November 18, 2008

Secularists, Humanists and Atheists, oh my!

Fred (an excellent writer - check out his stuff) wrote a post about his impression that God - well, religion - well, specifically the Christian religion - is under attack in America.

I am not the most religious of men. I don't remember the last time I was in a place of worship, other than as a tourist or a wedding guest. But I recognize that religion is under attack in this country. And, it's not all religion, just Christianity. Because, I don't believe for a minute that the same sort of message would be allowed on Metro buses and trains about Allah. (link)


Yeah, you know I couldn't resist.

I posted a couple of comments on that entry, but my most recent reply became quite involved, so, as is my wont, I turned it into a blog post of my own. Also, I like commas.

You should pop over there to catch up on the conversation so far, then come on back here and read my response.

Here's what I wrote:

666666

Dear Fred,
As I said in my most recent comment on your blog entry about religion, your views on atheism, secularism, and science are somewhat misguided. Don't feel bad. You are being lied to every day by the religious right about what the secularist message actually is. They lie about what the US constitution really says, and they lie about the history of your nation. They lie, bald-faced and unashamed, because it is the only effective tool they have in the fight to protect their "Truth." Funny, that.

Below, I have selected several points you made in your last comment to me, and attempted to explain where your understanding of the topic is erroneous.

1) "The percentage of people who regularly attend church, the people who ARE battling the atheist, is only a little more than 25%. The rest don't care enough one way or the other to even notice unless there's something in the news about religion."

-Wrong. In a February, 2007 Gallup poll , 53% percent of respondents said they would not vote for a "generally well qualified" presidential candidate if that candidate were an atheist. So, significantly more than just 25% of religious people are discriminatory towards non-believers. Over half of the population of the United States believes that a lack of belief in God should disqualify someone from holding high public office. No other minority group is reviled as strongly in America as atheists. The moderates are as intolerant as the fundies.

2) Evolution is an atheistic view.

-Wrong. Evolution is a scientific view. It does not claim that God does not exist. It simply demonstrates that there are perfectly rational and natural ways to explain our existence. God might be out there, or not, but whether he is, or isn't, is impossible to determine by looking at our world. There is nothing in our observable reality for which, "God diddit," is the only possible explanation. Science does not preclude the explanation, "God diddit," but it does not find any evidence to support it either. Science is agnostic on the topic of God.

3) "...atheists [are] fighting to keep creationsm from being taught."

-Wrong. Atheists are not fighting to keep creationism out of the classroom. Secularists are fighting to keep creationism out of the science classroom. To you, the disctinction may be a fine one, but it is a very important one. Creationism, or Intelligent Design if you like, does not use science, or the scientific method as a basis for investigation of the world. The Discovery Institute standing up and saying, "it is so science," doesn't make it so. In order to be science, they have to do science. They don't. Reading the Bible and saying, "there, that's how it is," is not science. If creationists want to teach their views in a comparative religion, or philosophy course, I have no problem with that. But teaching it in the science classroom is like teaching kids flower arranging in auto shop class - just plain wrong.

4) "But the attacks aren't aimed at those vague psychological teachings, they are aimed at the church."

-Wrong. Putting aside the topic of whether or not the word 'attack' is appropriate here, the problem is that those "vague psychological teachings" aren't telling people that they are the be-all and end-all of reality. Freud's ideas are pretty much dismissed today, but he is still taught as a historical reference to the science. But every psych student alive will tell you that, "sometimes a stairway is just a stairway." Psychology is taught as a theoretical science. Religion is taught as the only one truth. You cannot compare the two. No scientist will tell you you're going to burn in a lake of fire for all eternity if you disagree with him.

5) "While they concentrate on keeping their children out of church, they don't see them heading for the mosque."

-Wrong. That's just silly, and the fact you make that statement at all shows how poorly you understand the secular movement. I don't fear the church, or the mosque. I am raising my son to think for himself. If he tells me one day he wants to attend a church, I won't stop him. And the reason we aren't focussing on the Moslem (or any other) religion goes to our goals, which are not destruction of the church. They are freedom for all, not just freedom for all who agree with me. As I said in an earlier comment, black people don't want to kill all whiteys - they just want all the same rights and freedoms as we enjoy. And gay people don't want to tear apart all existing heterosexual marriages - they just want to be able to enjoy the same legal protections we already have. Atheists have no interest in making all religion go away. We just want equal treatment for all - including Moslems, and every other religion. The reason we don't "pick on" other religions is because the other religions don't exercise undue political power in our society the way the Christian church does.

Of course, if you feel that black people should still be on the plantation, and that gays deserve to be stoned to death, and that women exist solely for the gratification of men, then you won't understand any of these arguments anyway.


40 comments:

~Rebecca Anne~ said...

This comment is for verification purposes of a visit and read.

Should this commenter have felt she had anything, whatsoever, worthy of adding, she would have exercised that God given right and done so.

Now, I shall claim the devil made me say this and state, for this explicit record, that your last paragraph was a wee bit harsh....

Carry On~~

Vrabinec said...

I was wondering why you've been dragging your feet in answering. I'll answer these one at a time:
1. When I say that, in my estimate, 25% are BATTLING the atheists, the key word is "battling". IMO, that means someone who is actively engaged in opposing, silencing, removing from schools, etc.. atheists. Of your 53%, my guess is that half of those have never lifted a finger to oppse atheists in any way. Now, given an either or question framed that way, sure, they'll say they wouldn't vote for the atheist, but that's not an "attack" that's a preference. And I certainly don't agree that no other minority group is reviled as strongly. If you want to use your poll, then just ask how many people would vote for a Nazi, or even an open homosexual, and I bet you'd get a lot more than the 53%.

Vrabinec said...

2. Evolution is NOT a scientific view. It's relationship to science is that of a theory only. If it was a scientific view, then it would have been proven by scientific methods. Amino acids would have been put in a pool in Los Alamos somewhere and zapped with just the right amount of radiation to form a membrane around them and everything that follows would be a logical, scientific process. That hasn't happened. Since it hasn't happened, then, in order for one to hold the view that evolution IS the way we were made on Earth, one has to conclude that there is no God. Because, the existance of a God, something supernatural in our midst, allows for ANYTHING.

Vrabinec said...

3. I agree with you on that one.

Vrabinec said...

4. See, religion is taught as the be all and end all in church, but not in school. At least, not in public schools. There's a big difference between delivering a religion's sermons, in effect, trying to convert, and teaching a class about the history of a religion and simply stating that "this is a view held by many". Removing religion from the science class and math class is one thing, but trying to remove it from parts of curriculum that include history and literature is absurd. Like it or not, religion has shaped the world for thousands of years, and it permeates our literature and word origins. It can't possibly be removed from all curriculum, and the only real overlap into scince is creationism, and that only because an alternate theory hasn't been proven.

