Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Peter Hess of NCSE Tells Us About How to Make Evolution Compatible with Christianity

Minda Berbeco once taught evolution and she was surprised that her students wanted to talk about religion. She decided to consult with Peter Hess, the director of religious community outreach at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Her blog post is on the NCSE website at: When Students Ask about Religion.

Peter Hess mentioned that many people see a conflict between science and religion so Minda asked him what she should say to such people. Hess replied ...
I would recommend citing examples from the numerous scientists who have integrated current science into their religious worldviews, scientists such as Kenneth Miller, Francis Collins, Robert Russell, and Father George Coyne.

Another tack would be to cite statements from theological figures, such as Pope Benedict’s statement in Communion and Stewardship (2002), when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger:
Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage.
Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that you cite the views of such scientists and theologians as authoritative. There’s a wide range of religious reactions to evolution, from rejection to embrace, and you may not feel comfortable in endorsing any of them. (Indeed, a teacher in the public schools is required not to endorse any of them in the classroom.) But many people who reject evolution for religious reasons are ignorant about, or have never been seriously exposed to, the range of religious reactions to evolution. It may come as a complete surprise to them that devout religious people—perhaps even people of the same faith—have no theological objection to evolution. And opening people’s horizons is part of what education is all about, isn’t it?
There's so much wrong with this advice that I hardly know where to begin.

First, Hess seems to assume that Minda Berbeco is a Christian because otherwise his advice makes no sense. Surely, he wouldn't expect an atheist like me to tell students that the Pope is an authority on evolution? What if the teacher is a Muslim, a Buddhist, or a Hindu? What should they say? (Peter Hess is Roman Catholic.)

Second, he says that the views of these scientists (and the Pope) should not be cited as authoritative but if he really believes that then why cite them at all? Why not cite those religious scientists who think there really is a conflict between evolution and their religious beliefs?

Third, just because some scientists have been able to rationalize their acceptance of evolution with their Christian beliefs does not mean that there's no conflict. That is not a very good way to teach students how to think critically. After all, there are scientists who believe in homeopathy and astrology but that doesn't mean there's no conflict between real science and those pseudosciences, does it?

Fourthly, I agree that opening people's horizons is an important part of education. That's why I would tell students that, yes, there is a very real conflict between science and religion. It's quite likely that your faith will be severely challenged if you learn about evolution and science. Many students have never been seriously exposed to the atheist position. Somehow I don't think that's what Peter Hess has in mind when he talks about "opening people’s horizons."

Peter Hess recommends that students visit the Christian accommodationist webpages on the NCSE website [Science and Religion]. So, fifthly, I recommend that NCSE offer a more balanced view of this issue where they point out that there are many scientists who believe the conflict is very real. (I would be happy to write something.) NCSE should also expand their discussion to include non-Christian views of evolution.


69 comments:

  1. I favor emphasizing that science is about the pursuit of understanding what is real, that in practice we find that the way to do this successfully is to model our universe using best fit the available empirical evidence, and no preconceptions are allowed to block this process. This sidelining of preconceptions results in an attitude that we will follow the empirical evidences wherever it takes us. The only authority is best fit with the empirical evidence.

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  2. "Reality" is an interesting concept. Unfortunately, the hard sciences have reduced "reality" strictly to what can be observed, quantified or measured. Thus, a mother's love for her children cannot be "real" since it cannot be quantifed - unless one suggests that charge cards at Neiman-Marcus or summer excursions to exotic locales as a sign of "love". Nor can experiences of ecstatic joy be viewed as "real".

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    1. Well, reality is exactly that which can be measured.

      I don't know what's "unfortunate" about that. It's the alternative, which the enlightenment helped us escape, that was (and in some locales still is) unfortunate.

      Of course a mother's love for her children can be quantified. It's all just states of the mind, which has it's basis in the physical brain, which can certainly be measured.

      That we can't point to the part responsible for love is simply an admission of our current ignorance, but to some people that's an admission of failure and segues into telling ghost stories around the campfire.

      Everything you have described is real and in principle is quantifiable.

      Your non sequitur references to charge cards and summer excursions may reflect on how you personally feel about love but that's about par for the course for those who would derive their values from irrational and non evidence based ethical and moral systems.

