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Aug 01 2009

How Zdenny can avoid a permanent ban on this blog

Read this, Zdenny, and read it very carefully.

This is my blog, and yet, I see nothing but YOU, everywhere, as the first post in my every thread. You comment three or four times in a row, answering none of the counterclaims, merely asserting again and again that your epistemological views are absolute truth and everyone else is deluded or wrong without a shred of evidence to back it up. You are the very definition of a troll. Your comments add nothing, they repeat themselves ad nauseum, and you are not an active participant, merely a foil to be kicked around repeatedly. You act as an infestation on my blog, jumping from one topic to the next, spewing venom and hatred in the guise of absolute love and impeccable morals, and yet, I see no evidence that you’re even a person, when your comments could as easily have been posted by a machine. You show a fundamental lack of critical thought and reasoning ability with those parts of your brain having apparently been surgically excised to make more room for Jesus. And today, you have tried my patience to the breaking point.

I do not censor people on this blog. I have not up until this point banned people, either. However, I have absolutely no obligation to provide you with a platform. I should follow your example and refuse to let any of your posts out of moderation, merely banning you without giving you a chance, but I will not do that, no matter how hard you try to prod at the hornet’s nest. Instead, I will take a cue from Pharyngula. I am giving you one chance to escape an ignominious fate.

I’d like you to explain two things for me. 500 words each. Each short-form essay must be in its own content.

First, explain the theory of evolution, relating specifically to speciation, how it has been observed, and give three examples of transitional fossils.

Second, explain some things about neurochemistry and how it can be proven that altering neurochemistry can result in different moods, including love and hate; and how if this neurochemistry is compromised it can result in a person doing some very drastic, morally unreasonable things that they would otherwise never do.

The rules for this are simple.

1) Each comment must be written from our side’s point of view. You are specifically disallowed from writing religiously-based caricatures of evolution or neurochemistry, you have to accurately and adequately explain our side. Include at least one source reference from a scientist who does not actively disagree with the theories.

2) You may not reference God, a designer, a creator, bible quotes, etc., in your short-form essays. You may not, in fact, write anything but that which a non-theist scientist would write on the subject. This is, again, to be written from our side’s point of view. You must prove that you actually understand what it is that you’re arguing against — and I mean, you must understand the actual topic, not merely what your religiously inclined information sources are willing to tell you about the topic.

3) All of the comments that you have made today that have gone unanswered will be put into Pending status and replaced temporarily with a short note from me saying so, until you comply with this demand. Any new comment you make that does not comply with this demand will likewise be set to Pending.

4) You have unlimited time to write these essays, and may make as many attempts as you wish. You also have the right to forfeit the contest and accept a permanent ban, at your discretion, should you decide that you cannot be bothered to actually learn what we understand about science today. If you choose to be banned, then the ban is permanent. If you’re ever caught posting here under a different name, or from a different IP, you will be banned and your comments deleted; avoiding this participating in these essays is identical, in my mind, to forfeiting and accepting a ban.

If you violate any of these rules, your comment will be edited to include big red X’s or some other appropriate marks indicating where you have messed up. Only comments that serve as entries for approval will show up from now on, excepting if you forfeit and accept a ban. If you’d like to ask for help, those might also be acceptable, and I will allow my readers to either attempt to help you or mock you as they see fit — this will probably have something to do with your tone when you ask, so remember you’re the one that’s on probation here.

You may cross-post any of these responses to your own blog, however any trash-talking of me, or of this challenge, may also (at my discretion) constitute forfeiting the challenge.

I will put any accepted entry up in its own post, and provide my readers with a poll that they can vote on, as to whether or not it proves that you have gained any level of understanding of the subject matter and are worth unbanning.

Good luck. And have a wonderful day.

44 comments

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  1. 1
    Dan J

    No way it will happen. ZDENNY is already convinced (and has been since early childhood, most likely) that all the answers to everything in the Universe eventually come down to God™. He will not entertain any idea that seems to threaten his closely held religious beliefs.

    “La la la, I can’t hear you!” is probably no even what’s going on in his head. His misplaced sense of superiority is what drives him. He thinks that his religion makes him “special”. I think so too, but probably not in the same way he does. It’s pathetic, really. Total waste of protoplasm. Well, not total. As I expressed elsewhere, he can always serve as a bad example.

  2. 2
    Mike Haubrich, FCD

    If you violate any of these rules, your comment will be edited to include big red X’s or some other appropriate marks indicating where you have messed up.

