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Aug 29 2011

Ham is rich in irony

The LA Times did a story on those wacky Catholic geocentrists who read the Bible and insist that, by a literal interpretation of the words therein, the earth must be at the center of the universe, with everything else rotating about it. They quote verses and everything, so actually, in a very literal sense, they’re right that the Bible does imply a very strange folk physics. But the story had to go further, and got a quote from…Ken Ham.

Ken Ham.

I guess it’s kind of appropriate. You’re doing a story about goofy literalist lunatics, and he is one of the biggest. But still, it seems like there ought to be some recognition that one is digging into a dunghill for weird quotes when you pick up the phone and call Answers in Genesis.

“There’s a big difference between looking at the origin of the planets, the solar system and the universe and looking at presently how they move and how they are interrelated,” Ham said. “The Bible is neither geocentric or heliocentric. It does not give any specific information about the structure of the solar system.”

Ham is usually adamant that one must interpret the Bible literally, word by word, but I guess this is a case that shows he’s actually one of those cafeteria Christians.

If he’s going to bend on this, though, I have to point out that the chapters of Genesis that he relies on for his insistence on a young earth are very brief, contain no detail and vast amounts of ambiguity, and that the Bible is also silent on how species are structured and interrelated. If he insists on using it as a science text to discuss biology, a topic that is not at all emphasized or even properly described in the book, I don’t think he can complain at another fringe religious group that decides to use it as an astronomy textbook — they’re both doing exactly the same thing.

(Also on Sb)

80 comments

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  1. 1
    Glen Davidson

    “The Bible is neither geocentric or heliocentric. It does not give any specific information about the structure of the solar system.”

    He does have a point. The Bible, at least in Genesis, has more of a flat-earth cosmology informing it, with waters under the earth and over it as well.

    If he really did care about Genesis as the word of God he’d be concerned about NASA accidentally “opening the windows of heaven” and causing another Flood.

    I guess he just doesn’t really care about God’s Word…

    Glen Davidson

  2. 2
    David Gerard

    The bible is very detailed in biology! Rabbits chew a cud and locusts, crickets and grasshoppers have four legs. DEFY THIS DATA AND BE CONDEMNED TO HELL FIRE.

  3. 3
    lordshipmayhem

    How innumerate do you have to be to believe in a geocentric universe, when we’ve sent probes to other planets using the mathematics of Kepler?

  4. 4
    Zeno

    How nice of Ham to refrain from the favorite fundamentalist claim that Catholics aren’t really Christian anyway. Was he just being polite or does he actually think that there are many mansions in His Father’s loony bin? (I suspect he was just happy to have the LA Times treat him as the comparative voice of reason. He mustn’t get a lot of that.)

  5. 5
    Molly Rene

    The cogitative dissonance required to make that argument makes my brain hurt.

  6. 6
    kantalope

    “THOSE religious fanatics are interpreting the bible incorrectly,” says religious fanatic.

    and I think that having the moon give off its own light rather than the reflected stuff from the sun would cause some fancy explainin.

  7. 7
    puppygod

    Well, he’s right. Since there are no privileged frames of reference, so Earth might be centre of universe. Just like any arbitrarily selected point in space.

    Doing maths on orbital motion might be tricky, but is possible.

  8. 8
    raven

    How innumerate do you have to be to believe in a geocentric universe, when we’ve sent probes to other planets using the mathematics of Kepler?

    Silly question.

    As illiterate as those who believe the earth is 6,000 years old and Noah had a boatload full of dinosaurs.

    As illiterate as those who believe that evolution hasn’t and isn’t happening.

    By the way, 20% of the US population, 60 million people are Geocentrists and couldn’t diagram the solar system if they had too, a task I learned in the first grade.

  9. 9
    Kieran

    Wait the bible isn’t literal truth! I better stop this goat breeding excerise according to Genesis 30:37-39 because it just doesn’t seem to produce striped goats no matter what I do.

  10. 10
    Iris Vander Pluym

    cafeteria Christians.

    I’ve never met a Christian, or a Christianity, that wasn’t. Ham, the geocentrists and the flat-earthers are no exception.

  11. 11
    Lynn Wilhelm

    Old Hambo has had some interesting responses to the Bible as Cosmological text.
    The Sensuous Curmudgeon has some good posts on a literal reading of the bible and here’s one on Ken Ham: http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/aig-and-the-pillars-of-the-earth/

  12. 12
    Sneak

    @9 – come on, maternal impressions are the cutting edge in developmental biology.

  13. 13
    raven

    I better stop this goat breeding excerise according to Genesis 30:37-39 because it just doesn’t seem to produce striped goats no matter what I do.

    Oh. Have you considered stoning them to death? That seems to be the all purpose solution for anything in the bible.

  14. 14
    'smee

    Where are all these cafeteria christians I keep hearing about?

    I’ve been to lots of cafeterias, and never once has christians been on the menu!

  15. 15
    Janice in Toronto

    ‘smee #14

    You have to look under the jews, hindus and moslems.

    They keep the christians at the bottom of the stack for freshness.

  16. 16
    Waffler, of the Waffler Institute

    Insert joke here about ‘cafeteria ham’. It’s too early for me to think of one.

