Bryan Fischer’s Young Earth Proofs

Bryan Fischer says Sen. Marco Rubio should have just said yes, the earth is only 6000 years old. Because, Fischer claims, the evidence supports that “fact.” And he offers up the usual list of bad arguments from the creationist jokebook to support that absurd claim. Like this one:

Comets. Comets are supposed to be as old as the solar system, about 5 billion years old. Yet comets lose material every time they orbit the sun, and thus no comet can last more than about 100,000 years. If the earth is as old as we’re told, comets should have disappeared literally billions of years ago. But there they are, happily orbiting the sun and sending flutters through the astronomical community every time one becomes visible to the naked eye. So, where are all these comets coming from? Scientists have to posit that there is some kind of comet nest out there, which occasionally kicks one of these guys out into the solar system. Now scientists have no evidence that this nest exists, no idea where it is located, and have not clue one what kind of process could explain the whole thing. I’ll stick with a young earth as the most plausible explanation.

Uh, yeah. Except this is completely false. There are actually two different “comet nests” in this solar system, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud (and actually more than that, further out). We do know where it is; we do have telescopes, after all. We have it mapped pretty thoroughly. We can observe it and predict the behavior of those objects pretty well. But none of Fischer’s audience will know that, of course.

Sediment on the sea floor. Mud is deposited by rivers and dust storms into the sea much faster than natural processes can remove it. Every year, about 20 billion tons of dirt and rock are dumped in the ocean. A process called plate tectonic subduction removes about a billion tons a year, which leaves 19 billion tons to accumulate on the seafloor year after year. The problem here is that the average depth of all the sediment in the entire ocean is less than 400 meters. That would take well less than 12 million years, which leaves us just a tad shy of the three billion years scientists demand. If the biblical account is correct, accelerated accumulation of deposits during the world-wide flood of Genesis 6-9 could account for it most if not all of it. I think I’ll go with a young earth on this one.

This is sort of classic creationist logic, extrapolating one little bit of data while ignoring all the data that changes their facile interpretation of it and also ignoring all processes that we observe that disproves that interpretation. Like they ignore the fact that the thickness of the ocean sediments is not the same, it varies a lot — and in very predictable ways, like being much thicker near the continental shelf and virtually non-existent at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where new sea floor is created slowly but surely all the time (thus, continental drift).

The Earth’s magnetic field. Electrical resistance in the earth’s core causes the earth’s magnetic field to lose energy rapidly. In fact, the half-life of the earth’s magnetic field is about 165 years. That means the magnetic field is half as strong today as it was 165 years ago. Put another way, it was twice as strong 165 years ago as it is today. As recently as 20,000 years ago the earth would have been a magnetic star incapable of sustaining life. For the objective observer, that’s powerful evidence for a young earth.

And by “objective observer,” of course, he means someone who is entirely ignorant of the fact that the strength of the magnetic field has varied considerably over time, sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing — and that the poles actually reverse themselves every once in a while. Again, a textbook example of selecting one old study on one specific set of data and ignoring all the other data that is relevant in building a model of the earth’s natural history.

Dead bodies. Evolutionists tell us that Homo Sapiens was around for at least 185,000 years before the dawn of agriculture, and world population all that time was between one and ten million souls. Where are all the dead bodies? Under an evolutionary model, there should be at least 8 billion dead bodies buried somewhere. Where are all these stone age skeletons? Only a few thousand have ever been found. Maybe the Stone Age lasted only a few hundred years rather than a few hundred thousand years, hmmm?

Yeah, because fossilization is automatic, right? It’s not like we observe living things all the time decomposing or anything. It goes on like this, all bad arguments that have been debunked time and time again.

Comments

  1. Artor says

    Aww, isn’t it cute when someone who is scientifically illiterate tries to use science to support his absurd, unsupportable fairy tales? It would be, if this bloviating shit-stain didn’t have a large group of equally ignorant people believing every word he says.

  2. coragyps says

    Back around 2000 or so, Answers in Genesis denied the existence of the Kuiper Belt – only a handful of trans-Neptunian objects had been found at that time. Now there are over a thousand on the books, and AiG, the last time I looked, has gone quiet on the subject. They were in Oort Cloud denial, though.

    I lack the stomach to go check their site on the current state of affairs…

  3. eric says

    The magnetic field one is particularly annoying because I believe the author of the 1950s work on which its based published revised data when it became available. So in this case, the creationists are not just ignoring some scientists who disagree with their pet scientist, they are ignoring the conclusions of the scientist they cite as an authority.

  4. jamessweet says

    I agree with Fischer on one thing: Rubio should have just come right out and said the Earth is 6000 years old, so we can all point and laugh at him and there will be no ambiguity about it.

  5. dingojack says

    You’ll the first two of Fischer’s ‘arguments’ show the Earth is older than 6000 years old*. He can’t even manage to use crappy ‘arguments’ to support his own hypothesis – FAIL.

    Dingo
    —–
    * 100,000 years and less than 12,000,000 years, respectively

  6. bradleybetts says

    “Sediment on the sea floor. Mud is deposited by rivers and dust storms into the sea much faster than natural processes can remove it. Every year, about 20 billion tons of dirt and rock are dumped in the ocean. A process called plate tectonic subduction removes about a billion tons a year, which leaves 19 billion tons to accumulate on the seafloor year after year. The problem here is that the average depth of all the sediment in the entire ocean is less than 400 meters. That would take well less than 12 million years, which leaves us just a tad shy of the three billion years scientists demand. If the biblical account is correct, accelerated accumulation of deposits during the world-wide flood of Genesis 6-9 could account for it most if not all of it. I think I’ll go with a young earth on this one.”

    I have a BSc in Geology… this nearly made me cry.

  7. bradleybetts says

    “The Earth’s magnetic field. Electrical resistance in the earth’s core causes the earth’s magnetic field to lose energy rapidly. In fact, the half-life of the earth’s magnetic field is about 165 years. That means the magnetic field is half as strong today as it was 165 years ago. Put another way, it was twice as strong 165 years ago as it is today. As recently as 20,000 years ago the earth would have been a magnetic star incapable of sustaining life. For the objective observer, that’s powerful evidence for a young earth”

    Ditto this.

  8. bradleybetts says

    “Dead bodies. Evolutionists tell us that Homo Sapiens was around for at least 185,000 years before the dawn of agriculture, and world population all that time was between one and ten million souls. Where are all the dead bodies? Under an evolutionary model, there should be at least 8 billion dead bodies buried somewhere. Where are all these stone age skeletons? Only a few thousand have ever been found. Maybe the Stone Age lasted only a few hundred years rather than a few hundred thousand years, hmmm?”

    Now I’m just angry. There is no way in hell he genuinely thinks that every single body fossilises all the time. No one is that thick and ignorant. Which means that the only logical conclusion is that he’s lying. Fuck him.

  9. Michael Heath says

    heddle writes:

    the only people who can harm Christianity are Christians.

    What an incredibly provocative claim, and from my perspective, absolutely absurd.

    The two biggest impeding factors from my perspective don’t even address contemporaneous Christian behavior. Instead it’s what science has discovered which falsifies the factual claims of the Bible. The second factor is the use of scientific methodology as the best approach to developing one’s own conclusions about what is and what is not objectively true; where the Bible comes out lacking any evidence for its fantastical claims, is frequently irrational and logically impossible, and sometimes even breathtakingly incoherent.

    I suppose you could concede contemporaneous Christians are still at fault as you assign responsibility; precisely because they promote the Bible as objectively true. But since you’re a biblical inerrantist heddle, that would include you in the set which harms Christianity, which would require you to hate yourself if used the same standard for yourself you do the AiG weenies. I don’t see a way out of that conundrum though I don’t recall thinking this through before now so perhaps there’s a way to avoid this conundrum. I realize you like this little truism of yours given it’s one you repeat. I have my own, with freedom comes responsibility, so I’m not criticizing you for developing truisms, just one that seems obviously and instantaneously absurd without having to put hardly any thought into it.

    And while you may hate the AiG jackasses, they’re simply doing the very thinking you do when it comes to the Bible and all the intelligent design creationists use, including those who concede common descent. That’s relying on faith to accept, explain way, and mostly avoid: falsified facts, absurd evidence-less claims, and illogical conundrums; and for some, figure out a way to explain those absurdities are actually true and/or logical.

  10. Jordan Genso says

    Does he care to address the fact that we can see things millions (and billions) of light-years away? That in order for that light to have reached us, the Universe must have been in existence for billions of years- does he have some sort of excuse about how scientists’ measurement of distances in space are actually way off and that they don’t have a correct measurement for the speed of light?

    Or does he accept that the Universe is 14 billion years old, but he thinks the Earth is only 6,000.

  11. hunter says

    I doubt that Fischer believes any of it, but then, I’ve gotten very cynical about public figures, especially the Liars for Jesus variety.

    I’m sure, though, that he knows his audience will believe it, if only because he said it. That sort of demonstrates what we’re dealing with here.

  12. Mark Sherry says

    6000 year old earth / 165 year halflife = over 36 doublings.