    Or you could drag out the disemvoweler.

  3. 3
    Jason Thibeault

    I like that.
    I vote for Mike’s solution.

  4. 4
    Jason Thibeault

    Haha, suddenly this is a democracy is it? All right, maybe. If he even tries this challenge at all.

  5. 5
    ZDENNY

    “First, explain the theory of evolution, relating specifically to speciation, how it has been observed, and give three examples of transitional fossils.

    Second, explain some things about neurochemistry and how it can be proven that altering neurochemistry can result in different moods, including love and hate; and how if this neurochemistry is compromised it can result in a person doing some very drastic, morally unreasonable things that they would otherwise never do.”

    Wow, I am very honored that you have committed a post with a challenge to consider. I never dreamed that you would entertain such an idea!!

    1. I think Dan gave a great insight on speciation and I would just pretty much repeat what he said. X (No, you have to use your own words. Plagiarism is very, very bad.) I already have noted my point of disagreement with it by quoting his recommended website that says that 99% of changes result in extinction. X (99% of species are extinct, yes, but how many were transitional rather than merely ill-adapted?) The transitional fossils that you refer to from speciation do not demonstrate macro-evolution X (There is no “macroevolution”. There is speciation. And I thought you said there are no transitional fossils. There are hundreds of them that we’ve discovered, and I want only three from you. Though, since you are failing already, I’m upping the ante — you have to explain how exactly we know them to be transitional as well.)so I don’t disagree with Dan’s analysis or his arguments for speciation proving micro-evolution. X (Again, learn what science says about evolution, not what your religious figures say.)
    2. The idea of neurochmeistry can affects moods has already been proven and I have not disagreed with the notion that emotions are based on neurochemistry. I have only argued that love in order to be real has to be unconditional which then goes beyond meurochemistry to participation in that which is eternal and unchanging. Love is not an emotion. X (Yeah… it is. But I’ll be lenient on you here. Work on the evolution one first. If you get that one right, I might change the criteria for #2.)

    I am not sure what the point of the exchange would be since Dan has already posted what you are asking for and I don’t disagree with neurochemistry based emotions. I don’t think you have understood my post if that is the case.

    Perhaps you have a couple other areas that you would like to debate on because I don’t see these areas as being beneficial since there is very little disagreement.

    My argument is that neurochemistry follows a process, pattern and form due to information informing the process that results in the form. Information being the most basic proves that a mind exists that has informed reality. X (Information in your sense does NOT suggest by necessity a mind. And a mind does not by necessity suggest an all-powerful deity.) An atheist believes that there is no information and no resulting form connected with that information which is very counterintuitive and would need to be defended. X (Wrong — we understand that DNA acts as “information” in your sense, but believe that it can arise naturally without some deity tinkering. Stop using strawmen.) I would be more interested in hearing how you believe that matter is not informed yet results in a form.

    X (You don’t get to negotiate what the topic is. However, if you succeed at topic 1, I will consider making you write out how information theory is not proof of God as topic 2. At my discretion.)

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    Nope. You don’t get to negotiate the terms. You don’t get to pick another topic to “debate”. You have to tell us what our side’s view is. You can’t just tell us what you THINK our side’s view is, you have to actually get our view correct (to a degree — I’m a little more flexible than you might think — you just have to avoid anything glaringly obviously wrong like “matter is informed by information which = God”. And by the way, you got a bunch of stuff wrong in here already. I’ll helpfully edit in some X’s so you know where you fail.

  7. 7
    ZDENNY

    You state that DNA is information and yet it is not information. I don’t understand your post. How can something both be and not be at the same time. I guess I need some clarity on this issue.

  8. 8
    ZDENNY

    I guess what is puzzling to me is you stating that information arises by itself. How can information arise by itself without a mind? I mean I don’t know of any examples in reality where you have form without information. I don’t know of any examples in reality where information is not dominate.

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    DNA is capable of creating amino acids and proteins which can, in turn, create structures. Since certain DNA sequences create certain amino acids and proteins, and these acids and proteins have affinities toward self-folding or self-replicating in a particular manner, it can create structures that, if they work, allow the creature to survive and pass on the genes involved to the next generation. That doesn’t mean someone coded it, because it is buggy as hell. And the “operating system” on which this code “runs” is merely chemistry, following normal chemistry rules which exist independent of life existing.

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

    I’m not doing any more homework for you, though. Use Google. Use Wikipedia as starting points (make sure to look at the articles that Wikipedia references, though — don’t just trust everything on Wikipedia since anyone can edit it). And remember, use your own words. You’re looking to prove that you understand the scientific position.

