Quantcast

«

»

Apr 18 2012

Speaking truth to apologists

If you’re looking for an explanation for why creationism is rife in America, don’t ask religious scientists. Their answers tend to be evasive and weird and unbelievable.

For example, Ken Miller claims it is due to the American virtues of rebelliousness and disrespect, and has nothing at all to do with religion. No, not one thing. All the blame for creationism lies on…those awful New Atheists. Then there’s the paleontologist Robert Bakker, who similarly misplaces the blame.

We dino-scientists have a great responsibility: our subject matter attracts kids better than any other, except rocket-science. What’s the greatest enemy of science education in the U.S.?

Militant Creationism?

No way. It’s the loud, strident, elitist anti-creationists. The likes of Richard Dawkins and his colleagues.

Bizarre, isn’t it? Yet this is more or less the position taken by the NCSE, NAS, the AAAS, and most museums, which seem to bend over backwards to avoid offending religious sensibilities of any kind.

At last, though, somebody speaks the plain truth: Jerry Coyne has published a paper in Evolution, “Science, religion, and society: the problem of evolution in America“, that correctly answers the question about why Americans hate evolution.

The answer seems pretty clear: religion (I define it as “those systems of belief that accept and worship the existence of supernatural beings whose actions affect the universe”). Religion is an answer that many people don’t want to hear, but there is much evidence that America’s resistance to evolution is truly a byproduct of America’s extreme religiosity (I use “religiosity” in the first sense given by the Oxford English Dictionary, as “religiousness; religious feeling or belief”). Evolution, of course, contravenes many common religious beliefs—not just those involving Biblical literalism, but those involved with morality, meaning, and human significance.

To argue any other way is madness. Creationism is an entirely religious concept that denies science, and to throw it on the shoulders of atheism is absurd to an incredible degree. I’ve been asked to write a paper for a different journal that discusses the fallacious reasoning of scientists who argue for the compatibility of science and religion — we’re going to have a fun time in the scientific community finally paying attention to the obvious on this issue.

114 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    R Johnston

    We’re going to have a fun time in the scientific community finally paying attention to the obvious on this issue.

    Paying attention to the obvious and not denying truths that make you uncomfortable or are otherwise inconvenient are fundamental building blocks of science. People who don’t do those things aren’t scientists. They may be perfectly competent technicians carrying out experiments, but to be a scientist one has to actually embrace the scientific method.

  2. 2
    Suido

    Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies.

    Perfect resource for online debates.

  3. 3
    Inaji

    No way. It’s the loud, strident, elitist anti-creationists. The likes of Richard Dawkins and his colleagues.

    This ^ drives me up a wall, across the ceiling and down the other side. Aargh. Richard Dawkins is always polite, quiet spoken and courteous. Always.

    FFS, anyone who thinks Dawkins is loud and strident, there’s simply no reasoning with at all. These are people who want all atheists to go *poof* because it makes them uncomfortable.

  4. 4
    a3kr0n

    You don’t like the NCSE? Crap. I just joined them last year. Got my Project Steve t-shirt AND the Darwin Tree of Life pin.
    What about FFRF? I joined them, too. And donated to PPOA during the Komen for the Cure fiasco. BTW: I think Eugenie Scott ROCKS!
    Less than two weeks to go until I see you in Madison for my very first free thought festival! I wish Chris would email me back…

  5. 5
    redpanda

    Is NOMA still a predominant view among scientists?

  6. 6
    Brother Yam

    No, no, no. You scientists just don’t understand that science is a democratic thingy and that we majority just don’t think you’re right. Medicine has lots of crystals and shit and evolution is either non-existent or run by god.

    Silly scientists. You just don’t understand anything.

  7. 7
    redpanda

    This ^ drives me up a wall, across the ceiling and down the other side. Aargh. Richard Dawkins is always polite, quiet spoken and courteous. Always.

    Judging by my own experience in bringing Richard Dawkins up in conversation, people seem to think he’s loud and strident because of what he says, not how he says it. Apparently being succinct and honest with what you think makes you appear loud and strident to people who disagree with you?

  8. 8
    Sastra

    When people believe in God, they accept the idea that reality is fundamentally magic, caused and connected through the power of thought and intention. It’s a top-down view of how things work, with like always coming from like: we get minds from a Mind, we get morals from a Moral Force, we get life from Life, and all results are planned. There’s a conflict here between this sort of vacuous, detail-free skyhook — and the explanatory network of mechanistic cranes revealed by science.

    Is it really a good idea to bribe people to “believe in” evolution by reassuring them that they can work it in with magic? Not only is this epistemically inconsistent, but you end up with people believing a bastardized concept of evolution, where the Great Chain of Being evolves higher and higher expressions of the Divine Mind. But perhaps the goal is only helping people get the right answers on a multiple choice test?

    I think there’s something really distasteful with lowering the bar that way. It throws out intellectual honesty and human progress and trades it for numbers.

    And I’d really like to meet someone who actually says “The only way I will believe in evolution is if someone tells me I can work God into it.” It always seems that people are afraid this is what other people think. Not themselves, you know … but those other guys.

  9. 9
    Sastra

    redpanda #7 wrote:

    Judging by my own experience in bringing Richard Dawkins up in conversation, people seem to think he’s loud and strident because of what he says, not how he says it.

    QFT — though they think that what he says could be said better if he followed every statement he makes with the polite little phrase “Of course, I’m not trying to change your mind or anything, if faith is what’s right for you.”

    It’s so rude and strident not to put that in.

  10. 10
    billforsternz

    On the subject of religious scientists, I had the misfortune to stumble upon a book in the local library called “Who Made God” by Edgar Andrews. This guy appears to not only be a scientist, but a creationist as well. Believe it or not. His book claims to be a comprehensive rebuttal of the scurrilous New Atheists and their strident and obnoxious claims. A brief perusal suggests that he basically reasons as follows;

    No one can know the absolute truth of all of existence. The big bang theory suggests that time and space started at a point of singularity. So clearly time and space as we know it are a subset of some larger reality. Meanwhile humans have consciences and morals and animals don’t, clearly atheism doesn’t have any answer for that. Therefore the god of genesis is obviously the real answer. He so loved us that he sent his own son to die in agony to redeem our sins.

    Wierdly, despite this apparently bizarre misappropriation of logic, the book is well reviewed and rates highly on Amazon.com. I searched on this site for a classic PZ takedown, but unfortunately it doesn’t exist yet.

    Apologies for this slightly off-topic contribution.