    From Wikipedia, the Earth’s magnetic field is 25-65 microteslas (uT), while a typical fridge magnet is 10000 uT, or 10 milliteslas (mT) (although WP also gives a value of 5 mT for fridge magnets on a different page). 25 uT * 2^36 = 1.718e12 uT, or 1.718 megateslas (MT). From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orders_of_magnitude_%28magnetic_field%29 we see that 1 MT is the (lower end) strength of a neutron star, and 10000 times the strength of the field used to levitate frogs.

    About 3200 years ago, the field has dropped to only frog floating levels. 2000 years ago, it would be about the strength of a sunspot. It would reach strong fridge magnet levels in about 500 CE.

    Or, you know, maybe the Earth’s magnetic field’s strength doesn’t have a halflife of 165 years.

  13. says

    Heath,

    That’s relying on faith to accept, explain way, and mostly avoid: falsified facts

    You don’t know zip about science. Please make a list of these “falsified facts” (whatever they are). It can be a list of one: give me one scientific fact, or more appropriately one consensus scientific theory that I explain away. Just one. It should be easy given that you argue that it is “the very thinking I do.” One. Just one.

    They are actually more like you than like me. You just happen to be accidentally correct on the scientific expertise you pretend to possess (on global warming) while they are wrong on the scientific expertise they pretend to possess– but the bottom line is neither of you know what the hell you’re talking about on anything scientific– other than on a superficial preach-to-the-choir level.

  14. dingojack says

    Uh Heddle – How about the whole ‘belief in god‘ thing, despite a complete lack of evidence of even the existence of a god or gods?
    Go on big guy, you made the extraordinary claim…
    :) Dingo

  15. noastronomer says

    “Scientists have to posit that there is some kind of comet nest out there, which occasionally kicks one of these guys out into the solar system.”

    That’s how science works, by using the available theories to make predictions.

    “Now scientists have no evidence that this nest exists,”

    Yes we do.

    “… no idea where it is located,”

    Yes we do.

    “… and have not clue one what kind of process could explain the whole thing.”

    We have that too.

    Mike.

  16. says

    Once again, the only people who can harm Christianity are Christians.

    So…you’re saying Christianity would be better off without followers?

    I said the same thing about Communism once…preparatory to just admitting the ideology was crap.

  17. says

    Fischer has also said that the only real proof of the origin of the world is eyewitness testimony. Naturally, he claims we have that in Genesis. No mention of the fact that, in Genesis, Gawd only created the first eyewitness several days after he said, “Let there be light”.

  18. says

    Does he care to address the fact that we can see things millions (and billions) of light-years away?

    Fischer is taking this guff from an AiG tame scientist named Russell Humphreys and Humphreys does have an “explanation” for distant starlight. As described at Wikipedia:

    Humphreys’ book, Starlight and Time, presents an alternative cosmological model to the Big Bang theory, that attempts to solve the Distant Starlight Problem. Its thesis is that the Earth is about six thousand years old, and the outer edge of an expanding and rotating 3-dimensional universe is billions of years old (when measured from earth). It proposes using the principles of relativity to postulate that time ticked at different rates during the universe’s origin. In other words, according to his theory, clocks on earth registered the six days of creation while those at the edge of the universe counted the approximately 15 billion years needed for light from the most distant galaxies to reach earth. The model places the Milky Way galaxy relatively near the center of the cosmos.

    Okay, if your head has stopped spinning, don’t forget that the Talk Origins Archive has the very useful Index to Creationist Claims when you are faced with this sort of mental masturbation.

  19. says

    Dead bodies? Really? At the very least, these wankers are forgetting something called “cremation.” There’s also something called “decomposition,” which happens everywhere, but happens fastest in places where there’s lots of humidity all the time…like, oh, I dunno, just about all of the tropics that aren’t desert?

    Seriously, that’s one reason so many US soldiers are unaccounted-for in Vietnam: it’s a JUNGLE, and corpses decompose kinda fast. (Of course, I’m guessing a lot of Fischer’s audience think those MIAs are still alive and being hidden as part of some nefarious conspiracy to get money from the US…)

  20. says

    DJ,

    Is there a scientific theory that God does not exist? I have never encountered it. What are its experiments and its predictions? In what peer-reviewed journal has its seminal results been published?

    You will notice, by the way, that I didn’t deny Heath’s claim that I accept on faith things for which there is no physical evidence*. I assume that you recognize the difference between that and denying the validity of that for which there is strong experimental verification. (I think that is what Heath means by “falsified facts”);

    * As do most people. The uber-rationals on Pharygula used to (maybe they still do) argue about killing animals as part of scientific research. Some believed strongly that you should, some, just as strongly, that you should not These were not evidence based beliefs (otherwise being uber-rationalists, and given the same data, they would agree, would they not?) but rather moral beliefs related to the assumed (as in evidence-free) relative value of human life vice other species.

    Raging Bee,

    So…you’re saying Christianity would be better off without followers?

    Do you actually believe that by any rule of logic the conclusion you force upon me follows from the premise?

  21. BradC says

    Maybe this is just a terminology quibble, but I take issue with your comment about the Oort cloud, specifically that “We have it mapped pretty thoroughly”. That might be true for the Kuiper belt, but it is definitely not true with regard to the Oort cloud.

    Now I know that even astronomers don’t all use these terms identically, but generally speaking, there are 3 categories of objects out beyond Neptune:

    1. Kuiper belt: Basically a stable “asteroid belt” of icy objects from 30AU (Neptune’s orbit) to about 50AU. Over 1000 objects have been identified, including Pluto. Due to its stability, the Kuiper belt is not thought to be the source of comets.

    2. Scattered Disk: An unstable region of icy objects with far more eccentric orbits, thought to be “scattered” out of the inner solar system by the gas giants. Extends from 40AU to well over 100AU. Over 200 objects have been identified, the dwarf planet Eris being the largest. This region is thought to be the source of many short-period comets.

    3. Oort Cloud: A hypothesized spherical cloud of comets that extends from 2,000AU up to 50,000AU (nearly a light-year) away from the sun. The Oort cloud has never been directly observed, and is the hypothetical source of long-period comets like Halley’s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oort_cloud

    So while there are a tiny handful of objects that some have argued should be considered members of the “inner Oort cloud”, Bryan Fisher is actually correct when he says that “Scientists have to posit that there is some kind of comet nest out there, which occasionally kicks one of these guys out into the solar system.”

    Having said that, he is incorrect when he follows it up by saying that “scientists have no evidence that this nest exists, no idea where it is located, and have not clue one what kind of process could explain the whole thing.” It is far from a settled scientific question, but the comets themselves provide much of the evidence of the Oort cloud, and there is good developing research working out the details of the “kind of process that explains the whole thing”.

  22. says

    Opps. I misattributed Humphreys to AiG. He was with the ICR until 2008 and then went to Creation Ministries International, which broke off from AiG. However, the article Fischer cites to is on AiG’s site but it was taken from ICR’s Impact series. There is a lot of inbreeding in YEC circles.

  23. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    That’s relying on faith to accept, explain way, and mostly avoid: falsified facts . . .

    Heddle responds:

    It can be a list of one: give me one scientific fact, or more appropriately one consensus scientific theory that I explain away.

    The earth is older than 6500 years, contra AiG’s claim.

    The universe is older than 6500 years, contra AiG’s claim.

    The order of creation of the universe and earth didn’t occur as described in Genesis Chap. 1 or the contradictory assertion in Genesis Chap. 2, contra AiG’s claim.

    There was no global flood as described in Genesis and contra AiG’s claim.

    The sun didn’t stop evolving around the earth one day to help one side beat another in a battle as the Bible asserts.

    The presence and characteristics of ERV’s falsifies the claim humans didn’t descend from an ancestor common to other primates and mammals, contra AiG’s claim and the Bible describes for at least the humans who were ancestors to the Jews and other semites.

    heddle writes:

    hey are actually more like you than like me. You just happen to be accidentally correct on the scientific expertise you pretend to possess (on global warming) while they are wrong on the scientific expertise they pretend to possess– but the bottom line is neither of you know what the hell you’re talking about on anything scientific– other than on a superficial preach-to-the-choir level.

    Wow, I got your skin so you falsely accuse me of doing what you do? Amazing.

    heddle, science can falsify hypotheses, which was exactly what I report asserted and report here. I have nothing in common with AiG when to comes to you and them relying on faith while I reject faith as a massive character defect and instead rely on the scientific method to make my conclusions.

    I realize I get under your skin as you demonstrate here, but I don’t do it for entertainment. Instead I’m motivated to get you to consistently apply your critical thinking skills across the board, not avoid deploying those skills when it’s inconvenient to your religious beliefs.

  24. says

    Is there a scientific theory that God does not exist? I have never encountered it.

    Um, yeah, the theory is based on: a) the total lack of any reliable evidence for the existence of any god or other supernatural being; and b) the observation that supernatural agency is not necessary to explain any phenomenon observed by humans so far.

    Seriously, heddle, cut the childish defensive semantic games and take a protip from us Pagans: we all admit there’s no scientific proof that the Gods we believe in really exist outside our own heads. And that’s okay.

