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Dec 31 2013

The lesser evil is still evil

One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.

-Shakespeare

Every time I see another atheist praising Pope Francis, I think of that quote from Hamlet. It could be worse, they say; at least he seems to have a conscience, he nods to the outcasts now and then, he may even be a tad more liberal than that last pope, so we should be thankful for the small improvement. I’m not. I’d rather have an unbeguiling bad guy in the papacy than the kind who does a better job of public relations. You’ve heard of the metaphor to describe optimists and pessimists: the optimist sees the glass as half full, while the pessimist sees it as half empty. But what about the guy who sees the glass as half full…of poison? Because that’s me.

There are a lot of issues in the Catholic Church that we all ought to find repugnant, say, child raping and forced birth and disease spreading policies, and I don’t see Pope Francis changing a thing about church culture on matters that are important. I’m going to focus on a less significant concern, but one that I find personally indicative, and one that I know a little bit about: evolution.

Gallup has been polling the American public on the question of evolution for 30 years, and the results have been remarkably consistent: a bit less than half our citizens have been reporting back as holding young earth creationist views. Here are the results of the 2012 survey:

Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process 32%
Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process 15%
God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time in the last 10,000 years or so 46%

A pessimist would say that 46% are creationists; an optimist would say that 47% believe in some form of evolution; I would say wait a minute — the poll designers don’t understand evolution (“from less advanced forms of life” is a clause that would have caused Darwin to cringe — “never say higher or lower”), and that 32% who claim evolution is divinely guided get it completely wrong, as badly as the young earth creationists. That’s poison in the cup, and we’re perpetuating misinformation if we continue to treat that as an acceptable answer.

People accept this “god-guided” caveat as a reasonable compromise in far too many circumstances. In the last presidential elections, for instance, Mitt Romney, one of the presidential candidates who did not raise his hand to testify in his disbelief in evolution at a Republican debate, later explained exactly what he meant.

I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe. And I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.

That is not evolution. That is freaking bullshit. Evolution is not the magic wand used by the Space Fairy to conjure people into existence. Evolution is an unguided process. Nobody called him on it, though, because if you’d asked any of the Democrats, they’d probably mumble the same nonsense about believing in a god who created the world and then shaped it to his own ends. It’s the poisonous platitude injected into the culture to reconcile a creation myth to a biological process that directly contradicts their story.

The Catholic Church has a similar rationalization. The church “allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul,” according to catholic.com. Notice the magic words: guidance from a god, and a special creation event for an invisible ghost. And yet, somehow, everybody is under the impression that the Catholic Church has endorsed evolution.

That is not evolution.

If your auto mechanic said they used standard mechanical and electronic tools to fix your car, but oh, by the way, there’s a charge on your bill for the necessary sacrificing of a goat, would you trust their work?

Claiming that the inclusion of a teleological function within our understanding of evolution is a reasonable accommodation is a fundamental distortion of the evidence and reflects a serious misunderstanding of the science of evolution — an awkwardly common misunderstanding, but still definitively wrong. It’s a very common error to mistake a phenomenological description of a march of species as a proxy for the theory of evolution — but it’s not. From the very beginning, in its formulation by Charles Darwin, and in our current ongoing research in the field of evolutionary biology, evolution is a mechanism and a process. Many scientists before Darwin had hypothesized that species transformed into other species, but the Darwinian difference was that he proposed how these changes could take place.

Evolutionary theory is not about the detailed phenomenology of what species evolved into what, what structure is derived from what, or what gene is present in what frequencies in which organisms, although of course those details inform our understanding of evolutionary history or trajectories. What evolutionary theory is about is how environment and time and chance modified a species, how novelties and changes arose, and what processes changed the frequency of alleles in a population. These questions are all answered by understanding mechanisms, and we’ve got long lists of factors that shape evolution, from random chance to environmental selection to sexual selection to recombination to the constraints and opportunities of sexual and asexual reproduction.

Most importantly, nowhere in the lists of processes that enable evolution is intervention by a god. We’re explicit: there’s no teleology in evolutionary theory at all.

But religious meddling, including but not exclusively that of the Catholic Church, has poisoned the idea in the public mind, and made this nonsense about “guidance” and some special things being “created”, part of the common understanding of evolution. The revolutionary nature of the theory has been blunted by slathering it with this toxic, misleading lie.

And it’s everywhere!

Here’s Francis Collins, in The Language of God:

God, who is not limited in space or time, created the universe and established natural laws that govern it. Seeking to populate this otherwise sterile universe with living creatures, God chose the elegant mechanics, of evolution to create microbes, plants, and animals of all sorts. Most remarkably, God intentionally chose the same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, a knowledge of right and wrong, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with Him .

That’s the same manure Mitt Romney was spreading. Show me the evidence for any of that; how does Francis Collins know? This intentional intervention by a deity is not supported by anything in the science, it is all entirely derived from religious claims.

Then there’s the National Academies statement on the Compatibility of Science and Religion. This is painful.

Acceptance of the evidence for evolution can be compatible with religious faith. Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible.

Look at the Catholic statement that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Do you see any conflicts at all? I should think that the little unscientific addenda postulating that evolution is a guided process with a specific purpose and end would be setting off alarm bells in any scientist’s mind — but no, it’s the slick goo that lets the lies get injected smoothly.

Take a look at the results of the Gallup poll above once more. The real lesson of those numbers is that only 15% of the American public actually have the slightest glimmerings of the implications of evolution, 78% are creationists, and about half (at least!) of the creationists are actively spreading disinformation about the meaning of evolution.

I’ll believe people who tell me that Pope Francis is different when I see him demonstrating that he actually understands the import of evolution, that there was no guiding influence, that humans are a product of chance and natural selection, and that we aren’t any more special to the universe than a sea slug. And the only thing that would demonstrate that is an open repudiation of all of Catholic doctrine, which I don’t quite see the Pope doing.

And that’s just a small piece of the problem with the Catholic Church. If he’d actually been different, he wouldn’t have accepted the leadership of the world’s richest pedophilia ring in the first place. That alone is sufficient to mark him as a villain, smile and smile as much as he wants.