  17. 17
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Every time I read about fundogelicals arguing over who’s interpretation of the infallible word of god(s) is the correct interpretation right now, all that comes to mind is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. And arguing over how many chairs should be on each deck.

    So Ham thinks the bible is absolutely literal. Except when it isn’t. Doesn’t he know that the bible hates those who are lukewarm. C’mon, Ham, you gotta believe it all and accept it all as literal. You know, pi=3, bats are birds, and all that shit.

  18. 18
    David Marshall

    Have your fun. People who persist in saying stupid things deserve to be ridiculed — though adult Americans did better on one international science test than anyone but Swedes, and a lot better than most. (See “Why Americans are Scientifically Precocious.”)

    But Kepler himself, of course, was a mystical, biblically-literate “creationist.” Both times science arose, in ancient Greece and in late Medieval Europe, theists with a strong concept of creation were mostly the catalysts, while materialists were sparser on the ground. (Just last night I posted a blog, in response to otherwise educated atheists who buy into junk history, just as Ham buys into junk science, “Should We Credit the Enlightenment for Science?”)

    Allan Chapman, Oxford historian of science, points out, in an article he recently sent me, that 19th Century English geology was largely a hobby of Anglican parsons, who were even more enthusiastic about dinosaurs than Ken Ham apparently is, and dated them better. He sees Young Earth Creation as a silly, reactionary American phenomena, and is able to recognize the forest for the ginko trees.

    But selective harvesting of top-heavy trees with rotten root systems helps the forest, so saw away.

  19. 19
    puppygod

    Have your fun. People who persist in saying stupid things deserve to be ridiculed — though adult Americans did better on one international science test than anyone but Swedes, and a lot better than most. (See “Why Americans are Scientifically Precocious.”)

    Tee-hee. My initial reaction was “cite or it didn’t happened”, so I decided to check it up. It’s from online survey. /snicker/

    So, yeah.

  20. 20
    Waffler, of the Waffler Institute

    Both times science arose, in ancient Greece and in late Medieval Europe, theists with a strong concept of creation were mostly the catalysts, while materialists were sparser on the ground.

    In Medieval Europe, materialists were sparser on the ground because being one could put you underneath it.

  21. 21
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    David Marshall:

    (Just last night I posted a blog, in response to otherwise educated atheists who buy into junk history, just as Ham buys into junk science, “Should We Credit the Enlightenment for Science?”)

    The roots of science go all the way back to Greece. Much of that was based on the skeptic tradition. Claiming belief in God as a major influence on the development of science is a little disingenuous.

    Many scientists were religious. Many involved themselves in the scientific quest for understanding for exactly the same reasons they believed in God: they were on an earnest quest for knowledge. At the time, there was little reason to assume a distinction between the search for objective truth, and the search for “spiritual” truth. They were the same thing.

    While they may have investigated reality in a quest to better understand God or God’s creation, the method they employed was an approximation of what would be known as the scientific method. They did this because it was effective. So, while their motive may have been religious, their process was most definitely mundane.

    The reason the Enlightenment is credited with the creation of modern science is simply because our understanding of science (both the epistemology and the formalized process) began there, with Spinoza. By separating out that which was useful (the mundane) from that which was not (the supernatural), Spinoza and his intellectual heirs refined not only the scientific method, but our understanding of why the scientific method works. It removed much of the intuition, or at least provided a framework in which intuition could be alloyed with process.

    Basically, the Enlightenment is credited for the creation of modern science because it removed God from the equation, and set science firmly in the philosophical realm of objective reality.

    And this is the reason so many apologists hate the Enlightenment.

    While men may believe in God and perform good science, good science does not employ God.

  22. 22
    sqlrob

    @puppygod

    Can you make the argument that no frames are privileged? What happens when you get one that requires a velocity greater than c to hold?

  23. 23
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    David:

    But Kepler himself, of course, was a mystical, biblically-literate “creationist.”

    So? Who the fuck cares?

  24. 24
    Carlie

    But Kepler himself, of course, was a mystical, biblically-literate “creationist.”

    Kepler wasn’t a biologist.

  25. 25
    Waffler, of the Waffler Institute

    @DM

    So, what exactly is your point? Here’s my guesses:

    1 – There are atheists who are ignorant of the history of science (so there). If this is is it, so what? Who cares? I doubt most of the regular posters on Pharyngula are going to claim that science emerged, fully fledged, during the 18th century, with contributions only strict materialists. So who are you arguing with?

    2 – That creationists contributed more to the development of science that atheists did, therefore creationism is true. Genetic fallacy, so irrelevant.

    3 – I’m going to make vague disparaging remarks about atheism in the vain hope that somebody will come read my blog. This could work, but we’ll only come to laugh.

  26. 26
    Allen L.

    Most educated Europeans were biblically literate, so what? Kepler wasn’t fixated on the literal interpretation of the babble. He was able to change based on The evidence. Hambone can’t make the intellectual leap.

