Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Science vs religion in the Princeton Guide to Evolution

The Princeton Guide to Evolution is a collection of 107 articles on various aspect of evolution. The editors felt they should address the obvious conflict between evolution/science and religion. There are at least five different approaches they could have taken.
  1. An atheist perspective on the incompatibility of evolution/science and religion. Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne would be good choices.
  2. An atheist perspective on the compatibility of science and religion (the accommodationist view). Michael Ruse or Nick Matzke are obvious choices.
  3. A theist view of the incompatibility of evolution and religion. Phillip Johnson could have explained this view but so could a number of other creationists.
  4. A theist explanation of the compatibility of evolution/science as long as they stick to their proper magisteria. Francis Collins, Ken Miller, and several other religious scientists could present their case.
  5. The editors could have published four articles representing the main viewpoints or commissioned a single article that would have covered all the angles.
The big advantage of an atheist perspective is that it fairly represents the views of a majority of evolutionary biologists. Having a theist write the article would not be as fair. I think we can all agree that option #5 is by far the best choice.

Before reading any further, take a minute to decide what you would do if you were the editors of The Princeton Guide to Evolution.

The editors decided to ask Franciso Ayala, an evolutionary biologist and former Dominican priest, to write an article tilted "Evolution and Religion." Ayala is a former Templeton Prize winner. They didn't ask anybody else, not even Richard Dawkins.

Let's look at how Ayala covers the controversy.
Evolution and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. Indeed, if science and religion are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction, because they concern different matters. Science and religion are like two different windows for looking at the world. The two windows look at the same world, but they show different aspects of that world. Science concerns the processes that account for the natural world: the movement of planets, the composition of matter and the atmosphere, the origin and adaptations of organisms. Religion concerns the meaning and purpose of the world and of human life, the proper relation of people to the Creator and to one another, the moral values that inspire and govern people's lives. Apparent contradictions emerge only when either the science or the beliefs, or often both, trespass on their own boundaries and wrongfully encroach on other's subject matter.
The question is not whether religion concerns things that are nonscientific. Of course it does. So does astrology and magic. Astrology and magic are quite capable of "explaining" meaning and purpose and inspiring people.

The real question is whether astrology and magic (and religion) are capable of providing true knowledge. According to the scientific way of knowing, you don't believe in something unless you have evidence. There is no evidence that astrology, magic, and religion supply correct answers to any of the important questions. Therefore they conflict with science in the search for truth.
The scope of science is the world of nature, the reality that is observed, directly or indirectly, by the senses. Science advances explanations concerning the natural world, explanations that are subject to the possibility of corroboration or rejection by observation and experiment. Outside that world, science has no authority, no statements to make, no business whatsoever taking one position or another. Science has nothing decisive to say about values, whether economic, aesthetic, or moral; nothing to say about the meaning of life or its purpose; nothing to say about religious beliefs (except in the case of beliefs that transcend the proper scope of religion and make assertions about the natural world that contradict scientific knowledge; such statements cannot be true).
We don't know whether there's something outside the world or naturalism. That's the important question. In the absence of evidence for this other world, it is perfectly legitimate to say that you should not believe in it. If you cannot detect this other world using your senses then its existence conflicts with the scientific way of knowing.

It's all very well to say that the scientific way of knowing doesn't apply to values (economic, aestetic, or moral) but saying it isn't enough. What we want to know is whether these values are justified in the real world and relying on astrology, magic, or religion doesn't make sense. Most of us want evidence that certain values are real if we are going to adhere to them.
Science is a way of knowing, but it is not the only way. Knowledge also derives from other sources. Common experience, imaginative literature, art, and history provide valid knowledge about the world; and so revelation and religion for people of faith. The significance of the world and human life, as well as matters concerning moral or religious values, transcends science. Yet these matters are important; for most of us, they are at least as important as scientific knowledge per se.
We have plenty of evidence that the scientific way of knowing produces "truth" or universally accepted knowledge that stands up to skeptical challenges. We have no evidence that religion is capable of producing such knowledge and plenty of evidence that whatever it produces is usually false. Thus, we are forced to tentatively conclude that science is the only valid way of knowing. There are no others.
The proper relationship between science and religion can be, for people of faith, mutually motivating and inspiring. Science may inspire religious beliefs and religious behavior as we respond with awe to the immensity of the universe, the glorious diversity and wondrous adaptations of organisms, and the marvel of the human brain and the human mind. Religion promotes reverence for the creation, for humankind as well as the world of life and the environment. Religion often is, for scientists and others, a motivating force and source of inspiration for investigating the marvelous world of the creation and solving the puzzles with which it confronts us.
Lot of things are motivating and inspiring. That does not make them true. Just because something makes you feel good is not evidence that it doesn't conflict with science. Scientists should not think like that.


153 comments :

  1. Another thing that I find happening a lot in these discussions is that people carefully chose what aspects of science and religion they examine while ignoring the whole package.

    So what is science? Is it (1) a method for generating knowledge, (2) a community of researchers and their institutions, or (3) a body of knowledge? All three, actually. And the same is true for religion although in that case we might want to replace 'knowledge' with 'beliefs' and 'researchers' with 'believers'.

    Clearly science (method) is incompatible with religion (method) because the former includes hypothesis testing and the latter includes authoritarianism and blind faith. Science (community) is compatible with religion (community) because many people can, strangely in my eyes, hold contradictory beliefs, which is what Ayala and others are often using as an argument. Finally, science (body of knowledge) and religion (body of beliefs) are potentially compatible. A religion whose beliefs are entirely congruent with demonstrable reality is at least imaginable but Christianity, for example, clearly isn't.

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    1. "people carefully chose what aspects of science and religion they examine while ignoring the whole package"
      Definitely. I've entered many discussions concerning creationism and quite often I am told that evolution is "just a theory". To which I reply that E=mc² could also be considered to be just a theory and I get replies such as "but E=mc² is a REAL theory". LOL

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  2. Option 6 would have been a secularist view, an independent view that explains the understanding of evolution is based on ever more precise methods of investigation, experimentation and analysis showing ever more wondrous ways that nature works without intervention to succeed and more often to fail at generating divergent forms of life on our planet. Mentioning religion in attempting to sway people to accept evolution, to mollify believers, continues to drag on the acceptance of evolution. I personally think it is time to stop discussing the religious implications of evolution and start discussing the wonders, the controversies and the disagreements on the role of the various forms that evolution takes and ask people who want to discuss the religion aspect of it to "take it outside."

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  3. I have never been able to understand Ayala, partly because he has never really explained what his actual views are.

    Evolution and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. Indeed, if science and religion are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction, because they concern different matters.

    Good. Now how exactly did God create humans using evolution? Has he ever explicitly explained what his actual views are on the subject? I may have missed it. But just saying there is no contradiction does not make it so.

    People like Collins and Miller can be excused on account of them not being evolutionary biologists but Ayala is a professional one, and quite distinguished too.

    So how can someone whose field is population and evolutionary genetics make such statements when they are directly undermining his very own field?. If God directed evolution, then population genetics is false - what mutations arose and got fixed was directly engineered by God. Especially the ones fixed by drift - those that got fixed by selection did so through some interaction with the environment but the ones that got fixed by drift would have to be directly steered by God. And it's highly unlikely nothing of importance in our phenotype is the result of drift - our Ne is very low. That's his own field. I just don't understand it.

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    1. Ayala has always been rather reticent as whether he believes in god. It alleged that he once gave an interview to a Spanish newspaper in which he admitted to being an agnostic.

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    2. I am an atheist AND an agnostic. Ayala is probably a theist AND an agnostic because he's been trained as a priest.

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    3. All you need is proof for not being a theist, since you have none for being an atheist and agnostic. So, what's keeping you away from being a theist? Resistance to facts? Well, that is good enough for me. Hallelujah!!!

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    4. Why are all the creationists so incoherent?

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    5. I'm agnostic John, like you lol

      It looks like Quest is gone for real and so is the activity on the blog :(

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  4. OKAY.
    So evolutionary biologists are all atheists'!
    If they were not would that reflect on evolution?
    So to believe in evolution one must be a atheist? if your not then one should not believe in evolution and so examine its evidence more closely!
    AMEN.
    How many evolution biologists are there? Between this or that number!
    a favorite point for me is that evolutionists should only claim evolutionary biologists for backing up evolution as a scientific fact,.
    Mostly they claim all biologists or the whole scientific community, whatever that is, as the evidence for evolution being a scientific theory.
    if a sciemtific thinker matters on evolution then who counts as a thinker and how many out there in the outback?
    Lets some stats and graphs.

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    1. Personally, I prefer option #6 (mine):
      Science is the only path to understanding the Universe around us, and ...
      all religions are pure dogshit.

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  5. I've been annoyed with Ayala on at least two previous occasions. The first was his talk at the Spring Systematics Symposium at the Field Museum of Natural History in, I think, 1986. The symposium was about the idea of evolutionary progress, and Ayala was all for it, with a real scala naturae take on the Tertiary history of mammals. He got really taken apart in the discussion afterwards.

    The second event was in his book Am I a Monkey? in which his answer to the title question was a shameful "no".

    By the way, many of the sentences in your quotes sound garbled. Was that Ayala or was it you?

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    1. John: By the way, many of the sentences in your quotes sound garbled. Was that Ayala or was it you?

      I'm particularly puzzled by this one, rendered non-functional by too many deleterious mutations:

      Science it uses exclamation since early in the natural world, explanations that are subject to the possibility of cooperation or rejection by observation and experiment.

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    2. It's my fault. I read the passage and used Dragon to transcribe it but didn't do a good job of proofing for some strange reason. Now I'm away from my office and the book (it's very heavy) and can't fix it until tomorrow. Sorry.

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  6. "So evolutionary biologists are all atheists'!"
    That's not what was written. nobody says that.
    Evolutionary biologists don't think God is messing with life,
    Maybe they think like me, that God's domain is the kingdom of Heaven, i.e. the spiritual world.