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    2. Well, reality is exactly that which can be measured."

      Can you give us the scientifically measured evidence for that "fact"?

      (I'm not saying it's wrong, but it is a philosophical assertion about "reality" that can't, itself, be measured.)

      That we can't point to the part responsible for love is simply an admission of our current ignorance, but to some people that's an admission of failure and segues into telling ghost stories around the campfire.

      No, our inability to measure love (and many other things) is an admission that we can't say that "reality" is only that which can be measured "in principle" or otherwise.

      There is no need to overstate what science can do to value it above all other methods of investigating reality, anymore than there is a need to tell ghost stories to recognize its limitations. Neither can be ultimately determined by "measurement."

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    3. As a behavior, a mother's love for her children would be evidenced by tracking relevant behavior. As a sentiment rather than a behavior there are biochemical markers that can also be measured. Now, we are limited in space and time, so even though in principle what is real can usually be measured, in practice this is not always practical or even possible. But that limitation does not change the fact that the ONLY way to reliably discern what is real is to follow the empirical evidence. The extent to which we cannot do is the extent to which we cannot reliably discern reality. People who want to conclude from this limitation that we must abandon empirical evidence are not being logical, they are enabling the substitution of falsehood for truth and achieving nothing of merit.

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    4. ... the ONLY way to reliably discern what is real is to follow the empirical evidence. The extent to which we cannot do is the extent to which we cannot reliably discern reality. People who want to conclude from this limitation that we must abandon empirical evidence are not being logical

      None of which I would dispute (except, perhaps that it based on "logic").

      they are enabling the substitution of falsehood for truth and achieving nothing of merit.

      So we must deny the limitations of science in order to avoid enabling falsehood? That sounds suspiciously like the people we are fighting against.

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    5. @John Pieret

      Obviously I can't give you evidence that reality is a fact. (And really, this is the sort of semantic game that I would expect from one of the trolls that infest this blog).

      It's a definition, if it can't be observed then it can't be incorporated into our world view in any meaningful sense.

      Of course one can use the tools of mathematics to extrapolate from current models that can be measured to hypothetical models that can not currently be observed, but at some point the new models must be measured in order to incorporate them into our view of reality.

      I would have to agree with your observation that it is a philosophical position, but one that is buttressed by the success of the scientific method, we can't "prove" this definition of reality but so far we know that it produces new information about our universe.

      And I don't think it's overstating the position to say that science is the only way that has been demonstrated to do this.

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    6. Yes, Steve gets this right. Following the empirical evidence as the sole method to discern reality s not purely philosophical position because it is rooted in a strong record of success. Everyone refrains from walking into walls and past the final edge of cliffs because they know that they can accurately discern reality by following the empirical evidence. People rely on modern medicine on this same basis. This is the only method for discerning reality that has a track of record of success and that is everything we need to justify relying exclusively on this method.

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    7. Obviously I can't give you evidence that reality is a fact.

      Your claim was that reality "is exactly that which can be measured."

      (And really, this is the sort of semantic game that I would expect from one of the trolls that infest this blog).

      No, you have admitted that it isn't "semantics," it is a real fact about the world and science. The "semantics" comes in when you make false blanket statements about what "reality" is.

      it is a philosophical position, but one that is buttressed by the success of the scientific method.

      I agree but there is still the nagging issue of Hume's "Problem of Induction." We should be careful about our statements about science or "reality" simply because we (pick a name, : "naturalists," "scientists," or even "Darwinists") represent those people who believe in reason and logic and have a duty not to bring those things into disrepute among the general populace by overstating our (already good) case.

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    8. Hume cannot compete with success and failure. Success and failure is the ultimate criteria, nothing trumps it.

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    9. Steve writes: "Well, reality is exactly that which can be measured."
      So everything that is "real" can be measured? Lets take the human mind as an example. We all have an experience of it and perceive it to be real. So what is the mind? I would say that it is the hard ware - the brain, and the "software", the programming needed to process information. Experiences, instincts, feelings, morality, etc. combine to form the software. Lessons learned from experience is clearly gained through out life while instincts are there from the beginning. All are none materialistic and cannot be measured. We could choose to call this software the soul. The soul manifests itself in e.g. consciousness (self awareness), the conscience and the free will. None of which can be reduced to materialistic processes or measured, but still very real.