  11. 11
    'Tis Himself

    Bakker is an Ecumenical Christian minister as well as a paleontologist. Perhaps there is a touch of bias on his part as to who is the enemy of science education.

  12. 12
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    This argument has been used many times before:

    “Fuckin’ bitches! Always asking for the vote! Always wanting to inherit their husband’s stuff when he dies! Always wanting to be able to refuse sex to their husband! Always wanting to be paid — just like a man! Jesum Crow, ladies, if y’all just wouldn’t be so fuckin’, you know, naggy about it, you’d get your equality, eventaully. Geez, don’t have a cow. Fuckin’ hysterics!”

    “Fuckin’ niggers! Want to vote, want to sit in the front of the bus, want to be doctors! Lawyers! Want to sit in same seats as good white people at th’ movie show! And our daughters! They want to MARRY OUR DAUGHTERS! Fuckin’ troublemakers! Oh! My son was beaten to death! Oh! My husbin’ was lynched! Look, every one of them had it coming — if you just know your place, a generation or three down the road, why, you’ll be just as American as the rest of us.”

    “Fuckin’ faggots! Just ’cause some queers get stomped and thrown offa a bridge or two! Christ, can’t they fuckin’ shut up! You figger their mouths would be too fulla dicks to be yappin’ so much. Yah, I know a fag; my uncle, real quiet fella, never got in trouble, barely know he exists. Sure, you’re equal already, I wouldn’t hurt my uncle — ‘cept iffen I caught ‘im playin’ with my kids. What’s the problem, you’re equal already!”

    Repeat with: various religions and sects, children, other races, followers of political philosophies — and atheists. Throughout history it’s been this way.

    The ONLY way that equality and equal treatment, physical and political safety has been won has been through almighty, unceasing struggles by people who were not afraid, or better yet, went ahead when justifiably afraid, to speak and act the truth.

  13. 13
    Ing

    We dino-scientists have a great responsibility: our subject matter attracts kids better than any other, except rocket-science. What’s the greatest enemy of science education in the U.S.?

    Militant Creationism?

    No way. It’s the loud, strident, elitist anti-creationists. The likes of Richard Dawkins and his colleagues.

    As a formerly religious person I want to assure you that no, it is indeed the militant creationism. It’s also the biggest threat to religion

  14. 14
    'Tis Himself

    If every atheist disappeared tomorrow then creationists would still be trying to replace science with their religious mythologies.

  15. 15
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    I can hear accomodationist heads assploding as I write this. On that: any idea when/where the podcast of the debate between you, Chris Stedman and Leslie Cannold is going to appear (if it hasn’t already)?

  16. 16
  17. 17
    raven

    If every atheist disappeared tomorrow then creationists would still be trying to replace science with their religious mythologies.

    True.

    The creationists predate the New and Militant Atheists by at least a century.

    The creationists and the fundie xians had a huge amount to do with creating the New Militant Atheists. Worked for me, why I dropped out of xianity.

  18. 18
    Kel

    I doubt that Dawkins is a bestseller among creationists, so blaming him or any other evolutionary advocate is blaming people whom have had no role in the formation of creationist belief. It’s a convenient scapegoat, just an asinine one upon the slightest reflection.

  19. 19
    Kel

    You’d figure if Dawkins were the main reason for nonacceptance, then creationists would have a better understanding of evolution. If they took Dawkins arguments seriously, then they’d have to understand enough about the process to see where Dawkins is coming from. That creationists show no proper understanding, yet have huge evolutionary straw men that in no way reflect how evolution works, suggests that the culprits lie elsewhere.

    If only they were getting their incompatibilism from Dawkins… ;)

  20. 20
    michaeld

    Oh Bakker…. someone I looked up to as a kid and am so let down by as an adult…

  21. 21
    robro

    I’m completely flabbergasted that anyone would think that religion is not the reason for anti-evolution sentiment. Certainly the simplest explanation is that the opposition to evolution is because of people’s antiquated religious beliefs. Blaming atheists, et al requires a convoluted argument. Aren’t scientists supposed to follow the principle of parsimony?

    Bakker is such a disappointment. A paleontologist, and iconoclast in his field at that, promoting and defending religious claptrap…it’s just not right.

    By the way…it appears that the paper isn’t available to the rest of us quite yet.

  22. 22
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    robro wrote:

    I’m completely flabbergasted that anyone would think that religion is not the reason for anti-evolution sentiment.

    I doubt very seriously that anyone who claims it actually believes it; the far more likely explanation is that they are simply lying their asses off in order to placate those believers in the hope that those believers will eventually let them sit at the front of the bus give women the vote teach evolution in schools.

  23. 23
    kreativekaos

    Let’s not forget the influence that 30-plus years political and media shift has had on science education.

    Thirty-plus years of vaguely-to-overtly, religiously-grounded conservative influence in politics; thirty-plus years of politicians out-pandering each other on the religion front to gain votes; thirty-plus years of media dilution of more substantive subject matter on TV and radio; thirty-plus years of slowly eroding science/math/critical thinking among the general populace as well as primary, secondary and even post-secondary education, all the while the most egregious, irresponsible and ridiculous of the religious front continuing to push the envelope of influence.

    And they want to blame Dawkins, et al, for the lack of science appreciation/critical thinking???? Who are they kidding?
    Not us, to be sure.

  24. 24
    Rip Steakface

    Wow, I had no idea Bakker was even Christian. I remember him being on sorts of dinosaur shows when I was a kid watching Discovery Kids and thinking he was totally awesome. A shame.

  25. 25
    ikesolem

    Once the mindless and brainwashed followers of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and every other faith-based sect on the planet acknowledges that their cherished doctrines were made up by human beings – that their sacred texts are no different than any other bit of writing, be it Homer’s Illiad or Beowulf, then a rational discussion will be possible.

    Until that simple truth is widely acknowledged, forget about it. Of course, the conclusion is that getting theologians to admit to this should be the primary goal of all ‘activist atheists.’

    So, what are you waiting for? Gonna sit around and be the passive, reactive partner, are we?

  26. 26
    kreativekaos

    It is kind of disappointing about Bakker,… sort of like Francis Collins (who I was surprised to learn later was a devoted Christian even as Craig Venter, his primary competition at the time in decoding the human genone, is an atheist)…. and Kenneth Miller (who I was also surprised to hear was a Catholic as I heard details about the Dover case years ago).

  27. 27
    Ichthyic

    Is NOMA still a predominant view among scientists?

    never was.

