Saturday, May 04, 2013

Why Are "Darwinists" So Uncivil?

Let's ignore for a minute the people who comment on Sandwalk because it's clear that the most uncivil group is the creationists. Let's also ignore the people who comment on the creationist blogs because there it's also the supporters of religion who are the most uncivil. Oh hell, let's just ignore reality altogether and assume, for the sake of argument, that supporters of evolution are more uncivil than creationists.

Stephen A. Batzer speculates, very civilly, why this imaginary assumption might be true [Why Darwinism and Incivility Seem to Go Together].
  1. They're human. That says a lot that's negative about them and of course about us, too.
  2. They're typing, probably anonymously, on the Internet. I'm sure you have noticed the level of discourse on the Internet. The Lincoln-Douglas debates it isn't. On any topic.
  3. You are challenging their religious beliefs, which they know, just know, to be true.
  4. Thought leaders in the Darwinian movement, such as Dawkins, Prothero, Shermer and so on, inculcate and advocate incivility by their own example. Look at the way biologist James Shapiro and philosopher Jerry Fodor have been treated. It's ugly.
  5. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." That Darwinism is a FACT has been proclaimed since before all of us were born. Saying that the Darwinian mechanism of speciation is not a fact strikes many folks as if you're intimating that there is no Japan. It's just a made up country. When I try to measure the level of personal knowledge that Internet advocates have of evolutionary theory, it is almost universally superficial. This includes biologists.
  6. They have not taken the time to understand what the issues are or what evidence is convincing to those who disagree with them. They are ignorant in a nearly comprehensive way about why thoughtful, educated people find the "generate and filter" paradigm causally insufficient.
Isn't that amusing?

Now for the next bit ...

WARNING!!! Turn off your irony meter. It doesn't matter whether you have the updated Mark VIII with the extra power pack or not. Turn it off, NOW!!!

Here's how Stephen A. Batzer ends his post on Evolution News & Views (sic).

One thing that draws me to the ID movement is that it has the polite and understated ethic that science is supposed to have -- but does not have when the subject is evolution.



68 comments :

  1. "Not taken the time to understand the issues" is where we should have had the warning. Fortunately, I haven't used an irony-meter since 2004. Couldn't afford to keep replacing them.

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  2. Thanks for sharing Larry! This really is amusing stuff. FWIW, Russell Blackford and I, in our forthcoming book '50 Great Myths About Atheism' (sorry about plugging the book here) actually have a chapter looking at this in the context of the strident and supposedly militant atheists myth.

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  3. " Look at the way biologist James Shapiro and philosopher Jerry Fodor have been treated. It's ugly."
    I'm actually curious as to what mistreatment is going on. The worst I see is that both have been told they were talking nonsense by other experts, which is only to be expected since both Shapiro and Fodor have also accused the experts of being wrong and dogmatic. What's ugly about that?

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  4. Well, is there no other way but to believe that abiogenesis MUST be true? What further evidence is necessary? There is no scientific one, so the frustration because of lack of any evidence on the part of creationists must be the "missing link". Yeah, creationist are bad for the most part so the theory of evolution must be true even though the most important piece of it is missing-the origin of life. No big deal. The creation part is wrong because people who believe in it don't accept homosexuals. Darwin!!

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    1. Truly Dominic, what makes you think that coming to display your ignorance does any good to you and your beliefs? Are you stupid? (It's a question, not an insult.)

      Let me try and help you out. The evidence for evolution is so clear that evolution is a fact. Even if we had absolutely no idea about how life started, and no understanding about how natural phenomena could support a natural origin of life, the evidence for evolution would not vanish. Therefore you should avoid making the kinds of statements you are making until you learn and understand what you are saying.

      To further help you out. Your comment is no different to some ignorant coming and telling us, in angry and disdainful tones, that the theory that gravitation is behind the movements of the planets around the sun is missing it's most important part: the origin of the universe.

      I'm not making fun of you. I am explaining what your comment looks like to the eyes of those who do understand a bit more of science, specifically biology, than you do.

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    2. Dominic: Well, is there no other way but to believe that abiogenesis MUST be true? What further evidence is necessary? There is no scientific one, so the frustration because of lack of any evidence on the part of creationists must be the "missing link".Nobody actually goes through that chain of reasoning Dominic. It's entirely your own invention.

      Dominic: Yeah, creationist are bad for the most part so the theory of evolution must be true even though the most important piece of it is missing-the origin of life.
      Nope, I can't reckognise a chain of thought I or anyone else ever had here either.

      Dominic: No big deal. The creation part is wrong because people who believe in it don't accept homosexuals. Darwin!!
      How do you even come up with this ridiculous stuff? None of the beliefs of "Darwinists" or atheists are held for these ludicrous reasons.

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    3. To ignore your mocking tone, and give you an analogy of why it is scientific to investigate into and assume abiogenesis (without having the exact process understood,) I propose that you look at the Big Bang in the same way as abiogenesis. Using an understanding of the processes of evolution and the fact that all life shares the common mechanisms of reproduction in DNA/RNA and meiosis, one follow the trail backwards towards abiogenesis as a likely event. In cosmology the explanation of the Big Bang, though never observed, is a valid scientific theory that was logically reasoned once scientists had an understanding that the universe is expanding. Using the understanding of time, space and gravity as explained by Einstein and those who tested relativity and special relativity, the Big Bang is a valid conclusion even though it will never be observed directly because the closest that physicists and astronomers will ever be able to get to is "planck time."

      Since science is only trustworthy as tested through methodological naturalism, there is no reason to expect any other origins of life on earth than abiogenesis (or exobiogenesis which only pushes abiogenesis off-planet,) and there is no reason to expect that the origins of the universe will show anything other than a sudden, rapid emergence.