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    10. How do you come to the conclusion that the mind, etc., are not materialistic? So far I don't see that.

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    11. Sorry, Andy. Most of the things you describe (experiences, feelings, morality, consciousness) are clearly material and can be measured. Many of the other things you mention ("soul", "free will") are fables or myths that people will often use to try explain the material, empirically demonstrable aspects of human behaviour. But they remain no more than that.

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  3. I thought I had read somewhere a quote from T.H. Huxley that goes something like: 'A fact can never be an enemy to another fact'. I cannot verify this quote, but in any case it is a good one. It also stands that a truth can never be a real friend to a lie. That summarizes my opinion of the accommodationist stance.

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  4. Surely, he wouldn't expect an atheist like me to tell students that the Pope is an authority on evolution?

    I'm sorry, where is he assrting the Pope is an authority on science instead of an authority on religion?

    What if the teacher is a Muslim, a Buddhist, or a Hindu? What should they say?

    Why would a teacher be limited to giving examples from religious authorities of their own faith? (has my limited knowledge of English failed to understand "such as Pope Benedict’s statement")? Indeed, it might be appropriate for even an atheist teacher to point out examples of acceptance of science from religious authorities of the student's faith to overcome any cultural barrier to the student's willingness to approach the subject with the beginnings of an open mind.

    That's why I would tell students that, yes, there is a very real conflict between science and religion.

    So, are your courses listed in the curriculum as science courses or philosophy courses? (Not that philosophy of science is barred from discussion in science courses.) But would you mark a student wrong for disagreeing with your contention that there is a conflict between science and religion the same way as you would if they didn't know the Krebs cycle? If not, then you admit that one is an objective fact and the other isn't.

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  5. I think that god pushers and their accommodationists should be much more concerned about things like human population control, food and health care for the humans who are already alive, alleviating poverty, environmental/ecosystem rehabilitation and preservation, and fair civil rights than with uselessly trying to make ignorant views of evolution, evolutionary theory, and other aspects of science and reality compatible with non-scientific, unrealistic religious beliefs. I cannot see how any person who claims to accept reality and scientific methodology can honestly say that religious BS is or can be compatible. To me, accommodation is just the harmful enabling and encouragement of religious fears, authority, and delusions.

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  6. Honestly, if you can't recognize the clear conflict between evolution and the Bible then you are just harmonizing, nothing more. The Bible clearly and unambiguously expresses an ancient understanding of the world/universe, and pretending that these passages are 'metaphorical' is making virtue of necessity.

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  7. Wasn't our civilization created by a protestant people and worldview?
    They came here because we did things better and smarter.
    protestant peoples are the backbone of biblical creationism.
    Then everyone jumps in when the God idea is threatened by origin stuff.

    People know evolution teaches the bible is untrue and so our ancient great faith is untrue.
    People don't just see evolution as a attack on this but see it as not true.
    Its not true as indicated by bible believing people.
    Evolutionism has the impossible job of trying to say rejection of Genesis is not rejection of Christianity as many see it.
    Then they try to say the universe in its glory and complexity is not from a creatyore God.
    There can be no reconciliation but defeat for the guys who are wrong.
    The increasing need to address creationism , as this groups existence shows, is the signs of the times for the wrong guys at the beginning of the end of a error no longer just dealt with in tiny circles in obscure subjects.
    The whole world is watching.

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    1. Wasn't our civilization created by a protestant people and worldview?

      Whatcha mean "our," white man? (Old Lone Ranger/Tonto joke.)

      The US is not a "civilization," it is, at most, a branch of a branch of what is fuzzily called "Western Civilization," that includes, for example, Greek and Roman paganism, Roman Catholicism, various Eastern Orthodox churches, the Enlightenment and other influences too numerous to list.

      People know evolution teaches the bible is untrue and so our ancient great faith is untrue.

      People also know that science teaches the Bible is untrue in its flat-Earthism, geocentrism, water-canopy-ism and many other details. Biblicalism got over those disproofs and will get over evolution ... or it will disappear.

      Evolutionism has the impossible job of trying to say rejection of Genesis is not rejection of Christianity as many see it.

