1. Luc says

    Back in college, my wife and I had our picture taken with a tiger cub and a chimpanzee as part of a fundraiser for a big cat sanctuary. The tiger cub was on my wife’s lap for maybe three seconds, but we got hang out with the young chimp, wearing a diaper and children’s shorts, for a good minute or so. Let me tell you: touching a chimp’s hand is surreal. Logically, I knew chimps were closely related to us, but even with the elongated palm and fingers, it was just *so* human-like. It probably felt more human-like than my currently icy and dry hands would feel right now! I still remember that moment vividly, some 14 years later.

  2. jasonantonio26 says

    Clare was wrong on one thing. Humans ARE apes. The most recent common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans lived more recently than the most recent common ancestor of chimpanzees and gorillas. Therefore, chimpanzees and humans are closer cousins to eachother than chimpanzees are to gorillas. Therefore there is no group that includes gorillas and chimpanzees that doesn’t include humans. Therefore if gorillas are apes, and chimpanzees are apes, then humans are apes.

    It is factually incorrect and misleading to tell creationists that we aren’t apes. Your grandfather WAS an ape, since we are all apes. It is something we know as fact and should be proud of.

  3. says

    This episode really did not work for me. Clare Wuellner’s talk, I found, almost painful. I suppose if I had never been told the basics of evolution, only the “faith-based” version, it might of been of some interest. However, if I had been raised to deny the “evil atheist theory of evolution, her talk would have done nothing to raise any doubt in my mind. Clare appears to be a very nice person, but she, in my opinion, needs to sharpen up her talking points. I felt her repeated “I know this is hard” etc comments were meant to reassure theists, but both I and regular viewer with whom I watched the show, felt them to read as condescending.

  4. Robert, not Bob says

    @jasonantonio, She’s using the older definition of “ape” that’s been superseded by the cladistic one, which is, granted, better. I think people like her and Aron Ra ought to acknowledge this change in definition occasionally (which would give them the opportunity to explain why it was done).

  5. Luc says

    Clare seems to expect her listeners to fill in the blanks and to mentally complete her explanations, but I feel like she’s expecting too much. Jen did a pretty good job in some places, but I personally had filled in some of the blanks a different way.

    Re: David, the Argument from Reason is monumentally flawed. C.S. Lewis and his defenders like Reppert make a pretty sizable leap when they claim that (as Reppert put it) “no belief is rationally inferred if it can be fully explained in terms of nonrational causes.” That’s a pretty textbook fallacy of composition (example: no atoms are alive, therefore, nothing made of atoms is alive). Another problem here is the inconsistent use of terms like “belief” and “rational” and (later) “truth,” which are always dangerous terms to be throwing around anyway. They take “rationally inferred belief” to mean “scientific knowledge” (which is why David mentioned the Big Bang and evolution), which is not something scientists would agree with at all.

    Re: Amed, I’m glad you eventually got back around to sympathizing with him regarding his family and religious situation. Clare said, “Lying is a fine thing in those instances.” 1000% yes! There is no “lack of faith” tests administered by a selfish and vengeful god. There is no martyrdom involved in proudly proclaiming your atheism. Stay safe!

  6. says

    Jeanette @6: No one version of a talk is going to work for everyone. Sure, if someone’s talking about something you think you know, you’re probably not going to get anything from it, but you don’t need any of that; you can read a book to find out more and you know where to get those. If you’re vehemently anti-, you’re not going to get anything from it and you don’t want to.

    But if all you know is what you’ve been fed by the forces of anti- and you’re already questioning that propaganda, then this is the kind of thing you need. Clare can’t open their skulls and pour in 150 years of evo-devo research, not in this medium, even if they’d be able to digest it all instantaneously. All she can do is sketch out the outline.

  7. Mobius says

    @4 jasonantonio26

    This was the point I was wanting to bring up ever since I first heard Clare say it on the podcast. According to modern cladistics, humans ARE apes.

    @7 Robert, not Bob

    From what I know, Aron Ra does consider humans apes, and follows modern cladistics. I am not sure where you get the “Aron Ra ought to acknowledge this change in definition”.

  8. cristina says

    I found it curious that Clare didn’t include any photos of black people in her presentation until the last slide. At 33:08 she compares photos of a chimpanzee to humans and says “yes the skin colour is different” but in reality many humans have skin colour similar to that of chimpanzees, she just seemed to avoid showing it.

  9. Robert, not Bob says

    @ 10 Mobius
    I mean he ought to point out more often that people may not be using the same definition of “ape” than he is, and why his definition is superior. Rather than simply saying “you are an ape!”, which often confuses people who don’t realize what he means by the word.