81 comments

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  1. 1
    maddog1129

    This is exactly why his selection as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” is just foolish. Snowden’s work was MUCH more important.

  2. 2
    Inaji

    PZ:

    It could be worse, they say; at least he seems to have a conscience, he nods to the outcasts now and then, he may even be a tad more liberal than that last pope, so we should be thankful for the small improvement.

    Oh, there’s no improvement. Smiling Pope Francis wasted no time in excommunicating a priest who decided to be a decent human being: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/12/no-wine-and-biscuit-for-you/

  3. 3
    robb

    i heard this somewhere:

    there are three types of people: one sees the glass as half-full. one sees the glass as half empty. and the other says “hey, i didn’t order this!”

  4. 4
    Dick the Damned

    God chose the elegant mechanics, of evolution to create microbes, plants, and animals of all sorts.

    So, this guy, head of the NIH & formerly leader of the Human Genome Project, doesn’t understand natural selection!

  5. 5
    notsont

    I’m not quite sure where I saw it, but in a recent interview I watched, there was a child advocate being asked about whether he thought the new pope was a big improvement. His response was very interesting, he said something along the lines of…”Sure we could praise this new pope for seeming to be a nicer guy, until you remember that this is a man with the power to to stop child rapes currently happening in his organization with little to no effort, and yet he will still refuse to do so, this is a man who is, through his inaction is allowing rapists to still move from victim to victim unhindered. So sure hes an improvement but not much of one.”

  6. 6
    alexanderz

    @maddog1129 #1:

    Are you surprised? It’s the same magazine that named the computer and the planet as people of the year.
    At least it’s going to get better: http://www.theonion.com/video/time-announces-new-version-of-magazine-aimed-at-ad,17950/

  7. 7
    David Wilford

    Most importantly, nowhere in the lists of processes that enable evolution is intervention by a god. We’re explicit: there’s no teleology in evolutionary theory at all.

    But there is adaptationism, which is kinda, sorta, teleological, as it posits an evolutionary theory that includes the notion of progress towards an optimal organism, that is, one that’s optimal for its given environment. I know there’s plenty of disagreement among biologists on this point, but it’s definitely there in current evolutionary theory.

    As for god being part of the mix, meh. When you have to resort to the supernatural concept of ensoulment to keep a deity relevant you’ve ceded the evolutionary field to naturalism.

  8. 8
    Sastra

    Well said.

    I was reminded of this:

    A man didn’t understand how televisions work, and was convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box, manipulating images at high speed. An engineer explained about high-frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, transmitters and receivers, amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The man listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. “But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren’t there?” (Doug Adams)

    Pope Francis (and all the other theistic evolutionists) are this man. No, go further — he doesn’t just “expect” there’s just a little bit of magic still driving evolution somehow, he positively glories in that fact. And he is as smug as hell about it, too.

    “Don’t be one of those electronic engineers who believe that televisions can be explained without any little men at all. Don’t be an extremist. Why, the one little man left in the machine provides the heart and meaning! He’s the most important component! And yeah, the electro-mechanical stuff … I guess. If we have to.”

    See how compatible it is? You nod every step of the way — and then jerk yourself back to the prescientific beginning. It’s “compatible” not in the sense of fitting together. It’s only “compatible” in the sense of “see this thing here… and look what we put next to it.” Evolution is compatible with religion the way a perfectly-prepared gourmet dinner is compatible with a dead bat. Thunk. There you go.

  9. 9
    freemage

    As much as I despise the Pope, and as certain as I am of the non-existence of any sort of deity, I disagree with your read of the meaning of “evolution guided by God”. I know what I used to mean when I still believed, and what most of the people I’ve met who still use the phrase, and it generally entails no actual intervention. Rather, it’s more of a deistic approach–given a mechanistic universe, an omniscient and omnipotent being who establishes the laws of nature and the starting conditions will, pretty much by default, know how it’s going to play out, much like a man playing solitaire with a deck he stacked himself. Of course, they still get all dualistic and woo-ified when talking about what happens when humans show up (gotta keep free will in the game somehow, after all), and I won’t defend that, or any of the other silliness that comes up from that point on.

    That said, the current Pope is an awful human being who does a good job of making it seem to people who have an ingrained bias to want a non-awful human being as a spiritual leader that he is such an individual.

  10. 10
    Gregory in Seattle

    Pope Frank is just a smiling mask over the same, ancient ugliness.

  11. 11
    jacobbasson

    PZ you wrote: I don’t see Pope Francis changing a thing about church culture on matters that are important

    What about his views on economic injustice? He has been outspoken in his critique of the modern economic order as being immoral. This is also the one area where some of his concrete actions give him at least a little credibility, living with a modest house and car instead of the extravagance previous popes have enjoyed. The bible is bullshit, but if he could turn some attention away from materialism/consumerism by appealing to its message (as described by him), getting some adherents to act more like they care about the parts of the bible that say the meek shall inherit the earth, rich people rarely get into heaven, etc, and ifhe could engender more support for grassroots opposition to the evils of our militarized crony capitalism, I’d be happy he did…

  12. 12
    Chengis Khan, The Cryofly

    In the past, I’ve been obsessed with Hamlet, even wanting to deify him. To someone who said that for every question there is an answer in the bible, I had replied that Shakespeare’s Hamlet has answers too.

    Well, I just barged in to thank PZ for the above posting. It is pretty close to what I thought yesterday when I saw the gallup polls. How many pernicious beings are walking around poisoning people’s minds?

    However, when you put the word god in a sentence, even many agnostics would hesitate to deny god’s actions. After all agnosticism is bourgeoise term for those who are afraid of the god and so will not mess with it. Hence, I am going to take 5% off of that 46% and 2% of the 32% and give it to the 15% who dared to say that god is nothing. Deal?

  13. 13
    Inaji

    jacobbasson:

    What about his views on economic injustice?

    What about them? You don’t see him using the vast wealth of the vatican to redress wrongs, now do you? How about maybe bothering to excommunicate a priest who is a rapist, rather than one who supports same sex marriage? How about doing one single fucking thing that actually matters?