      If you were truly interested, you would investigate. Creationsts are not, evidenced by the fact that they resort to "tone trolling" or making up reasons that the science isn't right regarding origins, or trying to use the courts and legislatures when the scientific method fails them.

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    4. @Mike Haubrich, FCD

      "Creationsts are not, evidenced by the fact that they resort to "tone trolling" or making up reasons that the science isn't right regarding origins, or trying to use the courts and legislatures when the scientific method fails them."

      Reaaaally? lol http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2MPoqqzwdY

      Then we must hear the scientific method that hasn't failed all the "believers" of abiogenesis. Just to be clear for those who may have forgotten what 4 essential steps of THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD need to be taken:

      The scientific method has four steps

      1. Observation and description of a phenomenon. The observations are made visually or with the aid of scientific equipment.

      2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon in the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.

      3. Test the hypothesis by analyzing the results of observations or by predicting and observing the existence of new phenomena that follow from the hypothesis.

      If experiments do not confirm the hypothesis, the hypothesis must be rejected or modified (Go back to Step 2). Rreaaaally?

      4. Establish a theory based on repeated verification of the results.

      Well, this is going to be very interesting. I'm all ears :)

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    5. Thank you for the first grade version of the scientific method. I am schooled and humbled.

      Not having understood what I wrote, of course.

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    6. @Mike Haubrich, FCD

      "Thank you for the first grade version of the scientific method. I am schooled and humbled.

      Not having understood what I wrote, of course."

      I see... I assume you meant creationists have failed to prove that creationism is science?

      Well, there is only why way to prove that abiogenesis isn't in the same category either by the first grade version of the scientific method or the one for the elite like yourself.

      I'm still all ears.

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    7. Nikelhead:

      You define the scientific method as requiring theories to make predictions.

      What predictions follow from your hypothesis that dirt turned into the human genome by sorcery?

      Now consider the RNA world hypothesis.

      If the RNA world hypothesis were true, what would we expect the ribosome to be made of?

      Should self-replicating RNA molecules be possible?

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    8. If the scientific method has failed abiogenesis research, then the scientific method has failed those who think there can be made some kind of cure for cancer, HIV and a whole host of other yet-to-be-cured diseases.

      The total amount of man-hours spent theorizing and researching ways to combat cancer alone so massively outweighs the time spent directly researching abiogenesis, I'm not even sure they can be directly numbered. Almost every university with a medical related department on earth has large sections devoted to it. Thousands of large hospitals and private farmaceutical companies are burning billions of dollars employing biolgists, doctors and biochemists trying to come up with ways to fight it. There are large international charitable organiziations collecting money through donations annually to fund promising new theories and researchers. Never mind abiogenesis, a gnat compared to the camel of cancer. I guess Dominic is forced to conclude we simply can't beat cancer. Time to give up and... start praying? Goddidit! Goddidit! Goddidit! ALLAHU ACHBAR!

      It's always a hoot getting an insight into the defeatism of the supernaturalist bronze-age mindset. If people like Dominic had their way, we'd be stuck sacrificing goats on a slab of wood if our children had a fever.

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  5. I suspect there is no difference in origin fights then anything else.
    They used to say don't discuss religion or politics! Add origins.
    People get harsh when they are told they are wrong. Its everywhere.
    In this case creationism is the invader that is, and will, destroy the old order.
    Evolutionism smells a danger and is more upset then my side.
    when peopole are upset it can lead to injustice and unkindness.
    Evolutionism is failing to make/prove its case on mere authority and having failed with such large chunks of North America and now faced with ID well degree-ed scientists and researchers and writers of famous books there is a predicable rising of blood pressure.
    Further some are motivated by deep hostility to Christianity or religion in general.
    Still watch ones sampling as the the most zealous always get the most attention.

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    1. "In this case creationism is the invader that is, and will, destroy the old order."
      Creationism has been around a lot longer than evolution, the difference is that creationism persists among the uneducated while evolution is almost universally accepted among experts in the field. Why do you think that all the experts are wrong, and the older idea has been abandoned in error?

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    2. Creationism is not popular amongst the most uneducated. everyone is well educated these days. Some are just a lot more yet. Its not the middle ages or third world countries.
      i'm sure the actual drop outs are ignorant of the principals of creationism. most of the lower classes.
      Anyways you a switch from the uneducated creationist to the EXPERT in the field.
      creationists who are experts in the fields of contention here are the invaders of the modern establishment.
      There is a campaign and we expect victory. YEC foundation and ID shock troops are most likely to prevail in overturning error in certain subjects dealing with origins.

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    3. YEC foundation and ID shock troops...

      Oh dear, that hot coffee on my keyboard is yor fault!

      Delete
    4. "Creationism is not popular amongst the most uneducated."
      Really? It's been found that acceptance of evolution correlates with education levels:
      http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/01/18/145338804/why-do-so-many-have-trouble-with-evolution
      "The same poll correlated belief in evolution with educational level: 21 percent of people with a high school education or less believed in evolution. That number rose to 41 percent for people with some college attendance, 53 percent for college graduates, and 74 percent for people with a postgraduate education."
      And that creationism is inversely correlated with education levels:
      http://ncse.com/rncse/24/5/creationists
      Less than high school 64%
      High school graduate 57%
      Some college 44%
      College graduate 31%

      The more education you have, the less likely it is you are to accept creationim and reject evolution. This is the opposite to what you are asserting.

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    5. Kel,

      I'm sure your meticulously accumulated statistics will persuade Byers that he is wrong, and he will adjust his theory to fit the evidence.

      And pigs will fly out my ass.