  25. says

    Brad C is right, my statement on the Oort Cloud was wrong. Leonard Tramiel, who is a PhD astrophysicist, messaged me on Facebook and corrected me. He said:

    The Oort cloud is still basically a hypothesis with little to no observation to back it up. The Kuiper Belt is on better observational ground but nothing comet sized can be seen there with current scopes.

    Mea culpa.

  26. says

    heddle said:

    You will notice, by the way, that I didn’t deny Heath’s claim that I accept on faith things for which there is no physical evidence*.

    * As do most people. The uber-rationals on Pharygula used to (maybe they still do) argue about killing animals as part of scientific research. Some believed strongly that you should, some, just as strongly, that you should not These were not evidence based beliefs (otherwise being uber-rationalists, and given the same data, they would agree, would they not?) but rather moral beliefs related to the assumed (as in evidence-free) relative value of human life vice other species.

    I don’t know about you, but I base my beliefs about the relative value of life on the evidence of the capacity to experience suffering, and the evidence of the amount of suffering inflicted by things like pain and fear of death.

    I seem to recall you making a similar argument before, a few times. Saying that because rational people (“uber” or otherwise, on Pharyngula or otherwise) disagree on the moral value of this assessment, it is faith-based, however, remains dishonest. I wish you’d stop.

  27. says

    Sorry Raging Bee, perhaps if you would actually a scientist or had some understanding of the scientific method you could avoid giving a dumb answer.

    So I will ask again.

    What is the the scientific theory that god does not exist? What are its predictions and experiments that have confirmed that prediction? In what peer-reviewed journal have they been published?

    I realize to you it is just “semantics,” but to me it is how science is done.

    Heath,

    I don’t explain away the age of the earth. I guess what you are really saying is the same dumb argument I have been getting since I started commenting on Panda’s Thumb. It is, if I may paraphrase, this:

    AiGers and YECs in general are the dumbest bastards on the planet. Except when it comes to biblical exegesis; in that regard they are more like idiot savants. That is, they are wrong about the age of the earth but entirely correct that the bible allows for no other interpretation.

    I’ll take “Ipso Facto Arguments of Convenience that don’t require me to do any Homework and allow me to simply dismiss counter-arguments as Desperation Unworthy of Response” for $2000.

  28. says

    Gretchen,

    You claim your basis is:

    the evidence of the capacity to experience suffering, and the evidence of the amount of suffering inflicted by things like pain and fear of death.”

    Let us agree for the sake of argument that there is indisputable scientific evidence that people suffer more than, say, Zebra Mussels.

    Why then do people still disagree about vivisection, etc.? Are they blissfully unaware that such evidence exists? If you could just share with them this evidence, would there be universal agreement?

    There would not. Because there would still be a dispute, one layer deeper, in the evidence-free purely moral regime, about whether once species’s lesser suffering justifies its death in a hope to prevent greater suffering in another species. You will never get agreement on that, ever–not amount of evidence can produce consensus precisely because it is not a scientific question.

    You just stopped the onion-peeling one layer too soon. Everyone has evidence-free beliefs. You appear to have admitted to one–that species with a greater capacity for suffering have a sort of priority on the value-of-a-life pecking order.

  29. peterh says

    “…they are wrong about the age of the earth but entirely correct that the bible allows for no other interpretation.”

    They’re wrong about that, too; the bible makes no explicit comments on the age of the Earth, so there remains great latitude for such interpretation.

  30. Michael Heath says

    heddle to me:

    I don’t explain away the age of the earth.

    I never claimed you did. In fact I wrote:

    The earth is older than 6500 years, contra AiG’s claim.
    [emphasis here only]

    heddle to me:

    I don’t explain away the age of the earth.

    I guess what you are really saying is the same dumb argument I have been getting since I started commenting on Panda’s Thumb. It is, if I may paraphrase, this:

    AiGers and YECs in general are the dumbest bastards on the planet. Except when it comes to biblical exegesis; in that regard they are more like idiot savants. That is, they are wrong about the age of the earth but entirely correct that the bible allows for no other interpretation.

    I’ll take “Ipso Facto Arguments of Convenience that don’t require me to do any Homework and allow me to simply dismiss counter-arguments as Desperation Unworthy of Response” for $2000.

    Take a breath heddle. You just created a Heath in your head to battle, based on a statement I never directed at your ppersonal conclusions but instead to point out we can falsify some factual assertions. And I’ve never even considered the above argument you think I hold, let alone come at this from this premise.

    heddle, I’m both on your side and am pretty confident you’re a swell guy. We may not agree on your religious beliefs, but I actually want the best for you. My criticisms of you are motivated in what I think are your best interests and those with whom you associate. There’s only one regular poster in this entire forum I find to be a truly revolting person, and that’s lancifer. I don’t take offense when you go after my character because I simply see it as impersonal rage on your part, rage which produces text that wouldn’t withstand scrutiny as being deserved. So it’s water off my back.

    I am regretting sticking in the knife a little too hard in many instances; that’s probably wrong. I’ll do my best to be more considerate and respectful – where you do earn at least my respect. The fact you’ll at least read material which present assertions which challenge your faith; you truly are an exceptional outlier in that regard. And not just within some category of the population, but instead the entire population.

  31. says

    Heddle, you know damn well that a priori evidence is not non-evidence, and that a matter being non-scientific doesn’t mean that people’s conclusions about it amount to “faith.”

    If you want to argue that morality is not objective, fine– I won’t necessarily disagree with you. But the choices are not “objective” and “faith based,” so kindly stop pretending otherwise. Even if it turned out to be completely unsound, my moral position regarding the relative value of life would be based on evidence. Faith is motivated belief, to which evidence is irrelevant. A person of faith certainly wouldn’t object to the existence of evidence supporting his/her faith-based belief, but it is in no way a requirement.

    Which you know full well, of course. That’s why I ask you to be honest.

  32. markr1957 (Patent Pending) says

    So for heddle’s sake let’s just work with the simple facts. Do please tell us where we can find the pillars that hold up the sky as claimed in Genesis. Do explain how the geocentric planetary system works and how the heliocentric system is wrong. Please idenitify all the holes in the sky that let starlight through. How much abject idiocy is required to utterly debunk Genesis?

    Just for shits and giggles I’d love an explanation of how all the galaxies in the universe can fit inside a 6000 light year bubble around planet earth. Given there are billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars the radiation load at not more than 6000 light years distance would destroy all life forms stone dead, yet here we are measuring background radiation and finding it totally survivable! Even if you are allowed the upper range of YEC claims radiation would be fatal. If you allowed 1000,000 light years – still fatal, but even that proves that using the babble for dating the earth is just wrong!

  33. dingojack says

    Awww hell – let’s see proof of chameleon donkeys, mysterious ruminating rodents and four legged insects.
    Dingo

  34. says

    So I will ask again…What is the the scientific theory that god does not exist? What are its predictions and experiments that have confirmed that prediction? In what peer-reviewed journal have they been published?

    Every theory that doesn’t prove supernatural agency, or doesn’t require any such thing to explain any observed phenomenon, or simply doesn’t have any room for such things, is, for all practical purposes, a scientific theory that gods do not really exist. And yes, such theories are published in peer-reviewed journals every damn day.

    I know enough about the scientific method to understand that if there’s no reliable evidence to show that something exists (like your god, my gods, poltergeists, Martians, the tooth fairy, etc.), the standard rational conclusion is that the said thing does NOT exist (barring new evidence, of course, same as every other hypothesis).

    Seriously, heddle, are you about to tell us there’s also no “scientific theory” that invisible pink unicorns don’t really exist?

    Cut the patronizing bluster, dude — you’re not fooling anyone here.

    I realize to you it is just “semantics,” but to me it is how science is done.

    That’s the problem — you’re playing transparently stupid semantic games and pretending it’s “science.” That’s pretty much what “theology” really is.

  35. says

    Why then do people still disagree about vivisection, etc.?

    The fact that people disagree over particular rules in a moral code, does not mean the code itself has no basis in fact or reason. (Just like disagreements about quantum physics doesn’t mean physics has no basis in fact or reason) You know that as well as we do, heddle, and you’re only making yourself look like a dishonest twit when you pretend otherwise.

  36. slc1 says

    Re MH @ #

    It should be recalled that Prof. Heddle believes that Joshua caused the sun to stand still in the sky for a day and that god sent the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

  37. says

    markr1957 (Patent Pending) ,

    Do please tell us where we can find the pillars that hold up the sky as claimed in Genesis.

    OMG. Why, I’m stumped! My jaw is actually dropping from the indisputable strength of your argument.

    Do explain how the geocentric planetary system works

    Don’t you believe in a geocentric system? I mean, do you ever speak of sunrise or sunset? I certainly do–and those are only possible if the sun goes around the earth!

    And oh, you used babble for bible– you are truly a master. Uncle.

    Gretchen,

    Usually I don’t care about my honesty being questioned, but I admit coming from you it zings a bit. No matter. The bottom line is this 1) No, I do not “know full well” as you assert and 2) I stand by my claim that your position (and everyone else’s) on animal testing rests, ultimately, on beliefs for which there is no scientific evidence–e.g., the belief that a greater capacity for suffering does (or does not) warrant a privileged position.

