

I must admit that I had no intention of implying what KlausH imputes to me.

As Helena Constantine explains, the Bible’s authors did not have a term available to them that means “insect” precisely as the English means it. The Hebrew means “creeping things”, and spiders, centipedes, scorpions and visible worms were all lumped into it. The taxonomy of the living world with which we are familiar, the one that derives ultimately from Carl Linne’s, (and which works precisely because of common descent) did not exist. Similarly, the back legs of a grasshopper or cricket were not seen as legs, but as “springers”, so one of these kinds of “creeping things” only had four legs; a bird and a bat were both “flying things”.

And so on. The Bible’s authors were not unaware of nature. In fact, they were often keen observers of it, and closer to it than we. I think they were probably aware of a closer approximation of the value of pi than three, too; and while they certainly thought of the Earth as a flat plate surrounded by water and covered with a dome, the descriptions of it that appear in Job and Isaiah are poetic, and hardly to be considered rigorous, any more than my remarking that I was up this morning before the sun rose is to be considered an assertion that the sun moves rather than that the Earth rotates. To say that is as silly as the fundamentalist notion that because Isaiah describes the sky, (in one translation at least) as “stretched out like a canopy”, he anticipated the expansion of the Universe. (Isaiah 40:22). Ridiculous, considering that in the previous verse the prophet described God as sitting on the dome of the sky.

It’s not in these matters that the Bible fails. These are details, and can either be dismissed as insignificant, put down to metaphor, or ascribed to the fact that the original words and the concepts behind them were not the same as ours. Seizing on these makes the critic look as primitive and as picayune as the fundamentalists themselves.

Rather than getting into debates about, for example, whether the writer of 1 Kings thought pi=3, we should be asking questions like “Why did that writer devote a great deal more space to describing the appointments of the Temple of Solomon than is given to the Decalogue?”

The reason, of course, is political. The grandiosity of the Temple is to be emphasised and magnified at length because that tends to legitimise the House of David specifically and the separate political entity of Judah generally. It was almost certainly written down at a time when they no longer existed, and the text is merely a claim to former glory, having much the same legitimacy and deriving from much the same roots as the claims by Israeli “settlers” to land on the west bank and elsewhere today. In other words, it’s propaganda.

But as soon as you say that, you recognise that the Bible is the product of humans whose purposes were not by any stretch of the imagination divinely inspired. Similarly, anyone who has read history can look at, say, the Nativity stories or those of the appearances of Jesus after death, and say confidently that these are clearly embroidered accounts of oral traditions that had already, a generation or two on, taken on mythic qualities.

Could the Bible also be the Word of God, in any part, or in any sense? I really don’t know. I must admit that I find in some of the words of Jesus a wisdom so profound as to be actually anomolous for that time and place, and there are other parts of Scripture that I treasure as great literature, even great philosophy or ethics. Nevertheless, certainly the Bible as a whole cannot make any such claim. Anyone who can read, say, the book of Joshua, or the description of the genocide against the Amelekites in Deuteronomy and Samuel, and not be revolted, has abandoned any pretence to ethics. Anyone who can say with a straight face that the Bible is even self-consistent on matters of basic ethics and morality is either demonstrating ignorance or attempting deception, whether of themselves, or out of a will to deceive others. The same for its understanding of the nature of God - it is simply not self-consistent on that, either.

But that’s where the crazy notion of Biblical infallibility and inerrancy should be attacked, not on questions of how many legs a grasshopper has.

Does that make matters clearer?

What interests me is the methodology of those who claim to accept both (1) that the Bible is authoritative on matters of the natural world and (2) the heliocentric model of the Solar System. It is clear that acceptance of heliocentrism is arrived at only by naturalistic modern science, and how one treats Biblical statements is strongly influenced by this science. (Whether the seeming geocentric statements are irrelevant, or are concessions to the culture which produced them, or whatever.) The question remains why one allows modern science to be determinative on the matter of the structure of the Solar System but not on other issues. There are very few people today who are Biblical geocentrists.