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    6. I'm of the opinion that creationists don't need to misrepresent the facts in what they believe or what they criticise. After all, Creationism is a theological position, not a scientific or sociological one. The fact that creationism correlates with lack of education won't change the theological merits of Creationism, nor would fairly representing what is said about evolution or intelligent design. Whether or not it's persuasive to Byers is largely irrelevant; as someone who can turn on a computer and find a site like this, he should be at least capable of being fair in matters of fact even if he's anti-scientific in his theological position.

      And Byers, if you take exception to me characterising Creationism as a theology, ask what your reference point is for your position. Do you use the creation account of Genesis as any sort of guide for interpreting the scientific evidence? If so, then you're engaging in theology. Whether or not this is a bad thing comes down to whether or not theology is a viable epistemology.

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    7. Creationism is a theological position that makes specific, testable scientific claims. Which means it is also a scientific position.

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    8. That it makes a testable claim doesn't make it science. Look at all the end-of-the-world predictions that have failed. They were all testable, they all turned out to be in error, but the fact that they were falsifiable isn't the only thing that goes towards making something a science.

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  6. Batzer is a forensic engineer (the Salem hypothesis strikes again!) so what in his background allows him to evaluate the alleged 'ignorance' of biologists on the subject of evolution?

    I have to question his own expertise when he lards his post with technobabble like "the Darwinian mechanism of speciation". What can that mean? The only explanation I have for that phrase is that it's an open signal to his creationist readers that he believes in special creation too and because it's an in-house style rule at ENV that you have to drag in "Darwin" or "Darwinism" at least once in every article.

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    1. Apparently Batzer has been pushing the idea that speciation is the mechanism of evolution for some time now.

      Perhaps he judges the 'ignorance' of scientists by how little they agree with him in his misrepresentations of the theory.

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    2. This DIC [Discovery Institute Creationist] has been saying for some time that speciation is the mechanism of evolution.

      Let us put it in terms even a DIC engineer can understand:

      You just said that the automobile is the mechanism of internal combustion. DIC.

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  7. Yep. My Irony-Meter just had a meltdown, and it isn't a nuclear device.

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  8. This DIC [Discovery Institute Creationist] thinks Shermer and Prothero are "uncivil"?

    What a pussy. Where did this DIC grow up? Was he raised like a veal calf or did he grow up in Candyland?

    Let's place bets on where this DIC grew up.

    I bet Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, or that 50's utopia "Pleasantville."

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  9. I'll admit to being uncivil, sometimes very uncivil, to sanctimonious god pushers who talk and act as though they are a god and who treat atheists and others who don't believe in, worship, and promote the same so-called god and associated fairy tales they believe in, worship, and promote, like shit.

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  10. batzer ignorantly said:

    "One thing that draws me to the ID movement is that it has the polite and understated ethic that science is supposed to have -- but does not have when the subject is evolution."

    Yes, the first part is massively laughable. As to the second part, well, the IDiots make religious arguments that are poorly and dishonestly disguised as scientific arguments, and which are often not disguised at all, and they really focus their attacks on evolution and the ToE because they arrogantly believe that they are 'specially created in God's image' and they 'ain't no ape'!

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    1. twt, I have a question for you. You believe that ID people are 'arrogant' and would like to distinguish themselves from the rest of biology as a special creation of their god.
      You, on the other hand, do not. You recognize that human beings are just one species among many, and just one current variation on the single celled organism that gave rise to all of us, yes?

      So, are you okay with humans experimenting on other animals to advance the goals of 'science'; with lab rats being poisoned, addicted to certain narcotics and tobacco, etc? to being stressed and harassed in order to learn about human psychological diseases? To chimps and dogs being sent on one-way trips into outer space in preparation for manned flights?

      If so, why are you okay with that? This is a serious question. I would really like to know how someone as pro-science as you justifies scientific experiments on animals that benefit only one species (ours), which arose arbitrarliy in the unguided course of evolution, while harming other species.

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    2. Yes, I'm okay with it, with a certain amount of nuance. Provided it results in tangible reductions in human suffering on the other end(and let's be clear, that's the goal). It's the age old moral calculus: Is it okay for one to suffer for the good of the many? How many are the many? How much must the one suffer? I won't pretend to have an easy formula to solve that one.

      The goals of science isn't to poison rats and stress them for it's own sake. If you really think rats are being submitted to too much preventable suffering on behalf of, for example, research into smoking related addictions, maybe you should campaign to make people stop smoking instead of blaming "the goals of science". Last I checked, science has been saying for quite a long time that smoking is unhealthy and that we shouldn't do it.

      Also, dogs are "put down" in their thousands every year for comparatively mundane reasons compared to preparation for manned spacefligh. Compare the numbers to get a little perspective. How many large mammals have we actually send on one-way trips to outer space, compared to how many dogs are abandoned to suffer on the streets in eastern europe? Or how many dogs are killed for biting someone?

      If your primary concern is the suffering of animals, attacking science first as some kind of particularly noteworthy transgressor seems to me massively off the mark. Maybe focusing on the meat industry first should be your concern, or the general treatment of animals in the third world. And if, specifically, animal suffering in medical related science is your concern, try the cosmetics industry.

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    3. Rumraket, that is a clear articulation of your own views. I doubt very much that it eases the suffering of a single lab rat to know that the meat and cosmetics fields are much worse, nevertheless (leaving aside the fact that scientific methods were employed to create some of the conditions of 'factory farm' livestock and cosmetics labs).

      But the question I am really interested in is: how is it not the height of arrogance for our species to make these decisions about how we will treat other animals, capture and harm them once we have given ourselves a reason, etc.?

      If you can convince me that this is any less 'arrogant' than a religious person insisting on feeling, in twt's words, that they 'ain't no ape', I will be impressed.

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    4. It isn't the height of arrogance exactly because when we submit animals to suffering, we at least do it in the context of knowing they are capable of suffering and therefore only do it with the goal of lessening human suffering.