Vrabinec said...

5. I don't buy the statement that atheists don't want all religion to go away. To the atheist, it is an intellectual argument. The atheist isn't fighting for the rights of all the other religions, because I know you're not fighting for the Scientologists to get their tax exempt status. In order for there to be true equality, God must die and Nietzsche must win. And the admission that you "pick on" Christianity because of its political power just proves what I said in the first place, that Christianity is under attack. The reason why, is irrelevant to the argument. Just think, once Islam replaces Christinaity as the prevelant religion in North America, then you'll have a new target. But you knew that already, didn't you? That's why ALL religions have to be attacked by the atheist, because religion of any kind is a threat to the atheist's freedom.

As for your last paragraph, I believe black people should be on plantations if they own them or are getting paid to tend to them. Gays deserve to be stoned to death if they smoke waaaay too much weed. And women DEFINITELY exist solely for my gratification.

Alec Lynch said...

Vrabinec, regarding number one:

The poll *wasn't* phrased as an "either/or" question, or a query to determine if someone would prefer a theist to an atheist.

It was determining what trait a person could hold that would make someone UNWILLING to vote for them at all, regardless of qualifications.

Please note--because this is key--there is NO reason a person couldn't be willing to vote for an atheist, even if they'd prefer a theist. You could still be open to the one even if you'd rather have the other.

Consider, 88% of people said they'd be willing to vote for a woman. By your interpretation, this would mean that 88% of people would rather vote for a woman. Does that sound realistic to you?

Sometimes a person doesn't have to "lift a finger" to be attacking. Just holding a prejudiced view against a group and being part of the crowd that doesn't think they shouldn't have the same rights is in itself an attack.

Alec Lynch said...

Vrabinec, regarding numbers 2 and 4:

There is really SOO much that could be said about your understanding of evolution to science, but I'll touch on one comment only that you said:
"in order for one to hold the view that evolution IS the way we were made on Earth, one has to conclude that there is no God."

Evolution has nothing to do with (or without) a God. There is nothing to the concept of evolution that either proves or disproves the existence of a god. Paul tried to explain this. You might as well say that people that believe in gravity can't believe in God.

Even IF (can't make that if big enough) your other comments about the relationship of evolution and science were correct, it would still not show that belief in evolution has anything to do with proof/disproof of God. There are all kinds of people that believe in both. After all, as you say, if God allows for anything, then theists often conclude that God is behind evolution (the validity of which does not, by the way, rely on zapping an acid in Los Angeles).

Regarding number four, you said:

"Removing religion from the science class and math class is one thing, but trying to remove it from parts of curriculum that include history and literature is absurd. Like it or not, religion has shaped the world for thousands of years, and it permeates our literature and word origins. It can't possibly be removed from all curriculum"

Ummm...is there any reputable person or group that IS disagreeing with any of that? I haven't heard of any atheist organization protesting and lobbying to stop the study of religious history or study of literature, and if I did, of course I'd disagree with them as much as I disagree with teaching Creationism in science as science.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Not getting in the middle of this one, but wanted you to know I went over to visit Fred :o)

Call me Paul said...

I find your protestations amusing, Fred, being, as they are, indicative of your relative lack of knowledge of the issues. First, if you had bothered to click on the link and look at the survey for yourself, you'd have seen that, while they did not ask about Nazis, they did have homosexuals on the list. Y'all hate us more than them...and every other minority group they asked about.

As for the whole "evolution is just a theory" canard, you've been listening to those religious groups you claim not to be a part of. You clearly have little idea of what, exactly, science is all about. I'll say only this: "proof is for mathematicians." If you need illumination, read my earlier treatise on the subject, "A defense of evolution," at http://awvarchive.blogspot.com/2005/06/defence-of-evolution.html.

As for point number four, Alec called you on that Strawman Argument quite nicely. No one is attempting to have talk of religion removed from philosophy, history or literature courses. Those are places it truly belongs.

And, as for your reply on point number five, if you insist on using the word attack, call it rather a counter-attack. It's not like we're unprovoked.

Marc said...

Good for you. I have no patienct to argue with these idiots anymore.

Vrabinec said...

I find your protestations amusing, Fred, being, as they are, indicative of your relative lack of knowledge of the issues.

Well, at least I'm good for something.

First, if you had bothered to click on the link and look at the survey for yourself, you'd have seen that, while they did not ask about Nazis, they did have homosexuals on the list.

Yeah, I did click on it after the fact and put up a post explaining that, and expressing my surprise, but it mysteriously disapeared.

Y'all hate us more than them

Y'all? Paul, I call myself an agnostic, but if I was pressed, I'd have to admit that I think there is no such thing as God. So, your insinuation that I'm included in that circle of intolerance is silly, because I am not intollerant of myself. I just don't protest like you do, because I don't care enough about what people think of my atheistic view to make a stink of it. It's just not that important. It doesn't impact my daily life.

As for the whole "evolution is just a theory" canard, you've been listening to those religious groups you claim not to be a part of. You clearly have little idea of what, exactly, science is all about.

Clearly, eh? No Paul, I get it, but science has its limitations. Science can't measue the supernatural, it can't test it. Science can't determine our origins if man was dropped off by extraterrestrial beings on their way through our galaxy to other worlds, if they didn't leave any clues. All it can do is measure and categorize the things we have access to. When more than 90% of the universe is made up of a matter we have no clue about, clearly there is room for alternate theories. Again, evolution is something I believe in, but I am open to other possibilities, particularly extraterrestrial ones.

And, as for your reply on point number five, if you insist on using the word attack, call it rather a counter-attack. It's not like we're unprovoked.

Yep, that I acknowledge. But I just don't see the big deal. I don't see why you bother. I see people speaking in tongues and I snigger and sneer, and think they're silly, but as long as they're not on my doorstep, I can ignore them. Are they really on your doorstep? What is the intrusion into your life perpetrated by the church that you find so offensive?

Vrabinec said...

Good for you. I have no patienct to argue with these idiots anymore.

Idiot? Have you been talking to my wife?

Call me Paul said...

Like you, Fred, this stuff has virtually no impact on my day to day life. I work (at the Kwik-E-Mart) with a couple dozen other people, ranging from some with whom I work very closely on a daily basis, to some whose path I cross only once a week for a few hours. I cannot tell you the religious opinions of a single one of them.