    Again, it is (at least possible) that one can show, scientifically, that humans have a greater capacity for suffering. That might be evidence-based.

    It is not possible, scientifically, to show that such an evidence-based scientific result translates, inevitably, into a greater relative value for human life. That is a moral calculus that is not written in stone. Someone else might take a counter moral, also evidence-free position, such as: “species that are willfully destructive of the environment have intrinsically less value.”

    Those two evidence-free presuppositions, when applied to the evidence-based science (humans suffer more; humans are destructive of the environment) can lead to opposite conclusions about animal testing.

  38. says

    Raging Bee,

    I know enough about the scientific method to understand that if there’s no reliable evidence to show that something exists (like your god, my gods, poltergeists, Martians, the tooth fairy, etc.), the standard rational conclusion is that the said thing does NOT exist (barring new evidence, of course, same as every other hypothesis).

    Really?

    1) There is no evidence that parallel universes exist, yet it is not the standard conclusion that they do not.

    2) There is no evidence that the microscopic strings of string theory exist, yet many of my colleagues believe that they do.

    3) Until recently there was no evidence that the Higgs boson existed, yet we all believed that it did. For decades.

    I could give example after example of things that scientists have believed for which there was no reliable evidence.

    Now let’s see, by your response, who is really playing semantics.

  39. dingojack says

    Heddle – you* made the claim that god or gods exist so the burden of proof is on you to provide evidence that supports such a hypothesis, no-one is required to proof the negative.
    Off you go big man…
    (Gee, I just got a whole deja vu feeling).
    :) Dingo
    =====
    * by ‘you’ I mean you and your ‘god(s) exist’ colleagues

  40. says

    1) There is no evidence that parallel universes exist, yet it is not the standard conclusion that they do not.

    Is there a solid hypothesis that parallel universes exist, or is there just speculation and/or maybe a working assumption that they exist, offered to tentatively explain some observed phenomenon? I’ve never heard anyone stating any such ideas as anything other than speculation.

    2) There is no evidence that the microscopic strings of string theory exist, yet many of my colleagues believe that they do.

    That could be because your colleagues are specualting that such strings might explain certain phenomena that they’ve observed. They might find evidence as their work progresses, or they might drop it and find a different explanation.

    3) Until recently there was no evidence that the Higgs boson existed, yet we all believed that it did. For decades.

    Scientists made a working assumption in order to explain certain observed phenomena, and further research in that direction happened to prove fruitful.

    I could give example after example of things that scientists have believed for which there was no reliable evidence.

    You’ve given none so far — the examples you’ve cited are not “evidence-free” beliefs, they’re tentative working assumptions that served to explain certain observations; some have since been supported by new evidence, while others may (or may not) ultimately be backed up by further research. And, most importantly, none of them were ever touted as anything other than speculation before they were proven. Those examples are not “belief without evidence,” they’re speculation guided by evidence (and not ultimately accepted without more evidence). There’s a difference, which you’re misrepresenting in transparent bad faith.

    Now let’s see, by your response, who is really playing semantics.

    It’s still you, flailing about in the stinking pea-soup you call a theology.

  41. says

    Heddle:

    There’s a reason string theory or M-theory is not considered the definitive model for the “theory of everything”. And that’s because many of the things predicted but it (strings, branes, parallel universes) have not be experimentally observed. These things are predicted by the math, but until they are actually observed, string theory will not have the universal acceptance that relativity and quantum theory have. Yes, many physicists who have dedicated their careers to it believe that string theory will ultimately be vindicated, but that isn’t the same thing as having proof for it.

    As for the Higgs-Boson, it was likewise predicted by the math, but until we had some experimental evidence for its existence, it was still just that, a mathematical prediction.

    We went through the same with relativity. Until some of things predicted by it, such as gravitational lensing, were observed, no one was really sure whether the model had any basis in reality.

  42. says

    DJ,

    There is only a burden of proof if I expect you to be persuaded to my position. Or if I tried to publish my claim in a scientific journal. If I do not expect you to believe in god on the basis that I believe in god, if I am not trying to persuade you (I don’t and I am not) then there is no burden of proof.

  43. says

    Usually I don’t care about my honesty being questioned…

    That’s probably because you have a colossal delusion of superiority over the rest of us, and you think it’s perfectly okay to lie to us in the service of your cherished beliefs. Why am I not surprised?

  44. dingojack says

    So you’re just flapping your gums for Jesus’ approval.
    Weird way of ‘buying yourself into heaven’ but each their own.
    :) Dingo

  45. says

    “Bryan Fischer says Sen. Marco Rubio should have just said yes, the earth is only 6000 years old.”

    Why would he? He was dancing around it because he didn’t want to piss off the Republican Base, but he’s Catholic. Roman Catholics stir their own crock-pot of kookery, they don’t have to borrow bad ideas from Protestant YECs.

    John Pieret “I misattributed Humphreys to AiG. He was with the ICR until 2008 and then went to Creation Ministries International, which broke off from AiG.”
    You should have seen that schism:
    “Heretic!”
    “Heretic!”
    “The Earth is six thousand years old!”
    “No, the Earth is six thousand years old!”

    Michael Heath “Wow, I got your skin so you falsely accuse me of doing what you do?”
    Now get his nose!

    Heddle “Those two evidence-free presuppositions, when applied to the evidence-based science (humans suffer more; humans are destructive of the environment) can lead to opposite conclusions about animal testing.”
    I’m against animal testing, because it’s unfair to animals. Most of them can barely even hold the pencil.

  46. Nepenthe says

    @Dingo

    Don’t bother. You’ll never believe in God like heddle does because a perfectly just being created you specifically to burn in hellfire for all eternity. Don’t you feel special now?

  47. says

    d.c.wilson ,

    Sure, but Raging Bee was not stating that some things are merely unverified predictions, he wrote

    the standard rational conclusion is that the said thing does NOT exist

    that is not the standard conclusion–in many cases, some of which turn out to be wrong, many assume that things that been predicted but have not been seen do exist.

    Before July 4th virtually nobody said the Higgs did NOT exist, as RB would have it, but that it probably did exist and it was just a matter of time. Before one single Higgs boson was seen, while there was zero direct evidence for a Higgs, the overwhelming majority of physicists believed it existed. Their belief did not preclude the need for experimental verification–but it was certainly there. RB was wrong (not that he’d ever admit it, he’ll just move the goalposts) in his claim that “the standard rational conclusion is that the said thing does NOT exist.”

  48. says

    Before one single Higgs boson was seen, while there was zero direct evidence for a Higgs, the overwhelming majority of physicists believed it existed.

    I notice you’re moving the goalposts by changing your choice of words from “zero evidence” to “zero DIRECT evidence.” I think we can take that as an admission that your original point was bullshit.

    Also, as DC already pointed out, the belief that a Higgs boson existed was based on a certain amount of mathematical evidence that scientists, at least, found credible. That’s not the same as “belief without evidence.”

    Get over yourself, heddle — you’re not the first Christian to try to flog that “belief without evidence” BS, not by a long shot. We’ve heard it before, and debunked it before; and you’ve added nothing new to the word-salad.

  49. says

    Raging Bee,

    You may mentally remove the adjective “direct” from my comment. Let me remind you what you wrote.

    I know enough about the scientific method to understand that if there’s no reliable evidence to show that something exists (like your god, my gods, poltergeists, Martians, the tooth fairy, etc.), the standard rational conclusion is that the said thing does NOT exist (barring new evidence, of course, same as every other hypothesis).

    There was no reliable evidence (see, you use adjectives too) to show that the Higgs boson existed. A prediction does not constitute reliable evidence. A theory is not and never has been a substitute for an experiment. Scientific evidence is what shows up in your detectors, not what you think will show up in your detectors. And not only is the only evidence experimental evidence, the standard is incredibly high–the 5-sigma standard for new particles that everyone talked about.

    I told you you do not know anything about science.

    To review:

    1) There was no reliable evidence for a Higgs prior to its actual detection in two LHC experiments, and yet

    2) In spite of what you claim, quite clearly above, the standard conclusion was not that it did not exist.

    Now go on and bellyache about how this is because I think I am superior to everyone and how some ill-defined “we” have seen all these tactics before–and even debunked them all!

  50. says

    Heddle said:

    Usually I don’t care about my honesty being questioned, but I admit coming from you it zings a bit. No matter. The bottom line is this 1) No, I do not “know full well” as you assert and 2) I stand by my claim that your position (and everyone else’s) on animal testing rests, ultimately, on beliefs for which there is no scientific evidence–e.g., the belief that a greater capacity for suffering does (or does not) warrant a privileged position.

    You can stand by it all you want, since you’re simply standing on the straw man you knocked down.

    The topic of contention was not whether my or anyone else’s position on animal suffering relies on scientific evidence. The topic of contention was whether it relies on evidence, as opposed to faith which (being motivated belief) regards evidence as irrelevant.

    Which you do know full well. If it “zings” you to be accused of dishonesty, then try not being dishonest.