      And then of course, it's not a complete dichotomy we are putting under the spotlight. Just as there's not just one kind of arrogant religious believer who thinks humans are special (aka William Lane Craig, see this: http://youtu.be/mLSwRcvX72M and this: http://youtu.be/sKuEbbDi-tQ)
      There's not just one kind of "science supporter" either. I think we all fall on a spectrum here. All the more reason not to think we are arrogant if we at least acknowledge that the animals we use in science, can and do suffer depending on how and what they are used for, and therefore where at all possible and practical, at least try to minimize this impact.

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    5. By the way, just what is your point about the use of "scientific methods" in creating more productive factory farms and cosmetic labs? The scientific method is a tool, it has no intrinsic ethical or moral status.
      Are you trying to insinuate that the entire scientific community is somehow under some collective level of guilt for having used the same tool that also yielded increased production of meat?

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    6. Rumraket writes, "Are you trying to insinuate that the entire scientific community is somehow under some collective level of guilt for having used the same tool that also yielded increased production of meat?"

      No. I am pointing out the double standards that twt and people like him use, when they accuse religious people of arrogance - particularly when to do so they use the argument that people who are less deluded know that humans are just one species, sharing the same lineage as all other creatures, who are therefore our relatives - and then the kind of mental jiu jutsu they have to go through, as you have just done, to convince themselves that it is NOT arrogant in their case (but remains so in the case of religious people).
      Here is the definition of arrogance, by the way:
      'Marked by or arising from a feeling or assumption of one's superiority toward others'
      In this case, the 'others' are our fellow creatures, who science minded people hasten to assure us we are only marginally, and arbitrarily, different from.

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    7. Andy,

      I don't think that those things are equivalent. By "natural standards," I would not care the same about ethics when it comes to rats or mice, compared to making experiments with chimps or monkeys. I would avoid working with chimps unless it was absolutely necessary, I would avoid the monkeys exactly as much. But I do not give a damn about rats and mice, even though, of course, they do feel pain. I would avoid unnecessary pain on any of them, but experimenting with rats and mice causes me no trouble at all. All of this might still strike you as the arrogance you talk about, us feeling superior. I don't think it is exactly arrogance though, but if it is, I see a lot of difference between a scientist working on animals, and a creationist who think that he/she is made to some god's image. The levels of arrogance would be quite apart. Right?

      That leaving alone that most scientists are far from thinking like me, and much more prone to thinking like you. That is, most scientists do care/worry/dislike about experimenting with rats and mice and anything that could feel pain. Probably many more detest the thought of experimenting with animals for cosmetics or to get dogs and chimps to space in a one way trip. I find both (cosmetics, one-way trips for chimps and dogs) abhorrent, but could not care less about rats and mice sent to space in a one-way trip, for example (and most of my colleagues would start arguing in angry tones with me for saying just that).

      Anyway, back to the point. None of that is comparable to thinking that the whole cosmos is built just for us, and that we are made to the image of a being who could build this cosmos just for us ...

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    8. What makes the IDiots and other creationists arrogant is not just that they consider themselves separate from all the other species on earth. It is that the expect scientific facts and data to genuflect to their belief.

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    9. I'm not sure why you're directing your comments at science, anyway, andyboerger. Your comments could equally apply to anyone who eats meat, or wears leather clothing, or keeps a pet, or visits a zoo, or....

      The use of animals in science is just one small aspect of an overall moral and ethical position that humankind has overwhelmingly adopted. Which does not, by itself, make it correct, of course. But science is at most a minute aspect of the issue. What is the percentage of animals used in scientific research, compared to those who are affected by all other human activities? I doubt it would even register.

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    10. @Andy: Mosquitoes, lice, wasps, fleas, flies, ticks, crabs, scorpions, earthworms, tapeworms, jellyfish, etc. are our relatives too, as are potatoes, bananas, wheat, roses, nettles, belladonnas, mushrooms, amoebas, Plasmodium malariae, and Treponema pallidum. I don't know a human being who would equally care about them all (other than in theory) just because they are all related to you and me. Most of us selectively sympathise with some animals -- those whom we subjectively (and inconsistently) regard as "cute", "friendly", "intelligent", "humanlike" or whatever. It's hard to respect all living things in the same way if you are a heterotroph and want to survive and reproduce too, which for us necessarily means destroying some other life. My wife and daughter are "vegetarians" in the sense that they would eat no land vertebrate, but they do eat seafood. Fish are just as evolved as their terrestrial cousins, and octopuses are smarter than many mammals. They can all suffer (whatever W. L. Craig thinks).

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    11. Piotr; that's fine. I have no problem with your pov. I am just pointing out how, when one is ideologically opposed to something - as twt clearly is - EASY it is to find fault in ways that one casually overlooks in oneself and those who one agrees with.

      There IS arrogance in the notion that we can do bloody well whatever we want to the very same biomass that we are only a tiny, miniscule proportion of. Particularly, as I pointed out in another post, if we are not doing anything for ourselves other than trying to advance our own understandings. Larry Moran maintains that any knowledge is good, even if it serves no obvious, 'practical' purpose. Does he feel that we have the right to impose our will on other creatures, such as lab rats, NOT so we can decrease human suffering (the rationale Rumraket employs) but just because we want to know more stuff?

      That's arrogance.

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    12. So, again, why to you seem so much more upset over experimentation on rats than over raising cattle for food? Eating meat is purely a matter of personal pleasure, it is not necessary for survival and does not even serve the purpose of furthering knowledge. So why do you reserve your complaints of "arrogance" only for scientists, and not eaters of meat, fish and poultry (and eggs and dairy, as well)?

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    13. But the question I am really interested in is: how is it not the height of arrogance for our species to make these decisions about how we will treat other animals, capture and harm them once we have given ourselves a reason, etc.?