    Gould never got much traction with it with scientists, because it is so obviously a logical and pragmatic failure. It’s not even well reasoned philosophy.

    http://sciencereligionnews.blogspot.com/2008/08/dennett-and-problems-with-goulds-noma.html

    that said, it’s a useful POLITICAL tool, and I’ve seen it used to effect to derail various creationist legislation and school board proposals.

    It’s a good lie, IOW, to placate the fundies in various circumstances.

    but nobody with any sense really thinks it has any merit.

  28. 28
    gardengnome

    I was disappointed to hear that Ken Miller was of such an opinion, I always sort of respected him after the Dover thing even though I knew he was devoutly Catholic. In my view it shows that you can’t sit on the fence. When it starts to wobble most will opt to fall in their comfort zone – religion.

  29. 29
    gardengnome

    I don’t want to be accused of going off topic but will someone please explain to me the difference between an Atheist and a “New Atheist”, or for that matter a “Darwinist” and a “Neo-Darwinist”?

  30. 30
    redpanda

    ^

    I very much agree in that it seems rather silly (especially in light of the observation that many modern religions make foundational claims that very much “overlap”), but for some reason I’ve been under the impression that much of the scientific community at least accepts it as useful, if not so much as true. I’m not sure where I got that impression, as it’s been a while.

  31. 31
    Ing

    @Gardengnome

    For the first one, honestly no. The only difference seems to be one of derogatory term. A New Atheist is one that is still alive, contrasted with The Good Atheists…who are all dead.

    For teh later Neo-Darwinism refers to the current understanding of evolution which incorporates genetics and the evolutionary science post Darwin IIRC

  32. 32
    Ichthyic

    much of the scientific community at least accepts it as useful, if not so much as true.

    based on my 30 years of experience, I’d say no.

    In fact, 90% of working scientists don’t bother with this shit, and get annoyed when it comes up.

    But when Gould first proposed it, it was hugely rejected by the vast majority of his colleagues.

    More politically oriented science advocates tend to be more public, so this is why you might have the impression that it is embraced widely?

  33. 33
    Ichthyic

    A New Atheist is one that is still alive, contrasted with The Good Atheists…who are all dead.

    yes, they try to imply that the “new” atheists are all more militant and whatnot, but they must have REALLY short memories, because I see no difference whatsoever between the attitudes of popularized atheists today, and those of 100 years ago, for example.

    it’s just a way to isolate and attack; to label something that has always been around as something “new and different” makes it much easier to attack.

    it’s stock and trade of authoritarian personalities.

  34. 34
    Azuma Hazuki

    Some of this may be due to the rarity of generalists, which word seems to be a sort of academic swear these days. Paleontology generally doesn’t have much comparative religion of philosophy of religion in it, after all…

  35. 35
    Ichthyic

    and by “short memories”, I mean they must have forgotten the books on past atheists they supposedly had read.

    (translate as applied ignorance)

  36. 36
    Ing

    It is shown that you can greatly bias a jury against someone by labeling them as “militant” or “extreme”.

    Honestly, just read “new” as “uppity”

  37. 37
    Ichthyic

    generalists, which word seems to be a sort of academic swear these days

    sadly, yes. They play at words in departments like “integrative biology”, but really the idea of a general embrace of integrated approaches from different disciplines is dead in graduate school any more.

    simply too much information to cover, even within one’s chosen specialty!

    I myself still encourage generalists.

    You’ve probably heard the phrase:

    “Jack of all trades, master of none”

    but people forget that the master of none part was a much later add-on that made it into more a negative than a positive phrase which it originally was.

    In fact, others have chosen to rewrite it to properly reflect the original better:

    “Jack of all trades, master of none,
    Certainly better than a master of one”

    and that’s how I feel about it too. You will often miss much better solutions to problems by focusing too much on a given specialty. Forest for the trees, I suppose… to continue using hackneyed phrases.

  38. 38
    Ichthyic

    Honestly, just read “new” as “uppity”

    exactly.

  39. 39
    Azuma Hazuki

    Ichthyic:

    Exactly! I am a geolgist by training but do computery things for a living (which unfortunately means being the token woman on the local Geek Squad thanks to the economy) and study the crap out of organic chem, cooking, logic, religion, philosophy, and most of the other hard sciences in my spare time.

    Knowledge is addictive to me and I can’t get enough of it. There is a kind of melting, subtle joy in it, especially the kind that allows me to forget my pain and melt into reality around me. And it comes in all sorts of useful in the weirdest, widest array of situations :)

    Imagining there are people who don’t get to experience this is saddening. I wish I could help everyone with it, as with understanding, I find, comes peace.

  40. 40
    gardengnome

    OK, thanks guys, I sort of thought that was it but I couldn’t see the point in making a distinction – now I do. If you’re an Atheist who just kept his/her head down and mouth shut that was OK, but if you speak out and dare to proclaim your Atheism you’re branded “New Atheist”.

    That’s fine by me!

  41. 41
    Ichthyic

    That’s fine by me!

    welcome, fellow uppity n-…

    :)

  42. 42
    Ichthyic

    I am a geolgist by training but do computery things for a living

    Sounds familiar. After getting my grad degree in zoology from Berkeley, and losing money for 5 years doing research on sharks, I ended up working mostly in IT until the bottom dropped out of the internet economy.

    now, sad to say, I totally understand the geeks on wheels gig.

    here in NZ, even THAT kind of job is hard to come by! It humbles one to have gotten a degree with honors, research great white sharks for years, moved on to doing websites for pop music stars (Nsync ring a bell?) and building internet infrastructures for multinational corporations…and in THIS century, I’m scraping by doing the odd 2-3 week consulting job for little more than minimum wage here.

    Next month I try my hand at forming a consulting group for aquaculture startups. That seems to be where the money is going at the moment.

    *sigh*

    to think, I actually came here to study trophic ecology.

    well, I can still dream.

  43. 43
    Azuma Hazuki

    I wish I were in New Zealand. It seems so much safer and more civilized than the US, and the prospect of actually being able to get healthcare should I need it is attractive. We seem to mesh a bit in terms of personality too; ecology and environmental systems was my first love and was why I got into geology in the first place. Blame it on a childhood filled with the Super Famicom version of SimEarth :)

  44. 44
    Ichthyic

    It seems so much safer and more civilized than the US

    not seems, is.

    In fact, it’s the main reason I came here.

    the authoritarians are making a run at turning the US into a feudal society, and I want no part of it. There are too many of them, and they are too encouraged by spineless political hacks to stop now.

    many people will be dead at the end of this, mark my words.