  51. says

    Gretchen,

    OK make it simple. You said your position on animal testing is based on capacity to suffer. Fine. I accept that humans can suffer more than Zebra Mussels.

    But what evidence do you offer that a greater capacity to suffer endows one species (humans) with the right to cause suffering in others (Zebra Mussels)?* This must be assumed, as far as I can see, if one supports animal testing.

    I contend you have no such evidence and have provided no such evidence. Even stronger, I contend that no such evidence is possible. I contend you simple believe it; it is a presupposition. But I am willing to listen to your evidence.

    I admit that I am saddened that you, in particular, characterize this disagreement as dishonesty. But I’ll get over it.

    ——
    * Not even getting to the question of whether or not the research is intended, ultimately, to reduce human suffering or whether it is just for scientific advancement with no other explicitly practical goal. Clearly that introduces additional ethical questions.

  52. says

    There was no reliable evidence (see, you use adjectives too) to show that the Higgs boson existed. A prediction does not constitute reliable evidence.

    Yes, actually, demonstrated predictive usefulness DOES constitute reliable evidence. Not conslusive proof, mind you, but evidence reliable enough to at least serve as a guide for further productive research. Certain scientists relied on the evidence they had, and it eventually led to a significant breakthrough — so it’s pretty stupid of you to keep on asserting there was “no reliable evidence” behind their thinking.

    (Besides, if there was “no reliable evidence” to support one theory (the Higgs boson), that kind of implies that scientists could have made just as much progress with a different, equally “evidence-free” theory. Do you believe this to be the case? Do you really think they would have made a similar breakthrough working from some other idea they’d just pulled out of their asses?)

    A theory is not and never has been a substitute for an experiment.

    Where did anyone say it was? Theories and speculation can, however, serve to guide our experiments in the most beneficial directions. You speculate based on the evidence you have, then you do experiments to verify your speculation, and thus get more evidence, repeat until…well, forever, actually.

    Scientific evidence is what shows up in your detectors, not what you think will show up in your detectors.

    Once again, you thrill us with your clever refutation of arguments that no one ever made. Any idea when you’ll get to the arguments we HAVE made?

  53. scienceavenger says

    Evolutionists tell us that Homo Sapiens was around for at least 185,000 years before the dawn of agriculture, and world population all that time was between one and ten million souls. Where are all the dead bodies?

    I had a countrified relation try this one on me once as we enjoyed the fresh air. I quipped “You say these pastures have had deer in them forever? Where are all the deer bodies and skeltons? We should be knee deep in them!”

  54. says

    Evolutionists tell us that Homo Sapiens was around for at least 185,000 years before the dawn of agriculture, and world population all that time was between one and ten million souls. Where are all the dead bodies?

    If the YECs are using “dead bodies,” or the relative lack thereof, as “proof” of their religion, then one should ask them where the dead bodies of such notables as Moses, Abraham, David (and Goliath for that matter), Mary, etc. are. Turnabout is fair play, at least when it comes to dumbass dishonest logical fallacies like this one.

  55. scienceavenger says

    Heddle,

    Gretchen just told you that her moral beliefs were not objective or scientific. Why then are you asking her questions as if she should have to provide evidence of either? You aren’t playing the “atheists can’t have objecvtive morals” canard are you?

  56. says

    You aren’t playing the “atheists can’t have objecvtive morals” canard are you?

    I thought he was trying to play the “you can’t rely on reason or logic, only on what you see” canard. Maybe he’s multicanarding…

  57. says

    scienceavenger,

    No. I am saying that we all have beliefs that are not based on evidence. They are based on feelings (presuppositions). We feel that humans are more valuable than other species–or that they are are of equal value, or that they are of lesser value. It is not just religious beliefs that are evidence-free. That is my assertion.

  58. scienceavenger says

    Now its your turn to peel the onion further. Where do our feelings come from? Is there a logical conclusion that can be drawn based on evidence that we should pay some of them heed, at least as far as our survival and more direct feelings of pleasure and happiness are concerned? Evolutionary psychology suggests there is. The situation with gods is not equivalent.

    Further, the question of whether torturing zebra fish is immoral is immune to direct evidence because the question is normative. The same cannot be said of religious claims having to do with existence and/or physical events. That is, the question of whether something Jesus said is immoral is immune in principle to evidence. The question of whether Jesus was dead and then rose and walked around is not. Apples and oranges.

  59. scienceavenger says

    So my contention is that there are many of us that do not hold beliefs that are baseless as far as evidence goes, with regard to questions which are, at least in principle, subject to evidence. Our evidence-free beliefs are (or at least should be) restricted to those questions where some evidence is, in priciple, irrelevant.

  60. says

    These two items:

    “There is no evidence that the microscopic strings of string theory exist, yet many of my colleagues believe that they do.

    3) Until recently there was no evidence that the Higgs boson existed, yet we all believed that it did. For decades.”

    may have already been dealt with.

    But, “belief” is not “knowledge”, as we are all aware. And, those who believe in “String Theory” and who believed in Higgs Boson before it was observed were always willing to change their “beliefs” based on an increased knowledge in the field.

    Belief in GOD is not, afaia, based on any empirical models or genuine3 theories. It just is. And for a lot of us it just is BULLSHIT.

  61. says

    scienceavenger ,

    Yes I understand that questions of morals are normative and not the same as scientific questions. That fact does not undermine my claim that we all have beliefs that are not based on evidence. I argued for the superset–I never stated that you could not decompose the superset into non-intersecting subsets. They are apples and oranges, agreed. But I was discussing the set of fruits.

    You seem to agree that we all have beliefs that are not based on evidence. That is where my claim begins and ends.

  62. says

    Democommie,

    But, “belief” is not “knowledge”, as we are all aware. And, those who believe in “String Theory” and who believed in Higgs Boson before it was observed were always willing to change their “beliefs” based on an increased knowledge in the field.

    You are sounding a bit like Coyne, though he’s a fraud and I don’t believe you are. He once asked for scientific evidence that would make people renounce their belief in god and then refused to push the answers out of moderation, creating the illusion that nobody answered and thereby confirming his hypothesis that there was no such evidence– the coward. But I have always admitted a couple of them: 1) Compelling evidence for parallel universes and 2) Intelligent extraterrestrial life and possibly 3) strong evidence in confirmation of a theory of abiogenesis.

    The usual response is “no you wouldn’t” which bit of an argument-stopper.

  63. davem says

    and have not clue one what kind of process could explain the whole thing.

    Someone needs to drop a large rock on his head from a height, shouting “Look! Gravity!”.

  64. Michael Heath says

    heddle writes:

    [Jerry Coyne] once asked for scientific evidence that would make people renounce their belief in god and then refused to push the answers out of moderation, creating the illusion that nobody answered and thereby confirming his hypothesis that there was no such evidence– the coward. But I have always admitted a couple of them: 1) Compelling evidence for parallel universes and 2) Intelligent extraterrestrial life and possibly 3) strong evidence in confirmation of a theory of abiogenesis.

    This suggests your faith is entirely wrapped up in the Bible. I think this because I don’t find any of these three discoveries as compelling arguments to deny the existence of God for those people who currently believe in God while also accepting what science confidently asserts. I do see how these discoveries would make it more difficult to accept an inerrant Bible, but from my perspective we already have overwhelming and convincing evidence the Bible’s provocative claims have been falsified, or else lack evidence and are logically incoherent.

  65. says

    heddle:

    I’ve made a cottage industry of criticizing Jerry Coyne at my own blog (mostly on philosophical grounds) but I’ve never seen any evidence he is dishonest. What grounds do you have to make the charge that:

    You are sounding a bit like Coyne, though he’s a fraud and I don’t believe you are. He once asked for scientific evidence that would make people renounce their belief in god and then refused to push the answers out of moderation, creating the illusion that nobody answered and thereby confirming his hypothesis that there was no such evidence– the coward.

    That’s an extremely serious charge that, unless it is supported, speaks more to your honesty than Coyne’s.

  66. says

    John Pieret,

    You can believe me or not. I know that Coyne stopped posting my comments including my response to the post in question. (Without having the integrity that even Dembski had–who at least told me I was banned, or PZ who threatens repeatedly before putting someone in the dungeon.) And I know of another Christian (Tom Gilson of The Thinking Christian) who had the same experience. I’m a rotten bastard so it might be possible that he banned me for being nasty, but Gilson is a gentleman and Coyne did the same to him–stopped posting his comments in the middle of a discussion making it look as if Tom ran away. (While repeating an inane joke about “Thinking Christian” being an oxymoron, ha ha–thereby demonstrating that he has the sense of humor of a ten year old.) I know this, Coyne know this and Tom Gilson knows this. It is as impossible to prove as any claim that a blog is selectively denying someone’s comments. I don’t give a rat’s ass if you believe me. Coyne is a jackass and a smarmy coward.

  67. says

    I know that Coyne stopped posting my comments including my response to the post in question.

    So, Coyne did publish your responses but may have grown tired of your “attitude.” I don’t suppose anyone here will necessarily be surprised by that position.

    And hearsay reports of of others who were “excluded” are not particularly compelling. Do you even have something from Tom Gilson that could be looked up that makes this claim?