And yet, as I mentioned in a comment on your blog, we are lucky to live in very cosmopolitan, urban areas. Millions of people across our two countries are not so fortunate. I read posts regularly about people who move into a new town, and on meeting their neighbours, are asked first and foremost, "what church do you attend?" Proselytization is a major part of people's lives in many areas of the world, and rejection of those overtures leads to shunning within these communities. This is not something that is rare, or isolated. We are the ones who live in an uncommon situation.

A vivid example of the strength of the Christian propaganda machine is your series of comments here and at your blog. Although you claim to be agnostic tending towards atheistic, you still swallow whole the misinformation about science spread by the religious right.

Sure, 90% of the universe is made up of matter we have no clue about, but think about it. That number used to be 99.9%. And we are learning new things about the universe almost every day. Science is exciting. And frightening to those whose entire belief system is based upon its opposite.

I stand up and talk about these things because someone has to, and the people who should be doing so, are not. Really, it's those 75% of moderate Christians who should be standing up and pointing at the evangelicals and saying, "those crazy people do not represent us." But they don't. By their silence they broadcast their tacit approval.

Call me Paul said...

By the way. I have no idea what happened to your other comment. I do not moderate comments here. In four years of blogging I never have. I can only remember deleting one comment in the history of Aurora Walking Vacation, and that was for strong profanity, which I was bound by AOL's TOS to remove. All opinions are welcome here. The only thing I will delete is spam.

Vrabinec said...

I read posts regularly about people who move into a new town, and on meeting their neighbours, are asked first and foremost, "what church do you attend?" Proselytization is a major part of people's lives in many areas of the world, and rejection of those overtures leads to shunning within these communities. This is not something that is rare, or isolated.

Yeah, I get that. And there are pockets of Muslims, and pockets of white supremicists that don't want "other kinds" among them. The thing is, being shunned is something that HAS to be accepted by the one being shunned. I can't walk into an Amish community and expect them to accept me into my circle. It's not up to them to change and accept me and my foul mouth alcoholic womanizing ways. And if these little backwoods communities in the south or wherever it is you're refering to decide that someone who doesn't believe in their God is someone they don't want their children associating with, tolerance, that two way street, dictates that you allow them to have those views, same as if you were living in an atheistic area and someone moved in with their huge wooden cross dangling from the neck and Bible or, better yet, L. Ron Hubbard's latest, in their hand. You can't force them to like you DESPITE your views that they are deluded simpletons practicing mysticism because some guys got together two thousand years ago and wrote a book. I've lived in a lot of places, including the Bible belt, and I've always been able to find un-religious people to hang out with. Let's face it, we're just oil and water.

Bjoern said...

@Paul:

You apparently *really* have some very strange ideas about science! Let's take this sentence by sentence:

"Evolution is NOT a scientific view."

That depends on what "scientific view" is supposed to mean exactly... It is certainly the point of view of about 99% of all biologists concerning how life on Earth developed.

"It's relationship to science is that of a theory only."

Why the word "only"? A theory is the best thing one can have in science! Ever heard of Quantum Theory? The theories of Relativity? Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism? Newton's theory of gravity? Germ theory? And so on...

"If it was a scientific view, then it would have been proven by scientific methods."

Err, *no* scientific theory is *ever* proven and thereby somehow becomes a "scientific view". Have you ever heard of Popper?

"Amino acids would have been put in a pool in Los Alamos somewhere and zapped with just the right amount of radiation to form a membrane around them"

That would be abiogenesis, not evolution. Don't you know the difference?

And why on earth do you think that this should be possible? Life on Earth took probably many millions of years to get started, and that although there was a *lot* more space available than merely a "pool" (all the oceans of the whole Earth!).

And, BTW, if scientists managed to do that, creationists would only proclaim: "See? It takes intelligent invention to create life, this couldn't have happened on its own!"

"...and everything that follows would be a logical, scientific process."

What exactly do you mean with a "logical, scientific process"?

And do you *really* want to claim that we could somehow simulate the whole history of life on Earth in a short time (a few years, or what do you imagine?) in a small "pool" (laboratory setting)?

"That hasn't happened."

Duh.

"Since it hasn't happened, then, in order for one to hold the view that evolution IS the way we were made on Earth, one has to conclude that there is no God."

That's several non sequiturs put into one single sentence.

Ever heard of theistic evolution? Ever read e. g. the statements of the Catholic Church on evolution?

"Because, the existance of a God, something supernatural in our midst, allows for ANYTHING."

Right. But what has that to do with the argument above?

Going on with a later comment:
"No Paul, I get it, but science has its limitations."

Right. But those are others than you think.

"Science can't measue the supernatural, it can't test it."

You forget to consider that for the supernatural to have any effect on our world, it has to interact with nature somehow. Why can't science look for signs of those interactions?

"Science can't determine our origins if man was dropped off by extraterrestrial beings on their way through our galaxy to other worlds, if they didn't leave any clues."

If that had really happened, why on Earth should we be 98% genetically similar to chimps? With lots of signs of shared ancestry, like shared pseudogenes, a clear sign of a chromosomal fusion, etc.? And why should there exist such a clear series of transitional fossils intermediate between ancient apes and modern humans? Apparently the ET's used an awful lot of work in order to make it seem that we have a common ancestor with chimps...

"All it can do is measure and categorize the things we have access to."

You seem to define "have access to" in a far too narrow sense. And, BTW, science is about a *lot* more than simply "measure" and "categorize". You again show that you don't really know what a scientific theory actually is. You apparently consider science as something like stamp collecting...

"When more than 90% of the universe is made up of a matter we have no clue about, clearly there is room for alternate theories."

Clearly. But there is not room for *all* alternate theories. Some of them are equally clearly ruled out. You seem to use the "if we don't know everything, we know nothing"-fallacy here.

"Again, evolution is something I believe in, but I am open to other possibilities, particularly extraterrestrial ones."

Then please show me how a "theory" of extraterrestrial origins of humans can explain all the evidence that clearly links us with all other life on Earth.

That's the crucial point in science which you apparently don't get: a theory in science is only accepted if it is the best available explanation of all the available evidence. And that's exactly why a theory is the best thing one can have in science!

Call me Paul said...

Hi Bjoern,

Thanks for your comment. I just wanted to clarify that the statements in italics in the main entry above are Fred's, not mine. This post is a rebuttal of Fred's views. So your comment here should be directed at him as well, not at me.

Vrabinec said...

You apparently *really* have some very strange ideas about science! Let's take this sentence by sentence:

"Evolution is NOT a scientific view."

That depends on what "scientific view" is supposed to mean exactly... It is certainly the point of view of about 99% of all biologists concerning how life on Earth developed.


It's not the view of how life on Earth developed, it's the view of how living things on Earth mutate through natural selection and hence evolve. It's also the view of most religious people. I don't know too many that don't acknowledge that living things on this Earth evolve. The point of contention is the origin of man and the origin of life itself, not that things mutate.