It seems to me that the case is much easier to make with respect to geocentrism than it is for pi=3 (or the flat Earth or, indeed, for the fixity of species) because only for geocentrism can one say that there was universal acceptance, for something like 2000 years, that the Bible authoritatively said that. Only for geocentrism can one say that this was considered serious enough that people got in deep trouble for denying it.

The literalists tend to say that the Bible is talking figuratively in regards to geocentrism. Byers recently said something like “We still talk about the sun rising and setting and we know that the circles the sun”. This raises the questions of (1) if the ancient Hebrews knew that the earth orbited the sun why not put it into the Bible and (2) how do you know that they didn’t mean for Genesis to figuratively as well.

Also it raises the question of why didn’t God give them some useful knowledge that no body else at the time knew.

MichaelJ said:

The literalists tend to say that the Bible is talking figuratively in regards to geocentrism. Byers recently said something like “We still talk about the sun rising and setting and we know that the circles the sun”. This raises the questions of (1) if the ancient Hebrews knew that the earth orbited the sun why not put it into the Bible and (2) how do you know that they didn’t mean for Genesis to figuratively as well.

Also it raises the question of why didn’t God give them some useful knowledge that no body else at the time knew.

Agreed. As I keep saying, the “literalists” aren’t literalists. They simply pick and choose which metaphors they’re going to accept, or declare as miracles or whatever. The odd thing about this is that they often include as metaphor expressions that the original writer meant literally. When the writer of that part of Genesis wrote at 7:11 that the windows of Heaven were opened, he meant that as a literal description. Openings were made in the dome of the firmament overhead, and the waters of the firmament poured in. (See, the sky is a clear dome on which the sun, moon, planets and stars move, and beyond it is water. Must be, because the colour of the sky is blue, just like the sea.)

Watching this process is akin to watching them declare which of the pre-human hominids is “man” and which is “ape”. They make an arbitrary and essentially meaningless distinction between two “kinds”. Same here. Some Biblical expressions are metaphorical and some are literal, and they purport to know which is which, according to whatever implied rules they make up as they go along, and change according to nonce requirements, while hotly denying that they’re doing it and - here’s the real laugh - differing among themselves about it and never, never acknowledging those differences.

MichaelJ said:

The literalists tend to say that the Bible is talking figuratively in regards to geocentrism. Byers recently said something like “We still talk about the sun rising and setting and we know that the circles the sun”. This raises the questions of (1) if the ancient Hebrews knew that the earth orbited the sun why not put it into the Bible and (2) how do you know that they didn’t mean for Genesis to figuratively as well.

Also it raises the question of why didn’t God give them some useful knowledge that no body else at the time knew.

No one, before the rise of modern science, suggested that the Bible was figurative in the statements which appear to be endorsing geocentrism. I concede that that doesn’t mean that all of those people couldn’t have been mistaken (although it does make one wonder whether the divine, omnipotent Author of the Bible and Designer of human capacity for thought couldn’t have expressed Himself more clearly and not have misled all of those people and how we can be all that confident that we aren’t mistaken). The only reason that we think today that the Bible is figurative is because of the evidence provided by modern science.

And, as you point out, why is our scientific, naturalistic knowledge of the mechanics of the Solar System so much better than our knowledge of common descent? I think that the evidence for common descent is more accessible to the non-scientist than is the evidence for heliocentrism: I challenge any Bible-literalist heliocentrist to provide the best evidence for heliocentrism; evidence that it is able to resist naive appeals to the General Theory of Relativity, for example; evidence which is easier to understand than the tree of life or biogeography.

And your last sentence brings up another interesting point. Why is it that the Bible seems to be talking only about those things about the natural world which were known to people of the Ancient Near East?

DS said:

SLC said:

At one time there were some scientists who were highly skeptical of continental drift, even as late as the 1960s. For example, George Gaylord Simpson was one of them.