  27. 27
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Yawn, DBM is being his usual idjit self. If he thinks we who post here regularly haven’t read about the history of science he is sadly mistaken. And the one obvious thing, which he will refuse to acknowledge, is that science didn’t really take off until it kicked off the shackles of religion and religious thinking. Once it gave up the need for an imaginary deity, and concept that the babble is anything other than mythology/fiction, boom, things happened in a hurry.

    It doesn’t matter what individual scientists do or say on a subject outside of science. Their opinions can wrong, like everybody elses, including DBM’s.

  28. 28
    Felix

    The only science Ham thinks he needs to deny is biological evolution. This discipline squarely states that there was no first human couple. Therefore Jesus was wrong when he stated that he was a direct descendant of those two people (actually the male, who cares about them females anyway). Creationists will always (except for the rare Kurt Wise) gloss over the fact that they’re just as much at odds with geology, astronomy and physics. They deny the validity of radiometric dating, but the few creationists who actually understand that there’s more to it than having a resin-covered T-Rex bone dated for carbon-14 don’t tell the ignorant flock that they’re lying.
    So the average creationist will happily derp along, thinking he understands what science is and how much he agrees with all of it except that evilution conspiracy.
    These ignoramuses are the people Ken Ham talks to when he chimes in on science. He needs to keep hold of the facade of being scientifically literate. Commenting on science issues and “those Catholic crackpots” is enough to fool creatards. Why would he need to improve his game when his customers/audience can’t tell a Nature article from a Creation Today article (or whatever their favorite magazine is called), in terms of scientific merit?

  29. 29
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Allen L.:

    Kepler wasn’t fixated on the literal interpretation of the babble. He was able to change based on The evidence.

    And that’s the hallmark of a rationalist: someone who is willing to change their understanding of reality based on the evidence presented by reality.

    Also, there’s the ability to distinguish good evidence from rubbish, and solid thinking from disjointed rationalization. That helps, too.

    Kepler may have been a mystical, biblically-literate “creationist,” but it was his rationalism that allowed him to learn about the mechanics of the universe. He discovered the mathematical model of planetary motion in spite of his religious belief, not because of his religious belief.

    And that’s a conclusion even the most earnest apologists, like David Marshall, can’t avoid. In this case, their arguments work against them, not for them.

  30. 30
    AlanMac

    @David Marshall # 18

    So what? Everybody was a “creationist” until the Enlightenment. And almost all natural historians (scientists) were gentlemen of leisure. That would definitely include Anglican parsons who were primarily “second sons” of wealthy families who wouldn’t inherit the family titles but needed a respectable vocation. However, James Hutton was not a parson, but a Scottish businessman and gentleman farmer.
    Since one of the central themes of both the British and Continental Enlightenment is the rejection of authority and dogma, I think it is a bit disingenuous to claim it resulted from the efforts of pious creationists.

  31. 31
    EvoMonkey

    Wow, is that a Pharyngula first? A quote from Ken Ham that wasn’t posted in Comic Sans.

    I know it’s because the quote is from the LA Times. But still, a delusional lunatic with moments of lucidity. How does that Hamster brain work?

  32. 32
    Anteprepro

    Wow, David Marshall. Presenting Kepler as a “creationist”? When he died a full 180 years before Darwin was even born? You do realize that calling someone a “creationist” is only relevant if there was an alternative to it on the table at the time, right? Or do you not care about being blatantly dishonest?

  33. 33
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    OMG, some scientists believe in gods! We must throw all science out as being purely religious faith now *throw!*

    Oh wait, never mind. Just cause [insert so-and-so] was religious doesn’t mean their ideas are wrong. Newton was an alchemist and believed in some pretty weird shit – but he was (mostly) right with gravity! Einstein may have been a deist, but he was even more right. Ken Miller is a theological evolutionist, but he can trounce a bad creationist argument better than most.

  34. 34
    shawnthesheep

    From what I’ve read, the reason Anglican parsons were so interested in science is that they were rich intellectuals with a lot of time on their hands and not a lot to do. So they focused their attention on archaeology, astronomy, biology and various other scientific disciplines. To say their religious beliefs were in any way responsible for their scientific accomplishments is pure conjecture.

  35. 35
    myeck waters

    Nerd of Redhead #27

    It doesn’t matter what individual scientists do or say on a subject outside of science. Their opinions can wrong, like everybody elses, including DBM’s.

    True, but ordinary scientists’ opinions aren’t wrong with the almost mathematical uniformity that DBM’s opinions manage.

  36. 36
    PZ Myers

    It’s supposed to be in Comic Sans. There’s a bug in the CSS I have to fix.

  37. 37
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    True, but ordinary scientists’ opinions aren’t wrong with the almost mathematical uniformity that DBM’s opinions manage.

    Point conceded.

  38. 38
    Mellow Mattoid

    Now I’m curious.
    Please, DBM, tell us all about why we haven’t given alchemy a fair shake.
    After all, Newton believed it and we all know how smrt and god-soaked he was.

  39. 39
    David Marshall

    Porcupine Trainer: Spinoza deserves a lot of respect, but it is anachronistic to identify him too closely with the Enlightenment. Nor was he the origin of modern science, much as skeptics might like to think he was. This was a plant that had taken root, and been growing, for centuries.