  45. 45
    Ichthyic

    We seem to mesh a bit in terms of personality too

    come down for a visit, and I’ll show ya around the place.

    now’s a good time to come. Flights are cheap, and I have some time to spare while I wait for immigration to give me residency status.

    we even have our own local version of Geeks on Wheels right here in Wellington.

    http://www.geeksonwheels.co.nz/

    Oh, btw, I’ve got an “in” with the local geology folks (GNS), and have been given permission to research the paleontological collections here as well, which I’m sure you’d find interesting.

    I’ve been looking to see if there is a complete enough collection there to test a theory I’ve had about historic pan-pacific larval distributions for a while now.

  46. 46
    Ichthyic

    …anywho, if you ever want to come visit, shoot me an email:

    fisheyephotos(AT)hotmail(DOT)com

  47. 47
    Ichthyic

    …or find me on facebook or something.

  48. 48
    matthewbailey

    That is kind of Funny, Ichthyic… The “people will be dead at the end of this” part.

    Something that not many people seem to be paying attention to, here in the USA, is that the current trend toward “Ideological Purity” and “No Compromise” in politics leaves political opponents with only ONE OPTION: Violent opposition.

    It is funny the conservatives cry foul when this opposition emerges. What did they think was going to happen? Their ideology is not much different from Robespierre during the Terror in the French Revolution: Either do what I say, or we’ll kill you… Only, they leave the “we’ll kill you” part as an implication.

  49. 49
    Moggie

    The Yale- and Harvard-educated Bakker doesn’t like elitism:

    No way. It’s the loud, strident, elitist anti-creationists. The likes of Richard Dawkins and his colleagues.

    Can someone explain to me how “the likes of Richard Dawkins” are elitist? I’m pretty sure that Dawkins, along with other evolution popularisers, believes that the basic principles of evolution are within the grasp of an average child, along with an understanding of the flaws of creationism. That doesn’t strike me as particularly elitist. Is it because they believe that anyone teaching biology should, you know, understand biology? Does that make me elitist for only using dentists who have been to dental school?

  50. 50
    Ichthyic

    Their ideology is not much different from Robespierre during the Terror in the French Revolution: Either do what I say, or we’ll kill you… Only, they leave the “we’ll kill you” part as an implication.

    or, by fiat. It’s pretty easy to make someone’s life utter misery in the US, just by pulling a few strings.

    …and it’s been THAT way for decades now.

    Imagine McCarthyism reborn on a grand scale, and what defacto amounts to a feudal society afterwards.

    the purges will be glorious.

    I’m sure old William “Darwin in a Vise” Dembski can’t wait.

  51. 51
    Amblebury

    Ichthyic – don’t know if it’s any use to you, but I know someone who set up an amazing successful paua farm.(That’s abalone to many folks.) He’s a PhD in marine biology, (Southampton) and figured out the whole set-up himself, for way less of the cost of many commercial enterprises. had the little buggers breeding and growing like triffids.

    Problem was, a business man he was not. No idea. I even set up a website for him, so there’d be no interaction with customers, and direct ordering. Tanked. Example: they’re growing so many of these tasty beasties they’re literally having to drop them out at sea. Logan Brown and Shed Five say they’d like a sample to try. “No, we don’t give samples, you either buy them or you don’t.”

    But practical how-to advice? He’s great.

    We know a few GNS folks too! (Welcome to NZ)

  52. 52
    Ichthyic

    don’t know if it’s any use to you, but I know someone who set up an amazing successful paua farm.

    more the merrier; I have some inside contacts at MAF that are feeding me preliminary info on which regulations are being changed, etc, so I’m in the process of gathering up all the info I can at this point.

    forward along their contact info, if you can; I’m sure we’ll have stories to swap. I spent a little time working with US Abalone in California.

    are you anywhere near Welly? If so, drop yer contact info and I’ll buy yas a brew at a local pub.

    cheers

  53. 53
    bad Jim

    I seem to recall that Bakker didn’t accept the notion that the dinosaurs’ demise was due to an asteroid impact.

    Let me repeat my standard defense of NOMA: Gould wasn’t saying that religion actually has anything useful to say about morality and such, but simply that it has nothing to do with practical matters.

  54. 54
    Amblebury

    Hey Ichthyic, we’re in Wellington next week – Wed. and Thurs. If you’re a bearded, bespectacled gent, I’ve just sent you a FB ‘friend’ (shudder) request.

  55. 55
    Ichthyic

    Let me repeat my standard defense of NOMA: Gould wasn’t saying that religion actually has anything useful to say about morality and such, but simply that it has nothing to do with practical matters.

    let me repeat the standard response to your defense:

    the religion Gould describes doesn’t exist, and never did.

    which is the main reason NOMA is a failure. It attempted to put religion into a box that it never was in.

    religion CONSTANTLY makes factual claims; it can’t help but do so to remain relevant at all (even if it has to lie about the support for those claims). NOMA as a larger practical issue fails on this alone, aside from the many other logical issues with it.

    this is why you can’t use NOMA as a successful long term strategy. In the short term, and localized, you can use it to blind creationists long enough to stymie a particular lobbying effort, but that’s about it. It’s fundamentally flawed. The only real question was:

    Did Gould himself really know this at the time as well? I know a few people who were around him at the time to suggest he did indeed know it was nothing but bullshit, but figured it was worth a shot anyway.

  56. 56
    Ichthyic

    Hey Ichthyic, we’re in Wellington next week – Wed. and Thurs. If you’re a bearded, bespectacled gent, I’ve just sent you a FB ‘friend’ (shudder) request.

    that’s me.

    I’ll check the FB (damn but I hate FB), but better to shoot me an email so we can coordinate timing.

    next week will be perfect, as the better half is out training to be a fish-cop.

  57. 57
    bad Jim

    Ichthyic, I’d argue that NOMA was an essential part of the case in Dover. Sure, it won’t convince the believers, but it’s essential to the argument that science isn’t by itself antagonistic to religion. As Galileo is supposed to have said, religion tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. The church didn’t buy that then, but the courts do now.

    We generally agree that science does tend to undermine faith, but primarily by invalidating its way of thinking. The fallen factual claims of various sects are merely collateral damage, innocent victims of intellectual progress, or so we’ll argue.