      Then it is the "many" that have the problem. Which was the point of what Hess said. If you can't accept what we do know about the world, why shouldn't your version of "Christianity" be rejected?

      The increasing need to address creationism , as this groups existence shows, is the signs of the times for the wrong guys at the beginning of the end of a error no longer just dealt with in tiny circles in obscure subjects.

      Even for you, Robert, that was especially incoherent babble.

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    2. I'll just respond on one point, the myth that Christians or the bible said the earth was flat.

      This is a pretty smart guy telling the truth, you should try it too!

      http://www.veritas-ucsb.org/library/russell/FlatEarth.html

      Try the truth for a change!

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    3. This is a pretty smart guy telling the truth, you should try it too!

      Ho hum. Another guy explaining away what the Bible says. Which, again, is what Hess is doing. There is no difference between the two ... not even in kind.

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    4. P.S. Opps. I jumped the gun. My bad! That guy isn't even discussing the Bible. He is correctly stating that many ancient people didn't belive in a flat Earth, which is quite true. But that has nothing to do with the fact that the Old Testament argues, incorrectly, that the Earth is flat and that so-called "Biblical literalists" have gotten over it. They can (and I predict) will get over evolution as well ... or will be nothing more than a fringe group, like snake handlers.

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    5. In the Old Testament, Job 26:7 explains that the earth is suspended in space.
      A spherical earth is described in Isaiah 40:21-22—“the circle of the earth.” The Biblical Hebrew word for “circle” (חוג—chuwg) can also mean “round” or “sphere.”

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    6. I like Gerald Schroeder's comment on Stephen Hawkins book the Grand Design: (it is claimed)...that "The Grand Design breaks the news, bitter to some, that … to create a universe from absolute nothing God is not necessary. All that is needed are the laws of nature. … [That is,] there can have been a big bang creation without the help of God, provided the laws of nature pre-date the universe. Our concept of time begins with the creation of the universe. Therefore if the laws of nature created the universe, these laws must have existed prior to time; that is the laws of nature would be outside of time. What we have then is totally non-physical laws, outside of time, creating a universe. Now that description might sound somewhat familiar. Very much like the biblical concept of God: not physical, outside of time, able to create a universe (from nothing)."

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    7. Yes, and (crucially) it is not God, therefore showing that God as an explanation is completely superfluous.

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    8. Lutesuit writes: "Yes, and (crucially) it is not God, therefore showing that God as an explanation is completely superfluous."
      How do you figure? I thought Gerald spelt it out clear enough...the reasoning falls on the fallacy that the fundamental forces of the universe could exist independent of matter. What instead is needed is a none physical existence outside of our time that is a "lawgiver", ergo the Judeo-Christian concept of God.

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    9. Well Andy, I think the best you can do with Isaiah is to rationalize a circular flat earth in place of a rectangular flat earth. Still, by your standards, that's progress.

      And what is it with this cottage industry of post hoc rationalization of holy books ?

      If it's not the Muslims claiming that the Koran predicted embryology and plate tectonics or the Hindus claiming that quantum physics are embedded in their creative fiction, it's those crazy christians claiming the Genesis accounts (both contradictory versions) of creation predicted our current understanding of cosmology, abiogenesis and and evolution.

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    10. Steve, do you know of any more accurate word for sphere in Biblical Hebrew than חוג—chuwg?

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    11. Andy, I'd love to help you out, but my area of expertise is Casper the Friendly Ghost.

      Comic books, television and movies affirm his supernatural origins and with the introduction of The Ghostly Trio we see the eternal struggle between good and evil.

      I continue to feel his love for me and many others have had this experience.

      I'm making progress in the incorporation of Casper into all those areas that we have an incomplete understanding and I'm sure that you are as excited as I am about these developments.

      If I might make a suggestion, this business of trying to ferret out meaning from nth generation translations of translations of translations is passe. I would suggest converting the characters to numerical codes and use computer software to manipulate the data into whatever answers provide you with the most comfort.

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    12. Andy, a different word is used elsewhere in the bible: duwr, which means both ball and sphere. Also, how would anybody stretch the heavens like a tent on top of a sphere rather than on top of a circle? Are the heavens like a tent Andy? Like a curtain? What about the earth having foundations Andy? Why would you interpret that circle as a description of a spherical Earth and forget all those other details that betray you by showing that your interpretation is mere eisegesis?