    Kepler did not discover his laws “in spite of” his strong faith, but because of it. In fact, he went into science precisely out of his Christian faith, for apologetic purposes, hard as that may be for you to swallow. Reason and mathematics were, of course, part of that faith, and had been developed as such for centuries by Medieval thinkers.

    As for the ancient Greeks, from Richard Carrier, one of PZ’s favorite historians:

    “Most intellectual polytheists believed in a Creator who had intelligently ordered the cosmos, that this order could be discovered by the human mind, and that such discovery honored God. Scientists like Galen and Ptolemy were thus motivated to pursue scientific inquiry by their religious piety, exactly as Stark claims Christians were, and for exactly the same reasons.”

    I think most of the “earnest apologists” are on your side. Most of the fun (and facts) are on ours, which is what seems to bother some people.

  40. 40
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @David Marshall:

    It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter.

    One’s belief in a higher power is as irrelevant to actual science as one’s preference for white or dark meat at Thanksgiving! If the science is solid and factual and can be reproduced, argued for or against, and stands up under experimentation and scrutiny, it just doesn’t matter what they believe.

  41. 41
    Mellow Mattoid

    DBM,

    Carrier is merely pointing out that Galen and Ptolemy believed in gawds (and not the one you slaver over). He’s not saying they were right.

    Nice use of the appeal to authority there, as well. Hear that P?
    This guy said that! Therefore, JESUS!

  42. 42
    David Marshall

    Alan: My points should be obvious. This is a thread dedicated to encouraging skeptics to laugh at the ignorance and stupidity of Young Earth Creationists. I believe in the aphorism, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you.” So I’m laughing at Ham, too, and also at skeptics who, in their eagerness to conflate science and skepticism, make similarly bone-headed errors about the history of science. It’s a kind of “Ham on Wry” sandwich.

    The serious point is that flaky science and theism cannot fairly be conflated, and that if you look at the big picture, Christianity has more often been a positive influence on the development of human thought.

  43. 43
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    My points should be ob[li]vious.

    Fixed that for you, describing what your inare points are. For example

    Christianity has more often been a positive influence on the development of human thought.

    Utter and total drivel. You need to take a break from interrupting the talk of your betters. Buzz off.

  44. 44
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    David Marshall:

    This was a plant that had taken root, and been growing, for centuries.

    Absolutely! I believe I mentioned we can trace the roots back to Greece, well before Christianity. The roots had been growing a long, long time.

    What Spinoza did was separate that which mattered in discovery, from that which did not. He demonstrated quite well that the heart of discovery is not spiritual, but rooted firmly in objectivity. He showed that spirituality is not a part of that process.

    Kepler did not discover his laws “in spite of” his strong faith, but because of it. In fact, he went into science precisely out of his Christian faith, for apologetic purposes, hard as that may be for you to swallow. Reason and mathematics were, of course, part of that faith, and had been developed as such for centuries by Medieval thinkers.

    I acknowledged his motive may have been based on his faith, did I not? I’m not contesting that point.

    Your challenge isn’t to show his motivation, but to demonstrate that the process of his discovery was based on anything other than rational, objective thought. Demonstrate where God was used in anything but motive.

    Because it doesn’t matter what motivates a scientist. What matters is the method used.

    Nobody denies many scientists of the time believed in God, some of them even fervently, and not just for social camouflage (it was, after all, politically and socially dangerous to deny belief in God). So your argument there is a strawman.

    And nobody here denies the roots of science. I certainly understand the roots of science go back all the way to Greece, long before the myth of a zombie redeemer began. So this, too, is a strawman.

    You have not demonstrated that modern science did not begin with the Enlightenment, with the excision of the supernatural from the epistemology. It is precisely this excision that formalized what scientists had already been doing for years: ignoring the spiritual in their science.

    Newton is considered the starting point for our understanding of gravity. It doesn’t mean Galileo wasn’t dropping weights off the Tower of Piza decades before. It means that Newton formalized many things that were already known, and in doing so, opened up a far greater understanding.

    Kepler could’ve discovered the rules of planetary motion if he didn’t believe in God. But he certainly could not have done so if he had not employed rational thought, or attempted to put God in the rules somewhere.

    All Spinoza did was point this out. He showed that discovery comes not from God, but from ignoring God.

    And, like Newton building on what was already know, Spinoza sparked a revolution in understanding.

    Finally, the name is nigelTheBold. Porcupine Trainer is a job description, which may change soon.

  45. 45
    monad

    Both times science arose, in ancient Greece and in late Medieval Europe, theists with a strong concept of creation were mostly the catalysts, while materialists were sparser on the ground.

    The ancient Greeks who come to mind first are always Plato and Aristotle. But among the others, we owe just as much to atheists and agnostics like Xenophanes and the atomists as anyone else. Meanwhile we can thank the public piety for its part in silencing Protagoras, Anaxagoras, and Socrates.

  46. 46
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    monad:

    Meanwhile we can thank the public piety for its part in silencing Protagoras, Anaxagoras, and Socrates.

    And Galileo and Spinoza and Franciscus van den Enden and Giordano Bruno and …

  47. 47
    Rey Fox

    In fact, he went into science precisely out of his Christian faith, for apologetic purposes, hard as that may be for you to swallow.