    What I really want to know, given your location in the southern hemisphere, is how noticeable the Magellanic Clouds are down there. On my one brief opportunity to view them from a beach north of Rio de Janeiro I could almost convince myself that I could see some vague forms. Are our nearest neighboring galaxies something you point out to visitors?

  58. 58
    John Morales

    bad Jim:

    1. Sure, it won’t convince the believers, but it’s essential to the argument that science isn’t by itself antagonistic to religion.

    [...]

    2. We generally agree that science does tend to undermine faith, but primarily by invalidating its way of thinking.

    You reconcile 1 and 2?

    (How about ‘compatible’ and ‘epistemology’?)

  59. 59
    Ichthyic

    Ichthyic, I’d argue that NOMA was an essential part of the case in Dover.

    what? How so?

    be specific, because I don’t recall it being anything other than a lemon test in the end.

    it’s essential to the argument that science isn’t by itself antagonistic to religion.

    but this is a lie covered in frosting. Sure, science isn’t antagonistic towards religion, or anything else for that matter, so long as it doesn’t make factual claims to knowledge that are testable.

    the problem is, there is not a single religion on the planet of any significance that DOES NOT make testable claims to fact.

    not.

    one.

    so, in essence, pushing NOMA is attempting to peddle a lie.

    It’s really not worth it for the long haul.

    We generally agree that science does tend to undermine faith, but primarily by invalidating its way of thinking.

    no, it doesn’t “invalidate” faith as a “way of knowledge” so much as it just makes revelatory knowledge appear useless in comparison.

    which of course, is why humans have embraced the scientific method for 400 years.

    Science: it just works.

    faith is undermined because people put faith in the idea that their ideology is composed of real-world, verifiable knowledge. It says so, right there in the bible.

    When they make factual claims, like say, that you can breed animals in front of striped sticks to get striped offspring, that’s an easily testable, and rejectable, factual claim their bible makes, and thus, they either then have to lose faith in the factual claims of the bible, and reject its ineracy, or else ignore it.

    It’s not science that’s putting the boot to their faith, so much as their faith was simply misplaced to begin with.

    NOMA props up a fantasy: That religion has a magisteria with something to actually offer to the human race.

    it doesn’t.

    it’s a vacuum.

  60. 60
    Ichthyic

    he church didn’t buy that then, but the courts do now.

    again, this is entirely irrelevant to the arguments that decided the case at Dover.

    I can think of some legislation in Chicago where it might have been, but Dover?

  61. 61
    bad Jim

    John Morales, there are two separate arguments. One is whether science is, in effect, a religious faith in competition with other faiths, the teaching of which would be impermissible in view of the establishment clause of the first amendment. NOMA takes it out of this category, as does the accommodation of mainline churches of heliocentrism, atomic theory and evolution.

    The people in the pews make their living doing practical work and largely respect expertise, but they don’t like being told they’re animals.

    The rest of us recognize that we’re not only animals, but mammals, and not only mammals, but primates. We need to remember to credit Linnaeus for that (for some) uncomfortable insight.

  62. 62
    Ichthyic

    What I really want to know, given your location in the southern hemisphere, is how noticeable the Magellanic Clouds are down there.

    I’m not much of an astronomer, sorry. I’m still getting used to how things have moved around down here, and only recently started downloading some star charts for comparison.

    I can say there is zero air pollution down here, and away from the city, the skies are quite spectacular.

    slightly less ozone distortion too, though that has some rather bad side effects.

    This reminds me though, they were rebuilding the observatory in Wellington, and that should be done now. I’ll have to visit.

  63. 63
    Ichthyic

    One is whether science is, in effect, a religious faith in competition with other faiths

    it doesn’t need NOMA to “take it out of that category”, since it’s nonsensical to suggest it in the first place.

  64. 64
    Ichthyic

    We need to remember to credit Linnaeus for that (for some) uncomfortable insight.

    yeah… I for one found comfort in the idea that there is more connection than not between life on this planet. The religious notion that we are special creations was what always made me uncomfortable.

  65. 65
    echidna

    It’s not science that’s putting the boot to their faith, so much as their faith was simply misplaced to begin with.

    +5 insightful.

  66. 66
    echidna

    The people in the pews make their living doing practical work and largely respect expertise, but they don’t like being told they’re animals.

    There is a real failure of education happening for these people.

  67. 67
    bad Jim

    Ichthyic, we’re agreeing with each other at the top of our voices! Most of the time when you’re vociferously disagreeing with me you’re just restating what I’ve said! I’m sorry if I’ve pissed you off. (And I actually do want to hear how visible the Magellanic Clouds are down there.)

    My understanding of the Dover case is that the judge found it significant that some scientists, like Ken Miller, a Catholic, could reconcile facts with faith. NOMA does precisely what the laws require, and the outcome of this case is not something I’d quibble with.

    I’ve been godless since I was 11 or 12 (though then I called myself agnostic) about the time I was first exposed to ecological studies in the field.

  68. 68
    yec123

    Let me just say that I actually admire PZ Myers for his honesty. He doesn’t try to appease and accommodate. He doesn’t try and find some “third way” that tries to please everyone but actually pleases nobody. Ken Miller and Francisco Ayala are the dishonest ones as they make the case for an oxymoron in “theistic evolutionism”. In reality, wholly naturalistic evolution and biology can never be accepted by theists but it can by Deists, as well as pantheists and non-theists. However, the likes of PZ, JC, RD and others do help reinforce the idea among ordinary religious folks that evolutionism and atheism are just two heads of the same monstrous beast.

  69. 69
    AJS

    The problem with NOMA is that religion refuses to honour its side of the bargain. Even after the correct scientific explanation is discovered for some phenomena that formerly used to be thought to be supernatural, religion continues stubbornly to peddle its wrong explanations.

  70. 70
    Kel

    I thought the argument in Dover was that a) methodological naturalism doesn’t necessitate metaphysical naturalism, b) intelligent design was a rebranding of creationism, and c) the people who introduced the bill were not acting for a secular purpose. How NOMA comes into that, I don’t know.

  71. 71
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    yec123 I thought you were quarantined. You shouldn’t be in this thread.

  72. 72
    bad Jim

    Dammit, Ichthyic. You’re no better than I am. I was in Brazil around this time of the year, and the Magellanic Clouds were (I think) visible in the evening sky then and so should be now, so, if your skies are dark, go out and look!

    Astronomy was my first love, but I think it was biology that turned me into a heathen, though it’s hard to decide whether it was that first class or puberty. (Childhood is such a short time that it’s difficult to sort out the different influences. Let it be noted that this was decades before video games.)