  14. 14
    naturalcynic

    Pope Francis’ supposed attitudes towards the poor and capitalism are only different from Catholic teachings in the emphasis that he has shown. Previous recent popes have actually said many of the same things, but have been more or less ignored because they haven’t walked the walk as Francis seems to be doing. The Catholic Church has recently given lip service to the poor and economic justice issues, but that’s all they ever did. The pomp and trappings were what they always showed to the public and any movements towards any kind of Liberation Theology were squelched forcefully as was any movement away from ostentatiousness. Francis may be different in this aspect, but he remains committed to metaphysical BS,

  15. 15
    jacobbasson

    Ok, here’s one thing: when he was made cardinal he told people not to come to Rome to celebrate but instead donate to the poor what they would have spent on the journey. I also mentioned the deliberately humble lifestyle now as pope. These are contributions to the church culture, the point of PZ’s that I was addressing.

    I don’t condone the church’s role in pedophilia or its coverup at all, nor the church’s support for hateful and backward views with respect to homosexuality. However in my view global economic injustice is the most urgent threat (and indeed one of the biggest problems with religion is how it’s exploited to help perpetuate the prevailing system) and if the pope is getting people to reconsider their lifestyles by calling attention to these issues, I can get behind it.

  16. 16
    allegro

    The catholic church defines economic injustice by accumulating its vast riches from the wombs of women it denies reproductive choice while demanding their tithes that take food from their children’s mouths.

  17. 17
    Nathaniel Frein

    Doesn’t his “humble” lifestyle end up costing more in increased security and other expenses?

    After all, just because the Pope isn’t living in the normal place doesn’t mean that place doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be kept up and protected.

    Mitt Romney deciding to live in his doghouse doesn’t mean much if he still owns his mansion.

  18. 18
    Brian

    Maybe I missed something, but I saw Collins’ and Romney’s statements as being qualitatively different from the other ones that PZ lumped them in with. My impression were more that they believed that God, being omniscient, foresaw that the mechanism of evolution would lead to the (desired) outcome of human beings after billions of years, and so created a universe that permitted that. Their beliefs, or rather their expressed beliefs, strike me as closer to those of the Deists, in which God created the universe and then left it alone.

    What they actually believe may be different, but I thought it was important to distinguish that idea from someone who believes that God actually stepped in and fiddled with events in order to guide the evolutionary process.

  19. 19
    brucegorton

    @jacobbasson

    What about his views on economic injustice? He has been outspoken in his critique of the modern economic order as being immoral.

    Which is bog standard Catholic dogma. He didn’t actually change anything there – the Catholic Church has always had that basic line, which is one of the reasons it always made such a big deal about Mother Theresa and its various charities. Catholicism’s critique of capitalism has long been part of its opposition to “materialism”.

  20. 20
    felidae

    As bad as the theistic evolutionists are, they are still light years ahead of the Muslims who reject even the concept of natural law as “tying the hands of God” Their belief is that everything occurs because of the will of Allah, not some physical process, thus an object falls, not because of gravity, but because Allah wills it, the sun comes up because Allah wills it, not because the earth orbits the sun. Therefore, investigation into natural laws is un islamic as it places limits on the power of God. This philosophy arose in the 12th century, essentially ending the scientific progress of the Islamic world

  21. 21
    David Wilford

    At least one rich man has hurt feelings lately:

    Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone has a warning for Pope Francis.

    A major Republican donor, Langone told CNBC in a story published online Monday that wealthy people such as himself might stop giving to charity if the Pope continues to make statements criticizing capitalism and income inequality.

    Langone described the Pope’s comments about a “culture of prosperity” as “exclusionary” statements that may make some of the rich “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ken-langone-pope-francis

  22. 22
    Inaji

    brucegorton:

    Catholicism’s critique of capitalism has long been part of its opposition to “materialism”.

    Unless they are the ones with all the material goods, then it’s different.

  23. 23
    brucegorton

    @felidae

    As bad as the theistic evolutionists are, they are still light years ahead of the Muslims who reject even the concept of natural law as “tying the hands of God” Their belief is that everything occurs because of the will of Allah, not some physical process, thus an object falls, not because of gravity, but because Allah wills it, the sun comes up because Allah wills it, not because the earth orbits the sun.

    How exactly? What theistic evolution ends up doing is the same thing. Instead of accepting that it is an unguided process they proclaim it to be one controlled by God.

    X animal evolved to have Y feature not because of things such as chemistry or the environment the animal evolved in, but because God was tinkering.

    They do not believe God to be constrained by evolution, they believe evolution to be God’s method of choice for achieving certain aims.

  24. 24
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Pish, Caine, those aren’t their material goods, they’re god’s treasure. Priests are just keeping it for him.

  25. 25
    Inaji

    Beatrice:

    Pish, Caine, those aren’t their material goods, they’re god’s treasure. Priests are just keeping it for him.

    I think the RCC would love to adopt the Yen Buddhist stance:

    The Yen Buddhists are the richest religious sect in the universe. They hold that the accumulation of money is a great evil and burden to the soul. They therefore, regardless of personal hazard, see it as their unpleasant duty to acquire as much as possible in order to reduce the risk to innocent people.

    If only this was Discworld, eh?

  26. 26
    brucegorton

    Caine, Fleur du mal

    Amen, cha-ching.

  27. 27
    Al Dente

    Langone described the Pope’s comments about a “culture of prosperity” as “exclusionary” statements that may make some of the rich “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.”

    Does Mitt Romney feel compassion for the poor? Do the Koch Brothers?

  28. 28
    David Wilford

    Al Dente @ 27:

    Oh, it isn’t about compassion. It’s about revenge:

    To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
    it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
    hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
    mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
    bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
    enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
    not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
    dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
    the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
    to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
    warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
    a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
    if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
    us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
    revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
    resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
    what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
    wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
    Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
    teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
    will better the instruction.