"It's relationship to science is that of a theory only."

Why the word "only"? A theory is the best thing one can have in science! Ever heard of Quantum Theory? The theories of Relativity? Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism? Newton's theory of gravity? Germ theory? And so on...


Really? A theory is the best thing you can get in science? Ever hear of a "law"? You know, like the law of thermodynamics or the laws of inertia?

Err, *no* scientific theory is *ever* proven and thereby somehow becomes a "scientific view". Have you ever heard of Popper?

Sure, happen to have heard of him. And as long as a scientific theory is based on largely circumstantial evidence, such as the theory that man evolved from the tree shrews and apes, and there are missing links in the chain, that theory remains refutable in the event that further evidence is discovered. There are degrees of solidity to scientific theories, and evolution is fairly solid, but not rock hard.

"Amino acids would have been put in a pool in Los Alamos somewhere and zapped with just the right amount of radiation to form a membrane around them"

That would be abiogenesis, not evolution. Don't you know the difference?


Yeah, I know the difference. But can you honestly separate the two? If man evolved from...fill in the blank...then there has to be a single point of origin. Because those apes had to evolve from something and that had to evolve from something and so on until you get to the primordial soup. You can't have one without the other. So, the logical starting point to the theory of evolution is a mix of lifeless elements that spring to life.

And why on earth do you think that this should be possible?

I don't care whether it's possible or not to recreate the conditions that may have created life on Earth. But, for the sake of argument, it sure would make the theory of evolution and the origin of species easier to defend if man had been able to create life by some method. Because then it becomes a formula. Take some carbon, add a litte hydrogen, toss in a little amino acid, and voila.

And, BTW, if scientists managed to do that, creationists would only proclaim: "See? It takes intelligent invention to create life, this couldn't have happened on its own!"

LMAO! That's funny. What's really funny is that it's true. Oh well.

"Since it hasn't happened, then, in order for one to hold the view that evolution IS the way we were made on Earth, one has to conclude that there is no God."

That's several non sequiturs put into one single sentence.

Ever heard of theistic evolution? Ever read e. g. the statements of the Catholic Church on evolution?


No, haven't heard the church's views of evolution, but I'm willing to be they allow that creatures on Earth evolve. Again, it's not the evolution itself that's the point of contention, it's the origin of life and specifically the origin of man.

Now, unless you're saying that there are religions out there that say a God exists, but that life on Earth came about by natural means and man evolved from the apes, then I stand by the statement that, if one believes in evolution, and all that entails, meaning, life formed from the elements in a puddle and steadily evolved until one day an ape gave birth to a man, one doesn't believe in God. I don't know of any Gods that didn't create the Earth and life. Maybe you do.

"Because, the existance of a God, something supernatural in our midst, allows for ANYTHING."

Right. But what has that to do with the argument above?


I'm saying...ah, screw it, I'm repeating myself. See the paragraph above.

"No Paul, I get it, but science has its limitations."

Right. But those are others than you think.


Thank you for setting me straight on that.

You forget to consider that for the supernatural to have any effect on our world, it has to interact with nature somehow. Why can't science look for signs of those interactions?

I hope you're not talking about ectoplasm, or whatever that stuff was in Ghotbusters. How the hell would scientists now what to look for? Does God have a fingerprint? Again, I don't think it's out there, I don't think it exists, but I couldn't prove that it doesn't exist any more than I could prove it exists.

"Science can't determine our origins if man was dropped off by extraterrestrial beings on their way through our galaxy to other worlds, if they didn't leave any clues."

If that had really happened, why on Earth should we be 98% genetically similar to chimps? With lots of signs of shared ancestry, like shared pseudogenes, a clear sign of a chromosomal fusion, etc.? And why should there exist such a clear series of transitional fossils intermediate between ancient apes and modern humans? Apparently the ET's used an awful lot of work in order to make it seem that we have a common ancestor with chimps...


Ah, then genetic similarities between man the apes mean man wasn't placed here. Got it.

The one thing I KNOW a good scientist doesn't have is a closed mind. We just scraped sand off a spot on Mars and there was water underneath. There are so many possibilities that haven't even occurred to anyone yet that could crop up over the next centuries, that it's silly to discount possibilities. Of course we form our best hypothesis from the evidence we can gather, but I've seen too many scientific discoveries in my life to say there's only one possibility.

"All it can do is measure and categorize the things we have access to."

You seem to define "have access to" in a far too narrow sense. And, BTW, science is about a *lot* more than simply "measure" and "categorize". You again show that you don't really know what a scientific theory actually is. You apparently consider science as something like stamp collecting...


Are youi always this big of a condescending schlong, or are you just having a bad day?

Obviously, there is more to science than just measuring and categorizing. But when you're looking for the evolution of man, you're left to look at a series of fossils. Those get categorized and measured. You can compare the chromosomes of apes and men all day long, but in the end, you're still comparing two different animals.


Clearly. But there is not room for *all* alternate theories. Some of them are equally clearly ruled out. You seem to use the "if we don't know everything, we know nothing"-fallacy here.

There isn't room for alternate theories? What the rush? We have all eternity to figure it out. Why eliminate all possibilities that don't fit our current view? If a theory is ruled out, then great. I certainly believe we evolved from the apes, but if someone comes along five years from now and shows that we actually have more in common with the Martian mud slug, then I want to leave my options open so I can say "I never said that the theory of evolution is the ONLY possibilty of how making came to be on this planet" Because I don't like looking foolish like that. If you want to say that, have at it.

Call me Paul said...

Hoo, boy! Fred, you need to stop while you're - well, not really ahead, per se - perhaps less far behind. You don't really understand the difference between a scientific theory and a scientific law. A law does not carry more weight behind it, it is simply a point of semantics. A law is a law solely because of the way it is stated, not because it is any more accurate than a theory. And as for whether a theory is refutable in the event that further evidence is discovered, that remains true of every scientific theory or view in existence. Gravity? Just a theory. The heliocentric model of the solar system? Just a theory. Yes, evolution is "just a theory," but the further evidence you are talking about would have to be something world alteringly huge to actually refute it, because the amount of evidence currently supporting it is mountainous.

Really, did you go back and read my older essay on the topic I linked to in my first comment here? And, while it is true that we don't really understand very well the processes that led to the first emergence of life from non-life, from the existence of the earliest single-celled organisms forward, the theory of evolution is sound. And as for your swimming pool full of primordial ooze, sure, that hasn't happened yet, but give it time. After all, evolution took over a billion years to do it. We've been at it, what, fifty? You young'ins are all so impatient.

Vrabinec said...