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    1. Then evolution has nothing to do with Gods existence! Otherwise all biological evolutionists would be atheists.!
      How many evolutionist biologists are there?
      or rather how many in the officer corp. The ones actually doing, thinking, 9-5 , and paid, to do evolutionary investigation??
      I suspect its not thousands.
      This is why the small numbers of creationists so easily challenge and threaten evolutionism.
      This is all tiny circles i think.
      Who are the top ten evolutionist thinkers?
      Are they hiding? I'm told they never "regard" the creationist revolution.
      That means its not the famous atheists ones!
      Once again classification problems.

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    2. Then evolution has nothing to do with Gods existence!

      Oh, you've got it at last. Good for you.

      Evolution has nothing to do with God or gods. The fact that life evolves is not an argument against God's existence. Evolutionary biologists don't use it to argue that there's no God, because they don't give a damn about religious or ideological disputes as biologists (what they do in their spare time may be a different matter). Actually, no "scientific arguments" against theism are necessary, since there are no compelling arguments in favour of the God hypothesis. If there were, all scientists would be theists: they tend to appreciate good evidence more than other folk.

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    3. How many evolutionist biologists are there? [...] I suspect its not thousands.
      Interesting question actually. Just to get some sense of perspective; the ESEB congress, which is a congress for european evolutionary scientists, hosted 1500 delegates this summer. Let's say that is about 10% of the the total number of evolutionary biologists in Europe. Then there are enough of them to fill decent sized village in Europe alone. I think there must be tens of thousands evolutionary biologists world wide.
      Sorry, but evolutionary biology is a well established discipline.

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    4. Corneel
      Okay.thanks for some info. Europe is hugh. 15000 is not many. Then I suspect most did or do little research. just tech with maybe a few papers early in their careers. Also they just repeat their officer corp.
      Id and YEC thinkers, our officer corp, therefore deal with few people mind for mind.
      thats why the few are so effective and threatening.
      Very few people actually think and work seriously about these issues.
      We are not fighting a hugh army of scientists. Only a select group.
      In fact one might say its only 5:1 for evolutionists relative to creationist in serious investigation.
      the mere evidence of Id/YEC scientists is already the end of evolution as a scienctific theory. How could scientists say a theory is wrong?

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    5. "We are not fighting a hugh army of scientists. Only a select group."

      they must be pretty busy, then, seeing as around 100 papers on some aspect of evolutionary biology are published every week

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    6. Well then lets work with stats.
      100 is not 200. Are these really evolutionary biology papers or just dealing a little bit with some presumptions.
      I still think its a small elite or officer corp that do anything that matters. tHen a larger but still not numerous army.
      Our officer corp is fighting very few researchers and thinkers in evolutionary biology.
      Thats why it is so easily taken on.

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    7. It's interesting then, Robert, that your side almost never seems to send anyone from the relevant field (biology) into the battle. You usually end up sending philosophers, lawyers, neurosurgeons, engineers, dentists and the like.

      If there was an actual war going on and one side didn't seem to have any actual soldiers, but only deployed plumbers armed with toilet plungers, I know which side I would put my money on.....

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  7. So this is a standard NOMA position, which is favoured by many since it safely cocoons religion away from a battle it cannot win.
    Religion is the magesteria of information for which there can be no verification or test (strange repository for revelations and truths that are supposed to be from the very designer and creator of everything).
    Not only is it nonsense to begin with, but as always a main problem is that very few religious people actually think that way - for them, they know what god did (creation), continues to do (the odd miracle and pulling strings here and there or everywhere) and will do (provide an eternity of bliss) in this universe. They know what he wants and doesn't want, and that they have a personal relationship with this man-like but non-man-like quasi-something that is completely scrutable and inscrutable but nevermind just love him sort of material/non-material cellestial father.
    So NOMA is nothing more than a construct that protects religious claims from rational scientific scrutiny, which of course it desperately requires.

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    1. That's not how I see NOMA operating. It acknowledges that religion makes claims that cannot be verified by the scientific method. But that does not eliminate the responsibility of those who make religious claims to provide some alternative means of verification. Any failure on their part to do so (which so far has been the case) is sufficient reason by itself to dismiss those claims out of hand.

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    2. that is fine, except I cannot imagine what form an alternative means of verification could possibly take and not also fall under the umbrella of the scientific/empirical method. In my view no such alternative means is possible and therefore if NOMA is accepted, they are de facto relieved of the requirement for verification. I agree it is sufficient reason to reject the claims.

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    3. I agree. I doubt there is any other available means of verification. However, I don't see why it follows from that that they are relieved of the requirement for verification. If you make a claim that you believe to be factual (as opposed to being merely a personal opinion) then you should still be expected to provided the means by which it can be verified. If religion is unable to make any verifiable claims, then I think that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire enterprise.

      That's how I would understand NOMA to work.

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    4. There is also the option of conceiving of religion as something which does not make factual claims, but which is only concerned with expressing and defending personal opinions. It would then be similar to literary criticism as a discipline. But few practitioners of religion seem disposed to operating that way.

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    5. SRM says,

      So NOMA is nothing more than a construct that protects religious claims from rational scientific scrutiny, which of course it desperately requires.

      Have you actually read Rock of Ages by Stephen Jay Gould?

      If you have, you'll see (e.g. page 94) that NOMA (Non-Overlapping Magisteria) rules out a personal god that directs evolution and performs miracles because these claims are open to scientific investigation and have been refuted.

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    6. No, but although I used the term NOMA it wasn't my intent to comment on Gould's ideas directly but rather the common idea that religion and other magic-infused ideologies provide a different valid way of knowing things that are not amenable to standard investigation. That idea is likely as old as religion itself and I used the acronym NOMA as shorthand for the general concept.

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  8. Those theological apologists presume the intellectual legitimacy of the existing 'faith' paradigm. However different their questions and matters may be, the very nature of truth, whether revealed by science or God should unify them both. But of course this is not the case. The question then becomes this: could two thousand years of scholastic exegesis, tradition and the faith of 2 billion 'Christians' be wholly in error? . . . And no longer just a rhetorical question for mud slinging between atheist and religious, we are on the threshold of finding out! Be ready for a lot of gnashing of teeth. For what science and religion, not to mention the rest of us, thought impossible has now happened. History has its first literal, testable and fully demonstrable proof for faith and it's on the web.

    The first wholly new interpretation for two thousand years of the moral teachings of Christ has been published. Radically different from anything else we know of from theology or history, this new teaching is predicated upon the 'promise' of a precise, predefined, and predictable experience of transcendent omnipotence and called 'the first Resurrection' in the sense that the Resurrection of Jesus was intended to demonstrate Gods' willingness to reveal Himself and intervene directly into the natural world for those obedient to His will, paving the way for access, by faith, to the power of divine Will and ultimate proof!

    Thus 'faith' becomes an act of trust in action, the search along a defined path of strict self discipline, [a test of the human heart] to discover His 'Word' of a direct individual intervention into the natural world by omnipotent power that confirms divine will, law, command and covenant, which at the same time, realigns our mortal moral compass with the Divine, "correcting human nature by a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries." Thus is a man 'created' in the image and likeness of his Creator.

    So like it or no, a new religious teaching, testable by faith, meeting all Enlightenment criteria of evidence based causation and definitive proof now exists. Nothing short of an intellectual, moral and religious revolution is getting under way. To test or not to test, that is the question? More info at http://www.energon.org.uk


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  9. Larry, I take some issue with your statement that option 5 would be best. I'm not sure what the value would be in having Philip Johnson or some other creationist adding a chapter to a scientific textbook. Their view on the incompatibility of religion and evolution is not likely to be much different from that of an atheist who also holds them to be incompatible, and the main difference would that the creationist would have to state that evolution is false (the only logical conclusion if religion and evolution are incompatible and at least one form of religion is true). This would require the author to make scientifically false statements, which should not be endorsed by a science textbook.

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    1. I think you illustrate, accidentally, the very argument that I'm making. There are many views on this subject and you can't participate in the debate unless you know all of them.

      Phillip Johnson and some other creationists have some pretty good arguments. Johnson argues that science is unnecessarily materialistic and that it should incorporate "evidence" from faith and revelation. He does not think that science should be bound by methodological naturalism. Scientists should be free to investigate the important questions like meaning and purpose. However, science as it is currently practiced, is committed to philosophical naturalism and this bias brings it into conflict with religion.

      This is not exactly the same as the arguments that I would make in favor of the incompatibility of science and religion.

      It's true that Johnson might make statements that you and I think are scientifically false. I can assure you that the book is already full of such statements so a few more isn't going to make much of a difference! :-)

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    2. I have mentioned this many times and this is a good occasion to do it once again.

      Prior to 1989 schools in Eastern Europe not only thought evolution only but actively promoted an atheistic worldview. But they did so without developing critical thinking skills (for obvious reason),

      The result was that after 1989 religion returned with a vengeance (even if there was a political factor behind it) and not just religion but all sorts of irrational nonsense - astrology, clairvoyance, you name it. And understanding of evolution is actually worse than in the US where many people have picked up at least a little bit of science through all the discussions surrounding creationism

      So given the results from that experiment, it may not be a bad idea to talk about both views in the classroom. Only if it is done in a critical way, of course.

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    3. "So given the results from that experiment, it may not be a bad idea to talk about both views in the classroom. Only if it is done in a critical way, of course."

      What planet do you live on, Georgi? Evolutionists will fight to death not to allow ID/creationism in the classrooms and even more so criticizing evolution. Get real! Its not gonna happen, for obvious reasons.

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    4. Georgi Marinov says,

      The result was that after 1989 religion returned with a vengeance ...

      I think your view is unduly influenced by Poland and Romania. Look at the data on Religion in Europe. The Eastern European countries aren't that much different from those in the West. In the Czech Republic and Estonia, for example. only 16% and 18% (respectively) of the population say they believe in God.

      Slovakia, Poland and Romania are the only Eastern European countries where a major of the population believes in God.