  29. 29
    Fionnabhair

    I’m willing to give credit where credit is due, and this pope has been pretty critical of capitalism and excessive wealth, and I believe he has on a few occasions gone out into various communities to donate some of his own excessive wealth to the poor. Considering the wealth of the church, there’s plenty more he could do in this regard, but it’s still his first year on the job, so I’m willing to wait and see. He’s still said and done far more than I remember his predecessor ever doing.

    This does not excuse his positions on reproductive choice, same-sex relationships, or his lack of action on priests who rape, to name a few. I still very much dislike the church and his positions on these things, but that doesn’t mean I also can’t look favourably on his positions regarding capitalism.

    As far as evolution goes, I think that those commenters who said that many religious people, Catholics included, take the deistic approach to it. Not all, of course, and perhaps not even a majority, but some. I mean, I was taught evolution at a Catholic high school, and not once did my teacher ever mention God, or some divine influence in the process. He was an excellent teacher, too; at the beginning of the unit on evolution, he said that he was going to prove that it was scientific fact, and that’s precisely what he did. Not once did religion ever enter into his lessons, even though it was a Catholic school.

    Now, granted, this was in Ontario, and we Canadians aren’t generally as religious as our American neighbours, but my point is that there are some Catholics who don’t really mix their faith with their science.

  30. 30
    brianpansky

    yes, there are at least two types of theistic evolution folk:

    1)god watches evolution then interferes in some way to guide it.

    2)god set the initial conditions of the universe to create the desired deterministic outcome without further interference. then starts interfering again with abraham etc.

    i don’t see one of these as very much better than the other. on an intellectual level, they both disgust me, and i’m having difficulty putting that into words.

    maybe it’s because, similarly to creationism, they BOTH assert something which cannot differentiate itself from last-thusday-ism (a god setting initial conditions). the only difference is that they say it didn’t happen last thursday, just some other day further in the past.

  31. 31
    Lofty

    Does a pope poop in the woods? No he poops in a palace. The poor in many parts of the world still live in appalling sanitary conditions and he mouths platitudes.

  32. 32
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    While Shylock’s speech there is (in my opinion) one of Shakespeare’s best, I’m not sure I’m getting it’s applicability to this conversation, David Wilford.

  33. 33
    brianpansky

    upon reflection, i’m not sure the option #1 i listed in post 30 is last-thursday-ism, except that any model of omnipotent manipulation of the universe does allow for last-thursday-ism.

  34. 34
    David Wilford

    Esteleth, it’s merely rhetorical overkill on my part, meant to apply to the implicit blackmail threat made in response to the Pope’s criticism of capitalism.

  35. 35
    Weed(less) Monkey

    Earlier today I pooped in the woods, and saw neither a pope nor a bear anywhere around. It was awfully dark, but I’m sure I would have seen a pope with all his glitter and shiny words in the light of my headlamp.

  36. 36
    WhiteHatLurker

    If your auto mechanic said they used standard mechanical and electronic tools to fix your car, but oh, by the way, there’s a charge on your bill for the necessary sacrificing of a goat, would you trust their work?

    Of course not! You sacrifice sheep for car repair work.

  37. 37
    mothra

    If the pope were actually acting for the benefit of humanity: Action 1) Repeal AIDs and birth control policies. These church stances directly cost lives. 2) Open the church books to local police and clear up all clergy sexual abuse and those who have been complicscent in covering up the crimes and shielding the guilty. 3) Human rights- Women’s rights in particular, 4) Human rights in general 5) Sins of capitalism. This pope is still a prop.

  38. 38
    steve oberski

    @jacobbasson

    What about his views on economic injustice?

    Like Mother Teresa, the current pope is no friend of the poor. He is a friend of poverty. He says that suffering is a gift from God. He has spent his life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.

    It’s still hard to believe that Hitchens is gone and it’s been over 2 years now and although he was referring to that sociopath Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, his paraphrased quote is just as applicable to the current head capo of the catholic church.

  39. 39
    MarkM1427

    Francis may have taken a few baby steps in the right direction, but they are just that, BABY steps. He has to go a lot farther if he truly wants to make the church not suck like a black hole.

  40. 40
    chrisdevries

    I see theistic evolutionism as a (possibly) necessary transition from the ignorance of fundamentalist creationism and Biblical literalism to the light of atheistic determinism. I proclaimed my share of vacuous deepities in such a phase, and I continued to question even the metaphorical “truth” of Biblical mythology (once I had shed any belief in literal truth) and eventually came to the conclusion that the probability that the Christian God (or any other god) exists is tiny.

    But I didn’t grow up inculcated with religious beliefs; my brief flirtation with Christianity came during university, and it was pretty easy for me to toss my faith out the window once I recognised its irrationality. I know people who are pure rationalists in all areas except on the question of religious faith; they are stuck as theistic evolutionists because like many theists, they LIKE their religion and see it as a positive influence in their lives. The indoctrination has penetrated much deeper into their proverbial souls; they have drunk the Kool-Aid and despite having attained Masters and Ph. D. degrees in the physical or natural sciences, they are looking for a way to make the cognitive dissonance go away. Theistic evolution is it. Most of them are non-interventionist theistic evolutionists, meaning they see the process as unguided, set up by God to run deterministically. They differ on the question of God’s foreknowledge that humanity would spring from the unguided process, and on the monism/dualism “soul” question, but it is plain to me that their religious involvement is important enough to them that theistic evolutionism is an end stage in their religious moderation.

    PZ is right though; ultimately these people are not helping us. In fact, some have argued (and I tend to agree) that these individuals are just as harmful to society as fundamentalists because they give all religious faith more societal acceptableness. People say to us atheists: “Why do you have to be so mean? Can’t we all get along? Look here, these smart people have managed to keep their faith AND accept the Scientific Method as a way to gain true knowledge!” Their position isn’t reasonable or rational but it does sound good to the untrained ear.