DS said:

I wonder, is there a list of those who choose not to believe in continental drift because that would mean that millions would die in earthquakes? Is there a list of those who refuse to believe that a meteor could impact the earth because that would mean mass extinction? IS there a list of those who don’t want to believe in germs because that would mean that epidemics could happen?

Precisely. What convinced them was the evidence, not their wants and desires, not their fairy tale versions of reality, not the fear of the consequences. The evidence is all that matters. Funny that creationists don’t seem to want to get any. They can doubt all they want, but unless they actually spend some of their money to actually study nature, they are never going to convince anybody. They can scream about morality, they can threaten eternal damnation, but in the end denial of reality is what really has consequences.

you made a point that maybe you didn’t intend - but is none the less true:

Evolution deniers ARE NOT SCIENTISTS, they don’t care about convincing anybody (within the scientific community) they practice propaganda- the goal is not to gather evidence and further the knowlege of humankind, the goal is to gather ammo for the arguments that Fundamentalist Christian philosophy has “the answers” and science/secularism does not, or that the “moral implications” of the ToE are not true, or that the flock should give more money to ‘fight the good fight’. These people will NEVER engage is genuine scientific inquiry bucause THEY DON’T CARE about the process opf the qestions that can be answered via science (the believe they already KNOW the answers so why ask any more questions?)

Exactly. No real scientist would ever use the Appeal to Consequences of Belief argument. It isn’t logical, it isn’t rational and only a few moments of thought would be sufficient to convince any reasonable person not to use such an argument. The creationists can claim be be doing science all they want, they can claim that they value logic and reason, but when they try to pull nonsense as blatant as this, they invariable reveal themselves as the pseudoscientific charlatans that they are.

Real scientists value the evidence, regardless of the consequences. That is how evolution was discovered in the first place. Creationists on the other hand refuse to even look at evidence. No argument is too tortured, no stretch of the imagination is to far for them, just as long as they can find an excuse to ignore and deny the evidence.

I’d like to extend the observations that the evolution deniers are not doing science. They do not present any coherent and positive position, but are simply complaining that there is something, somehow wrong with evolutionary biology. They do not come up to the standards of secondary-school expository essays. One can grant that the Young Earth Creationists do at least tell us when and who, but Intelligent Design carefully avoids even that fragment of a position. Evolution denial makes no attempt to tell us, for example, the difference between things that are designed/created and those that are not. This is not science, but it is not history, jurisprudence, esthetics, or anything else - other than slogans in an advertising campaign for a social/political movement.

Overall I am optimistic in the longer term. Getting away from the partisan sites I find that creationists get drowned out. I think that the younger generation are more pro-science. You don’t need to convince everybody. Once the GOP can see they get a handful more votes being pro-science they will flip. The same with Fox.

I think the AGW denial will be the first to disappear. You already hear noises in the GOP about trying to turn around the default position. I think that the weather other the past couple of years together with what’s happening in the Arctic and Greenland paints a very clear picture that it is happening. I went around to the denial sites the other day and they all seem to be more about scandals with surveys and some email or other from the IPCC. None of them could paint a simple picture to counter what is happening now.

MichaelJ said:

The same with Fox.

At least within their science/technology pages on their website, FOX has been relatively good about biological evolution. Indeed, I recall seeing many anti-evolutionists in the comments section complaining of Fox being “biased” for evolution.

Of course, it’s a very different matter with many of the individual Fox on-air personalities.

Tenncrain said:

MichaelJ said:

The same with Fox.

At least within their science/technology pages on their website, FOX has been relatively good about biological evolution. Indeed, I recall seeing many anti-evolutionists in the comments section complaining of Fox being “biased” for evolution.

Of course, it’s a very different matter with many of the individual Fox on-air personalities.

Fox also have the Simpsons! Whatever brings in the profit and when right-wing crazy stops paying the bills they will switch

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on September 11, 2012 10:33 PM.

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