    As we have acknowledged on this thread, several times. It doesn’t matter. In their earnest searching for God, they slowly uncovered the evidence that has been undermining the existence of God until He has precious little tiny gaps to hide in anymore. If anything, it proves that the truth will win out no matter what preconceptions drive one to search for it.

    You can cheer for your team all you want, but at best, all they did was use their faith as the scaffolding on the edifice of acquired human knowledge and understanding of the universe. It’s time to start taking the scaffolding down, it’s no longer needed, and it’s just covering up the beauty of the actual structure.

  48. 48
    Def-Star

    Here is a lecture given by a “catholic scholar” who claims that the Catholic Church was unjust in its condemnation of Galileo in that they should have condemned him sooner and his work more harshly to be more just to science as the Catholic Church is its the protector.

  49. 49
    Waffler, of the Waffler Institute

    So I’m laughing at Ham, too, and also at skeptics who, in their eagerness to conflate science and skepticism, make similarly bone-headed errors about the history of science.

    Yet you haven’t managed to point out one of those “similarly bone-headed errors”. Apparently, in your world, giving Spinoza a bit too much credit is as bone headed as arguing that the Sun orbits the Earth, or that the man lived alongside dinosaurs.

  50. 50
    Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM

    …if you look at the big picture, Christianity has more often been a positive influence on the development of human thought.

    You do not know what you think. But I will spell it out for you. You think that the only way a person can be knowledgeable it to, first, have a faith in deities. That person becomes even more knowledgeable when that person believes in your deity.

    This is your problem, you are hung up on the fact that early scientists were able get past their religious training and were able to cobble together the concept that knowledge could be gathered by a purely an evidence based method without the need for revealed knowledge. You are fixated on the one element that is not needed, wanting it so much, you elevate it above all else.

  51. 51
    Lauren

    Wait wait wait… People take Ken Ham seriously? They don’t all just shake their heads and laugh and walk away? … Some days, just when you think the world may start making sense…

  52. 52
    Spector567

    “Christianity has more often been a positive influence on the development of human thought.”

    I think the several hundred years known as the dark ages when science and development went backwards would disagree with this theory.

    As well if recient history is any indication. It is now an active retardent of science. A force that activily discourages study into anything and everything that contridicts a pre-concieved world view.

    If the current religions could embrace and adapt you might have a leg to stand on. However, currently it took 200 years for the Catholic church to awknowldege evolution and they still don’t teach it in schools. Knowledge is progressing far faster than the church is willing to adapt. At this point it needs to be left behind.

  53. 53
    kantalope

    “THOSE religious fanatics historians are interpreting the bible history incorrectly,” says religious fanatichistorian.

    I get to cite me….yay.

    I’ll just toss in – those medieval scholars were inspired by those classical greek scholars (kepler in particular seemed to have a thing for those aristotalian perfect circles) but those greek works had been suppressed and lost for centuries by (wait for it if you have not already guessed)…the christians!

    I deny your individual christians helping science during the renaissance and trump with their official organized behavior up to that point. I win on “time of possession” if nothing else.

    booyah, football metaphor.

  54. 54
    magistramarla

    To David Marshall and others,
    I am not a scientist, just a scholar of Latin and Ancient Greek. I agree that much of western science had it’s origins in Ancient Greece and Alexandria in Egypt.
    The Egyptians made many scientific innovations, which were unfortunately lost with the loss of the Great Alexandrian Library. Those Egyptian innovations certainly had nothing to do with xianity.
    My question to all of you is this: Why is everyone ignoring the knowledge of science that had it’s origins in Asia?
    DM says “Both times science arose, in ancient Greece and in late Medieval Europe”.
    Again, I’m not a scientist, but didn’t science also arise in Asia? Why is that being ignored? Could it be because it definitely had nothing to do with xianity?

  55. 55
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Kepler did not discover his laws “in spite of” his strong faith, but because of it. In fact, he went into science precisely out of his Christian faith, for apologetic purposes, hard as that may be for you to swallow.

    Irrelevent. Faith motivates all kinds of behaviors. Do you want to make the argument that faith was more important than reason in guiding those discoveries?

  56. 56
    raven

    Marshall lying:

    But Kepler himself, of course, was a mystical, biblically-literate “creationist.”

    So what? Back then the Theory of Evolution didn’t exist and being an atheist was a death sentence.

    These days Kepler would almost certainly think creationism is silly superstition and admire the wildly successful Theory of Evolution. Like most educated scientists.

    He would quite likely be a No Religion. The percentage of No Religions goes up with education and intelligence.

    David Marshall, if your religion was true, you wouldn’t have to lie.

    How pathetic does a religion have to be when all that is left is evil and mentally ill people trying to hold it together with lies and nonsense?

  57. 57
    raven

    Creationists will always (except for the rare Kurt Wise) gloss over the fact that they’re just as much at odds with geology, astronomy and physics.

    Not really. Ken Ham is first of all a conman and disowns the Flat Earth and Geocentrism for commercial reasons. I doubt he believes anything except that he needs more of your money.