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    5. Georgi Marinov says.

      ... it may not be a bad idea to talk about both views in the classroom.

      I agree with your conclusion. You cannot teach critical thinking without presenting and discussing both sides of the controversy.

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    6. I think your view is unduly influenced by Poland and Romania. Look at the data on Religion in Europe. The Eastern European countries aren't that much different from those in the West. In the Czech Republic and Estonia, for example. only 16% and 18% (respectively) of the population say they believe in God.

      Slovakia, Poland and Romania are the only Eastern European countries where a major of the population believes in God.


      I was talking about Bulgaria and Russia. Bulgaria I have a lot of first-hand observations on (because that's where I am from) and Russia is bign enough (and important enough for Bulgaria) to feature a lot of in the news, and from those reports it seems that it is right now going in the direction of an orthodox version of US Christian talibanism , even if there are many non-religious people and it's mostly for political reason.

      BTW, the stats are highly misleading, When I say religion returned with a vengeance I don't mean that everyone suddenly became religious - they didn't. It just went from like 5% of people thinking a lot about God to something like a third to a half. But this masks all the people who do not go to church yet have been captured by various other sorts of nonsense, who constitute for the majority of the rest. And most of those who identify as nonreligious are not atheists in the way you and I are - they just don't really give the subject much thought and rational thinking is not of much importance to them (and they certainly rarely practice it).

      Add to that the fact that atheism is completely absent from the public sphere - I have not seen a single person express an openly atheistic worldview on TV, radio or in a newspaper my whole life and I do not exaggerate, it's literally true. What you have on TV is orthodox priests bashing atheists and arguing with various eastern mysticists, and the reporting is completely uncritical of religion. Believe it or not, FOX News is actually more objective than the media in Bulgaria, because they attack atheists in a way that acknowledges their existence as something to be taken seriously and they often bring one in the studio to present their point of view. You don't get that in Bulgaria - it's only the priests, and a lot of religiously themed programs and reporting that never questions whatever nonsense they happen to be talking about. I wish there was a way to show you what I mean - there is plenty of YouTube material that illustrates it very well - but it's all in Bulgarian.

      P.S. Czech Republic and Estonia are not really Eastern European countries, historically and culturally. They were behind the iron curtain but that was for only half a century.

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    7. Georgy and Larry:

      I have done some research and found out that the decreasing number of people who believe in God in Europe and around the world is mainly to the bad wrap the religion as a whole has had over the last years especially Islam and Christendom, like Catholic Church. Their ranks (officially and unofficially) are dwindling at an extremely high pace especially in the West, which is bringing up the numbers of unbelievers. On the other had, smaller, evangelical churches are growing, which, most surprisingly to me, mainly do not accept evolution.

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    8. I have done some research and found out that the decreasing number of people who believe in God in Europe and around the world is mainly to the bad wrap the religion as a whole has had over the last years ...

      Really? Who would have guessed?

      ... smaller, evangelical churches are growing, ...

      Tell me more. I'm really curious about the growth of smaller, evangelical, churches in Denmark, France, Hungary, and Estonia. I've been in France, Denmark, and Estonia and I didn't see any evidence of that.

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    9. Poland is one of the strongholds of Catholicism, like Ireland or Italy, but even here polls (ignore the pun) exaggerate the dominance of the church. The oft-quoted percentage (95%) is that of infants baptised. The church records those baptised as "nominal Catholics" no matter what they do in their adult lives (or why the parents decided to baptise them in the first place -- e.g. to please the family). Some 80+% of poll respondents define themselves as Catholic, but only 50-60% take their religion seriously enough to attend mass more or less regularly. Recent scandals involving priests, the greed and arrogance of the institutional church, the bishops' displays of homophobia, misogyny and superstition, idiotic crusades against "gender ideology", in vitro fertilisation etc., have undermined the morale of the church, and lots of people react to them with disgust. The church's policy these days looks suicidal to me. I'm surprised that the percentage of self-declared atheists nationwide is still only 1-6%, depending on how the poll question is formulated. It's much higher in my circle of friends and colleagues (but then Polish society is anything but homogeneous, and I'm talking of educated city folk in Western Poland, pretty far from our -- what shall I call it -- Rosary Belt).

      Creationism, though, isn't a big problem here. Educated people generally accept evolution as fact (though, as elsewhere, they understand little of the theory, and I suspect many of them subscribe to some vague idea of Behe-style God-controlled evolution). The Polish creationists I meet on Internet discussion forums (but rarely in real life) are more often Jehovah's Witnesses than Catholics. I don't think I've ever met a Polish young-Earth creationist in person, though I have heard of some. No-one would even dream of banishing evolutionary biology from school curricula or "teaching the controversy".

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    10. Larry wrote: "I'm really curious about the growth of smaller, evangelical, churches in Denmark, France, Hungary, and Estonia. I've been in France, Denmark, and Estonia and I didn't see any evidence of that."
      I'm afraid that you are committing the common fallacy of thinking you know a country after a tourist visit of a few days. I agree with Louise and Georgi, religion is making a come back in much of Europe. I recently was at the book fair in Gothenburg which is the main event were authors meet the public in Sweden. I was struck by how many and unexpected authors that made a point of mentioning their religious beliefs in their presentations/interviews. I grant that this is a marketing event and it doesn't necessarily mean that it is all that important to them, but still, someone must figure that this helps selling the books. This is just a small example, but the general feeling is a much bigger openness to religion in the public room than I have ever experienced before.

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    11. Piotr GąsiorowskiFriday, December 20, 2013 3:01:00 PM

      I suspect many of them subscribe to some vague idea of Behe-style God-controlled evolution


      I doubt many people seriously hold that view. It actually requires giving the subject a lot of thought - it is not an intuitive idea that God guided evolution so you have to know a bit about both to merge the two.

      Most people don't know much about either

      I have come to the conclusion that the large group of people who when asked the question say they accept both evolution and God do so for the following reasons:

      1) they were taught in school that evolution is true
      2) they were taught everywhere else that there is a God
      3) they accept both of the above because:
      3.1 these things are never on their minds - most people get on with their lives perfectly fine without ever investing even a moment of thinking about how life evolved.
      3.2 they just accept whatever authority figures tell them
      3.3 they do not feel any urge to develop a coherent non-self-contradictory worldview

      In the US evolution has become part of the culture war so pretty much everyone has been forced to take a side in one way or another, and at the very least, they are exposed to constant debates in the media about it. In much of the rest of the world, there is no heated controversy, so people's lives go like this:

      1) go to school, be taught a little bit about evolution, learn very little of what you have been taught, forget it as soon as you get a passing grade
      2) graduate and move on with your life
      3) never give the subject any thought for the rest of it

      I've seen this with relatives of mine - they weren't raised religious but they know so little about evolution that the whole concept is foreign to them and it is pretty much impossible to talk about such subjects because they simply have no idea what the issues are. And I don't think they ever felt any need to learn. It's a pretty good guess that's true for most people around the world.

      Polls can be very misleading because they by their nature involve asking people a specific questions. But they do not characterize the overall worldview of the respondents

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    12. I doubt many people seriously hold that view. It actually requires giving the subject a lot of thought - it is not an intuitive idea that God guided evolution so you have to know a bit about both to merge the two.

      But it's close to the view of evolution promoted by some "progressive" Catholic intellectuals, so even people don't know enough about either biology or theology to carry out the merger on their own may find it attractive. They will agree that evolution is a scientifically established natural process, and that they have no problem with it, with the proviso that at some point God intervened to make our ancestors human. Come to think of it, John Paul II, whose authority was extremely important to many Polish catholics, didn't insist that abiogenesis of most of evolution was guided -- only that "the spiritual soul is immediately created by God", whatever the origin of the body. Such a claim is even weaker than the most liberal versions of ID.

      Polls can be very misleading...

      Of course. Polls attempt to compartmentalise something that in reality is a continuous spectrum of world-views, attitudes and opinions.

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    13. Andy Wilberforce says,

      I'm afraid that you are committing the common fallacy of thinking you know a country after a tourist visit of a few days.

      Gimme a break! I'm not really as stupid as you think.

      I was asking LouisG for the evidence from the research she did.

      Thank-you for your short anecdote from a few hours at a book fair in Sweden but is there any data to support your claim that "religion is making a comeback in Europe"?

      (BTW, I lived in Europe for four years and my daughter also lived there for four years. We were a bit more than tourists for a few days.)

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    14. Piotr Gąsiorowski says,

      Poland is one of the strongholds of Catholicism, like Ireland or Italy, but even here polls (ignore the pun) exaggerate the dominance of the church.

      LouiseG, Andy Wilberforce, and Georgi Marinov disagree with you. I assume they've all spent considerable time in Poland recently.

      Delete
    15. Ask Jerry Coyne. He spent quite a few days in Poland earlier this year ;)

      Delete
    16. Self-correction (4:40:00 PM): abiogenesis OR most of evolution

      Delete
    17. Larry wrote: "(BTW, I lived in Europe for four years and my daughter also lived there for four years. We were a bit more than tourists for a few days.)"
      Well I clearly don't know that much about you...I obviously don't think your stupid though, I wouldn't read your blog if I did. It does not change that your comments about Europe does not give the impression of much insight about life here. For starters it's hard to generalize of Europe as one unit. I have visited Eastern Europe frequently, since my family had friends there. I wouldn't claim to be an expert though, but I think that both Georgi and Piotr give fair representation of the percent situation in their respective countries. I have spent 3 months or more, working or studying, in 6 West European countries, I think that gives me some insight to life there. I also have the benefit of the perspective of having lived in 6 years outside of Europe in North America and the Middle East. My example was, as I pointed out myself more of an anecdote, and I can certainly come up with more of those. I think that we will also start to see this in hard numbers from surveys eventually. I suspect what set of the trend at least in Sweden was the increased aggressiveness of the (new) atheists. I think books like eg "The God Delusion" alienated many that before had identified themselves as atheists but had not really reflected much on the subject.