That's cool, Paul. Our difference really is simple. Here are two statements, you either adhere to one or the other, there is no gray area. Sign one.

1. I believe that the theory of evolution is overwhelmingly the probable scenarion under which man came to be on the planet Earth. I believe that life most likely started in the primordial ooze and slowly over the years evolved into apelike creatures and eventually man. But given the meteor-crater pockmarked surface of the Earth, I can see the possibility that life may not be indigenous to this planet and may have come from somewhere else. And If I conclude that life could have come from someplace else, then I conclude that I don't know what those particular origins could be, because on THAT planet of origin, perhaps there is evidence that something like a God breathed life into matter.

2. There is no possibility that life came from anywhere but this planet. The theory of evolution is conclusive and I can say with certainty that, due to the overwhelming evidence in our possesion, life began on this planet when some spark put life into lifeless matter. From there, it evolved in such a way left clear evidence of a progression from one early form of man to modern man. There are no other possibilities, and anyone believing that there are other such possibilities is is just too blind to see the truth.

If you sign the first one, then you agree with me. If you sign the second one, then you are as closed minded as those Evangelicals who believe that the ONLY possible scenario under which man came to Earth is by the hand of the God of Abraham.

Vrabinec said...

And, by the way, agreeing with the first one, places you under the column of agnostic, not atheist. So, keep that in mind. All you atheist friends will laugh at you.

So, can you conceive of a possibility that life came from somewhere else and that there might be evidence there that sheds new light on the origins of life, or not? :)

Bjoern said...

@Paul: Sorry, simply confused the two names. *blush*

@Fred:
"It's not the view of how life on Earth developed, it's the view of how living things on Earth mutate through natural selection and hence evolve."

Err, "life evolves" and "life develops" mean in this context essentially the same.

And I still don't understand why you claimed that evolution is not a "scientific view". What is that supposed to mean?

"Really? A theory is the best thing you can get in science? Ever hear of a "law"? You know, like the law of thermodynamics or the laws of inertia?"

Yes, I have. Newsflash to you: laws are parts of theories. You seem to think that laws are something better than theories. They're not. Actually, theories are better, and *incorporate* laws.

"And as long as a scientific theory is based on largely circumstantial evidence, such as the theory that man evolved from the tree shrews and apes,..."

Why do you call the evidence for that "circumstantial"? What more evidence do you want to see before you accept for sure that this has happened?

"and there are missing links in the chain..."

What links are exactly missing in the chain from apes to humans, in your opinion?

"...that theory remains refutable in the event that further evidence is discovered."

Err, *every* scientific theoriy *always* remains refutable!

"There are degrees of solidity to scientific theories, and evolution is fairly solid, but not rock hard."

It's hard to compare scientific theories across disciplines, but nevertheless I'd say that the theory of evolution is about as "rock hard" as the theories of relativities and Quantum Theory (I'm a physicist, BTW). And I'd say that it is also as "rock hard" as germ theory.

"But can you honestly separate the two? [abiogenesis and evolution]"

Err, yes. Where is the problem? Abiogenesis is how life started, evolution is how life developed. Granted, we could argue about the definition of "life" here - but there are clear-cut cases: e. g. as long as there are no self-reproducing systems, there fairly obviously is no life.

"If man evolved from...fill in the blank...then there has to be a single point of origin. Because those apes had to evolve from something and that had to evolve from something and so on until you get to the primordial soup. You can't have one without the other. So, the logical starting point to the theory of evolution is a mix of lifeless elements that spring to life."

That makes as much sense as saying that you can't say anything about chemical reactions between already existing elements as long as you don't know where those elements originally came from.

"But, for the sake of argument, it sure would make the theory of evolution and the origin of species easier to defend if man had been able to create life by some method."

Wrong, because that would be abiogenesis, not evolution.

Again: the theory of evolution deals with the question how life on earth changed with time, how new species arose and arise from previous ones. Where the first life from came from is entirely irrelevant for the theory of evolution. If tomorrow (a) God appeared and declared for everyone that He created the first life form on Earth, that wouldn't change the theory of evolution in the slightest bit. What's so hard to understand about that?

"Because then it becomes a formula. Take some carbon, add a litte hydrogen, toss in a little amino acid, and voila."

It's not at all clear what you mean with a "formula" here. A chemical formula, describing a molecule? A recipe for how to create life? Or what???

"Again, it's not the evolution itself that's the point of contention, it's the origin of life and specifically the origin of man."

Do you mean that's *your* point of contention, or the point of contention of the creationists? If you mean the latter, you're wrong, and you should update yourself a bit on their views. If it's the former, then: again, the first is abiogenesis, not evolution; and for the second there is lots of evidence. Try looking e. g. at the talk.origins archive, they have lots on the evolution of humans.

"Now, unless you're saying that there are religions out there that say a God exists, but that life on Earth came about by natural means and man evolved from the apes,..."

I don't know exactly what religions say about the origin of life (but yet again, that's irrelevant here), but I do know that lots of religions, including the Catholic Church, accept that man evolved from apes.

"I don't know of any Gods that didn't create the Earth and life. Maybe you do."

Apparently you have never heard of the point of view of a lot of modern Christian churches: according to them, God created the Earth and all life on it by essentially implementing the laws of nature, i. e. God "invented" evolution and let it work on its own.

"I hope you're not talking about ectoplasm, or whatever that stuff was in Ghotbusters. How the hell would scientists now what to look for? [concerning interactions of supernatural beings with the natural world]"

Let's use a simple example: according to the Bible, God sent Manna to the Israels wandering in the desert. Science obviously would have been able to investigate where this Manna came from. And if it had been determined that it simply materialized out of thin air, that would have been a sure sign of supernatural interaction with the natural world. Do you know understand what I mean?

"Ah, then genetic similarities between man the apes mean man wasn't placed here. Got it."

I didn't say that this *proves* that man was not placed here (as I already mentioned: scientific theories are *never* proven!). I merely pointed out that these genetic similarities (which you obviously know essentially nothing about, and equally obviously don't care to educate yourself about) are exactly what one would expect if humans and apes share a common ancestor, but would be very hard to explain if humans were simply placed here.

In other words, this is *very* strong evidence for the theory of evolution.

"The one thing I KNOW a good scientist doesn't have is a closed mind. ... There are so many possibilities that haven't even occurred to anyone yet that could crop up over the next centuries, that it's silly to discount possibilities."

Err, I nowhere said that humans have *not* been placed here by extraterrestrials. I did not "discount" that possibility.

I merely pointed out that that is highly improbable in face of the evidence, and *asked* you to explain the evidence on the base of the hypotheses that humans were placed here.

Instead of answering my questions, you simply call me "close minded". Well, that makes it clear who thinks scientifically here and who not...