  73. 73
    Ichthyic

    My understanding of the Dover case is that the judge found it significant that some scientists, like Ken Miller, a Catholic, could reconcile facts with faith.

    he made comment on it, but not as a rule of law.

    the issue was whether what the dover school board was doing passed the Lemon test.

    that’s it.

    that was the only legal issue at stake.

    the rest was intellectual debate that informed the issue, and I think the Judge was genuinely interested in it (and I really enjoyed reading his take on many things, since he obviously was able to reason from first principles why ID is no different from creationism), but in the end, the only reason FOR the various testimonies was to determine if ID passed the Lemon test as a secular “theory”.

    It did not.

    Science was not on trial here, and NOMA would have been irrelevant.

  74. 74
    Ichthyic

    if your skies are dark, go out and look!

    clouds.

    it’s been a very cloudy year, actually. the worst on record in 80 years, so they say.

    definitely could use some more sun down here before winter sets in.

  75. 75
    Ichthyic

    evolutionism and atheism are just two heads of the same monstrous beast

    ooh! ooh!

    Was it the black beast of Arrrggghhh?

  76. 76
    bad Jim

    Kel, unfortunately, methodological naturalism will always entail metaphysical naturalism until we can figure out how to conduct a non-trivial metaphysical experiment. Blasphemy is useless. Animal sacrifice can definitely be tasty in the right hands, but its general utility is indistinguishable from … oh look! It’s an owl!

  77. 77
    Kel

    Kel, unfortunately, methodological naturalism will always entail metaphysical naturalism until we can figure out how to conduct a non-trivial metaphysical experiment.

    From my perspective, there’s no unfortunately about it. ;)

  78. 78
    Ichthyic

    From my perspective, there’s no unfortunately about it. ;)

    ditto.

    the terms were always fairly irrelevant to begin with anyway.

    ooh, off to watch “The Pirates” (just finished downloading)

    yes, I pirate movies.

    something ironic about watching a movie about Pirates I pirated…

  79. 79
    bad Jim

    Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
    Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!

  80. 80
    Kel

    the terms were always fairly irrelevant to begin with anyway.

    Indeed. At best, one’s talking about a source of knowledge and the other is talking about the body of knowledge. But there’s no hard rule that metaphysical claims are exempt from being scrutinised through methodological naturalism.

    I thought Jason Rosenhouse’s new book did a good job discussing methodological naturalism and its role in science.

  81. 81
    Ichthyic

    …just finished The Pirates.

    Best line:

    “Just saying ‘Arrr’ at the end of each sentence doesn’t always make everything all right.”

  82. 82
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    However, the likes of PZ, JC, RD and others do help reinforce the idea among ordinary religious folks that evolutionism and atheism are just two heads of the same monstrous beast.

    Fine metaphor. If atheism and evolution(ism*) are cerebral, you must admit that theism and creationism are ummm…post-cranial.

    *I think you just mean “science” here.

  83. 83
    Matt Penfold

    I’ve always liked Jerry Coyne’s take on the philosophy of science. It is interesting, but at the end of the day, science just works.

  84. 84
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    However, the likes of PZ, JC, RD and others do help reinforce the idea among ordinary religious folks that evolutionism and atheism are just two heads of the same monstrous beast.

    Yeah. That monstrous beast is called reality.

  85. 85
    julietdefarge

    These religious scientists need to conduct a brief survey on exactly where their funding is coming from. Guessing it’s not churches.

  86. 86
    hypatiasdaughter

    As a Canadian who moved to the US 17 years ago, in my 40′s, I see the US from the inside with an outsiders eyes. These are some of my impressions:
    1) Americans (not all, but too many) have an inflated sense that they can make “what they want to be true” into “actual truth” by voting on it. They conflate “I have a right to my opinion” into “My opinion is right.” The whole political effort to get CreoID into schools is based on this – if the majority of people want CreoID taught in the schools, they the majority should get what they want. Isn’t that how democracy works?
    2) Americans also have a sense of entitlement. The world has always bent to their will. Wealth and jobs came easy. One didn’t need a good education to get a good job. (Of course, that has gone the way of the dodo in the last 20 years – but the expectations die hard.) So there is little respect for education. Coupled with Point#1, those who don’t feel they need to be educated resent that those who are educated (the elitists) telling them that they are wrong about reality.
    3) Politically, Americans have been forced to be progressives. Whereas other countries have pushed to respect minority rights (for other religions, women, racial minorities) from “the bottom, up” (IOW, peoples’ attitudes changed, then they changed the laws), the Constitution has pushed for minority rights from “the top, down”. This has brought out a reactionary backlash by people who feel that tolerance has been forced upon them.

  87. 87
    iknklast

    The vast majority of creationists I know (and it’s an unfortunately large number, but I am from the Bible Belt) have never heard of Richard Dawkins, have only heard his arguments filtered through their religious mouthpieces, and would probably think if anyone mentioned his name that they were talking about that nice Richard Dawson who used to be in Family Feud.

    I came from a fundamentalist family; it isn’t atheism – I didn’t know that existed until I was about 12 – it’s the constant reading of Genesis (in the Children’s Bible Stories version more often than not), the constant Christmas pageants, and the teary-eyed witnessing.

    And people like Miller wish the atheists would shut up because they are smart enough to realize who has the better arguments, and they’re afraid to hear them. Might make them rethink what they accept without thinking about it. Miller is a good spokesperson for evolution, but it’s unfortunate he has to turn off his scientific brain and babble religion on a regular basis.

    I think the real problem is actually that we’ve spent so much time saying that evolution isn’t incompatible with faith. Very few of the people I know believe that (whether they accept evolution or not), and for a creationist, it’s tantamont to telling them they’re worshipping the wrong God, or worshipping God in the wrong way. I think the real problem is the apologists, myself.

  88. 88
    Q.E.D

    yec123

    However, the likes of PZ, JC, RD and others do help reinforce the idea among ordinary religious folks that evolutionism and atheism are just two heads of the same monstrous beast.

    What is it like to be wilfully, purposefully, pig ignorant? [1]

    [1] with apologies to pigs who actually learn from experience and thus, while ignorant of many things, are not wilfully ignorant.

  89. 89
    pedantik

    What’s this about the NCSE? I thought they were the good guys (and gals, esp. Eugenie).