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    18. Strangely enough I have the exact opposite experience. To my knowledge there's no change in the influence of religion, at least in Denmark.

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    19. Rumraket, I assume that you are less than 25 years old, is that correct?

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    20. I don't think Ireland applies. After the the sex scandal, even church custodians became opposed. Cath-church is dead in Ireland, which makes the spontaneous emergence of life more acceptable. Unfortunately not by scientific standards.

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    21. Piotr, Did you go to any of Coyne's meetings? Tell me you did not. He was in Poznen.

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    22. You are not correct, I'm 33. In what way do you imagine this is of relevance to the subject matter?

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    23. Well, that would have been an explanation to why you do not have the same perspective. 33 should be old enough, so now I'm at a loss as to what the reason could be...

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    24. @Andy Wilberforce

      religion is making a come back in much of Europe

      As are antibiotic resistant infections and anti semitism.

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    25. @ Steve

      The sun light is also making a come back as of today, no proof of correlation though...

      Delete
    26. Think of it as an analogy or a metaphor.

      Delete
    27. """33 should be old enough, so now I'm at a loss as to what the reason could be..."""

      The reason is simply that you are wrong in your assessment and religion is not making any comeback in Europe. I'm 35 years old, and I've lived in two different countries in Europe, one for 27 years in Western Europe and another for 8 years in Scandinavia. What I see is religion loosing ground in both. And that is confirmed by polls/surveys, too, not just anecdotal evidence.

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    28. Interesting Pedro, which countries are you talking about?

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    29. Piotr Gąsiorowski: You said that in Poland:

      No-one would even dream of banishing evolutionary biology from school curricula or "teaching the controversy".

      I have never even visited Poland, but although I defer to your expertise on it generally, I wonder whether you are not being too optimistic. Check out this (free) article from Evolution, Education and Outreach. It describes the activities of the League of Polish Families, the involvement of its politicians in the Ministry of Education, and their attempts to promote a teach-the-controversy position.

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    30. Ok, Pedro. I know very little of either, they may fall under the exceptions. By the way, since you've been 7 years in Finland you should know that it's not a part of Scandinavia...

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    31. Joe, it's old news. The League of Polish Families no longer exists, and the deputy minister who made the suggestion did not even manage to convince his own (hardline rightist) minister (son of a notorious YEC, one of the few that can still be found here) or the conservative Prime Minister (one of the infamous Kaczyński brothers) that the idea was sound. It was immediately contested by the public opinion and nipped in the bud. If THOSE people weren't able to push it through, nobody is.

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    32. """By the way, since you've been 7 years in Finland you should know that it's not a part of Scandinavia..."""

      The term is used differently in different contexts, and also in English language. Wikipedia has a nice breakdown of the usage of the term Scandinavia under different contexts. There is no problem in using the term to include Finland too, as long as the context is clear.

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    33. Pedro wrote: "The term is used differently in different contexts, and also in English language. Wikipedia has a nice breakdown of the usage of the term Scandinavia under different contexts. There is no problem in using the term to include Finland too, as long as the context is clear."

      No, it's just plain wrong. That's not how the term is used in Scandinavia and I would assume in Finland. We have the alternative term "Norden", i.e. the Nordic Countries to refer to the greater cultural community to which also Finland belongs.

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    34. I just asked a native friend of mine if he considered himself a scandinavian; he does. I agree with you however that in *strict* usage the term Scandinavia doesn't include Finland. However the term is not as unambiguous as you might think, so your assertion that "it's just plain wrong" is not quite correct.

      Regardless, we digress.

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    35. Pedro I'm confused now, doesn't "I just asked a native friend of mine if he considered himself a scandinavian; he does" fall under anecdotal evidence? Is that then relevant or not?

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    36. "doesn't "I just asked a native friend of mine if he considered himself a scandinavian; he does" fall under anecdotal evidence?"

      Yes, its anecdotal evidence. And yes, it's relevant when considering that you mentioned that " That's not how the term is used in Scandinavia and I would assume in Finland." How many native people in Finland consider themselves as scandinavians? I don't know, but in this sample of n=1 this one did. I do know however that the term is not as unambiguous as you make it to be, although in the strictest sense I agree with you that it does not include Finland. But the term is not always used in a strict sense, hence the problem.

      Do we really have to waste more time with this? By the way, merry Christmas to you and all Sandwalkers!

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    37. Piotr, Did you go to any of Coyne's meetings? Tell me you did not. He was in Poznen.

      No, he didn't visit Poznań. He gave talks in Warsaw and Cracow, and I was too busy to go there. I watched his tour on the Internet.

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    38. Sorry. You're 100% right. I've read this on some forum which obviously contained false info. Thanks for correcting it.

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    39. Piotr wrote " The Polish creationists I meet on Internet discussion forums (but rarely in real life) are more often Jehovah's Witnesses than Catholics. I don't think I've ever met a Polish young-Earth creationist in person, though I have heard of some. No-one would even dream of banishing evolutionary biology from school curricula or "teaching the controversy".

      Are you trying to say that the Polish stronghold of creationism is in hands of Jehovah's Witnesses? Are they the second most dominant religion in Poland? It can't be.

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    40. Are you trying to say that the Polish stronghold of creationism is in hands of Jehovah's Witnesses? Are they the second most dominant religion in Poland? It can't be.

      Fortunately, they aren't; but they are well organised and noisy, and I suppose doing their thing on the Internet takes less effort than walking from door to door. And, unlike most Catholics, they take the Bible seriously as the source of knowledge about the Universe.

      I have seen a recent poll according to which about 50% of Polish nominal Catholics take the crucifixion and resurrection story with a pinch of salt; they don't really believe in an afterlife either, or believe in reincarnation rather than heaven and hell. By contrast, Jehovah's Witnesses are fanatically religious; moreover, they are under a strong obligation to practice their "ministry". Apparently trolling on discussion forums counts as public preaching in their monthly reports.

      Anyway, young Earth creationists are extremely rare in Poznań. One notable case is Professor Maciej Giertych, a retired dendrologist and a militant YEC -- the only Pole to have signed the "Dissent from Darwinism" list (interestingly, he got his MA at Oxford University, and his PhD at Toronto). He's a kind of living fossil. But Jehovah's Witnesses are all like him.

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    41. ...extremely rare in Poznań

      Sorry, I meant Poland.

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    42. Thanks Piotr. Just curious, what is the second largest religion in Poland? Is it some form of the 7 Day Adventists?
      Also, I have done some research and it looks like JWs do not consider themselves creationists and YEC, at least in North America, which is totally bizarre to me. I sent an email to my colleague who knows these things but because it's Christmas, he may not be do respond soon.

      There used to be a Polish Society devoted to creationism but it seems like it's not very active now.

      http://www.creationism.org.pl/

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    43. The JWs don't consider themselves YEC because their official interpretation of "a day of creation" is "an eon" (something of the order of 7000 years). That makes life on earth 50+ thousand years old. I think it's still "young" in comparison with 3.8 Gy.They do interpret the creation story more or less literally, and certainly don't accept macroevolution. Some of those I have had talked to regard themselves as "ID proponents" (not creationists by any means, no, no, sir).

      That Polish Creationist Society website seems dead. They were pretty active until some three years ago. Their discussion list is still active, but the traffic is lower by more than an order of magnitude when compared to 2010 -- the peak of their popularity.

      http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/kreacjonizm/info

      R.I.P.

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    44. Just curious, what is the second largest religion in Poland?

      The Polish branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, with ca. half a million members (mainly along the eastern border of Poland). Jehovah's Witnesses come third, with 130,000 members (I'm actually surprised that this recent import has twice outnumbered the Evangelical Lutheran church, which has been present in Poland since the 16th century). The Jewish religious community, once one of the largest in the world, was almost annihilated in the Holocaust. We also have a residual Muslim community (Tatar settlers integrated into Polish/Lithuanian society a few hundred years ago -- Charles Bronson was one of their descendants).

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    45. Thanks Piotr. I forgot the about the Orthodox Church. I'm surprised too that Evangelical churches are outnumbered by JWs since in North/South America they're the only churches registering growth.

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  10. Larry, There is obviously a problem with science. The upcoming conference on "Origins of Life-Understanding the Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth and the Galaxy" is just one example. It is totally incommunicado-the conference goers are asked not to reveal what went on there. Is that the way science should work? Is science trying to hide something?

    http://www.grc.org/programs.aspx?year=2014&program=origins

    This is what Steve Benner alluded to what the reasons may be: "We have failed in any continuous way to provide a recipe that gets from the simple molecules that we know were present on early Earth to RNA. There is a discontinuous model which has many pieces, many of which have experimental support, but we're up against these three or four paradoxes, which you and I have talked about in the past. The first paradox is the tendency of organic matter to devolve and to give tar. If you can avoid that, you can start to try to assemble things that are not tarry, but then you encounter the water problem, which is related to the fact that every interesting bond that you want to make is unstable, thermodynamically, with respect to water. If you can solve that problem, you have the problem of entropy, that any of the building blocks are going to be present in a low concentration; therefore, to assemble a large number of those building blocks, you get a gene-like RNA -- 100 nucleotides long -- that fights entropy. And the fourth problem is that even if you can solve the entropy problem, you have a paradox that RNA enzymes, which are maybe catalytically active, are more likely to be active in the sense that destroys RNA rather than creates RNA."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-mazur/steve-benner-origins-souf_b_4374373.html

    The science money in the US is dwindling and taxpayers ask for transparency and accountability. But, scientists decided to bury themselves and be incommunicado.

    What are they trying to hide? Well, I think I know the answer. It is called "FAILURE"

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    Replies
    1. I don't know how life originated and I don't think we are very close to finding the answer.

      Is this a problem for you?

      Suzan Mazur has noted that the standard Gordon Conference rules apply. You cannot quote or publicize what people say at these workshops.

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    2. "I don't know how life originated and I don't think we are very close to finding the answer.