"Of course we form our best hypothesis from the evidence we can gather, but I've seen too many scientific discoveries in my life to say there's only one possibility."

Fine. Let's accept as your hypothesis that humans were placed here by extraterrestrials. And now please go on and explain all the genetic similarities to chimps. All the transitional fossils linking humans to apes. And so on.

Put your money where your mouth is. Or admit that that hypothesis simply doesn't look *anywhere* near probable.

Yes, it's still *possible* - but so what? It's also possible that we were all created just yesterday, with memories of decades of life. Do you also think that we should consider *that* hypothesis?

"Are youi always this big of a condescending schlong, or are you just having a bad day?"

When I see someone talking about things they obviously have little clue about, then I always become condescending, yes. Call it a character flaw.

"Obviously, there is more to science than just measuring and categorizing."

Thanks for admitting that your previous statement was wrong.

"But when you're looking for the evolution of man, you're left to look at a series of fossils."

Wrong. We can also look e. g. at genetic similarities, i. e. evidence which is directly available. And you write that yourself directly afterwards!

"You can compare the chromosomes of apes and men all day long, but in the end, you're still comparing two different animals."

Err, yes. Chimps and humans are different species. So what???

"There isn't room for alternate theories?"

Don't misquote me. I said that there is not room for *all* alternate theories, not that there is not room for *any*. Don't you understand the difference?

"I certainly believe we evolved from the apes, but if someone comes along five years from now and shows that we actually have more in common with the Martian mud slug, then I want to leave my options open so I can say "I never said that the theory of evolution is the ONLY possibilty of how making came to be on this planet""

Fine. That's something we share - and I'd say that most biologist share that view, too. Why do you think otherwise?

Bjoern said...

@Fred:
Just saw your second comment. Well, I agree with the first statement - and I'd say that most biologists would do that, too.

I think the only difference between the two of us (and between you and most biologists) is the certainty with which we agree on the first statement, i. e. what "probable" means in the first sentence.

Concerning your comment:
"And, by the way, agreeing with the first one, places you under the column of agnostic, not atheist."

You seem to assign a different meaning to "atheist" than me (and probable most atheist"). I'd say that mosts atheists do *not* say with certainty "there is no God". They say: "the available evidence implies that there *very* probably is no God, but I'll change my view if further evidence comes in". OTOH, an agnostic says "the available evidence does not allow to decide if there is a God or not".

These are subtle differences - but they are there!

Anonymous said...

Hi There Fred,

I came to this conversation late so a lot of things have already been covered beyond the need for any repetition.
I think part of your confusion stems from your definition of the word theory.
You seem to be using a layman’s term for theory.

In science, the initial stage to any scientific process (after deciding to try to explain something) is a hypothesis (equal to a layman’s theory).
A hypothesis is the concept someone comes up with to explain a particular set of known facts and evidence.
If this person is a good scientist (and many are not), he then proceeds to try to disprove his own theory (not prove it). Once he has exhausted all possible ways that he can think of to disprove his own hypothesis, he submits his it to “peer review.”
Peer review quite simply is the part of the process where all of the other scientists (many with their own competing hypotheses) try to shred your hypothesis.

This process is never ending. At any time, someone can come up with new evidence and/or facts which cannot be supported by your hypothesis and claim “BUSTED!”
(Remember the part above about competing hypothesis? This would be where the claim that the scientific community is closed to new ideas falls apart.)

If after many years, no one can find a flaw in your hypothesis and no other hypotheses can be shown to be comparably likely, yours might begin to be referred to as a “theory.”

Is a theory a “done deal?” Nope. Never.

As we are always learning new things, all science is open to review and reinterpretation.

However…. And this is where you are coming up short…

A scientific theory is so soundly established that it is completely ridiculous to play an “it’s not 100% for sure” game with it.
You either believe that it is the correct solution or you show evidence as to why you believe it is no longer valid or is flawed in some way.

You can argue all day that when you spit into the wind, you’re not going to wear it but only a fool will take you seriously until you show some evidence and a reasonable hypothesis as to why you believe this to be true.

Your position seems to be “ya but what if…”
You supply no evidence which contradicts evolution.
You supply no alternate hypothesis which better explains the world and known facts than evolution.

If you could, you wouldn’t be posting on yours or Paul’s blog, you would be submitting it for peer review and quite possibly becoming rich and famous.

Peer review also has one more function.
It very quickly slaps down quacks and woo-woo.

You can consider the responses here on Paul’s site a mild form of peer review, although you really should have an alternative hypothesis for us to review first.

Brent

Vrabinec said...

Your position seems to be “ya but what if…”
You supply no evidence which contradicts evolution.


No, I don't need to contradict evolution. I hold evolution as being self-evident at this point. It's the origin of life and the origin of man that's in dispute. My evidence for the fact that life may not have originated on Earth is the variety of craters left by extraterrestrial bodies on the planet's surface. The fact that we have been hit, leaves open the notion that life may have originated elsewhere. I don't have evidence to prove that, but neither do you have evidence that it originated here. Now, if you could produce it from scratch using the materials available to you here on the planet, I'd say you have a much tighter case. The fact that you can't leaves the door open. And, if that door is open, then the door to the origin of man is open as well. Granted, it looks like a great case. It sure looks like the Darwinists have it right. But I allow whatever small percetage of possibility there is that they DON'T have it right. If you believe it's an open and shut case, then we disagree. I don't see that as confusion on my part.

Alec Lynch said...

Vrabinec, though I haven't agree with you I've usually been able to follow what you're trying to say. But now I think you have been a bit confusing with some of your comments.

You started off by saying sings like evolution wasn't a scientific view because people haven't been able to start life from scratch, that you can't both believe in evolution and in god, and other such comments.

I think people have tried to show why both of those comments are mistaken.

If I understand you correctly from your most recent post, you just want to debate the origin of life, which is wholly separate from just about everything else we've been discussing (the merits of evolution, what science entails, meaning of the word 'theory' etc).

And (I just looked over your posts again to make sure I wasn't remembering incorrectly) you did keep saying--explicitly and implicitly--that if you don't claim to know something 100% than we have to agree with you.

But again, I think what you're missing is that nobody here claims to know things for 100%. It's the implications of that doubt where I believe we part ways.

First though, I need to correct you on your understanding of what it means to be an atheist. As an atheist, I don't have to say (nor would I ever do so) that I KNOW there isn't a god. Of course I can conceive of the possibility. I merely don't BELIEVE there is a god. That's all there is to being an atheist.

Tell me, do you think there are purple-stripped unicorns that live underwater? I'm guessing no. But hey, they *could exist*; we can't *know* that they don't.
But this doesn't mean you're an agnostic when it comes to purple-striped underwater unicorns! Does this make sense (I ask the question honestly btw).