      @Andy, now I am genuinely interested. I've heard about various big cat predators in Africa catching young, helpless prey, and then allowing their young cubs to kill it. The results are quite horrible to watch, as they young have no clue what they are doing and the baby prey item usually slowly bleeds to death due to many poorly placed wounds.

      Would you apply the same "arrogance" to these animals? Does the predator here have the right to impose it's will, and to torture the poor gazelle to simply teach it's offspring?

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    14. lutesuite writes, "So, again, why do you seem so much more upset over experimentation on rats than over raising cattle for food?"

      Look at the comment that I am responding to, from twt. As far as I know, twt doesn't come on to this blog to denounce religion(s) and talk about how much superior it is to eat meat, right? Science, on the other hand...

      And it's a pretty commonly expressed theme among anti-theists. It is 'arrogant' to believe the universe was created specially for humans. We should get over ourselves and recognize that we are just one happenstance little arrangement of protoplasm, not special; as if that were the more 'humble' attitude that we should adopt.

      But clearly, if science supporters think it's fine and dandy to experiment on other life forms that we, according to them, aren't all that different from, they actually believe we ARE special, or at the very least they behave as if they do.

      It's a double standard.

      Furthermore, this notion of 'arrogant theists' puffing themselves up about how special they are seems more like a cartoon. Does twt imagine they sit around at picnics and say things like, 'Look at those pathetic ants, will ya? It must really suck to be like them, not special like us!" I may not have lived all that much, lutesuite, but I can tell you in all my years I have never heard a conversation like that, ever.

      In fact, I would imagine that if one DOES feel that the universe was specially created by God for his/her life to be possible, the proper attitude would be GRATITUDE, not arrogance. And this explains why so many prayers begin with, "Thank You, God...."

      So this whole notion of arrogant theists and humble science loving atheists is just an ill reckoned canard promoted by anti-theists and holding no actual weight. And that is what prompted my comments here.

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    15. The Other Jim, I don't understand your question. Do you think the concept of 'rights' carries any currency regarding the behavior of any species except our own?
      I would be surprised if that were the case. That is an entirely novel concept to me.

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    16. But clearly, if science supporters think it's fine and dandy to experiment on other life forms that we, according to them, aren't all that different from, they actually believe we ARE special, or at the very least they behave as if they do.

      It's a double standard.


      No,it's simply a manifestation of a universal biological process, that species interact differently with fellow members of the same species than towards members of different species. In this matter, humans are not claiming any privileged position beyond that taken by a lion eatng a gazelle, or a bacteria causing you to have gastroenteritis.

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    17. In any event, the main point, as I said earlier, is that creationists insist on holding a belief in the superiority of humans over other species that results in their denying scientific evidence. The arrogance is in holding that their beliefs are so infallible that they trump reality.

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    18. Lutesuite writes, "No,it's simply a manifestation of a universal biological process, that species interact differently with fellow members of the same species than towards members of different species."

      Actually, lutesuite, I am not entirely sure you want to go there. During Japan's takeover of China, they set up a special camp, Unit 731, in order to gain knowledge about things such as human endurance, human resistance to bacteria, hypothermia, drowning, etc. etc.

      And no lab rats were used.

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    19. @Andy - I think your reply answered my question. You ascribe a "will" (and therefore rights and responsibilities fall from this) to humans that is not ascribed to other animals. Is this correct?

      The difference between you and I on this is that I don't see us a different level, but on the same continuum. We and other animals have differing degrees of empathy or understanding of the other species' suffering. So we make ethical choices in this matter. (But the universe fails to notice or care one way or the other... nature in general is not nice, pretty or ethical).

      As an aside, we do hold animals responsible for behaviours, and utilize a crude form of the death penalty to enforce this. Ex. bears that attack humans are sought out and killed (sans trial) in North America.

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    20. Jim writes, You ascribe a "will" (and therefore rights and responsibilities fall from this) to humans that is not ascribed to other animals. Is this correct? "

      No, not quite correct. I would argue that we, as humans, would only be able to ascribe rights to our own species, and would have no business applying the same standards (or ANY standards) to other animals. They, on the other hand, are perfectly free to ascribe rights to their own species, if they are capable of it in anything like the way we are. For example, I would guess that there is something similar to what we call 'rights' within a wolf pack.

      I, for one, wouldn't want a representative of another species telling me what I have a right to do and not to do.

      As to your aside, we do hold other animals responsible for their behaviors, but the salient word in that is 'we'. We might argue that an animal has a 'right' to do this and a 'right' to do that, but we really have no business doing so.

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    21. @Andy - Thanks.

      I would wager that this is specific to animals (most likely vertebrates and some charismatic invertebrates). Yet, the difference between the cow and that potato I ate for dinner is just ~1.4 billion years. ;-)

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    22. Actually, lutesuite, I am not entirely sure you want to go there. During Japan's takeover of China, they set up a special camp, Unit 731, in order to gain knowledge about things such as human endurance, human resistance to bacteria, hypothermia, drowning, etc. etc.

      And no lab rats were used.


      So I'm really not sure what point you think this illustrates. Unless you are suggesting that, rather than condemning the Japanese for such crimes against humanity (Interesting term, "crimes against humanity", don't you think?), we should praise them for their lack of arrogance. But I doubt that's the point you're trying to make.

      As you say, you really want to go there?

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    23. andyboerger said:

      "twt, I have a question for you. You believe that ID people are 'arrogant' and would like to distinguish themselves from the rest of biology as a special creation of their god."

      IDiot-creationists and any other people who believe, preach, and act as though humans are exceptional and therefor automatically superior to everything else because they were/are created by a so-called god, and especially people who believe, preach, and act as though they were/are "specially created in God's image".

      "You, on the other hand, do not."

      Correct.