      Is this a problem for you?'

      It is a problem for a lot of people who look up to scientist and science who claim that there is no evidence for ID or Higher Power and yet they cannot resolve the most fundamental issue the whole science is based on.
      You and others don't know how life originated and you are not even close to finding the answer. That is not very encouraging. You may never find out how life originated because you assume that life originated on its own. Scientist can't ever create life so why should I believe them that it originated on its own. It's totally illogical.

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    3. "Scientist can't ever create life so why should I believe them that it originated on its own. It's totally illogical."

      No, what is illogical is thinking that because scientists can't create life in a lab that, therefore, life could not have originated via purely natural processes. The one doesn't •logically• follow from the other. Neither does it •technically• follow, since hundreds of millions of years of natural processes are highly different in character than decades of lab experiments based on numerous unknown factors. So the fact that scientists do not have (currently) a locked-down, nailed-shut account of life's origins is of ambiguous relevance, at best, to the question of whether life arose by natural processes or intelligent design.

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    4. Louise G says,

      You and others don't know how life originated and you are not even close to finding the answer. That is not very encouraging.

      Do you know the answer? Please share it with us.

      Was it turtles all the way down?

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    5. LuiseG, they still haven't cured cancer, despite having spent probable a billion times as much money and time on it. No respectable university hospital or medical research institute on the planet isn't somehow somewhere involved in trying to cure cancer or HIV or what have you, but we still haven't succeeded. Tens of thousands of young researchers are trained every year the world over, going to work in medical science and molecular biology, trying to crack the cancer nut. In Denmark alone there are dusins of institutes at various universities that have been running for decades, churning out scientists with degrees, doing clinical trials, lab research, what have you.. for decades. There's still no cure for cancer.

      In comparison, the problem of the origin of life has been worked on for how many man-hours in total? A miniscule fraction, the field is a total non-entity in comparison.

      There are still many, long-standing unresolved problems in science. Still many things we don't know much about. The origin of life is only one such problem. But I guess that's just where your god hides itself, in the unknown.

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    6. Larry, I don't know the answer. If I did, I would be talking to you and other quite smart guys by scientific standards. All I perceive is as follows: Scientist have not been able to recreate life that they claim must have originated by chance. You teach your students "critical thinking" so you yourself should know the answer to this puzzle:

      Someone is trying to recreate a very complex structure. He can't do it. He has tried many times. After many, many years of trying he came to a conclusion that what he, an intelligent person can't do, random, blind chance must have accomplished. Can you see my problem, Larry? Any complex order requires intelligence. In case of the origin of life, I can say without any doubt that IT required intelligence HIGHER than us, since we can't replicate it. It is as simple as that, Larry.

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    7. Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen; After we have put your ass to a rest in the origins of life you have emerged now? Why? YOU have made more than a fool of yourself on many occasions..

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    8. LouiseG asks,

      Can you see my problem, Larry?

      Oh, yes. I can see your problem all right. Probably a lot better than you can.

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    9. Someone is trying to recreate a very complex structure. He can't do it. He has tried many times. After many, many years of trying he came to a conclusion that what he, an intelligent person can't do, random, blind chance must have accomplished. Can you see my problem, Larry? Any complex order requires intelligence. In case of the origin of life, I can say without any doubt that IT required intelligence HIGHER than us, since we can't replicate it. It is as simple as that, Larry.

      Or how about this, "LouiseG": Someone waits around for a complex structure to come about thru "blind, random chance." When it never happens, he then concludes that there must be a form of "blind random chance" HIGHER, i.e. even blinder and more random, than that which we now observe, and this was repsonsible for the existence of life.

      I'm sure you must agree with that argument, since it employs the same reasonsing you use in yours.

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    10. We know than in order to make a star all we need is a sufficiently massive molecular cloud. A few decillion kg of hydrogen will suffice. You don't even have to do anything -- just hang about and let the cloud collapse. It's as simple as that, and yet even an "intelligent person" can't make a star. Hence the inescapable conclusion that it takes a superintelligence to make one.

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    11. Piort, I would say it takes super-powerful intelligence to do that. Most of the universe is filled with dark matter and dark energy. It means that the vast majority of universe supposedly self-created remains unknown to our intelligence. Let's just compare the fine tuning accomplished by our intelligence-Hubble Telescope and the acceleration of the universe. How could random chance and accidental big-bang accomplish it? It's totally unreasonable, at least to me, an agnostic non-creationist.

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    12. Larry, Don't misunderstand me. please. I love your blog because it makes me think in other dimensions-critical of ID. I needed that. I think that if there is an ID, maybe He/She or both knows why I'm here and why my life is not fulfilled even though I'm pretty well-off not bad educated with lots of power.

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  11. Scientist can't ever create life

    When they do (they're already making artificial genes and inserting them in living beings), what will your fall-back position be?

    It used to be claimed that organic molecules partook of some sort of living "essence" that could only come from the Creator. Then nearly 200 years ago, Friedrich Wöhler synthesized an organic molecule, urea (a component of piss). So much for essences and organic molecules being the exclusive province of the divine.

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  12. This is completely off-topic, but some Sandwalkers may care.

    Our creationist friend, the polite, humble and self-effacing Dr. Michael Egnor, has written a post at his blog and at ENV once again blaming Darwin for eugenics. Many of you here know how polite and enchanting Egnor's personality is, and what lovely, charming exchanges he and I have had in the past.

    Thus you may enjoy going to his blog to see him once again getting thoroughly Diogenized. You know we're not allowed to comment at ENV, but we can comment at his blog, which is charmingly entitled, Egnorance.

    Egnor argues that CSHL's "Department of Experimental Evolution", founded 1904, was the base of their promotion of eugenics. I call him a fabricator, pointing out that CSHL's "Department of Experimental Evolution", founded 1904, was later called their Department of Eugenics, whereas CSHL's Eugenics Records Office was actually founded in 1910. Can you imagine an ID proponent just making things up? You're shocked I know.

    I next point out that the funding for the Eugenics Records Office came from John Harvey Kellogg, yeah, the cornflakes millionaire, who was a pro-eugenics creationist, as he was a member of the Seventh Day Adventists, a sect in which Young Earth creationism is mandatory, and whose leaders originated most arguments in favor of Young Earth creationism, e.g. George M. Price's "Geologists date the fossils from the strata, and the strata from the fossils."

    I then pound Smegnor with example after example of major creationists who were pro-eugenics, along with people influential in the founding of Intelligent Design, like A. E. Wilder-Smith and Rousas Rushdoony.

    Enjoy. I may add some more later on about evolutionists against eugenics.

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    Replies
    1. Wow, the conversation there was quite good despite the host.

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    2. Correction: CSHL's "Department of Experimental Evolution", founded 1904, was later called their Department of Eugenics, whereas CSHL's Eugenics Records Office was actually founded in 1910.

      Should be Department of Genetics. Stupid me.

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    3. Eugenics is entirely a evolutionist child. its the conclusion that selection on mankind will make a better mankind in genes. In short evolutionary biology.
      It has nothing to do with christian beliefs or creationists beliefs. If one can find here and there a eugenics creationist then its not accurate sampling.
      Good grief. The whole point of biblical creationism is the rejection of genes being the origin of mans intelligence .
      most educated people , those who agreed with evolution, saw eugenics as a good idea.
      Very few educated or otherwise bible believinmg christians.
      Its an embarrassment of evolution's early proponents and early public supporters.
      Eugenics was not created by very obscure and few creationist writers on the fringe of creationism. It was created by a thriving educational elite who accepted and were excited by evolutionary theory.

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    4. We all agree that eugenics is related to breeding and that the early proponents of eugenics in the 1920s were smart enough to understand evolution and genetics.

      What's your point? Are you simply pointing out that creationists were too stupid to understand genetics and evolution?

      We already know that.

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    5. Negative eugenics is a good example where the lack of absolute moral values can lead to unfathomable cruelty against innocent people. Notably the Catholic Church was an early opponent to state enforced eugenics. If the proponents understood genetics and evolution better than the opponents is irrelevant, but it is a clear example of the danger of a purely materialistic world view.

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    6. This would be the same catholic church that has institutionalized kiddy fucking, daemonized female sexuality and homosexuality and is complicit in the death of millions of people through it's batshit crazy opposition to birth control and sexual prophylaxis ?

      This is exactly where absolute morality derived from goat herder snuff pr0n gets you.

      It's a materialistic world view that places the welfare of sentient beings at the top of the list of considerations when trying to implement a maximally beneficial society.

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    7. Andy, this is a total non sequitur: If the proponents understood genetics and evolution better than the opponents is irrelevant, but it is a clear example of the danger of a purely materialistic world view.

      If this were true, then believing in spooks would solve the problem. Obviously this is untrue, as many people who believed in Christian spooks supported eugenics, racism, slavery, and Nazism, and did so more strongly than those who disbelieved spooks.

      Rather, their argument was that a spook created themselves, a mammal, in the image of the spook, and that made them better than some other mammals. That makes the other mammals repulsive. Thus the mammals created in the image of the spook must have all kinds of power and privileges the other mammals don't get.

      And plus, because they get their fact-statements and "values" from an omniscient spook, neither the fact-statements nor their values may be challenged in any way.

      Negative eugenics is a good example where the lack of absolute moral values can lead to unfathomable cruelty against innocent people.

      Again, you're ignoring the fact that creationists claimed they had "absolute morality" but they supported eugenics, racism, slavery and Nazism. So it seems immaterialism is the greater danger.

      But then there is no definition of "absolute morality" according to which immaterialism has it and materialism doesn't. What is absolute about a morality based on the commands of an irrational genocidal war deity who is for slavery and then against it (maybe for it again if you're Neo-Confederate), for polygamy then against it (and then for it again if you're Mormon), against usury and then for it (since it's the basis of capitalism), for incest (Adam's kids, Amram, Moses, Lot etc. all incestuous) and then against it, for genocide and then... uh... for genocide. And for genocide some more.