Now, as for the origin of life debate (which again, is entirely separate from anything having to do with evolution), yes, you are correct that aliens might have placed us here (likewise, Bjoern's option that we all just popped into existence yesterday with fake memories planted is also a possibility). As you say, it can't be proved one way or another.

So why not--until more evidence for a different theory does show up--go with the simplest explanation? To my mind, it's probably not going to involve aliens or implanted memories, and so I will act and believe such until I have reason to do otherwise. It's the same reason that when the Maple Leafs lose a hockey game I don't attribute it to divine intervention or alien intervention. There are, sadly, more reasonable, simpler explanations that fit the evidence.

-Alec

Call me Paul said...

There is always a grey area. There is never an issue which is clearly only black or white. Ateempting to make it so is engaging in a logical fallacy called a "false dichotomy." There are almost always options other than just two presented. In this case, your second option in no way represents my personal beliefs and opinions. That being said, however, does not mean your first option must therefore do so. I will allow that we don't really have any idea how life first arose on the primordial earth. The possibility that it arrived from outer space attached to some comet or meteor cannot be discounted. Know that science does not discount it. Many scientists have discussed the idea at length, and it is considered a real possibility.

There, do you feel better? Still doesn't mean that I agree 100% with your option number one as stated.

Oh, and don't try and tell me what label more correctly applies to my beliefs, OK? I am an atheist. The definition of atheist is: one who lacks a belief in a god or gods. That's all. I am also agnostic, in that I don't believe that the existence of God can be either proven or disproven. It is possible to be both.

Vrabinec said...

There, now was that so hard? :)

Anonymous said...

Umm.... Fred?

Vrabinec said...
"2. Evolution is NOT a scientific view. It's relationship to science is that of a theory only."

And then;

"No, I don't need to contradict evolution. I hold evolution as being self-evident at this point."

Either you are playing word games to provoke a reaction - in which case I call "TROLL!"
or
You have a very poor memory for what you have written.

To have a rational discussion, you can't keep changing positions just because someone knocks the stilts out from under your last statement.

Brent

Vrabinec said...

"2. Evolution is NOT a scientific view. It's relationship to science is that of a theory only."

And then;

"No, I don't need to contradict evolution. I hold evolution as being self-evident at this point."

Either you are playing word games to provoke a reaction - in which case I call "TROLL!"
or
You have a very poor memory for what you have written.

To have a rational discussion, you can't keep changing positions just because someone knocks the stilts out from under your last statement.


Brent, do you really not see the difference between the two statements? One is a clarification as to how it realtes to science, hence the phrase "its relation to science", the other is my own personal belief, hence the phrase "I hold evolution to be..."

See the difference there? Scienece can't take the amount of certainty about it that I do. Science can't say it's "self-evident", but I can. So, am I a troll? Am I mincing words?

Anonymous said...

"Am I mincing words?"

Frankly Fred, I’m no longer sure what you are on about.
Your statement, “Evolution is NOT a scientific view. It's relationship to science is that of a theory only,” would seem to be very clearly indicating that you do not feel that evolution is on very solid ground.
Hence my explanation of the difference between the layman’s definition and the scientific definition of the word “theory.”

Then you say this.
"No, I don't need to contradict evolution. I hold evolution as being self-evident at this point."
Now it would seem that you are saying that the evidence of evolution is solid and tested enough to be beyond reasonable question.

Hence my questioning your motives.

To be honest Fred, at this point I really have lost exactly what it is you are trying to say. You keep contradicting yourself and stating things that seem to have no meaning.

“One is a clarification as to how it realtes to science, hence the phrase "its relation to science", the other is my own personal belief, hence the phrase "I hold evolution to be..."

What exactly does that mean?

Or,

“See the difference there? Scienece can't take the amount of certainty about it that I do. Science can't say it's "self-evident", but I can.”

Again, I might ask what this means, but the more important question is why?
Why can science not take the same amount of certainty as you?
Why can you say something is self-evident when science cannot?

In almost every case where someone makes these kinds of statements, they have no evidence or facts to back them up. If something cannot be “self-evident” to science then it is usually because it is based on speculation, supposition or, wait for it… FAITH!!

If that is what you are referring to then you have no hope of convincing anyone here of your point.

The point we have been trying to make with you (and this applies to the “Primordial Soup” concept as well as evolution) is that we do not support speculation, supposition or faith in the areas covered by science.
If you cannot put forth a reasonable hypothesis based on available evidence which can be reviewed, tested and verified, then it has no place in science.

The “attack on religion” as you put it, is simply a response to the religious groups trying to push their beliefs into the classroom as an alternative to evolution. These groups feel that evolution threatens their beliefs and they are trying to counter it with pseudo-science.

The response is predictable and justified. “No Thanks… it’s not science”

Vrabinec said...

“See the difference there? Scienece can't take the amount of certainty about it that I do. Science can't say it's "self-evident", but I can.”

Again, I might ask what this means, but the more important question is why?
Why can science not take the same amount of certainty as you?
Why can you say something is self-evident when science cannot?


Even Darwin himself stated that fossils that were transitional links between species would have to be found in order for his theory to hold up. But there are many, many species that don't have these. A good scientist would want that as proof. I don't need to wait for proof, I can say I believe it, and that it's self-evident.


In almost every case where someone makes these kinds of statements, they have no evidence or facts to back them up. If something cannot be “self-evident” to science then it is usually because it is based on speculation, supposition or, wait for it… FAITH!!

Not sure what you're saying here.

If you're saying that my "alternate possibilities require faith, then is it "faith" for me to look at meteor craters and say that life could have been brought here by one of those? Or is it rational possibility?

If you're saying that the theory of evolution has an element of "fait" required to believe it, then I agree. Until more clear transitional links can be found, it requires some faith.

If that is what you are referring to then you have no hope of convincing anyone here of your point.

Again, not entirely sure what you mean by this. Do you think I'm trying to convice you to have "faith that God breated man"? Clearly, I'm not. That said, if I admit that the origin of life may not have been on this Earth, then I have to admit that I don't know what the conditions are on the planet or place where it did originate. So, for all I know, it could be some enormous planet with massive gravity that makes it's lifeforms dense and has some form of energy that we don't have here that makes it possible to breathe life into lifeless matter. In other words, since I don't know what did create life, then I can't eliminate anything but the most obvious possibilities like Snoopy.

The point we have been trying to make with you (and this applies to the “Primordial Soup” concept as well as evolution) is that we do not support speculation, supposition or faith in the areas covered by science.
If you cannot put forth a reasonable hypothesis based on available evidence which can be reviewed, tested and verified, then it has no place in science.