    Coyne did the same to him–stopped posting his comments in the middle of a discussion making it look as if Tom ran away

    Care to give us an url to that so we can judge it for ourselves? Not to mention anything that Gilson said that documented the claim?

    It is as impossible to prove as any claim that a blog is selectively denying someone’s comments.

    Really? I’m a lawyer and I know that many things can be supported by evidence, even if they cannot be “proved” (as misunderstood by most everyone). All you have offered to besmirch the reputation of a renowned scientist is ill-founded hearsay, rumor and insinuation of the rankest sort.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass if you believe me.

    Well, that’s good because that’s about all your your screed is worth.

  68. says

    John Pieret ,

    So, Coyne did publish your responses but may have grown tired of your “attitude.” I don’t suppose anyone here will necessarily be surprised by that position.

    I said it might be because I was nasty because I was contrasting myself to Tom Gilson who is beyond nice and polite. In fact if you look at my posts on Coyne’s blog (I assume you know how to do that) you will see that (until they abruptly stopped) that they are not particularly nasty and certainly not as nasty as the responses that came back in my direction from Coyne’s regulars. You will also see that Coyne never threatened a banhammer. I reiterate–the man is without integrity.

    Really? I’m a lawyer and I know that many things can be supported by evidence, even if they cannot be “proved” (as misunderstood by most everyone).

    Really. Tell me master lawyer how to prove, short of supeoning ISPs,that I sent comments and Coyne received them. Are you as skeptical if someone claims their comment died in moderation on a unblessed blog? Does your lidless eye have a uniform or a selective gaze?

    Care to give us an url to that so we can judge it for ourselves? Not to mention anything that Gilson said that documented the claim?

    As a matter of fact, yes. You can see here that Tom makes these exact claims (more recently than I) about Coyne’s lack of integrity. The incidents I referred to are probably two to three years old–Tom, it appears, has more endurance for Coyne’s cowardice than I do.

    Well, that’s good because that’s about all your your screed is worth.

    And all that your asinine “prove it to me after all I’m a lawyer” self-righteousness is worth.

    All you have offered to besmirch the reputation of a renowned scientist is ill-founded hearsay, rumor and insinuation of the rankest sort.

    Oh lighten up Frances. I have been called a child molester and other things much worse than what I called Coyne (to wit, a smarmy coward with no integrity. Oh the horror!) It didn’t notice your panties in a bunch during those occurrences. Geez, as much as I find the pharyguloids annoying, at least they aren’t selectively-offended-on-the-behalf-of-others sissies.

  69. says

    In fact if you look at my posts on Coyne’s blog (I assume you know how to do that) you will see that (until they abruptly stopped) that they are not particularly nasty and certainly not as nasty as the responses that came back in my direction from Coyne’s regulars.

    Oh, right! You make a claim that Coyne is dishonest and I’m supposed to search thousands of pages of a not-blog to confirm that the charge is true. I don’t think you’ve gotten the whole “burden of proof” idea straight yet.

    Tell me master lawyer how to prove, short of supeoning ISPs,that I sent comments and Coyne received them.

    How about telling us which threads and what was being discussed instead of just vague handwaving?

    As a matter of fact, yes. You can see here that Tom makes these exact claims (more recently than I) about Coyne’s lack of integrity.

    Oh, good! Once I’ve had a chance to review that maybe then I (and any other objective observer) can make a rational judgment on your claim.

    Oh lighten up Frances. I have been called a child molester and other things much worse than what I called Coyne (to wit, a smarmy coward with no integrity. Oh the horror!) It didn’t notice your panties in a bunch during those occurrences.

    You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I know who you are (or care) and that I have followed your “career” in the bowels of the internet. I responded to your post only because it it was so recklessly undocumented and lacking in detail. I know nothing about you other than what I’ve seen in this thread. But your obvious defensiveness is another reason to doubt your objectivity about Coyne.

  70. says

    heddle:

    I AM confused, now. My comment was only to say that belief and knowledge are definitely not synonymous and that what people believe, as opposed to what they know, is of little interest to me, so long as they do not assume that their belief is superior to my/anyone else’s knowledge.

    “Oh lighten up Frances. I have been called a child molester and other things much worse than what I called Coyne (to wit, a smarmy coward with no integrity. Oh the horror!”

    I don’t know this Coyne person but if he is as you describe then he is more than a bit detestable.

    I am in the autumn of my years (is a second childhood like “Indian Summer” in that regard?) and my body is starting to surprise me, daily, with new instances of its intransigence when I give it commands like, “walk without limping”. My mind, however, still holds the gimlettyrapier shaprness of its youth. For a small sum, a pittance to one such as yourself–who is gainfully employed–I will spend some serious time concocting insults for your eventual use, that would make a rotgut marinated, cheroot smoked and chancre encrusted merchant mariner blush. Say the word, I’m on it!

  71. says

    John Pieret,

    Oh, right! You make a claim that Coyne is dishonest and I’m supposed to search thousands of pages of a not-blog to confirm that the charge is true.

    Shhh! I am going to give you a state secret! It is the hidden “site:” search on google. If you google heddle site:whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com you will not have to search thousands of pages! The relevant links will simply…appear! God did it! But don’t pass it on unless you really trust the person not to abuse this awesome power.

    Oh, good! Once I’ve had a chance to review that maybe then I (and any other objective observer) can make a rational judgment on your claim.

    Well please do. It is exactly what you asked for. Tom (good man) even documented that his polite, on-topic posts were in moderation but then “poof,” and the subsequent snide comments alluding to Tom’s failure to answer. But instead of looking at the link (while accusing me of not providing links) you’re just being a snarky asshole.

    You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I know who you are (or care) and that I have followed your “career” in the bowels of the internet. I responded to your post only because it it was so recklessly undocumented

    No, it’s because when you wrote, regarding the possiblility that Coyne silently banned me for being nasty,

    I don’t suppose anyone here will necessarily be surprised by that position.

    that I gave you the benefit of the doubt that, because we frequent some of the same blogs– that you are familiar with my ways and not making a “no surprise there” comment based on, say, just this post. But feel free to try to find purchase on the high-ground by arguing that I must be assuming you following my career! That’s always a good rhetorical ploy.

    So I looked at your blog, and on the front page I searched (imagine that!) for Coyne. I saw..

    You refer to Coyne’s knowledge in sarcasm/scare quotes, as in Jerry again “does” philosophy. You make assumptions about his knowledge base There is (unbeknownst to Jerry)… . You say, with no proof or support, the naïve materialism of Jerry and others is just as “faith” based as religion… . And you accuse him (again without any supporting material) of vacuous parroting: The ironic thing I forgot to mention is that Jerry quotes (without understanding)…

    That’s a pretty nasty way to treat a renowned scientist!

    Oh, and by the way–what you are criticizing Coyne for.. he is correct. Unless you can, without woo, give an example of one event (to avoid the pedantic, any event after the Planck epoch) –just one –that can not in principle be reduced to the laws of physics.

  72. slc1 says

    Re Heddle @ #65

    At this remote date, I don’t recall if I posted a comment relative to accepting supernatural explanations as evidence for the existence of god on Coyne’s blog or Larry Moran’s blog but, in any case, I would accept such an explanation if there was conclusive evidence that the Sun did, indeed, stand still in the sky for a day. Since such a phenomena would violate all the laws of physics, these laws would have to have been suspended by some sort of all powerful force having the attributes attributed to the god of the Hebrew scriptures.

  73. says

    slc1 #76,

    Yes the for some reason the act of posting prepended this blog’s address. But of course you can simple cut and paste the text “heddle site:…” to do the search. Color me red-faced.

  74. says

    Heddle said:

    You seem to agree that we all have beliefs that are not based on evidence. That is where my claim begins and ends.

    …by defining “evidence” as empirical support, aka a posteriori evidence only.
    …by defining “evidence free” as any conclusion which does not have such.
    …by declaring that this amounts to faith.
    …in order to declare that atheists have faith in the same way that religionists do, because atheists who purport to be rational have (shock horror!) disagreements on ethical matters.

    Heddle, you may know science but your understanding of philosophy needs help. A logical argument is not “evidence free.” There are other kinds of evidence besides the empirical. Even a truly evidence free (as opposed to unjustified, which may have evidence but not enough) belief would not be the same as faith. I am quite certain you know all of this– but just in case you didn’t, now you do.

    My opinion appears to matter to you, at least somewhat. If that’s the case, maybe you could try and understand why I want to bash my head against something firm and unyielding right now.

  75. says

    Yes I understand that questions of morals are normative and not the same as scientific questions. That fact does not undermine my claim that we all have beliefs that are not based on evidence.

    It doesn’t exactly support your claims either. Many, perhaps most, normative claims are indeed based on some sort of evidence, such as personal and collective experience of which behaviors are beneficial to us and which are harmful. That’s not sufficient evidence by scientific standards, of course, but it IS a foundation of evidence, and it’s grossly dishonest to repeatedly claim that such beliefs are based on ZERO evidence.