    And you don’t have to re-post the same question, nor re-word it. Your posts are going directly into moderation until I approve them.

  10. 10
    ZDENNY

    Jason said, “science says about evolution, not what your religious figures say.” I guess it depends on what scientist you are referring to… How can I find out what science says when there is so much disagreement about what science says. I find this to be a puzzling statement.

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    It’s called scientific consensus. Yes, some theist scientists will throw out whole tracts of science because they conflict with their learned dogmas. I consider those people to be religious figures. Yet, some theists like Ken Miller are fully capable of understanding evolution. Maybe if you quit equivocating and got busy researching, you’d understand it as well. Get to work! I’m not going to hand-hold you through figuring out what our positions are.

    Jeez. Some people’s kids. Afraid of a little independent research.

  12. 12
    ZDENNY

    Jason said, “DNA is capable of creating amino acids and proteins which can, in turn, create structures. Since certain DNA sequences create certain amino acids and proteins, and these acids and proteins have affinities toward self-folding or self-replicating in a particular manner, it can create structures that, if they work, allow the creature to survive and pass on the genes involved to the next generation. That doesn’t mean someone coded it, because it is buggy as hell. And the “operating system” on which this code “runs” is merely chemistry, following normal chemistry rules which exist independent of life existing.”

    I don’t disagree with your statement so I find this very puzzling that you don’t understand my argument. You advised that DNA is capable of creating….

    Now I find this to be a very odd statement. What is the basis for DNA being able to create? Can matter create in the same way that a mind can create? It just seems to me that in order for DNA to create, DNA would first have to have the capability to create. Capability would come from a design within the DNA that resulted in its ability to create amino acids. It really seems that you are saying that lifeless matter somehow organized itself to produce amino acids which is very strange concept indeed. How can lifeless matter organize itself?

    Your statements are very hard for me to understand and I guess I need some clarity.

  13. 13
    Jason Thibeault

    Nope, sorry, no more posts are getting out of moderation to provide you with more “clarity” until you do some independent research. Your interpretation of my explanation of DNA, which you called “very strange indeed” in the comment that I’m not letting out of moderation, is actually pretty bang on — but it’s up to you to figure out HOW it’s done.

    And the DNA thing isn’t even part of either of those two challenges. It does have a good deal to do with how we know evolution is a fact, though, so it won’t hurt you to keep researching it.

    Like I said, I’m not going to hand-hold you any more.

  14. 14
    ZDENNY

    How can I debate that which cannot be understood? If I understood what it is you wanted me to debate, then I could debate it; however, I first have to understand your terms. Since their is so much diversity amongst even Darwinians, I would have to find out your definitions first and then once our terms are defined be able to make arguments; however, I don’t really understand your particular terms and ideas so we would have to spend some time discussing that so that this could be nailed down. In addition, I would also know what to research since your particular view may be isolated to your own viewpoint…

  15. 15
    ZDENNY

    I consider myself to be a very open minded person who loves free debate and your web-site is suppose to be for free debate and free thinkers. I consider myself to be a free thinker par excellence. My website is not really geared for debate; however, I am thinking about starting another site, but it would be a lot of work and I am not sure I have the time for run a site of that magnitude; however, you do so you should allow free thinkers to debate and enjoy each other.

    In all honesty, I love intellectual pleasure and I get a thrill in just reading your responses. Those who truly enjoy intellectual pleasure are few, but there are a few of us out there.

  16. 16
    Jason Thibeault

    Okay, one more, just because I am anything but unreasonable.

    I don’t want you to debate. I only want you to explain to me why scientists generally agree that evolution is a fact. You don’t need to know what my specific viewpoint is, to meet this challenge. Just prove to me that you have a decent understanding of the concept, and not merely some caricature viewed through a religious prism (e.g. “Bible Goggles”). Anything that comes remotely close to fitting the criteria will be judged appropriately. And I’ll be giving everyone a chance to vote on whether or not you’ve fit all the criteria and what my personal objections (if any) might be, so I’m not smashing you by dictum.

    We’ll work on topic 2 later, once you’ve gotten topic 1 out of the way.

  17. 17
    ZDENNY

    That is the reason I came to your site because I enjoy intellectual thought and consider it a wonderful pleasure. I really consider you a friend who allows me a great joy in having an open discussion on matters of the day. Of course, I may have to find another web-site that is a little more open minded in order to engage in this type of activity.