    We are winning though, and this is where I am more optimistic than others. We are chipping away at religious faith, bit by bit. That 15% who agree with the naturalistic viewpoint in such polls; they are not theists! All theists see their god(s) as the supreme ruler of the universe, and his/her/their/its involvement in all things is a foregone conclusion. That number has been growing for decades and shows no sign of stopping. Indoctrination is a dirty word now; only the 20-25% of society hewing to the authoritarian worldview sees it as a good and just method of education; most children being raised in religious households are learning critical thinking skills and are being encouraged to use them. The increased visibility of all forms of non-theism makes it much easier to become an open non-theist now than it was a generation ago, and as that 15% rises, the easier it will become. We have been seeing the push-back for a long time now but our values are winning, slowly but surely. I wish it was faster, but the role of religion in society IS diminishing at a fast pace compared to other older cultural shifts. The lunatics are still controlling the asylum, but their influence wanes.

  41. 41
    Weed(less) Monkey

    MarkM1427@39

    Francis may have taken a few baby steps in the right direction, but they are just that, BABY steps.

    Not even that: he hasn’t actually done anything. He has said a few soothing words, but his church chugs along the same as ever.

    Words are cheap.

  42. 42
    ekwhite

    To everyone that thinks that Pope Francis is some kind of liberation theologist, remember that he collaborated with the fascist regime in Argentina. True liberation theologists were assassinated – thanks to Saint Reagan.

    Look up Archbishop Romero on Wikipedia, or see what happened to nuns in Guatemala during the Reagan era.

  43. 43
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    When the Catholic church starts showing any vague attention to their vow of poverty, in the way they do to their obedience vow (we’ll leave chastity aside, because that one they are really, really bad at), I’ll start buying the fellow’s protestations about poverty. As long as they remain one of the richest organizations in the world, I’m not going to start forgiving Pope Romney there just because he’s sleeping in a tent on the grounds of his fourth moon mansion with gold-plated car elevator, instead of one of the bedrooms of his fourth moon mansion with gold-plated car elevator.

    Plus, the pedophilia and AIDS/contraception brutality and the anti-queer thing and the hostility to women and and and fucking AND…

  44. 44
    Nathaniel Frein

    However in my view global economic injustice is the most urgent threat [snip]

    More important than the active attempts to dehumanize half the human population?

  45. 45
    seranvali

    Hmmm…he does seem to be a nicer man, what with not living in the papal palace and being more concerned with social issues and whatnot, but I haven’t seen him handing paedophile priests over to the police in large numbers or freeing women of Catholicism’s stranglehold over their reproductive rights or selling off church property to fund social programs. Until he does so he’s just a more likable face on an old, corrupt and criminal system. Dealing with this stuff honestly and permanently will not be done by nice old guy puttering around on the edges building up a little bit of good PR and avoiding anything unpleasant.

    Frankly, if he wants to be like his leader he needs to take up a whip and drive the money changers from the temple.

  46. 46
    Diana Tortolini

    As abhorrent as his views are, particularly in regards to any sort of sexual freedom and equality, let’s not forget the right wing is in a tizzy over his views on class and the poor. Limbaugh, Fox, Paul Ryan . . . they’re either not fans or outright calling him names.

    While Francis certainly doesn’t pass muster to be palatable to the true left (sorry, James Carroll) or people against child rape, he has found condemnation amongst the religious right in the USA, his main source of funds. That’s big. Bigger than big . . . huge. . . . If he’s willing to preach against the rich he adds an extremely powerful voice to the fight against wealth capture and plutocracy, and that’s a massive win for the left. I hope he doesn’t back down.

  47. 47
    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)

    Tsk.

    I was saying this quite a long time ago, and got castigated for it by a lot of the posters here. The only difference is that I was saying it about the Democratic Party, which is likewise a lesser evil whose few small steps in the right direction are nowhere near what would be necessary to offset their complicity in all sorts of evil. (Oh, hey, it looks like the NSA that Obama has been telling us is A-O-K has actually been hijacking physical shipments of electronics in order to install malware and spy on people. But he’s sure a stand-up guy, isn’t he?)

    Any tribalist Democratic apologists want to apologize to me for the hard time I was given back then, now that they’ve officially agreed with PZ on this stance? Hmmmm?

    (Didn’t think so. But Obama, both Clintons, Harry Reid, and the rest of the crew can certainly smile and smile, can’t they? A pity most Democrats don’t seem willing to admit it.)

  48. 48
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Ah, another non-sequitur from the Vicar. *snicker*

  49. 49
    MetzO'Magic

    Sarah Silverman says it best, I think:

    Sell the Vatican, Feed the World

  50. 50
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    While Francis certainly doesn’t pass muster to be palatable to the true left (sorry, James Carroll) or people against child rape, he has found condemnation amongst the religious right in the USA, his main source of funds.

    American Catholics as Vatican’s main source of funds?

    That doesn’t sound right. Hmm, some googling is required.

  51. 51
    gillyc

    Regarding the RCC and the poor: the poor get to go to heaven. It’s very hard for rich people to enter the “kingdom of god” so therefore the best thing to do is to concentrate the wealth in the smallest section of society (the 1%) thus maximizing the number who get to heaven. And if the RCC can amass much of wealth themselves, well clearly they are just sacrificing themselves for the good of their flock. It’s what Jesus would want.

  52. 52
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    jacobbasson

    Ok, here’s one thing: when he was made cardinal he told people not to come to Rome to celebrate but instead donate to the poor what they would have spent on the journey. I also mentioned the deliberately humble lifestyle now as pope. These are contributions to the church culture, the point of PZ’s that I was addressing.

    1.) Look how he emptied the Vatican’s treasury for that!
    Oh, wait, he didn’t. He didn’t spend a single Euro-Cent. Instead he told people that they should not have fun*, not use the money they probably put by for a long time towards something they would enjoy, but to donate it. Best to a catholic charity, so that in the end the RCC claims to have done so much good, that they spent X billion to help the poor they created in the first place.
    Not to mention that the struggeling Italian economy could do well with a bit of a bust.
    2.) His humble life-style costs a lot of money. Because the Swiss Guard have to secure him in his humble quarters, his touchy-bitsy travels (can you imagine what trouble it must be to ensure the safety of somebody like the pope in public?) AND of course they have to secure the usual places and palaces the last popes lived in as well, because you can hardly leave those places unguarded or with much less security.
    But it’s a prime example: All image, no substance and people like you are easily fooled.