    Creationists go after evolution because it is the easiest target. They will get the rest of the sciences later. They really hate the Big Bang, geology, and neurobiology because neuroscientists haven’t found the soul yet.

    Many of them also go after geology, paleontology, astronomy, neurobiology, history, archaeology, and cosmology as well. Because everything contradicts the bible, including the bible itself which is wildly contradictory.

    If the fundie xians ever do manage to destroy science, it’s all going down, not just biology. That new Dark Age is well named. There are still religious believers who are Flat Earthers around. It may end up being resurrected again.

  58. 58
    raven

    Marshall lying some more:

    …if you look at the big picture, Christianity has more often been a positive influence on the development of human thought.

    This is an assertion without proof. Assertions without proof can be dismissed without proof.

    But in this case, that isn’t necessary. It’s simply a lie.

    Fundie xianity today in the USA is just a serious social problem. The fundies are baggage being dragged along behind us and holding us back.

    They haven’t managed to destroy us yet, but they might. Bush, the fundie president did so much damage to the US economy in 8 years that we still haven’t recovered. It will take another 8 or so years. One more fundie moron for president, and that is it. The USA is done, over with.

  59. 59
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    raven:

    They really hate the Big Bang, geology, and neurobiology because neuroscientists haven’t found the soul yet.

    They hate it all. They hate it because of the association with science. Spinoza divorced the search for knowledge from the supernatural, effectively demonstrating that a belief in God is not a prerequisite for the truth. In fact, a belief in God provides no discernible benefit whatsoever, outside of social constructs.

    All of this directly challenges the authority of religious leaders, from the youngsters who lead small prayer-groups in their homes, to the pastors and preachers and deacons and imams and bishops and rabbis and every single person who ever told another to believe what they believed, just because God said so.

    The preachers who tell their congregations what to think hate this because it reduces their authority. It dims their power.

    What we see in America today, this defiance against science*, is a result of a power struggle. It isn’t about the erosion of the literal word of the Bible, at least not directly. It’s a struggle against the challenge to authority that erosion represents.

    Not that you don’t already know this, raven. I’m just spelling it out for the audience at home.

    As an aside, I don’t think Ken Ham is only in it for the money. I think he gets off on the power it gives him, too.

     

    * did that rhyme? Shit! I’m a poet now!

  60. 60
    Twisty

    When you believe that the earth was greated over the course of six days six thousand years ago, and the entire human race is descended from two individuals, one of whom was made out of a rib, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that the earth is the centre of the universe and everything orbits around us. I mean, if you can ignore biology, history, geology, paleontolgy and archeolgy, why not astronomy and cosmology too?

  61. 61
    Twisty

    *created

  62. 62
    cyberCMDR

    Religion enables people to embrace an alternate reality, and because “With God all things are possible” they can sneer at real world data as being irrelevant. The crux of the argument many have given me is “Maybe God made it look that way in order to test our faith!”. With this as their starting position, any scientific observation can be dismissed as an illusion. They embrace their theological Matrix existence, refusing to believe or live in the real world.

    As I’ve said before, religion is not the opiate of the masses. It is their hallucinogen.

  63. 63
    Glen Davidson

    Porcupine Trainer: Spinoza deserves a lot of respect, but it is anachronistic to identify him too closely with the Enlightenment. Nor was he the origin of modern science, much as skeptics might like to think he was. This was a plant that had taken root, and been growing, for centuries.

    Yes, but it really got going around the time of Galileo, who was in the thick of things, though not especially an innovator in science methods. The empirical side of science comes more from the pagan European notions of what works, works, which survived conversion to Xianity.

    Kepler did not discover his laws “in spite of” his strong faith, but because of it. In fact, he went into science precisely out of his Christian faith, for apologetic purposes, hard as that may be for you to swallow.

    Oh yeah, so hard to swallow. Dumbass.

    Kepler was a mystic, and saw patterns sans cause and effect analysis. In many ways he was brilliant but not particularly scientific even for his time period.

    Reason and mathematics were, of course, part of that faith, and had been developed as such for centuries by Medieval thinkers.

    Yes, which is why science flourished in Xianity. The hatred of reason that we see with you and the other IDiots indicates that the progeny of early religious scientists are us, not you.

    As for the ancient Greeks, from Richard Carrier, one of PZ’s favorite historians:

    “Most intellectual polytheists believed in a Creator who had intelligently ordered the cosmos, that this order could be discovered by the human mind, and that such discovery honored God. Scientists like Galen and Ptolemy were thus motivated to pursue scientific inquiry by their religious piety, exactly as Stark claims Christians were, and for exactly the same reasons.”

    Oh please, what a bunch of idealistic claptrap. They did science for the sake of curiosity and for the respect that it got them. Religious piety may have fit in well with that, but it hardly was what drove them.

    Respect for reason and mathematics in the West goes back largely to Pythagoras and his empirical observations (and then they tended not to think well of empiricism for the most part).

    I think most of the “earnest apologists” are on your side. Most of the fun (and facts) are on ours, which is what seems to bother some people.