  90. 90
    hypatiasdaughter

    4) Religion as an institution is different in the US from many other countries. Americans don’t see it, because they are used to it; outsiders don’t see it because religion looks superficially the same as in their own countries. It took me a while to catch on.
    I think of religion institutions like a McDonald’s franchise – a large parent organization that derives the theology and sets the rules, then lets local groups set up local churches under their auspices. The local churches and minsters have to toe the line on theology and behavior or get booted out. This is how the RCC and mainstream Protestant churches have traditionally worked (and is how it is done in most other countries.)
    The US has been a breeding ground for independent churches. This is like the guy who opens “Joe’s Burger Emporium” instead of buying a McDonald’s franchise. The individual who starts a church is answerable to no one but his congregation on matters of theology or behavior. Any wackaloon can open a church, preach a “theology” that appeals to the lowest common denominator of his congregation and fill the pews and his pockets. And not only is it all tax free, but, as he doesn’t even have to file taxes or follow business codes, there isn’t any oversight at all.
    This is why independent churches are thriving. Why mega churches are everywhere. Religion, due to the government’s hands-off policy, is the ultimate free ride in the US.
    And the lowest common denominator of these congregations is based on the factors I cited in Parts#1&2 – a disdain for education, rejection of the educated elite, and theological ignorance.
    People flock to a church that tells them what they want to hear. And they don’t want hear about hard things like science or a real, well though out theology. Don’t make me read the Bible; just tell me the parts that make me feel warm and fuzzy and unchallenged.

  91. 91
    PZ Myers

    NCSE are good guys, and I recommend that you maintain your memberships in that organization.

    However, they definitely do take a conciliatory attitude towards religion, and avoid conflict with it. It’s to be expected of a political organization in the USA, unfortunately.

  92. 92
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    hypatiasdaughter @86
    I think you are 100% correct!

  93. 93
    Moggie

    AE:

    Fine metaphor. If atheism and evolution(ism*) are cerebral, you must admit that theism and creationism are ummm…post-cranial.

    Recto-cranial.

  94. 94
    hypatiasdaughter

    #89 pedantik
    The NCSE acts as an information clearing house about evolution education and its legal position in schools. So they get called into communities where CreoID is being pushed into the schools to clarify the legal rights and responsibilities of the teachers, principals and school boards. This may sometimes go right up to court cases (where they cannot file the case, but act as expert witnesses) but Dr Scott says they try to prevent it from going that far, and have settled most disputes by mediation.
    Dr Scott believes that they need the base of moderate xtians to do this. The moderates are usually the majority in these communities; they file the cases and vote in the school boards. She wants them as allies against the CreoID fundies.
    While the NCSE maintains that it is neutral on the religion vs science debate, when you go on their website, they have a whole section about theistic evolution, with write-ups on the different denominations that support theistic evolution.
    Not exactly neutral. Definitely anti fundie religions.
    Being willing to work with xtians in local communities to fight CreoID is politically shrewd; but pushing a specific xtian theological stance is a little more iffy.

  95. 95
    Matt Penfold

    So how do those who blame Dawkins et al for the poor standard of science education, and the lack of acceptance of evolution, explain why problem has been around for decades longer than gnu atheism ?

  96. 96
    Q.E.D

    No way. It’s the loud, strident, elitist anti-creationists. The likes of Richard Dawkins and his colleagues.

    Mr. Bakker you keep using that word “elite”, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Do you mean elite as in educated (like you)? Elite as in scientist (like you)? Elite as in “I have a decent understanding of evolution” (like you)? Elite as in, “I have a very clear understanding that it is impossible for the universe and all that is in it to be less than 10,000 years old” (like you)? Elite as in “graduated with degrees from the most prestigious, exclusive, elite educational institutions(like you)?”

    As for “anti-creationist” what does that mean? Do you mean people who are against the teaching of creationism in science classes? The vast majority of scientists who say there is no evidence that the universe and all that is in it was created by a supernatural being? Educated people who use science to prove that creationists are wrong?

    Aha, I get it now, when you say “elitist anti-creationists” you mean: “Educated Atheist people who’s very existence and understanding of the universe we live in are living, walking, evidence that creationists are wrong and they fucking hate us for it”

    shorter Bakker: “uppity Atheists”

    It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise super smart, educated people can have be hobbled by a tunnel vision of stupid.

  97. 97
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    What’s the greatest enemy of science education in the U.S.?

    Militant Creationism?

    No way. It’s the loud, strident, elitist anti-creationists.

    That’s like saying the reason why violence on tv is increasing is because there are some people that don’t own tvs.

  98. 98
    ChristineRose

    Old Atheist: “Religion doesn’t work for me, but if you feel it makes you more moral and charitable and you like the music, go for it.”

    New Atheist: “Religion makes people fly airplanes into buildings.”

    I’m not sure it really fits reality as there have been “New” atheists as long as there has been religion.

  99. 99
    Jeffrey G Johnson

    They have that exactly backwards. There is a long tradition of creationism and “Intelligent Design” trying to pervert the teaching of science, as if science were merely a matter of opinion or belief. That pissed me off for decades. It was that anger and resentment over the aggressiveness of creationists that led me to latch onto and embrace the so called new atheism.

    It really doesn’t matter how politely we argue that religion is simply false, we will be called strident because our most basic assertions are offensive and repellent to the religious. That’s their problem, not ours.

  100. 100
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Moggie:

    The Yale- and Harvard-educated Bakker doesn’t like elitism.

    That’s not familiar at all.

  101. 101
    Anri

    So how do those who blame Dawkins et al for the poor standard of science education, and the lack of acceptance of evolution, explain why problem has been around for decades longer than gnu atheism ?

    Um, godless commies?

    Uppity womenz?

    No, no, wait, I know – education was, like all of the rest of America, perfect in the 50′s. Everyone was white, straight, slim, Christian (well, ok, we had a few captive Jews for the money stuff), had great singing voices and immaculate lawns.
    Then those damn hippies came along and ruined anything.

    This is True History.

  102. 102
    pedantik

    #94: Yes, they say politics is the art of the possible. I hadn’t seen the theistic evolution part of NCSE’s website before; that is disappointing, but I see where they have to keep their base as broad as possible to have more impact. I used to be a science teacher, and had to tread carefully where evolution was concerned just to keep my job. Some of the other teachers wouldn’t even mention the “E”-word in class, but used euphemisms like “adaptation”. Overall, I still think NCSE is a worthy organization, and wish I had known about it back when I was teaching.