    In the case of the belief that human life is more valuable than animal life, one could argue that such a belief is based on the observation that: a) treating all life as equal in value leads us to sacrifice vital interests of ours with no benefit, b) treating rats as equals doesn’t really benefit the rats that much — because c) rats really ARE NOT equal to humans, in certain obvious and observable ways; therefore we have to place our interests ahead of those of bugs and rats just to survive and thrive. That’s not actual proof that human life IS more valuable, but it is, nonetheless, evidence that supports adhering to one set or priorities and not another.

    So all in all, I’d say that heddle’s claim that “we all have beliefs that are not based on evidence” is, at best, exaggerated and poorly thought out, and at worst, totally bogus.

  76. says

    Shhh! I am going to give you a state secret! It is the hidden “site:” search on google…

    Actually, heddle, if you’re making assertions about how certain people behaved on a certain blog thread, then you’re the one who should be citing the link to the specific thread. That should be pretty easy for you, since you seem to remember what happened, and you already managed to get there at least once before. The fact that you’re not doing this relatively easy thing to support your own argument doesn’t mean you’re lying, of course; but it does look pretty suspicious to the rest of us.

  77. says

    Gretchen,

    but your understanding of philosophy needs help.

    Yes that’s true–philosophy is a discipline I know next to nothing about.

    Even a truly evidence free (as opposed to unjustified, which may have evidence but not enough) belief would not be the same as faith.

    But I don’t think I said they were the same (if I did I retract the statement), see “apples and oranges” in #64. I said that ideas like “human life is more/of-equal/lesser value” than animal life and religious beliefs, while different, are nevertheless both examples of things we believe (or might believe) with no evidence.

  78. says

    Raging Bee,

    Actually, heddle, if you’re making assertions about how certain people behaved on a certain blog thread, then you’re the one who should be citing the link to the specific thread.

    You are truly a moron. If you can explain how I can provide a link to demonstrate how I was silently banned (link to what.. what was supposed to have appeared if Coyne was not a jackass?) then I’ll reconsider. Instead I provided a link to Tom Gilson, who had the same experience (we’ve discussed this over the past couple of years) and (from experience) knew to document a fairly recent example of Coyne’s lack of integrity.

    The site search demonstrates a) That by the standards of his blog I most certainly was not beyond the the pale in terms of the tenor of my posts and 2) there was no warning of being banned a la PZ, it was a despicable silent banning.

  79. says

    I said that ideas like “human life is more/of-equal/lesser value” than animal life and religious beliefs, while different, are nevertheless both examples of things we believe (or might believe) with no evidence.

    And as I and others have said before, this claim is FALSE: there’s a huge space between “scientific proof” and “no evidence,” and the beliefs you’re talking about fall in that intermediate range, not at one extreme. You’re repeating the same false dichotomy routinely (and relentlessly) used by pathological liars like Anthony McCarthy, and like those said liars, you’re clearly doing it to pretend science is just another religion, and rescue religious thinking from the scorn it deserves.

    You can ignore my counter-arguments all you want, but it’s not helping your credibility.

    You are truly a moron. If you can explain how I can provide a link to demonstrate how I was silently banned…

    A link to the thread from which you were banned and in which you allegedly suffered more insults than you gave others, you transparent little dodger. Is that really too complicated for you to understand?

    Your allegations about Coyne may all be true; but if your dishonesty and evasiveness here is any indication, I suspect that Coyne may have banned you for good reason. That would explain (anong other things) why you’re so unwilling to paste a single URL that you’ve already been to before.

  80. says

    The site search demonstrates…

    What would a site search demonstrate that a link to one or more specific sites wouldn’t? You really sound like you’re bluffing, heddle.

  81. says

    Raging Bee,

    What would a site search demonstrate that a link to one or more specific sites wouldn’t? You really sound like you’re bluffing, heddle.,

    Are you purposely obtuse? We are talking about Coyne’s site– why would links to “more specific sites” (How can I get more specific? What sites are more specific than Coyne’s? Nascar.com?) The site search shows all the comments I have made, such as on here:

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/another-flea/

    in fact there are fewer than I remember before I was silently banned–most of the comments are about me not from me (ooh I am not well liked!). I cannot do any better except to find the individual comments–which doesn’t take long given the google site search only produces three pages of links (oh noes– not exactly three pages, oh the innumeracy!)

    On the post above, which the classy Dr. Coyne dedicates to calling Mr. Rosenau a “flea,” My comments are

    Another “flea.” Geez, you’re an unpleasant piece of work.

    Now it’s true his attack is a bit fuzzy— unnecessarily so because your arguments are self refuting.

    1. The way we acquire knowledge is through science.

    2. We (at least, that is, the elite brites, when they aren’t busy with heady stuff like advocating war, condoning torture, championing eastern mysticism, speaking in dead languages, fiercely arguing evolution with cartoonists, posting pictures of the contents of their trash cans, writing popularizations, etc) ‘know’ that science and religion are incompatible.

    3. This knowledge, by #1, comes to us by science.

    4. Science requires experimental confirmation.

    5. Therefore there must have an experiment that has demonstrated the incompatibility of science and religion.

    What was that experiment, exactly?

    and

    No that doesn’t even begin to clarify it. The claim is not: there is an incompatibility between science and some specific religious claims. That would be no big deal. After all, there is also an incompatibility between science and some specific scientific claims.

    No, the claim is that there is an incompatibility between science and religion, period.

    You not only moved the goal post, you replanted them it the next county.

    My god! The unprecedented lack of decorum!

    The only other comments from me that I can find are on this post

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/robert-wright-pirouetting-on-the-fence/

    in which I am on my absolute best behavior.

    I defy you to look at my comments an make a reasonable case that I should have been summarily and silently banned–that my comments are in any measure beyond the pale for Coyne’s site on which he himself, let alone his fans, is often very insulting. Here’s a hint: you can’t.

    You are making less sense than normal–which is impressive. If I say “libertarian” will your head explode?

    Now I am calling your bluff.

  82. says

    We (at least, that is, the elite brites, when they aren’t busy with heady stuff like advocating war, condoning torture…)

    So you’re accusing some unspecified “elite brites” of advocating war and condoning torture? Enough repetition of that sort of bigoted accusation would probably get you banned from a lot of sites. It’s a pretty simpleminded and assholic thing to say — right along with the oft-repeated bit about how atheists have to account for the atrocities of Stalinism, Hitlerism, and the Khmer Rouge.

    I don’t see a very strong case for banning you yet, but you just gave me a sizeable piece of one.

  83. says

    Raging Bee,

    you’re clearly doing it to pretend science is just another religion, and rescue religious thinking from the scorn it deserves.

    Where am I clearly doing that? If I searched I can find the opposite–where I defend science against atheists who want to make it a religion. It goes something like this:

    Atheist: He (pick some ID villain) can’t be (whatever he is) and a good scientist, he doesn’t even believe in science.

    Heddle: Science is not a religion and its practitioners are not priests. It is a process. You can do it even if you don’t believe it’s true. It is agnostic regarding the practitioner’s motives. Someone can think String Theory is garbage, but see how to solve an outstanding problem, solve it and become a String Theory giant in spite of his/her disdain for the field. Science doesn’t care. You can believe the earth was created 6000 years ago and still do research in evolutionary biology–as long as you follow the method: take data, analyze it properly, report the results accurately, don’t attribute anything in your professional documentation to supernatural causes. That’s all there is to it.

    It is usually an atheist–who often wants to impose a non-existent “purity of heart” condition, that tries to make science into a religion.

    Some people on here probably remember me making such arguments somewhere.

    Anyway I was not talking about science–I was talking about moral presuppositions.

    So, as is your custom, you are wrong again.

  84. says

    Raging Bee,

    Regarding my comment from Coyne’s blog:

    We (at least, that is, the elite brites, when they aren’t busy with heady stuff like advocating war, condoning torture…)

    RB writes,

    I don’t see a very strong case for banning you yet, but you just gave me a sizeable piece of one.

    Oh give me a break. Sizable piece my ass. Those elite brites (a term that was in vogue at the time) refer to (and were understood to refer to in context) Hitchens and Harris, and their advocacy of the Gulf war and torture. Atheists ripped them far worse than I did. (OMG I called them “elite brites”–oh the humanity!) That is not even a blip on the “nasty radar” for Coyne’s blog or this blog for that matter. You are, as the Scotts say, “hangin’ ye jaiket on a shoogly nail.”

  85. says

    It is usually an atheist–who often wants to impose a non-existent “purity of heart” condition, that tries to make science into a religion.

    So in addition to all of your other logicasl fallacies, you’re adding weapons-grade projection?

    Who went to a Federal court trying to keep evolution out of public schools on the grounds that science is equal to religious belief? Not atheists.

    Who tries to elevate (their own) religion to the stature of science, on the grounds that they’re both based on “presuppositional bias” or “faith in unproven axioms?” Not atheists.

    You prove my point nearly every time you try to discredit it.

    Anyway I was not talking about science–I was talking about moral presuppositions.

    You were also talking the same bullshit about superstring theory and the Higgs boson, remember? You’re a fucking liar.

  86. says

    Raging Bee,

    You were also talking the same bullshit about superstring theory and the Higgs boson, remember? You’re a fucking liar.