    Just because you are an atheist doesn’t make you a monster. Even an atheist can give a theist such as myself great company. As I stated before, I would love to just sit around with Dawkins and talk with him even though I doubt very highly that I would convince him of too much other than the fact he has a big ego…lol, but it is fun. It certainly beats playing video games which I find to be super boring!

  18. 18
    Jason Thibeault

    Yeah, that’s not helping, Zdenny. Sucking up and calling me your friend isn’t helping. It’s a nice thought, but honestly, I’m fed up of the lack of thought you put into your posts, which is why I’ve built this challenge. If you can tell me what our side thinks about evolution, and neurochemistry, then I’ll let you post all you want and I’ll gladly rebut from now til eternity. Until you meet that challenge, this site is not a platform for your proselytization (which is tangibly different from your merely wanting to debate these topics, and the difference is enough to be grating).

  19. 19
    ZDENNY

    Here is Wiki says; however, I will admit that I find it strange that you want me to tell you what your view is. Very strange indeed… I guess Wiki would provide a general explanation that you may accept; however, the explanation provided does really break-down the process of evolution to explain the internal workings of variations due to natural selections; however, for your benefit, you may enjoy it if you need a reminder.

    “In biology, evolution is change in the genetic material of a population of organisms from one generation to the next. Though changes produced in any one generation are small, differences accumulate with each generation and can, over time, cause substantial changes in the population, a process that can culminate in the emergence of new species. Indeed, the similarities amongst species suggest that all known species are descended from a common ancestor (or ancestral gene pool) through this process of gradual divergence.

    The basis of evolution is the genes that are passed on from generation to generation; these produce an organism’s inherited traits. These traits vary within populations, with organisms showing heritable differences (variation) in their traits. Evolution itself is the product of two opposing forces: processes that constantly introduce variation, and processes that make variants either become more common or rare. New variation arises in two main ways: either from mutations in genes, or from the transfer of genes between populations and between species. In species that reproduce sexually, new combinations of genes are also produced by genetic recombination, which can increase variation between organisms.

    Two major mechanisms determine which variants will become more common or rare in a population. One is natural selection, a process that causes helpful traits (those that increase the chance of survival and reproduction) to become more common in a population and causes harmful traits to become more rare. This occurs because individuals with advantageous traits are more likely to reproduce, meaning that more individuals in the next generation will inherit these traits. Over many generations, adaptations occur through a combination of successive, small, random changes in traits, and natural selection of the variants best-suited for their environment. The other major mechanism driving evolution is genetic drift, an independent process that produces random changes in the frequency of traits in a population. Genetic drift results from the role that chance plays in whether a given trait will be passed on as individuals survive and reproduce.

    Evolutionary biologists document the fact that evolution occurs, and also develop and test theories that explain its causes. The study of evolutionary biology began in the mid-nineteenth century, when studies of the fossil record and the diversity of living organisms convinced most scientists that species changed over time. However, the mechanism driving these changes remained unclear until the theories of natural selection were independently discovered by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. Darwin’s landmark work On the Origin of Species of 1859 brought the new theories of evolution by natural selection to a wide audience. Darwin’s work soon led to overwhelming acceptance of evolution among scientists. In the 1930s, Darwinian natural selection was combined with Mendelian inheritance to form the modern evolutionary synthesis, which connected the units of evolution (genes) and the mechanism of evolution (natural selection). This powerful explanatory and predictive theory directs research by constantly raising new questions, and it has become the central organizing principle of modern biology, providing a unifying explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.”

  20. 20
    Jason Thibeault

    Pasting me what Wikipedia says, does not constitute “using your own words”. Please do keep trying.

  21. 21
    ZDENNY

    You will not provide your view on evolution and you won’t accept Wiki view on evolution. I am not sure how else I can state your view or the view that you think is the general consensus amongst secular scientist.

    I have been through several biology classes with numerous professors who were atheist. I just have not found their arguments very persuasive. However, you are not asking for my thoughts about their view. You are asking if I understand evolution which can only be done by restating a viewpoint made by someone who actually believes it.

    In a debate, the first thing you should do is define the terms. Once the terms are defined, then you can debate the validity of it; however, you are not agreeing to terms and you are also not agreeing to a definition so it is very difficult for me to understand what it is that you are asking for.

    If you could provide some clarity, then I could proceed with understanding what it is that you are asking for.