    However in my view global economic injustice is the most urgent threat…

    1. Let me guess: you’re a straight guy, therefore, with your superior objectivity (since you’re not that much affected by the RCCs campaigns against gays and women) you can see things much more clearly from your high horse up there.
    2. So, how about holding the damn RCC responsible for their share in creating the global misery?
    Not only historically via colonization (Does the term “Reyes Católicos” mean anything to you?), but also at this very moment through their fight against condoms and birth control and their war on women. Because one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against poverty is to empower women. By giving them the ability to limit their number of children they have not only less mouths to feed, but also more time to feed the others. Guess who’s fighting tooth and claw against this? Right! Do you see any change in that because of Franzi?

    Al Dente

    Does Mitt Romney feel compassion for the poor? Do the Koch Brothers?

    Of course they do! Only that their definition of “poor” resembles that of Jane Austen characters: They cannot keep as many servants as they used to and are threatened by the prospect of having to earn their own living. The actual servants, OTOH, are ungrateful bastards.

    Esteleth

    While Shylock’s speech there is (in my opinion) one of Shakespeare’s best, I’m not sure I’m getting it’s applicability to this conversation, David Wilford.

    Neither do I, but it’s preferrable to whatever Wilford usually says himself.

    *However stupid and misguided I think it is to travel to Rome to celebrate the new pope, I also understand that it brings enormous joy to those who do.

  53. 53
    richardelguru

    If God designed knees then I want a word with the bastard…

  54. 54
    Inaji

    Giliell:

    Because one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against poverty is to empower women. By giving them the ability to limit their number of children they have not only less mouths to feed, but also more time to feed the others. Guess who’s fighting tooth and claw against this? Right!

    The RCC may as well advertise “Got Misogyny?” a la the “Got Milk” campaigns, as it’s one of the most important and strongest pillars holding up the church. It never ceases to amaze me just how much people will twist and slither away from this point to talk about anything else.

  55. 55
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Caine

    It never ceases to amaze me just how much people will twist and slither away from this point to talk about anything else.

    In this case “people” usually means “straight guys in rich countries”, although there are also a few women who do that.

  56. 56
    Inaji

    Giliell:

    In this case “people” usually means “straight guys in rich countries”, although there are also a few women who do that.

    True. So many people seem to get utterly dazzled by the misdirection the RCC flings out on a regular basis. In both of the recent threads about Pope “hey, I’m smilin’ at ya” Frances, no one bothered to talk about the RCC’s move to buy up hospitals at an alarming rate. All the better to control those uppity wimmin.

  57. 57
    ck

    MetzO’Magic wrote:

    Sarah Silverman says it best, I think:

    Sell the Vatican, Feed the World

    Wow. There is a breathtaking amount of antisemitism on display in those comments on that video. Holocaust denial, money-grubbing jews, conspiracy theories about Hollywood, it’s all on display there.

  58. 58
    Inaji

    ck @ 57, if you wish to discuss Sarah Silverman, please take it to Thunderdome. She is not the topic of this thread.

  59. 59
    chigau (違う)

    There was a movie…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shoes_of_the_Fisherman
    in the end the Pope begins the process of giving away the Vatican’s money.
    I saw this 40something years ago, I don’t remember if I liked it.

  60. 60
    Inaji

    Chigau:

    There was a movie…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shoes_of_the_Fisherman

    Kiril Pavlovich Lakota. Lakota is Russian? Huh. I never saw this, but I tried to avoid religious flicks at all costs, I got enough of it from all directions as it was. Seems even in this, the er, sacrificing of the Vatican’s vast wealth was to prevent war on a massive scale. Given how often the RCC has started and/or funded wars, that seems an unlikely scenario, to say the least. Nice fantasy, though.

  61. 61
    twincats

    chrisdevries @40:

    I see theistic evolutionism as a (possibly) necessary transition from the ignorance of fundamentalist creationism and Biblical literalism to the light of atheistic determinism. I proclaimed my share of vacuous deepities in such a phase, and I continued to question even the metaphorical “truth” of Biblical mythology (once I had shed any belief in literal truth) and eventually came to the conclusion that the probability that the Christian God (or any other god) exists is tiny.

    This. Because I was brought up inculcated with religious beliefs, I am thankful that I didn’t have to cast off any more false beliefs than I did. If I had also been saddled with the teaching that all life just zapped into existence as it is now, the earth is 6,000 – 10,000 years old and had a vapor barrier that allowed for huge dino creatures, etc. how much longer would my ‘conversion’ have taken? >shudder<

  62. 62
    fabianocaccin

    @ seranvali
    Hmmm…he does seem to be a nicer man

    Sauron himself would if he came after Ratzi. During his reign the Italian media, unable to give up their trademark sycophantic frenzy, kept everyone updated almost 24/7 on the Deeds Of His Holiness and, believe me, the man did a better job of devastating the RCC image than anyone here possibly could (millions now know the name “Palpatine” because of him, I swear.) No one will ever convince me that Bergoglio was not shoved in to patch the bruise. Unfortunately, he’s good at this sort of PR

  63. 63
    David Marjanović

    But there is adaptationism, which is kinda, sorta, teleological, as it posits an evolutionary theory that includes the notion of progress towards an optimal organism, that is, one that’s optimal for its given environment. I know there’s plenty of disagreement among biologists on this point, but it’s definitely there in current evolutionary theory.

    Even that, which is not exactly popular, can’t be said to include the notion of progress. That’s because most environments change at random (deterministic chaos at best), sending natural selection off in equally random new directions.

    I see theistic evolutionism as a (possibly) necessary transition from the ignorance of fundamentalist creationism and Biblical literalism to the light of atheistic determinism.

    Most of evolution is deterministic chaos. There is, however, true random in it: one cause of mutations is Heisenberg uncertainty.

    Francis [...] the religious right in the USA, his main source of funds.