    There’s no reason for sides, here, shithead. There’s just the facts, like that once science got far enough it no longer needed even the Greek Pythagorean prejudices apart from much evidence that reason and mathematics would help greatly in understanding our cosmos.

    Glen Davidson

  64. 64
    CJO

    “Most intellectual polytheists believed in a Creator who had intelligently ordered the cosmos, that this order could be discovered by the human mind, and that such discovery honored God. Scientists like Galen and Ptolemy were thus motivated to pursue scientific inquiry by their religious piety, exactly as Stark claims Christians were, and for exactly the same reasons.”

    I have to dispute this, and I’m surprised Carrier put it in these terms. An “intellectual polytheist” would have been an adherent of one of the schools of philosophy. In the Greco-Roman Mediterranean, the domain of philosophy encompassed a large part of what we now consider religious thought, in cluding, notably, personal secular ethics and cosmology. So “motivated to pursue scientific inquiry by their religious piety” isn’t quite right. Pagan religious piety specifically was about respect for the gods as the patrons of the orderly and prosperous civic life of free citizens. The nature and desires of any putative “Creator who had intelligently ordered the cosmos,” while they may well have been operative in the motivation to pursue inquiry into the natural world, really didn’t have very much to do with religion per se, as much as such concerns dominate modern religious discourse.

  65. 65
    peterh

    “The crux of the argument many [theists] have given me is “Maybe God made it look that way in order to test our faith!”.

    As was pointed out previously in this thread, that is an assertion without proof and therefore may be summarily dismissed. It’s also tantamount to admitting any being, supernatural or otherwise, who behaves in such a manner is, like Loki, a trickster who can’t be trusted.

  66. 66
    Therrin

    People who persist in saying stupid things deserve to be ridiculed

    Could have stopped right there.

  67. 67
    Hazuki

    Why is DM the clownhat still around? He’s articulate, sure, but he’s one small step away from Piltdown levels of buffoonery and dishonesty. I can’t believe the amount of twisting history he does to score cheap points.

  68. 68
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Why is DM the clownhat still around?

    I’m presuming you mean DBM, the “historian”, with very apt scare quotes. Not David Marjanović, the paleontologist (*bows toward the t-rex Sue*). Can’t argue with your assessment of DBM.

  69. 69
    Aquaria

    Kepler was also an astrology believer, DBM, you fucking shit stain. So do you believe in that nonsense as well? Are you going to go out and start casting charts and learning the differences between yods and Solar Houses? Now predict where and when the next earthquake will be!

    Newton was an alchemist, so you need to start looking for phlogistan, fuckface. And you’d damned well better find it!

    Get to it, scumbag! You have work to do!

  70. 70
    Kel

    The difference between the composition of the solar system and origins of humanity is that there’s an extra degree of separation between the specialness of our species in God’s eyes. God specially made us in his own image has a more direct and personal feel than the earth being the centre of the universe.

    It’s bullshit either way, but there is some internal logic to it.

  71. 71
    David Marshall

    Nigel: “You have not demonstrated that modern science did not begin with the Enlightenment, with the excision of the supernatural from the epistemology.”

    Sure I have. Modern science came first.

    The Enlightenment was in the 18th Century, or at earliest, mid to late 17th Century, if you really stretch the point. Science was off and roaring, long before then. Locke was Boyle’s student, not the other way around.

    Spinoza does not play so eminent and glorious a role in any history of science I have seen; I imagine he’s happy to have such an enthusiastic fan, though.

    “Porcupine Trainer is a job description, which may change soon.”

    Heh. I’m tempted to ask what it means; the market for literal trained porcupines can’t be too big.

  72. 72
    David Marshall

    Specter: “I think the several hundred years known as the dark ages when science and development went backwards would disagree with this theory.”

    Carrier admits that science had pretty much stopped developing hundreds of years before Christianity attained power in the Roman Empire.

    And of course, soon after, invaders toppled the last fragments of the Western Empire, and kept Europe on the defensive until about the 11th Century. What remained or was revived of civilization in Europe, was almost all cobbled together by the Church in one form or another, during those centuries. And technological progress does seem to have been slowly occuring even during those years.

  73. 73
    puppygod

    @puppygod

    Can you make the argument that no frames are privileged? What happens when you get one that requires a velocity greater than c to hold?

    I’m before my morning coffee and I was taught my highschool physics in the previous millenium, so I might be missing something, but time dilation happens, isn’t it?

  74. 74
    Kel

    Carrier admits that science had pretty much stopped developing hundreds of years before Christianity attained power in the Roman Empire.

    Carrier also points out that the rise of Christianity at that point was detrimental to scientific knowledge, that in the dark ages there’s evidence that knowledge was being actively lost. I’m not sure how you think Spector’s point was refuted. Even looking back at the rise of early Christianity, Carrier points to Christian voices that were actively arguing against the ways of science.

    Arguing over ancient events is trying to paint broad strokes from fragments of information, while we have plenty of direct observational data today of the same thing. All the way from the kooky Ray Comfort to the attempt at turning Scripture into science of Bill Dembski.

  75. 75
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    David Marshall:

    Sure I have. Modern science came first.