  22. 22
    Jason Thibeault

    Yes, I’m being intentionally vague in defining exactly what I want you to write, because you have a ton of leeway. Just write 500 words about evolution, from the point of view of a scientist that accepts it, and write it in your own words, so I can tell it’s actually you that wrote it rather than copying and pasting from secondary sources. This does not mean you have to personally accept it — it’s an exercise to see if you’re capable of understanding the evidence used to prove evolution as a fact and the theory of evolution as correct. My reasoning is if I can get you to produce something that shows some independent research, then you’re redeemable as a participant in this conversation. So far, by niggling over details and equivocating over definitions, you’re avoiding the task at hand and wasting both our time.

  23. 23
    ZDENNY

    Jason, here is what one evolutionists by the name of Lewontin thought made evolution a fact rather than a theory. I find it interesting that he makes bold assertions without appealing to any repeatable experimentation that is necessary in order to make it a fact.

    “It is a fact that the earth with liquid water, is more than 3.6 billion years old. It is a fact that cellular life has been around for at least half of that period and that organized multicellular life is at least 800 million years old. It is a fact that major life forms now on earth were not at all represented in the past. There were no birds or mammals 250 million years ago. It is a fact that major life forms of the past are no longer living. There used to be dinosaurs and Pithecanthropus, and there are none now. It is a fact that all living forms come from previous living forms. Therefore, all present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different. Birds arose from nonbirds and humans from nonhumans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts any more than she or he can deny that the earth is round, rotates on its axis, and revolves around the sun.”

    A second argument is made by evolutionist Neil Campbell, he says,
    “Today, nearly all biologists acknowledge that evolution is a fact.” which in his mind makes it a fact due to popular appeal.

    The fact that one makes assertions and the other make an appeal to popularity are not very convincing to me. In both cases, neither of them point to any data that can be observed in the present and repeated by other scientist to confirm.

  24. 24
    ZDENNY

    Here is how Evolutionists H.J. Muller describes evolution as a fact…

    “Evolution is a fact in the sense of it being overwhelmingly validated by the evidence. Frequently evolution is said to be a fact in the same way as the Earth revolving around the Sun is a fact. The following quotation from H. J. Muller, “One Hundred Years Without Darwin Are Enough” explains the point.

    There is no sharp line between speculation, hypothesis, theory, principle, and fact, but only a difference along a sliding scale, in the degree of probability of the idea. When we say a thing is a fact, then, we only mean that its probability is an extremely high one: so high that we are not bothered by doubt about it and are ready to act accordingly. Now in this use of the term fact, the only proper one, evolution is a fact”

    I’ll have to admit that this stuff is rich!

  25. 25
    ZDENNY

    Here is how the National Academy of Science (U.S.) decided that evolution was a fact:

    Scientists most often use the word “fact” to describe an observation. But scientists can also use fact to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence is so strong.

    I wonder what scientist they are referring to; however, this is their definition for evolution being a fact which seems to article the same belief as the other three I have presented to you.

  26. 26
    ZDENNY

    Here is another argument for Evolution being a fact used by evolutionist. Believe it or not, it is the same argument I use for the existence of God, but here you go…. You have to admit that it is a little strange that you will accept secondary evidence for evolution; however, you won’t accept secondary evidence for God’s existence. The one difference between the two is that all parts of evolution are observable; whereas, with God all parts are not observable since the mind of God is too infinite for us to see it. Here you go though…

    The terms “fact” and “theory” can be applied to evolution, just as they are to gravity. There have been many theories that attempt to explain the fact of gravity. That is, scientists ask what gravity is, and what causes it. They develop a model to explain gravity, a theory of gravity. Many explanations of gravity that qualify as a Theory of Gravity have been proposed over the centuries: Aristotle’s, Galileo’s, Newton’s, and now Einstein’s. Confusion of the terms can arise when we use a single word to describe both the observed facts and the theory that explains it. The word ‘’gravity’’ can be used to refer to the observed facts (i.e., the observed attraction of masses) and the theory used to explain it (i.e., the reason why masses attract each other). Thus, gravity is both a “theory” and a “fact.”