  10. dbd2 says

    I think evolution is actually hard to teach. Not as a fact of course. But evolutionary theory. For one thing, evolutionary theory is meant in the plural sense. A body of many [often we hope] connected theories. But the hard thing to get people to grasp is how powerful natural selection is at getting usable function out of variations from mutations.
    Even harder is trying to point out that evolution [and science generally] is NOT a direct threat to faith or religion. The real threat to faith lies at the epistemological level.
    But I think at some level biblical literalists/fundamentalists realize this. Because the scientific method performs much better than theology at answering questions about the universe and even ourselves. This is not a naturalistic argument. For example, if science informed us that we are pretty evil naturally due to our evolution, as Richard Dawkins said : “We can tell our genes to fuck off”. Because we are also social, cognitive animals with empathy so we can use those parts of our evolutionary heritage to advance and be better than just what [biological and cultural] evolution gave us.
    Science is after all, reality-agnostic. [If it were not, why continue to generate hypotheses and test them to destruction?]. What survives is tentatively regarded as a working truth, until something better comes along. The hesitation in declaring truth is in part based on the fact that natural phenomena and reality might not be quite the same thing. [Although I would agree with Stephen Weinburg who thinks that what we discover in science may be some reasonable facsimile of reality. If it were not, then how come science works so well?].
    Religion however, claims to be reality-gnostic. Small wonder it performs so poorly. Because if gods were self-evident truths, then surely they would be as easy to demonstrate as “All bachelors are unmarried”, which is both absolutely true and hopelessly circular.
    And here we come to the fundamentals of Fundamentalism. Although tautologies are trivially true [God is great] the don’t really tell us anything about anything. Not how the world works, or how to act in a moral manner. Because a god has to be great by definition, but it does not tell us if he actually exists, or if he exists, whether he is a paragon of virtue, or a thug, because “great” can be applicable to both being good or evil!
    So what we have here is a “firewall” in a wet computer that lets nothing in apart from trivially true, and circular arguments that tell the believer nothing about what is going on in the world and how to act on it as a moral agent. The fundamentalist human is at this point, and in this sense, is a depleted self.
    Of course, if this was a silicon-based computer we would just go into a change-rooted environment with the last known good copy of the operating system, and remove the malware and reboot.
    So how do we do this with a human’s ‘wet” computer with this paranoid firewall?
    One way I have found helpful is actually to reduce the stress, or threat level. Ironically, this means just telling the truth. Science is just a theory, a type of game, that one does not have to take as “gospel”. In fact, if one takes science as gospel, you are doing it wrong. When you think about it, that is why we have some really good scientists who are also religious. [Francis Collins, Francisco J. Ayala, Simon Conway-Morris, etc] So long as you honestly stick to the methods and procedures of science, anyone can do it. Because as a scientist, the requirement is to leave all beliefs or bias outside the lab, and you are good to go. Also note though, the difference between when these scientists write in scientific journals and when they are engaged in religious apologetics.
    In one way fundamentalists are honest is that they make very specific claims like the bible is the literal word of god or that evolution is false or creationism is true and these are very easy to debunk. The moderate theist comes up with vague or symbolic or allegorical claims that can’t be falsified easily by science but are still weak at the epistemological level.
    These days I try to build rather than debunk. Even a fundamentalist lives in the real world, however “real” the immaterial world seems to him/her. So keep finding things to agree and reduce threat levels before debunking/deprogramming. A “mind-hack” is futile if it does not take.

  11. paxoll says

    @Dbd2 that was a string of consciousness barely held together. You are right that science is agnostic, because it is a framework that leads to knowledge. It takes facts, gives us a framework to produce more facts and a system to evaluate the rationality of the conclusion we derive from those facts till we have confidence in declaring the fact’s true, which is knowledge. You are wrong about science not being a direct threat to religion, because of two reasons. The first is that it leads to knowledge that directly contradicts scripture on which all religions are based. The epistemology as you said of their faith. It is very much like saying falling off a cliff doesn’t kill you, its the sudden stop at the bottom. What science produces is a direct threat to religion. Which leads to the second way science is a direct threat, the people who do it correctly learn to think in a scientifically critical manner. This causes the errors in thinking that religion depends upon to lose hold of people allowing them to correct the epistemological fallacies that allows them to retain their religious beliefs. Its analogous to exercising to get stronger helps your overall health not just how much you can lift. Like you said, building is important, people can’t change if you don’t start at the bottom and build their understanding from the foundation.

  12. cmcwp says

    Came here to comment about the human-ape connection, but see that jasonantonio26 beat me to it!

    Clare is a fun and intelligent addition to the show, but I couldn’t get past this glaring error. Just as the cute squirrels are as much rodents as the naked mole rats, humans are in fact apes.

    There are SO many similarities, behavior included! Perhaps the missing link is actually “Florida Man”? (just a joke!!!)

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