    Not really. At the time, “science” didn’t have a very stringent definition. That’s the point. The formalization of the epistemology and process of science (that is, the modernization of science) didn’t come until the supernatural was removed completely.

    Kepler was an astrologer. He considered that as valid as his astronomical work. Newton was an alchemist. He considered that as valid as his physics and mathematics.

    That is the dividing line for modern science: the point at which astrology and alchemy were recognized as non-scientific. That is the point at which science grew up into a full-blown discipline. At that point, it was not only a tool for determining whether evidence supported a specific proposition. It was also a tool for determining which propositions were even viable.

    Spinoza’s monist naturalistic deism provided an effective model for doing this. The fundamental idea that what we observe is both real, and all that is, provided a strong framework for the development of modern science.

    Spinoza does not play so eminent and glorious a role in any history of science I have seen; I imagine he’s happy to have such an enthusiastic fan, though.

    Eminent and glorious? Probably not. A lot of his work was vilified during his lifetime. Influential? Most definitely. His work influenced the thinking of generations of scholars, both philosophers and scientists. Hume, Hegel, Jefferson, Leibnitz, and a whole slew of others were influenced by Spinoza.

    I’m not specifically a fan of Spinoza. I just recognize that his writings were influential on the thinking of Enlightenment philosophers and scientists, even before they were published. I recognize that his separation of the supernatural from the natural was a defining moment in the practice and epistemology of science.

  76. 76
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    David Marshall:

    “Porcupine Trainer is a job description, which may change soon.”

    Heh. I’m tempted to ask what it means; the market for literal trained porcupines can’t be too big.

    Around here, the demand is almost inexhaustible.

  77. 77
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Funny how a self-described historian doesn’t understand history. Perhaps his irrational approval of all things religious gets in his way off understanding, which requires skepticism, including the religious influence on history. After all, he can’t prove his deity exists, or his babble is inerrant, so he is obviously not very rational to begin with.

  78. 78
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Nerd of Redhead:

    Funny how a self-described historian doesn’t understand history.

    To be fair, it seems he just doesn’t understand science. I’m using a pretty liberal definition of “modern science.” It seems the pffft! of all knowledge implies that “modern science” didn’t really start until the professionalization and politicization of science in the 19th and 20th centuries. I’m not sure I buy that, though, as it seems to me that science is first and foremost an epistemology, and secondarily a tool for investigating reality. As such, “modern” science would be the point at which we started truly defining the epistemology.

    That epistemology couldn’t be defined without some underlying metaphysics. Spinoza, through his influence on philosophers and scientists such as Leibnitz, laid down a very good “first draft” of a working metaphysics. (Actually, the Greeks did an excellent job of that through the atomists and the skeptics, but their philosophies all but died with the expansion of the Roman empire.)

    This is why I, and many others it seems, point at Spinoza as the birth of modern science.

    The tool existed long before the epistemology, of course. It’s just a natural thing we all do. If humans couldn’t synthesize data into models, our intelligence would be worthless as a survival trait. If anything, we are too good at synthesizing models. We’ll create a model based on insufficient data, and that model will live with us for years.

    Skepticism is the starting point for science. The refusal to accept without evidence the word of authority, or even our own conclusions, is vital. And while belief in God may inspire some to investigate the nature of reality (as DM claims for Kepler), it is in constant conflict with the authority of the religious establishment (just ask Giordano Bruno).

    As a tool, we’ve had science since the Greeks, at least. Eratosthenes calculated the diameter of the earth using methods almost indistinguishable from those used by Kepler. Yet I don’t hear DM claiming modern science began 2300 years ago.

    DM’s claim that religion inspired and cultivated science is completely at odds with the evidence. Baghdad was once a great center of science, mathematics, and reason. Religion put a stop to that. The Catholic Church has a long and well-documented history of stifling scientific thought, and suppressing scientific literature. The modern religious movement within the United States is another strong argument against the bare compatibility of science and religion. Indeed, it is a strong indictment against DM’s proposition of the scientifically nurturing nature of religion.

    In any case, I can’t speak to DM’s knowledge as an historian. But I can speak to his understanding of the nature of science, and especially toward his understanding of the compatibility of religion and science. In those cases, his argument is fallacious, and in contradiction to the evidence, both modern and historical.

    The evidence that specific individuals pursued scientific knowledge because of their faith is fairly strong. I won’t deny that bit of his argument.

    As others have pointed out, it is also irrelevant. The evidence is irrefutable that science has more often been stifled by religion than encouraged. The evidence also supports modern science as a direct product of the Enlightenment.

    Divorcing religion from science is the only way science can survive.

  79. 79
    David Marshall

    Kel: Carrier’s expertise is in the history of Greek science, not the Middle Ages. Listen to my interview of Allan Chapman, historian of science at Oxford University, and several notches above Carrier in the pecking order, for a reasonable take on the latter — or read James Hannam’s detailed account.

    I only cited Carrier because he admitted an important and relevant point about Greek science, which is his primary field; when he’s out of his field, he has a tendency to make extravagent and often absurd claims.

  80. 80
    Kel

    David Marshall, I’m not citing Carrier on the middle ages. Spector raised the dark ages as his contention, not the middle ages.

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