    What. Most of those aren’t even Catholics. What about the Vatican bank, what about the real estate the church possesses all over the world, what about the tithes from, say, almost all of South America…

    I was saying this quite a long time ago, and got castigated for it by a lot of the posters here.

    The fuck you were. You were saying that there’s no such thing as a lesser evil. You were saying that evil is evil, so nobody must vote for any of it, not even if that’s the only way to prevent greater evil from coming to power.

    There was a movie…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shoes_of_the_Fisherman

    Yep. I’ve watched it. It’s a wonderful heap of wishful thinking piled upon wishful thinking, deeply unrealistic in several different ways (not all of which concern the depiction of the church).

    Kiril Pavlovich Lakota. Lakota is Russian?

    LOL, no. Somebody just didn’t do the research.

    (…It’s supposed to be Ukrainian, not Russian; but of course it’s not Ukrainian either.)

    millions now know the name “Palpatine” because of him, I swear.

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Thread won!

  64. 64
    anuran

    And if he were like you he would say the same thing about you. But since Pope Frank is a somewhat wiser and more tolerant man than you he is inclined to live and let live, acknowledge the good people like you do and applaud your efforts in areas of mutual concern.

    The problem with people like you, regardless of stripe, creed or lack thereof, is that you can’t stand the thought that someone might be different than you. You can’t just work with atheists. They have to be the right sort of atheists who subscribe to a very strict list of attitudes, political positions and personal style. It isn’t enough to be a feminist, an advocate for workers’ rights or a crusader against racism. You must be all of them and have the same aesthetic tastes and your particular brand of lack of religion and class signifiers. It makes for a very cozy little echo chamber. But it is ultimately closed off and stupidly egotistical as the people you despise.

  65. 65
    anuran

    Or, as a publisher told me, “Decent people acknowledge each other with a smile. Fundamentalists just see themselves and evil.”

  66. 66
    chigau (違う)

    anuran
    Who are you talking to?

  67. 67
    Inaji

    Chigau:

    Who are you talking to?

    I’ll take the chance of assuming it’s to PZ. What with his being such a demanding fellow and all, why you must be the very model of a certain type of atheist, or else he won’t even let you comment here! Or so I hear, anyway, from all those who loathe the Echo Chamber™ so much so they must grouse about in it.

  68. 68
    seranvali

    Fabianocaccin:

    You don’t need to convince me :). It’s pretty obvious that they’ve tried to give Catholics someone likable to counter the unpleasant taste that Ratzinger left behind. It won’t make a blind bit of difference, they’ve just put a very small band-aid on a very large abcess and unless Francis is one hell of a reformer and is prepared to get his hands very dirty indeed (and I’m quite sure he has neither of those intentions) business will go on as usual.

  69. 69
    Ichthyic

    Any tribalist Democratic apologists want to apologize to me for the hard time I was given back then, now that they’ve officially agreed with PZ on this stance? Hmmmm?

    no. false equivalence.

    and:

    fuck you for trying to make this thread about you, you self absorbed wanker.

  70. 70
    Ichthyic

    The fuck you were. You were saying that there’s no such thing as a lesser evil. You were saying that evil is evil, so nobody must vote for any of it, not even if that’s the only way to prevent greater evil from coming to power.

    ^^ there’s a person with a good memory.

  71. 71
    Ichthyic

    And if he were like you he would say the same thing about you. But since Pope Frank is a somewhat wiser and more tolerant man than you he is inclined to live and let live, acknowledge the good people like you do and applaud your efforts in areas of mutual concern.

    you know, your fantasy of being the Pope’s First Boy is really something you need to work on even harder!

    come on, we know you can do better.

  72. 72
    David Marjanović

    Or, as a publisher told me, “Decent people acknowledge each other with a smile.

    That’s a very American thing to do.

    ^^ there’s a person with a good memory.

    Nope. I didn’t remember The Vicar’s comments on that topic; I’m not good at remembering who says what unless they comment often enough for me to get to know them. I just made the only interpretation of The Vicar’s comment that makes sense. :-)

  73. 73
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    anuran

    But since Pope Frank is a somewhat wiser and more tolerant man than you he is inclined to live and let live, acknowledge the good people like you do and applaud your efforts in areas of mutual concern.

    Yep, totally the credo of the RCC.
    They would never ever judge women who use contraception or have abortions or try to limit their access to those things, nono, live and let live. They’re also well-known for their tolerant attitude towards gays, and people who get a divorce, and who remarry and they would never ever destroy somebody’s livelyhood by say, fireing a doctor for the crime of getting remarried. And of course, they would not discriminate against a jaintor because she’s Hindu. Because the RCC and Franzi are totally good people, very tolerant, wise, live* and let live*, that’s what they say.

    *within the narrowly confined range of mandatory heteronormative christian breeding

  74. 74
    Nick Gotts

    since Pope Frank is a somewhat wiser and more tolerant man than you – anuran

    Bergoglio on abortion:

    <in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.

    So this oh-so-wise and tolerant man wants to condemn rape victims to carry their rapist’s child. In March 2013, shortly after his election to the papacy, he sent a letter to bishops in his native Argentina, asking them to deny communion to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.

    Bergoglio on the ordination of women: In September 2013, he excommunicated Australian priest Greg Reynolds “because of his public teaching on the ordination of women”.

    So this oh-so-wise and tolerant man treats disagreement with him from within the church as grounds for expulsion.

    Bergoglio on marriage equality:

    In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.

    Let’s not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God’s plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that’s just its form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God

    So this oh-so-wise and tolerant man regards disagreement with his views as Satanic.

    It’s alos remarkable how often Bergoglio is said to have said things in private which differ from what he says in public (on contraception, on civil unions, on the Dirty War in Argentina. He’s very good at PR, at convincing people he’s on their side, or to put it more plainly, he’s a slippery little shit.

  75. 75
    Max

    This is an excellent post, PZ!

    Their god is apparently such a loving creature that he decided to create humans using a mechanism that requires pain and suffering and death in order to progress.

  76. 76
    Azuma Hazuki

    @75/Max

    But you see, it’s because the world is fallen! Eve ate that damn apple, and tricked Adam into it, and God just HAD to expel them from paradise because by doing something as wrong as eating the fruit that gave them the knowledge of right and wrong, they had to suffer! And so do all of us!