  103. 103
    Matt Penfold

    #94: Yes, they say politics is the art of the possible. I hadn’t seen the theistic evolution part of NCSE’s website before; that is disappointing, but I see where they have to keep their base as broad as possible to have more impact. I used to be a science teacher, and had to tread carefully where evolution was concerned just to keep my job. Some of the other teachers wouldn’t even mention the “E”-word in class, but used euphemisms like “adaptation”. Overall, I still think NCSE is a worthy organization, and wish I had known about it back when I was teaching.

    There is a UK version of the NCSE, the BCSE that also plays nice with religion, claiming that religion and science are compatible, rather than that there is disagreement on the issue.

    I have no idea why the BCSE feels the need to cozy up to religion.

  104. 104
    blbt5

    As James Powell pointed out in “Night Comes to the Cretaceous”, none of the “established” paleontologists have ever credited the Alvarez evidence in the 1980s for the Chixulub meteor which is now accepted by most scientists as the root cause of the disappearance of the dinosaurs, since this disproved their various pet theories. Unfortunately like Bakker, many are still bitter from the experience and reflexively anti-science towards anyone, such as Dawkins, outside their field.

  105. 105
    crocswsocks

    Oh, right, we’re elitist. That’s why we go on talk shows and explain how anyone can join us and why everyone should.

  106. 106
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    Elitist? FFS, it’s just learning stuff, not… oooh, family money and school tie.

    And funnily enough I agree pretty much fully with yec123 at #63, although I see it as a good thing. ;-)

  107. 107
    rthille

    Not sure how you’d get at this idea with a scientific study, but maybe they _are_ right, that we atheists are driving “moderately” religious people further away from reality, just because they react negatively to it. Maybe talking about it makes them flee further into fantasy. Perhaps we just underestimate how poorly these humans’ brains work.

    I’m struck by how the US guarantees freedom of and from religion, and we are more religious than in the UK, where a particular religion is sponsored by the state. Why is that? Was it because the country was founded by religious zealots who only managed to enshrine freedom of religion so as to protect their zealotry and the population is predisposed to it? Or is it due to the intense competition different sects experienced and so worked harder to ensure converts & indoctrination of children?

    Regardless, there seems to be a lot we don’t understand about the mind and some of it is very counter-intuitive.

  108. 108
    Ing

    Not sure how you’d get at this idea with a scientific study, but maybe they _are_ right, that we atheists are driving “moderately” religious people further away from reality, just because they react negatively to it. Maybe talking about it makes them flee further into fantasy. Perhaps we just underestimate how poorly these humans’ brains work.

    If only someone had done stuff like that.

  109. 109
    twincats

    On a personal level, I don’t think theistic evolution is an awful thing. It was my first experience of evolution in (parochial) jr. high. Our teacher overall taught very good science and got to teach evolution without any grief from any one because he gave a nod to gawd as the power that created it (and a brief nod it was, too.)

    The education I got allowed me to eventually give up religion altogether because I had good information and the skills to apply it; mostly learned in my parochial jr. high school.

    That said, I DO NOT advocate doing such things in public school in any way, shape, or form!

  110. 110
    Ichthyic

    If only someone had done stuff like that.

    heh.

    What Ing is leaving off, is that these kinds of studies have been done for decades now, and there are even major journals devoted to studying the psychology and sociology of religion.

    It’s a big field; those interested might want to start here:

    http://www.psychwww.com/psyrelig/

    also, several related papers have been discussed both here and on Jerry Coyne’s blog; search on relevant terms should pop the threads up.

    bottom line: Yeah, it’s been done. There is no evidentiary support that the accomodationist approach is a successful long term strategy. There is a lot of evidence that a hard-line approach involving marginalization behaviors (like ridicule) has much more of an effect. It’s also clear that entrenchment starts with early peer exposure (I can cite relevant papers), so that this is where the effort needs to be focused; in early development.

  111. 111
    Ichthyic

    I’m struck by how the US guarantees freedom of and from religion, and we are more religious than in the UK, where a particular religion is sponsored by the state. Why is that?

    Because people LIKE to form ingroups. If there is already a state sponsored religion, there is much less incentive to form separate ingroups.

    It really is that simple.

    You would have seen the same thing happen here in the US if say, the US had adopted a liberal church as the “state church” when drafting the constitution.

    However, the current way things are in the states allows for the ultimate competition of ideas. In the end, it will allow rationalism to finally take hold and weed out the superstitious nonsense entirely. It will take several more generations though, I think, and it looks like the huge numbers of empowered authoritarians in the States will make things much worse before they get better.

    I hope I’m wrong, but if history is a guide, the US right now looks an awful lot like Germany did during the Weimar Republic, with very similar attitudes towards outgroups and their own democratic government. Only now there are 20 times the number of people involved.

    The possibilities were enough to send me packing to a more sane habitat, even if there isn’t a majority chance we will see a complete boil-over. Could be it will just fizzle.

  112. 112
    AJS

    In the hard sciences, there are such things as right and wrong answers. Reality isn’t malleable, and there is nobody to whom you can complain if you don’t like the answers you get.

    I think some people just don’t like that idea.

  113. 113
    rthille

    Thanks Ichthyic! I figured that someone had done the science, but I didn’t have any time to look for it (nor the expertise in that field).

    As for the in-group/out-group thing, it seems that the state-sponsored religion isn’t the in-group, it’s the local church affiliate of the state-sponsored religion. Yes, that’s a quibble, but was thinking that if the US had been initiated with state-sponsored science clubs or something with local chapters just how much further along we’d be :-)

  114. 114
    hypatiasdaughter

    #103 Matt Penfold
    These organizations don’t exist to promote atheism; they exist to promote science.
    They cozy up to religion for purely pragmatic reasons. The majority of people are religious and if you want their political support, you don’t diss their beliefs. You don’t keep CreoIDers off school boards and out of state governments unless the majority votes against them. Do you really think there are enough atheists anywhere to keep a creationist off a school board?
    The section on the NCSE website that discusses theistic evolution is there because of the abysmal ignorance of most religious people about their own theology. They don’t know what their denominations stance is on evolution, so they pick up their info from the fundie CreoIDers who dominate the public discussion about religion. (Why the public airwaves fawns all over the fundies while ignoring mainstream religions is another issue.) So, they end up educating people on BOTH science and theology – a very weird situation.
    There is a hypocrisy about claiming to be a science based organization while promoting a specific religious stance on the science, but they are compromising on ideological purity to achieve a practical goal. (Presumably they also hope that, in the long run, people will be swayed to more rationalism about science if they have a chance to be exposed to it.)

Comments have been disabled.