No place in science? There's no room for speculation that leads to future testing that may eventually form a reasonable hypothesis that can be tested and verified? Has evolution been tested and verified? Kinda hard when it takes so much time to test, isn't it? Tell me, how long before man grows wings if need arises for us to fly?


The “attack on religion” as you put it, is simply a response to the religious groups trying to push their beliefs into the classroom as an alternative to evolution. These groups feel that evolution threatens their beliefs and they are trying to counter it with pseudo-science.

Well, we agree here, I don't think creation should be taught as a viable alternative, but I'm not opposed to mentioning it as something many people believe, since so many people DO believe it. It wouldn't take long to cover, since there's no evidence supporting it.

By the way, nice article in this month's National Geographic about Alfred Russell Wallace's contribution to the theory of evolution. I highly recommend it.

Fred

Anonymous said...

“I don't need to wait for proof, I can say I believe it, and that it's self-evident.”
That is faith, plain and simple… not science.

“wait for it… FAITH!!

Not sure what you're saying here.”
See above.

”then is it "faith" for me to look at meteor craters and say that life could have been brought here by one of those? Or is it rational possibility?”
If there is no evidence to support that supposition, then yes it would be faith.

”If you're saying that the theory of evolution has an element of "fait" required to believe it, then I agree. Until more clear transitional links can be found, it requires some faith.”
There is plenty of evidence to support evolution. The fact that transitional records have not been found for every species does not in any way abrogate the mountains of evidence which has been found supporting the theory. Thus its status as a scientific theory.

"There's no room for speculation that leads to future testing that may eventually form a reasonable hypothesis that can be tested and verified?"
Absolutely there is. This would be how you attempt to develop new hypotheses which you would then test, submit for peer review and if viable they might then be considered as an alternative.
You seem to want to skip all the sciencey stuff involved to get to that point.

"Has evolution been tested and verified?"
Again, yes it has. You just seem to think unless you can measure it like the dimensions of a room it has no value.

"Kinda hard when it takes so much time to test, isn't it? Tell me, how long before man grows wings if need arises for us to fly?"
Last time I checked evolution never claimed to be able to predict the future. In fact, this question (while I’m sure it was intended to be humourous) clearly shows that you really do not understand even the basics of evolution.
There are plenty of resources out there if you wish to gain a better understanding.

Brent

Vrabinec said...

“I don't need to wait for proof, I can say I believe it, and that it's self-evident.”
That is faith, plain and simple… not science.


Sure, I'm not a scientist. I didn't dig up the fossils and measure them. I don't know the full scope of every little fossil that's been uncovered. I'm basing my statement that I believe the theory of evolution on having read a couple of text books and the occasional periodical and newspaper article that comes out about the subject. So, yes, it takes faith on my part. Just like when I say that life could have formed on other planets and came here on a meteor. I see the evidence of craters and now water on Mars and it takes a leap of faith on my part to say that it is possible for life to have started elsewhere. And, unless you are a scientist and you're doing this research yourself, then it takes faith on your part too.

You seem to want to skip all the sciencey stuff involved to get to that point.

Why the hell not? I'm never going to sit in some NASA lab watching a rover on a distant planet. Hell, they probably won't even expolre more than a couple more planets within our own solar system in my lifetime, let alone outside our solar system. So, if I leave the door open for other possibilities, then it's because science hasn't had enough time to expolre those avenues yet. Why the hell should I declare that it's impossible and couldn't have happened simply because our technology hasn't advanced far enough yet to explore the possibility? And as far as putting such a possibility in a classroom, what's wrong with saying that the Earth gets hit with meteors and one of those COULD have brought life to the planet? Sure, there's no evidence to back that up, but there's no evidence to disprove it either and it's a viable possibility. Why deny a kid that information? It's not like you can do a whole course on it, but putting it into the classroom as a brief paragraph doesn't seem to me to violate some sacred code of science.

In fact, this question (while I’m sure it was intended to be humourous) clearly shows that you really do not understand even the basics of evolution.
There are plenty of resources out there if you wish to gain a better understanding.


I understand it just fine, but the tighter a scientific theory gets, the more you can predict outcomes of future interactions. I get that it's all about mutation and adaptation, but it isn't the most solid theory science has going. And that's largely due to limited data. There are only so many fossils laying around, waiting to be dug up. Again, you do understand that I believe it right? You seem insulted that I even dare to leave the possibility that something else could be at work here, like you've got money riding on it.

Anonymous said...

Oy Fred...

I have finally hit the point where I can't be bothered to point out all the flaws in what you are saying.

You say you believe in evolution but continue to ask us to look at junk science on par with it.

They are not on par and that has been established by science, not some joker who has read a couple of texts and a newspaper.

No one claims that any scientific theory is irrefutable.
However, if you want us to consider alternatives, you need more than "Well it might have happened this way!!"

A crater does not prove anything besides a big rock hit the earth. Nothing more nothing less. The rest is speculation.
NOT science.

I'm done.
You are the brick wall and my head has begun to hurt.

Brent

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Hey Paul -

Good work here, but I do want to caution about a few over-generalizations. It is not true that "they" (moderate Christians) as a monolithic whole fail to stand up for evolution. Although I don't mention it frequently, I have covered the subject before in my blogs and been attacked for it (which of course resulted in more outraged ranting from me). Also, the Episcopal church and probably others (I think including the Roman Catholic Church) have issued statements, teachings or encyclicals stating that acceptance of evolution is in no way inimical to a belief in God (or Jesus Christ specifically).

At the other end of the scale, I do occasionally see evidence that a particular atheist would like nothing better than to ridicule all religion out of existence, in the belief that it is at best a serious intellectual flaw, at worst a major cause of war and suffering (which is of course correct to a large degree). Group in this debate is devoid of individuals who lack tolerance for an opposing view.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Drat. That last sentence was supposed to say, "No group in this debate...." When will I learn to proofread effectively?

natalie said...

Dear All,
Many beleivers would be happy here...
(not)
it is not funny to state that Christians point blank dislike
atheists
it is silly to state that we know from whence we came
it is mean to state that Christians
(true Christians) want to deny other people
it is pompous to state that we know
how evolution came about for a fact
natalie

Alec said...

"it is not funny to state that Christians point blank dislike
atheists"

Who found the idea funny?

"it is silly to state that we know from whence we came"

Who said we "know"?

"it is mean to state that Christians (true Christians) want to deny other people"

So you agree that some people that call themselves Christians do deny others? You'll want to let them know because some of them seem to think they are the true ones.

"it is pompous to state that we know how evolution came about for a fact"

Who said anything about knowing how evolution came about?