    …does it never occur to these people that their origin myth essentially says “The result of eating the fruit that grants literally God-like knowledge of good and evil is permanent, universal, transworld moral depravity?!” Yahweh can’t even make a fucking fruit tree that works as advertised!

  77. 77
    feralboy12

    there are three types of people: one sees the glass as half-full. one sees the glass as half empty. and the other says “hey, i didn’t order this!”

    You’re forgetting the “you got twice as much glass as you need here” people.
    As for Da Pope…I think it’s really big of him to inform atheists that God will forgive us for our beliefs, maybe, if we behave ourselves. That’s nice to know. And so conciliatory on the Pope’s part.

  78. 78
    A Waterchapel

    PZ, this is probably my favorite post among all that I’ve read. Thank you for this; your articulation and clarity on the subject highlights the perniciousness of unjustified beliefs. As someone who relishes discussion, especially about science and technology, it leaves me to wonder how best to engage in discussion with that vast middleground. I’m concerned that, deprived of the privilege of Special Importance, quite a large share will simply check out of any explanation of what evolution describes (entails? big concepts, hard to find an appropriate verb).

    Anyway, it’s great to see very clearly once in a while, and you’ve helped me do. Have a great 155 AOS!

  79. 79
    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)

    @Ichthyic, #69:

    Any tribalist Democratic apologists want to apologize to me for the hard time I was given back then, now that they’ve officially agreed with PZ on this stance? Hmmmm?

    no. false equivalence.

    Really? How?

    PZ says: the Catholics don’t deserve our support because, despite the latest rhetoric, they still stand for regressive measures, and Pope Francis hasn’t taken obvious steps to change the church’s more obnoxious stances/practices/personnel. (Presumably, when Cardinal Burke got pushed out of his niche at the Vatican, in favor of a less staunchly conservative and anti-abortion alternative, this was a step in the right direction but nowhere near enough to make anyone who is paying attention suppose the Catholic Church was not still anti-abortion, but since that’s not mentioned in the OP and is irrelevant to the topic of evolution which is the selected issue used to demonstrate the church’s backwards behavior, I admit that this parenthesis is entirely putting words — albeit plausible ones — in PZ’s mouth.)

    I say: the Democrats don’t deserve our support because, despite the continuous rhetoric of the last 14 years, they still stand for regressive measures, and Obama/Reid/Pelosi (and their predecessors) haven’t taken obvious steps to change the government’s more obnoxious stances/practices/personnel. (We got a minor step forward on gay marriage and gays in the military, taken with amazing reluctance, but that’s nowhere near enough to make anyone suppose that the Democratic Party isn’t firmly in the grasp of rich right-wing interests.)

    Why do you claim there’s no equivalence? Democratic loyalty is mostly a matter of upbringing and belief in intangible, unlikely things — like the idea that Obama was actually going to take steps against the banks for destroying the economy instead of permitting them to get off scot free and permitting them to reinflate the derivatives bubble. (The latter is of a certain amount of concern, given that the U.S. National Debt, a number which the Very Serious People in the Democratic Party have been telling us is terribly important and Far Too Large, is less than 3% of what the derivatives bubble was “worth” before the crash. The world literally cannot afford to bail out the banks any more, but apparently giving us Mitt Romney’s insurance plan under the name of “the Affordable Care Act” was more important than doing anything to prevent it from being necessary, just as it was more important than climate change, bailing out underwater mortgages, regulating the meat industry, or actually putting an end to the illegal behavior which Snowden and Manning revealed.)

    fuck you for trying to make this thread about you, you self absorbed wanker.

    Ah, I’m afraid you are misinterpreting this. If anything, I’m trying to make this thread about the Democratic Party, on the grounds that while I can’t do much to get people to leave the Catholic Church, believers already being more or less by definition deaf to reason, it may perhaps be possible to get people to reconsider their politics instead. If I can get a few of you… selectively rational people, let’s say, to admit the unfortunate truth that the Democrats are actively working against the causes you claim to espouse, rather than merely being staggeringly ineffective allies (which seems to be your accepted cover story), that will be a good thing.

    The Overton window — that favorite metaphor of people trying to excuse the way the Democrats have moved well to the right of Richard Nixon — is a joke; it has “moved to the right” because the Democrats, in the 1980s, decided that they would abandon left-wing positions to pursue big money. Poll after poll suggests that Americans by and large want the government to implement policies well to the left of anything either major party is willing to discuss, but there’s nobody to even slightly resist rightward policy shift any more. That’s really why the right was suddenly able to move so far off into nutjobville, with results as you see; the DLC decided consciously not to be an anchor any more (it was called “triangulation”, and the Clintons were major proponents of it all through the ’80s and ’90s, even after it began to backfire by alienating the electorate and enabling the right wing). And there are essentially no Democrats left on the national stage who weren’t given party sanction because of their willingness to hew rightward in pursuit of money. Basically, the Democrats realized that their supporters didn’t care about the Abscam scandal, and reacted by making greed an official, continuous policy instead of an unspoken, occasional one. You folks who think we need to “get big money out of elections” to fix U.S. democracy are deluding yourselves if you think the Democrats are going to help with this at all, ever. All those who might have done so have long since lost any influence in the party.

    Then again, accusing the messenger of crimes rather than addressing the embarrassing-because-true complaints they raise is a tried-and-true establishment policy (see also the official and media reactions to Manning, Snowden, Assange, et al) so maybe that latter quoted line is just you doing what comes naturally.

  80. 80
    chigau (違う)

    </blockquote>

  81. 81
    fabianocaccin

    @#63 David Marjanović:

    An unneeded piece of trivia:
    one of the reasons why the moniker stuck a lot to the German Sheperd is that in Italian “Palpatine” happens also to be the plural diminutive form of “palpata”, the act of touch or fondle someone without their consent (“Pope Little Gropings”. Remember the Paedoscandal?)
    For a bonus, it was generally pronounced following Italian phonetics.

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