  27. 27
    Jason Thibeault

    There are yet more comments I’m not letting out of moderation because a) they miss the point of the exercise, and b) he isn’t actually adding any substance himself. Zdenny has quoted three different sources that assert that evolution is a fact, but none of them are salient, because they are mere assertions. Some examples:

    Richard Lewontin:
    “It is a fact that the earth with liquid water, is more than 3.6 billion years old. It is a fact that cellular life has been around for at least half of that period and that organized multicellular life is at least 800 million years old. It is a fact that major life forms now on earth were not at all represented in the past. There were no birds or mammals 250 million years ago. It is a fact that major life forms of the past are no longer living. There used to be dinosaurs and Pithecanthropus, and there are none now. It is a fact that all living forms come from previous living forms. Therefore, all present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different. Birds arose from nonbirds and humans from nonhumans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts any more than she or he can deny that the earth is round, rotates on its axis, and revolves around the sun.”

    Neil Campbell:
    “Today, nearly all biologists acknowledge that evolution is a fact.”

    Campbell’s is an Argument to Popularity which is a fallacy, however it has some use in identifying whether there is legitimate controversy within scientific circles about the theory.

    By themselves, simple assertions that evolution is a fact are as useless as simple assertions that the Bible’s contents are inspired by God — taken by themselves, you don’t have any evidence to back them up, and thus the claim is useless. Taken with the evidence, however, it’s a different story. You see, saying over and over that evolution happened is one thing, but you actually have to point to the various instances of evolution that are happening today, along with the indescribably large fossil record, along with genome comparison studies, along with chemistry, along with everything we know about DNA, in order to get even the least inkling as to WHY it’s considered fact.

    I’m guessing your google searches are for “evolution fact”. Try “evolution evidence” instead. That way you can find out WHY we agree it’s a fact.

    (Pro tip: avoid sites like answersingenesis.com and allaboutcreation.com, since the exercise involves you looking for science’s point of view. You’ll get nothing but creationist bias.)

    And if you’re still confused as to the point of this exercise, I do not merely want you to find a primary source and quote him/her back to me. That would be far too easy. No, this is HOMEWORK. In almost the literal sense. I want five hundred of YOUR OWN WORDS, explaining what you understand to be the scientific position on evolution, and how we know three transitional fossils to be both transitional and important.. Write me a short-form essay, using only the guidelines I have set forth above, and you have all the leeway in the world to make your essay fit, as long as it does not violate any of the rules. Trust me, a high school student could pull one of these out of his butt in the 15 minute recess before class. To give you a sense as to how many words I’m looking for from you, the original post is about 800.

    Oh, and I’m going to let this post of yours slide, for now, because it is apparent that you still fundamentally misunderstand the challenge.

    Keep trying though!

  28. 28
    ZDENNY

    Here are some transitional fossils named by evolutionists that you were referring to which you can link to:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional/part1a.html#fish

    I think it is important to note that the concept of transitional fossils cannot be proven. It is believed based on degrees of probability. I know this is an old debate between Evolutionist, Progressives and Creationist. Evolutionists point to a transitional fossil and Creationist will say micro-evolution or they will argue that it is a different species with its own traits.

    Who really knows who right when it comes to transitional fossils. It is not conclusive in either direction because of both the uncertainty of the dating methods as well as the thousands of gaps that exists in the record.

    I don’t find this argument convincing for either side as it will always remain in history and depend on degrees of probability with no concurring testimony from witnesses who saw these transitions in the past.

  29. 29
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh, and the reason I was tempted to make your new blog post an automatic forfeit, is that you totally misunderstand why I have challenged you, as well as what the challenge is in and of itself. I don’t care if you never “convert” to atheism. Atheism is not something that you can “witness” to someone, because it is a lack of belief, not a positive belief. It is something you have to come to yourself after looking at all the evidence and employing rationality. So your quote, that I am annoyed that you haven’t yet “converted”, is not only false, but slightly insulting.

    If you want to know why I’m annoyed, it’s because you do not understand our positions and constantly attack caricatures of them, repeating arguments that were old ten years ago, over and over again. Look, if it’s on talkorigins.org, that’s because we’ve been over it a million times. This conversation isn’t new to you and I. It’s been around as long as humans have believed in invisible, all-powerful beings.

  30. 30
    Dan J

    For ZDENNY, here’s a podcast from Scientific American, called Phrasing a Coyne: Jerry Coyne on Why Evolution Is True. A transcript of the podcast is also on that page. It might give you some insight into biologist Jerry Coyne’s reason’s for writing his book, “Why Evolution is True“.

    Something that Jerry said near the beginning of that interview also strikes home regarding this discussion:

    “But you know, it’s sort of understandable if people have religious predilection that’s really, really strong, not to believe in it, then they are not going to you know how much evidence they see.”