      How is that more or less absolute than saying "That which is good is that which Saddam Hussein commands?"

      So tell me, I'm curious, what's your definition of absolute morality, and why is a morality based on the commands of a genocidal Middle Easter war deity more "absolute" than a morality based on the commands of, say, Saddam Hussein?

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    8. Robert says: Eugenics is entirely a evolutionist child.

      No Robert, how could a child exist thousands of years before its parent existed, and which through most of its existence had no connection to its parent?

      If one can find here and there a eugenics creationist then its not accurate sampling.

      That which is asserted without evidence may be refuted without evidence, and Robert asserts everything without any evidence ever.

      I presented many examples of how the major, most influential creationists were pro-eugenics. Byers calls this "not accurate sampling." If in fact that were "not accurate sampling", then it would be easy for him to present quotes from creationists 1920-70 denouncing eugenics and saying that evolution is to blame for it.

      Byers will present no such quotes because they don't exist, my sampling is accurate, Byers lives in a fantasy world, and the tendency of creationists like Byers to make assertions without backing them up with any evidence at all is shameful to them and exhausting to us.

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    9. Diogenes, You are one of the smartest guys on this blog...I KNOW YOU ARE NO JOKE. YOU KNOW YOUR STUFF.

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    10. Andy Wilberforce writes:

      Negative eugenics is a good example where the lack of absolute moral values can lead to unfathomable cruelty against innocent people.

      Non-sequitor. If a society held as an "absolute moral value" that optimization of the quality of the gene pool was its primary moral objective, then eugenics would be perfectly acceptable (assuming the scientific assumptions behind eugenics were valid, which is doubtful).

      There is nothing inherently better about moral values that are "absolute" or "objective." It is the actual content of those values that is important.

      BTW, how did the "absolute moral values" of the Catholic Church lead to burning heretics at the stake?

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    11. It just hit me. Under what name is Coyne hiding on this blog? He is here, I can smell it :)

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    12. Louise, you may be an anti-evolutionist, but you're not the worst I've seen. May you never be banned from Sandwalk.

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    13. Diogenes wrote: "...and why is a morality based on the commands of a genocidal Middle Easter war deity more "absolute" than a morality based on the commands of, say, Saddam Hussein?"

      I have learned that "genocidal Middle Eastern war deity" is Dio talk for the Judeo-Christian God. So why is his commands more "absolute" than those by Saddam Hussein? Hmm, tricky question...could it be that the Christian commandments have been constant for 2000 years while Saddam was a psychopath that changed his mind as he saw fit? It could also be noted that the Judeo-Christian tradition has stood the test of time and has been the foundation for many great civilizations while Saddam brought death and destruction to his country in the decades he had power.
      The value of human life can be taken as an example of the absolute morality in Christianity. Christians believe that human beings are created in God's image and therefore have inherent value independent of their utility or function. This view is not possible to merge with eg negative eugenics and euthanasia. Not having this foundation of absolute morality it would be possible to make reasonable cases where sterilization of severely mentally handicapped or euthanasia of terminally ill people in pain could be justified. The problem is that once you go down that road, history shows us that it is a slippery slope.

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    14. Just out of curiosity: what are "the Christian commandments"?

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    15. Andy, none of the things you've said are in any way arguments on what makes christian values absolute versus anything else. As others have pointed out, absolute moral values are values that are taken by those who share them as being "true" and unquestionable. That's all. This is not even debatable.

      Now, you can debate if a set of values is better, or more true, or whatever, than another set of values. But that is an altogether different discussion. Your arguments were a defense of christian values, not arguments about what makes them absolute.

      Absolute values are also not necessarily "good" values. Different cultures, different religions, etc, will have different values. What's a good thing for one religion is not a good thing for another. Nevertheless, they are both "absolute" for their believers.

      Also, absolute values are not necessarily religious in nature. They can be philosophical. Atheism doesn't preclude absolute values. Materialistic world views can have absolute values too. If you agree with them or not is another mater entirely.

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    16. The value of human life can be taken as an example of the absolute morality in Christianity. Christians believe that human beings are created in God's image and therefore have inherent value independent of their utility or function.

      Except, of course, when those human beings happen to be pagans, Christians of a different denomination, Jews, atheists, witches, etc., in which cases the utmost respect for human life somehow never prevented God-loving and God-fearing Christians from burning their fellow human beings at the stake (for their own good, to purify their immortal souls), torturing, hanging or beheading them (to protect society from their evil influence and discourage their potential followers), sacking their cities, robbing their goods, enslaving some, and killing the rest all by the thousand, man, woman and child (I forget why, but there must have been a pious reason for that too).

      Delete
    17. Piotr Gąsiorowski says,

      Except, of course, when those human beings happen to be pagans, ...

      Okay, so it's an absolute moral imperative with a few (very) minor exceptions. :-)

      What's the big deal? :-)

      Delete
    18. Here Andy will explain why Christian values are absolute, and other values are not.

      "It could also be noted that the Judeo-Christian tradition has stood the test of time and has been the foundation for many great civilizations while Saddam brought death and destruction"

      This is a consequentialist value system, not an absolute value system. You are saying we should judge a value system on its consequences: does it produce a great civilization? Or lead to death and destruction? If consequentialism could help us choose between different sets of values, then we could just look at history, at values X, Y, Z and analyze their consequences rationally-- and we would not then need spooks nor priests who claim they have obtained infallible knowledge through congress with spooks.

      Delete
    19. Andy's other points on what is an absolute value system: "why is his [God's] commands more "absolute" than those by Saddam Hussein? Hmm, tricky question...could it be that the Christian commandments have been constant for 2000 years while Saddam was a psychopath that changed his mind"

      Ah. Do you assume that Saddam changes his mind, and God doesn't? First I would direct you to the Skeptics Bible, which collects contradictions emitted by the God of the Bible-- many of those, but check out contradictions regarding whether or not God changes his mind. This collects several passages which insist that God never changes his mind, and other passages that insist God often changes his mind.

      I don't know what "the Christian commandments" mean, but if you mean the Jewish Ten Commandments, there are two versions of the Ten Commandments in the Bible, and humans must decide which version to follow and how to interpret them.

      Moreover, one of the Ten Commandments is "honor the Sabbath and keep it holy", which for centuries meant don't work nor do business on Sunday. Yet this rule is widely ignored by Christians because they want to make money. Capitalist imperatives lead to re-interpretation.

      Although the prohibition of usury is not one of the Ten Commandments, that rule likewise applied for centurines, and Jews were hated and denounced as immoral for violating an eternal, timeless, absolute moral principle: do not charge interest! Then some humans realized that a "great civilization" with lots of MONEY could be built by changing the eternal, timeless, absolute moral principle into "thou shalt charge interest!" And if you oppose that, you're a damn communist atheist.

      Humans made these and many other decisions. Your absolute values are in fact relative to human opinions.

      Delete
    20. Diogenes wrote: "This is a consequentialist value system, not an absolute value system. You are saying we should judge a value system on its consequences: does it produce a great civilization?"
      Interestingly enough the bible itself use consequentialism as a test of the true nature, refer to e.g. Luke 6 "43"For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44"For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush"
      This does in no way contradict the absolutes of the Christian teachings, it just a litmus test to use to tell good from bad when in doubt. I did not read Egnor's post that you originally referred to, but I'm guessing that he argued that the theory of evolution is evil based on it's "fruits" e.g. eugenics being bad.

      Delete
    21. Piotr wrote: "Except, of course, when those human beings happen to be pagans, Christians of a different denomination, Jews, atheists, witches, etc., in which cases the utmost respect for human life somehow never prevented God-loving and God-fearing Christians from burning their fellow human beings at the stake (for their own good, to purify their immortal souls), torturing, hanging or beheading them (to protect society from their evil influence and discourage their potential followers), sacking their cities, robbing their goods, enslaving some, and killing the rest all by the thousand, man, woman and child (I forget why, but there must have been a pious reason for that too)."

      I'm so sorry for you, it must be scary living in Poland where 95% of the population hold these values and there are only 1% of good-hearted Atheists to hold them back...

      Delete
    22. Andy: Interestingly enough the bible itself use consequentialism as a test of the true nature, refer to e.g. Luke 6 "43"For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44"For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush"
      This does in no way contradict the absolutes of the Christian teachings, it just a litmus test to use


      If you invoke a consequentialist argument, which you have conceded, it certainly renders Christian unnecessary if not necessarily false. It does not disprove Christianity, but it assumes that we have an external source of moral knowledge-- external to religion-- by analyzing the consequences of actions. If that were true, we don't need to read the Bible and we may ignore its many contradictions and commands to commit genocide.

      But you do not apply consequentialism to Christianity, indeed you render Christianity immune to analysis of its consequences. If we looked at the history or racism (invented by Christians in the Middle Ages), slavery (sanctioned in the Bible, popularized by Muslims, vastly expanded in size by Christians), anti-Semitism, genocide by Conquistadors of Aztecs, Incas, etc., imperialism, fascism, and so on, the consequences of Christendom and its values have been negative for many non-Christian peoples who are not around to complain because they're dead.

      Why should Christianity alone be immune to analysis of its "evil fruits"? Should not its fruits demonstrate there's something wrong with it?

      And you still have not acknowledged my main point: your "absolute" values are dependent on the subjective opinions of fallible men, and are contingent on historical accidents and often, on the crude calculations of the self-interest of a ruling class. You dodged that point.

      Delete
    23. Andy wrote: "The value of human life can be taken as an example of the absolute morality in Christianity."

      Value of human life. Right. You mean like in the Bible where God commands genocide of Canaanites, Hittites, Hizzites, Midianites, Moabites, Amelekites, and all the IForgetItes.

      Or the value of human life where God has to give himself a body and then murder it because only his blood has the strong enough magic to free us from the magic curse he put on us.

      I'm old enough to remember the 1980's when AIDS first appeared, and all the conservative Christian leaders were popping Champagne corks and partying because they were glad all the gays would die.