      Its a lot of fun checking contexts when Christians cite some "true scientific" information they found in the Bible. It becomes quite obvious that they didm;t read those passages themselves, but got the info from some snake-oil sales-person (aka apologist).

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    13. Andy Wilberforce: Yes, Biblical Hebrew does have a more precise word for 'sphere, ball': it's dūr (דור). ḥūḡ ("chuwg") means 'circle, circuit, compass', it's a deverbal noun, derived from a primary verb root meaning 'draw round, make a circle'.

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    14. The Biblical Hebrew word for “circle” (חוג—chuwg) can also mean “round” or “sphere.”
      The bible was written in greek.

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    15. This is a pretty smart guy telling the truth, you should try it too!

      The "pretty smart guy" is fighting straw men. We all know what ancient Greeks and Romans knew, and we know that many educated people throughout the Middle Ages had that knowledge as well (not from the Bible, though, but more or less directly from the Greeks). Your smart guy doesn't mention the Bible at all, and with good reason: the authors of the Bible thought the earth was flat. Not because they were ignorant but because at the time they composed their myths they had no chance to know otherwise.

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    16. Mikkel: The bible was written in greek.

      Some parts of the Old Testament were written in Greek rather than translated, but most of it (including the Torah) was originally composed in Hebrew (or Aramaic, in some cases) and translated into Hellenistic Greek in the last centuries BCE.

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    17. Andre Gross: You said John is wrong to claim the bible says the earth is flat, but did not contradict his assertion that the bible says the sun orbits a fixed earth. So you are aware that the bible clearly says that the sun orbits the earth?

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    18. @Piotr Not because they were ignorant but because at the time they composed their myths they had no chance to know otherwise.

      If we dispense with the pejorative connotations associated with the word ignorant, isn't that precisely what the authors of the Bible were ?

      Unless one wants to entertain the possibility that they were knowingly making shit up, which I also don't rule out.

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    19. @Keith Elias

      There is a good possibility that Andre subscribes to geocentrism.

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    20. Piotr, so the discussion has gone from claiming that the Bible is asserting that the earth is flat to discussing if dūr דור or חוג—chuwg is the better word for sphere in Biblical Hebrew. I think I leave it at that.

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    21. Keith

      Please show me the verses that state the sun orbits the earth? If you're talking about sunset and sun rise, don't we also use these descriptions? What the bible does claim is that the earth is the center of creation. Until we find life elsewhere this statement holds true about the uniqueness of life on this pale blue dot in this massive universe.

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    22. Andre, Andy, please stop boring everybody with perennial fundamentalist canards.

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    23. Piotr

      Boring for you maybe, certainly not for me trying to understand how it works is fundamental, just accepting chance didit is no different that the god of the gaps fallacy. Bit I digress, whats really an issue is the blatant lies about what something says or does not say. I think as a human truth should trump everything, even if we don't like the truth.

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    24. If we dispense with the pejorative connotations associated with the word ignorant, isn't that precisely what the authors of the Bible were ?

      Ignorant has a relative meaning: basically, knowing less than your contemporaries, or less than could be expected, given your education. For example, Archimedes did not know about particle physics; does it make him ignorant? If ignorant meant simply 'lacking some important knowledge' -- well, we would all be terribly ignorant. We have no idea what makes up 95.1% of the mass/energy of the Universe, to begin with (not to mention less general questions). The biblical authors' knowledge was extremely limited by modern standards (or even by the standards of classical Greek philosophers), but calling them ignorant would not be quite fair. They were part of the intellectual elite of their time and place.

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    25. Limited knowledge indeed but when the authors of the Bible do speak they make remarkable claims let me give you an example that is a real standout for me.

      Psalm 139:13 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb."

      What does science say about the verse above?

      http://www.agctsequencing.com/Articles/Epigenetics.pdf

      Wow the DNA coils itself around the zygote like a ball of yarn before it starts the knitting process!

      Man that's not bad for a bunch of bronze age goat herders!

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    26. Here is more detail on the process.