    Fair enough, I forgot those references–but I stand by them. Some scientists believe in strings even though there is no evidence that strings exist. None. All of us believed in the Higgs, before there was any evidence that the Higgs existed.

    Now you wrote:

    you’re clearly doing it to pretend science is just another religion, and rescue religious thinking from the scorn it deserves.

    You’ve known me for years. I challenge you to show where I have argued that science is just another religion. (As I indicated, I can find references where I argue it is most assuredly not a religion, but rather a vocation and a process) Nor have I ever argued that atheism is a religion–I have only stated the opposite. I challenge you to find where I say anything like “scientists are guilty of scientism.” Find where I supported keeping evolution out of public schools (I can find not only where I have argued it should be in public schools, but where I have argued that it should be taught in Christian schools.) Find where I argue that ID should be in the science curriculum. Find any of these things that back up your claim I am “clearly” doing it to pretend science is another religion.

    Who is the liar? You are.

  87. says

    Fair enough, I forgot those references–but I stand by them.

    You “forgot” them after they were disproven, by myself and others. Or did you “forget” that too?

    Dude, you spent a LOT of effort arguing about those references. Now you expect us to believe you “forgot” them?

    If you can’t stop lying, can’t you at least try to tell lies that don’t insult our intelligence quite as much? I just posted a response to lancifer elsewhere, and I’m starting to see similarities between you and him. Not flattering ones, either.

  88. says

    I challenge you to show where I have argued that science is just another religion.

    Your argument that “scientists believe things with no evidence too” is an obvious recycling of that argument (not to mention demonstrably false).

  89. says

    Raging Bee,

    You “forgot” them after they were disproven, by myself and others. Or did you “forget” that too?

    I already acknowledged that I forgot about them, mea culpa. I deserved a slap-down for that. Perhaps you can milk it for a few more posts, and continue to imply malice aforethought. And I didn’t forget the you disproved my claims, because you didn’t. Do you have any concept what a proof is? Nothing was proved. If so let’s make it simple:

    1) Some scientists believe in strings. True or False?

    2) If your answer to one is true, what is the evidence for Strings? That is, what could you or anyone publish in a peer-reviewed journal physics journal that concluded and that is the evidence for strings and get it published?

    You can substitute “parallel universes” for strings. Or “dark energy”. (Dark matter–perhaps not–it’s iffy—-pretty good evidence from galaxy collisions that it really exists, we just don’t know what it is.) Those are several examples of things some scientists believe exist for which there is no evidence.

    History is full of examples. In the face of overwhelming evidence of an expanding universe, the great Hoyle believed in a steady state universe. There was no evidence for one. He had a theory for it–it predicted a universe in which matter was being continuously created– but that theory and its prediction did not constitute evidence of continuous matter creation. Just like the theory of strings, Higgs, and parallel universes does not/did not constitute evidence. Evidence is what shows up in your detectors.

    Dude, you spent a LOT of effort arguing about those references. Now you expect us to believe you “forgot” them?

    If you can’t stop lying, can’t you at least try to tell lies that don’t insult our intelligence quite as much?

    What is with you with the constant “us” and “our”? For whom do you speak? Do you speak for Ed? Raven? Gretchen? PZ? Coyne? Democommie? Michael Heath? DJ?

    I am waiting for you to demonstrate 1) that I deserved to be silently banned from Coyne’s blog and 2) that I seek to make science into a religion.

    The first–you can just admit defeat. The second– you can either back down or be shown as a liar, because the truth is I have never, ever attempted to make science into a religion, and you stated it was “clearly” my intent.

    I just posted a response to lancifer elsewhere, and I’m starting to see similarities between you and him. Not flattering ones, either.

    I’m not sure I know who lancifer is. But I gather you don’t like him. And you don’t like me. And you find similarities. And they are not flattering. This should be of concern to me (or lancifer)…why exactly? I find similarities between you and raven. Big deal.

  90. says

    I am waiting for you to demonstrate 1) that I deserved to be silently banned from Coyne’s blog and 2) that I seek to make science into a religion.

    1) I am not trying to make a case that you deserve to be banned from this or that blog — that was even less related to the OT than your thread-jack about scientists believing stuff without evidence. All I set out to do is demonstrate the intellectual dishonesty of the arguments you’ve made on this thread. I’ve done what I set out to do, so now I’m off duty.

    2) I didn’t say you “seek to make science into a religion;” I said you’re trying to put new lipstick on the old creationist argument that science is no more valid than religion. That’s mostly a semantic difference, but it’s an important one, at least to show you’re trying to weasel out of a losing argument again.

    Those are several examples of things some scientists believe exist for which there is no evidence.

    You still haven’t given me one specific example. All of the examples you have given have been shown to be incorrect: the beliefs you cited were — as I already said many times before — based on at least a little bit of evidence and/or solid reasoning.

    And since you’re now doing nothing but repeating an assertion that has already been disproven, without offering anything new (the steady-state theory is pretty much abandoned, except for maybe Sal “Wormtongue” Cordova), I think it’s time to consider this argument over. Buh-bye.

  91. Michael Heath says

    I loved the scientific argument in Jerry Coyne’s book, Why Evolution is True. But Dr. Coyne demonstrated a lack of emotional maturity in that same book, to the point I perceived his behavior as self-defeating. This was based on his starting out his book on evolution ridiculing creationists.

    I found this frustrating because I thought his book was a near pitch-perfect meld of what science understands that convinces scientific literates evolution is true with a very accessible writing style that allowed non-scientists to understand what he explained. And while we understand creationists essentially exist in a cocoon which has them predominately avoiding such arguments, some will creep out, especially some non-authoritarian pastors and elders along with many smart young people who resisted efforts to turn them into authoritarians. The science in Coyne’s book would make a very effective treatise in distinguishing the absurdity of creationism compared to the convincing evidence we have for evolution. If only its creationist readers would look past all the ridicule heaped on them, a tough task for anyone when considering an argument from an ideological opponent.

    If Dr. Coyne thought ridiculing creationists was a needed component of the book or was instead a primary motivation for writing the book, it would have been far more prudent to put that content at the end of the book; after he’d established some credibility with his readers. His ridicule wasn’t wrong, just not very prudent relative to his cause, which was selling a creationist-loving public on evolution and science.

    My criticism is not in reference to his comparing creationist arguments in the relevant chapters of the book, that was an essential reason the book is so relevant here in the U.S.; but instead his ridicule of people who are creationists. I bring this up because I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he cut-off heddle in his blog given his demonstrated lack of maturity in his own fricking book (where was the editor???). We all need mentors, Dr. Coyne showed he lacked judgment on getting one that complemented him, or he ignores their advice.

  92. slc1 says

    Re Heddle @ #93

    1) Some scientists believe in strings. True or False?

    I think that the statement “believe” is incorrect. The situation with the strings hypothesis (it’s not a theory as we sit here today because there is no evidence or even testable hypotheses) is that it is a branch of mathematics that may or may not have application to physics. AFAIK, the jury is still out. The reason why elementary particle physicists are interested in the subject is because of the possibility that it may lead to a reconciliation of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. It’s roughly in the same situation as Riemannian Geometry and Groups was in the 19th century, albeit, since quantum mechanics and relativity had not yet been discovered, no one had the slightest idea at the time that they might be applicable to physics.

    By the way, the notion of parallel universes is a concept that preceded strings; it was offered as an alternative to the collapsing wave function explanation of quantum entanglement and the two slit problem and differs from the multiverse concept because it is assumed that the same set of physical constants exists in all such universes. The multiverse concept was introduced to respond to the notion of the anthropic principle; it is assumed that not all universes in the multiverse will have the same set of physical constants. Of course, the parallel universes of quantum mechanics presumably would be a subset of the multiverse, assuming that either of them exists, a rather controversial hypothesis as we sit here today.

    As for dark matter, it is clear via the rotational frequency within galaxies and the observed gravitational lensing that there is something other then observable matter in the galaxies (a rather lot of something as there appears to be some 4 times as much of it as there is observable matter).

    As for dark energy, the only evidence so far, AFAIK, is the observed acceleration of the expansion of the universe.

  93. says

    1) Some scientists believe in strings. True or False?

    “Believe in.” You keep on using that phrase. When it comes to scientific inquiry, I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    And the way you use it here is further evidence that you’re trying to equate science with religion.

  94. says

    slc1,

    As for dark matter, it is clear via the rotational frequency within galaxies and the observed gravitational lensing that there is something other then observable matter in the galaxies (a rather lot of something as there appears to be some 4 times as much of it as there is observable matter).

    All true, but the best evidence is from collisions of galactic clusters which, as I understand it, behave as you would expect if each was comprised of a large clump of regular matter (which collided) and a large clump of dark matter which, being non-interacting, went through unscathed. This I believe was the final coffin nail in the lingering rival theory of a long-range deviation in newtonian theory. Whether it constitutes direct evidence seems debatable. I would say yes.

    Raging Bee,

    And the way you use it here is further evidence that you’re trying to equate science with religion.

    It certainly doubles the evidence you have presented so far. And triples it.

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