      David Duke, head of the KKK: "Of course you know the miracle of AIDS, we all do. It's the only disease that turns fruits into vegetables."

      Jimmy Swaggart, Christian televangelist: "I get amazed. I can't look at it but about ten seconds, at these politicians dancing around this, dancing around this -- I'm trying to find a correct name for it -- this utter, absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. [Laughs.] And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died. Case anybody doesn't know, God calls it an abomination. It's an abomination. It's an abomination! These ridiculous, utterly absurd district attorneys and judges and state congress. 'Well, we don't know.' They oughta -- they oughta -- they oughta have to marry a pig and live with them forever. I'm not knocking the poor homosexual, I'm not. They need salvation just like anybody else. I'm knocking our pitiful, pathetic lawmakers. And I thank God that President Bush has stated we need a Constitutional amendment that says that marriage is between a man and a woman. All right." [Jimmy Swaggart, 12 Sep 2004, http://www.mojos.org/jimmy-swaggart.php]

      There are many other quotes like this.

      Delete
    24. I'm so sorry for you, it must be scary living in Poland where 95% of the population hold these values and there are only 1% of good-hearted Atheists to hold them back...

      So what's your point there, Andy? That those Christians of the past who did all those things Piotr describes were not Christians? Or that those absolute, eternal, unchanging Christian morals talk about keep changing all the time, s that while those actions are immoral now, they weren't back then?

      Delete
    25. Diogenes, seriously is the Hooded Order and a defrocked sex addict the prime examples of Christianity in your mind? It's hard to have a meaningful discussion of ideas in that case.

      Delete
    26. Andy, life among a Roman Catholic majority is now tolerable not because Christian morals are unchanging, but only because they have changed a lot. A few hundred years ago a declaration of atheism was a capital crime here despite the fact thet the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was very tolerant of religions and denominations other than the RCC, and was not torn by interreligious conflicts, unlike most of Europe. Christian dissidents, and even Jews and Muslims were tolerated, but the state was merciless towards atheists. The Catholic church has fortunately lost its political power, and has learnt from its earlier unsuccessful battles against science, so now its policy is one of accommodationism. Many Catholic priests and theologians, especially of the progressive kind, accept pretty much everything that scientists say, unless it has to do with human sexuality and procreation. Strangely enough (for unmarried males who are not expected ever to become lovers, husbands or fathers), all RC clergy, from the lowliest parish priests to their high-wanking fwends in Wome, are all, to a man, experts in that particular field. It's their last line of desperate resistance against the heathen hordes of geneticists, physicians, anthropologists, and their allies.

      Delete
    27. Diogenes, seriously is the Hooded Order and a defrocked sex addict the prime examples of Christianity in your mind? It's hard to have a meaningful discussion of ideas in that case.

      No true Scotsman, eh, Andy? You really should consider enrolling in Larry's course on critical thinking. You seem intent on ringing the changes on all possible logical fallacies here.

      Delete
    28. @Andy Wilberforce is the Hooded Order and a defrocked sex addict the prime examples of Christianity

      They are prime examples of honest xtians, they are not afraid to say out loud what their holy book tells them to do.

      Give me the vile vicious vituperations of an honest fundamentalist any day over the pathetic pissant pedantic pedagogy of the Andy Wilberforces of the world.

      Delete
    29. Lutesuite, you are committing the fallacy of not knowing what you are talking about. I don't have a good name for it yet but it's BAD.
      Your confusing the Christian teachings with statement made by people that may or may not be Christians (that's between them and God). What they say can be compared with the scripture and rejected or accepted based on that, i.e. no goal post is moved or assertion changed. Again I invoke Luke 6, "know the tree by it's fruit..."

      Delete
    30. Andy to Piotr: I'm so sorry for you, it must be scary living in Poland where 95% of the population hold these values and there are only 1% of good-hearted Atheists to hold them back

      Piotr has already mentioned the intolerance of Poles toward atheists. Here is how the church treated atheist Kazimierz Łyszczyński, who had written a treatise on the non-existence of God.

      The Church treated him in accordance with the Christian "absolute value of human life." Bishop Zaluski describes his torture and execution:

      After recantation the culprit was conducted to the scaffold, where the executioner tore with a burning iron the tongue and the mouth, with which he had been cruel against God; after which his hands, the instruments of the abominable production, were burnt at a slow fire, the sacrilegious paper was thrown into the flames; finally himself, that monster of his century, this deicide was thrown into the expiatory flames; expiatory if such a crime may be atoned for.

      Recall that Andy also wrote: "The value of human life can be taken as an example of the absolute morality in Christianity."

      Whose life, Andy?

      Delete
    31. Andy has invoked the No True Christian defense:

      "Your confusing the Christian teachings with statement made by people that may or may not be Christians (that's between them and God)

      Thus, Andy, who was before very proud of invoking first absolute values, and then a moment later consequential values, has now insulated Christianity from any analysis of its negative consequences, on the grounds that people who do bad things can't be TRUE Christians, inside their unknowable heart of hearts.

      Andy has not even started on proving that Christianity has absolute values, and already he's undermined his consequentialiist values by rendering his thesis non-falsifiable.

      Proof that non-Christians do bad things and Christians do good things:

      1. If someone does a very bad thing, he's not a true Christian.

      2. QED.

      No way to falsify that!

      Andy: Diogenes, seriously is the Hooded Order and a defrocked sex addict the prime examples of Christianity in your mind? It's hard to have a meaningful discussion of ideas in that case.

      How in heaven's name does Swaggart's status as a "sex addict" (not clear that's true, he was a serial patron of whores) prove he is non-Christian? Are you saying Christians don't get sex addiction!? Christians don't go to whores? Christians don't commit adultery?

      Swaggart wrote three, count them 3, books blaming immorality including sexual immorality on the theory of evolution. Are you saying that pastors who have their own TV shows with millions of followers, pastors who rake in millions in donations, pastors who blame immorality including sexual immorality on the theory of evolution, are not true Christians?

      OK then, who is? How is Swaggart a truer Christian than Ken Ham or Stephen Meyer or William Dembski?

      Delete
    32. And as for the KKK, which Andy dismisses as non-Christian:

      Why don't you take a look at this picture.

      Tom McIver writes: "Perhaps 40,000 fundamentalist ministers joined the Klan, including 26 out of 39 Klokards (Klan lecturers.) Among prominent fundamentalist supporting Klan principles were Bob Shuler (Aimee Semple McPherson’s chief evangelical rival in Los Angeles), Billy Sunday, and [founder of Bob Jones University] Bob Jones, Sr. [Wade, Wyn Craig. 1987. The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 171, 176-7]

      Alma Bridwell White (1925), founder and leader of the Pillar of Fire Church, vilified Catholics and evolutionists, and championed the KKK as heroic protector of Americanism and Christianity. A Klan periodical, surmising that “99 99/100 per cent of reasoning people(sic)” believe the biblical account of creation, continued:

      “If the evolutionists are getting ready to produce proof that our forefathers—way, way back—really were monkeys—let’s get together and Ku Klux them before their proof gets public.”" [Shipley, Maynard. 1927. The War on Modern Science: A Short History of the Fundamentalist Attacks on Evolution and Modernism. New York: Knopf.]


      -- [Tom McIver, “The Protocols of Creationism,” Skeptic, Vol. 2 No. 4, 1994, p.76-87]

      Delete
    33. Andy issues a challenge: "Diogenes, seriously is the Hooded Order and a defrocked sex addict the prime examples of Christianity in your mind? It's hard to have a meaningful discussion of ideas in that case."

      Well, you have no definition of "prime examples of Christianity" except to first ask how people behave, and then predict their true religious beliefs from their behavior.

      But since you challenge me for some more "prime examples", tell me why these are or are not prime examples of Christianity.

      Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, USA: "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharoah's charioteers."

      Falwell: "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

      Max Blumenthal writes: “In 1984, Falwell called the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church "a vile and Satanic system" that will "one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven." Members of these churches, Falwell added, are "brute beasts."

      Falwell initially denied his statements, offering Jerry Sloan, an MCC minister and gay rights activist $5,000 to prove that he had made them. When Sloan produced a videotape containing footage of Falwell's denunciations, the reverend refused to pay. Only after Sloan sued did Falwell cough up the money.” – [Agent of Intolerance. By Max Blumenthal. The Nation. May 16, 2007. ]

      Pastor George Grant co-wrote a book, Kids Who Kill, with US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. He is a dominionist who demands a fascist system with the return of slavery and execution for all gays.

      “He [Grant] also calls for the death penalty for gays, saying “[t]here is no such option for homosexual offenses” except capital punishment." -- [http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2008/01/06/1249]

      Here is Paul Cameron from the Family Research Institute: "I think that actually AIDS is a guardian. That is I think it was sent, if you would, about forty years ago, to destroy Western civilization unless we change our sexual ways. So it's really a Godsend."

      "Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals."


      J. B. Stoner, American segregationist and Chairman of National States’ Rights Party: “We had lost the fight for the preservation of the white race until God himself intervened in earthly affairs with AIDS to rescue and preserve the white race that he had created…I praise God all the time for AIDS. [J. B. Stoner, American segregationist and Chairman of National States’ Rights Party]

      Delete
    34. Diogenes, let’s take this step by step so that you can follow the logic, it’s really not that difficult.

      The scripture teaches certain absolute truths, i.e. that humans are created in God’s image and therefore have inherent value independent of their utility and function. Note, my claim is: “The Christian teaching hold the inherent value of human life.” This is different than claiming “All Christians honor the inherent value of human life”. This invalidates your “No true Scotsman fallacy” claim.

      The scripture further warn us of false prophets and as a litmus test tells us that we can know them by their “fruit”. My claim here is that we are given the right and ability to test the teachings of self-proclaimed prophets against what the scripture says and by if the “fruit” of their teaching is good or bad and accept or reject them based on that. This is not the same as accepting blind consequentialism. It’s also different than claiming that I take the authority to say if they are Christians or not, which is between them and God.