    Some people (I think ZDENNY falls into this category) will never understand (or concede) that evolution is a fact. These people cannot separate themselves from their religious dogma. Their religion is their life. It actually very sad. I’m certain that ZDENNY is a very intelligent person. I’m pretty sure he’s actually a nice guy, too. I’m also certain that without a very traumatic experience in his life where his religion completely fails to meet his needs, he will continue to hold those beliefs as the major focus of his life.

  31. 31
    Jason Thibeault

    I’m certain that ZDENNY is a very intelligent person. I’m pretty sure he’s actually a nice guy, too.

    And that’s why I’m having a hard time being such a cold-hearted bastard as to shut him down and assign him homework in such a way that he’s actually forced to do it. If he wants the carrot of free speech on my personal blog, he’ll have to take the stick of being forced to write an essay to earn that privilege.

  32. 32
    ZDENNY

    You asked for a 500 word essay which is on my blog silly! You didn’t tell me the format it had to take.

    God Bless,

  33. 33
    Jason Thibeault

    99% of which is quotes from other sources, proclaiming how irrational I am or my viewpoints are, or delivering a religiously indoctrinated person’s understanding of the “debate” at large. I don’t want you to debate me on the validity of evolution. I want you to write 500 of YOUR OWN WORDS, explaining to me as though I was a disinterested third party, what exactly science has discovered with regard to evolution, WITHOUT mischaracterizing or miscasting any of the facts in question, and WITHOUT opinionating.

    If that blog post is your best effort, you’ve failed so utterly that I’d have to give you an F- and write “see me after class” across the top.

  34. 34
    ZDENNY

    I think Dan had a good website to consider. Here is the line of evidence that Dan’s website presented.

    These lines of evidence include:

    Fossil evidence
    Homologies
    Distribution in time and space
    Evidence by example

    I will continue to work on this tomorrow for you since it is late. I really believe we are onto something here!

    My daughter Kara is very sick! I have had to feed her through a tube for the past four days. I know that you think it is wrong for me to pray for my child, but I do! She hasn’t eaten in the past four days and now she is unable to sleep.

    I am signing off until tomorrow, but thanks for the great discussion! I really enjoy the mental stimulation…

  35. 35
    Jason Thibeault

    I’m more than slightly disturbed that you have to point out that Kara’s sick — I did read your blog, and I sympathize with her getting hand, foot and mouth disease, but I kind of assumed you were only posting here because things were well in hand. No matter what else, you need to put taking care of your kid first, and arguing with people on the internet at a distant, DISTANT second.

    If this means you have to do nothing but take care of her until she’s better, do that. This thread and my site will be around until then. Proselytizing to the heathens is a fool’s errand compared to preserving your daughter’s health.

  36. 36
    Dan J

    I don’t think it’s possible for ZDENNY to meet the criteria. Anything that we would accept regarding the scientific validity of evolution goes against his preconceived religious dogma. He can’t bring himself to give any credence to anything that does that. His religion trumps any scientific evidence (in his world, at least). He can’t give those facts without mis-characterizing them. He can’t give information from scientific publications without cherry-picking the bits of information that will somehow support his written-in-stone position on evolution.

    For him, it would be akin to lying. Remember, ZDENNY doesn’t think that the Theory of Evolution is wrong. He knows that it is wrong. He has no scientific evidence to refute the Theory of Evolution, but that doesn’t matter. In his mind, nothing in the Universe can go against what he believes is the truth of God™

    His ideas are total rubbish to those of us who have at least a rudimentary knowledge of science and the scientific method. It doesn’t matter to him though. Anything but his way is seen as a conspiracy to get rid of religion.

    His constant claims about specific failings of science when it comes to evolution have been answered and refuted time and time again. It doesn’t matter. His mind is closed to anything other than a biblical interpretation.

    I see it as a totally hopeless cause. ZDENNY’s mind is locked into a biblical interpretation of reality. The only thing that will unlock it is, in my opinion, a traumatic event in his life that shows him in a very concrete way that his religion is meaningless. He needs a “shock to the system”, as it were.

  37. 37
    Mike Haubrich, FCD

    One of the reasons that I don’t generally like “creatiomist/evolutionist” debates is that the parties generally speak from their own viewpoints. Challenging debate is when the parties study the subjects ahead of time not knowing which side they will be arguing. I would like to see zDenny make the case as if he were trying to convince someone that evolution is correct. There would be a good challenge.

    While it may or may not provide a “Shock to the System” it will help you understand the subject well enough that you don’t appear so foolish in the future.

    And, I hope your daughter recovers well, zDenny!