      Fascinating stuff!

      http://www.embryology.ch/anglais/dbefruchtung/zygote03.html

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    27. Wow the DNA coils itself around the zygote like a ball of yarn before it starts the knitting process!

      Pure undiluted idiocy. DNA doesn't coil itself around the zygote like a ball of yarn.

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    28. Here's some more fascinating science from the Bible, Andre:

      Isaiah 40:22: It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

      The heavens, all the stars and other extraterrestrial bodies we observe, are actually imprinted on a thin layer of material that is stretched out just above the earth! Wow, imagine that! Astronomers still haven't realized that! Just wait till they do! Boy, will the atheists have egg on their faces then, huh, Andre?

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    29. Andre makes claims about science in the bible then he does not pay the slightest attention to the many answers that show him to be interpreting biblical passages to his own linking while ignoring the "problematic" parts. I already told him about that curtain and tent, but he ignored that. Both me and Piotr told him about the proper word for ball and sphere, etc. He does not care. He will just jump to the next claim. But read our answers? He does not give a damn. I bet he will repeat the spherical Earth claim elsewhere unaware that we already showed his understanding to be lacking. Andre is a self-deluding fool. Nothing else.

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    30. LOL! I hadn't initially bothered to look at the links that Andre Gross says demonstrate that "DNA coils itself around the zygote like a ball of yarn." Not surprisingly, they don't say anything remotely like that. Try taking off the God-goggles before surfing the internet, Andre.

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  8. @Byers: "It ain't the things you don't know that get you into trouble: it's the things you think you know, that ain't so" - anon (but quoted by W C Fields among others).
    The god-idea, as you put it, is threatened by reality.

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  9. Threatened by reality? What reality? the ones listed below?

    1.) The reality that inanimate matter just comes alive? Evidence please?
    2.) The reality that things can just poof into existence without a cause? Where is the evidence of said reality?
    3.) The reality that functional information can create itself? Evidence please?
    4.) The reality that a 250 amino acid chain can magically come together to to make a protein? Evidence please?

    The evolution that the NCSE sells is not compatible with Christianity, how can a blind purposeless process be compatible with the idea that a Creator designed it that way? What are these people smoking?

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    1. Have to get ready for work but just for fun:

      The reality that inanimate matter just comes alive?

      Please give us an example of what animate matter makes up life. Name one living thing that isn't made up out of (some subset) of the 92 naturally occuring elements. If you can't (and you can't) please explain why you even mention "inanimate matter."

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    2. I'll gladly help.....

      Non living matter (aka inanimate matter) aka dead matter, aka no appearance of LIFE matter as opposed to animate matter aka living matter has never been observed to suddenly come alive... LIFE only comes from LIFE.

      http://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/famous-scientists/chemists/louis-pasteur-info.htm

      Here is a nice practical example, The food industry absolutely banks on the fact that your cornflakes (inanimate matter) will never become animate matter unless contaminated by other animate matter.

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    3. Corn flakes (made from corn plants) isn't part and parcel of "animate" matter? Where did they come from then?

      You still haven't explained, pointed to. or otherwise delineated what "animate" matter is versus inanimate matter.

      Common ... give it a shot! Tell us the difference other than 'some things are "alive" and other things aren't' (we can have fun with the definition of "alive" later). The question here is about "animate" versus "inanimate" matter!

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    4. Has Andre Gross published his results on instantaneous magical creation yet?

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    5. Andre Gross will publish as soon as life evolves spontaneously in his jar of peanut butter.

      And bananas, there will be lots of bananas in his results.

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    6. Banana-peanutbutter-sandwich, the atheists nightmare!

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    7. So, Andre, when corn flakes are "contaminated by other animate matter", they come to life?

      ROFLMAO

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    8. Let me help clarify things for you, Andre, because you're obviously struggling with some basic concepts.

      You are misconstruing "life" as some immaterial entity that exists separate from matter. But all the term "life" actually denotes is a particular quality that matter achieves under certain sets of conditions and arrangements.

      As an analogy, consider the relationship between "life" and an organism as similar to that between "hardness" and a diamond. The hardness of a diamond is the result of carbon atoms achieving a particular arrangement after being subjected to sustained high pressure. That "hardness" is not some immaterial thing that exists somewhere and then gets breathed into the diamond to give it the quality of being hard. The hardness nothing more than an attribute of matter, and if fully explicable in those terms.