      You say that certain Christian leaders have welcomed AIDS as a just punishment for a homosexual lifestyle. I say let’s compare that with what the scripture says. Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven”.

      Hmm, seems like they are meeting opposition already in the act of judging and condemning…

      Delete
    35. Andy,

      ""Negative eugenics is a good example where the lack of absolute moral values can lead to unfathomable cruelty against innocent people""


      So can religion.

      You yourself are trying to separate what so called Christians do from what the Bible supposedly teaches, which undermines the point of your first post.

      Delete
    36. Pedro, does having a map mean that nobody gets lost? Does the fact that some still get lost with a map mean that it's better to have none?

      Delete
    37. You haven't demonstrated that your map is any good. A false map may be worse than none.

      Delete
    38. Diogenes mentioned Jerry Falwell as an example of hateful speech. Later in life he renounced this rhetoric and worked for reconciliation with the gay community.
      "Falwell's legacy regarding homosexuality is complicated by his support for LGBT civil rights (see "civil rights" section above), as well as his efforts at reconciliation with the LGBT community in later years. In October 1999 Falwell hosted a meeting of 200 evangelicals with 200 homosexuals at Thomas Road Baptist Church for an "Anti-Violence Forum", during which he acknowledged that some American evangelicals' comments about homosexuality entered the realm of hate speech that could incite violence."

      Delete
    39. Piotr says: "You haven't demonstrated that your map is any good. A false map may be worse than none."

      Let's see what atheist philosopher Jurgen Habermas has to say on the subject.

      For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk."

      Delete
    40. Oh dear. Andy Wilberforce provides yet another example of how his Christian ethical roadmap leads to lying:

      http://www.habermasforum.dk/index.php?type=news&text_id=460

      Delete
    41. Lutesuite, not sure what your point is the site which you refer to gives the German original which reads the same as the quote I posted:
      ""Das Christendom ist für das normative Selbstverständnis der Moderne nicht nur eine Vorläufergestalt oder ein Katalysator gewesen. Der egalitäre Universalismus, aus dem die Ideen von Freiheit und solidarischem Zusammenleben, von autonomer Lebensführung und Emanzipation, von individueller Gewissensmoral, Menschenrechten und Demokratie entsprungen sind, ist unmittelbar ein Erbe der jüdischen Gerechtigkeits- und der christlichen Liebesethik. In der Substanz unverändert, ist dieses Erbe immer wieder kritisch angeeignet und neu interpretiert worden. Dazu gibt es bis heute keine Alternative. Auch angesichts der aktuellen Herausforderungen einer postnationalen Konstellation zehren wir nach wie vor von dieser Substanz. Alles andere ist postmodernes Gerede". From Jürgen Habermas - "Zeit der Übergänge" (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2001) p. 174f."

      Delete
    42. LOL! I don't know if you're deliberately trying to be funny, Andy, or you're really that clueless.

      Obviously (or so I thought) I'm not saying you fabricated the quote. Rather, you quote mined it. A "quote mine" is when a statement is taken out of context so that it seems to be endorsing a position that the person who made the statement does not actually hold. In this case, as the article explains if you had bothered to read it, the mined quote creates the impression that Habermas is endorsing Christianity, when he is actually doing no such thing.

      Quote mining is a form of lying, BTW, which is supposed to be forbidden by your Christian ethics. But, of course, "know the tree by its fruit."

      Delete
    43. Lutesuite, you're wrong. The site gives examples of often occurring misquotes and explaining how it differs from the original quote, which is the one I posted in English and German.

      Delete
    44. So do you now understand why that quote does not support the position you're trying to promote?

      Delete
  13. Mr Moran
    You asked me. my point is that christians, bible believers, and creationists , those thoughtful about the bible and origins, could not and did support Eugenics where is was about genes fixing mans problems.
    Perhaps ideas about avoiding diseases kicked around.
    Eugenics however was the evolution conviction that selection would make a better mankind. Mind and body.
    The mind thing was not our embarrassment.
    The educated elite, a smaller percentage back then , embraced evolution and to some degree eugenics in all its assumptions.
    Everyone wanted a better mankind but eugenics was fiddiling with breeding and crossing moral boundaries as we see them today, and creationists saw them back then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh! Now Byers is against eugenics? Before he was for eugenics-- as was the case with almost all major creationists from 1920-70, as I demonstrated at Egnor's blog.

      Byers now says: "my point is that christians, bible believers, and creationists , those thoughtful about the bible and origins, could not and did support Eugenics"

      I presume he means "could not and did NOT support Eugenics". But this contradicts the writings and careers of almost every major creationist from 1920-70-- and also condradicts Byers' own prior support for eugenics.

      Remember when Byers wrote this over at Uncommon Descent?

      "God ordered the killings in the old testament. So its not genocide. its not murder. Its judicial justice. Remember the Mosaic code. people were to ke executed for many things. So executing whole peoples for doing these things or really much worse like the canannites was entirely justified. Including babies.

      ...People go to hell for reasons unrelated to human criminal law.
      Who knows what the vote was on eugenics or its demographics back in the old days??

      I always heard in Canada and though it was common consent that retarded people were fixed so as to not reproduce ."


      Stop right there. Byers at UD said "it was common consent" for Canadians to forcibly sterilize retarded people. So the Canadian people, whom Byers has in the past described as true Protestant Yankees, are FOR EUGENICS.

      But now at Sandwalk Byers says: "christians, bible believers, and creationists , those thoughtful about the bible and origins, could not and did support Eugenics"

      Continuing with what Byers said at UD:

      "Results of it and their [retarded people's] foolishness in not knowing how to avoid pregnancy.
      Later I learned this was a myth and rightly so.
      Yet i though it was kind and just for the babies and society.


      Stop right there. So forcible sterilization, that is coercive negative eugenics, is "kind and just for the babies and society".

      "One must differ between motives.
      Back in the day many thought things were right because of trying to do right. nOt because they were trying to do evil."
      -- [Robert Byers comments at Uncommon Descent, 2013]

      Whatever. I count Byers as another pro-eugenics creationists-- of whom we have a basketfull!

      Delete
    2. My position never changed and you misunderstand it even oddly.
      I never but never agreed with garbage like eugenics for changing the mind or body of man.
      It occured to me as a kid that disease people breeding would make their kids that way and I was told they sterilized retarded people to avoid them breeding. This was all myth and unkind and wrong but still from kind motives.

      True Christians/creationists never supported eugenics as it was proposed by the educated peoples who believed evolution taught the control and betterment of mankind by breeding.
      There was no early creationist movement. The vast majority of bible believing YEC creationists never heard of any organized YEC creationist leaders or movements. THey moved in tiny obscure circles and often, I understand, were from fringe denominations. Not true Christians as we score it.
      what you say is just uniformed.
      Good grief. why would creationists believing in ADam/Noah and working with a few thousands of years BELIEVE one can breed out intellectual inferiority or even serious physical things.
      it might occur to everyone that couples with diseases shouldn't breed because of making the kids that way but this being the law is going too far.
      However the educated elite did believe this and flirted with selecting out inferiority of mind and now its a embarrassment for the legacy of evolution acceptance.
      The great Dr Morris was the real first YEC creationist that mattered.
      i mean that organized people to take on the errors. Heaps of researchers were YEC creationists.
      we are clean on this and the others are not depending on each mans opinion.
      Anyways its really not defining who is right or wrong or good or bad.
      .

      Delete
  14. Off topic. Larry, I hope you forgive me this one as you have forgiven me my trespasses in the passed, I assume,since I'm still able to post on this very blog- I don't have a word for it, innovating blog. (Innovating is not the right word but bizarre is right next to it.)
    Lutesuite is a psychiatrist, possibly a good one since he doesn't treat baldness.;
    Why do you think the suicide rate is so high during this time of the year? I'm not saying just Christmas, because there are other so-called holidays around this time of the year. Are you allowed to comment on the theme?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The suicide rate isn't particularly high at Christmas. It actually peaks in spring.

      Delete
    2. Really? How about non-believers? Have some stats for that? Doubt it.

      Delete
    3. Non-believers during Xmas? Or in general?

      Why are you asking, anyway?

      Delete
    4. You are not being truthful. People feel more suicidal during Xmas than any other tie of the year. Are they more successful?

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    5. I'm asking because I see all my employees feeling so stressed and so anxious over this holiday that I just assumed that if they get a $2 gift from someone they bought a $50 or a $100 dollar gift for, they may get a bit suicidal over it.

      Delete
    6. If you're going to call me a liar, it would be good if you actually substantiated that accusation by producing some evidence that what I said is incorrect. Then we can move on to whether I deliberately set out to deceive, but first things first.....

      Delete
    7. Ok, you go first. Present some stats proving your point.

      Delete
    8. http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/holiday.html

      Delete
    9. "The Annenberg Public Policy Center has been tracking media reports on suicide since 2000. A recent analysis found that 50% of articles written during the 2009–2010 holiday season perpetuated the myth."

      Media reports? Is it legal in Canada to report suicides by medias? Larry, what's your thought?

      Delete
    10. I keep hearing these alarming reports regarding the prevalence of functional illiteracy in our society. I find them hard to believe, but every now and then someone like "LouiseG" comes along to confirm these reports are likely true.

      "Media reports" in this context, as would be clear to someone who isn't functionally illiterate, refers to news stories that discuss suicide in general and whether it is more likely in the holiday season. It does not refer to media reports of individual suicides.

      It is likely inaccurate media reports of this sort that have led you to falsely believe that suicide is more common at Christmas. Thankfully, you now know this is not the case, since an actual expert in the field has pointed you to the correct data.

      In Canada there is no law preventing the media from reporting a suicide. However, the media usually refrain from doing so unless there is some pressing public need or interest. This is out of respect for individual privacy and also to prevent "copycat" suicides. There's also the sad fact that suicide is so common that is is not usually really newsworthy,

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