  38. 38
    Dan J

    My daughter Kara is very sick! I have had to feed her through a tube for the past four days. I know that you think it is wrong for me to pray for my child, but I do! She hasn’t eaten in the past four days and now she is unable to sleep.

    I have two daughters of my own, so I know how it feels when one of your children is ill. No, I certainly don’t think it is wrong for you to pray for your child. If that were the only thing you were doing, I would take issue with it. My best wishes to you and to Kara. I hope she is well soon.

  39. 39
    DuWayne

    And here I was, just about ready to start calling you Job…

  40. 40
    Jason Thibeault

    I would like to see zDenny make the case as if he were trying to convince someone that evolution is correct. There would be a good challenge.

    Mike: that was exactly what I was hoping to coerce him to do, in fact. I don’t know that he quite understands it — he evidently still believes I have challenged him to a debate, which is orthogonal to what I have asked of him.

    DuWayne: who, me? For subjecting myself to week after week of torment in the name of my cause?

  41. 41
    Dan J

    I give up. It’s impossible. He wants to redefine everything. He wants a definition of “design” that is meaningless. He wants his own definition of “atheist”, and it seems that according to him, I’m not an atheist, but an agnostic. Had he read one of my blog posts in particular, I don’t think he’d say I was “agnostic”. The amount of projection is astounding! ZDENNY really, honestly believes that his logic is flawless, and anyone rejecting it is doing so on emotional grounds. If you’re truly open-minded, then you can’t help but accept his logic that prooves the existence of God™.

    I really find it difficult to believe that ZDENNY is that conceited. I know everyone has an ego, but that large? To have the chutzpa to believe that anyone who is truly logical and open minded who reads his logical proof will conclude that God™ exists… I’m astounded. He really thinks he has come up with some new proof that is irrefutable on logical grounds. I truly feel sad for him. I had hopes for him, but now I honestly feel that he is delusional, and should seek professional psychiatric help. (And no, that doesn’t mean the local pastor, or the church psychologist, etc.)

  42. 42
    Jason Thibeault

    The sad part about his irrefutable proof on logical grounds is not that it is not actually new or novel (everything he’s argued can be found on talkorigins.org or in any anti-atheist book on the market today), but rather that he seems incapable of putting together a logical argument to begin with. He demands that you must accept premises that we atheists would never accept, and presents none of the evidence he claims supports the premise to begin with. It’s just sad — there’s a glimmer of intellect there, but he’s so far gone, I wouldn’t know where to begin to deprogram him.

    He hasn’t made any further attempts, by the way, at this challenge, despite having time to post at his own blog. Hopefully one day he’ll realize that I’m not asking him to debate, or quote scientists at me, but that I truly just wanted him to try to argue the other side of his position for once. You know, to take the devil’s advocate position, so to speak. I’ve done it with trying to argue for God, and I’ve gained a great deal of understanding of the circular logic needed to support it. It’s a shame he doesn’t try the other side to see just how evidence-based and logical it all really is. It’s also a shame he hasn’t actually subscribed to this thread, so he was refreshing it manually, and now that he realizes he no longer has a free platform here, he’s moved on and will likely never return. I will leave the challenge open but I have my doubts anything new will come of this thread.

    This is a rather unsatisfying end to this episode. But life is like that, isn’t it?

  43. 43
    Jason Thibeault

    As you can see, I’ve restored Zdenny’s posts in the above thread in order to prove a point regarding his dishonesty.

    I have seven more of his comments in moderation, waiting to be released, to four other threads; all he has to do is give me 500 of his own words. Maybe if I keep saying “his own words” over and over he’ll finally get that I don’t want him to copy-pasta crap.

  44. 44
    Dan J

    Heck, even when I get stuff from Wikipedia to post, I always reword it so it sounds like I wrote it.

  1. 45
    Lousy Canuck » “Pray away the gay” is NOT the way to play

    [...] keeps forgetting he still owes me two 500-word essays before I’ll give him commenting rights back, and keeps commenting regardless. And yet, now [...]

  2. 46
    Lousy Canuck » Zdenny’s Greatest Misses

    [...] has 22 comments in a holding pattern at the moment, and I continue to anxiously await any sort of reasonable attempt at re-earning his commenting privilege — though I’m [...]

  3. 47
    How I miss Z-Denny! « Misplaced Grace

    [...] I was feeling unmotivated today, I got curious about Z-Denny, a fantastic little troll who always seemed to frequent the same blogs as me.  So I googled him.  [...]

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