      "You recognize that human beings are just one species among many, and just one current variation on the single celled organism that gave rise to all of us, yes?"

      I wouldn't say it that way but it's close enough for this debate.

      "So, are you okay with humans experimenting on other animals to advance the goals of 'science'; with lab rats being poisoned, addicted to certain narcotics and tobacco, etc? to being stressed and harassed in order to learn about human psychological diseases? To chimps and dogs being sent on one-way trips into outer space in preparation for manned flights?"

      No, I'm not "comfortable" with that. I reluctantly accept some of it if, and only if, it's absolutely necessary in order to provide scientific knowledge that is very important and cannot be gotten any other way.

      If so, why are you okay with that? This is a serious question. I would really like to know how someone as pro-science as you justifies scientific experiments on animals..."

      See above.

      "...that benefit only one species (ours)..."

      Wrong. Some experiments on animals also provide knowledge for preventing and/or treating diseases, injuries, and other health problems in animals.

      ", which arose arbitrarliy in the unguided course of evolution, while harming other species."

      I don't understand what you mean by that.

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    24. I don't know why but I though you asked me if I am "comfortable" with etc., etc. That's why I put comfortable in quotes. So, just ignore the whole first sentence in that paragraph.

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    25. twt asks
      '....which arose arbitrarliy in the unguided course of evolution, while harming other species.'

      "I don't understand what you mean by that.

      What I mean by that is that, as you feel that we are just one species that happened to emerge, arbitrarily (i.e., there was nothing preordained about homo sapiens) and just happened to acquire large brains- as an adaptative trait which boosts our survival chances - do you feel there is not something arrogant about us using those brains to conduct and learn from experiments on other animals? Are we not 'arrogating' to ourselves behaviors that cause harm to our fellow species who, in your way of thinking, we are NOT special from?

      You have answered this question, so I am just clarifying. In my view, it represents a double standard, should someone NOT consider it 'arrogant' to experiment on animals simply to increase knowledge for our species (I understand that you don't support this as per your answer - you feel there needs to be strong justification) while on the other hand TO consider it arrogant for religious persons to hold to a view of themselves as special from other creatures.

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    26. Andy,

      Sorry to butt-in, but ...

      What I mean by that is that, as you feel that we are just one species

      What bothers me here is the supposition that because we are not made by an all powerful creator we are therefore "just" one species. We are a species, whether "just one" or "a pretty awesome one" seems, to me, more of a personal opinion. Some people are hardly impressed, some people are much more impressed, et cetera.

      that happened to emerge, arbitrarily (i.e., there was nothing preordained about homo sapiens) and just happened to acquire large brains- as an adaptative trait which boosts our survival chances

      OK. A bit troubled by the way it might imply the wrong picture, but ok.

      do you feel there is not something arrogant about us using those brains to conduct and learn from experiments on other animals?

      Well, no. If those brains allow us to be able to learn from such experiments I see nothing arrogant, but actually quite natural about this. This is like asking, don't you think that it's arrogant for cheetahs to overrun antelopes and eat them? I know there's a difference in being hungry and making experiments, but the point is that we use the tools we have. We grew brains, we use them. They have speed, they use it.

      Are we not 'arrogating' to ourselves behaviors that cause harm to our fellow species who, in your way of thinking, we are NOT special from?

      Again that dreaded thing. That we were not preordained does not mean that we are not special. Being special or not is really a personal thing. Some people are easily impressed, some are not. Some people find it astounding that these all natural events allow little specs of the universe to ponder about itself (the universe and the spec). I find that poetic, astounding, beautiful. I feel special and awesome. I admire characteristics of many other species too. But I don't see any arrogance in using what we have. I find it interesting that we can worry, and care, about their pain and suffering, but I see no arrogance in using animals to learn. As long as it's not cosmetics or one-way trips for dogs or chimps. But send as many rats to space as you want and see if I care one bit.

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    27. NE, that's all well and good; and as you yourself admit, purely subjective.
      But nevertheless I think it evades the question as to whether or not there is a double standard. A religious person could take your argument, and run pretty far with it, without conceding 'arrogance'. I would say that, paraphrasing your own words, 'being arrogant or not is really a personal thing"; i.e., it is not something that one can assign to another based purely on their beliefs.
      Arrogance is an attitude, not a trait. As I wrote above, I would find it to be more logical to assume gratitude, rather than arrogance, as the attitude that would be exhibited by someone who believed themselves to be a special creation of a deity.
      For a nonbeliever to make blanket statements about believers, who may be grateful/arrogant/largely indifferent to how they feel about the circumstances of their being here seems to me to be a

      tad......

      arrogant.

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    28. I dealt with the double standard before: Monday, May 06, 2013 9:57:00 AM

      But just above, maybe you should note that I am saying that using our capabilities is not arrogance, it's using our capabilities, like cheetahs would use theirs. But I truly don't mind if you want to think that these are equivalent. Still, most scientists would agree with you about having to deal "humanely" with animals, therefore nothing arrogant to them, you cannot paint scientists by the relatively few who experiment cosmetics in animals, or by those sending dogs and chimps in a one-way travel to space. Most creationists, however, think that the whole universe was made just for them. I think there's such a huge difference, that nothing could be called arrogant in comparison.

      But feel free to disagree.

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    29. NE writes, " Most creationists, however, think that the whole universe was made just for them. I think there's such a huge difference, that nothing could be called arrogant in comparison.

      But feel free to disagree."

      I do indeed, respectfully, disagree. I don't even feel that 'arrogant' is the right term to apply here. To believe that the whole universe was created with the creation of people in mind might better be called irrational, unrealistic, immature and childish (for example, it is common for two and three year olds have an exaggerated sense of their place in the world) and even deluded.
      But arrogant? As I wrote before, arrogant is an attitude. It would depend on how the person thinks and behaves as a result of thinking the universe was created for him/her.