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    9. The reality that a 250 amino acid chain can magically come together to to make a protein? Evidence please?

      Andre, you are always using words like "magic" when talking about biological phenomena. Stop it. You are the one who believes in magic, not scientists.

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    10. Andre, you are always using words like "magic" when talking about biological phenomena. Stop it. You are the one who believes in magic, not scientists.

      It's called a cruel irony.

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    11. I'm reading babble what are you folks trying to say? Matter can magically come alive? If not how then? Please give us your theory!

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    12. Luitesuite....

      "Actually denotes is a particular quality that matter achieves under certain sets of conditions and arrangements"

      OK I'll bite. Did chance and time do it? I don't think its ever been observed scientifically that matter can arrange itself to work towards some goal or function without an actual cause.

      Man you have more faith than me!

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    13. Andre, the irony of reading you repeatedly use the term "magic" is staggering.

      YOU'RE the one who believes in magic. YOU'RE the one who believes a magic man magically created life instananeously out of nothing.

      *ALLAKHAZAM* and then it just poofed into existence, a complete working cell, fully formed. Wait, the madness doesn't stop there, because you reject all of evolution, you believe every single species that ever lived was magically created in the exact same way. BY MAGIC.

      Please demonstrate actual real magic, Andre, just once. One single time.

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    14. Andre Gross sez;

      OK I'll bite. Did chance and time do it? I don't think its ever been observed scientifically that matter can arrange itself to work towards some goal or function without an actual cause.

      Who says it happened without a "cause"? And, not that I'm saying that "chance and time" alone offers an explanation, but even so those would still qualify as "causes". The term "cause"does not only refer to invisible immaterial spooks, in case you weren't aware.

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    15. Andre, there is nothing "magical" in a supernatural sense about life, life is materialistic physics and chemistry all the way. Mind and consciousness require physical brains, life requires physical bodies. We are complex objects that consume and utilize energy.

      Andre, you appear to be arguing from personal incredulity and that is a very weak form of argument.

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  10. Hess writes:

    There’s a wide range of religious reactions to evolution, from rejection to embrace, and you may not feel comfortable in endorsing any of them. (Indeed, a teacher in the public schools is required not to endorse any of them in the classroom.) But many people who reject evolution for religious reasons are ignorant about, or have never been seriously exposed to, the range of religious reactions to evolution.

    It strikes me that he does not even make mention of the fact that some people reject religion on the basis of science. (That is, I believe, Larry's main point.) Is Hess' oversight because he does not care whether people reject religion? Or is it because he is not prepared to seriously examine his own accomdationist stance?

    I notice that on the NCSE's "Science and Religion" page linked above, Hess lumps "antireligious atheists" in together with creationists.

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  11. A lot of the time when religious scientists are interviewed and they try to explain why their belief in God is compatible with their science their main reasons tend to be one or both of the following:

    -until we find out how the universe and life originated there is room for God (which is the old God of the gaps argument)

    -the fact that the universe is intelligible and follows rules and laws is evidence for an intelligence behind it (e.g. John Lennox)

    Even these make room for a deistic God only and nothing else. Theism is a huge leap from deism, which they never seem to justify. They should be confronted with this more often and interviewers shouldn't let them escape so easily.

    I have only a few comments for those who say that "reality" is only an assumption. I think its correct that we cannot prove that anything is real. We could all be in a giant simulaton or I could just be a Boltzmann-brain whose moment of existence seems to be a lifetime of memories. But it is not useful to contemplate those posibilities for long as there is no way you can investigate them. It is as futile as counting angels on the head of a pin.

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  12. NCSE is committed to promoting a particular subset of religious beliefs, such as the religious beliefs of Ken Miller, over other religious beliefs. But Ken Miller's religious belief are as arbitrary as any other religious beliefs. Once we opt to go down that road it become a matter of arguing for being biased rather than arguing for adopting an unbiased perspective, and that is a weak and self-contradictory place for NCSE to plant it's flag.

    The stronger argument is to say that we only care what the evidence communicates to us about how the universe functions. The result can be in harmony, or in conflict, with a variety of religious beliefs. Either outcome is irrelevant to whether the result is good or bad.

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