      On the other hand, I think arrogance can be argued more easily in terms of scientific experiments on animals, particularly if the experiments are conducted just to increase knowledge. What gives us the right?

      I am sure you would agree that the Japanese Imperial occupiers were 'arrogant' to use human guinea pigs in Unit 731 and elsewhere. A lot of far more condemnatory words are even more appropriate (of course) but 'arrogant' is a place to start.
      And it is hardly only the Japanese, of course. Throughout history, human sacrifices, enslavement, etc. have been justified because one race felt superior to another. That is textbook 'arrogance', and I have no doubt you agree.

      You talk about cheetahs, and compare the behavior of predators in the wild with what humans do, but we really shouldn't. We should evaluate our behavior on its own terms, not based on how other animals behave. If we think it is arrogant to do what the Japanese did in WWII, to their fellow humans, but not arrogant to conduct unnecessary experiments on animals, we are drawing a line. WE are drawing a line in a way that we have no reason to believe other animals even consider. And if we decide, 'yes, it's okay, as long as it's done to other species, not our own', then no example from the wild can or should be used to justify that choice. We have to justify it in our own way, with our own philosophy. To just say, 'well, we are being like other predators' is simple evasion.

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    30. Andy,

      You seem to be misunderstanding a few points, and then making my case only to take it away later. If arrogance is an attitude, then you should be able to say so about experimenting with animals for "mere knowledge." My cheetah example was about using what you have. It is no more arrogant for humans to use their intelligence than it is for a cheetah to use their speed. We have the intelligence and thus the urge, or at least the inclination, to learn (though creationism seems to kill that propensity). That we would use animals to satisfy such urge does not change the fact that we are acting on our characteristics. I doubt that cheetahs go around and think: ha, this antelope is inferior to me, therefore I will over-run it. I doubt too that scientists experimenting cosmetics in animals think: ha, these animals are so inferior to me that I should do these experiments on them. However, you continue to miss this important point: most scientist would agree with you in not wanting to use animals for such useless shit as cosmetics and on not wanting dogs and chimps sent out to space in a one-way trip. You cannot paint neither all scientists, nor all atheists for the few scientists that experiment cosmetics in animals or fly animals to space. You just can't.

      Also, come on! If you allow for believing that the universe was made for us to be non-arrogant unless the creationist has an attitude. SHouldn't you allow for that for atheists scientists who happen to do those experiments that you don't like?

      The Japanese were cruel, and arrogant to their fellow humans for sure. They thought themselves to be a superior race. How so? Well, they thought that their gods made them special compared to other human races. The same has been true for other societies experimenting on other human beings. That's arrogance stemming from creationism. Sure you cannot defend that such was arrogance stemming just from scientific curiosity in any reasonable way. That makes my point (well, originally TWT's point), rather than yours.

      So, please don't miss the points above. Check them carefully.

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    31. NE, I think you are missing some of my points as well. Yes, arrogance IS an attitude, but one that is betrayed by the actions that arise from it. And causing harm is a pretty reliable indicator. For example, there might be any number of reasons why someone who lives in an Upper East Side apartment chooses to hire a maid. They might have legitimate reasons about related to how busy they are. They might think it's good to use ones wealth to create a job for another person. But if we see that person slapping and insulting the maid, we can conclude arrogance.

      You write, "You cannot paint neither all scientists, nor all atheists for the few scientists that experiment cosmetics in animals or fly animals to space. You just can't."
      Fair enough. And I just don't.
      And neither can you paint all believers as 'arrogant' for the behavior of some. Nor can twt, with whom I began this discussion.

      You also write, "If you allow for believing that the universe was made for us to be non-arrogant unless the creationist has an attitude. SHouldn't you allow for that for atheists scientists who happen to do those experiments that you don't like?"
      Yes, for individuals. But I am not referring to individuals. I am referring to what I consider a 'culture of arrogance', where it has been established by custom that it is okay to harm animals we consider to be 'lower' than us. White slavers in America used to consider Africans 'lower' as well, as did the Japanese and Germans consider the 'lower races' they were making war on to be fair game for experiments. A line is being drawn in all cases. Cheetahs don't draw lines like this. They don't make moral choices about how to use their muscles, but we DO make moral choices about how to use our brains.

      You then write, 'Well, they (the Japanese) thought that their gods made them special compared to other human races."
      That is a key point. If a group considers itself to be the 'chosen race' that was SOLELY created in god's image, that's a different matter. That's obviously arrogance. You could expect harmful behavior to arise as a result of that belief, and it has.
      But if someone believes that ALL humans, whether they are atheists, Christians, Jews, etc., were made in god's image, and the universe was made for ALL of them (not just the believers) then this is not necessarily an arrogant belief, although it is unrealistic and delusional.

      twt wrote, "they really focus their attacks on evolution and the ToE because they arrogantly believe that they are 'specially created in God's image' and they 'ain't no ape'!"
      To me, this indicates the latter form of belief. I doubt that any Christians believe that while THEY are humans, atheists and Muslims are 'apes'. If your target is evolution, the likelihood is that you are positing the entire human race as special, not just your own group of like minded believers.

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  11. Scientists can be, and are, as arrogant as anyone else. Take Lubos Motl--please! I think that the point of this post is that the pot is calling the kettle black, not that the kettle is all bright and shiny.

    I suspect arrogance has some evolutionary basis. That is, like death, if it did not exist evolution would have had to invent it--at least that component of it which causes us to strive for our place in the sun. Take it away entirely and the human species would be much nicer, but might not have survived.

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  12. What Discovery Institute Creationists [DICs] call their "civility" is to normal people just being a raging asshole.

    The real question is: why are creationists (mostly) assholes and narcissistic egomaniacs to boot?

    I've compiled just a few-- a tiny fraction of a fraction of a fraction-- of examples of DICs displaying what they call their "civility."

    The theme is Eugenie Scott, head of the NCSE, because her retirement has been announced. So to honor her, I've compiled some "civil" statements that DICs have made about Eugenie which show what they consider "civility" to be. (I cross-posted this at Sensuous Curmudgeon.)

    David Berlinski: "Eugenie Scott is a small squirrel-like creature who is often sent out to defend Darwin. Whenever doubts are raised, she withdraws a naturalistic nut from her cache and flaunts it proudly. And if naturalism won’t do, there is always methodological naturalism." [David Berlinski interviewing himself, quoted here]

    David Berlinski: "In the case of Daniel Dennett, I think contempt might be a better word than hostility, and indifference a better word still. There are, of course, lots more where he came from – P.Z. Myers, for example, or Eugenie Scott, or Jason Rosenhouse. Throw in Steven Weinberg [Nobel-winning physicist], just to reach an even number." [David Berlinski interviewing himself, quoted here]

    Ann Coulter: All the great scientists saw their work as finding God in the universe, as finding the design. And to have these hacks like Eugenie Scott come in and say, “Oh, that’s not real science. Unless you keep God out, it’s not real science.” It’s preposterous." [Ann Coulter in Darwin's Deadly Legacy]

    David Klinghitler: “Both intelligent design and creationism take issue with the Darwinian paradigm that portrays evolution as unguided and reflecting no intelligent purpose or intention. Beyond that, the two ideas have very little in common. That doesn’t stop Eugenie Scott from forcing them, over and over again, into the same basket.
    ...The only conceivable purposes served by this insistence are dishonorable... intimidating scientists and non-scientists alike, and fooling the public... That’s more than a provocation. It’s a lie... ...a conscious dishonesty — or, more charitably, a willed ignorance on the part of Dr. Scott and the NCSE...

    Eugenie Scott, leading Darwin lobbyist, sounds like a nice lady... What is she doing in a disreputable and dishonest business like that?"
    [David Klinhoffer, ENV]

    William Dembski: “But in fact, [Eugenie] Scott has purposely failed to disclose certain key items of information which demonstrate that intelligent design research is in fact now [2003] part of the mainstream peer-reviewed scientific literature.” -- [Intelligent Design and Peer Review. A Response to Eugenie Scott and the NCSE. By William A. Dembski. November 1, 2003.]

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    1. And Sensh pointed out that I missed this one:

      Andrew McDiarmid: "If you believe you are on the side of truth, you are most likely at ease.... It is usually those who feel threatened with the possibility of being wrong who make the most noise, who bare their teeth menacingly, and who feel most uncomfortable with respectful discourse...

      ... the scientific theory of intelligent design is also under attack from Scott, who... cannot understand or accept that intelligent design is a purely scientific pursuit wholly separate from creation science...

      Eugenie Scott and the National Center for Science Education are bent on preserving evolutionary theory... Their efforts are noisy, menacing, and disrespectful, and only serve to divert attention and delay progress.
      " [Andrew McDiarmid, ENV]

      So Eugenie is a "small squirrel-like creature", as Berlinski says, who is menacing ID by "baring her teeth." But they're squirrel-teeth-- are squirrel-teeth menacing?

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    2. And as I'm sure you're aware, Diogenes, that stuff is mild when compared to what the IDiot-creationists at UD and other sites say to or about anyone who questions or opposes them. For example, barry arrington, joe g, and gordon e. mullings (kairosfocus), are three of the poster boys for IDiot-creationist incivility.

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    3. One more thing, Diogenes, will you please consider writing up everything you have/know about hitler's religious beliefs, any ties to christianity, and his position on Darwin and evolution, and posting it on your website? That way, whenever IDiot-creationists claim that hitler was an atheist, a 'Darwinist', an evolutionist, and/or evolutionary materialist, and that most or all of the world's ills can and should be blamed on Darwin and his 'ilk' because they're evil hitler-esque nazi atheists, your write up could be pointed out to them.

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    4. TWT: Um, what you ask is like a book-length thing, a debunking of Richard Weikart. I have in fact planned that after I'm done writing my anti-creationist book. I have enough material for a book.

      For now I can heartily recommend Coels Blog on Nazis as Creationists. There are many comments, and I wrote quite a few comments that expanded on Coel's thesis. That blog should silence your critics-- of course they won't read it if you link to it...

      As for Nazism being Christian, there are many sources at NoBeliefs, such as this one. NoBeliefs tends to list quotes out of context higgledy-piggledy, it's disorganized and unanalyzed, so it's no substitute for serious historical analysis. But fairly reliable, and has a lot of crucifix-n-swastika type photos.

      If you want a real book on the Christian beliefs of major Nazi officials, obviously you can start with the standard, The Holy Reich by Steigmann-Gall.

      If you want a real book on the Nazi or racist beliefs of major Christian theologians, you can start with the Betrayal (a compilation of several expert historians) edited by Heschel and Ericksen, and top it off with the infuriating Aryan Jesus by Susannah Heschel.

      If you really want to understand Mein Kampf and Nazis like Houston Stewart Chamberlain, I recommend The Modernist God State, of which chapter 6 is kick-ass.

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    5. Diogenes, thanks for the links and recommendations. I'll check them out as best I can.

      I probably shouldn't have said "everything you have/know" and I realized later that I should have worded it differently. I was just picturing a post that puts all or most of what you've pointed out about hitler and religion in your comments on sites like this one, all in one place on your site so that it could be easily accessed.

      Thanks again.

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    6. Diogenes, I just skimmed through the Coel Hellier and Jim Walker articles and they are great resources. I will read them thoroughly later. Thanks!

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